CHAPTER SIX

  

Out in the garden, the subject of their conversation was chatting to Clowance and an old friend of hers, Tom Guildford. After a while Clowance excused herself and drifted away to talk to Ben and Essie Carter, leaving the pair alone. Tom had returned almost two years ago from a long and very prosperous career in India, and had been rather hopefully pursuing Cuby ever since.

     “Demelza’s looking well,” he remarked.

     “She is. It’s hard to believe she’s a great-grandmother.”

     “Indeed. And you a grandmother – it can scarce be credited.”

     Cuby glanced up at him, her fine hazel eyes smiling in that way which transformed her rather solemn face. “What a flatterer you are, Tom.”

     “Not at all. You know how I feel about you.”

     She shook her head. “Tom, please don’t.”

     “Oh, I know this is not the place or the occasion. But seeing Ross and Demelza so happy together, after so many years, made me think… made me wonder… Why could not we be happy too? You only have to say the word, dearest Cuby.”

     She sighed. “I’m sorry, Tom. You know I’m very fond of you, but… I won’t ever marry again.”

     “But it’s been so long.”

     “Not to me. To me it seems like but a few short weeks. No, Tom – I treasure your friendship, but there can never be anything more. Please don’t mention it again.”

     He nodded, his face registering his disappointment. “Very well, I won’t. But if you should ever change your mind…”

     “I won’t. Now please excuse me, I must go in to Noelle and the baby.”

 

It was late afternoon when Cuby and Noelle, with her husband Phillip and the baby, left to return to Cuby’s pleasant cottage on the edge of Bodmin moor. Noelle and Phillip were staying for a few more days before returning home to Plymouth.

     It was dusk by the time they got home, and they were all tired as they dismounted from the carriage. Cuby took a moment to glance around with pleasure at her garden.

     She had caught the love of growing things from Demelza, and many of the holyhocks and roses had come from the garden at Nampara. Now as the quiet evening breeze drifted in from the moor their fragrance filled the air.

     Dorry, her housekeeper, had lit candles and was looking out for them, and had a pot of tea and a plate of freshly-made scones ready as soon as they had shrugged off their travelling cloaks.

     Baby Charlotte had slept for most of the journey, lulled by the movement of the carriage, but she had woken now and was grizzling to be fed.

     “I think I’ll go straight to bed, Mama,” said Noelle. “This little Miss won’t settle until she’s had her dinner.”

     “I’ll come with you,” said Phillip. “We can both take our tea upstairs.”

     “Of course. Goodnight, my dears.” Cuby put up her cheek as they both kissed her goodnight. “I’ll be up myself in a little while.”

     Left alone in the sitting room, she took her tea and a branch of candles over to the writing desk. Opening the lid, she took out a sheet of her best writing paper, and set out her inkstand and a new quill – she still preferred those to the new steel nibs, though she would use one for simple notes. But for letters – no, it had to be the quill.

     Dipping it carefully into the ink, she shook off the excess and began to write in her clear flowing hand:

     Dearest Jeremy

     Well, we are home safely. It has been a wonderful day, though I confess a little tiring. Fortunately the weather has been very good, so we were most of the time in the garden.

     Your mother looked absolutely radiant. It really was all a complete surprise to her – and so clever of your father to keep her from knowing a thing. She’s usually so sharp-witted!

     There were so many people there – many of them you would know, of course. Fitzroy Somerset, who has become quite a firm friend of your father’s, and Richard Wellesley – you know, he does look quite like his brother, but not nearly so formidable. And some of our old friends from Brussels – you remember Harry Beauchamp and Tom Gregor?

     Little Jeremy is a very sweet baby, though I do believe our Charlotte is the sweeter. But then I would say that, of course, being her Grandmama. Does it seem as strange to you as it does to me to think that we are grandparents? It seems so little time since Noelle was a child herself, in short frocks with her hair in ribbons!

     Sadly we could not stay for the bonfire, as we had to bring Charlotte home. And in truth I think Noelle was more tired than she would say – it has been only a short time since she gave birth, after all.

     Of course I have seen it lots of times before, but it’s always such fun. Though it would have been even more fun if you could have been with us. You know that I miss you so, and will remain always your loving wife,

     Cuby.

     She sat for a moment reading it through again, then sanded it dry and folded it carefully. Then she drew a slim silver chain from around her neck, with a small key, and bent to the cupboard beneath the writing desk.

     Opening the door, she drew out a wooden box, of the sort that army officers would often use to store their small personal effects while in the field. She put the key into the lock, and opened the lid, and tucked the letter into its place alongside all the others she had written – hundreds of them, the older ones now yellowing with age.

     Then she closed and locked the box, and put it back into the cupboard, and snuffed out the candles.

     “Goodnight, boy,” she whispered, and went quietly up to bed.

 

The long summer evening was lingering over Nampara. In the shadowed valley the birds were beginning their late song; the blue of the sea was fading to a misty grey, the waves long and lazy as they whispered up over the sands of Hendrawna beach.

     At ten o’clock, a long torch procession began to wend its way up the hill from Nampara Combe. They were singing loudly as they went, accompanied by a scratch orchestra of two fiddlers, a flute and a drum.

     Everyone followed the procession, the grander visitors as interested to see the spectacle as the locals were eager to take part. Some of the young men were waving their torches in wide circles, tracing great cartwheels of fire against the deepening blue of the sky.

     On the crest of the hill a huge bonfire had been built beside the last remains of Wheal Maiden, Ross’s old mine, and the Methodist meeting house built by Demelza’s brother, Sam.

     Sam had been gathered to his Maker - as he would have put it - several years ago, and it was his successor, Joe Billings, who offered the prayer. This had become part of the tradition of what was essentially a pagan festival - the mid-summer bonfire.

     Joe had been regarded as one of the most shiftless, dishonest men in the village as a youth, one of the ringleaders in the bullying of Music Thomas. But marriage - to Hannah Carne, the daughter of Demelza’s brother John - had tamed him as effectively as it had once tamed Demelza’s drunkard father.

     The end of the prayer was the signal, and the torches were plunged into the bonfire. With a little encouragement it sprang into life, the flames lighting up the happy faces gathered around it.

     The bonfire had been built of old pit-props and driftwood washed up on Hendrawna beach below, and covered with green branches of hawthorn and sycamore. As the flames soared, Milly Martin’s little red-haired daughter stepped up to Demelza and held out a bouquet of flowers and herbs.

     “If ye please, Ma’am, you’re to be the Lady of the Flowers,” she said, bobbing the curtsey she had been practicing all week.

     Demelza smiled, and took the bouquet – good herbs of St.John’s wort, elder and clover, and bad herbs of nettles and ivy. She had watched this ceremony almost every mid-summer for many years, and had been the Lady of the Flowers several times before, so she knew the ancient Cornish doggerel well, though she had little idea what it meant:

        Otta kelmys yn-kemysks

        Blesyow, may fons-y cowl leskys

        Ha’n da, ha’n drok.

     As she finished reciting the words, she tossed the bouquet into the heart of the bonfire. Then the children, who had been allowed to stay up, and the young people in their best clothes, joined hands and began to dance around it, breathless as they sang the old folk-songs – Sweet Nightingale, An Awhesyth and Medhel An Gwyns.

     As the evening wore on there was a continuous circulation between the bonfire and the remains of the feast, which had been brought up from the garden. And as the ale and wine was sunk, some of the local gentry and then even some of the grander folk began to join in the dancing, good-natured and a little tipsy, and were welcomed in the same spirit.

     “Tired?” Ross asked, slipping his arm around Demelza’s waist.

     “Not a bit.” She let her head rest on his shoulder.

     “Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. The fireworks will start in a minute.”

     The fireworks were bought every year by Edward and Clowance, as a gift to the local villages. Lighting them was in the charge of Aaron Nanfan, who was usually in charge of the engine at Wheal Leisure.

     Soon the sky was lit up with rockets and serpents and gerbs and Catherine wheels, purples and pinks and greens and yellows, as the dancers stilled to watch and gasp in wonder.

     And finally, as the moon rose like a silver shilling into the night sky, the scratch band of musicians struck up the irresistible jig of the Furry Dance, and soon almost everyone was drawn into the procession around the bonfire.

     The steps were simple enough – three times a hop and a skip, then twirl three times with your partner, then three hops and a skip again. It started quite sedately, but that was deceptive – on and on it went, faster and faster.

     Ross could manage only one circuit before his ankle forced him to sit out, and Demelza was glad enough to join him. She had grown breathless very quickly – something that seemed to be happening a lot since that bad cold of last winter, though she wouldn’t dream of mentioning it.

     At long last the fire began to sink, until it collapsed in a shower of sparks. As the glowing embers slowly faded people began to disperse – the locals in families and small groups to the surrounding villages, other guests to their temporary lodgings in the finer houses of the district.

     It seemed to take hours to say goodbye to everyone, but Demelza was determined not to miss anyone out, after they had come all this way. By the time she and Ross set out to stroll together back down the valley she was yawning behind her hand.

     Nampara looked peaceful beneath the stars. Candles were glowing invitingly in most of the windows as they walked through the garden. The scent of her roses filled the air, and as they neared the house another perfume came to them, sweet and intoxicating, faintly reminiscent of vanilla.

     “It’s grown well.” Ross gazed up at the healthy evergreen shrub growing against the south wall of the library, bearing its waxy white flowers almost up to the level of the roof.

     “At last. I never thought it would survive.”

     “It took a while to establish itself.”

     She tilted her head against his shoulder. “I think it was the poems.”

     “The poems?”

     She hesitated, drawing in a long breath. “Hugh Armitage sent me poems.” It was a secret she had kept for half her life. “A few years after he died, I buried them among the roots here. After that, it started to grow much better. They were beautiful poems.” The wistful echo in her voice tugged at his heart.

     “I know.” He too hesitated. “I saw one.”

     She glanced up at him, a startled question in her eyes. “The day we went over to the Boscowans, just before he died. Do you remember how it rained so hard, and we had to leave our clothes to dry before the fire? I went up before you to change, and as I turned your skirt over the poem fell out of your pocket. I didn’t intend to read it, but…”

     “You knew?”

     “I knew.”

     For a moment the only sound was their breathing, and the trilling song of a nightingale somewhere nearby.

     “I would have dug it up if you had asked me to,” she murmured softly.

     “No.” He bent his head and laid his cheek against her hair. “I wanted it to stay. As a reminder to me never to take you – us - for granted.”

 

Caroline stayed for two weeks after the party. On the Wednesday Harriet came over to tea, and the three of them enjoyed a thorough gossip, but on most days she was wise enough to leave these two oldest of friends to spend time in each other’s company.

     The weather stayed fine, and they were able to spend long afternoons walking on the beach, as they had done many times over the years. They sat down on a rock, and let the sun warm their faces. The tide was far out, and the sky was reflected in long streaks over the wet sand.

     Caroline drew in a long, deep breath. “Ahhh… There’s nothing quite like Cornish air – it tastes like champagne straight from a cold cellar.”

     Demelza slanted her a questioning glance. “You sound as if you miss it.”

     “Of course I do. I lived here most of my life.”

     “But you always seemed to prefer London.”

     Caroline laughed without humour. “Ah, that was the other Caroline. The one I was brought up to be. The silly, superficial female who was only interested in fashion and parties. The one who was supposed to marry a rising man like Unwin Trevaunance, or Lord Conniston, or any one of a dozen other suitable gentlemen who were presented to me in various unsubtle ways. Sometimes she made me so angry, that Caroline.”

     “But she wasn’t the real Caroline,” said Demelza.

     “No she wasn’t. The real Caroline was inside, but she didn’t know how to get out. And the other Caroline was winning – until I met Dwight.”

     She picked up a pebble and tossed it slantwise into the sea so that it bounced over the waves – she had always had a knack for skimming pebbles, a knack much-envied by Harry as a boy.

     “Dwight saw me, the real me, and he understood. Of course the other Caroline wouldn’t give up without a fight. Every so often she would pop her head up and demand that I give her what she wanted. Fortunately Dwight was very good about that – there aren’t many men who would let their wives go gallivanting off to London for weeks at a time.” She sighed. “He was special, my Dwight.”

     A curlew was exploring for worms along the water’s edge, spiking its long beak into the wet sand as it strutted along. Further along the beach a quarrelsome flutter of seagulls were skimming the waves, flashing their white wings. Demelza watched them for a while in silence.  

     “You know, sometimes we wondered, in those early days, if we had done either of you a good turn in persuading you to come back,” she said. “You seemed to have so little in common.”

     “Oh, nothing at all,” Caroline agreed readily. “He wouldn’t hunt, and I wouldn’t visit the poor. And he had no interest at all in running the estate, so he happily left me to get on with it, which I found I thoroughly enjoyed. And if I hated his experiments and dissections, he kept them well out of my way. And if I was always anxious that he would pick up some horrid infection and bring it home, I was forced to admit that he never did. In fact the brats were the healthiest children I’ve ever known. They barely even caught a cold.”

     “It’s good that you can talk about him again.”

     Caroline smiled crookedly. “It doesn’t really get any better, but after a while you learn to live with it. I suppose… it’s the price you pay for love.”

     Demelza nodded slowly. “That’s a right brave thought. I just hope… If anything happened to Ross, that I could remember it.”

     Caroline turned to her with an anxious glance. “Ross? Is he ill?”

     Demelza shook her head. “Oh no – no. Not that he’d tell me if he was. As he would never tell me if he was going into danger. When he goes down the mine… Well, I always worry, of course, but at least I know what it is. When he used to go off on those missions for the government, during the war… Do you know, Geoffrey Charles let something slip out at Christmas that I wasn’t supposed to know. Remember that time he went to Portugal? Oh, it was ’10 or ’11, I don’t quite remember. When they met up, he and Geoffrey Charles?”

     Caroline nodded. “Yes, I remember. Wasn’t it while he was away that Stephen Carrington first showed up?”

     “Oh yes. Then it would have been ’10. Clowance was sixteen. Anyway, he was only supposed to be an observer. But he got right into the battle, alongside Geoffrey Charles and his men. He had a rifle, and he borrowed a uniform, and he was right in the middle of the fighting.”

     Caroline began to laugh.

     “But he was fifty!” Demelza protested.

     Caroline laughed even more. “Oh, that is so Ross! Can you imagine him getting that close to the fighting and not joining in? He wouldn’t be Ross if he’d stood tamely on the sidelines and just observed.”

     “Well, but I wish…” Reluctantly Demelza shook her head. “No, you’re right,” she conceded. “I’m just glad that he really is too old for that sort of thing these days. He finally seems content to sit by the fireside and smoke his pipe.”

     Caroline said nothing, but gave her a sideways look. “Do you feel like walking again?” she suggested. “I’m getting a little stiff sitting here.”

     Neither of them spoke the words which were in both their hearts. Tomorrow morning Caroline would be leaving to return to London. It was likely that there would be no more walks like this, arm in arm along the water’s edge.

 

 

Hubert Trencrom had been a strange man. Hugely stout, and with a lifelong tisick which had sounded like a small dog being strangled, he had surprised everyone – himself included – by living to the ripe old age of eighty-four.

     In addition to his successful smuggling operation, which he had run for over sixty years with the knowledge – even the connivance – of the local magistrates, he had had investments in numerous legitimate business operations of small and medium size throughout the county.

     And though these activities had made him very rich, he had always lived modestly, his house unpretentious, his style of dress never extravagant. He had never married, and when he died his only surviving relatives had been two great-nieces whom he had never seen.

     But the strangest thing about him had been his Will. He, who had never been known to have a philanthropic bone in his body, had left every last penny to Ross Poldark, expressing the wish that he would use it to the benefit of the needy of the district.

     At first Ross had been reluctant to take on the responsibility, but Demelza had persuaded him of how much it was needed, and that if Mr Trencrom had paid him the compliment of trusting him to do as he had wanted with the money, he really ought to honour that trust.

     And indeed, over the past twelve years the money had done a great deal of good. Many of the investments he had left untouched, on the argument that they provided a regular dividend while securing employment and income for a lot of people.

     Other funds, including from the sale of the swift cutter the One-and-All, he had applied to the opening of several alms houses for the care of the elderly and infirm, and had secured apprenticeships to good trades for a number of the boys and girls of the local villages.

     It had seemed very appropriate to use some of the money to help further Caroline’s plans for Killewarren. Unfortunately not everyone was convinced of the idea – some protested loudly that they didn’t want a bunch of lunatics roaming the district at every full moon, murdering people in their beds.

     So it came as some surprise to receive a note from Truro requesting him to meet with Miss Ursula Warleggan at Killewarren, at two o’clock on the following Tuesday.

     When he showed it to Demelza she was equally surprised. “George’s daughter. I wonder what she wants?”

     “I have no idea.”

     “Well, you’ll find out next Tuesday.”

 

It was a pleasant afternoon to ride over to Killewarren. It was a road he had ridden many, many times down the years. Over the past two years, however, he had been over only occasionally. Already the absence of the family was evident.

     It wasn’t so much neglect – Caroline had retained the gardener and the housekeeper to keep the place in order. But there was a kind of dullness, even in the pleasant July sunshine. The flowerbeds were cleaned of weeks, but the soil was bare in many places, with no flowers growing. And the windows had a blank look – many of them had curtains drawn across to keep out the sunlight.

     At the porch he dismounted and looped Seymour’s reigns over a post, and stood back to look up at the house. He had first seen it on an evening of misty rain in the middle of November back in ’92. It was a date etched on his memory as the day he had faced bankruptcy and debtors’ prison at the hands of George Warleggan - the father of the woman he was meeting with today.

     Darkie, his old mare, had cast a shoe…

     The door opened, and Audrey, the housekeeper, beamed at him in welcome. “Ah, Mr.Ross sir. How nice to see you.”

     “Hello Audrey. How are you? And your father?”

     “Both of us very well, sir. Father still keeps himself going – though he sadly misses the doctor.”

     “As do we all, Audrey.” Audrey’s father, Bone, had been with Dwight since before his marriage to Caroline.

     “Will you take tea, Sir?”

     “I’m meeting with Miss Warleggan. You may serve tea when she arrives.”

     She nodded. “In the upstairs parlour?”

     “Yes please.”

     “I’ll remove the covers.”

     Ross glanced around the familiar hall, conscious of the echoing silence where once Caroline had  laughed, where Sophia and Meliora had played as children, where Dwight had talked earnestly of some new discovery in medical science – which his listeners had frequently barely understood.

     He drew in a long breath and walked back to the front door to await Ursula Warleggan.

     She was punctual to the dot, bowling up in a smart Tilbury with gleaming black wheels, drawn by a high-stepping black carriage-horse. She was an indifferent rider, Ross recalled, but had the reputation of being a notable whip.

     She drew to a halt at the foot of the steps, deftly looping her reins, as Martin Daniel – Audrey’s husband – hurried over to take charge of the horse. She had stepped down from the carriage before Ross could assist her, and stripped off her gloves as she walked up the steps, offering him her hand.

     A swift instinct warned him that she was not expecting him to kiss it. Instead he took it, aware of the firm strength of her handshake. “Good afternoon, Miss Warleggan.”

     “Ursula, please.” Her manner was very forthright. “We are related by marriage, after all. May I call you Ross?”

     “Of course.”

     “Good. I see the house has been kept in a good state of repair since Caroline left. So, show me what you have in mind for the place.”

     He nodded. “Shall we view the outside first?”

     “As you please.”

     They walked round to the back of the house. There was nothing elegant about her figure or the way she moved, though the dark blue velvet habit she was wearing did suit her rather better than the dress she had worn to the party at Nampara.

     She had never been a beauty. Her fair hair was fine and straight – she had wisely drawn it back into a coil at the nape of her neck rather than try to curl it fashionably around her square, plain face. Her best feature by far were her eyes – grey and very sharp, seeing everything.

     “It’s all based very much on Dwight’s – Dr.Enys’s – ideas,” Ross explained. “He envisioned a kind of retreat, a quiet place where people with various disorders of the brain could live with minimal restraint.”

     “I gather he’s been pressing for this for a long time. People don’t welcome the idea.”

     “No. But the sort of conditions he had in mind were not in any way dangerous. Those who might suffer seizures, or had an injury to the head, perhaps in an accident. Even some old soldiers whose minds have been damaged by particularly bad experiences in battle.”

     “Like Phillip Prideaux.”

     “Well, yes. His ideas were based on those of a French doctor, Pinel, whom he met in Paris when we were there after the treaty of Amiens. He advocated giving inmates as much freedom as possible, with good food, healthy outdoor exercise and the opportunity for productive work. So as you see here, the stable-yard could be converted into workshops for carpentry, ironworking, that sort of thing. They could look after the garden, and grow their own vegetables, care for the livestock on the home farm.”

     “I see.” She strolled around, assessing the size and state of repair of the stables, casting her eye over the kitchen garden, turning over a clump of earth with one well-shod foot.

     Was she planning to make an offer to buy the place? Whatever figure she offered he would have to discuss it with Caroline, of course, but he doubted she would agree. Apart from the difficulty of finding somewhere else suitable, she wanted the clinic to be Dwight’s memorial.

     They walked back to the front door, and wandered along narrow passages and into empty rooms as Ross explained some of the plans for the conversion of the building. They ended up back in the large parlour over the stables.

     Audrey had drawn back the curtains, letting the July sunshine stream in. There was still some furniture in here, though the lack of pictures and ornaments made it look bare. Audrey brought in the tea tray and poured a cup for each of them.

     “So,” Ursula began without preamble, “how much do you think it will cost to convert the house and maintain it - taking into account the salaries of the doctors and the staff to attend to the patients, the wages of the domestics and ground workers?”

     She clearly wasn’t one to beat about the bush, so he responded in kind, giving her the figures.

     “And you propose to fund this with the money from Mr.Trencrom’s legacy?”

     “That’s right. And I also hope to raise subscriptions from those who can be persuaded that I’m not proposing to put their lives at risk.”

     “I wish you luck of that. How much do you think the trust can provide?”

     “At least two thirds.”

     “But that would take away from the other work you do – providing the apprenticeships, for instance.”

     “You’re very well informed.” He wasn’t sure whether to be annoyed with her or not. If she was intending to negotiate down the price she was wasting her time and his.

     “Of course.” She nodded briskly. “This is what I propose. That we set up a trust between us – I shall provide two thirds, your trust one third – to cover both the initial outlay and the on-going costs. If others can be persuaded to join us, their contributions can pay for additional resources.”

     Ross sat back in his chair, surprise leaving him briefly silent. “May I ask… Why would you do that?”

     She looked at him for a moment, seeming to consider what she was going to say. “I liked Dwight Enys.” There was an odd little waver in her voice. “My father was forced to call him in once when I was small. I had the measles, if I recall correctly. I liked him far better than Dr.Behenna, whom my father always insisted on consulting. When I was old enough to insist on my own views I chose to employ Dwight – though fortunately my physical health has always been good.” She glanced towards the window, where the dust-motes danced in the warm beam of the sun. “And there is another reason.”

     Ross waited patiently.

     “You knew my father well.”

     “I knew him for a many years.”

     “He didn’t like you.” She was certainly blunt. “In fact I would go so far as to say he hated you.”

     “Well, yes…”

     “Do you know why? I mean apart from my mother? He hated you because he couldn’t control you. The only other person he couldn’t control was my brother Valentine, and he hated him too. And my step-mother, of course – he could never control her, but that was different.”

     She took a sip of her tea and put her cup down carefully on the small table beside her chair.

     “Can you imagine what it was like growing up in a household like that? Oh he rarely lost his temper – he didn’t have to. Everyone had to tiptoe around him, never quite knowing what would incur his displeasure. Frequently, I have to say, it was about you.”

     “I’m sorry about that.”

     “It wasn’t your fault. You remember when you were made a Baronet? It was a few months before I went away to school. He read about it in the Times, and for weeks he was like a simmering steam engine, set to blow up at any moment. He even cancelled the Times for a while – which even at fifteen I thought extremely childish. Then there were the quarrels with Valentine. Oh, those were as often as not of Valentine’s making – they were like two bears in a pit. It all had an effect on me.”

     “I always thought you were the apple of his eye.”

     “Oh I was. Not that that helped. I could have anything I wanted, but he really had no idea how to show affection. And of course I was always aware that I had failed in the one essential.”

     “Which was?”

     “I wasn’t a boy. It was something I was particularly conscious of after he fell out with Valentine over his marriage to Selina. But even then I might have redeemed myself by accepting a suitable husband. Unfortunately I had already realised that a woman may score in the marriage market by being in possession of either money or beauty – preferably both. Since I had a great deal of the one and none at all of the other I preferred not to accept any of the gallant offers that were made to me. The fact that my suitors could be seen to grit their teeth in order to spit out their proposals really didn’t help.”

     She tilted up her chin with a kind of defiant dignity. “I have never found reason to regret my decision,” she insisted. “But perhaps you can understand from this that there have been times when the stress of being around my father, and growing up without a mother, have caused me to feel… I can only describe it as a deep melancholy.”

     A shadow crossed her eyes. “Dwight understood. He made me feel that I wasn’t being foolish or self-obsessed. He encouraged me to take a while away when those moods came upon me. I have a cottage at St.Ives. It’s small, but very pretty, with a beach as fine as yours at Hendrawna. I think I would go so far as to say that Dwight saved my life. He certainly helped me find a way to make it worth living. So it is to honour his memory that I want to see his dearest wish come to fruition.”

     Ross was silent for a moment. Ursula had taken a handkerchief from her pocket and was dabbing at her eyes. He felt as if he might need to dab at his own.

     “So.” Abruptly she was her usual brisk self again. “I will have my lawyers draw up an agreement for us to set up our trust, and send it over to your lawyers for review.” She stood up and held out her hand again. “Good day to you Ross.”

     When she was gone, he stayed where he was for a while. It had certainly been an unexpected meeting – with a very unusual woman.

     The contact he’d had with her over the years had been minimal, but he had heard that her awkwardness at social gatherings was very much at odds with the shrewd businesswoman who still ran the Warleggan bank and many of the enterprises in which George had had investments. With considerable success.

     He found, a little to his surprise, that he liked her. He had never given much thought to what it must have been like for her, growing up under the thunderous cloud of George’s erratic personality. She had had her grandmother, who had doted on her, but she had died… oh, a few months before Harry was born. She would have been just twelve then, and left to deal with it all alone.

     Until Dwight. His friend – his oldest and closest, maybe his only real male friend. But friend to so many - so many lives he had touched and healed, from the poorest miner choking out his lungs with phthisis to the highest in the land.

     Slowly he rose to his feet and walked downstairs, and out again into the summer sunshine. As he mounted Seymour he took a moment to look back at the house.

     It wasn’t grand. A long, low, rambling building, little better than an extensive farmhouse. Did houses have a feeling for the people who lived in them? It had been a family home for many years – for the Enyses, and before that the Penvenens. Now it was to begin a new phase.

     Dismissing the thought as fanciful, he raised one hand in a kind of salute and farewell, and turning Seymour’s head he rode away down the long drive.