THE rest of the week went well for most of the Jolly Good Company, especially for those who were in love. Nesbo was happy, but anxiously waiting for Judith’s divorce petition to be served on him. He’d reluctantly agreed to Delia’s request to abandon escapology.
“I could have been another Houdini,” he grumbled.
“Wasn’t he killed last year?” Delia reminded him.
“Yes,” Nesbo conceded. “By a blow he wasn’t prepared for.”
“Exactly,” Delia said.
Michael Cavendish hired a car and he and Kate took several trips in the surrounding area, including an excursion to Beverley Minster and lunch at the Beverley Arms, then a drive to Bridlington where they walked arm in arm along the beach, cold and wind-blown but happy. They had a day out in Scarborough with Sally and Will. Sally thought Michael was gorgeous. Michael still hadn’t met the rest of the company.
Cyril Broom, though, had a worrying week and Delia had an emotional meeting with Max Reynolds. She had been dreading it. She didn’t want him to think that she had been insincere in their relationship, or that she had been stringing him along.
He called to see her at her digs. Kate and Sally were out. He sat in the same chair in which Nesbo had sat.
He coughed nervously, his gloves in his hand.
“I heard the news. It’s true, I suppose?”
“Yes, Max, it is. I’m sorry.”
He nodded and looked down at the carpet for a while, then he looked up.
“I think we could have been happy together, you and I. Comfortable and happy.”
“Yes,” Delia said. “Comfortable together, certainly. And, yes, happy.”
There was silence between them for a few moments.
“I’m leaving the company, Delia. Best for everyone, I think,” Max said firmly.
“I’ll miss you terribly, Max. You’re a lovely man and you deserve more than I could have given.”
“Thank you.” He slapped his gloves into the palm of his hand. “Nesbo is a very lucky man. But I suspect he knows that.”
He stood up.
“I’ll give Cyril some time to find another act, then I think I’ll take a break. Perhaps spend New Year with my sister.”
“I’m so sorry, Max.”
“It wasn’t to be. There’s nothing we can do about these things. Be happy, Delia.”
“You, too, dear.”
* * * *
At the end of the week, at the Saturday evening performance, a notice was pinned to the noticeboard just inside the stage door.
Important. There will be a meeting of the Jolly Good Company tomorrow, Sunday, at 11 a.m. in the theatre.
Everyone should attend.
It wasn’t signed. Cyril and Enid Broom weren’t in the theatre, which was unheard of, and when people asked Nesbo if he knew what it was all about he just shrugged.
“We’ll find out tomorrow, I expect.”
There was no performance on a Sunday and the company was engaged in their present location for another week, so there was no need to pack suitcases and make travel plans.
Kate hoped the meeting wouldn’t take too long. She was joining Michael for lunch.
The theatre was gloomy and chilly. Kate, Sally and Delia arrived together. A trestle table and three chairs had been placed in the space between the orchestra pit and the front-row seats of the auditorium. There was a carafe of water and a glass on the table.
The three ladies were greeted by Lennie, Rosa and Fabio, sitting together. Will Griffiths was sitting with Max Reynolds. Everyone was now settled in the front three rows of seats immediately in front of the trestle table.
“You know what this reminds me of?” Lennie said to everyone in general. “That death-threat business.”
“Oh, please, no. I hope not,” Rosa pleaded. “It frightened me.”
Fabio patted her arm.
Max tried to reassure her.
“No, I don’t think so, Rosa. It’s probably about a new act to replace me. You know I’m leaving?”
“Yes, old son!” Lennie called. “Sorry to hear it. You’re the best siffleur in the business.”
“Thank you, Lennie.”
Then Nesbo, Cyril Broom and Enid Broom walked down the centre aisle of the auditorium. They took their places at the table. Cyril sat on the middle of the three chairs, Nesbo and Enid on either side of him. Cyril never raised his eyes. Enid looked as if she had not slept all night.