Unknown by Unknown

Book: Unknown by Unknown Read Free Book Online
Authors: Unknown
Rachel asked.
    ‘Now and then. Not often,’ Ben replied.
    ‘What was Celia really like, Ben? You’ve told me she was beautiful, Alistair says she was “bonny”—that was his word, too. But I can’t discover much about her as a person. I don’t think my aunt cared for her much,’ she added as an afterthought.
    Ben smiled. ‘No, Celia didn’t exactly make a hit with Rose. But then you’d hardly expect her to, would you? Rose was not likely to welcome any girl who wanted to take her precious Richard away from her, was she? Old nannies can be more possessive than mothers, you know.’
    ‘Mm. I hadn’t thought of that.’
    ‘As to what Celia was like, have you never seen a photograph of her?’
    ‘No, never.’
    He fished in the pocket of his jeans and brought out a tattered wallet. From it he drew a snapshot of a flaxen-haired girl, sitting on a gate, in a figure-hugging white sweater with a scarlet spotted scarf knotted at the neck, her long legs encased in scarlet trousers. Her head was thrown back and she was laughing. She looked radiant.
    ‘I took that,’ Ben said proudly. He replaced it in his wallet lovingly. ‘Beautiful, wasn’t she? Why such a lovely girl had to die .....’ He shook his head. ‘It was wicked.’
    ‘My aunt says... .' Rachel hesitated, half afraid to go on.
    Ben took her arm and smiled down at her as they emerged from the trees and approached the house. ‘Take my advice and don’t pay too much attention to what Rose says, Rachel, my dear. Oh, I know she’s your aunt and perhaps I shouldn’t say it to you, but when Richard married Celia Rose had to take a back seat. She even had to leave the big house and move to the cottage. After twenty something years do you think she would take kindly to that? Do you imagine she liked being deposed? She’s only human, when all’s said and done. She resented Celia, she was jealous of her. You could hardly expect her to welcome her with open arms. I’ll bet you’ve not found anyone else who’s disliked Richard’s wife.’
    Rachel shook her head. ‘No, that’s true, I haven’t.’
    ‘There you are, then.’ Ben smiled down at her and squeezed her arm affectionately. Rachel smiled back at him. He was really rather like a big brother, she thought happily.
    Richard was at the corner of the house. Plainly he had watched them come from the woods and was waiting for them.
    ‘Where’s Melanie?’ he said curtly to Rachel.
    ‘Chasing rabbits, I believe,’ Rachel said with a smile.
    ‘You’re supposed to know where my daughter is and what she’s doing,’ he snapped. He turned to Ben. ‘And my father pays you to work on the Estate, not to take leisurely rambles with every pretty girl in sight.’ He turned to go. ‘Three o’clock tomorrow afternoon,’ he threw over his shoulder to Rachel. ‘That’s when Melanie has to be at the speech therapist’s. I'll pick you both up here at two. Don’t be late.' He marched off into the house.
    Ben grinned. ‘Don’t mind him. I expect he’s had a bad day at the fishing,’ he said.
    But Rachel hardly heard. Richard had called her a pretty girl.
    Thursday was one of Melanie’s restless days. Rachel suspected it was because of the impending visit to Dunglevin, but she made no comment. Instead, she took the little girl for a walk up to the waterfall after barely an hour’s schooling. Ben did not make an appearance, which seemed to disappoint Melanie slightly, but even so she seemed calmer when they returned to the house.
    After lunch, at which Richard did not appear, Rachel sent Melanie to her room to put on her prettiest dress while she, Rachel, changed into a smart cream suit trimmed with coffee and cream check to match the blouse she wore with it. She even tied her hair back with the same colour ribbon, then stepped back to survey her appearance. Scraping her hair back made her look far too stern, she decided, pulling off the ribbon and shaking her hair free. That was better. She

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