Look into my eyes, you will see
what you mean to me
Search your heart, search your soul
and when you find me there you'll search no more
The lyrics from the latest pop ballad drifted across the bedroom as the radio alarm sounded the start of yet another day in the life of Lady Joanna Maudsley. She stretched and reached across to turn the radio off but paused to listen. As always, she felt the emptiness of the double bed she alone now occupied. But this morning was different. Yes, there was that same old wistful feeling of what might have been, but now she had a new purpose.
Later that morning she stared out of the large windows across the gardens and lake knowing what she had to do. She hadn’t planned any of this but then sometimes the only thing you can do is pick up the baton life throws at you and run with it.
The housekeeper came into the drawing room and told her the taxi had arrived. Joanna hesitated but only for a few seconds before resolutely turning away from the view that represented her past, knowing that when she eventually returned, life would never be the same again.
The Island’s local newspaper, The County Press, announced the sad death of Lady Joanna Maudsley with the due deference that the local press have for county families. The Maudsley family had lived on the Island for over 200 years and the Maudsley name could be found as past Lord lieutenants, on war memorials for both wars, as governors of the local private schools and as honorary presidents of many a local community organisation. However, the report couldn’t resist drawing attention to the similar way in which her late husband Sir Charles Maudsley had died in 1990. Both had suffered the same fate, that of dying in car accidents, Joanna some 22 years later.
Of course the paper was also quick to add that the police had ruled out any foul play, and confirmed that the tragic accident that killed Joanna Maudsley was just a cruel twist of fate.
The funeral was held on a bitterly cold Saturday in January. The leaden sky mirrored the almost monochrome landscape of an Island winter’s day and the church at Calbourne, though small, was still too large for the small number of family and friends who attended.
Roger Tolliver was the first to arrive at the church as perhaps should have been expected as the family solicitor. Jamieson, Fulton & Tolliver, had been advisors to the Maudsleys since the 1890s and seen the family through the many ups and downs that any estate the size of theirs had weathered. The gambling habit of Sir Edward Maudsley in the early 1900s, the challenge to the estates by a distant Australian family relative in 1924, the controversial friendship of Sybil Maudsley with Adolf Eichmann in the late 1930s were amongst many challenges that the family solicitors had dealt with.
However, as Roger sheltered from the bitter wind which swirled around the stone church yard, he thought back to that other car accident 22 years ago which had possibly affected the family so much more than any of their earlier discretions.
A tap on the shoulder brought him back to the present day with a jolt as he looked up to find Gerald Maudsley beside him. “Bloody cold isn’t it?” bleated Gerald through a dark blue scarf covering his lower face. “Come on Roger the dodger, let’s get inside and bag the best seats. We don’t want to get hurt in the rush!” Roger sensed rather than saw the smile and grunted. A stranger hearing Gerald’s remark might have thought it most inappropriate but Roger knew that little love was lost between Joanna and her first born.
As Roger and Gerald sat down on the cold wooden pews, so Mrs Anderson the housekeeper arrived and walked down the aisle, well perhaps sailed down the aisle would be a better description, inserting her broad masculine body efficiently beside Gerald. She turned to him and removed the scarf from his neck, adjusted his tie and handed him the order of funeral service she had picked up on the way in. Gerald Maudsley had just celebrated his 40th birthday and yet, as Roger already knew, he would accept June’s authority without question.
Gerald’s sister Hermione was the next to arrive. Her husband, Johnny, was with her and they spent some time at the back of the church discussing where to sit. Hermione, 37, had married Johnny some 10 years ago, less for love and more for his acceptance of her leadership. Indeed, when making their marriage vows, he had promised to ‘obey’ at her special request! With the church almost empty, save for Roger, Gerald and June near the front, and the families of two tenant farmers at the back, Hermione eventually made up her mind and they sat down just as the cortege arrived.
Afterwards Roger realised that the service, which lasted a respectable 40 minutes or so, had seemed to be over in less than half that time. The funeral directors had taken the body for cremation and the vicar had already left to perform a baptism in a shared parish. Roger was also in a hurry to get away but was caught by Hermione as he was leaving. “So remind me, Oliver, when is the will being read?” she blurted out, loudly enough for the embarrassed tenant families also leaving to overhear. He turned to her and told her what he had already agreed with her and Gerald some days previously, that the estate matters would be dealt with and the will read in two weeks time. “Oh god, yes I had forgotten already. Well, Johnny won’t be there, will you, Johnny,” her voice strident and overbearing, “but I will be there don’t you worry, Roger” and with that she marched Johnny forward along the gravel path to the road and their waiting taxi, obviously with no thought for any family get together at the house afterwards.
Gerald and June were also in a hurry, and though Gerald hesitated as they passed him, so June brusquely gave Roger a departing confirmation that she would make sure the children attended on the date agreed.
Roger was left standing alone in the churchyard again. The urgency for his own departure seemed to fade away as he walked over to the family grave and read the inscription for Sir Charles. He remembered how he and Joanna had worked hard on composing something fitting. The final line of the inscription “... and when you find me there, you’ll search no more” struck home more than he thought it might and he turned away with tears springing to his eyes.
The Audi sports car sent gravel flying as it slid to a sudden halt in the oval drive way of the Farringford Hotel. The door swung open and a pair of bright red high heels appeared. These were followed by a set of Hollywood film star legs which supported a drop dead gorgeous strawberry blonde girl wearing what appeared to be very short diaphanous night attire and very little else. Tracy Howat, an Island girl born and bred, was, to put it bluntly, very attractive. Her green eyes flashed when she smiled which she seemed to do most of the time and whenever she was out and about, she left a trail of admiring glances from the men and curious but envious looks from the women.
Gerald had met her at one of the Newport nightclubs he frequented regularly and decided that she would do nicely as an accessory to go with his sports car and the estate he was shortly about to inherit. Tracy, however, had one minor shortfall; her accent. We all remember Lorraine Chase and the famous drink advert in which she gives Luton airport a plug. Tracy came close but with an Island Pan estate drawl which sounded like chalk on a blackboard.
“Geraaald... What a lovely surprise!” she exclaimed as she walked, well possibly tottered towards the hotel entrance. “This place is almost as big as your house aint it? Ooh...Are we going to stay here tonight? Is it haunted? Oooh how exciting!”
Gerald sighed. He knew he shouldn’t have brought her along but at the same time he wanted to make that Tolliver chap realise that he, Gerald, could stand on his own two feet and that he was just as grown up as his younger sister, boringly conventional that she was, and that he too could hold down an adult relationship if he wanted to.
Roger was next to arrive. It had been his idea to hold the reading of the will at the hotel. The Farringford with its literary history, it being the home of the famous Victorian poet Tennyson, would not only provide appropriate gravitas to the proceedings but also be neutral ground for the family to meet. Joanna would have approved but Mrs Anderson was less enthused with the idea. And it was she that arrived next. Stepping through the front doors and meeting Mr. Tolliver in the foyer, she immediately reminded him of her doubts. “I must just say, once more, Mr. Tolliver, that I can only hope you know what you are doing by reading the will here” she paused for her words to sink in. “You know that I have my hands full coping with Mr. Gerald when he is at home. However, I cannot be responsible for his behaviour today” With that, she brushed past him and made a beeline for the bar at which she ordered a large scotch which she downed almost immediately.
A taxi pulled up outside and Hermione stepped out, followed by a fresh faced young man looking a little bewildered. Roger came out to greet her. Hermione explained that her car had broken down at Lymington and so as not to be late, she had decided to come on foot, catching a taxi from Yarmouth. She turned to the young man by her side and introduced him. “This is James Green. He was on the same ferry and tells me that he was also coming to the Farringford, so we shared the taxi.”
Roger gazed at the young man and put out his hand. “Welcome, Mr Green. I will admit that I am at a loss as to why I was to invite you here but here you are so please come in and I will arrange refreshment for you all” James, embarrassed by this polite attempt to be welcoming by Mr Tolliver, just smiled and mumbled something about it being no problem.
Lunch had been organised and they all went through to the dining room to eat. After lunch, coffee was served and Gerald insisted on ordering a bottle of champagne for everyone to celebrate what he described as “the end of one era and the start of something much more exciting”. Gerald had already enjoyed most of the contents of a bottle of red wine, and he staggered back in to the dining room holding the bottle and glasses and then poured the champagne, spilling some of it on the polished side table. Tracy giggled loudly while Mrs Anderson gave a reproachful look once more to Mr Tolliver, but his thoughts were concentrated on someone else entirely.
Roger made his way up the stairs to the private room they had hired for the reading of the will. Tennyson’s library, a lovely old oak lined room, was archetypal of the house they were in. Books lined the shelves, mullioned windows echoed the mock gothic style of the building and even some of Tennyson’s personal belongings were displayed in a glass case in one corner.
He opened his brief case and set out his papers whilst waiting for the others to join him. It was Joanna’s express wish that the will should only be opened at the point of reading. However at this point, Roger felt justified to preview the contents in readiness for the public announcements of how the estate would be settled. As Hermione, Gerald and Mrs Anderson came into the room and sat down, Roger was still in shock. He didn’t dare even look up from his papers to face them. No wonder Joanna had disappeared for nearly 5 months 21 years ago. No wonder she couldn’t bring herself to face him on her return. It was now becoming crystal clear. Roger looked up, cleared his throat but then noticed that the young Mr. Green wasn’t present.
Hermione was the first to suggest that the reading should continue without him. “The settlement doesn’t involve him anyway so why he was invited I have no idea” she said, unable to hide the resentment in her voice. Tracy turned to Gerald with a pout. “You promised me this wouldn’t take long” she whined. Gerald also insisted that the reading go ahead. However just as Mrs Anderson was about to add her pennyworth, there was noise of a commotion outside the room and the door burst open. The hotel receptionist, shaking from shock, blurted out “there seems to have been an accident. Your guest, Mr Green, has collapsed and I-I think h-he is dead” and immediately burst into tears.
There was a stunned silence; but not for long. Gerald was first on his feet. “This is ridiculous. He can’t be dead. The only person that’s dead is my mother. And that’s why we are here, so what the hell is going on?!” Gerald was shaking and looking as if he was about to collapse himself when Mrs Anderson got up and quietly but firmly pushed him down into his chair, opened her bag and produced a bottle of tablets, taking two out and passing them to him with a glass of water. Roger noticed that she whispered something to him and he meekly took the tablets without further question. Meanwhile, Tracy, her face as white as a sheet, had stood up and began to cry, well actually a sort of wail which seemed to grow louder by the second. Hermione walked over to her and slapped her – hard. The crying stopped with a final sullen sob followed by an even more sullen look at Hermione who at this point joined the receptionist and turned to the others. “Might I suggest, Mr. Tolliver, that we postpone this meeting until we have discovered what has happened to Mr. Green?” she said in a calm but authoritative manner. Roger couldn’t have agreed more, though as much for what he had just discovered in the will as for the apparent news of James Green. He was now not only confused but potentially about to face another death in the family!
Leaving Mrs Anderson with Gerald and Tracy, he followed Hermione downstairs and into the foyer, to find several guests already gathered round the body of the young man he had only recently met. The boy’s face was already showing the tell tale signs of cyanosis. The blueness of the lips and the grey skin told him all he needed to know. One of the guests described in a tremulous voice how the young man had been seen leaving the dining room and appeared to be unsteady as he made his way to the reception area. Roger thought this was surprising as he hadn’t had any alcohol to drink apart from a small glass of the champagne after the meal. Time seemed to blur over the next hour as an ambulance arrived as well as the police. They asked Roger to join the rest of the family who by now had been gathered in the lounge of the hotel, whilst matters were dealt with and the body removed. A detective arrived and taking Mr. Tolliver to one side, he quietly told him the worst. All the signs suggested that there had been foul play. Though there would be a pathology report, initial evidence suggested that the victim had been poisoned. The detective asked Mr. Tolliver if he could provide him with details of next of kin. Roger sighed and after a brief pause said “I have to tell you that his mother recently died in a car crash and his father ... well, it would appear that I am his father!”
Roger had never married. He was now 57 and his ‘glass half empty’ outlook on life did not provide him with much confidence that he ever would. For a brief moment 22 years ago, he thought he might have found a ‘soul-mate’ in Joanna Maudsley. Recently widowed when her husband, Sir Charles died at the wheel of his classic sports car, the family firm of solicitors were called in by Joanna to deal with the legal matters so often a necessary encroachment onto grieving families.
Jamieson, Fulton & Tolliver were a well established firm but actually only two of the three named partners were still working. Mr. Jamieson had retired back in the 1970s but the respect that his name brought to the business stood them in good stead and his name remained as a rock on which the firm’s credibility was based. Roger was the junior partner but as he specialised in probate, it was agreed that he would deal with the Maudsley estate. Joanna Maudsley was naturally in shock. Her relationship with Sir Charles had had its ups and downs, not least because of their first born child, Gerald who from an early age, had proved to be more than a handful.
Roger was efficient in his role but it did require a good deal of time being spent at Westover Park, as he painstakingly worked his way through the family papers and Sir Charles’s financial affairs.
Joanna came to rely on his visits and their initial acquaintance became a friendship. As a single man, Roger was flattered by her attentions and what at first was only his sympathetic shoulder, became his loving arms and they started a passionate affair. Roger fell desperately in love with Joanna and though not having much money, he showered her with little gifts, now visiting her at least four to five times each week. With her children at home, their love-making had to be a day time activity and this gave a frissant to the affair which Joanna enjoyed but which Roger felt less than comfortable with. A month before she mysteriously went away, at least a year after they had become so close, he had asked her to marry him. She was vague in her reply without actually refusing him and this gave him some hope.
However, it wasn’t until 3 days after her sudden departure, that he was given a short letter from Joanna instructing his solicitors that as probate had been organised, there was no further need for Mr Tolliver to call at the house and that Lady Maudsley would be away on family business for some time. He wrote several personal appeals to her to return and asking what he had done wrong; to no avail as he received no replies. That is, no reply up until he opened her will on the fateful afternoon some 20 years later where he discovered a hand-written note addressed to him.
“Dearest Roger, This might have been a ‘dear John’ letter if I send this now after I am writing it. But I know that if you are reading this, then I am no longer in this world. You will have distant thoughts of me as a cruel and heartless woman but I had to think of my own children first – but enough of all that. I am going to place this letter with my will so at least when at some distant time I am gone, you or someone else will let you know of my folly. You were such a good friend to me after Sir Charles died. Your support and love for me helped me through a difficult family time and yes, I will admit it was fun too.” (At this point in the letter, Roger felt a stab in his heart at what he remembered as far more than fun) “But, you see, I discovered I was pregnant, yes by you, my dearest man, but with my own children already to think about, I knew I could not offer any new born child a home nor could I have asked you to take on a ready-made family in such humiliating circumstances. But I was not willing to seek an abortion and so I decided to go away ‘on family business’. The child was born in Manchester and I arranged for him to be adopted. Though I wasn’t allowed to keep in touch with him, I have managed to keep in touch with his adoptive parents, Mr and Mrs Green. Now you will know why you were asked to invite him to the reading of this will. He is your son, Roger, our son, and as it turns out, probably much more deserving than others of my family. I hope that you can forgive my actions and that you can manage to help me make things right.
His mother knew that Gerald was different from an early age and he was only five years old when he killed Pandora. She had joined the family when Hermione was born and by the time, she was 3 years old, Pandora rarely left her side. Hermione almost treated her as a comforter and often they would be found curled up together on some window seat overlooking the parkland that surrounded the house.
Pandora was the family cat but Gerald had grown to hate her. In his young mind Hermione seemed to love this feline ball of fur far more than she loved him. To Gerald’s five year old mind, there was only one solution. Pandora was found drowned in the bath. Gerald was sitting quietly on a stool beside the bath and said to his shocked mother, “Hermione will love me now, won’t she?”
Following extensive advice, first from their local GP, but then from the best that money could buy; Gerald was diagnosed as having bi-polar tendencies. With Sir Charles often away on business, it was decided that they would employ a ‘house-keeper’. Perhaps this title was somewhat euphemistic as in reality Mrs Anderson came with little experience of such domestic duties. Trained as a psychiatric nurse in London, June Anderson arrived one autumnal afternoon, on Gerald’s seventh birthday. She had stayed ever since, ostensibly to provide the additional help that any family would welcome when having to deal with a challenging child. In those early days, Gerald proved a challenging child to deal with but gradually, a mutual respect formed between them. As a trained nurse, June was able to administer the regular supply of drugs that Gerald needed to keep his moods in balance and by his teens; Gerald had accepted her place in the family as one might a maiden aunt. When his Father died, it seemed to be accepted that June would continue her duties as very much a part of the family.
Sir Charles left a substantial estate to Joanna. Whereas Hermione seemed to accept that it was her duty to seek out a suitable husband and future separate to their Island home, Gerald assumed the role of ‘prince regent’. He completed his schooling and notwithstanding his obvious emotional challenges, proved to have further academic potential. However, despite his mother’s protestations, he refused to do any further education studies, instead, enjoying a life of pure indolence. He gave himself the self-styled role of ‘Estate manager’. This role had no actual duties since the extensive farmland and tenanted properties owned by Westover Park, were managed by a separate contracted company and had been since before his father’s death. His mother, a shadow of her former self since her husband died, struggled to control his behaviour though Mrs. Anderson was there to keep his mood swings under control.
Gerald drove fast cars, seemed to have a different girl-friend for every season, and enjoyed country life almost to the full, though his disorder had not allowed him to have a shotgun license.
He had been out shooting with friends on the day he heard the news of his mother’s car accident and the first thought that had gone through his mind was not one of filial remorse or sadness. Instead, Gerald had pocketed his mobile, sat back on his shooting stick and decided it was time for him to move bedrooms. After all, now he was the master of the house, he should have the master bedroom!
June had been born and brought up in Rochdale, a town rich with industrial heritage and families proud of their Northern roots. She was an only child and so, as is often the case, had been spoilt rotten by her doting parents. But as she sat today, in the lounge of the Farringford hotel, waiting patiently to be questioned by the police, she realised for the first time, how she hadn’t really been happy. Yes, she had been teased at school for her size; she had her dad’s genes and had been nicknamed ‘superwoman’ by her so-called friends. However, she never thought of herself as fat, just big-boned. In her teenage years, her size and strength had managed to keep the physical bullies away and when the sports teacher suggested light-heartedly one day that she would make a good prison officer, June decided that she might as well make use of her obvious natural assets. Sensibly she applied to take some nursing qualifications with the aim of specialising in psychiatric care but just as she completed her final exams, so her father died.
There comes a time in many people’s lives when they are faced with the decision as to how to care for their parents. June’s mother was not well and with her husband gone, she needed looking after at home. So instead of pursuing a career, June stayed in Rochdale and cared for her mum. Boyfriends came and went, though not many as June’s dominant personality, re-enforced by her strength and size, discouraged most from going out with her for long. As the years went by, so she became bitter with what she increasingly saw as her life being wasted remaining at home, and the daily drudgery of full time care. Then one morning, as she plumped up the pillows under her mother’s dry grey hair, she decided that enough was enough.
The doctor signed the death certificate with a knowing look in his eyes but June’s rehearsed shock and grief was enough to allay his concerns. June had cared for her mother for over ten years by then and her hopes for a career were all but given up, when she saw the advert for a live-in housekeeper with psychiatric nursing skills, she decided to apply. Compared to Rochdale, the Isle of Wight seemed a world away and she needed to get away.
Gerald proved to be a real handful but as full of life as her mother had been devoid of it. June settled into her new role like a duck to water and as Gerald changed into a wilful teenager, he accepted June’s control over his day to day behaviour as a natural step into adulthood. June, now accepting that personal relationships were unlikely, focused her emotions on her dominating relationship with Gerald. In fact, though he would never admit to it, he found a certain sexual pleasure in being the focus of that control. And so it was that June found herself some 26 years later, still working for Joanna Maudsley, almost as much a part of the family as the two children.
However with Lady Maudsley dead, June realised that at the age of 58, her future was looking uncertain for the first time and she suddenly felt terribly lonely.
Johnny Federman had been brought up as a good Jewish boy and it wasn’t until his barmizvah when he discovered his mother with the Rabbi, that he began to question his faith. Continuing to play lip service to the Jewish traditions( a rather apt phrase bearing in mind what his mother had been doing) he worked hard and played hard so that by the time he was 30, he already owned a string of betting shops across North London.
He met Hermione at a horse race. Suave, almost handsome, Johnny was lacking one thing; a woman he felt he could settle down with. Oh, he had a string of girlfriends but perhaps because of his background, perhaps because of what he did for a living, he never seemed to meet anyone who met his aspirations. He regarded women in a similar way to race horses. There were some great fillies out there but he wanted a mare that would come from good breeding stock. Hermione fitted the bill and he wooed her with a passion that even surprised himself. They were married within six months.
Six years on with no sign of any children, Johnny was no longer in love with what he had regarded as his key to producing a Federman heir to his business. Hermione had lost the first flush of youth and made little attempt to keep her good looks. She hated living in London but her protest at such a life was met with the constant retort, “I have to be near my work”. Then the recession arrived.
The Gambling Act, the smoking ban and the economy saw the Federman empire decline but Johnny, tempted by the potential of some juicy property deals, expanded his portfolio by borrowing. Unfortunately, income continued to drop and, only a few months ago, the bank applied pressure for repayment of one of his largest loans. Hermione’s mother’s untimely death provided Johnny with an unexpected way out of this mess.
Hermione was not only quick to offer her share of the inheritance but also to use it as a deal maker! She would agree to use the expected funds to pay off the creditors as long as they could also move away from London and make a new home in the country. Taking the odds as favourable, and bearing in mind that Johnny was in no position to turn such an offer down, agreement was reached. They dutifully attended the funeral and now Johnny waited at home for the return of Hermione from the Island with the news that would enable the Federman betting agency to grow once again.
As she stood in front of the mirror in the ladies cloakroom at the Farringford, trying to repair the damage to her tear-streaked face, she had time to consider what had brought her to this point in her life. As an attractive well endowed 28 year old single girl, one would have thought she would have been pleased with her life so far.
But this was far from the case. It seemed to her that she was always trying to please other people and very rarely herself. Her father had left the family home when she was only 11 years old. For some reason, she hadn’t yet fully worked out; he had left because of her. She had been an obnoxious little girl and being an only child, had been spoilt rotten, particularly by her mother. Her mum had been a local beauty queen, having won a number of the annual carnival competitions around the Island some years ago, and she was so proud of her little girl, who she enjoyed turning into a mini version of herself. Tracy had already been junior carnival queen in the Ryde & Newport summer competitions but her father couldn’t understand the need for either mother or daughter to pursue such flatteries and became distant to them. Tracy, in turn, couldn’t understand why he wasn’t pleased to be the father of such a successful attractive daughter.
Which is why, after her father left, her teenage years were spent trying to please other men. Her mother tried to control her but Tracy’s adolescent demands were not to be refused. She had no real academic aspirations and left school early to take a hair dressing course at the local college.
She worked in a local salon for a time but happiness seemed to elude her except for those brief few hours each weekend in the nightclubs where, it seemed to her she gave pleasure to the many men that pursued her. Oh, she had boyfriends but her attempts to please them became ever more desperate, so that more often than not, they felt smothered by her need for a father figure.
But with Gerald she had felt different. He had met her in one of her weekly nightclub visits and immediately had seemed to take control.
He spoilt her with gifts and holidays. He admired her beauty and often told her so. And he seemed more than pleased with her attention to him. Admittedly she soon learnt that he liked to be dominant when it came to their sexual relationship but she was happy to learn from him and perhaps also enjoyed that feeling of paternal control. His occasional angry outburst and sometimes almost childlike petulance was something she was still learning about but she had met the housekeeper, Mrs Anderson and realised that this lady was there to help Gerald when he seemed to have darker moments.
But after his mother had died so tragically, Gerald seemed keen to share his excitement for the future with Tracy and so it was she found herself beside him at the will reading that fateful afternoon.
Before reading on, do you know who poisoned James Green?
They had all been summoned to the lounge area of the hotel. The officer in charge of the investigation had insisted that they all remain at the hotel and they had been interviewed at length. Tracy was slumped back in one of the armchairs, trying desperately to repair her make-up, ravaged by her almost continual flow of tears since the discovery of the body. Gerald, paced up and down, his fingers continually opening and closing, as if a wild animal caged by forces beyond his understanding, while Mrs Anderson, unsure of what her role should be in this uncontrolled environment, sat nervously near the door, doubts assailing her usual calm demeanour. Hermione was in urgent conversation with Roger, her voice taut and her voice raised and it was she that raised the question that was on everyone’s minds, including the police investigation team.
“So come on Roger, at least tell us the basics”, she said, her attempt at casually asking the obvious being undermined by her continually sweeping back her less than tidy hair with a shaking hand. “Does the will confirm what we all expect? Has my mother done the dirty and given it all away to the cats’ home?” she started to laugh but immediately stopped when she saw Roger’s reaction to her attempt to be light-hearted.
The police officer turned to Mr. Tolliver and suggested that he let the family know the contents of the will. Roger stood up and picking up a single piece of paper from his file, he turned and spoke to Lady Maudsley’s family for one last time.
“Joanna has left her entire estate to one person. My son.” At this point, Hermione swayed and sat down abruptly,. On the floor. No-one moved to help her up. Roger read on. “To be more precise, she actually means her younger son, James Green, who until this afternoon wasn’t aware of the Maudsley family or of his real parentage. Indeed, neither was I”
Gerald, at this point, stopped pacing back and forth and sat down on the arm of the chair next to Tracy. With a trace of a smile, he asked, “Though, of course, we are all shocked by this dramatic discovery and then of course what must be a tragic loss of such a young life, I would be right, wouldn’t I, to say, that as the intended beneficiary died before the will had been read, that the terms are such that the estate now reverts to the oldest child, which.. would ... be ... me?”
Roger’s shoulders dropped and he paused for a while before turning to Gerald and looking him in the eyes, simply nodded. He sat down wearily, not watching as Gerald raised his arms in celebration, not seeing the small bottle as it fell from Gerald’s jacket pocket, not even hearing Mrs Anderson cry out as she realised what Gerald had done and certainly not noticing the sudden rush of police as Gerald was pinned to the ground and arrested for suspicion of murder of James Green. But instead his heart was realising that he would never be able to do the one thing he had longed to do since Joanna had left all those years ago.... ‘to put things right'.
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