MATTHEW GREVILLE broke down when he was told the terrible story. Dolly Walters, of course, never came back to Brakenham House. The rest of the story was pieced together, and prised out of Dolly Walters and Mabel Jessop.
Mr Quirk had been increasingly certain that she was taking money. The household account was being altered, and he had asked her why she had so little to show for her generous allowance. He had even begun to question her identity.
He had known Sarah Francis well, and had always felt uneasy about the arrival of the little girl, and the absence of the mother. Matthew Greville had been so eager to have a daughter to love!
Mr Quirk had written to Edinburgh to find the minister who carried out the funeral, and had begun to wonder.
Dolly Walters purchased a spade and asked Mr Quirk to meet her in the garden that night, asking to talk over why he was preoccupied. She had killed him as he waited for her, as he bent to look at the bulbs among the grass, dragging his slight body as far beyond the gate as her strength would allow, discarding the spade in the stream and washing the grass of blood.
Dolly was desperate. Now that she was engaged to Philip Young, the faade was even more at risk. Mabel Jessop was pressurising her with letters from London, threatening to visit.
“Dolly travelled to Bosham in your own carriage,” Terence said quietly to Mr Greville. They were gathered in the room where, so recently, they had all shared a meal. “She went there to find some wretch to carry out the terrible crime of sending a young woman and her unborn baby to their death in the sea. There is always, among the honest sailors and fisherman of a town like that, some creature who will undertake the work if the pay is good enough. The pay was good, and Dolly Walters, even though she left Mabel Jessop’s training years ago, knew how to find such a person. She knew the questions to ask.”
Greville closed his eyes.
“My friend Quirk was trying to speak to me of a large sum,” he murmured.
“Dolly,” Ruth added, “was an accomplished actress.”
Philip Young sighed, a long, shaking sound.
“She had been pretending for nine whole years. She they took us all for fools.”
Greville looked up from where he slumped in his seat. His expression of loss and bewilderment made tears come to Ruth’s eyes.
“Yes, I was gullible and foolish,” he said. “I longed for a memory of my Sarah. If the child had only come to me sooner I would perhaps have taken her in, and forgiven the deception, because I wanted a child. Now she has destroyed my real daughter, that poor child, and her own life, and mine.”
Mme Dubost, who had been sitting a little distance away, crossed the room quickly and knelt at the feet of Matthew Greville.
“Not everything, my darling,” she said. “I will be with you always,” she said. “I love you.”
Ruth and Terence both looked across the room at Philip Young, standing, hunched and alone.
At last they left. It was almost the end of their extraordinary honeymoon. Having packed their bags, they walked again on the West Wittering sand.
“Philip Young,” Terence said, “will find another love. He will emerge whole from this tragedy, in time.”
“And thank God that Mr Greville has that sweet woman to care for him. She will lead him from the darkness.”
“But what terrible crimes,” Terence said, “are caused by greed.”
“Do you think we are destined,” Ruth asked, clinging to Terence, “to follow human wrong from place to place?”
“No,” he said. “But perhaps we are destined to help unmask it. For now, let’s go home, and take a rest after our holiday.”