THE Sunday afternoon train pulled jerkily out of Huddersfield in a great hiss of steam and clouds of sooty smoke as it began its sedate, meandering journey through the small towns of the East Riding of Yorkshire towards the city of Kingston Upon Hull.
On the train Kate and Delia shared a compartment. There were no other occupants. Max Reynolds, Sally, Will Griffiths and Lennie Douglas were in another compartment playing Bridge.
Kate sat facing Delia, who was idly glancing at a Sunday newspaper.
Kate was in a quandary.
She was very loyal to Nesbo. He had made it clear from the very beginning, in that unorthodox job interview in the Baltic Fleet Hotel in Liverpool, that all aspects of his stage act were secret. And Kate had understood that and respected it. She and Nesbo shared a secret, and even a private language in the mind-reading act. He trusted her.
Now she had a secret that wasn’t part of the act, but it was still private. Wasn’t it?
She looked out of the window at the suburbs of Huddersfield slowly slipping by. She noticed that Delia had lifted her eyes from the paper and she, too, was looking out of the window, a slight frown on her brow. She had things on her mind, too. She had a decision to make.
Delia became aware of Kate’s eyes on her. She smiled.
“It’s going to be a slow journey. Sunday afternoon travel, eh?”
“Yes,” Kate replied.
They were silent for a moment, then Delia said, “You know, I didn’t see Nesbo at the station. I hope he hasn’t missed the train.”
Kate’s mouth felt a little dry.
“He caught another train. Early this morning.”
“Another train?” Delia said in surprise. “I didn’t know there was one.”
“It was a train to Birmingham.”
“Birmingham! Has he gone to see his agent?”
Kate swallowed, her eyes fixed on Delia. Was this a betrayal?
“Delia, he’s gone to see his wife.” There! It was out.
The newspaper slipped from Delia’s lap to the floor. Her mouth was open slightly. Her lips moved, finding it difficult to form words.
“His wife? Nesbo’s married?”
“It seems so. He told me last night. You didn’t know?”
Delia shook her head. She seemed distraught.
“No. I’m sure no-one did. I once asked him if he had any family. He just looked at me, you know, with those brooding eyes and said no.”
A thought suddenly occurred to Kate.
“Delia, you remember the day Cyril got that awful threatening letter? Well, Nesbo got a letter the same day. With all the fuss I’d forgotten about it, but I remember he just looked at the envelope and I’m sure it disturbed him. Could it have been from his wife?”
Delia shook her head in bewilderment.
“Nesbo married!” She looked at Kate. “He could have children.”
The two women sat in silence for a moment, thoughts going over and over in their minds like the repetitive, hypnotic diddly-dum of the train.
Eventually Kate spoke quietly.
“You know that he’s hopelessly in love with you, don’t you?” It was a statement, not a question.
Delia looked away. Her pale face was reflected in the rain-speckled window of the carriage.
“I wonder what he’s doing,” she said.