Thursday, 16 August 2007

Chapter 133

It was after 10pm by the time Harry and Danny had wrapped up their work. They had completed a dozen or so sheets of flip chart paper, which had been torn off and blu-tacked around the walls, so that the office looked like one huge family tree. In the process, they’d pulled apart a few speculations, and the scoring system had allowed them to identify the gaps they still had to fill out – hopefully, through a combination of the certificates Harry fully expected to get the next day, and the further probing of Laurel and Lillian McFry.

Danny was collecting the empty coffee cups, while Harry closed the window.

“You know, we’re going to have to lay it on the line with those two ladies, don’t you?” he asked, before Danny had disappeared to the kitchen.

“How do you mean?”

“Well, the situation with the bond has changed things, wouldn’t you say?”

Danny was concerned. He still felt a duty to protect Lillian: she was his client, and she’d made it clear she didn’t want Laurel to know about her.

“You’re not suggesting we tell Laurel about Lillian, are you?” . Harry had returned to his seat.

“I don’t see we’ve got much choice. The DNA results alone show a common paternal link between Laurel’s mother and Dacre Lawrence. She’s going to expect us to have found out about the mothers, don’t you think?”

Danny wasn’t sure. “Maybe it can wait a day or two, Harry. She doesn’t have to know tomorrow, surely?” A delay, even of a few days, might give them the chance to persuade Lillian that Laurel had a right to know about her mother’s parentage.

“Hmm … that’s true,” Harry said, scratching his chin. “But don’t forget, some of these certificates will open up a few more doors. We’re going to have to play it by ear.”

“Why don’t we see what Lillian makes of it all, first?” Danny said. “I still don’t really understand why she doesn’t want Laurel to know about her…”

Harry had given this matter some thought, and he shared it with Danny.

“Look at it this way. A young woman from Yorkshire is fighting in a Civil War in a foreign country hundreds of miles from home. She gets separated from her lover, Jonathan Harcourt, but hooks up again with one of the McFry brothers she originally traveled out there with. She gets pregnant. The baby’s born out there.”

Danny had turned back from his journey to the kitchen, had put the mugs on the corner of the desk, and taken his seat again, opposite Harry.

“And?” he asked, not sure where Harry was heading.

“The birth isn’t registered anywhere. It’s a civil war, remember. Not the kind of thing conducive to the keeping of meticulous records. Anyway … she subsequently travels with Stuart McFry and the baby, and escapes to south west France. Where she leaves Colleen. Quite a brave thing to do. But she’s planning to return for her, until the war intervenes.”

Danny was thinking about the DNA evidence.

“So where does John Lawrence fit in?”

Harry sat back in the chair. “On the surface, it looks like John Lawrence might be Jonathan Harcourt. Or at least, Harcourt might be the name Lawrence assumed as a writer for the Daily Herald. I’m sure Bill Blunt will confirm this for us. I’ll ring him tomorrow.”

Harry wondered what else Bill might have discovered. He couldn’t believe he’d have much of a story ready for that week’s Beagle, but there was the nagging worry that he’d been beavering away while Danny and he had been in Madrid. Who knows what he’d turned up?

“The way I see it, Danny, Lillian McFry’s holding back on something. And you know what? I think it’s because, at the end of the day, she didn’t know herself who the father of Colleen was.”

Harry’s comments stunned Danny. Surely a woman knew who the father of her child was – wasn’t it supposed to be, well … instinctive?

“I don’t get it. How could she not know?” he asked.

“Look at it this way. I know it’s hard to imagine, when you look at Lillian now, but she wasn’t always a geriatric. She was a beautiful woman. And in wartime, they say that ‘standards’ slip a little - you just have to think of all the wartime babies born in England when the Americans were stationed here. She probably had a lot of men running after her. We know about three or four, at least. It’s quite possible she didn’t know who fathered her child. Or that she thought it was someone other than who it really was.”

“Such as?”

Harry considered his response a moment. “Well, you yourself suspected Stuart McFry, as the prime candidate, didn’t you? What if Lillian thought the same?”

“Well, that might explain Thomas McFry’s ability to persuade Lillian to keep her secret, and to live with him as man and wife, without being married, I suppose….”

“The only thing we need to decide is who gets the pleasure of asking Lillian? She’s your client, after all…” Harry said, with a smile.

Whatever else happened, Tuesday was shaping up to be an interesting day.


70steen said...

WB Thomas :-)

Lillie Ammann said...

I'm so glad Harry and crew and back. I've missed them.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, TH. I hope that you had a good holiday.
Three intriguing chapters. Well worth the wait.

Theresa111 said...

Thomas ... The plot thickens and I am so excited to be reading these last three chapters! Keep it going as it's hard to wait. Cheers!

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Thank you, everybody! My break in the Western Isles wasn't as productive as I'd hoped - but now I'm back I am planning to hurtle towards the finish ... shortly!

the domestic minx said...

Let the probing begin!!!

Oh, i've so enjoyed reading these last three chapters and falling back into your groove!!
So glad you're back!

Thomas Hamburger Jnr said...

Well, the probing is long overdue, Domestic Minx! Thanks for coming back after the break!

Kind Regards