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32. CHAPTER XXXII (continued)
"Is she never coming back to England? Every one thinks it's awfully odd she doesn't."
"So it is," said Margaret, trying to conceal her vexation. She was getting rather sore on this point. "Helen is odd, awfully. She has now been away eight months."
"But hasn't she any address?"
"A poste restante somewhere in Bavaria is her address. Do write her a line. I will look it up for you."
"No, don't bother. That's eight months she has been away, surely?"
"Exactly. She left just after Evie's wedding. It would be eight months."
"Just when baby was born, then?"
Dolly sighed, and stared enviously round the drawing-room. She was beginning to lose her brightness and good looks. The Charles's were not well off, for Mr. Wilcox, having brought up his children with expensive tastes, believed in letting them shift for themselves. After all, he had not treated them generously. Yet another baby was expected, she told Margaret, and they would have to give up the motor. Margaret sympathised, but in a formal fashion, and Dolly little imagined that the stepmother was urging Mr. Wilcox to make them a more liberal allowance. She sighed again, and at last the particular grievance was remembered. "Oh, yes," she cried, "that is it: Miss Avery has been unpacking your packing-cases."
"Why has she done that? How unnecessary!"
"Ask another. I suppose you ordered her to."
"I gave no such orders. Perhaps she was airing the things. She did undertake to light an occasional fire."
"It was far more than an air," said Dolly solemnly. "The floor sounds covered with books. Charles sent me to know what is to be done, for he feels certain you don't know."
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