The woman put out her hand towards the brass plate to the side of the half-open door. She did not look at the name on the plate, which said, 'Alexander Armstrong & Son, Solicitors', but seemed to find support from it by touching its frame while she stood drawing in deep, shuddering breaths.
When she finally straightened herself and stepped through the doorway into a carpeted hall, she made her faltering way towards the desk to the left of her, behind which stood a young woman with her mouth agape.
The receptionist did not greet the visitor with a customary 'Can I help you, madam?' or 'Have you an...