"I'm sorry, Mrs Payne," Nurse Goode said with concern, "I'm afraid we don't have any more toast. You will have to make do with what you've got." Mrs Payne smiled graciously.
"Quite alright that you had the last slice, Mrs Marr." Suzanne Marr smiled briefly, as she continued to add jam to her toast. With brilliant strategy, Roy Brooks, the home manager, had assigned Suzanne Marr to Mrs Payne's breakfast table, not only for logistical reasons, but to defuse Mrs Payne's fearful habit of causing trouble. Mrs Payne had greeted Suzanne Marr warmly, whilst eyeing Roy Brooks with some disdain.
Molly Faith plucked up the courage to speak.
"Might you enter the craft competition, Mrs Marr?" To this Suzanne Marr said with amused condescension,
"A craft competition, how, delightful! I haven't made anything since I was a girl and won the village show every year."
"Delightful", Mrs Payne and Molly Faith said in unison, hiding Mrs Payne's slightly irritated tone.
"Then you're sure to win if you enter!" Molly Faith said with excitement.
"I dare say I can try", Suzanne Marr replied, already rehearsing her winning speech.
"Oh, how jolly!" Molly Faith replied, adding, "Mrs Payne doesn't believe in the craft competition, do you dear?"
This gave Mrs Payne quite a start. Relaying information as to one's likes or dislikes with such a new resident was quite out of the question. Mrs Payne smiled as she spoke carefully.
"I haven't yet decided", Mrs Payne said cryptically. Molly Faith looked confused, but said nothing, realising her error.
"Not everyone has the skill required, Mrs Faith, I quite understand", Suzanne Marr replied. Mrs Payne steeled herself to this affront, and smiled as she responded,
"I dare say I could make a little something. I am not adverse to winning a little competition myself."
"Oh, how jolly!" Molly Faith exclaimed, "it will be a fierce competition, I dare say! I'm sure my meagre entry won't come close!" Mrs Payne and Suzanne Marr looked at each other directly in silence, smiling with increasing graciousness. Molly Faith looked between the two, neither of the two noticed her say under the breath,
Escaping from this trance, Suzanne Marr removed the napkin from her lap, saying woodenly as she did,
"Good morning", and with echoes of the same, Mrs Payne and Molly Faith were left at the table.
"I say, Bitty, I didn't know you could knit!" Molly Faith said with excitement.
"I can't dear, but I intend to teach Mrs Marr a lesson in who might have the 'skill required'", Mrs Payne said in annoyance, mimicking Suzanne Marr's regal sounding voice. Mrs Payne shook slightly, before exclaiming,
"Fearful woman!" Molly Faith looked worried. Mrs Payne relaxed and smiled, saying with reassurance,
"Won't it be fun, dear!"
"Yes, Bitty", Molly Faith said as she smiled nervously.
"Might you teach me to knit, presently?" Mrs Payne asked, picking up the coffee pot.
"Oh, certainly, Bitty, but," Molly Faith thought carefully for a moment, "do you really want to do it? You know from my knitting, it's a devil of a lot of work."
"Yes, I think I should", Mrs Payne said carefully. She brightened as she said optimistically, "It's just knit pearl, one pearl, isn't it?"
"Well..", was all Molly Faith could say before Mrs Payne poured a drop of coffee thereby emptying the pot. She put it down with a slight clatter before exclaiming with fury,
Next part to be published Friday 5th October 2012, 12pm UK