‘I’m so sorry.’ She gathers herself. ‘You must remember I have been here for many years, and seen many masters come and go. It’s so very dull for me. But never, in all my days, have I encountered anyone so perfectly unsuited to being here as you are. The mismatch is quite marvellous!’
Wystan’s smile fades slightly. ‘Mrs Perkins, I rather need this job.’
‘Oh, Mr Auden, you are a breath of fresh air. Look at you! That is what makes you absolutely unsuitable, and also absolutely perfect. You will give Mr Perkins quite a run for his money, which is what he needs, between you and me.’
The lady clasps his hand.
‘I can’t tell you how I have longed to meet someone like you. Someone alive! Someone disgusting! And you simply must call me Daphne! No stupid formality between us. We shall drink and tell each other our secrets! We are going to be great friends.’
Wystan understands now. Beneath the surface of this wan invalid is an absolute subversive. ‘And you must call me Wystan,’ he says. ‘Shall we make a dent in that gin you’re hiding up there?’
Oh, please, book, keep this up! Don't lose momentum. This is perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon.