Marie was given the news in a long letter from my mother who advised her not to rush back, and indeed to stay away longer than planned. For once she listened to advice and even, uncharacteristically, expressed herself shocked. Ordinarily one would have expected her to have declared that she had suspected something, but on this occasion she made no such claims. All she said was that Palitha had been amongst those who had urged her to go abroad when she did, and that this should have made her suspect something. At the time however, she had to admit, she had thought he was only concerned for her welfare.
It was my father surprisingly who claimed some sort of foreknowledge. ‘I never liked that fellow,’ he insisted. ‘You could tell he thought himself a cut above his station in life. I could never understand why Marie tolerated him. Normally she’s so particular. But this chap got away with murder. Why, one day I saw him on that bench in her cage, sitting down and talking to her while she was standing up. I had half a mind to stop the car and lace the beggar two slaps. But then I thought that she couldn’t afford to lose him so it was better not to interfere. I wish now that I had.’