You are on page 1of 28

Stephen Clegg was born in Stockport in 1947. In 2008 he retired, having r n his own b sinesses !or "an# #ears.

$e is now happil# "arried with children and grandchildren. In 2012 his !irst novel %&arias 'apers( was released and his second !ollowed in 201). *oth books were no"inated !or prestigio s awards, and his second, %+he &atthew Chance ,egac#( beca"e a !inalist in +he 'eople(s *ook 'ri-e 201).14.

+his book is dedicated to "# son Iain Stephen Clegg and "# da ghter /icola 0ane 1rake 2 the two delight! l people who led "e into the world o! stor#3telling I !ind "#sel! now.

S t e p h e n F. C l e g g


Cop#right © Stephen 4. Clegg +he right o! Stephen 4. Clegg to be identi!ied as a thor o! this work has been asserted b# hi" in accordance with section 77 and 78 o! the Cop#right, 1esigns and 'atents 5ct 1988. 5ll rights reserved. /o part o! this p blication "a# be reprod ced, stored in a retrieval s#ste", or trans"itted in an# !or" or b# an# "eans, electronic, "echanical, photocop#ing, recording, or otherwise, witho t the prior per"ission o! the p blishers. 5n# person who co""its an# na thori-ed act in relation to this p blication "a# be liable to cri"inal prosec tion and civil clai"s !or da"ages. 5 CI' catalog e record !or this title is available !ro" the *ritish ,ibrar#. 5ll characters appearing in this work are !ictitio s. 5n# rese"blance to real persons, living or dead, is p rel# coincidental. IS*/ 978 18496) 827 8 www.a stin"aca" 4irst ' blished 820149 5 stin &aca le# ' blishers ,td. 27 Canada S: are Canar# ;har! ,ondon <14 7,*

'rinted and bo nd in =reat *ritain

5 h ge thank #o to "# bea ti! l da ghter /icola 1rake, "# lo#al !riends and test readers 0a#ne &iles, 0ean 1ickens, ,orraine &iddleton, &ichele /orton, and +ed ;#lie. 5lso to "# loving wi!e 0a#, who s pports "e so "agni!icentl# in all aspects o! "# writing.

July 2006. Bellthorpe Grain Mill, Rochdale
/ao"i regained conscio sness and tried to open her e#es, b t the blind!old was so tight that she co ldn(t see a thing. $er ankles were tied, her wrists were bo nd behind her back, and she was gagged. She co ld tell that she was on a bare concrete !loor, and she knew that she was so"ewhere ver# large and hollow beca se the slightest so nds echoed aro nd the roo". She also picked p a distinctive s"ell. She co ghed, listened, and then co ghed again, b t drew no response. She "ade a lo d >$""ing? so nd b t that, too, was !r itless. She had no idea what ti"e it was, or even what da# it was. +he last thing that she re"e"bered was being sp n aro nd 2 dragged to an old @eep with a hand cla"ped over her "o th, and then so"ething being @abbed into the side o! her neck. /ow, she was h ngr#, bo nd, shoeless, and l#ing on her right3hand side. She ad@ sted her position, sat p, and banged the back o! her head against so"ething hard. She c rsed, drew her knees p, rocked !orwards, and then atte"pted to stand. She got hal!wa# p, b t her ascent was halted and she dropped back to the !loor and banged the base o! her spine. She r bbed it and then !iddled abo t behind her back ntil she !o nd a length o! rope tied to her wrist bindings. It was linked to a "etal %$( !ra"e girder which she pres "ed to be a roo! s pport. +he linking rope !elt approAi"atel# twent#3!ive "illi"etres thick, was so!t, and greas#. She(d !elt rope like that be!ore, b t co ldn(t recall where. She ad@ sted the position o! her hands and established that the girder was r stingB that was a bon s. C t o! the bl e she heard so"ething. She re"ained still and listened. It was the distinctive %ch g( o! a boat engine.

She(d heard n "ero s thro gho t her li!e, and she knew that she was listening to a canal boat. +hat was enco raging too, beca se the so nd "a# have been co"ing !ro" the Dochdale canal. She waited ntil silence had descended, and then wasted no ti"e. She began to abrade the rope against the base o! the r st# stanchion. 4i!t# "etres awa#, sitting in the gloo" o! the h ge deserted silo, her captor watched in silence thro gh a pair o! night3 vision binoc larsE

Chapter 1
Monday 12th June 2006. The Historic Research Department, alms!ield Borou"h #ouncil, $ancashire
5t 8F77a" $elen &ilner walked into the $istoric Desearch 1epart"ent and looked aro nd. >&orning /ao"i 2 it(s a bit s"aller than I re"e"bered,? she said. /ao"i ;ilkes, the $ead o! the depart"ent said, >;elco"e to the !old, and welco"e to "# tin# world.? $elen cast her e#es aro nd the o!!ice and saw that /ao"i had linked their two desks together in an %,( shape, and had "oved all o! the !iling cabinets to the back wall. 0 st inside the !ront door stood an pright coat stand, a co ple o! spare chairs, and at vario s locations aro nd the o!!ice, she co ld see "asses o! cardboard boAes stacked on top o! one another. Cn this, her !irst da#, her desk looked al"ost e"pt#B on it were two three3tier !iling tra#s, a receptacle !or holding pens and pencils, a cordless telephone, an 54 notepad, and a stea"ing hot c p o! tea. >+ake #o r coat o!!, and drink what passes !or tea aro nd here be!ore it gets cold,? said /ao"i. $elen re"oved her coat, sat down, and was s rprised b# her new, co"!# o!!ice desk chair. >I even got #o the leather seat that #o asked !or,? said /ao"i s"iling across at her !riend. /ao"i and $elen had beco"e close !riends working on an earlier research pro@ect tr#ing to discover the tr th abo t the ownership o! the old ;hitewall <state on ;ordale &oor, and d ring those investigations, the#(d beco"e entangled with an old adversar# o! /ao"i(s 2 the rich and power! l " lti3 "illionaire b siness"an, 5drian 1arke. *oth wo"en had

co"e close to losing their lives on his Cragg Gale <state on the nearb# D shworth &oor when the#(d eAposed his illegal ndergro nd dr gs !acilit#, and altho gh "ost o! those iss es had been resolved, "ore than a !ew had arisen which still re: ired attention. 'rior to accepting her new post, $elen had worked as a conservator at a constr ction site !or the !orthco"ing Gical shopping centre in /ewton, $#de, b t as the "onths had progressed, and she(d beco"e "ore interested in carr#ing o t the t#pe o! research that /ao"i had, she(d @ "ped at the o!!er o! a @ob to @oin her in ;al"s!ield *oro gh Co ncil(s $istoric Desearch 1epart"ent. /ao"i was thirt#3!o r #ears o! age and $elen thirt#3!iveB both wo"en en@o#ed the sa"e taste in clothes, " sic, and going o t, and whilst /ao"i was "arried to Carlton ;ilkes the $ead o! the ;al"s!ield 'lanning 1epart"ent, $elen was single and in a shak# relationship with her partner 0 stin, a shi!t3working sec rit# o!!icer whose "otivation and work ethic wo ld have ideall# seen hi" e"plo#ed as a ! ll3ti"e 'rogra""e Seller !or Coronations. *oth wo"en were eAperienced researchers and had onl# "et three "onths earlier, b t the eAperiences and dangers the#(d shared in their previo s pro@ect had bro ght the" closer than either had eApected, and now the# were together on the !irst da# o! their new working relationship. >Cka# boss,? said $elen, >what(s the order o! the da#H? >Cn a personal note, "# biggest desire is to learn "ore abo t that old &alaterre <state nder the 1 nsteth reservoir, b t the "ost pressing proble" is to get that lot catalog ed and !iled awa#.? She nodded towards the boAes stacked aro nd the roo". $elen looked at the" and groaned. >+hat was "# old li!e at the Gical Centre,? she said. >;ell 2 #o know the de!inition o! a $istoric Desearcher don(t #o H? said /ao"i. $elen raised her e#ebrows and said, >=o onE? >5 !iling clerk with a histor# obsessionI?

$elen nodded and said, >So tr e 2 where do I startH? 5s $elen b sied hersel! with the !iling, /ao"i sat back and tho ght abo t the &alaterre <state. $er !irst enco nter with the na"e >&alaterre? had been in a drea" where she had taken deliver# o! a large wooden crate, opened it, and had !o nd another boA insideB inside that boA was another and then another, ntil at the end she(d !o nd a cigar boA. Inside the cigar boA had been a s"all, discolo red cigarette card with the single word, %&alaterre( written pon it. +he drea" had been so vivid that she(d "ade a note o! the na"e, b t hadn(t tho ght an#"ore abo t it ntil within a co ple o! weeks, and pon the concl sion o! her investigations into the ownership o! the ;hitewall <state, she(d discovered a s"all wooden boA concealed in a &a sole " that proved to have a !alse botto". +o her shock and a"a-e"ent, two things had been discovered in thereB a bron-e ke# with the letter %&( worked into the bow, and a discolo red cigarette card with the word %&alaterre( written pon it. 5 lad# na"ed 1ais# $ bert had secreted the boA within the "a sole " so"eti"e a!ter &arch 1869, and had been the sister3in3law to a solicitor na"ed =eorge $ bert who had sent her incri"inating evidence against two " rdero s characters na"ed 5braha" and Caleb 0ohnsonB and beca se he had been a!raid o! the" killing hi", he(d asked her to conceal it ntil she had been in a position to be able to hand it over to the police on his behal!. * t s bse: ent investigations b# /ao"i and $elen had revealed that 1ais# had been " rdered b# Caleb 0ohnson be!ore she(d been able to hand the evidence over. 5 local search o! the na"e !ro" the Gictorian era had shown that there had once been an estate na"ed %&alaterre( in the 1 nsteth Galle#, north o! Dochdale, which had been !looded in the 19th cent r# to "ake wa# !or a new civic reservoir. +he things that p --led /ao"i, however, were wh# 1ais# $ bert ca"e to be in possession o! the ke# and cigarette card, what the ke# !itted, and wh# she !elt the need to hide the" in

the !alse botto" o! a boA alread# containing incri"inating evidence against the 0ohnsons. >'enn# !or the"H? said $elen. >Ch, I(" @ st " lling over the &alaterre con ndr " again.? $elen nodded and pointed towards the boAes, >$ow abo t we work together !iling this lot, then "a#be we(ll be have so"e ti"e to consider thatH? /ao"i s"iled and said, >5ll right, I can take a hint, shove one over.? 5s the ti"e approached 10F)0a" /ao"i said, >5ll this !iling "akes "e thirst#, do #o want a c ppaH? $elen looked p and said, >Ch #es please, white co!!ee 2 no s gar.? /ao"i got p and headed !or the door, b t be!ore she co ld open it, there was a knock, and her h sband Carlton walked in. >&orning Carlton,? said $elen, >have #o seen what #o r slave3driver o! a wi!e has got "e doingH? Carlton s"iled and said, >+hink #o rsel! l ck#, #o sho ld tr# being "arried to herI? /ao"i slapped her h sband(s ar" and said, >$e#, #o (ll pa# !or that laterI /ow, what brings #o down to the bowels o! the Co ncil o!!icesH? >+wo things,? said Carlton, >n "ber one to welco"e $elen to o r !oldE? $elen s"iled and said, >+hank #o .? >Eand n "ber two, to tell #o abo t a snippet o! news I heard this "orning.? $e pa sed to "ake s re that he had both wo"en(s attention and then said, >5 h "an bone was discovered on the eastern side o! the 1 nsteth reservoir.? /ao"i(s interest peakedB she said, >Deall#, recent or historicalH? >+he reporter didn(t sa#.? $elen said, >I was onl# reading the other da# that the water level had dropped beca se o! s ccessive dr# winters and so "an# "ore hot s ""ers.?

>;hatH? said /ao"i looking across at $elen, >+hat(s a la gh with all the rain that we get aro nd here.? >/evertheless,? said Carlton, >$elen(s right, the levels have dropped, and #esterda#, a retired doctor walking his dog !o nd the bone near the waterline and reported it to the local police,? he pa sed and then said, >5nd o! co rse we all know what(s nder there, don(t weH? >&# c rrent obsession,? said /ao"i, >&alaterre.?

Chapter 2
ednesday 1%th June 2006. The Dunsteth Reser&oir, $ancashire
/ao"i stopped her $onda CDG near to the eastern bank o! the 1 nsteth reservoir and reached into her handbag. She re"oved the Clearbl e digital pregnanc# test kit, held her breath, and looked at the indicator. It was @ st as she(d seen it the !irst ti"eB it stated >'regnant 23)? de"onstrating that she was indeed pregnant and that she(d conceived two to three weeks earlier. She(d !ollowed the instr ctions to the letter, waited ntil the da# be!ore her period, and had done the test at her !irst visit to the bathroo" that da#. She(d r shed o t to tell Carlton b t had !orgotten that he(d had to leave aro nd 7a" to attend a local govern"ent cost3c tting se"inar in *ir"ingha". /ow, i! the wording on the boA was to be believed, it was 99J positive that she was pregnant, and 92J positive abo t when she(d beco"e so. She clapped her hand p to her "o th and covered a h ge, bea"ing grin. She and Carlton had been tr#ing !or a bab# !or "ore than a #ear, and tho gh both had re"ained positive, the strain had been beginning to tellB the act o! love3"aking had "orphed !ro" a passion3driven desire to cons "e as " ch o! each other(s bodies in as l st! l a wa# as the# co ld, to that o! tr#ing to "ake a bab#. +he sp r o! the "o"ent -eal to take one another whenever, had given wa# to planning and ti"ing, and tho gh both still en@o#ed it, it wasn(t ever the sa"e as that power! l and gritt# act o! looking at each in a certain !ashion, then @ "ping on one another and screwing each other(s brains o t.

* t now she had it, the wonder! l s " o! their planning and love. 5 less3than3tin# baked bean3si-ed "iracle growing inside o! her, and she co ldn(t wait to tell Carlton. ;ith a satis!ied grin still on her !ace, she p t the pregnanc# test kit back into her bag, took o t her binoc lars, stepped o t o! her car, and li!ted the" p to her e#es. She "ade a "inor ad@ st"ent to the central !oc s wheel, and stared at what appeared to be an irreg lar set o! stepping stones breaking the s r!ace o! the reservoir in the earl# "orning s nshine. 4ro" a pro!essional point o! view the reappearance o! the b ilding was eAciting, b t beca se o! the "#sterio s circ "stances in which she(d !irst learned abo t it, it was also chilling, and the "ore she stared at the innoc o s !eat res, the "ore she wanted to know. +he estate appeared to be within to ching distanceB she wanted to eAplore it, to eAperience what it "ight have looked like to the last occ pants, b t beca se it had been nder water !or over a h ndred #ears there wo ld be no wa# o! knowing how sa!e it wo ld be. >4ascinating isn(t itH? said a voice. /ao"i whirled aro nd and saw a "an standing behind herB he appeared to be in his late thirties and was dressed in a cas al white shirt, bl e @eans, and open3toed sandals. $e was sli" and !it looking, had a ! ll head o! dark brown hair, green e#es si"ilar to her !ather Sa"(s, and his handso"e ang lar !ace was clean3shaven. 4or a split3second she was taken aback beca se in the instant that she saw hi", she !elt that she had known she was going to "eet hi". 5s tho gh !ate had closed a circle that she had known wo ld be closed. +he "an saw /ao"i(s "o"entar# hesitation and said, >I(" sorr#, did I startle #o H? >/oE ;ell, "a#be a littleE? +he "an s"iled and said, >I s ppose that it(s these cr#pt3 creeping sandals, and o! co rse "# nat ral abilit# to be able to "ove witho t a so nd, especiall# awa# !ro" debt3 collectorsE? $e raised his e#ebrows in a theatrical wa#.

/ao"i s"iled and said, >5nd are #o p rs ed b# "an# debt3collectorsH? >$ ndredsI? said the "an, >In co nties across the entire length and breadth o! the landI? 4or so"e ineAplicable reason /ao"i !elt right at ho"e with hi" and @oined in the @aper#. >;ell,? she said, reaching into her handbag !or a non3 descript piece o! paper, >I(" glad that I(ve !o nd #o now, beca se there is this s"all "atterE ? She tendered the !olded piece o! paper. +he "an b rst o t la ghing, held his hands p in the air, and backed awa# two or three paces. $e said, >Cka#, it(s a !air copI $ow " ch do I owe #o H? /ao"i stopped and looked p !or a second, and then p shed the paper back into her handbag. She said, >/othing, I @ st re"e"bered that it(s illegal to collect debts in Dochdale on a ;ednesda# "orning.? +he "an covered his e#es and said, >Ch "# =od, i! onl# I(d known, I(d have "oved here #ears agoI? +he# both s"iled with gen ine pleas re ntil the "an eAtended his right hand and said, >&# na"e(s 'age, Stephen 'age.? /ao"i shook the o!!ered hand and said, >/ao"i ;ilkes.? +he sa"e s dden !eeling overtook herB a !eeling as tho gh he was "eant to be there, at that "o"ent in ti"e. +heir handshake was di!!erent tooB it !itted per!ectl#, and she al"ost didn(t want to let go. >5nd what brings #o here, /ao"i ;ilkesH? said Stephen, >Is it the "#sterio s reappearance o! &alaterreH? So"ething else clicked inside /ao"i(s brainB Stephen was the onl# person to have sed the single na"e %&alaterre( whereas ever#bod# else had re!erred to it as %the &alaterre <state(. It was nothing that signi!icant, b t it indicated !a"iliarit#. >It is indeed,? said /ao"i giving awa# nothing o! her inner !eelings, >I a" a pro!essional historic researcher and I(" ver# interested in this place.?

>Is that beca se o! its s dden reappearance, or have #o alwa#s been aware o! its presenceH? /ao"i considered her answer be!ore speakingB she said, >I have to ad"it to knowing nothing o! its presence be!ore "ore than a !ew weeks ago. I onl# "oved to the /orth o! <ngland at the end o! 2000, and ever#thing I know, I had to learn abo t, instead o! growing p with.? Stephen nodded and said, >5h, I seeB so what !irst bro ght this place to #o r attentionH? /ao"i !elt as tho gh she co ld tell Stephen abo t her weird drea", b t she opted to keep her cards close to her chest. >It(s a bit o! a protracted stor# which I don(t have ti"e to tell #o toda#,? she said, >b t it is an interesting one.? She pa sed !or a second and then said, >* t how abo t #o , what is #o r interest in the placeH? 4or the !irst ti"e since the#(d "et, she saw g ardedness show on Stephen(s !aceB he dropped his e#es and hesitated, b t then see"ed to "ake his "ind p. >Can I answer #o r : estion with a : estionH? /ao"i said, >Kes, o! co rse.? >Ko "entioned that #o are a pro!essional historic researcher, b t #o didn(t sa# !or who". Is it a local organisation, and are #o here representing the", or do #o work so"ewhere else, and are @ st showing an interest in the goings on aro nd hereH? >I a" the head o! ;al"s!ield *oro gh Co ncil(s $istoric Desearch 1epart"ent, and whilst I g ess that I wo ld be representing the" in an o!!icial capacit#, it is "ore than @ st pro!essional interest that has bro ght "e here.? Stephen digested /ao"i(s repl# and then said, >Cka#, then there(s so"ebod# that I think #o sho ld "eet.? C t o! the bl e, /ao"i was str ck b# the speed and ease with which the# had beco"e ac: ainted, and recalled a !ew lines o! <astern < ropean !olklore. '$ittle "irl, it seems to say, (e&er stop upon your )ay, (e&er trust a stran"er !riend,

(o*one +no)s ho) it )ill end. ,s you-re pretty, so .e )ise, ol&es may lur+ in e&ery "uise, (o), as then, 'tis simple truth, /)eetest ton"ue has sharpest tooth.She looked into Stephen(s e#es and said, >+hat(s ver# kind o! #o b tE? Stephen realised that he had been pres "pt o s and said, >+here(s no need to eAplain, I appreciate that we(ve onl# @ st "et. 5nd who knows, I co ld be a wol! in sheep(s clothing.? Stephen(s re!erence to a wol! shook /ao"i to the core. She !rowned and said, >;hat "ade #o sa# that, thenH? >+hat I co ld be a wol! in sheep(s clothingH /othing, it was @ st phrase 2 wh#H? /ao"i knew that there was "ore to itB she co ldn(t rationalise it, she co ldn(t eAplain it, she @ st knew. She stared into Stephen(s e#es and noticed that the# had a ha-el star aro nd the p pil, si"ilar to her !ather(sB and then she wondered wh# she had even noticed. She started to !eel o t o! her depth and a bit disorientated. Stephen picked p on it and said, >I appear to have pset #o , and I(" sorr#. I(ve been told in the past that so"eti"es I(" too !orward !or "# own good.? $e reached into his back pocket and eAtracted a black leather wallet and opened it. /ao"i co ld hardl# believe her e#es. $er !ather Sa" was the "ost !astidio s "an that she had ever known when it ca"e to choosing a new wallet. =rowing p, she recalled traipsing aro nd endless leather shops in the LM and Spain as he trawled thro gh the" looking !or @ st the right one. It had to be blackB it had to be a one3!old wallet, with no p rse section !or coins, it " stn(t have -ips or "asses o! co"part"entsB it had to be no bigger than ten centi"etres b# eight centi"etres, and the notes had to be in a bill!old, instead o! slotted co"part"ents. 5 tall order indeed 2 and the# had been al"ost i"possible to !indI

/ow she was staring at an identical one in Stephen(s hand. $er alread# shaken e: ilibri " took another blow as the coincidences started to "o nt p. Cblivio s o! /ao"i(s growing neaseB Stephen eAtracted a b siness card and handed it to her. >I! #o (d like to get a potted histor# o! &alaterre,? he said, >give "e a call and I(ll introd ce #o to so"ebod# who" I(" s re that #o (d !ind interesting.? /ao"i looked down at the b siness card and saw that it statedB '/tephen G 0a"e Director 0a"e 1 0a"e $td.+he b siness address was so"ewhere that she hadn(t heard o! in nearb# * r#. She said, >+hank #o ,? and then, >;ho(s the other 'age, #o r wi!eH? +he words !lowed o t and she co ldn(t believe that she(d asked s ch a personal : estion. She was "orti!ied. Stephen s"iled and said, >/o, the other 'age is "# !atherB we r n a s"all b t specialist bookshop in * r#. * t !or the record, I(" not "arriedI? >I(" so sorr#I? said /ao"i, >I don(t know what ca"e over "eB it was none o! "# b sinessE? >It(s nothing,? said Stephen. /ao"i !elt the need to get awa# to tr# to regain so"e o! her co"pos reB she looked at her watch and said, >,ook, I(" sorr#, I have to goE? Stephen s"iled and eAtended his hand once again. /ao"i took it, and was overco"e b# the sa"e ineAplicable !eeling. She co ldn(t believe itB so"ething !elt so right abo t holding his hand that she let go o! it too : ickl#. >'lease do give "e a call,? said Stephen, >I !eel s re that #o (d be interested in what "# "other has to sa#.? >Ko r "otherH? >Kes, she(s the person who has the inside knowledge o! &alaterre.?

/ao"i(s e: ilibri " cal"ed as her c riosit# kicked inB she looked down at the b siness card and saw that there were several options !or contact incl ding an e"ail address. She looked p and said, >5ll right, I will, b t I need to check "# diar# !irst.? Stephen s"iled and said, ><Acellent, no r sh.? /ao"i nodded and s"iled backB >Cka#,? she said, >I(ll be in to ch 2 b#e !or now.? She t rned to head back to her car, when the !eeling o! a th "b pressing down onto her sho lder, which heralded one o! her in!re: ent ps#chic eAperiences, p shed hard down. She heard a wo"an(s voice sa#, '/-il &ous pla2t ne pas aller3She wheeled aro nd and stared at the &alaterre b ilding, and got the second h ge shock o! the da#, !or o t o! the corner o! her e#e, she(d seen Stephen wheel aro nd and look as well. 4or several seconds she didn(t know which wa# to look, at &alaterre, or at Stephen. $e appeared to be staring at the b ilding too. *oth had the sa"e p --led eApressions on their !aces ntil Stephen t rned, s"iled, and then walked awa#.

Chapter 3
Monday 24th July 1565. The hite)all 6state, ordale Moor
0oseph 'ickles !ro" $ nders!ield 1istrict Co ncil stepped o t o! his $anso" cab, approached the !ront door o! the ;hitewall <state, and looked aro ndB he(d heard tales o! a !ear! l dog na"ed S gg who belonged to the 0ohnsons, and he didn(t want to be on the wrong side o! it. $e padded across the co rt#ard to the !ront door, cast a last nervo s look aro nd, and then knocked. ;ithin a !ew seconds the door opened and he was con!ronted b# a hard and intolerant looking "an who appeared to have got o t o! the wrong side o! bed !or the last siA "onths. 5braha" 0ohnson looked at the caller, noted the s it, shin# shoes and leather brie!case and then said, >;ell, are #o going to stand there all da#, or are #o going tell "e what #o wantH? 'ickles to ched the tip o! his bowler hat and said, >&r. 5braha" 0ohnsonH? >;ho(s askingH? >&# na"e is 0oseph 'ickles !ro" $ nders!ield 1istrict Co ncil, and I wondered i! "ight be allowed to have a word with #o H? 5braha", who was alwa#s distr st! l o! o!!icials narrowed his e#es and said, >5bo t whatH? >I have a proposition that "ight interest #o B that is o! co rse, i! #o are indeed 5braha" 0ohnson.? 5braha" stared at the o!!icial !or a co ple o! seconds and then said, >5ll right, #o (d better co"e in.? $e led 'ickles thro gh the kitchen into the parlo r and pointed to a seat.

'ickles sat down and looked aro nd. +he light !ro" the + dor3st#le windows didn(t ! ll# ill "inate the roo", b t it was ade: ateB eno gh !or hi" to see that ever#where appeared to be gr bb# and ntid#. 1irt# !ood dishes and beer " gs la# on the table top, and there was a large boA o! bandages on the !loor neAt to one o! the chairs. $e saw 5braha" watching hi" and said, >I hope that nobod# was too serio sl# h rtH? >;hat proposition "ight interest "eH? >I take it then, that #o are &r. 5braha" 0ohnsonH? >Kes, #es,? said 5braha", >what proposition have #o got !or "eH? 'ickles was now in o!!icial "ode, and he wasn(t abo t to be p t o!!. >5nd is it correct that #o are the c rrent owner o! the 1 nsteth <state on *lackstone &oorH? 5braha" went on the de!ensiveB he was aware o! the ne!ario s wa# in which he(d sec red both 1 nsteth and ;hitewall and he didn(t want an#bod# pr#ing into that. >,ook,? he said, >stop prattling abo t and @ st tell "e wh# #o ca"e.? >I(" sorr# &r. 0ohnson,? said 'ickles, >b t I do need to know that I have the correct antecedents be!ore I can proceed.? >5ll right, all right 2 I own ;hitewall and 1 nsteth. /ow !or ! ck(s sake, spit it o tI? 'ickles bristled at the se o! bad lang age whilst he was acting in his o!!icial capacit#, and had the person opposite been an# less inti"idating, he "ight even had said so, b t he took one look into the ice3cold, h "o rless e#es o! 5braha" 0ohnson and decided against it. $e cleared his throat and said, >4ollowing several, er, in ca"era Select Co""ittee "eetings, it has been decided that the $ nders!ield 1istrict Co ncil sho ld progress the proc re"ent o! a s itable valle#, in which the# co ld site a planned, new, civic reservoir.? 5braha" !rowned at !irst, the se o! a ter" like >in ca"era? was be#ond his li"ited vocab lar#, b t he grasped the basic "eaning. $e said, >So what are #o tr#ing to sa#, that

#o want to b # a whole valle# to p t #o r new %reservo#er( inH? 'ickles raised his e#ebrows !or the brie!est o! seconds and then said, >'recisel#.? >5nd that "# 1 nsteth <state is in one o! the valle#s being consideredH? >+he 1 nsteth Galle# is the pri"e valle# being considered &r. 0ohnson.? >1o #o realise how " ch reven e I get !ro" that estateH? said 5braha". >/o sir, I don(tB b t I have been instr cted to ass re #o that i! #o wo ld consider o r proposal, #o wo ld be "ore than happ# with o r ter"s.? +o the ab@ect s rprise o! 'ickles, 5braha" leapt o t o! his seat, leaned o t o! the window ad@acent to the #ard, and #elled, >CalebI Caleb, get #o r arse over here bo#I? $e re"ained staring into the #ard with his head cocked to one side ntil he realised that he hadn(t drawn an# response. $e #elled once "ore, >CalebI CalebI 5re #o listening to "eH? 'ickles heard so"e kind o! " !!led response and then watched as 5braha" ret rned to his seat and plonked hi"sel! down. >;ait a "in te "ister, erE? >'ickles,? >Dight,? said 5braha", >I want "# lad here when #o tell "e the rest.? 5 !ew "in tes later the parlo r door opened and Caleb walked in. 'ickles looked p at Caleb and !elt as tho gh he had been stabbed thro gh the heart. $e was big and b lk# and appeared to have a per"anent scowl pon his !aceB he was tanned, his hair was brown, thick, and nke"pt and he had the "ost nnerving e#es. +he# were cr el, and so lless, and the# chilled hi" to the core. Caleb saw the s ited stranger looking at hi", and nable to conceal his aggression said, >;hat are #o looking at, to!!H? >;atch #o r tong e, bo#I? said 5braha".

Caleb looked p at his !ather and said, >Sorr# pa, he wasE? >I don(t careI Sit down and listen to what he has to sa#.? Caleb sl nk across the parlo r and dropped into the chair neAt to the boA o! bandages. Seven "onths earlier, in /ove"ber 1867, Caleb had been attacked b# S gg, his own dog, a h ge, vicio s, and de!or"ed Irish wol!ho nd, who(d torn awa# a large ch nk o! his le!t cal! " scle. $is recover# had been protracted and pain! l, and still ca sed hi" to hobble ever#where he went. +he wa# that Caleb walked across the roo" wasn(t lost on 'ickles. $e said, >I can see !ro" #o r in@ r# that the in@ection o! a considerable s " o! "one# wo ldn(t go a"iss, either to ease the b rden o! #o r li!e here at ;hitewall b# giving #o the abilit# to take on "ore labo rers, or to be able to e"plo# the services o! a top doctor to eApedite the process o! #o r recover#.? Caleb looked across to his !ather and said, >;hat(s he on abo t paH? >Kon "an,? said 5braha", >has co"e here to ask s so"e : estions abo t o r ownership o! 1 nsteth.? 5s with 5braha" be!ore, Caleb went on the de!ensive, knowing ! ll well how the# had !irst tricked his step"other &argaret into never learning abo t her right! l inheritance o! 1 nsteth, and how his !ather had " rdered her when she had !o nd o t, and then had taken ;hitewall as well. $e cast a : ick glance in the direction o! his !ather and tho ght that he was pro"pting hi" to do awa# with the stranger. $e @a""ed his hand into his coat pocket and grabbed his kni!e. 5braha" sawB knew what was abo t to happen, and said, >/o bo#I? 'ickles saw the eAchange and started to !eel nco"!ortableB ever#thing see"ed to be getting tenseB he !elt as tho gh he was sitting in a basket ! ll o! poisono s snakes, and that the wrong "ove wo ld res lt in so"e terrible !ate.

>=entle"en,? he said, wishing to get awa#, >i! it wo ld s it #o better, I can co"e back on another occasion.? >Stop being so to ch#,? said 5braha", >the bo#(s a bit awkward aro nd strangers and he(s lacking in what #o (d call social graces, so @ st tell hi" wh# #o (re here.? $ac+in" in social "races7 tho ght 'icklesB he(d seen "ore sociable lions at !eeding ti"e. $e took in a deep breath, t rned to Caleb, and said, >Ger# well, $ nders!ield 1istrict Co ncil wo ld like #o r !ather and #o to consider selling s #o r 1 nsteth <state, so that we can !lood the valle# in which it lies, to create a new civic reservoir.? >5nd the#(ll pa# a cartload o! brassI? said 5braha" with bri""ing enth sias". 'ickles t rned to 5braha" and said, >Kes, I !eel s re that #o wo ld both be "ore than pleased with o r o!!er.? 5braha" t rned to !ace his son with a big grin on his !ace. >1o #o hear that bo#H $e wants to b # 1 nsteth !ro" s !or a cartload o! cashI? 'ickles retorted, >/ot "e personall#, #o nderstandE? $e saw Caleb t rn and stare straight at hi"B it !elt as tho gh the devil hi"sel! was looking into his so l. ;itho t an# rational eAplanation, he started to beco"e edg# and a!raid. >So nds like "# pa(s prepared to believe #o 'ickles,? said Caleb in an nsettling wa#, >so #o (d better not let hi" down 2 beca se i! #o do I(ll h nt #o down like aE? >CalebI? said 5braha", >Stop thatI $e(s here to "ake s an o!!er, not to threaten sI? 'ickles watched ntil Caleb(s e#es t rned awa#. It !elt as tho gh a h ge vice3like grip had @ st let go o! his throat and inner organs and ever#thing inside hi" wanted to get p and r n. ;ith a ha""ering heart, he s ""oned p the last reserves o! his co rage and said, >I will not be threatened like thisI I! #o cannot digni!# this "eeting with civilit#, then I shall leave and take "# proposals elsewhere.? 5braha" !elt the o!!er starting to slide awa#B he t rned to Caleb and said, >Ko heard the gent, bo#. 1on(t #o open that

! cking "o th o! #o rs again ntil #o (re spoken to 2 is that clearH? 'ickles winced insideB he(d never attended a darker or "ore nsettling "eeting in his entire working li!e. Caleb said, >Kes pa,? and settled back in his seat. >;e don(t want &r. 'ickles getting the wrong idea abo t sI? 'ickles had eAactl# the right idea abo t both "enB he looked !ro" !ace3to3!ace and then said, >Ger# well, I shall leave "# proposal with #o to considerB b t i! I !eel threatened or inti"idated in an# wa#, I shall leave, and #o (ll never hear !ro" "e again.? >;hat(s to considerH? said 5braha", >#o co"e p with the brass, and the place is #o rs.? $e @ "ped p and eAtended his hand. 'ickles hesitated. >;hat(s pH? said 5braha", >' t it there, we have a deal in principle at least.? 'ickles looked p at 5braha" and said, >It(s not : ite as si"ple as that.? Caleb looked across to 'ickles and gloweredB he opened his "o th to co""ent, b t re"e"bered his !ather(s warning. >;hat(s not so si"pleH? said 5braha" ret rning to his seat. >Ko rs isn(t the onl# propert# in 1 nsteth Galle# &r. 0ohnson, and nless we can sec re per"ission !ro" the owners o! the &alaterre <state, we will be !orced to look elsewhere.? >5nd have the owners o! &alaterre hinted at what their decision will beH? >/o sir, the# have not.? $e hesitated knowing that his neAt state"ent "a# prove to be contentio s. >4 rther"ore there "a# be an added di!!ic lt# beca se the# are not all <nglish nationals.? >/ot <nglishH? said 5braha". >/o sir, the# are o! 4rench descent.? >4rogsI? said 5braha", >I tho ght the# were <nglishB the# so nded <nglish the last ti"e we crossed words 2 so which ones are !rogsH?

'ickles blanched at the so nd o! 5braha"(s %the last ti"e we crossed words( state"ent and then said, >+he !ather is 4rench, b t the "other is <nglish, and all o! the children were born in <ngland.? >So the#(re <nglish !or the "ost part thenH? >Kes, b t I nderstand that the !ather, &r. <tienne 'age is the owner, and he is 4rench.? >4 cking !rogsI? said 5braha", >$ow did the# end p owning the placeH? >+he circ "stances o! their ac: isition are not within "# ken, b t it is indisp table that &r. 'age senior is the owner, and witho t his agree"ent to sell, we will, as I said, be !orced to look elsewhere !or o r reservoir.? 5braha" beca"e s llen and the light3hearted "ood disappeared in a !lash. >So i! the !rogs won(t sell, we can(t either. Is that itH? he said. >Kes sir.? >;ell #o (d best "ake s re that the# do.? >&r. 0ohnson, i! the# re! se toE? 5braha"(s voice rose as his aggravation increased, he said, >De! sal(s not an option 'ickles. It wo ld s it "e, and "# son to sell 1 nsteth, so #o "ake the" an o!!er that the# can(t re! se, do #o hear "eH? 'ickles started to !eel the need to get awa# againB he said, >;e(ll do ever#thing in o r power &r. 0ohnson. I alread# told #o that the 1 nsteth Galle# is o r pri"e choice, so it is within o r interests to sec re that land also.? >Dight,? said 5braha" getting to his !eet and walking towards the parlo r door, >we(ve got work to do, as I a" s re #o do, so #o go and get those !rogs to sign p 2 and i! #o have an# di!!ic lt# pers ading the", let s knowB perhaps Caleb and "e can help the" "ake their "inds p.? 5cross the roo", 'ickles saw a look spread across Caleb(s !ace. $e stood p and walked towards the open door, cleared his throat, and said, >5he", #es, well thank #o !or the o!!er o! help, b t I !eel s re that we(ll be able to "anage per!ectl# well on o r own.?

Seconds later he stepped o t o! the kitchen and into the co rt#ardB he replaced his bowler hat and headed !or the waiting cab. Cnce inside he !elt a palpable sense o! relie!. 5s it headed p the long drive he re!lected over the "eeting and the two "en that he(d @ st le!t. $e wasn(t a partic lar lover o! !oreigners hi"sel!, b t the last thing that he wanted was to visit volatile characters like the 0ohnsons on the", non3<nglish or not.

Related Interests