The following day, Corinne was eager to rescue her mother from Dachshund Manor. She had felt guilty about delaying the act for so many hours but Eric had calmly reasoned that firstly she had deserved to enjoy herself selfishly for an entire day after the ordeal involving Lord Dachshund, secondly it was probably better for her that she avoided Lord Dachshund and anything that would remind her of him since he had called her cold that day and left the cottage in anger, and that thirdly if Lord Dachshund had informed her mother, she would begin to pack up all her belongings and did not necessarily need Corinne for this.
Eric’s words of reassurance served only to relieve Corinne’s guilt, though. She remained intent on rescuing her mother as soon as possible. Directly after breakfast the pair set out on Whisper, producing surprise in every Periville inhabitant they encountered since they had been informed of Corinne staying outside Dachshund Manor as well as of her safety yet not of her whereabouts or of with whom she could be found.
At the manor, Samantha answered Corinne’s knock on the door.
“The lady Corinne!” she exclaimed in surprise. “I had heard that you did not wish to return!”
“It is true,” Corinne said, before the maid could say anymore. “I have not come to resume residence - I have come for my mother.”
Samantha’s expression became puzzled and sad.
“Merely for your mother?” She sighed discontentedly.
“Yes,” Corinne replied, failing at her attempts to speak gently. “Could we see her?”
Samantha glanced at Eric as if having noticed him for the first time. She startled Corinne by shaking her head.
“I am afraid that if it is only your mother you have come to see, you will not wish to enter the manor. Keris Kingfisher left in the evening yesterday to live with a woman who is her sister by marriage with whom she has been in correspondence.”
Corinne was amazed.
“Mother has moved to live with Aunt Susanna?”
Once again, Samantha nodded.
“Whatever were her reasons?” Corinne asked, bewildered.
Samantha gave a shrug of her shoulders.
“I did not ask her. All of the maids helped her to pack up her belongings. Nothing remains of hers here. She seemed happy to leave. She had heard of your safety when Lord Dachshund returned from seeing you.”
Corinne nodded, dazed. Well, at least she knew the location of Aunt Susanna’s home. She could visit her mother after leaving here.
Samantha began to close the door of the manor when Eric interceded.
“My lady, the lady Corinne also requires her clothing,” he said, blushing slightly.
Corinne was embarrassed that he had had to ask. Really she had forgotten that there had been more than one reason for this visit.
Rightly, Samantha looked shocked at this sentence coming out of a man’s mouth.
“He is right,” Corinne said quickly. “I had forgotten. May I enter?”
Samantha sighed heavily, looking like she did not want to allow Corinne to enter at all.
“Why are you residing with this stranger, Corinne?” she asked, sounding ever just a little irritated. “How can you throw Lord Dachshund’s generosity back in his face? Do you not think that that is just a little awful of you?”
Corinne grew icy.
“I do not appreciate being talked to in that manner, Samantha.”
“What does it matter now that I am no longer your maid?” Samantha asked, clearly showing her frustration now.
Corinne looked away from the maid, a little wounded.
“I guess it does not. But I had thought that we were on good terms.”
“You used to be a kinder woman, Corinne. You have changed.”
Corinne did not say a word as Samantha led her to her room - no, her former room, she reminded herself - and collected her items wordlessly, not even allowing Eric to help her load the dresses and various other items of clothing into a trunk that Samantha provided for her in equal silence.
And Corinne was still silent as she proceeded out of the manor with Eric. It was only when she mounted Whisper in front of him, when he kissed her cheek that she murmured, “So the staff dislike me now.”
“The staff did not know your relationship with Lord Dachshund,” Eric reminded her comfortingly. “And they are not important.”
She smiled sadly.
“You are so quick to try to improve my mood, Eric.”
“I could not bear your prolonged unhappiness,” he replied.
“I love you, Eric,” she murmured, twisting in the saddle so that she could kiss him.
“And I you.”