But then Saturday came and, after spending an hour cleaning, and another ironing, Carey found herself at a loose end. She went on the internet and Googled all the clues for her crossword that she couldn’t otherwise answer and then, from a simple urge to look up something else, searched for ‘Acorn Copper Mines Ltd’. Nothing obvious came up. But Carey’s interest was now piqued. After all, there had once been an Acorn Copper Mines Ltd, and surely some remnant of it remained to be found. She reached for the box file, and checked the scrap of paper. Part of an address could be seen: Devizes. She added that to her search criteria, and looked again. This time, at the end of the second page of results, she found a mention. Acorn Copper Mines had undergone several buy-outs, ending up the property of Aon, an American company. The mines themselves had been closed in the early 90s, though. There was nothing left of the company. The doorbell rang, and Carey went to answer it, closing down the computer.
On Sunday, Carey wondered again why someone would have sent her those things. It was very unusual. She wasn’t what people thought she was, that was true, of course. But some people did know. She could tell, when they looked at her. When their voices lowered as she approached; when their eyes slid away from hers. Of course they knew.
The following Friday, Carey wrote to the London office of Aon, and asked about Acorn Copper Mines Ltd. Two weeks later, she received a reply. Acorn Copper Mines Ltd had been bought in 1987. Their office had been in Church Road, in Devizes. No, unfortunately, they did not have any information about staff members. Any further help, please don’t hesitate to ask. Carey didn’t really think they could do anything much to help.
In May, Carey took some holiday, and went to Devizes. In the library, she explained about Acorn Copper Mines Ltd, and an archivist showed her where to find records about it. They had owned a building on Church Road between 1946 and 1992. After that it had been sold to a company of solicitors. Acorn Copper Mines, before it had been sold to its first company, in 1976, had been run by Mr Harris and Mr Williams, both long since dead.
“My mum worked there!” Linda Robertson had been in the library getting books for her grandson’s homework, and had stopped by the archivist’s office to borrow some paper, as it was closer to the children’s section than the main issuing desk. She had grey hair and a plastic mac. “Acorn Mines – she worked for them for ages, back before the war even. They weren’t in Church Road, then; she wasn’t from round here. All her life, she worked for them. Died back in ’89, God rest her soul. Others? Wouldn’t know, love, I’m afraid. Auntie Marjorie, she worked for ‘em too, but she died donkey’s years ago.”
Carey thanked them both, and left. But Linda followed her, and caught her arm, panting slightly.
“Just remembered, where Mum was from. Taverton, that was it. It’s about an hour from here, not far really. That was where she worked with the mines, as well, in the office, like.”
“Thank you,” said Carey. The next day she drove to Taverton.