The Lazarus Secrets

The Lazarus Secrets by Beryl Coverdale

Book: The Lazarus Secrets by Beryl Coverdale Read Free Book Online
Authors: Beryl Coverdale
Tags: Historical fiction
They were reading the morning papers and smoking, Charles his pipe and Alexander a cigarette. They both wore straw hats and their only concessions to casual dress on this bright sunny morning were rolled up shirt sleeves and the absence of ties.
    â€œCome and sit here,” Charles said taking his pipe from his mouth and pointing it at a spare deck chair next to him. “Good to see you looking so well Max.”
    Alexander waved a hand, “I hear the young ones are to reproduce again and there are to be more Darringtons running amok around the place.”
    Max stared at him unable to quite believe his time was almost done, and already feeling the vastness of the void his passing would leave, something of them all would die with him. He was in his seventies and looked it but showed no sign of weariness or fear, the aggressive humour, so much part of his character, still emanated from him. Max searched the craggy face for some indication of impending death, averting his eyes only when he realised Alex­ander was looking straight back at him. Could he see into his soul? If so he would see such sadness.
    The garden was in full bloom and the air was still and gloriously fresh, the quietness broken only by birdsong. Clarissa carried out a tray of coffee and homemade biscuits and sat down. “Isn’t it just a perfect morning?” she beamed, “I’m so glad you came today, Max.”
    Handing the cups around, she sat back contentedly between Charles and Alexander. It was a scene Max had witnessed a thousand times, but Sarah’s questions had reminded him that the story behind the picture remained shrouded in mystery. At intervals, they had separated, but some irresistible force, whatever its origin, had always drawn them together again and he never could decide if it had been a positive or negative factor in their lives. It was just so.
    Footsteps and the chatter of children’s voices announced the arrival of Clive and his family at the side garden gate. “We knocked at the front door,” called Carol cheerfully, “but you didn’t hear us.”
    They always seemed so happy and uncomplicated to Max. Like his father, Clive was handsome and having inherited a fortune from his parents could have had his pick of occupations and partners but was content to be a village parson and had eyes for no-one but Carol the plain, good-natured daughter of the late Reverend and Margaret Donaldson.
    Clarissa hugged them both and the children kissed everyone. Vanessa made her way to Charles and sat on the grass next to his deckchair. Having spent years believing he would have none, Charles adored all his grandchildren but after Barbara died and Vanessa daily grew to look more like her, he had difficulty concealing his undoubted favouritism.
    Thirteen-year-old Julia was the beauty of the family favouring her great-aunt Clarissa. She sat beside Grandpa Alex who poked fun at her short skirt comparing it to an army belt he had once worn. The young girl smiled condescendingly and kissed his forehead. Alexander was her great-uncle but from an early age she had worried about him having no grandchildren. So, in spite of his constant assurances that he disliked children intensely, she had adopted him as Grandpa Alex and he was secretly delighted to be referred to as such by all the children in the family.
    â€œIsn’t it wonderful about the new babies,” Carol said enthusiastically.
    Everyone agreed except Alexander, who, much to the amusement of the adults gave forth a tirade about such irresponsibility with the exploding population and standing room only being imminent.
    â€œBabies are born to replace the people who are going to die,” Julia suddenly stated seriously. Clarissa spilled her coffee. The others glanced at each other but not at Alexander. Sensing she had said something significant the child coloured and looked at Clive, “Isn’t that right Daddy? That’s what you said

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