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As she nears the moment of decision, new trials arise for Mrs. Biddle. The wily, if dimwitted, Felicia has somehow conceived plans of her own, while Tomasz, Mrs. Biddle’s former devotee, now conspires against her. Worse still, her more-often-than-not steadfast servant Mélisande allows herself to be distracted by a sweet-talking flank attack.

How, you ask, will Mrs. Biddle combat these challenges? Why, with the usual combination of deceit, psychological handling, and thinly veiled extortion, of course. She may be a self-serving schemer, and have the ethics of a Borgia, but no one can accuse her of not being consistent.

This compelling episode begins with Father Timoteo conducting a sparsely attended funeral, and ends with him performing an ill-omened wedding (you’ll never guess whose). In between, there’s a revealing séance, a remarkable fish story, a kidnapping, a not entirely unanticipated marital indiscretion, a parting of ways, and a voodoo rite out at the old Congo dancing-ground.

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