When Maude opened her eyes and blinked in the bright lights of A&E, she was aware of her hand being held, gently, but firmly, and knew by the touch that it was her life-partner, Daphne, who clung on to her so fiercely: "you, okay?" asked Maude's voice, much quieter than usual, and Daphne nodded: "don't you ever disappear like that again, love of mine, especially just before a pandemic," but her tone was gentle and she smiled, resembling one of the Barons delivering the Magna Carta for Bad King John to sign at Runnymede, and Maude returned her smile, for she had so much to be happy with; the pounding in her head, which had felt like a lithophone being assailed by mallets, had reduced to the intensity of a tub of soft butter and she whispered: "when it comes to disappearing, I don't have the know-how to do the guntz, best beloved, I'm always going to roll back like one of those balls or hoops you flick away with a backspin that draws them in faster than you can say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!" and Daphne roared with laughter and gave Maude a hug that left her gasping for air and brought an anxious nurse to the cubicle; she checked that Maude was still in the present and not the hereafter, and said: "Dr Bellwether will be along in a few minutes, Professor Lyttleton, she wants to be told when you wake up so that she can tell you off good and proper!" and Maude's eyes were like saucers: "Tamara Bellwether how long has she been working here?" and the nurse winked, then said: "she joined us about a week after you disappeared," and Maude stared intently at her, then gave a whoop: "Geli Raubal! you were a nun on the Pilgrimage, weren't you? so what makes you think Doctor Bellwether's going to read me the Riot Act?" and Nurse Raubal simply held up her left hand, on the ring-finger of which twinkled a Rose Diamond, and murmured: "pillow talk, Professor! but sealed with the strictest kiss of confidentiality," then spun on her heel, gave a little wiggle—which her bottom was perfectly suited for—and as she scampered down the corridor, Maude and Daphne could hear her giggling: "well!" said Daphne, rolling her eyes, "do you have something you want to get off your chest, Professor?" and Maude, laughing and coughing, said: "this hospital gown! Oyzell and I haven't had a decent bath or shower in a week—I know, I know, five months—and I just want to get something soft and smooth around me," then she grinned, "and that means You, Professor Dumbiedykes!"