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“Don’t do it.”
“Do what?”
“Don’t do it.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
Her tiny lips began to tremble. The boy turned away. The autumn breeze nipped at him through the fine cotton of his tailored summer coat. A small kitten was nestled in his front pocket. He stroked it thoughtfully; it began to purr.
“Septimus…” she whimpered. Septimus stiffened. The purring stopped.
“Don’t call me that, Prissy. Don’t ever call me that. That is father’s name, and I hate it.” The boy was only two years into his second decade, but he was already beginning to resemble his father, the Lord, in both appearance and demeanor. He would be taking his seat in the Parliament one day. He resented it greatly.
“You promised…” she whispered. He ignored her.
The purring started again.
The girl’s eyes began to water. A sniffle escaped her throat. The boy gazed out onto the lake, said nothing. The small wooden bridge they stood on crossed only a small portion of the water’s languid body, at the southeastern edge. It served no purpose but to provide a sublime view of their mansion, Ashenwood. It looked deceptively distant from this vantage point, giving their Hertfordshire estate the illusion of greater acreage. The landscapists had done an excellent job.
They were both quiet for a time.
Suddenly, the boy’s hand jerked violently—a sharp crack rang out—and he flung towards the lake with all his might. He let out a single shriek. Only a faint splash broke the ensuing silence.
Behind him, the girl stood stoically. Tears streamed down her face, but she made not a sound. The boy panted heavily, caught his breath, straightened up. He flattened his pockets.
“Come,” he said calmly, “our dear uncle is due to return from the Raj this evening. We are expected.”
He began walking. She followed.
“Not a word, understand? This will be the last time.”
The girl nodded.
“I promise.”

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