“The ferry leaves St Malo at noon. Better make it 7.00,” said Belinda, “we don’t want to miss it and
have to face your mother’s wrath.” She smiled and as Mark phoned to book the car she walked to the window. Below
her flowed the Seine and, seemingly floating in the river, the Île de la Cité and the east end of Notre Dame with its fine
display of flying buttresses. Beyond, the Latin Quarter and on the horizon the Panthéon, housing the remains of distinguished
French citizens from Voltaire to Victor Hugo. Belinda smiled as she recalled, as a young tourist, her first visit to Paris
and now, she was engaged, her future husband had a title and consequently she was to be, Lady Sallinger. Not for the first
time she considered the path her life had taken in the intervening years, from Australian backpacker, to property owner when
her murdered Great Aunt left her a cottage in Somerset, her friendship with Hazel Whitby and through her, an introduction
into the world of buying and selling antiques.
She wondered how the next few days would be. The invitation from Melba to join her at her house on the island of Guernsey
had come, more or less as a command, to plan their wedding. The fact her parents and Hazel Whitby were to be fellow guests
provided some comfort for Belinda.
“Car booked. Hadn’t we better pack?” Mark’s question interrupted her thoughts, and she turned to the
bedroom and began to sort out clothing.
“Just what is this house your mother has?”
“On Guernsey? An old Tudor house father bought some years ago. One of his companies initially bought it as an investment;
had some idea of turning it into a boutique hotel, but time went on and they never got around to doing anything with it, so
the old boy took it off their hands at a knock-down price, crafty old bugger. When he died, mother inherited it, and she has
some crazy scheme about restoring it and retiring there.
“By the way, her email says we are to expect two additional guests. Some priest my mother argues theology with. Mother
has a fixation with Rome and has been known to reduce the Holy See to tears. It’s rumoured the Pope has been heard to
plead, ‘will no one rid me of this troublesome woman?’ And a writer, talking of troublesome; a woman doing research
on the Nazi occupation of the island. Can’t see those two providing much entertainment.”
Belinda gave a murmur of acknowledgement and busied herself with packing. Her thoughts were scattered; the prospect
of time spent with his mother, would they get on?
A Tudor house to explore; the freshness of the island of Guernsey off the coast of France.
An unexpected image flashed into her mind. Mark’s tale of the midwife dragged from her bed in the middle of the
night. The baby thrown into the fire. Belinda shivered. But the image stayed with her – like a horror movie. Repeating…repeating…
© 2016 Brian Kavanagh