“Caroline,” said Carey. “Caroline Howard.” She watched as Mrs Maynard’s dark eyes flitted to her ring finger.
“Very well, Miss Howard. How did you come by those photographs?” She nodded towards the two photographs lying side by side on the table.
“Someone sent them to me,” replied Carey, then she rushed on as she saw Mrs Maynard’s brows come together in a frown, “really, they did! And I don’t know who; I wish I did. They just came one day, in a box.” She explained the whole story, leaning forward with intensity. “Please, I just want to know who she is!” Mrs Maynard picked up the picture of the girl, and smiled faintly.
“I remember taking this,” she said after a moment. “Marie was almost eighteen. She’d just finished a year with Sadlers Wells. She was terrified that we’d left it too late, but of course we wouldn’t let her leave school proper until she’d at least done her ‘O’ Levels. Silly child, she was a wonderful dancer; everyone knew it. Her mother was as well, from what I could find out. I used to take photographs of everyone, you see, the day before the start of term. All my girls were grown up by then, of course, but Mary and Julia, my eldest granddaughters, were at the school by then, so I was still taking the photographs. So I took one of Marie as well, because she was due back in London.”
“I’m sorry, but… who is she?” A little startled, Mrs Maynard sat up straighter.
“I believe I was explaining,” she said, very much on her dignity. “Her name was Marie Claire de Mabillon, and she was our adopted daughter. Her parents were killed in a train crash, and since there was no-one else much interested, Jack – my husband – and I took her in. She grew up with us here, in Switzerland. You look very much like her, you know.” As Carey raised a self-conscious hand to her cheek, Mrs Maynard shook her head and smiled. “Oh, not so much in colouring and features, really, just… you have a look of her, as they say. The way you turn your head when you speak.”
“Where is she now?” asked Carey, quietly. She was confused beyond all bearing, because it was fairly obvious what she had to do with Marie now, and she wasn’t sure how that fitted with what she knew of herself. Mrs Maynard’s hand clenched around the arm of the chair.
“I… she’s dead, I’m afraid.” At this, Carey’s head shot up. This was not what she had expected to hear.
“Dead?” Mrs Maynard bowed her head.
“Yes. She must have died nearly thirty years ago now. She… she killed herself.” Carey’s hand flew to her mouth.
“Yes. She was pregnant. I don’t know if she had the baby; I always assumed she hadn’t.” She leaned forward, her expression urgent. “But now I think she must have done. You are her daughter, aren’t you?”