The Ladies Of Eastgarrow – Episode 06

One cool September afternoon, when autumn was in the air, Patrick Delaine’s lifeless body was found at the bottom of the cliff at Garrow, barely a mile from Eastgarrow Court. He lay, said the fisherman who found him, on the shingle beyond reach of the tide, his neck broken from the fall. Three men from the village brought the body up to Eastgarrow with all the reverence due to the poor man. Everyone knew Mr Delaine and the fact that he was soon to have made Lady Louisa happy again, and the men hung their heads as they laid their bier down in the hall of Eastgarrow Court and stepped back from the cold body.“He fell!” Lady Louisa cried, staring around at the men, and at Em, and at Mr Meredith who had run into the hall as soon as he heard the commotion. Lady Louisa’s hands grasped her hair, and her face was terrible to see. “My darling fell! Why did I let him leave today at all? Why, and what happened to make him lose his footing?”Em helped Lady Louisa’s maid, Jenny, to lead the distraught lady away to her bedroom. The doctor came and administered a sedative to ease her crying and her violent coughing, and Em went back to the kitchen where the fishermen sat over a mug of untouched ale. Thomas Meredith wandered in a few minutes later. He looked dazed, and sat down at the table. Absent-mindedly, he picked up one of the fishermen’s tankards, but laid it down, untouched.“He never fell,” one fisherman said in a low voice into the silence. Everyone in the room Cook, Em, Jenny and Mr Meredith turned to him. “I know that stretch,” the man went on, “and it’s the gentlest approach to the cliff edge there is. Only a drunken man could fall there, and Mr Delaine knew the path well.”“He barely touched a drop,” Cook said, “and I know that day he hadn’t touched strong drink because he spent the morning with my Lady, talking and laughing, and there was nothing in the room beyond a teapot. They were rejoicing as they planned the holiday they would take Miss Celestine on after the wedding. My Lady wanted to persuade her son, Lord Edward Barnabas, to come back from his regiment and go along with them.” Cook began crying.Thomas nodded miserably. “Lady Louisa was using Miss Celestine’s absence to talk over the holiday, so that it would be a surprise. Celestine is at her cousin’s at Hastings. Her mother allowed her a holiday from study.”“I cannot believe the gentleman is gone,” Cook said, a sob shaking her body.“He had no dog to pull him towards a rabbit,” the fisherman went on stubbornly, “no bad weather to drive him over. And he ended up on that shingle in daylight, missus. I know that because I was along there early this morning and the poor gentleman was not there then.”“Of course he did,” Mr Meredith said. “He left my Lady after luncheon, and was found, what? Three hours later?” Em saw Mr Meredith’s fine-boned face lift to meet the red, fleshy countenance of the fisherman. “Are you saying . . .?”The fisherman’s chin was set hard. “He was flung out from the edge, too, so that he landed some feet away from the foot of the cliff. The man was murdered, sir.”


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.