Thursday 24 – Friday 25 May 2012
‘Mother, please,’ Helen Carlisle spoke to her mother as if the older woman was a child, ‘you know perfectly well that daddy was a shit.’
‘How dare you, Helen. How dare you. The man gave you everything that you wanted. Without argument too, I might add.’ Lady Emma was not standing for the impertinence of her eldest child.
Helen paced the kitchen. At twenty-five, she did not appreciate being put in her place by her mother.
‘For God’s sake, sit down, Helen . . . or at least stand still. You’re driving me potty with that pacing,’ Lady Emma snapped. Out of spite, Helen kept pacing for a few more minutes before taking her place opposite her mother at the table. She played with some crumbs that had been missed when her mother cleaned up after dinner.
‘You know that he was going to destroy Parson’s Wood, don’t you?’ Helen asked. Her mother nodded.
‘He was going to develop a hotel. Darling, the fact of the matter is, this estate is expensive to upkeep. The hotel would have funnelled some money back into the estate finances,’ Lady Emma replied.
Helen appeared shocked, ‘Are you saying there’s no money left in the estate?’
‘No, dear, there’s money there, but your father was thinking ahead. In the event that something happened and we didn’t have money, the hotel was going to be geared to keep us afloat.’
‘And this thing with the farmer? Mitchell was it?’
‘He was very abusive towards me. Your father thinks it was his way of intimidating us into giving up the idea. But your father said he’d take care of it.’ Lady Emma smiled. Richard always took care of problems; he always made sure that every member of his family was looked after and happy.
‘Mother, he was far from the man you’re making him out to be.’
‘Who’ll do that now, Helen?’ Emma continued as if she had not heard her daughter speak.
‘Who’ll do what?’ Helen asked.
‘Who’ll take care of any problems?’ Lady Emma replied.
‘I’m so sick of you speaking of him as if he was a god –’ Helen was interrupted by her mother’s slap across her cheek.
‘I told you before. Don’t,’ Emma snarled. Helen rose from the table, rubbing her cheek. She rifled through her bag sitting on the side bench by the refrigerator. She pulled out an A4 size envelope, holding it out the Lady Emma as she returned to her seat, her cheek still stinging from the vicious swipe.
‘What’s this?’ Emma asked.
‘Just open it and read it. If you won’t believe what I’m telling you, then read what I’ve found out.’
Lady Emma opened the envelope with caution. She understood that Helen wouldn’t give up the argument until the contents of the envelope were revealed. She pulled a wad of pages half an inch thick from the envelope – some pages were typed documents, others were black and white photographs.
‘What is this?’ Lady Emma asked her daughter again.
‘An investigative journalist approached me about six months ago. She was compiling information about daddy for some article she was writing. She offered me money for an interview. I declined. Next thing I know, she’s handing me this envelope and insisting that I read it. I wasn’t going to, but curiosity got the better of me. And you know what they say about curiosity and the cat. Read it, mother. I think you’ll be very surprised.’ Helen leaned forward in the chair and looked her mother in the eye. ‘Please, read it. All of it.’
. . . To be continued . . .