The Ladies Of Eastgarrow – Episode 09

Em and Thomas told Mrs Benson about Patrick Delaine’s recent discovery his possible entitlement to a title. She clapped her hands.“Now, you see, that is no surprise to me and it won’t be to Joe, either. Breeding will out!”Em and Thomas exchanged glances, amused that a barmaid held that view. She didn’t notice. “I mean,” she went on, “that he was such a favourite of ours. He had a quick wit, and could beat Joe hands down at cart.”Mrs Benson suddenly stopped speaking, and stared out of the window. “It may be nothing,” she said, “but I will mention it anyway. You know that this problem in Paris is beginning to be something of an annoyance on the coast here?”Thomas looked puzzled, unable to see what Mrs Benson was implying. “I know that there are a few noble families coming to stay here for a time,” he said, “until the trouble with revolutionary tendencies has died down.”“It’s more than that,” Mrs Benson said. “They bring with them, quite unintentionally, some . . . some elements that we could very well do without.” Mrs Benson leaned forwards. “Can you believe that there are French villains trying to follow these poor anxious people here, on to our own sovereign shores, to threaten them?”Em’s eyes widened, and Mrs Benson nodded. “My friend Lady Keene said that a Frenchman, a minor peer, actually had his throat cut when he’d barely reached the coast. Under cover of dark, on the beach at Eastbourne! These dreadful brigands, these revolutionaries, they want to do away with the nobles of France in whatever way they can, and when these poor people are sorely vulnerable.” She placed a hand at her neck. “I thank God that I haven’t a drop of blue blood in my commoner’s veins!”“So,” Em asked, horrified, “you think that some sort of rumour got abroad of Mr Delaine’s being noble by birth, and last of a line?”“Do you think his murderer was one of these French ‘republicans’?” Thomas asked. Em could almost hear his mind working.“I know it seems unlikely,” Mrs Benson whispered, “but who else would wish to harm such a sweet man? If they could end an aristocratic line by a killing; if they knew he was visiting Eastgarrow often? Well, it may be what happened, and if that’s so, I wish he’d had no letter from a Paris lawyer and that the lawyer had told nobody of his existence!”


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