(Neutral territory, The Admiral’s survivors, The Admiral’s victims, and Dinner happens once a day)
Peter carried her all the way to the library. One of the demilitarised zones in the perpetual battle between himself and the old man. Laid her carefully on one of the couches there and, with a thought to her sense of decency, covered her stockinged legs with a throw his late mother had made.
Poor Ma. The doctors said she perished from hysterical melancholy. Peter was rather more inclined to diagnose that his old man had worn her entirely out with his bullying. He'd bullied her into marriage, bullied her into having children too soon and too quickly together. And then he'd bullied her to an early grave.
In his less charitable moments, Peter rather fancied that Ma had died as a means of finally escaping him. As had all of his brothers and all but one of his sisters. And dear Penelope was very rarely spoken of since Father shipped her off to a permanent hospice. Infantile paralysis had taken the use of her legs from her, which rendered her useless as far as the Admiral was concerned.
Penelope was safe and far away. Living what life she could whilst stuck in a wheeled chair.
The maid did not flutter, nor moan slightly as ladies were meant to do as they stirred from a faint. Her eyes flew open, she gasped, and shrank away from him.
He did a little shrinking himself. "It's all right, now," he soothed. "The Admiral never comes into the library. I've conspired to gradually replace all his false books with more genuine volumes. Hasn't noticed a thing." He tried an encouraging smile for her.
It didn't take. The new maid just shrank in her place and looked for a means of escape.
Peter wisely gave her space and murmured, "I'm not my father, Miss."
She threw off the cover and bolted for safety. Of course she did. She'd heard everything the Admiral his father had said. Both men of the house were now threats in her eyes. And even though she was only halfway right, he had no welcome means of convincing her of such.
If he continued to come down to dine with the Admiral, all the maids would be forced to hear the same thing. Over and over. With little in the way of variation. But Mrs Cambridge did insist that he eat at least one proper meal a day. Another cyclical argument that he'd given up on having.
Mrs Cambridge, after all, had to deal with the Admiral his father several times a day. Dinner only happened once.