Move your arse. That’s my seat. Despite the shapeless frock that betrayed her lowly status, the speaker seemed too substantial to be a patient. Too menacing. As if the scraps of tin pinned to her bodice were military medals. As if the wooden crutch she leant on were a musket and not a mobility aid.
Matilda’s gaze swept the ranks of unoccupied chairs, differing solely in their placement, as far as she could tell. Her chair afforded neither a window view onto parkland nor a secluded hideaway from the staff. Did it have some arcane value to the disturbed mind?
“Didn’t you hear me? Shove off!”
What would her mother advise? It did not do to pander to bullies, but Matilda was weary. She had to conserve her strength for the serious battles.
As she trudged towards a seat at the opposite end of the room, the madwoman called after her, “I run this ward, new girl. And don’t you forget it.”
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