A Jolly Good Show – Episode 59

I WAS just nineteen years old when I met Milton Cavendish. Your father, Michael.”

He nodded.

“I had a good voice.” She smiled. “But that’s all I had. No family, no money, just a good voice. I desperately wanted to be a professional soprano, in opera, you know.”

Nesbo nodded.

“You have a wonderful voice.”

Delia continued.

“When I met Milton Cavendish he was the musical director of a professional opera company, and he offered to be my voice coach. He was in his early thirties, but we fell in love.” She thought for a moment. “No, that’s not quite true. I fell desperately in love with him, and he was very attracted to me. But in love with me? No.”

Kate could see the pain in her eyes as she laid bare memories that she’d kept buried for so long. She saw Michael’s hand move slightly to Delia’s then stop, uncertain.

“I knew he was married,” she said directly to Michael. “He never deceived me, but I was in love. And then pregnant.” She turned to Nesbo. “I would have told you this, Leo.”

“Shush, now. It doesn’t matter about me. I know all about being young and foolish. And who is going to cast the first stone, eh?”

“What did my father say when you told him you were expecting me?” Michael asked quietly.

Delia paused. It seemed to Kate that she was trying to remember things exactly, trying to remember words said over 20 years ago, words that might be painful.

“Milton said he was very fond of me. He took complete responsibility. He would help me, but he could not leave

his wife. He was quite definite about that.”

There was silence in the room, just the tick-tock of the clock. Kate tried to imagine being in the same situation that Delia had found herself in. Kate had to dab her eyes quickly.

There was a quick knock at the door. The landlord reappeared with another tray of tea. Nesbo took it from him and took hold of the teapot.

“Here, let me be . . .” He stopped, embarrassed.

Delia laughed.

“I think perhaps in the circumstances, I should say that.”

Everyone smiled and the tension eased. Kate and Delia had tea, and the men brandy and water.

It was Michael who resumed things.

“So what happened then? What did you do?” His voice was full of concern.

“I had you, dear.” She smiled at him. “For one precious week, in hospital, I held you in my arms. And then Thelma came to see me.”

“My mother!” Michael stopped suddenly. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Kate knew it must have pierced Delia, but Delia reached for Michael’s hand.

“Of course she was your mother, dear. She has been your loving mother all these years. And I thank God for that.”

“Have some tea, Delia,” Nesbo interrupted. “For the shock.”

Delia carried on.

“Thelma, your mother, came to see me. She told me several things. She told me that she and Milton wanted to stay together, to get over his fling. That’s what she called it.” Delia sighed, reliving that meeting. “She told me that she couldn’t have children.”

As Delia continued she spoke more quickly, wanting to hurry through the pain.

“She wanted you. She said she and Milton would love you, care for you. I was unmarried. I had no family, no money. What kind of life could I give a child? Surely it would be better, for the child’s sake, if . . .” Delia stopped.

Kate suddenly realised she could feel her nails digging into her clenched hand. She could feel the tears filling her


“I gave you up,” Delia said to Michael. And then she began to cry.


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