There have been Grayles at Hartleap since Canute. They know this and are proud of the fact. Now they stand round the bed of the very last of their nannies, who is quietly slipping away. Ada Stephens-known as Nanny Grayle, and well into her nineties-is saying farewell. In the strange clarity which comes with the last remission, she looks at the saddened faces about her and surprises them all. She says that the most adored of her charges, Rufus, is 'tainted' and that his father, the revered war hero 'Beau' Grayle, was 'wicked'. None of them is going to get anything in her will - she has left everything to her nephew, Robert. Thus begins the final demolition of a once-proud house. Slowly, from Sunday to Thursday, as they attend to the many small duties that follow death, the unravelling begins. The family must face the fact that their way of life, and the glory which was Hartleap, will slide into Nanny's grave with her. As the terrible truth becomes known, desperately they try to close ranks...

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