I mean I don’t mean to be funny Edward but I made some enquires when I was in North Shields. I called into Humphrey’s Solicitors to ask if they had a girl named Muriel Marshbanks working there. They told me that no girl of that name worked there.’
“Maybe there was a mistake.’
“No mistake Edward I spoke with Mr Humphrey himself; he was just coming back from court and he asked me if he could help me. A lovely old gentleman he is.’
“I don’t understand Ellen, why would she lie about such a thing.
“Maybe she is not who you think she is.’
“When I do write to her; I will ask her who on earth she really is.’
Edward was curious to find out about Muriel Marshbanks too now; after dinner he went to his room and sat by the table and began to write.’
“Do come in Mr Higginbottom my niece has been expecting you.’
Charles led Alfred Higginbottom to the study where Muriel was waiting for him.
My Miss Marshbanks you have certainly changed since I seen you last and for the better I must add.’
“Thank you Mr Higginbottom now shall we get started I am now typing eighty words a minute with no errors.’
That is very good. Mr Higginbottom scanned the pages that she had done then nodded his approval.
Now my dear this is the hard part; you must learn by heart all of these symbols I am going to give you and I want you the next time I come to be able to dictate a letter for me using only the short hand then you must be able to type that letter for me verbatim understood. Mr Humphrey gave her a booklet with all of these squiggles representing different letters of the alphabet. Each day I want you to use the book that you are reading and copy that page down in short hand.
“Yes, Mr Higginbottom.’
“Then at the end of the week you can ask someone to read you something from another book and you must dictate that verbatim as well. Then when I return next Monday we will see how you got on.’
Right I think that concludes our business for today Miss Marshbanks.’
“Until next week then said the man and with that he left.
Muriel opened the booklet and began to write down all the letters then the comas Capital letters and so on. Then she wrote a short letter in short hand and then typed out what she had written.
Mary had a little lamb
Its face as white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go.
Then she set about writing from a library book a page of text.
It took her over thirty minutes to do and she knew that was too slow.
She continued right through that afternoon and it appeared that she was actually getting slower and making mistakes to boot so she stopped and had a break.