Part Eighteen

   Angelique was in the study the next morning when there was a light tap on the door and she looked up to find Willie there.  "Excuse me, Angelique -"
    "Yes, Willie?"
    "Mrs. Stoddard is here to see you.  She's in the parlour."
    "Thank you.  Would you bring some coffee in to us?"
    "Sure."  He turned and took the back way into the kitchen.
    Elizabeth was looking at Barnabas' portrait when Angelique entered the room.  "This is a pleasant surprise, Elizabeth."
    "I wanted to discuss something with you.  And I didn't feel comfortable discussing it at Collinwood."
    "Please sit down.  Willie's making some coffee."
    Elizabeth sat in one of the chairs.  "It never ceases to amaze me how Barnabas restored this house.  It was on the verge of falling into comeplete ruin before he arrived."
    "So he told me.  You mentioned wanting to discuss something-?"
    "Yes.  It's only an idea - Are you and Barnabas still intending to hire a governess for Sarah?"
    "I interviewed a young woman yesterday," Angelique told her.  "Barnabas was very impressed by her credentials -"
    "But you weren't?"  Elizabeth guessed.  "Do you remember Maggie Evans?"
    Willie entered the room carrying a tray. "Thank you, Willie," Angelique said, pouring the dark liquid.  She handed Elizabeth a cup, and sat back, hoping she looked suitably thoughtful.  "Maggie?  Oh, yes.  Wasn't she David's governess during my last visit here?  I think Barnabas mentioned that she had run off with an - astrologer?"
    "Sebastian Shaw," Elizabeth confirmed.  "The reason I brought it up - I recieved a letter from her this morning.  She's returning to Collinsport.  David's doing very well at Edgewood, and doesn't really need a governess - so I thought of Sarah."
    "Maggie Evans," Angelique said, rising to cross the room as she considered the idea.
    "Hiring her would be better than hiring a stranger, wouldn't it?  Maggie's very good with children.  David adored her - "
    "As did - several other people," Angelique reminded the older woman.  "I believe she and Barnabas were seeing each other during my last visit -"
    "There was never anything serious between them, Angelique.  She was seeing more of Quentin than Barnabas when Shaw swept her off her feet.  As I said, it was only an idea.  We Collinses have never been comfortable with a stranger in our midst.  The other young woman might work out -"
    "When is she arriving?"
    Sensing victory, Elizabeth relaxed.  "Today."
    "I'll speak to Barnabas about it," Angelique said.
    "I'm sure he'll agree.  Maggie's bus arrives at four."

    After asking Willie to watch Sarah, Angelique drove into Collinsport.  The middle-aged woman behind the desk at the Collins shipyard looked up as she entered.  "May I help you?"
    "I'm Angelique Collins.  Is my husband busy?"
    The gaze was assessing.  "Mrs. Collins.  I'm Janet Davis.  Mr. Collins is in the yard.  I'm sure he won't mind your waiting in his office.  He won't be long."  She led Angelique into the office.  "Would you care for some coffee - or some tea?"
    "No, thank you."  Angelique moved to the window and looked out, searching for a glimpse of Barnabas as Mrs. Davis continued to talk.
    "Everyone was surprised when Mr. Collins got married.  Most thought he'd never find a wife."
    "And if he did," Angelique finished, "It would be a local girl."
    "Well -"
    "Mrs. Davis, I know that I'm an unknown quantity, but all that matters is that I love Barnabas and want him to be happy.  He's a very special person."
    "Yes," the secretary agreed.  "He is."  The telephone rang.  "I'd better get that.  Make yourself comfortable, Mrs. Collins."
    "Thank you."  She caught sight of Barnabas at last, in conversation with another man.  He was in his shirt sleeves, his vest unbuttoned.  Finally, the other man nodded, smiling, and Barnabas moved toward the office.  He must have seen Angelique in the window, because his pace quickened.
    She heard him enter the outer office, heard Mrs. Davis say, "Mrs. Collins is waiting for you in your office."
    "Any messages?"
    "Mr. Forest called. He'll be here a ten on Monday morning."
    "Thank you."
    "Your schedule is clear until after lunch."
    "Hold my calls."
    "Yes sir."
    Barnabas closed the door behind him, then crossed to meet Angelique half way, taking her in his arms.  "I havena't been able to concentrate all  morning, worrying about you.  About what Nicholas might be planning to do to you."
    "He hasn't been by.  Elizabeth told me that he had come into Collinsport with Carolyn."
    "When did you see Elizabeth?"
    "She came over this morning offering a possible solution to your dilema about a governess.  Have you called the agency in Ellsworth yet?"
    "I planned to do it this afternoon.  What was Elizabeth's solution?"
    Angelique watched him carefully as she answered.  "Maggie Evans."
    Barnabas frowned. "Maggie?"
    "She's evidently grown tired of traveling with Sebastian Shaw and is coming back to Collinsport.  Elizabeth thought that we might be willing to hire her to be Sarah's governess."
    Now it was Barnabas' turn to search Angelique's face.  "You wouldn't mind having Maggie around?"
    "No, darling," Angelique assured him, putting her arms around his neck.  "I've no reason to be jealous of anyone now that I know that you love me."
    Barnabas smiled tightly.  "Claire Maxwell DID trouble you, didn't she?  If you are willing to accept Maggie at the Old House, taking care of Sarah--" he frowned suddenly.
    "What's wrong, Barnabas?"
    "Right after Willie released me, I kidnapped Maggie -"
    "Because of her resemblance to Josette.  I know all about that, Barnabas."
    "Not all of it.  She escaped with the help of my sister's ghost."
    "And you're afraid that seeing Sarah - our Sarah, might cause her to remember."
    "It's a possiblity."
    "Barnabas, Nicholas erased that memory."
    "He could also return it - and don't forget that he very nearly killed Maggie."
    Angelique moved away.  "Very well, Barnabas.  I'll leave the decision up to you.  I just thought that I could more easily trust Maggie with Sarah than I could a perfect stranger.  And she COULD be a help to our plan."
    Barnabas turned her to face him.  "This is important to you, isn't it?"
    "Yes.  It concerns Sarah's safety.  And the possible survival of the Collins family."
    "Very well.  I'll call Ellsworth and tell them that the position is filled."
    Angelique's blue eyes filled with gratitude.  "Thank you."

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