The Lighthouse at Cape Kayli

-1-

Jennifer Green stumbled out of bed, bedraggled and puffy-eyed as the hand bell jangled. Gods,

didn't the woman ever sleep?

'Maid? Maid! Where in blazes are you?'

I'll maid YOU in a minute, you old crow! I do have a name, you know! Jennifer thought to

herself as she scrambled into her slippers and housecoat. The old lady was not an invalid. Far

from it. She had the constitution of a bull, and the voice and manners to match!

'Maid! What's taking you so long?'

'I'm here, Mrs. Tate,' Jennifer said with studied patience, trying not to stumble into the

woman's room. For a fleeting moment she felt faint, and almost had to clutch at something to keep

her balance. But as usual the brief spell passed as she busied herself over the insufferable Mrs.

Tate.

'You young women are so cruel these days! Ignoring the discomfort of a poor old woman!

In my day that would have been instant grounds for dismissal-'

No doubt! Jennifer thought dryly as she listening to the empty and oft-repeated threat and

shuddered at the thought of what people like herself must have gone through in the days when the

leisure class truly ruled. Mrs. Tate was definitely a throwback to that thankfully bygone era.

Jennifer allowed her thoughts to drift as she helped the old lady with her bedpan- a purely

unnecessary and self-serving ritual. Ah, the bad old days, when it was acceptable for servants,

pets, women and children to be threatened, condescended to, bullied and beaten with absolute

impunity; when a rich landowner, if he got a woman alone, to all intents and purposes had the right to rape her, then claim or discard her at a whim- the 'right of the master' she believed they called it then; when girls like herself had absolutely no choice but to cater to the every whim of an old cow like Mrs.Tate.

Maid, clean my bedpan! she mocked.

Maid, rub my feet!

Maid, massage my neck!

Maid, help me undress!

'Maid! Aren't you listening to a word I've said? I'm done-'

'Yes,' Jennifer mumbled, feeling a little unsteady once more. It was bad tonight, whatever

it was. I shouldn't've forgotten to take those iron pills, she chastised herself, then smiled

inwardly at her own use of a double contraction everyone used, but seemingly none ever set down

on paper.

'And by the by . . . don't you dare forget that Alan arrives tomorrow at tea time with his

friend, Ricardo or whatever his name is!'

'I haven't forgotten,' Jennifer mumbled distantly, thinking only of bed. Alan Tate and his

friend Richard! How wonderful! As of tomorrow there would be three of them to look after!

She had never met Alan Tate, had never seen a picture of him, but from Mrs. Tate's

descriptions had a pretty good idea of what she was in for. He was short, square, belligerent,

demanding . . . all in all a balding, blunt-featured, corpulent, middle-aged carbon copy of his

mother.

There was, however, always a hesitance, an unwilling note of reserve in Mrs. Tate's voice

when she spoke of her son, almost a deference or fear of the male sex; a note in her voice that said

she daren't disparage him to his face- at least none too openly.

Oddly, there wasn't a single picture of him as an adult anywhere in the old house; at least,

none that she was aware of- odd because the walls of the sitting-room and library were cluttered

with family photos and portraits from a bygone era. Photos of his childhood were present in

abundance, but not one of the adult Alan Tate was in evidence.

'Stop your daydreaming, girl! Can't you see I'm ready to return to bed?'

'Yes, Mrs. Tate,' Jennifer said, trying to at least sound submissive in an attempt to placate

the old lady so that she would go back to bed without any further fuss. What the old lady really

wanted was a good knocking about!

Stumbling to her own room and her own bed which was now cold and empty without her

presence to warm it, she flopped down and pulled the heavy comforter over herself.

'I'm so tired,' she moaned to the darkness, 'and tomorrow there's going to be three of

them. Won't that be lovely! I think it's time I gave my notice. No more just thinking about it! Yes,

tomorrow I'm giving my notice . . .'

Up at the crack of dawn, her notice-giving quite forgotten, at least for the moment, Jennifer busied

herself about the kitchen, thankful for the four hours of solitude that would last until half-past ten

o'clock when Mrs. Tate arose. Making herself a strong cup of coffee, lighting a cigarette from a

kindling sliver she thrust amongst the coals of the wood-burning kitchen stove and settling herself

in a chair by the window, she felt perfectly at peace watching and listening to the October rain

spattering against the window, the robins chirping outside as they searched the sodden grass for

earthworms and whatever else they could find. Oh, if only this were her own house and she were

rid of the demanding, interfering, irritating and self-centred Mrs. Tate! There was never a

moment's peace when that woman was around. Didn't she have any peace in her twisted old soul?

Jennifer sincerely doubted it.

A sharp rap and a strange face at the window right beside her caused her to let out a small

shriek of alarm. Quickly tamping out her cigarette, wrapping her housecoat more securely around

her, holding it tightly at the throat, she opened the door an inch or two.

'Yes?'

'Ms Green?' a cherubic man said boisterously, thrusting his face near to her own. 'I'm

Alan, the prodigal son. This here's Richard Dixon. Mind if we come in out of the rain? It's a bit

nasty out here. That is, unless you're the cruel little witch mother tells me you are.'

Bemused, trying not to smile at the man's disarming and humourous mien, she stood back

and let the two men enter. Alan was just as his mother said he was- except he wasn't! He was

bubbly, humane, and everything else his long-suffering mother wasn't.

'Where is the old bat?' he said, scuffing his shoes noisily on the mat and hanging up his

coat. 'Still abed, no doubt. We'll soon put that to rights! Mother!'

'Please, don't!' Jennifer blurted involuntarily.

'Horse turds to that,' he said, ignoring the girl's wide-eyed, shy reserve. 'Here, luv, be a

doll and take Richard's coat, will you? I'm going upstairs to chase the old dragon out of her lair.

Got a broom handy? That should do the trick. On second thought, better not. She might grab it and

fly off!'

Jennifer watched him go with frank astonishment, only belatedly noticing Richard Dixon

watching her with amusement, his coat dripping.

'Oh, I'm sorry! Let me-'

She was stopped by the sight of the tall, dark, quiet stranger, who in turn was giving her his

steady, undivided attention. Still smiling, he took off his coat and proferred it; she took it

mechanically, unable not to continue staring.

'Richard,' he said, his smile broadening. 'Richard Dixon.'

'I . . . um . . .' She found herself giving a nervous giggle. 'I'm only the maid . . .'

'Does the maid have a name?'

'Yes, she does. I mean, yes, my name is . . . I'm Jennifer. Jennifer Green.'

'The floor's getting wet,' he remarked dryly.

'Yes,' she said automatically, completely unaware of what she was saying. 'Yes, it is.'

Then, remembering herself, she flushed scarlet, went to hang up his overcoat, missed the hangar

and dropped it on the floor, retrieved it-

'Allow me,' he said with humourously old-fashioned gentility, taking the coat from her

and hanging it with smooth grace, his eyes laughing. Then, 'Tell me . . . do you flirt with every

strange man who comes knocking on the back door?'

'What? No! I'm sorry, I've got things to do-'

She fled to the sitting room and stood in the middle of the floor feeling like a compete fool.

'What on earth-?' At once she felt like laughing, or moaning with embarrassment; she

wasn't sure which. She had only just come to terms with the fact that she wasn't the sort of girl

men found even remotely interesting. People referred to her type as "healthy-looking." She wasn't

exactly short . . . well, yes she was; sort of medium-short. She wasn't skinny or robust. "Well-knit"was the term most often used, meaning she was well-proportioned in an unfeminine, athletic sort of way. She had a round, young face that was neither plain nor pretty; a singularly uninteresting and unremarkable sort of face. Her eyes were her only good feature, she thought. They were dark brown with flecks of pale honey, the perfect compliment to her hair; that is, if she ever let it down.

But Richard Dixon! He looked like something out of The Outdoorsman magazine, with his

chiselled features, his tall, athletic frame, his wide shoulders that looked as though they could bear

anything he set his mind to. Jennifer winced at the absurdity of her own thoughts and the thought of the silly charicature she must have made, standing gaping at the door. Her knees had literally gone weak at the sight of him, her insides to water- it wasn't fair! He must certainly be laughing at her at this moment!

'Ah, there you are!' Alan's blunt bonhomie made her jump. 'Come on out into the kitchen

and introduce yourself! Richard told me you'd run off.'

'I- I have things to do-'

'Yes, and entertaining Mother's guests is right at the top of the list at the moment.'

'She hasn't come down yet, has she?' Jennifer wondered without much hope.

'When the real world comes crashing in, Mother behaves like the wallflower she really

is,' Alan bellowed to no one in particular. 'Come, be a good girl and make us a pot of coffee, will

you?'

She followed him back into the kitchen, carefully avoiding Richard Dixon's amused eyes.

'Have you . . . have either of you gentlemen breakfasted?'

'Gentlemen!' Alan scoffed. 'Breakfasted! Come, luv, you seem like a sensible, modern

sort of girl. Enough of the Victorian anachronicity! Ah, here's Mumsy. Come on in here, luv! Give

your son a big, wet kiss!'

As Jennifer began getting breakfast together for three, she watched in amazement as Mrs

Tate sat in her rocker, basking quietly and happily in this male-dominated atmosphere. "You old

fraud!" she thought to herself.

'Here, there's four of us!' Alan admonished when he spotted what Jennifer was doing.

'What? But . . . you mean there's someone else? I'm sorry, I didn't see anyone-'

'What, Mum been making you take your meals out in the barn like a field hand? Nonsense!

You'll have your breakfast with the rest of us. That is, unless your cooking's so bad you can't thole it yourself.' He winked at Richard and lit his pipe.

'I thought you'd be coming at tea-time,' Mrs. Tate said to her son.

'So'd I,' Alan told her. ''Cept I ran into Richard here, and he's in a hurry. Wants to make a

swap with you. He needs a governess to look after little Marigold, and Agatha just isn't up to the

task-'

'Agatha? You can't mean Agatha Higgins?'

Jennifer could only stare. Partly because of what they were talking about and partly

because she'd never seen the long-suffering Mrs. Tate look so happy.

'Your old chum, no less,' Alan told her. 'Now you can sit around all day and talk over old

times to your heart's content, without making this poor waif's happy life miserable. Yes, Jennifer?

If you don't ask your question, your face is going to freeze like that.'

'What . . . I don't know what you're talking about!'

'I mean,' Alan Tate told her, 'that you're going to work for Mr. Dixon here. We came in his

car, so you'll be leaving with him, no doubt shortly.'

'But- I'm not a governess! I don't know the first thing about children-!'

'What, don't you like children? You do? Then it's settled! By the way, it's just one children. Child, rather. She's a terrible two-year-old. Or she will be in another year, which makes her a terrible one-year-old. Anyway, as soon as you're done eating, you may as well start packing

your things.'

Too bewildered to protest, Jennifer did as she was told. At one point she came downstairs

feeling that she should discuss the matter further but the three were deep into a conversation that

clearly did not include her. Feeling railroaded and like an intruder at the same time, she went back

to packing, wondering all the while what she was getting herself into. Or more to the point, what

she was being gotten into without her consent! Who did these men think they were? Only last night she was decided upon giving her notice, and here she was . . .

Yes, and here she was. She may as well have given her notice. There was no denying the

fact that had she done so, she would be facing similar uncertainties in some other stranger's home.

At least this was less uncertain. She sighed. 'All right, then. A governess for Mr Dixon's child it

is.' As she packed the remainder of her things Jennifer began to wonder what sort of person Mrs

Dixon was. 'Probably too busy entertaining or working to look after her own daughter,' Jennifer

mused. 'Most likely the former.'

Mrs Tate had hardly given her a glance as Jennifer hung awkwardly at the door, waiting for

Richard Dixon to say his goodbyes. By then it was almost noon and the rain had nearly stopped,

leaving the air gravid with moisture, the foliage dank and dripping.

And then, as though a bubble had burst, it was over with. Mr Dixon tacitly took her

suitcase, gave one final wave, placed her luggage in the boot of his Aston-Martin, and they were

away. They were no sooner out of the drive and onto the motorway when Richard let out a pent-up

stream of air, smiled and shook his head. Rolling down his window a crack, he took a silver case

from the inside pocket of his light jacket.

'You smoke?'

'Just a little, in the mornings and evenings,' Jennifer admitted, accepting one from him.

'Me too,' he said. 'My only real vice. Here, I've a light.' He blew a thin stream towards

the open part of the window. 'Much as I like Alan, I'm always glad to get away from him. He was

right, though. As usual.'

'How do you mean?'

'Agatha and his mother are cut from the same cloth. He seemed to know that you were

unhappy living under his mother's roof, and that you're more like me, which is surprising,

considering that he'd never met you before. Still, he's a good judge of character. Shrewd. Gleaned

what you're like from what his mother hadn't told him.'

'Speaking of hadn't told, would you mind telling me where you're taking me?'

'Nowhere. Literally. I have a place on the coast. We'll still be in Yorkshire, if that's any

consolation. By the way, how old are you? I'd pictured someone considerably older.'

Inexplicably unnerved by his question, she ventured, 'Nineteen.' It came out sounding like

a question. Then, feeling as though she were trying to parry with him, she said, 'You?'

'Twenty-seven. Why? Does it show?'

When she didn t answer, he smiled.

'Have you never cared for a child?'

'Yes!' Jennifer blurted. 'I mean, no! I mean-'

'Not to worry,' he told her, chuckling at his own joke. 'It's more a matter of instinct than

training. You'll do just fine; I'm sure of it.'

'So, how and when did you decide that I'd make an appropriate governess for your child?

I'm sure that what Mr Tate may or may not have told you wouldn't be enough in itself.'

'To tell the truth, I was certain that this whole trip was going to be nothing but a waste of

time. Meeting you changed that.'

Feeling acutely out of her depth, Jennifer didn't respond to this. Instead she watched the

passing countryside, that which wasn't thoroughly citified and mired in traffic, and found herself

hoping they were headed someplace far away from the madding crowd.

They stopped a number of times; once for tea and again for a late supper of fish and chips,

and in several towns along the way where Richard picked up and dropped off various items. It

was late when they arrived at the Dixon place. Jennifer was nodding and she stumbled to the room

Richard led her to, mumbled her thanks, got undressed and into bed, and was instantly asleep.

She was awakened by a light jingling sound. Opening one sleepy eye, she found herself being

studied by a solemn little face, dimly illuminated by the hall light which shone in amber hues

through the bedroom door which was slightly ajar. It was still dark outside and the little girl

clutched some sort of jingle toy in her hands.

'Hullo,' Jennifer murmured, unable not to smile. 'You must be Marigold.'

The little girl smiled and began trying to pull herself up onto Jennifer's bed.

'If you insist,' Jennifer said, helping her the rest of the way.

Within moments the two of them had fallen asleep once more.

Feeling an odd sense of déja vu, Jennifer opened a much refreshed eye. It was light outside; she

could tell by the way she felt that she had slept in. As before the little girl was playing quietly,

watching Jennifer solemnly.

Without even thinking, Jennifer said, 'I'll bet you're due for a changing. Now, where are

your things kept . . ?' Mindful of the lightheadedness she experienced if she got too suddenly to her feet, Jennifer crawled out of bed, reminding herself to take her iron pills.

She found the child's room and her necessities without difficulty. Half an hour later, the

two of them bathed, changed and freshly dressed in clean-smelling clothes, Jennifer carried her

charge downstairs in search of Mrs Dixon.

'Hullo? Is anyone here?'

'It's just you and me this morning,' came a voice from beyond the dining room. Following

the voice to its source, Jennifer found Richard sitting at the kitchen table, typing into a laptop.

'Greta won't be back until this afternoon.'

'Have you had breakfast?' Jennifer asked him as she placed Marigold in her high-chair.

'Um, sort of,' he admitted with some reluctance. 'I've had my coffee.'

'Would you like something more substantial?'

'Sure. If you don't mind.'

'What would you like?'

'Whatever you feel like making,' he told her.

'All right,' she said uncertainly. Then, 'Where does your wife keep the baby's food?'

His silence startled her. 'Sorry, I thought you knew.' When she simply stared, waiting for

him to continue, he added, 'My wife died shortly after giving birth to Marigold, a little over a year

ago.'

'I'm sorry! How?'

'There were complications,' he told her with studied directness. 'Ruth was never what

you could call healthy. At the end, after a long labour, she was very tired . . . and then she bled to

death, internally.'

Jennifer said nothing. What was there to be said?

'Now you know,' he said simply. 'Marigold's food is in the cupboard just to the left of the

sink, second shelf. She's pretty much on the real thing, though.'

As Jennifer soon discovered, dining with a one-year-old was half-dining, half-sharing. She was

only half aware that Richard glanced up occasionally from his work to study the pair. What was

going through his mind was a complete mystery to her. But the little girl! Jennifer couldn't believe

her good fortune. All she had to do was look after this little sweetmeat, something that wasn't

work at all! If this wasn't an improvement over working for Mrs. Tate, she didn't know what was!

A thought occurred to Jennifer and she frowned.

'Isn't Marigold going to miss Mrs Higgins?'

'As you can see, not in the least,' Richard replied without skipping a beat in his typing.

'Whyever not! Has anyone else been looking after her? Like Greta?'

'No one else looks after her besides me. Greta just does the housework. Why do you ask?'

'Wha- why- she's just a little girl! She needs a mother!'

Richard finally looked up, and remarked dryly, 'Do tell. Are you up for the job?'

Jennifer literally felt the earth tilt as the implications of this sank home.

'Are you being serious? Are you saying what I think you're saying?'

He smiled, disarmingly. 'What is it that you think I'm saying?'

'That you brought me here on the off-chance that I'd make Marigold a good mother, and-'

'That wasn't my original intent, but go ahead,' he said quietly. 'Say it.'

'Mr Dixon, if you wanted a wife or a companion, why didn't you just advertise?'

His eyes straying to his daughter, drawing Jennifer's in the same direction, he said, 'The

women I meet are professional types who don't like . . . complications. Most people I know,

women and men, don't value their home life at all. They send their children off to institutions

because they're too selfish and irresponsible to take charge of their children's education-

something that I and my late wife felt is actually the parents' responsibility, not the state's . . .

their back gardens are just for decoration, their houses reflect their frivolous and effete attitude

towards life; in a word, I find most people unbearably phoney, except for a small circle of close

friends.'

On an intuition, Jennifer offered, 'That's why you and Mr Tate get along so well. He's like

an earthenware bowl in a china shop because he's more real . . . more solid and down-to-earth.'

'Yes, that's pretty much it,' Richard rejoined mildly.

'But- Mr Dixon, what you're asking . . . the only way I could be Marigold's mother is to be

YOUR WIFE! I mean, I don't even know you!' She cast about in her mind, desperately, but could

find no model to help her form her thoughts.

'Let me help you out a bit,' he said. 'Do you like this house?'

'Yes!' she blurted without hesitation. 'I love it! It's fabulous.'

Smiling at this, he said, 'Only to someone like yourself, and me, who likes things rustic and

old-fashioned. Do you like the property the house is on?'

'I've only seen a very little from the windows, but I love it already. You've even got your

own stretch of beach-'

'You like the uncluttered, uncomplicated atmosphere?'

'Yes.'

'You like Marigold?'

'You know I do,' she said carefully.

'And last but not least, you well know how you reacted to me when we first met.'

Unable to meet his eye, Jennifer took a deep breath. At last, she said slowly, 'If I stay here

long enough, and something tells me that I will, then it would be a terrible wrench to both

Marigold and myself to be parted. Ever.'

'Then say it,' he said quietly.

'You'll have to promise to give me time,' she told him. 'I'm not having sex with you just

like that.'

'I'm not asking you to do anything you're not comfortable with.'

'If I sleep with you, you'll promise that you won't ever try to force yourself on me?'

He gave her a disparaging look.

'I think that would rather drive you away, now, wouldn't it?'

Once again she took a deep breath, let it out slowly.

'I don't understand. Why would you even want me? With your looks and your money you

could land someone with beauty and brains-'

'I had beauty and brains,' he told her somewhat distantly. Then, smiling, he added, 'Are

you so critical of your own charms?'

It was her turn to give him a disparaging look, which turned to crimson-eared confusion

when he smiled. In that moment of bafflement, as though her voice had a will of its own, she said,

'All right Mr Dixon . . . I'll marry you.'

The wedding was a private and painless affair, soon over. They had lunch with a few of Richard's

friends- Alan Tate was there as best man, as were Richard's friends Dr Archie Peters, Terry

Philips and his wife Catherine and Kim Nelson (the male derivation). Jennifer's maid of honour

was Dr Peters' wife Nancy, an attractive, outgoing woman who had immediately taken to Jennifer

and taken the girl under her wing. After the cerimony, as the three women got lunch together, Nancy said matter-of-factly as she sliced tomato and cucumber, 'I'm glad Richard finally took my advice and stopped looking over his women colleagues, but if you don't mind my saying so, I think you're a bit young to be taking on this much responsibility.'

'We're taking it slow,' Jennifer confided, trying to salvage the best part of some woebegone radishes as she ran cold water over them in the sink. 'Right now, I'm little more than Marigold's nanny.'

Marigold was presently in the care of Catherine, Terry Philips' wife.

'Ah, so haven't been sleeping together for very long.'

'No,' Jennifer said slowly, 'we haven't slept together, yet.'

Nancy stopped what she was doing and gave her a look. 'He's your first, isn't he. At least,

when you get around to doing something about it he will be.'

Colouring slightly, not taking her attention off the radishes, Jennifer nodded. 'My very first.'

'You scared?'

'You'd better believe it.'

'Whoah! Well . . . at least you picked the right man, in all respects.'

'How d'you mean?'

'I mean,' Nancy told her, 'that Richard is a kind, patient man. He works out of his home,

he's got lots of time on his hands . . . you know that he doesn't have to work on his novels if he

doesn't want to. What he made on that first best-seller of his was enough-'

'That's not quite true,' Jennifer said, unconsciously defending Richard's work. 'He's got

to keep his name out there or he'll end up having to make a comeback; or worse, the markets might change and he won't have a chance to roll with the punches.'

Nancy gave her a look. 'He would tell you that.' Then, seeing Jennifer's baffled reaction, she

said, 'I mean, he's obviously making excuses-'

'Richard never makes excuses,' Jennifer said, frowning. 'That's not what he told me. I'm

just giving you my opinion. For what it's worth . . .'

Not concealing her surprise, Nancy got the mayonnaise and butter out of the refrigerator.

'So, you want him to keep at it-'

'Of course I do!' Jennifer blurted. 'His writing's important. It's part of what he is.'

'He just writes silly adventure-romance novels,' Nancy teased.

Realising belatedly that Nancy was having it on at her expense, Jennifer allowed a

lopsided smile. 'Ha-ha.'

'Ha-ha, yourself!' Nancy said, cutting up sandwiches and arranging them on plates. 'And

by the way, has anyone told you that Archie and I have a little boy about Marigold's age?'

'No,' Jennifer said, surprised and pleased. 'Where is he? Why didn't you bring him?'

'His auntie's looking after him for the day,' Nancy told her. 'She's very young, like you.

Practicing her mothering skills on him, no doubt. Come, let's take this lot to the sitting room before the natives get too restless. By rights, Greta should be doing this-'

'I wouldn't trust Greta within ten feet of the kitchen,' Jennifer said in a low voice. 'She's

a good housekeeper, but she's the worst cook I've ever seen in my life! She boils practically

everything until its practically turned to mush, then she turns around and dumps the water and all

the food value right down the sink.'

With a wry chuckle, Nancy said, 'If I weren't holding these plates I'd give you a pat on the

back for that, Mrs Dixon.'

But the "Mrs Dixon" sounded so strange to Jennifer that that's all she heard.

For the most part Jennifer felt a bit left out of the conversation Richard and his friends

were having but fortunately Marigold consumed most of her attention. At the same time she felt

very young and somewhat out of place with these older strangers. Nancy and Catherine tried to

come to her rescue but even then she felt like a child trying to hold a conversation with adults.

At last the evening thankfully drew to a close and the guests left, the sound of their

automobiles fading away into the distance, leaving the night to close in about herself and her new

home. Marigold had been put to bed much earlier and for the first time Jennifer had some time

alone with her new husband.

'Well,' he said, regarding her thoughtfully as he closed the door, 'what d'you think? You

seemed a bit uncomfortable.'

Sighing deeply, moving toward the kitchen where they tacitly shared most of their time

together, she said as she made for the tea kettle, 'I like them. All of them. It's just that they seem so much older than me. They are, for the most part. But Nancy's what, twenty-four? And Catherine's about the same age. Seems that five years between us is a long five years.'

'Are you sorry you married me?'

She was long in considering her thoughts. That initial reaction she'd felt towards him was

still there, somewhere underneath, but at the moment she felt a complete stranger walking about in her own shoes, distanced from that girl who had gone weak at the knees at the mere sight of him.

'No. I'm not sorry. But . . . nothing's sinking in just yet. It's like my feelings have taken a

holiday and left me behind for the moment.'

'That's not good,' he told her, scrutinizing her carefully, his concern showing plainly.

'Just be sure it's a short holiday. If not, you be sure and tell me about it.'

His sudden concern made her feel a bit shy, yet pleased at the same time.

'That was a very short holiday,' he said with a chuckle, giving her shoulder a little

squeeze.

Yes, it was a very short holiday, she admitted to herself as he sat in his usual place at the

kitchen table. Though her mind seemed in a state of baffled inertia, there was no mistaking the way her body had reacted to his touch.

She took her time getting ready for bed, spending more time in the bathroom than needed.

She didn't think she could handle seeing Richard undressing just yet- or worse, the thought of him

seeing her in any state of undress left her feeling almost unbearably shy. She knocked before

pushing the bedroom door open.

'Richard? Are you decent?'

'M'm,' came his muffled reply.

Going in, she found that he was already in bed, all but asleep. Her stomach full of

butterflies, she crawled into bed feeling as much a stranger to herself as the man beside her. And

as she did to, the rational part of her brain sceamed, 'What on earth have I got myself into? He's

nine years my senior! I hardly know anything about him!'

Her thoughts turned to Marigold, causing her to grin, inwardly. 'At least I've got her.

My very own little girl, and I didn't even have to go through all that hell of childbirth to get her.'

At the same time the thought made her a little sad and a little curious: sad because the little girl had lost her mother; curious because she wondered what it would be like to give birth to a new life

herself. 'And,' she wondered, 'Marigold would have a little brother or sister to play with. Or two

or three . . .' She glanced over at the sleeping Richard, unable to tell what she felt for him. How

would it feel to for him to take her in his arms? she wondered. But the thought of passion itself

made her cheeks burn. 'Still,' she mused, 'it might feel nice if he were to simply put his arms

around me.' Or not. Maybe she'd panic, or worse, lash out at him out of fear.

Much as she felt like giving an angry moan, she held herself to silence.

'Tomorrow,' she thought, turning over and pulling the blankets up over her head. 'I'll think

about it tomorrow.'

-2-

Jennifer was awakened by a sharp noise on the roof and the raucous crying of gulls. Going to

the window to investigate, throwing it open to allow the moist, cool sea air, and welcoming

its refreshing, bracing robustness, she soon discovered what the gulls were about, and

laughed as she watched them.

She sensed his warmth, his presence behind her, with a force that made her feel tingly

inside.

'I can't believe it! They're actually PLAYING with that rock, the silly things!'

'Nature is full of surprises,' he told her. 'Look, the tide's going a long way out this morning, and it looks to be a mild day. Why don't you get yourself and Marigold ready, have a quick breakfast, and go out there and explore?'

'What about you?' she asked him, feeling a little let down.

'I'm on a deadline,' he told her. 'But I'll join you in a while if you like.' He leaned over

her to study her reaction.

Feeling very shy under his scrutiny, unable not to smile, she said, 'Please do. What would

you like for breakfast? And please tell me this time.'

He chuckled and reached for his housecoat.

'You're the woman of the house, Mrs Dixon. The kitchen is your domain and your word is

law. Come spring the garden is your domain as well. "That which gives life is its own domain."'

'I suppose that's poetry.'

'No, it's just some officious-sounding drivel I came up on the spur of the moment.'

'I see. How do you like your eggs?'

'Soft-boiled, over-easy, poached with a skin, not gooey on top-'

'Good. By the way, I'm making crumpets.'

'I'm afraid we haven't any,' he said regretfully. 'Sorry.'

Jennifer shuddered in spite of herself.

'Do we have flour and yeast?'

He thought for a moment. 'Actually . . . yes we do.'

Jennifer gave him a smug smile. 'Then we have crumpets.'

During breakfast, as Jennifer tried her best to maximise the amount of crumpet she got

into Marigold's syrup-smeared mouth, the telephone rang. Richard left off typing to answer it and

was gone for several minutes- Jennifer could only hear the low drone of his voice as he spoke.

When he finally returned he was frowning.

'Has something happened?' Jennifer asked him, seeing his expression.

He grimaced, rubbing his jaw absently. 'My parents are on their way over. You can't have

failed to notice their conspicuous absence at our wedding.' He sighed, angry. 'You'll have to

brace yourself, I'm afraid. Better yet, what say you take Marigold down to the beach, and stay

there until my parents leave.'

'What? Why? Is there some reason you didn't invite them to the wedding that I should

know about?'

'Only that there wouldn't have BEEN a wedding if they'd got wind of it in time. You see,'

he told her sardonically, 'I was supposed to have married someone else; someone of my parents'

choosing. To say that they're put out would be an understatement.'

Squirming, feeling caught in the middle, Jennifer said, 'Richard, you should have told me this-'

'No,' he said firmly, 'I shouldn't have. Look, if I always allowed my parents to have their

way, I wouldn't be a writer, nor would I be living in this house and living as I do, nor would I

have the freedom to associate with the sort of people I'm comfortable associating with, nor would

we have ever met. You're going to find that my parents and I are not cut from the same cloth, but if I'd told you about them, or even worse, if you'd met them before we were married, then at this

moment, we wouldn't BE married. For both our sake, I was not about to risk that.

'Now, please, they'll be here before long. I'll come get the two of you as soon as they've

left.'

Jennifer dressed Marigold warmly against the chilly North Atlantic wind, and carried the little girl

on her hip as she made her way towards the withdrawn shoreline, groundsheet bundled under one

arm and a wicker picnic basket clutched in her free hand. All about her the exposed sea-life

dripped and crackled wetly.

'Well, Marigold,' she said, drawing the child's attention away from sucking on a corner of

her sweater's sleeve, 'aren't we a pair of refugees! I suppose that's your grandparents' car,

arriving at the house now.' A shiver that was not caused by the chill air ran down her spine at the

sight of the gun-metal blue Mercedes Benz. Perhaps it was only her imagination, but she thought the very way the car moved conveyed hostility. Moments later a car door slammed, followed by

another, causing Jennifer to wince each time, to feel even more unwanted than she did already.

'Noisy lot, aren't they? Wonder if your mam had to go through this? By all accounts, she was one

of the hoi polloi, like us.'

Finding a good spot that was partly sheltered from the wind by boulders and the enormous,

sun-bleached root of a tree, Jennifer spread the ground sheet and opened the picnic basket

containing lunch and a number of Marigold's toys. Jennifer found a comfortable place to sit and

proffered a plastic shovel and pail, but the child made it clear that her only desire for the moment

was to sit in Jennifer's lap and share chicken salad sandwiches.

Jennifer was just beginning to wonder if the wait for Richard's parents' departure would

be interminable, when she heard the scrunch of someone walking toward them from the direction

of the house. The intruder, however, was not one of Richard's parents. Instead, there was no

mistaking that this was a younger version of Richard- obviously a younger brother- with the same

devastating good looks. At the sight of Jennifer, his face split into a grin.

'There you are! Seeing as how little Marigold's with you, you're obviously Richard's new

wife.' He came and deposited himself right beside Jennifer, sitting cross-legged so that their knees

were touching. Without asking, he reached for Marigold, but at the sight of him the little girl

clutched at Jennifer. When he tried pulling the child away against her will, Jennifer intervened.

'I'm sure that if she WANTS to go to you, she WILL-'

'Bollocks! Marigold's my niece,' he said, persisting.

When the child began to whimper, Jennifer got to her feet, clutching the child to her.

'Excuse me! Don't grab at her like that! I don't care who you are! You haven't even introduced

yourself yet.'

'I'm Sam Dixon,' the young man, who appeared in his early twenties, said with an

ingenuous note of something like apology in his voice. He proffered a hand, which Jennifer

pointedly ignored. 'So, Richard's gone and married the hired help,' he said, scrutinizing Jennifer

inappropriately. 'How far along are you?'

'How WHAT?'

'How long,' he enunciated, 'until you give birth to my brother's bastard progeny?'

Jennifer's responding anger was such that she couldn't think or speak. Instead, she began

carrying Marigold back towards the house, but found herself prevented by Sam who had reached

up under her jacket and grabbed the back of her pants.

'Let go of me!' Jennifer tried to pull loose but gave up the effort for fear of inadvertently causing injury to the child. Then, involuntarily, she screamed. 'HEY! GET YOUR FILTHY HAND OUT OF THERE--!' He had pushed his hand down the back of her trousers and was trying to grope her.

Suddenly there was a percussive noise, and Sam's hand was gone. Free of her tormenter,

Jennifer turned around to find Richard standing over his brother, Sam on his knees, dazed, a hand

trying to stanch the blood flowing from his face. Without looking at her, Richard said, 'Jennifer,

take Marigold and go into the house, and go straight to our room and lock the door. Don't stop to

talk to anyone along the way, and don't let them try to draw you into conversation. I'll be up in a

few minutes.'

Shaken and trembling, Jennifer did as she was told. Along the way she noted that there

were two more cars in the drive, an old red Rover and some sort of convertible sports car with

the top down- probably a Jaguar. A number of people stood at the back door watching, two that

were obviously Richard's parents, one that was probably a sister, and a woman that was

Richard's age, whose hawkish features were fixed on Jennifer in stony condescension. None of

them spoke to her as she pushed her way through them and took Marigold upstairs.

The moment the bedroom door was closed she locked it behind her, took the child with her

to the bed, lay down, and wondered with a sick feeling what she'd got herself into.

Some time later Jennifer was wakened from her nap by Richard, who had unlocked the door and

now lay on his back on the bed beside her, with Marigold in-between.

'I'm sorry! This isn't how things were supposed to go! I was to have prepared you for that

pack of louts, and set them straight before they showed up on my . . . on OUR . . . doorstep.' He

growled with annoyance. 'I gave Sam a good knocking about before I sent him on his way, along

with the others. It's the only thing that seems to make any sort of impression on him- and not for

very long at that, I'm afraid. Like the rest of my family, Sam hasn't the least bit of sense.'

'Was the younger woman your sister?'

'Yes. That's Donna, the youngest of us three, and the most benign of the Dixon clan.'

'And who was the older woman?'

Richard grinned. 'What, the one my age with a face like a hatchet? That's Glyness, my

family's jilted choice of bride.'

Jennifer scowled. 'She was very attractive! What a thing to say!'

'Did you like her?'

'Of course not! Not after she stared at me as though I was a bug she'd like to smush.'

'Would you trust her around little Marigold? Any of them, for that matter?'

'I'm sure I didn't see them at their best-'

'What do you think would've happened if Sam had managed to get you alone? I mean,

completely alone, away from where anyone could hear or come to your rescue.'

Thinking about it made Jennifer go cold inside. She tried telling herself that Sam would

only have gone so far . . . but something in his demeanor had told her otherwise.

'All right, Richard. How far would he have gone? What would he have done to me?'

'Let's just say,' he said slowly, that I'd shoot the lot of them before I'd rather find out.'

She turned on her side to study his face, and he in his turn considered her.

'Was it like this for your wife when she was alive?'

'It was far worse,' he said meaningly. 'They made "excuses" for her because of her poor

health but that only allowed them further into her life: she simply didn't have the strength nor the

strength of character to make them respectful enough to keep their distance. And before you go

asking why I put up with them, there's nothing much I can do about it, short of having them arrested and obtaining a restraining order. Unfortunately, my family is well-connected: rather than be deterred by such legalese, they'd soon find a way to make use of it, to their own advantage.'

'Do they HAVE a good side?'

Richard's look turned inward and he smiled, thoughtfully. 'Like most families they're on

their best behaviour during high days and holidays. It's during such times that I make a point of

visiting them. But after this!' He made an angry noise. 'Trying to tell me that my marrying

Glyness, even now, to quote my father, 'might possibly SALVAGE the situation'. That was his

exact word: SALVAGE.'

Jennifer could only stare at him, blankly. 'Salvage what?'

'Oh . . . their feudal notion of the world we live in and its supposed workings. Something

like that.' He sighed once more, and considered her for several moments in silence. 'I'm sorry- I

seem to have made rather a mess of things.'

'Marigold doesn't like your brother,' Jennifer gave him for answer. 'Glyness doesn't look

the type to be good with children either. I understand what it is to make the best of a bad job,

Richard. That's mostly what life's about. That and the fact that we both seem to be on side. I've

always imagined that where marriage is concerned, that's most of the battle right there. I think

we'll do all right.'

He shook his head in wonder, his gaze fixed upon her as though seeing her for the first time.

'Just hearing you say that makes me want to ask you to marry me all over again,' he said.

She gave him a look. 'What do you mean? That's just me, the way I think and the way I feel

about things.'

He glanced down at Marigold, who was still asleep, and smiled. 'Well, Jennifer, here's

how I feel about things . . .'

Later that afternoon, Marigold riding on her hip, Jennifer went exploring along the beach. Just

north of their property was a high bluff, and perched atop this was what appeared to be an

abandoned mansion of grey stone. The property was overgrown and gone to weeds, and a trail

meandered up the hillside from the beach, which at the bottom of the bluff was an impassable

jumble of rocks that ran well out into the water for some distance, like worn teeth.

Jennifer felt energized and elated- they had made love until Marigold awakened, and

afterward the world seemed a new and different place. Richard had done things to her that she

knew only a married man would have known to do, and for the first moments she had been little

more than his willing pupil; soon, however, she was really and truly his partner in every way.

She found herself standing at the bottom of the ascending trail, and paused to consider:

should she go this far and no farther, saving the view from atop the bluff for another day; or should she sate this greedy, heightened feeling for life she now felt, in case it deserted her later on, as her life with Richard became routine?

She smiled to herself. 'The bluff it is! Here we go, Marigold! To the top of the hill, where

we shall see what we shall see.'

The bluff took much longer to climb than she anticipated, and was at the point of becoming

arduous until the trees and bushes thinned just ahead, and she could see the back corner of the old

stone mansion.

'Hello?'

Jennifer stopped in surprise, walked a little further, and found herself at the edge of a

well-tended back garden. A shawled figure in a startlingly white dress was bent over filling a

watering can from a faucet that came straight up out of the ground amidst a rose garden filled with pink and peach-coloured flowers. Some distance behind the figure stood an old-fashioned latticed-wood gazebo that was so white it seemed freshly painted.

'I'm sorry,' Jennifer said, moving closer. 'I didn't realise anyone lived here. From the

beach, this place looks deserted.'

Beneath her wide-brimmed hat the woman smiled, obliquely. She was considerably older

than she appeared at first glance- probably in her late fifties or early sixties.

'The place does look rather a disaster, except for the back garden,' the woman smiled,

turning off the tap and straightening up. 'Isn't that the Dixon child? Are you her new nanny?'

'I'm the new Mrs Dixon,' Jennifer said, in a way that conveyed her newness to the

position.

'Are you!' the woman said, her features breaking into an unaffected grin. 'Well, that is

news! Come, won't you join me for tea? It's the least I can do to reward you for making that

climb!'

'I'm Gladys Smith. Call me Gladie,' the woman said as Jennifer followed her through the

back door to the most enormous kitchen Jennifer had ever seen.

'My name's Jennifer,' Jennifer replied. 'Until a few days ago my last name was Green.'

Gladie gave her a humorous look over her half-glasses. 'If you ask me, you're still pretty

green, young lady. Now, let's see . . . English Breakfast . . . Earl Gray . . . or would you like to

try my very own rose-hip blend?'

'Why not?' Jennifer said with a smile. 'I've never actually tried rose-hip tea but I've

heard about it all my life.'

Glancing about, Jennifer found the old house dimly lighted and very worn-looking. The

glass in the windows needed cleaning, the enamel in the sinks was chipped and stained, the rooms

looked long past due for a new coat of paint . . . and yet there was something whole, content and

permanent about the place, that made her feel even more at peace that she was already.

A few moments later they were seated in the gazebo, Marigold on a bench beside Jennifer,

contentedly gumming a sweet biscuit.

'I don't often get visitors,' Gladie said regretfully. 'Not since the late Mrs Dixon passed

away.'

Something in her tone of voice prompted Jennifer to ask, 'What was she like? I don't like

to ask Richard because he's so reserved when he talks about her, which is almost never.'

Gladie took a sip of her tea, her mien thoughtful. 'Well . . . how to describe her . . . she

was very beautiful for one thing, but in an unhealthy sort of way, the way breeding produces a

precarious beauty in flowers: you know the type- enormous, profuse blooms, that will bend to the

ground or break in a heavy downpour . . . beauty got at the expense of constitution and all else.

'And yet she was SO beautiful that her one great overcompensation was almost enough. It

got her Richard, it got her a good life, it kept Richard's family in check, it provided her with all

sorts of rewards . . . and yet it couldn't sustain her when it came to giving birth to new life. I

thought it ironic when Richard named their little girl Marigold, for as a flower the marigold is

everything her mother was not: strong, resilient, robust, immune to almost everything you could

throw at it.' She smiled thoughtfully at Jennifer. 'Something like you.'

Jennifer grimaced. 'I'd give up any amount of robustness for a little beauty.'

Gladie cocked an eyebrow, but didn't comment. Instead, she said, 'I suppose you were

climbing up that hill for the view. I'd better give you the grand tour before it gets too late.'

Jennifer arrived back at the house just in good time to begin preparing supper. Jennifer played at

her feet as Richard continued working on his new book at the kitchen table.

'We met Gladie,' Jennifer told him as she rinsed potatoes in the sink. 'That's a huge

mansion she lives in. The back garden is beautiful, and the view from out front is just awesome.'

'I was hoping the two of you would hit it off,' Richard said without looking up. 'She's

quite a character. Bit lonely in that old house since her husband disappeared, though she won't

admit it.'

Jennifer turned to give him her full attention. 'Disappeared?'

Richard stopped typing, shut off his laptop, and closed it. 'About ten years ago. He was

last seen heading down the other side of the bluff. He'd told Gladie there was a secret place that

pirates had once used, and that there was a treasure chest stashed there. Gladie treated it like a

running joke, until he vanished without a trace.

'Before you get any ideas,' he added with a smile, 'there was a major search done of the

entire bluff and surrounding area that included a team of divers who checked for hidden

underwater caves and wrecks. Nothing was ever found, and no one ever found a trace of Mr Smith. The best guess is that he had gone for a toss somewhere along the beach, cracked his head on the rocks, drowned, and was washed out to sea.'

'Could he have run off, do you think?'

Richard shook his head, firmly. 'Not a chance. The old gent was hopelessly in love with

his old place and the legend of the old lighthouse-'

'The what?'

Richard gave her a quizzical look. 'You mean Gladie didn't tell you? That's odd . . . but

anyway, the old mansion stands where a lighthouse used to be. You've noticed that at low tide,

there's a ridge of rock and boulders that runs out into the water? Well, it goes out a fair piece, and

in the old days, before reliable maps and sonar, lots of ships were sunk there. Its proper name is

Cape Kayli, and the lighthouse was called The Beacon by the locals. By "locals" I mean that there

was once a village here. The village is long gone, but you can still see what remains of some of

their foundations in various places around the bluff.'

'How long ago was this?' Jennifer asked him.

Thinking, Richard puffed out his cheeks. 'You're asking the wrong person for a history

lesson. My family arrived here sometime in the 1870's, and the village was long gone even then.

But the mansion was there . . . it had been build sometime in the 1850's, I think. This house was

built in 1873, and I bought my family out when they decided to move away. Parts of the foundation belonged to one of the original village houses-'

'But when was the actual village and the lighthouse built?' Jennifer interrupted, her

curiosity getting the better of her.

Seeing this, Richard smiled. 'All right. No one is exactly sure when the old lighthouse was

first built. The historians are fairly certain that it was built and rebuilt several times over a long

period of time, but without tearing down the old mansion and excavating, they'll never be entirely

sure.

'There were Romans here, if you go back far enough. And Saxons and Vikings, and lots of

other invaders. And before that there were the semi-indigenous peoples such as the Celts. In the

earliest days, there was probably some sort of warning beacon up on top of the bluff, and no doubt

the beacon had a keeper of some sort.

'But the earliest record of any sort of lighthouse comes from the 1500's during the reign of

Elizabeth I. She ordered the building of a lighthouse here, I forget for what reason, and it was used

for about one-hundred years. However, by 1700 the lighthouse was abandoned, because Cape

Kayli had always been a minor threat to navigation, and by then the people navigating these waters were wise to the lay of the coastline.

'The town of Cape Kayli was reputed to be a haven for pirates, right up until the 1830's,

but the docks and the dockhouses burned down in 1839. Most of the town was built on piles at the

bottom of the bluff, and there were long docks running out into the water on either side of the spur

of rock, so that might further explain why the cape no longer posed a threat.

'The burning down of the docks also spelled the end for the town. The people living

further away abandoned their farms, and after a few decades a well-to-do family built the old

mansion on the site where the lighthouse once stood. A few decades later my family moved here

and built this house.'

'How long had the Smiths lived in the old mansion?'

Richard paused to think a moment. 'Let's see . . . Smith's father bought the place sometime

just before 1900 . . . the people who originally owned the place were called Grissome. Don't

know anything about them, really, except that they were said to have been an odd bunch . . .'

Her curiosity satisfied for the time being, Jennifer went back to preparing supper. The hours and

days and weeks that followed seemed to go by in a happy blur, and she often made the trek to visit

Gladie in her old mansion. The elderly woman did eventually tell Jennifer lots of the stories and

legends surrounding Cape Kayli and its former inhabitants, and often Jennifer lost track of the time as they sat before the fire sipping cocoa and listened to the late-autumn soughing of the cold North Atlantic wind.

One afternoon, it began snowing lightly. Jennifer dressed little Marigold warmly, thinking

to take her for a visit to see Gladie, but by the time she'd almost gone half way, the wind had come up and the snow began falling at an alarmingly heavy rate. Feeling a bit chilled, she walked

quickly back to the house, got herself and Marigold out of their outdoor clothes, and sat for hours

at the back window, watching the storm.

Right up until Christmas, Jennifer felt a peculiar, indefinable, expectant feeling growing

upon her, and it wasn't until late Christmas Eve, as she got ready for bed, that she finally

understood what it was. She was about to crawl in beside her husband, when abruptly she put a

hand to her mouth and fled to the loo.

Concerned, Richard followed and kneeled helplessly beside her as she threw up.

'What is it? Are you all right? Should I call a doctor?'

Fumbling for a face cloth, wetting it and wiping her face, then tearing off a length of toilet

paper and blowing her nose, Jennifer turned her puffy gaze on him and gave a lopsided smile.

'Merry Christmas, Richard. You're going to be a father.'

-3-

The letter from the Dixon clan was tersely worded and to the point.

"Your brother will, of course, do the intelligent thing and marry Glyness. We had hoped that, given the success of your last novel, you would consider a sensible change of profession, one more in keeping with a man of your, social standing, education and abilities. Instead you seem bent on

frittering away your time on a demeaning occupation, amusing yourself with that common little

opportunist who no doubt thinks she's made the catch of a lifetime! You could easily have

cultivated a harmless liason in the traditional manner, with a woman infinitely more sophisticated

and subtle of mind, but as your brother says, you've gone and married the hired help . . ."

There was more, but Richard set the letter down. He hadn't heard from his family in over

six years, and despite knowing their mind, had hoped for a conciliatory note, however small. He

folded the letter and put it back in its envelope, then got up from the kitchen table to pour himself

another mug of coffee. His mood was instantly brightened by the sight of his wife and three

children in the back garden. Marigold, who had her seventh birthday six months ago, was busy

showing April, her five-year-old younger half-sister, the best way to bake pies fashioned from mud and lawn clippings. Liam, meanwhile, was busy following his mother about with a four-year-old's need to be given something to do.

Catching his own reflection in the window, Richard found that he was smiling broadly.

Before registering the face as his own, it had seemed the type that belonged to the sort of strangers

he most envied; those of tired, sunburnt parents, the active types found combing the beaches in

windswept, remote places; and it occured to him that for the first time in his life he was genuinely

alive, genuinely happy. He tried dismissed the letter from his mind. Bother the lot of them if they

were too wrapped up in themselves to appreciate the small things that gave life its true value.

He chuckled to himself as Jennifer self-consciously tugged at the bottom of her bathing suit

where she obviously felt that a little too much of her derriere was showing. Despite bearing two

children, she remained her former self: petite, lithe, well-knit. She was utterly beautiful in the way

that a swimmer was beautiful, every line of her rounded and feminine, needing no paint or

adornment which, on her, would detract from her essence. She would always protest that she was

plain, unremarkable, and he would reply that one could say the same about Danish furniture and

pewter, which was pleasing for its economy, its simplicity, its quality and its balance between

function and design. And she would grimace, and profess her love of things Victorian, regardless

whether they were in good taste or not, and they would end by laughing at the absurdity of arguing

about things neither of them cared about very much, and then they would steal a few moments away from the children's eyes if they could, and make love . . .

Still, Richard found that the attitude of the family he was born into worried him, and he

found that he didn't trust them to respectfully keep their distance for ever. With a sigh, he took a

sip of the coffee his wife had made, and tried his best to surrender himself to the peace offered him

by the new little family he'd help make.

Jennifer finished misting the leaf vegetables and began putting the garden tools back in the

shed, but her mind was preoccupied. When she'd handed her husband the letter from his family

that morning, he'd been unable to conceal the expectant dread in his eyes, causing a responding

knot to form in the pit of her belly. Richard tried his best to conceal his feelings towards his

family, she knew, so she worried all the more at what emotion did show itself, knowing that a

great deal more lay beneath the surface.

Once done, she ushered the children together and hosed them down before sending them

into the house to change while she got their lunch ready. As they paraded through the kitchen past

their father, who worked in his usual place at the kitchen table, he turned a wondering look on his

wife.

'I don't understand how you do it. They play in the mud and the dirt all day, and I'd swear

that they come back inside cleaner than they were when they went out.' Unspoken was the

unintended reminder to himself that the former Mrs Dixon had been forever lost where children

were concerned. Would she have changed if she'd lived to watch Marigold grow up? Something

inside Richard ruefully shook its head, "No."

'You didn't look too closely. It's called a good dousing with the garden hose,' she told

him as she took egg salad from a container in the refrigerator and made sandwiches. 'I'd thought

the wet footprints would be a dead giveaway.'

'Don't forget those pictures we promised Gladie. I'm sure she'll get quite a kick out of

them. Some of the photographs go right back to the 1860's, when several of the old houses were

still standing.'

The pictures in question were a sort of history he'd compiled of Cape Kayli, some of

which were woodcuts depicting the lighthouse and town, and the earliest of which depicted the

early outposts of the Celts, the Romans, and later successions of invaders. Others were woodcuts

of wooden sailing ships known or thought to have gone down in the area. Included were actual

manifests and, where not available, lists of cargoes the ships habitually carried.

Not a one of them was a Spanish gallion or pirate ship loaded with treasure. Instead, all

were mundane, reading like a warehouse inventory. Richard had mulled one of them over with

some amusement. The document was in spanish, but he had written the english equivalent

underneath each word.

June 9, 1679- inventory of the Spanish ship Nina (obviously not the Portugese ship of Columbus

fame).

150 coils rope

16 barrels rum

200 sacks coal

18 kegs black powder

10 barrels salt pork

25-50 yard bolts of undied cloth

5 anvils . . .

The list was not a long one, and Richard found himself trying to picture just how small these ships and their holds were. The Nina had been loaded to the gunnels, and reportedly sank in heavy weather due to the fact, along with five young families who had been part of her cargo.

Richard made sure that Jennifer and the children were on safely on their way before he left

for London in the Aston Martin.

Jennifer was frankly surprised that little Liam showed no sign of getting tired as they

neared the top of the bluff, but assumed he would be ready for a nap soon after reaching Gladie's

mansion. Gladie was out in her gazebo, and the children went running to her embrace (if not to the

bowl of lemonade) upon seeing her.

'You're all growing so fast, I can't keep track of you!' she exclaimed.

'WE brought our nighties,' Marigold said importantly, 'so that we can sleep over.'

'DID you!' Gladie rejoined. 'Well, that's a good thing. After climbing all the way up that

hill, you'll sleep well tonight.'

'We did finger paints in the mud,' April said. 'I made a big face.'

'I did hand squishies,' Liam added indignantly, 'but Mum made me wash, after.'

'That's me- mean old Mum,' Jennifer smiled, ladling out the lemonade. 'Oh, and Richard

was absolutely adamant I give you this.' She handed Gladie the portfolio.

'What is it?'

'Stuff about Cape Kayli,' Jennifer told her. 'Most of it's pictures. He's been working at it

for some time.'

Gladie unwound the strings with a wondering smile. 'I don't believe it! Why would he go

to so much trouble-' Her wonder only deepened as she examined the contents of the portfolio.

'Why, you know . . . here, would you look at this! You see where this low wall is? I had always

thought that . . . come with me! I'll have to show you.'

She led the way to the front of the mansion, which was rough and half-overgrown

compared to the back garden. The reason for this was that the ground descended over ridges of

unmortared stone, mortared stone, and enduring concrete with chunks of stone imbedded in it,

before dropping off altogether over the cliff. There was thankfully a sturdy iron railing a good six

feet high with close-set bars some distance before the cliff, though Jennifer remained mindful of

the drop beyond.

'Look, you see the concrete wall down there? the very last one, just before the railing?

That's it, here, in this picture. I always thought it was part of the foundation of the lighthouse in one of its incarnations, but as you can see in this picture, it was just a low retaining wall. Which

means,' she turned about to scrutinize the mansion, 'that everyone, including my late husband, was quite wrong about the location of the lighthouse. Look, you can see those two old walls quite

clearly . . . and the lighthouse was set exactly . . . why, I believe that it starts over here somewhere

. . . let's take a little walk over to the right side of the mansion . . . oh, dear, will you look at that!

That ridge there that runs close along the side of the house . . . my late husband puzzled a great deal over what that might have been. But as you can see, it was the south wall of the old lighthouse. The mansion only sits over top of this little part that sticks out . . . it looks like one of those things they used to build on very old stone houses, with a little door, and inside was a staircase going down to the cellar, and to the left would have been another staircase going to the upstairs. For some reason, probably to save space, or for some structural reason, they used to build them on the outside.

'And just look at this! This is the building that must have stood on that mortared stone! So

that mortared stone is the foundation of an even older lighthouse. And look at the date! Circa 1512!

Can you imagine? A mere twenty years after Columbus set sail on a voyage of greed that led to the

cultural genocide of people living on lands his unmitigated arrogance and prejudice allowed him

to believe he'd 'discovered'. Odd thing, that. He would never have done the same, had he found

himself on the shores of England or Ireland.

'And THIS . . . I don't believe it! Jennifer, my dear! Does anyone besides yourself and

Richard have any idea-'

'Richard didn't tell me a whole lot,' Jennifer confessed. 'He said you'd know the moment

you laid eyes on these pictures that there was a big story here. The information's always been

there, he said, but no one ever thought to check it out and put it all together. He said that Cape

Kayli is a well-documented footnote that got overlooked. He also said that this is your big chance

to write down everything you know, if you want. And if you do want, Richard said that he'd help

you get it into shape and make it publishable. On the other hand, he also said you might not want to

do that, because of the publicity that might arise. Either way, the offer's there, and he says that,

publish or not, you should still write everything down, even if it's only to make a book for

yourself, and for future generations.'

Gladie stared at the final pictures for several long moments, her look pensive yet

determined. At last, she said, 'Until now I never fully grasped the antiquity of this place. It was

always more a case of wanting to believe in the myths and legends, but always there was the

humbling realisation that it was mostly flights of fancy and the admitting that simply by living in

this place one's imagination is constantly egged on towards overindulgence.

'But this,' she held up the portfolio, 'is another matter entirely. It's a bit of history come to

light for the very first time. I'm surprised Richard was able to contain himself. I'm even more

surprised that he isn't adamant about my completing this task. Well, I've no great love for tourists,

but I'm not the least bit averse to profiting from their curiosity! Come, kiddies, your mam and I are

going to drink some celebratory lemonade! What do you think about that?'

'Could I please have an ice instead, Aunt Gladie?' This from April, which was quickly

seconded by Marigold and Liam.

'Ah, children, the great leveller,' Gladie intoned judiciously. 'I'd forgotten, my own being

grown up for so long. All right, lead on,' she said in her best long-suffering voice. 'I suppose we

shall just have to . . .' to her unsurprise, her young audience quickly vanished.

'There is one thing that bothers me,' Gladie said seriously as they began walking to the

back of the house and the kitchen. 'It concerns the disappearance of my husband.'

Jennifer stared her incomprehension.

'The circumstances of his disappearance: they've become a part of the local folklore, and

in some ways one couldn't hope for a better memorial. But here's an odd thing: for the longest time

there were problems with treasure-seekers. The original owners moved away because of their

vandalism, and it continued to be a problem, right up until the day my husband disappeared. There

hasn't been a single incident since, and to this day I can't help but wonder if those people weren't

somehow . . . responsible.'

On an intuition, probably conveyed to her by the tone of Gladie's voice, Jennifer said

tentatively, 'Um . . . you wouldn't be hinting that Richard's brother was one of those people?'

'You're close,' Gladie said, 'only a few generations short of the mark.'

Jennifer slowed her walk. Something inside her had gone very still. 'What are you telling

me?'

Gladie came to a stop, turned and faced her. 'All right. Richard's grandfather was one of

the worst offenders. The notion of treasure is what originally brought the Dixons here. Old Mr

Dixon tried his level best to get my father to sell this place. Later on, his son tried the same with

my husband.

'But there was an odd sort of relationship between the two of them that I was never able to

discover. My husband always talked about how he hated Richard's father, yet the two of them

seemed somehow . . . joined at the hip, as it were.'

Jennifer shook her head. 'I'm not sure I understand.'

'I'm saying that, for two men who professed to loathe each other, they would find excuses

to talk together, and often. What a pair! They were both a bit deaf, and talked loud enough that I

knew what they were doing, even though they were out of sight.'

'What did they talk about?'

Gladie shrugged. 'Something that didn't concern ME, that's all I know for sure. But it

always struck me that, based on the way they spoke to each other, they were somehow involved in

something, TOGETHER. My husband would always get very short with me if I pried, but I can tell

you that they never once talked about TREASURE. It was something else entirely. So now we

come

to it. My husband is long gone, but Mr Dixon, his confidante, is still very much with us.

'I'll tell you something else: remember that Glyness creature? Well, she happens to be the

ex-fiancee of my youngest son-'

'WHAT? Gladie! Why on earth didn't you tell me?'

'Come, let's get a move on! Your poor infants are probably wondering forlornly when

we're going to stop gabbing and get to the really important things in life, like ices and sherbets. I

didn't tell you because I thought you already knew.'

'Wait a minute! Did Richard . . . ? You don't think he got all that material on Cape Kayli

from his family-'

'It's a cinch he knows what they know,' Gladie said as they entered the kitchen, where

they found the children trying to get Gladie's parrot to talk. The parrot, looking his usual

long-suffering, harassed self, was pointedly ignoring them and trying to sleep. 'Come, children, let

old

Bill alone. He only talks when you don't want him to.'

The children, mystified and somewhat miffed, sat obediently at the table as Gladie gave

them each a dish of ice.

'And wipe that expression off your face,' Gladie told Jennifer as she put the kettle on.

'Richard wasn't being secretive by not telling you anything. He was sick of the whole thing long

before you came into the picture. Unlike the rest of his family, my husband liked Richard. The only

reason Richard stopped coming around was because Glyness jilted my son. Richard felt ashamed;

doubly so when she threw herself at HIM, aided and abetted by his own family.'

'Ugh! How did your son take it?'

'Oh, he was angry! At HER, not at Richard. Actually, after the fact he was more disgusted

than anything.

'But here's the thing: she seems to know something, or thinks she does, as does the Dixon

clan. Meanwhile, here I am, sitting on whatever it is they want to get their hands on, and I simply

haven't got a clue.'

'So Richard knows-'

'You know better than that, my girl! Richard tried to find out for me one time, and with a

wry, sour face, told me that his father, right in front of the rest of his family, said, 'You know what

your problem is, Richard? You're far too honest.'' She sighed and poured them each a cup of tea.

'He took things very seriously and very hard around that time. It really bothered him the way his

family thumbed their noses at things like decency, morality, honesty . . . his parents slept around

like a pair of alley cats, then bragged about their exploits to each other over at the inn and laughed

about it. David's younger brother turned out to be just as bad.

'But back to this place . . . I'm sure Richard's family knows something, as does Glyness,

or what is more likely, they THINK they know something-'

The two women stopped talking, as Marigold was tugging at Jennifer's dress, the other two

children behind her, looking on expectantly.

'What is it, Marigold? Do you need to use Aunt Gladie's loo? You know where it is.'

Marigold shook her head. 'We wanted to ask,' she dithered, her look straying about as she

talked, 'if we were allowed to go downstairs . . . because the old sitting room is down there, and

then we can sit up in the window and watch outside?'

Jennifer looked a question at Gladie. 'Old sitting room?'

'The OUBLIETTE, my late husband used to call it. It's safe enough. It's downstairs at the

front of the house, and it's full of very old furniture that hasn't been used in God knows how long,

There's a sofa at the very front, and your children are fond of climbing up and over it so that they

may sit on the sill of the window.' She shrugged. 'They've been playing house there for ages. I

gave them a box of old plates and cups and saucers and other junk. I thought you knew about it.'

'I knew they'd been going downstairs,' Jennifer replied. 'It's just that I've never been

down there myself. All right,' she said to Marigold, 'If Aunt Gladie says it's all right . . .' She

winced at the disproportionately loud thump of small feet descending the stairs. 'I've heard herds

of elephants that were quieter,' she muttered.

Gladie gave her a worldly smile and shrugged. 'Kids like to make a lot of noise. There's

probably some anthropological reason for it. You have to admit, after all: it's when there's nothing

but resounding silence that your ears prick up in alarm.'

Jennifer smirked. 'All right, kids! Make as much noise as you like!' 'I want the red flowers

this time!' April said, selecting anything that from pink to mauve.

'Then I get the turquoise,' Marigold said with superior sophistication, selecting anything

ranging from green to blue. This included a few yellow cups and saucers with yellow flowers, but

with ringlets of tiny, baby-blue forget-me-not's woven throughout the pattern.

'I want the keys,' Liam said, quickly grabbing them and going about his business. A large

ring of old-fashioned keys lay at the bottom on the box that, in any event, didn't interest the girls in

the least.

The old mansion, to his eyes, was just full of enticing-looking keyholes, and for the past

month he had gone from lock to lock, trying every one, so far without any success. But that didn't

stop him.

There was one hole he was determined to try, and it was one he only seemed to remember

after the fact. Until today. It lay on the north wall, at the very back of the fireplace, and was the

largest of all the keyholes. He had been told repeatedly by his sisters that the hole was not a

keyhole at all, but rather had something to do with old-fashioned cooking. In any event, he was told

to stay out of there because the fireplace was a dirty place, though it looked no dirtier to him than

the rest of the room. But there was one key on the ring that was bigger than the rest, and he was

determined to try it- at least, when his sisters' attention was elsewhere.

Eventually the opportunity came, and he placed the key in the lock, pushed it home, then

turned. Nothing happened. It seemed to be stuck. Using both hands this time, he began turning with

all his might . . . and jumped back in alarm, just in time to avoid having the metal plate come

crashing down against his shins.

'Liam! If Mum or Aunt Gladie find out, we're going to be in lots of trouble!' Marigold

jumped down to inspect the damage, followed closely by April. 'Just look at what you've done!'

'Look at the big hole,' April said solemnly, her eyes wide. 'You've broken Auntie's

fireplace, Liam.'

'Can't we put it back together?' he asked without much hope. The metal plate looked to be

of iron an inch thick.

The three of them tried moving it, to no avail.

'D'you suppose there's bats or rats or mice inside?' April asked.

'Maybe there's snakes!' Liam said hopefully.

'If there IS a little mouse, d'you suppose Mum would let us keep it for a pet?' April said.

'Look how deep it is,' Marigold said, peering into the darkness. Then, realisation dawned

on her. 'Why, it goes to where Aunt Gladie said the old lighthouse and the treasure is!' She went

very pale as she considered. 'And that's where Mr Smith's ghost is, too! I'll bet he's in there,

guarding the treasure!'

'What about the pirate ghosts?' Liam asked. 'The treasure's really theirs, isn't it?'

'Maybe they're what got Mr Smith!' April said, her eyes wide.

'Maybe they put him in the chest with the treasure!' Liam said. 'Maybe if you try and open

it, he comes out and eats your face off!'

'I'll bet his light went out,' Marigold said, the eldest and the wisest, who had read books

of fairy tales and folklore, all on her very own. 'That's what got him in trouble. Ghosts can only

get you in the dark. But there's THREE of us, and if we each had lights, then maybe only one

would go out, and we could still get the treasure!'

'What'll we use for lights?' April asked. 'Mum hid the matches away when Liam figured

out how to light them.'

'That's at home, silly!' Marigold told her. 'Look, here's some great big long matches for

lighting fires.'

'But Mum'll smell it!' Liam protested. 'That's how she caught me!'

'Yes, well, if YOU hadn't got caught lighting matches, WE wouldn't have this problem.

April, YOU open the window. Liam, YOU close the door, so the smell doesn't go upstairs. I'm

going to see if . . . look, there's a candelabra on that cabinet! We'll use that!'

Moments later, Marigold was peering into the hole, a co-conspirator peering over each

shoulder.

'What is it?' April asked.

'It's stairs,' Marigold said. 'Look, there's a landing down there, and a hallway to the

right.'

'We'd better tell Mum,' Liam said, albeit unwillingly.

'NO!' said Marigold and April together. 'This is OUR SECRET,' Marigold told him.

'Besides, we'll get into trouble now if we do tell, you for breaking the hole open, and all three of

us for burning matches and lighting candles!'

'Well . . . do we go in?'

His question was met with several moments of fearful, suspenseful silence.

'I don't see that there's any choice left,' Marigold said gravely. 'We know how to get to

the treasure, now. That means we HAVE to go get it.'

'But what about the ghosts?' April protested.

'We've got a light, silly!' Marigold told her. 'Look, THREE lights, one for each of us.

And we can bring the matches, too, in case they go out.'

'Well . . .' April said dubiously, 'who goes in first?'

'Liam SHOULD, for breaking the hole open,' Marigold said. 'But I'd better. He'd

probably drop the light.'

Now that it had come to it, they stared at the hole for several long moments, and swallowed

in fear.

'Maybe we'd better not,' April said. 'If we get dirty, then Mum'll get suspicious.'

'Scaredycat!' Marigold said.

'Are not!'

'Are too!'

'Are not!'

'Then let's go!'

'YOU go!'

'Okay, scaredycat! Here I go!'

'Well? What are you waiting for? You're not scared, are you?'

'I'm not! It's just that . . . I'm going to have to turn around backwards . . . here, hold the

light so I can see, and pass it in to me once I'm inside.'

Moments later, the three conspirators found themselves standing at the bottom of a landing.

A short hall led to the right, and all about them was dank, mortared stone.

'It's just an old cellar,' April said, disappointed, her hopes of seeing a chest full of

sparkling treasure rapidly fading. She had hoped at least to get some pretty bracelets and a broach

and tiara, though she wasn't exactly sure what a tiara was. All she knew for sure, from storybooks,

was that princesses always had them.

Liam, too, saw no sign, of pirates with eyepatches reduced to bones and old raggedy

clothes, clutching rusty sabres, or of ghosts or anything.

'We have to go right into the cellar,' Marigold said, drawing them along with her by virtue

of the fact that she carried their only source of light. 'I'll bet THAT's where the treasure is.'

But the hall only opened to the left into an empty space with a high stone ceiling supported

by groined arches of stone. Old dilapidated wooden benches line the outside walls, littered only

with cobwebs, mould and dust.

Disappointed now, they looked dejectedly about. It was just an old, empty, disused cellar.

Nothing more. And yet . . .

'Look!' April said, pointing.

'I don't see anything,' Liam said.

'There's nothing there,' Marigold said.

'The air's moving,' April told them. 'Look at the way the cobwebs are moving. There's a

breeze coming from somewhere.'

The moment the words were said, they noticed that they could feel it, too.

'You're right,' Marigold said. 'The air's not musty like it should be. And it smells like the

beach! Let's move around a bit; we should be able to feel where it's coming from.'

Testing the air brought them to the east side of the room, and a tall wooden cabinet, much

cracked and weathered.

'Feel that?' Marigold said. 'There's air coming in through the cracks.'

'D'you think our treasure might be behind it?' April asked, her hopes for a tiara renewed.

'Maybe we'll find some dead pirates,' Liam added.

'Help me move it,' Marigold told them.

Together, they managed to shove the tottering cabinet away from the wall.

'It's another hole!' Liam said.

'It's a doorway!' April said.

'It's another staircase,' Marigold told them. 'Look, it goes way down . . . there's LIGHT

down there! I think I can see water.'

Indeed, they could now hear the quiet lapping of water from far below, and as their eyes

adjusted to the gloom, could see the irrhythmic stappling of water-refracted light.

'It's a cave, down at the bottom of the bluff!' Marigold cried. 'That must be where they

hid the treasure! And there's light, too, so we don't have to worry about ghosts, or ANYTHING!'

'Here come your elephants,' Gladie smiled as they heard the children thumping up the

stairs, each trying to get ahead of the other, out of breath.

'MUM! MUM! There's a ghost-'

'-a dead pirate-'

'-at the bottom of the stairs-'

'-we went through the hole-'

'-the shovel was still in his hand-'

'ONE AT A TIME!' Jennifer said, raising her voice, addressing Marigold.

'Liam broke the fireplace,' she blurted, out of breath, 'and we went through it, and then

there was a cellar, only we couldn't find the treasure, and then April said, 'Look at the cobwebs,'

so we went down the stairs, but we had to push the old cabinet out of the way, and then we saw the

water at the bottom of the bluff, so we went down the stairs, and then we screamed because we

saw a pirate holding a shovel, and then the ghosts came after us-'

Jennifer and Gladie exchanged a look.

'I'd better get the torch,' Gladie said, an odd note of resignation in her voice. 'I think the

children may have found my late husband.'

It was late, and the police were just getting ready to leave, when Jennifer asked the children, 'Why

didn't you just tell us about the hole?'

'We were afraid you'd get mad, cause Liam broke the fireplace, and then we burned

matches and lighted candles,' Marigold confessed.

Gladie, sitting in her chair and looking drained, chuckled at this. 'There's nothing quite

like the mind of a child,' she said to Jennifer. She sighed. 'I do wish that man from the coroner's

office would hurry up! It just eats at me, to think that my husband may have lain there, injured, for

God knows how long, with no one to help him!'

As if in reply, the man in question came back out of the basement.

'You might want to put your children to bed,' he told Jennifer. 'We're ready to move the

remains now.'

Jennifer complied, and several minutes later waited with Gladie to hear the coroner's

verdict.

The coroner stood for several moments, looking very uncomfortable, until Gladie said,

'Would you like a drink? I keep some brandy on hand, for medicinal purposes.'

'I'd love one,' he said quietly. A moment later, accepting the drink, he sat down in a chair

across from Gladie and Jennifer. 'The good news is that he died quickly, and I very much doubt he

experienced anything like prolonged suffering. However . . . the bad news is that the fall down the

stair isn't what killed him. Your husband was killed with a large pry bar, which was found near

the body.

'There's another problem. The cave is reinforced with stonework, and it appears that both

the shovel and pry bar were used together to loosen stones in several places. This can only mean

that your husband was looking for something down there, and that he was not alone.'

Gladie and Jennifer exchanged a look.

'You don't think-'

'Richard's father?' Gladie said, and shook her head. 'I don't know. I don't know what to

think.'

'Richard is?' the coroner asked.

'My husband,' Jennifer reminded him.

'Oh, yes, of course. The two of you are neighbours. Richard's father . . . has . . . had . . . a

peculiar relationship with the deceased. Where is your husband now, Mrs Dixon?'

'He's in London on business,' Jennifer told him.

'What sort of business?'

'He was with his publisher today. He writes books-'

'Oh, he's THAT Richard Dixon! I thought the name seemed familiar.

'Well,' he said to Gladie, 'we now have a murder investigation on our hands. A ten year

old murder investigation,' he emphasised. 'Getting a suspect or a conviction won't be an easy

matter.'

'Nor will living with the consequences of the investigation,' Gladie told him. 'There has

been some enmity between my family and the Dixon clan for many years, and much of it centres on

the notion that some sort of treasure lies buried, somewhere in the vicinity of the old Cape Kayli

lighthouse.

'The day my husband disappeared, he said he was going to GET it-'

'He said he'd found it?' the coroner asked in surprise.

Gladie shook her head. 'No. He said he was going to GET it, which could have meant

anything.'

'Then you don't think there actually was, or is, a treasure?'

'No!' Gladie said dismissively. 'All I can tell you is that Dixon Senior and my late

husband had . . . rather a peculiar relationship involving something to do with . . . I'm not sure

what. It may have been something on this property, or the two of them may have been up to

something, or they may have known something . . . I never did know. One thing I do know,

however,' she told him, looking him in the eye, 'Whatever it is, Richard's father knows.'

'You must realise,' the coroner told her, 'that makes him the prime suspect of a murder

investigation.'

Gladie shrugged. 'Secrets and lies cost my husband his life. The Senior Dixon was party to

that. Maybe it's time to put lights in the cellar and find out what they were up to.'

-4-

Jennifer was never so glad or so apprehensive to see her husband return home the morning of

the following day. He entered the house with alacrity, worry quickly changing to relief as he

took stock of his family.

'What on earth is going on? Is Gladie all right? Did something happen?'

'The children,' Jennifer told him carefully, 'went treasure-hunting in Gladie's basement-'

'Liam broke Aunt Gladie's fireplace!' Marigold blurted.

'We went in the hole,' April put in excitedly, 'and then we were underground, like in the

catacombs, except we didn't see no dwarves, and then we pushed the cabinet, and there were some

bones with a shovel-'

'We found a pirate!' Liam interrupted proudly. 'An' he was all bones, cept he didn't have

an eyepatch, but he had a shovel, an' then we scared a bunch of ghosts, and then they chased us-'

'It's ANY dwarves,' Richard corrected with a small smile, 'and it's AND, not AN', and

EXCEPT, not CEPT. So you were chased by ghosts-'

'They almost GOT us!' Marigold said, to the affirmation of her co-conspirators. 'And I had

to hold on to the candelabra, cause they tried to take it, but we had matches anyway, and then we

got out and told Mum and Aunt Gladie-'

'And then the police came,' Liam said proudly.

'They took the old pirate away!' April added. 'D'you think they took the ghosts, too?'

Jennifer gave the children a look. 'What makes you think the police took the pirate away?'

' Cause we saw them do it-'

'You were supposed to be in bed!'

'But he was OUR pirate, Mum!' Marigold protested.

Jennifer shook her head, faintly. 'Well,' she said to her husband with a theatrical smile,

'as you can see, we've had quite a few days.'

'Why didn't you call and tell me something was up?'

She gave him a look. 'And worry you for what? Old Mr Sm- the pirate, rather, had been

there for a very long time, and I didn't want you driving all the way back here in a blind panic in

the middle of the night.'

He set down his briefcase, hung up his coat, sat down at the table, considered the children

a moment and shook his head. 'All these adventures the moment I'm out the door, and they're all

over before I get home!'

'We're sorry, Daddy, but we'll try and save you some for next time,' Marigold said.

'Maybe there's still some ghosts,' April added hopefully.

'Or some PIRATES,' Liam insisted. 'With SWORDS this time!'

'And some treasure, with TIARAS,' April said.

'Tiaras?' he said with a smile.

'That's what they always have in their treasures,' she said, leaning against his knee, as

was Liam, the two vying hopefully for his lap. Marigold looked on, crossly, looking for an

opening.

Richard gave his wife a wry smile. 'What say we all go into the sitting room. That way the

three of you can sit with me in the big chair. Mum too, if she has a mind.'

'Mum has a mind,' she told him with a smirk. 'But- later.'

When they were finally alone together, the children playing outside, Richard said sadly, 'So now

we know what happened to old Mr Smith. How'd Gladie take it?'

'About like you'd expect,' Jennifer told him. 'Sad, yet relieved. But Richard, now we're

alone, there's something else.'

He gave her a look. 'I think the kids will be okay, just so long as they think they found

nothing worse than an old pirate-'

'The police are going to investigate your father,' she cut him off.

'Again? They did before, when old Mr Smith first went missing!'

'It's much more serious this time,' she told him. 'The coroner told us that Mr Smith had

been murdered. He told us that Mr Smith had been digging around in that cave WITH someone, and

that the prime suspect for WHO that someone is just happens to be your father.'

Richard considered this prospect sickly for several moments. 'They're right, of course,' he

said slowly. 'The two of them were inseparable enemies at the time. And yet . . . I don't know . . .

it just doesn't SIT right. My father could have gone back, at any time, and properly disposed of the

body. My father's not the sort to leave something like that to chance if he were guilty, which I

sincerely doubt.'

'The police think they might actually have found the treasure, and fought over it-'

'Nonsense! If there was a treasure, my father certainly didn't profit by it. And at the time

Mr Smith disappeared, he seemed quite put out, as though he suspected Smith of having found it on

his own and run off.

'The thing is, I don't think what was going on between my father and Mr Smith had

anything to do with treasure. Whatever it was, they used to get together and argue about it; my

father seemed to feel that he had some claim on it, which would leave him out of the frame were a

treasure on the Smith's property to be found. No, it was something else, something they were both

involved in. Maybe when the police question him, we'll get some straight answers this time.'

'Doesn't it bother you that your father's a suspect?' Jennifer asked him.

Richard's responding look was not kind. 'It's a fact that my father had some part in this

matter. He knows something; has from the beginning. I'm not aware of anyone else who had any

sort of involvement. I hope the police rake him over the coals until he talks. They hardly spoke to

him last time when old Mr Smith disappeared. In fact, he seemed to get a pretty soft touch.'

'And if he's guilty? Richard, it seems your whole family, including Glyness, knows

something.'

'My family,' he told her, 'have very little respect, for anything or anyone. Glyness, too.'

'So, what, they hurt you, so you want to hurt them back? Is that what you're telling me?'

He gave her a surprised look that slowly turned inward. At last, he said, 'Ouch! A classic

case of 'You become what you allow yourself to hate.''

'I've never heard of that saying.'

'That's because I just made it up,' he told her, beginning to smile. 'I think. Or I might have

heard it, or something like it, a long time ago. By the way, have I told you lately how lucky I am,

Mrs Dixon?'

She glanced outside to where the children were playing, then at the stairs. 'You'd better

tell me quickly- here, you! Put me down! I've a pair of perfectly good legs-'

'Which is one of the many reasons I married you,' he told her, laughing.

'You said it was my cooking!'

'I lied.'

'You- are a dead man, Richard Dixon!'

'Is that a promise?'

They were thankfully not interrupted, at least until not after lunch, when the police arrived.

'Mrs Dixon? We're here to speak with your husband. May we come in?'

Richard considered the chief inspector's words in shock. 'I can't believe this! My whole family?

What in the Devil's name are you about?'

Chief Inspector Robert Matthews said nothing for a long moment, fingering his walrus

moustache as he considering the two. He was a giant of a man, the cup of tea in his hands

appearing tiny to the point of ridiculous. His young constable was outside keeping an eye on the

children.

Richard was about to speak, when he stopped, noting how uncomfortable the Chief

Inspector suddenly appeared.

'Why are you looking at me like that?'

The Chief Inspector sighed deeply, set his cup and saucer down. 'You mean to tell me that

you really don't know the truth of your . . . position . . . where Mr Smith and your . . . Mr Dixon are

concerned?'

Richard stared at him narrowly. 'Position? What do you mean?'

'You must have known that Mr Dixon was blackmailing the man who called himself Mr

Smith.'

Richard and Jennifer exchanged a look. 'What? Why? And what do you mean, 'called

himself Mr Smith?''

'His real name was Grissome-'

'WHAT? But the Grissomes were the FORMER owners-'

'Grissome was involved in some shady business, and changed his name to Smith.'

'So my father found out, and decided to blackmail him?'

'No,' the Chief Inspector told him carefully, 'Your father already knew his real name.

Grissome had an affair with Mrs Dixon. She became pregnant. With you. THAT'S why Mr Dixon

was blackmailing him.'

Richard, who had gone white, sat down, stunned into silence.

'So now you know the relationship between your father and the man you always thought of

as your father.'

Richard gaped in shocked silence, until he managed to choke out the words, 'Those

BASTARDS! So my fa- so Dixon shut Grissome up, so that I wouldn't find out?'

The Chief Inspector shook his head. 'No . . . your brother and Glyness did that.'

Richard looked as though he were about to faint. 'But . . . WHY?'

The Inspector raised an eyebrow. 'Because Grissome was about to tell you everything, and give

you the treasure and the future title to Cape Kayli, both of which were rightfully yours. But he

never got the chance. He went into the cave to retrieve the treasure and the documents, and

surprised a pair of thieves, who killed him and fled.'

'It CAN'T have been treasure they got,' Richard told him, frowning. 'No one profited.

Unless the thieves were someone ELSE.'

The Chief Inspector gave him an unreadable look. 'Actually, there WAS someone else. Gladys

Smith. She took the treasure and the document after the killers, your brother and Glyness, fled the

scene, after they'd killed your father.'

Richard eyed him, sickly. 'I don't believe it! How on earth do you know all this?'

'Because Gladie came forward a few hours ago,' the Inspector told him.

'WHAT? But why? Why now? And if she knew, why hide the treasure? She could have given it to

their other children.'

The Chief Inspector sighed as Jennifer tacitly refilled his teacup. 'Thanks, lass.' He considered

the two briefly before continuing. 'Gladie and old Mr Grissome HAD no children. At least, not

together. Gladie had three children from a previous marriage-'

Richard was speechless a moment. 'So she must have known all along . . . or at the least,

suspected. So she hid the treasure away all this time? But why?'

The Inspector gave him a look. 'And do WHAT with it? She didn't need the money, nor did her

children. She couldn't tell YOU; not without telling you everything and risk losing your friendship,

and without hurting her already damaged pride.' He sighed. 'She intended to leave both to you in

her will, along with an explanation, telling you everything.'

Richard took a shuddering breath, he and his young wife clutching each other for support. 'But . . .

where did the TREASURE come from?'

The Inspector's face crinkled into a rare smile. 'That,' he told them, 'is another story.'

Here ends The Lighthouse At Cape Kayli . . .

At least for now . . .