It was a lovely evening, they had a short walk together and then came back to the cottage for drinks and dinner. When Carl asked what they had been doing there was a loaded silence. Lesley and Jean glanced at each other, trying to decide how much they should share of the debacle that the trip had turned into.
Neither of them wanted the last few days to impact negatively on the rest of the week but to answer his question they would need to mention the drama of Hawks Farm at least.
Though they tried to gloss over much of it Carl was intrigued by the unexplained disappearance of Ted Smart, at the same time admitting he didn’t remember him all that well.
“I’m not surprised he vanished with all those problems. I think I’d have done the same thing.” He told them.
“Yes, but Doris just won’t have it. She insists that he would never have done that to her.” Though Jean came to the farmer’s wife’s defence, there wasn’t a great deal of conviction behind her words and she wasn’t surprised by Carl’s response.
“Most women would say that though wouldn’t they. I mean it’s a matter of pride I suppose and self-esteem as well as anything else. I don’t think any of us like to think that we can be dumped.” He grinned as he spoke because he knew both women would be thinking about his most recent girlfriend who had done just that.
The discovery of the Land Rover was discussed and picked over yet again. In the end Lesley threw up her hands and pleaded with them all to just leave it alone and ‘for goodness sake talk about something else’.
They all agreed that it was sad, that it was puzzling, that there was nothing that anyone could do that hadn’t already been done and then they left the subject alone. The conversation had started Jean’s brain ticking yet again, seeking for explanations and later, in the quiet dark of her bedroom she played and replayed all that she knew.
She hadn’t related the events of the morning or anything about her internet searches, but she was intrigued and wanted to find out more about the Lipscows. There was a story there and her writer’s mind wanted to explore it more. She began to wonder if perhaps she would like to stay a little longer. Originally, she had made arrangements for a lengthier stay and so all that was needed was for her to tell Lesley that now, as things seemed to be settling down a bit, she wouldn’t go back at the weekend after all. Of course, things were not settling down, quite the reverse and in her mind’s eye she replayed the image of the young woman kneeling on the floor of the little shed, rocking back and forth and laying flowers around her knees.
The following two days were almost the way that it had been in the past, except of course for the sad absence of Jean’s husband. Lesley and her husband had never visited together, and maybe that should have been an indication of how little they had in common. It hadn’t been much of a surprise when the marriage petered out and fizzled like a damp squib. Lesley had spent many happy holidays at the cottage with her son and sister and brother in law though and they were able to recapture some of the joy that had been missing from this trip until now.
Jean was delighted because it meant, when she told Lesley she had reconsidered leaving with her it wouldn’t seem quite so odd.
Lesley had been prepared to travel back alone and, once Carl had left for his climbing holiday in Snowdonia, there was just one more night before she was due to leave by train for the West Midlands.
“Are you sure you want to stay Jean?” Lesley was serving up their lunch of soup and toasted sandwiches when she asked the question, “Only, you were pretty low when I arrived. I know you’d had the fall and everything, but you were definitely not enjoying yourself.”
“I’m sure,” Jean reassured her, “The last couple of days have been great. It’s reminded me how lovely it is here and I’m all ready now to get some work done. I’m not sure whether I’ll be keen to come back again, after all this, but at least the memories will be good ones.”
Lesley left after lunch the next day, Sunday, and Jean waved her off with just a slight pang of regret and nervousness.
Once she was alone again, except of course for Slumpy, who had settled down and spent most of his time rooting in the hedgerows or sleeping in front of the log fire, Jean dragged out her notepad and began to write down all she knew about the woman at the Lipscow farm.
It wasn’t much but whenever she thought about that poor frightened creature, the panicked eyes as she had barred the way into the shed, the heartrending way she had come for that cat that she had been convinced was hers, then Jean determined to find out as much as possible. Of Ted Smart and Doris she didn’t see what there was anyone could do, perhaps what happened to him would always be a mystery.