The slanted beams of thick rich light struck the brass railing as I cleaned the last of the uppermost books. All afternoon steady commerce flowed through m’lord’s hands: I’d listened with uncomprehending ear to the litany of complaints, compliments and conclusions. On occasion, male hands had grasped the ladder sides and carefully maneuvered me further along the shelves. I’d murmured my thanks. They’d taken recompense by avid examinations of my revealed charms safely out of reach. A mechanical cough heralded the deep bong of half past from the mantel clock. “Ah, Miss Frothinglips, assist Ruby as she dismounts the ladder.”
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