Lady Louisa lapsed into a terrible depression, and her daughter’s anxiety was dreadful to see. The girl would spend hours with her mother, reading to her, trying to cheer her. The only other people Celestine would see were Em and her tutor, after whom she trailed constantly. Mr Meredith was a kind man, and he tried to comfort her, but Em could see that he did not love the girl, or at least was not in love with her, and he found it very awkward. He kept that distance which is so obvious between a man and a woman who are not romantically involved. Lord Barnabas was summoned from his regiment in the south of Spain, and was reported to be travelling up as fast as he could, with an expected arrival date soon after All Souls’ Day. Lady Louisa talked of him often, and hugged Celestine to her for reassurance. Her mind seemed confused and her health suffered further.Mr Meredith did all he could to establish what had happened to Patrick Delaine. He confided in Em that he felt the responsibility now that Lady Louisa’s fianc was dead to be in some way the man of the house. He confessed one day to Em that he needed someone on whom to unburden himself. She was surprised but pleased that he had come to her.“I have made enquiries in the town,” he said, “about any persons loitering, any unusual sights in the streets and along the coast that day.”He was pacing the servants’ parlour.Em agreed. “If we could at least be certain of how this happened, even just be sure that it was . . .” Em swallowed “. . . that it was murder, then her Ladyship might begin to recover a little. Her grief is turning to anger. She wails that she has no man to help her find the murderer. It’s terrible, poor lady, her lungs poorly and her heart broken!”Tom Meredith looked at Em. “Her Ladyship does have a man to help her. She showed me such kindness, appointing me a nobody to teach Celestine. I will do all in my power to put her mind at rest.”Thomas and Em talked round and round that evening, trying to think of what could be done.
“I will go to Brighton and make enquiries,” Thomas said. “I have friends there who work in the houses of the gentry and may help.” He looked at Em, hesitating. “I know, Emma, that you judged Mr Delaine’s intentions to be wholly pure, and I cannot disagree with you. But we must find out more about him.”Em sighed. “I may have been wrong. I’ve no great experience. And I so wanted to believe in him, as her Ladyship did.”Em watched Thomas as he paced back and forth on the rug.“But let us say that he was interested in Lady Louisa’s money,” she said, “why should that have caused some man to want to kill him? It’s impossible there was some sort of rival the idea is ridiculous.”“So somebody wanted to stop him achieving his aim?” Thomas said.Em smiled. “I feel protective of her Ladyship,” she said, “and so does Jenny, but not so much that we’d risk the gallows by killing a fortune-hunter!”“And let us say . . .” he smiled rather weakly “. . . that you wanted to push Mr Delaine into the Channel. He would see you coming towards him on the cliff top. There must have been a tussle. But I’ve walked the path above the spot and there’s nothing to see on the ground.”“Also,” Em said, warming to her theme, “let us say someone who cared for Lady Louisa was angry at the man’s intentions, or what they believed to be his intentions. They must surely have known that her Ladyship was ready, willing to share everything. She’s the most generous of women. Who would want to kill him, knowing that she was ready to share everything?”She shook her head, frustrated.“But still,” Thomas went on, “we must draw a portrait of Patrick Delaine. I know Mrs Victorine Benson a little and I have a day’s holiday. I will go to Brighton.” He sighed. “Celestine is scarcely paying attention in her lessons anyway, distracted as she is by her mother’s distress. She’s learning nothing. She sits and gazes at me rather than her books.”Thomas prepared to leave the parlour, and paused with his hand on the doorknob.“Em, I don’t suppose you are able to come to Brighton with me? I feel . . . lonely in this enterprise, and I am aware of your sharp intelligence. A woman’s eye will help me, I feel sure.”Em agreed, and a day was found when both could leave the house. Walking along the lane towards the Garrow and the Brighton coach, Em felt a surge of guilt. She realised how much she liked being here, by his side. Below them was the spot on the sharp shingle where Patrick Delaine had fallen to his death, and here she was happily taking the air.