But enjoyable nevertheless. There was rather more context and less about Dido Elizabeth Belle than I was expecting, but that may be a reflection of how much less people's lives, and perhaps especially women's lives were recorded then. Daughter as clerical assistant/confidential secretary is not an unknown twentieth century phenomenon either, and I can confirm that this arises out of trust and mutual respect, rather than daughter-as- dogsbody. I can think of other reasons, apart from illegitimacy or colour for Dido's non- appearance at meals. Is it possible that being in her foster father's professional confidence she knew a little more about some of the guests, perhaps not entirely to their credit, and had at one point said something indecorous, perhaps pointing out hypocrisy in a fairly typical adolescent fashion? It would be a lot easier for an about-to-explode teenager to get herself out of the room in the drawing room after dinner than from the formality of the dinner table. The other possibility is an eating disorder. I do realise that for most of Britain's population, getting enough food would be the issue, but I'm sure upper class and upper middle class young ladies had at least as much pressure on them with regards to appearance as twenty-first century young women. I am most intrigued by the signal for "the captain's dead." There has to be potential for a CS Forrester - style sort story there.