Book: The Tea Planter’s Wife

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Next: Chapter 5

4

A whole week had passed, and Gwen was sitting in the drawing room. Now more accustomed to the unobtrusive, light-footed servants appearing and disappearing, she waited for those she had summoned to meet her. She had been watching the workings of the household, and preparing notes on what she’d seen. But still Laurence had not shared her bed. There always seemed to be some reason she could not contradict. She had learnt not to look at Naveena’s face as she carried in her bed tea on a silver tray. It would be obvious to the woman that Gwen slept alone, and Gwen, cringing at the prospect of becoming an object of pity, knew she’d have to sort this out alone.

She squared her shoulders and, though it upset her, she decided she wouldn’t think about it, at least not for the time being. Laurence was probably worrying about plantation affairs and, she felt sure, he would come round soon. In the meantime, she would keep busy, and get on with being the best wife she could be. Of course, she didn’t feel in direct competition with Laurence’s first wife, Caroline; she just wanted Laurence to be proud of her.

She heard a knock on the door and wiped her slightly clammy palms on her skirt. Naveena, the appu, the butler and a couple of the houseboys came in.

‘Are we all here?’ she said with a smile and clasped her hands together so as to conceal her nerves.

‘Kitchen coolies are busy,’ Naveena said. ‘And other houseboys too. This is all are coming.’

The butler and Naveena were Sinhalese. The rest of the group were Tamil. She hoped they all understood English and got along well with each other.

‘Well, I’ve called this little meeting so that you might all understand my plans.’

She glanced at each one in turn.

‘I have made a list of the different areas of your work, and I have some questions.’

Nobody spoke.

‘Firstly, where does our milk come from? I see no cows on the estate.’

The appu raised his hand. ‘The milk is coming every day, from buffalo, down in the valleys.’

‘I see. So the supply is plentiful?’

He nodded. ‘And we have two nanny goats, isn’t it.’

‘Excellent. Now my next question is which day does the dhobi come?’

‘You are arranging with him, Lady.’

‘Does he speak English?’

‘He speaks English also, not very good.’

‘But enough?’

The man waggled his head.

She still wasn’t sure whether that meant yes or no, but at least she’d already discovered that the dhobi was the man who took care of all the laundry. She also knew he was employed by more than one estate, and she wanted to know if she might employ him exclusively.

She looked at their expectant faces. ‘The next thing is that I am planning a little kitchen garden.’

They looked at each other uncertainly.

‘A garden coming in the kitchen?’ the appu asked.

She smiled. ‘No, a garden for growing vegetables for the kitchen. We have so much land it is only sensible. But I will need workers to tend it.’

The butler shrugged. ‘We are not gardeners, Lady. We have a gardener.’

‘Yes, but it will be too much for just one man.’ She had seen the gardener: an unusually fat little man, with a small head framed by frizzy black hair, and a neck as wide as his head.

‘He is every time coming, but, Lady, ask to Mr McGregor,’ Naveena said. ‘He may be giving men from the labour lines.’

Gwen smiled. She still had not been formally introduced to Nick McGregor and this would be the ideal opportunity to make friends with him. She rose from her seat.

‘Well, thank you all. That will do for today. I shall speak with you individually about changes to your daily routine.’

They each stood and bowed, and she left the room, pleased with how it had gone.

Apart from the Labrador, she’d also discovered two young spaniels, Bobbins and Spew, with whom she’d made friends, spending hours throwing sticks and chasing about. As they followed her down the corridor now, her thoughts returned to Laurence. She sucked in her breath and pressed her lips together. What was she going to say to Fran, who was due any day now? She could hardly force her husband to make love to her, although she’d have a good try. Before their wedding, when they’d talked about having a family, he’d said the more the merrier, five at least; and recalling the wonderful time they’d had in England, and in the hotel when she first arrived, she couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.

It was almost time for lunch, and she decided to tempt Laurence to her room straight afterwards and insist on an explanation. It was his day off and he couldn’t possibly use work as an excuse.

And so, after lunch as they wiped their mouths with the embroidered linen napkins, she stood and, with fingers aching to touch him, held out her hand. He took it and she pulled him up to her, noticing his palms were cool, then she tilted her head and batted her lashes.

‘Come.’

In her room she closed the shutters, but left the window-glass open so that air could still pass through. He stood absolutely still with his back to the window and they stared at each other without speaking.

‘I won’t be a moment,’ she said.

His face gave nothing away.

She walked into her bathroom, slipped out of her day dress, unbuttoned her silk stockings and rolled them down – in the heat of Ceylon she had abandoned her corset before she’d even left the ship – then removed her lacy French chemise and matching knickers, and took off her suspenders and earrings, leaving only the rope of pearls at her neck. Totally naked, apart from the pearls, she glanced in the mirror. Her cheeks were flushed from three glasses of wine, and she added colour to her lips by dabbing on a touch of Rigaud rouge in Persian Blush. She watched herself in the mirror as she smoothed it over with a finger and then rubbed a little on her throat. Munitions: that’s what Fran called powder and rouge.

Back in the room, Laurence was sitting on the bed with closed eyes. She tiptoed across and then stood in front of him. He didn’t open his eyes.

‘Laurence?’

When her breasts were level with his chest she pressed herself against him. He put his hands on her waist and held her away for a moment, then opened his eyes and gazed up at her. She watched as he took one nipple in his mouth and, feeling her knees about to give way, almost passed out at the current that ran through her, intensified by the sight of him observing everything that must be showing on her face.

They stayed like that for a short while, then he let her go. As he kicked off his shoes, unbuttoned his braces, then removed his trousers and undergarments, she felt her heart thump. He pushed her back on the bed and the hairs on the nape of her neck rose as he straddled her, then adjusted his position. When he entered her, she gasped at a sensation that made her heart knock against her ribs and seemed to swallow her breath. Excited by a complete loss of inhibition, she dug her fingernails into his back. But then something changed; his eyes glazed over and he was going too fast. She had encouraged this, but now she couldn’t keep up, and with the sudden absence of connection between them, it felt wrong. How could he have become so quickly consumed by something that didn’t feel as if it was anything to do with her? She asked him to slow down, but he didn’t seem to hear and then, after just a few seconds, he groaned, and it was over.

He straightened up, but turned his head away as he recovered his breath.

There was silence for a moment or two as she struggled with her feelings.

‘Laurence?’

‘I’m so sorry if I hurt you.’

‘You didn’t. Laurence, look at me.’ She turned his head towards her. The truth was he had hurt her a little and, shocked by the emptiness in his eyes, her own filled with tears.

‘Darling, tell me what the matter is. Please,’ she said.

She wanted him to say something, anything that would bring him back to her.

‘I feel so …’

She waited.

‘It’s being here,’ he eventually said, and looked at her so wretchedly that she reached out, wanting to comfort him. He lifted her hand, turned over her palm and kissed it.

‘It’s not you. You are utterly precious to me. Please believe that.’

‘So what is the matter?’

He let go of her hand and shook his head.

‘I’m sorry. I can’t do this,’ he said, then pulled his clothes on quickly and left the room.

Completely bewildered, and feeling as if her heart might break at the change in him, she pulled the pearls from her neck. The clasp broke and they clattered across the floor. Why couldn’t he do this? She wanted him so much, and in the certain belief of his love, had pinned everything on being a good wife and mother. She knew that he had wanted her, really wanted her – look at how he’d been in Colombo! But having come all this way, now she didn’t know where to turn.

She must have fallen asleep, because she didn’t hear Naveena enter the room, and jumped when she opened her eyes and saw the Sinhalese woman sitting in the chair beside the bed, her soft round face looking composed, with a jug cradled in her lap and all the pearls collected in a saucer on the bedside table.

‘I have lemonade, Lady.’

The expression in her dark eyes was so kind that Gwen burst into tears. Naveena held out a hand and put her fingertips on Gwen’s arm, just a light touch. Gwen stared at the woman’s rough brown-skinned hand, so dark against her own whiteness. Naveena looked as if she had the wisdom of the ages in her eyes, and Gwen was drawn to her composure. Though longing to have Naveena hold her and gently stroke her hair, she remembered Florence Shoebotham’s words and turned away. Best not become too friendly with the servants.

A little later, and anxious to get out of the house to try to salvage something of the day, Gwen dressed quickly, but couldn’t stop the turmoil in her mind. She remembered her hat, and decided to explore what might lie beyond the tall trees at the side of the house. It was quiet and the air hung lazily in the solid afternoon heat. Even the birds were sleeping and the only sound came from the hum of insects. She walked out of the back door and passed by the lake. A pale lilac haze had spread over it for as far as she could see. Laurence had told her she could only swim under supervision, so she ignored her inclination to peel off her dress and slip into the water.

The usually green hills on the other side of the lake were now blue, and it was harder to pick out the colourful shapes of the women pickers. Her first impression had remained, however. Exotic birds they were, with a basket hung over their shoulders and their saris of every hue. She now knew that all the labourers on the estate were Tamils; the Sinhalese thought it shameful to work for a wage as labourers, though a few were happy to work indoors, and so the plantation owners had turned to India. Some Tamils had actually lived on the plantation for generations, Laurence said. And though she had been told not to, Gwen wanted to see what the labour lines looked like. She imagined cosy cottages and soft, round-bellied children sleeping in hammocks hanging from the trees.

She reached the courtyard, bordered by the kitchens on one side. The trees marked the end, and the house and terraces to the lake formed the other two sides of the square. Just as she was about to cross the gravel yard, a man wearing little more than rags shuffled to the open kitchen door. She watched as he held out two hands and wobbled his head. A kitchen boy came out, shouted, then pushed the man away. In the kerfuffle, the man fell to the ground. The kitchen boy gave him a kick then marched back indoors, slamming the door.

Gwen hesitated for a moment, but as the man still lay groaning on the gravel, she plucked up her courage and ran across to him.

‘Are you all right?’ she said.

The man looked at her with black eyes. His hair was scruffy, he had a broad and very dark-skinned face, and when he spoke, she had no idea what he was saying. He pointed at his bare feet and she saw a suppurating sore.

‘Gracious, you can’t walk around on that. Here, take my arm.’

The man gazed at her blankly, so she held out her hand to assist him. Once he was firmly holding on, she encouraged him with gestures to move back towards the kitchens. He shook his head and tried to pull away.

‘But you must. That wound needs washing and treating.’ She pointed at his foot. He attempted to pull away again, but owing to his condition, she was the stronger of the two.

Once they managed to reach the kitchen door, she turned the handle and pushed. Three pairs of eyes watched as they entered the room. None of the three people moved. As Gwen and the man reached the table, she pulled out a chair with one hand and then settled the injured man on to it.

The kitchen boys were muttering in what she assumed was Tamil, because the man on the chair seemed to understand and attempted to rise. Gwen placed her hand on his shoulder and pressed, then she glanced around. She could smell kerosene and noticed that two meat safes and several cream-coloured cupboards had their legs standing in bowls of the stuff; to kill the insects, she assumed. There were a couple of low sinks and a cooking range, clearly fed from the great pile of wood stacked neatly at its side. The whole room smelt of a mixture of human sweat, coconut oil and the curry they’d had for lunch. Her first curry.

‘Now,’ she said as she pointed at two large water tubs next to the sinks. ‘I need a bowl of lukewarm water and some muslin.’

The kitchen boys stared at her. She repeated her request, adding ‘please’. Still, nobody moved. She was wondering what to do when, at that moment, the appu walked in. She smiled, thinking she might get somewhere with him; after all, he regularly wished her goodnight, and had been pleasant at their meeting. But one look at his face showed he was not happy.

‘What is this?’

‘I want them to bring water so that I can clean this man’s wound,’ she said.

The appu picked his teeth, then made an odd whistling noise through them. ‘You cannot.’

Gwen felt her skin prickle. ‘What do you mean, I cannot? I am mistress of Hooper’s and I must insist you get them to do as I ask.’

He looked as if he was tempted to stand his ground, but then, seeming to remember his place, he turned to one of the kitchen coolies and, with a scowl, muttered and pointed at the sink. The boy scurried off and a minute later came back with a bowl of water and some scraps of muslin. She could see that Laurence was right. Some of the staff had clearly had their own way for too long. Gwen dipped a piece of muslin in the water and then cleaned for as long as the man was able to bear it.

‘This man’s foot is badly infected,’ she said. ‘If it is not treated he could lose it.’

The appu shrugged and she could see the opposition in his eyes. ‘The factory and field workers are not coming to the house.’

‘Do you know what happened to him?’ she asked.

‘A nail, Lady.’

‘Where is the iodine?’

The kitchen boys looked at the appu, who shrugged again.

‘Iodine, man, and be sharp about it,’ Gwen said, the tension knotting between her shoulder blades.

The man went to a cupboard on the wall and took out a small bottle, and Gwen could see he bristled with ill-concealed resentment as he did so. It didn’t matter what the cook thought, she told herself; what mattered was helping this poor man.

‘And bandages?’ Gwen added.

The cook took out a roll of bandage then passed it and the bottle of iodine to a kitchen boy who passed it to Gwen.

‘He injure hisself, Lady,’ the cook said. ‘Very lazy man. Make trouble.’

‘I don’t care. And while you’re at it, give him a bag of rice. Does he have a family?’

‘Six children, Lady.’

‘Then give him two bags of rice.’

The cook’s mouth fell open in protest, but he seemed to think better of it, shrugged, and ordered the kitchen coolie to fetch the rice.

When Gwen had finished her work on the man’s foot, she helped him to his feet as the appu and the coolies stared. It wasn’t easy getting the man through the door and she could have done with a helping hand. But together they managed to leave the house and walk towards the screen of tall trees. She heard a commotion break out behind her in the kitchen, but held her head high and continued along the well-trodden path between the trees, with the man leaning on her as he hopped. When he attempted to disengage in order to put his bandaged foot to the ground, she shook her head.

It was densely wooded, with roots spreading across the path. Not only was she taking his weight on one arm, with the other hand she was batting away a million winged creatures. They walked maybe half a mile, through watery green light with patches of brightness and an intense smell of leaves, earth and rotting vegetation, their progress so slow she lost any accurate sense of distance.

After a while, where the trees thinned and then opened out into a clearing, she heard the sound of children shouting. Further along the dirt path, she saw a row of about a dozen wood-planked huts with tin roofs, all attached to each other like a sort of shanty terrace. Among the trees other similar lines of huts – some with tin roofs, some with palm leaf – could be seen stretching in every direction. Each had a row of rooms opposite, clearly sawdust lavatories which stank to high heaven. Bright saris of red, green and purple hung on washing lines, and litter fluttered about on the compacted earth. Several old men, wearing only loincloths, were sitting cross-legged outside their huts, smoking foul tobacco, with scrawny hens pecking the ground around them.

A woman came out. Seeing Gwen, she raised her voice to the man and called three of the children in. The rest of them gathered around Gwen, chattering excitedly and pointing at different parts of her clothing. One of the bolder ones touched her skirt.

‘Hello,’ she said and held out her hand, but the child stepped back as if suddenly shy. She made a mental note to bring sweets next time she came.

They all looked the same, very dark and shiny skinned, with black waving hair, thin bodies and large stomachs. They gazed at her with beautiful brown eyes, eyes that didn’t seem like the eyes of young children. One or two didn’t appear well, and they all looked undernourished.

‘Are these your children?’ she asked the man.

Clearly unable to understand her, he shrugged.

As Gwen watched a solid little bird pecking in search of worms and insects, the woman who had called out came up to Gwen and bowed, but kept her eyes lowered. Her hair was parted in the middle and she had wide nostrils, pronounced cheekbones and long-lobed ears. The man passed her the two bags of rice. The woman took them, and this time glanced at Gwen, with something in her eyes that Gwen could not fathom. It seemed like dislike, or maybe fear. It may even have been pity, and if it was pity, that was something far less easy to comprehend. The woman had so little and she, Gwen, had everything. Even the Tamil’s jewellery consisted of just a row of red seedpods. The woman bowed again, then pulled aside the ragged curtain covering the front of the hut and disappeared inside. Each hut was about ten foot by twelve, not as big as Laurence’s boot room, and must be cold at night.

In not much more than an instant, the sky turned red. She heard the crickets clicking and, from down by the lake, the chorus of frogs starting up. She let go of the man’s arm and took a step away, then turned and ran back towards the trees, just as night was falling in the sudden way it did.

It was dark along the path, the tall canopy of trees blocking the scant remains of daylight. She felt a shiver of fear. There were sounds in the woods: rustles and creaks, the patter of feet, heavy snuffling. Laurence had told her there were wild boar and they had been known to attack. She wondered what else there might be. Deer maybe, certainly snakes. Tree snakes, grass snakes. They didn’t sound too bad. But what about hooded cobras? She picked up her pace. Laurence had warned her, and she hadn’t listened. What had she been thinking? It became hard to breathe in the suffocating darkness and impossible to see the path ahead. She had to find her way by touch alone, and as her feet tangled in trailers, she faltered and grazed her forehead and arm on a coarse tree trunk.

Her heart was racing by the time she saw the twinkling lights of the house, and only when she eventually stumbled through the last of the trees and into the courtyard did she breathe more freely.

But then, as she crossed the dark yard, a voice called out in an imperious tone. It wasn’t the night watchman.

Darn it, she thought, recognizing the Scottish accent. Of all people. And she’d wanted to make a good impression.

‘It’s me, Gwendolyn,’ she said as she reached him at the door and turned her face to the light.

‘What the dickens were you doing coming out of the trees like that?’

‘I’m so sorry, Mr McGregor.’

‘You may be in charge of the household, but I think you will find everything that happens on this estate is my affair. You, Mrs Hooper, are not expected to be anywhere near the labour lines. I take it that’s where you were coming from?’

Stung by a sense of injustice, she spoke up. ‘I was just trying to help.’

She looked at the broken veins in his cheeks. He was a beefy-looking man with reddish hair, thinning at the temples, and a heavy neck that would turn to jowls. His moustache was sandy, his lips thin, and his eyes were steely blue. He took hold of her grazed upper arm quite roughly.

‘You are hurting me,’ she said. ‘I’ll thank you to remove your hand, Mr McGregor.’

He gave her an unpleasant look. ‘Your husband shall hear of this, Mrs Hooper.’

‘You’re quite right,’ she said, with more poise than she actually felt. ‘He will.’

At that moment Gwen was enormously relieved to see Laurence come out of the house. He smiled but there was a moment of strain as he and McGregor stared at each other without speaking. The moment passed and Laurence reached out a hand to her. ‘Let’s get you fixed up.’

She felt shaken but gave him a weak smile and took his hand.

Laurence turned to McGregor. ‘Come on, Nick, there’s no harm done. Gwen will soon get the hang of things.’

McGregor looked fit to explode but didn’t speak.

‘It’s still early days. We must make allowances.’ Then Laurence put an arm round her. ‘Here, lean on me.’

Her dash through the dark trees had made her feel vulnerable, and she recognized she had wrong-footed McGregor with Laurence. Something about the man alarmed her, though it wasn’t just him – the deprivation of the labour lines had bothered her too. And though not quite as comfortable with Laurence as she had been before the bedroom incident, she still felt intensely glad to have his arms round her and hoped there might be a chance to talk about what had happened between them.

The next morning, after drawing up a new plan for the cleaning rota and trying to make sense of the household accounts for more than two hours, she consigned them to the back of her mind. McGregor’s attitude was more difficult to ignore, and the trouble was that she needed his help to find her some gardeners.

She picked up a small drawing of her plan for her scented arbour; maybe white jasmine woven through a decorative metal trellis, she thought, as she went out through the French windows.

The lake shimmered under a bright blue sky, deep navy in the shade but almost silver in the sunshine, with little flecks of green. She walked past the blue jacaranda tree and smelt some unknown blossom in the air. A couple of magpies took off from a lawn composed of stiffer grass than you found in England, though it was well kept and neatly mown. She wanted somewhere to make her mark, yet didn’t want to upset the old Tamil, who regarded the lawns and flower beds as his own. She would have to ask Laurence about a location for the kitchen garden, but for the time being she’d look out for the best spot to create her arbour.

Bobbins and Spew were getting under her feet, in the way they did. She threw the ball hard and it vanished into the bushes, near where the magpies had been pecking at worms.

‘There,’ she said. ‘Find that one!’

Spew was the daring one and wherever the ball would go, there would go Spew. She watched as he shuffled on his belly, through a gap, into an overgrown part of the garden.

She was feeling irritable. When she had gone in search of Laurence that morning, she’d bumped into Naveena who told her she’d just left a note on her dressing table, a note from the master.

On tearing it open, Gwen had seen, in Laurence’s strong forward-sloping hand, that he was letting her know she wouldn’t see him for another two days. They hadn’t even had a chance to talk. Now she read that he’d gone to Colombo to fetch Fran; and as a Justice of the Peace and unofficial police magistrate, he also had a report to file at the court in Hatton. Tempers had frayed in a local village so he’d had to pacify the natives and decide on the true culprit.

Gwen felt a burst of homesickness. She gave herself a talking to, but couldn’t help feeling annoyed that he hadn’t told her himself, nor had he asked if she wanted to accompany him. Though he had mentioned it would be hot as hell in Colombo with the monsoon now overdue. At least here, high up in the central hills at Dickoya, it remained quite cool and, now that she was hoping to spend the rest of the day outside, she was glad of that.

As she called Spew, Mr Ravasinghe came to mind again. She realized she had found herself returning to their encounter on several occasions. He’d been the soul of consideration, but she’d felt a hint of something more than could be explained away by his nut-brown skin, his long wavy hair or his dark, glittering eyes.

There was no sign of the spaniel.

Bobbins was digging, backside in the air, exactly where Spew had vanished after the ball, next to a bank of anthuriums with the heart-shaped leaves and peachy flowers that she’d noticed on her first morning. Gwen walked over and patted the little dog.

‘Where’s he gone, eh, Bobbins?’

She heard a bark and peered through a small gap in the shade of a large tree, but the light was too dim to see much. She pulled at a tangle of some kind of creeper. It gave way surprisingly easily, and once she’d yanked away more of it, she found a sort of overgrown tunnel between the trees. A tunnel had to lead somewhere. She made an opening large enough to squeeze through, scratching her forearm on some vicious thorns, but once through, could almost stand upright.

‘Spew, I’m coming to get you,’ she called.

The tunnel curved round a bend and then led to a flight of moss-covered stone steps leading downwards. She glanced back at the light coming from the entrance of the tunnel. It’s safe enough, she thought, though there might be snakes. She stood absolutely still and glanced around at the ground; nothing moved, and with no breeze in the enclosed space, not even the leaves were rustling.

She carried on, hearing only her own footsteps, the whine of mosquitoes and Bobbins panting.

At the bottom of the slippery steps she came to a very small clearing, though she guessed it might once have been larger. Here, the bushes and creepers had encroached in such a way that there was only just space for her to sit on a slab of stone resting across a couple of tree stumps. Almost like the childhood den she and Fran had built in the woods at Owl Tree, the light was shadowy, and all exterior sounds were muffled by trees. It was peaceful, and Bobbins lay silently at her feet. She sniffed, recognizing honeysuckle, but also a bitter leafy smell.

The quiet was broken when Spew crawled back into the clearing on his belly, his pink nose covered in earth and carrying something in his mouth.

‘Drop it, Spew!’ she said.

The little dog growled and stood his ground.

‘Come here, you naughty dog, and drop!’

He didn’t obey.

Gwen stood up, caught him by his collar and took hold of one end of the thing. She pulled and saw it was part of a wooden toy. A ship, she thought, a ship with no sail.

The little dog had lost interest in the argument. He wagged his tail and dropped the remainder of the toy at Gwen’s feet.

‘I wonder who this belonged to,’ she said aloud, and grinned at the dogs. ‘No use asking you two, is there?’

Both dogs went back to the spot where Spew had appeared. Gwen followed, thinking that if all this area was cleared, it might be the perfect place for her arbour, and, in order to see more clearly, pulled at a branch heavily laden with some kind of berry. She carried on pulling at the creeper, breaking off small branches and twigs. A pair of secateurs was what she really needed, and some gardening gloves.

She sat back on her haunches, her hands stinging from cuts and scratches. Ready to give up, she decided to come back later, properly equipped.

Spew carried on digging, then barked again. She recognized the excitement in that bark; Spew had found something. She pulled away another layer of overhanging leaves and stooped to look. In front of her, a flat, upright, moss-covered stone leant very slightly to the left. The ground in front of it was rounded and covered with pale forest flowers. She breathed in the damp woody smell around her, and felt hesitant. This looked like a small grave. She looked round when she heard something scurry among the leaves, then, unable to control her curiosity, scratched at the moss, tearing a fingernail in the process.

When she had finished, she traced the letters with her index finger. There was only a name, nothing more. Just THOMAS BENJAMIN, engraved in the stone. No date. No indication of who he had been. He might have been a brother of Laurence’s perhaps, or a visitor’s child, though Laurence had never mentioned a dead child. Other than asking Laurence, there was no way of knowing why Thomas Benjamin had been hidden in this inaccessible place and not buried properly at the church graveyard. And the fact that Laurence had never mentioned anything of the sort made her think he might not be pleased that she had found it.

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