Mr West Sleeps Soundly

The moon was high when Lady Tor awoke with a start. She had been dreaming of her roses, and of Percy, remembering a time when they had made love in the garden, among the very blooms with which she had sent them to war; a rose for each brave soldier who boarded the train that took them away, across the channel to Flanders Fields.

The night air was chill – unusually so. Perturbed, she rose from her bed and crossed freezing boards to the door. Emerging onto the landing, she saw ice-rimmed windows framed by curtains stiff with frost. Beneath, lay a motionless black hump, silvered with white crystals. She recognised the shape of their great hound, Kipper, and knew in that moment that he was quite dead.

Numbed, she ventured towards the other bedrooms, drawn as though by some instinct towards West’s door. Entering his chamber, she saw him in tranquil repose. Looking closer, she saw to her disappointment that he seemed quite pink and well, snoring softly in his feather bed, within a carefully drawn circle of salt.

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