An Incomplete Revenge
see the Londoners at the top of the garden, separated from the gypsies at the bottom.
    Once again she tramped along in the midst of a flurry of activity until she came to Billy and his family, snatching hops from bines freshly tugged down to lie across the bin. They were working silently, though Billy looked up and smiled at her approach.
    “Miss, ’ow are you, then? Any luck findin’ out about George’s boys?”
    Maisie noticed that Doreen had turned away from Billy, as he began to speak, and had her back to him now. She had only issued a brief smile upon greeting Maisie, yet her demeanor did not suggestshe thought ill of her husband’s employer, rather that she was more than a little annoyed with her spouse.
    “They’re being held on remand, currently at the boys’ reformatory school outside Maidstone. They will be charged with the theft of valuables from the Sandermere estate, malicious damage, and breaking and entering. At the moment, the fact that they have no ’previous’ will stand them in good stead—if you can call it that—and they will serve, if found guilty, only three to six months.”
    Billy frowned and threw down the hop-bine that he’d been picking. “But I thought you could get them out!”
    “Not so fast, Billy.” She held up her hand. “They stand accused of a crime for which there is evidence of their guilt, and though we believe there is cause for doubt, we have to prove them innocent, which takes time. I should add that they seem well represented, as far as it goes. We must, however, do all we can to locate the stolen goods and find out who might have conducted the burglary in the first place.”
    Maisie looked at Doreen Beale, who was biting her bottom lip as she picked hops into the bin with short, sharp movements, ignoring both her sons, who were much too quiet, and her mother-in-law, with whom she had always enjoyed a warm companionship. It was clear that the couple had exchanged harsh words, though the discord might be the result of a minor squabble that had escalated in tone or some act or retort on behalf of one that was seen as more than a minor infraction by the other.
    “Billy, I’d like to talk to the boys’ father again and, if your family can spare you, I’d like you to come.” Maisie smiled at Doreen, who looked back at Billy and nodded.
    “ He can do as he likes,” said Doreen, a bladelike edge to her reply.
    Billy ignored the comment, passed his half-picked hop-bine to his sons, and motioned for Maisie to follow him. “Over ’ere, Miss. George is this way.”
    They had walked only a few yards when Maisie whispered to her assistant, “Look, Billy, I know it’s none of my business, really, but may I ask—is Doreen upset about something?”
    They passed the last cadre of pickers and walked on through untouched hop-bines draped like rich green curtains across the rows. Though no one could hear them, Billy kept his voice low. “I had to put me foot down, Miss. You know, about Doreen talkin’ to them gyppos.”
    Maisie frowned, and though she understood the folly of coming between man and wife, she could hear her annoyance as she replied, “What did you do that for?”
    Billy stopped and looked at her. “Not you too? What with me mum, and now you.” He plucked a single hop from an overhanging bine and crushed it between his fingers. “I was alright, like, when it came to Doreen stoppin’ to ’ave a chat with that woman, Paishey Webb, what with ’er ’avin’ the little girl. I was worried, mind, because I could see Doreen was sort of making their paths cross—she was always there when the woman went over to the tap or back up the road. And you never know when someone might turn, might reckon there’s somethin’ wrong with my Doreen.” He shook his head. “I know what it means to ’er, bein’ able to hold the litt’lun every now and again, but you never know what people might think.”
    “You’re worried about other people?”
    “Well, you’ve

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