The Corah Mine company had had its offices on a residential street. It had bought them in 1933, from Mr Richard Bettany, whose address was given as a forestry company in India. The house had been sold by the owner of the Corah Mine in 1947, and had changed hands many times since then. There was a solicitor listed on the land registry papers, but the archivist told Carey that he had practised alone, and died shortly after the war.
It was a dead end, Carey could quite see that. Whoever had sent her the papers might have had something to do with a long-defunct mining company, or they might not. With all the closures and sell-outs, that box-file could have been obtained by almost anyone, probably.
She sat in the park, and looked at the two pictures. The girl was wearing a yellow dress, and had long dark hair. She had blue eyes and fair skin, and long legs, and was leaning against a tree. The picture of the chalet was out of focus, and showed a solid-looking door with a wide lintel, and the traditional flower-laden balcony. There was nothing identifiable in either picture if you didn’t happen to know where they were taken already.
There hadn’t been much point in coming to Taverton, really. The box-file had been marked with the date 1962, so it was from when the company had already been in Devizes for many years. Maybe her sub-conscious had wanted a holiday. She laughed, then stopped, her hand over her mouth, because really it wasn’t allowed. Not for her.
Carey went shopping, and bought a t-shirt and a book, and then went into a gift shop. Did she want something to remind her of Taverton, asked the girl. Carey didn’t really, but didn’t like to say, so she bought a book by a local publishers. Ever so good, it was, said the girl. It was a servant’s diary, really old, who lived in Taverton years ago. People loved it, said the girl, so Carey bought it, more to be polite than because of any desire to read it.
That night there wasn’t much on the television, so Carey was reduced to reading the book. It was by a woman called Hannah, who had been a cook in service since after the First World War. It wasn’t particularly interesting; Hannah didn’t have a light touch with the pen. But the story had a kind of morbid interest to it – the man who lost his wife and sent his daughter off to live with his mother, only to remarry years later, summoning the daughter and not telling the new wife.
That wasn’t acceptable behaviour, Carey knew that. And it seems the new wife didn’t like the girl very much. Carey knew all about that, but the girl was real, so she didn’t quite understand. But then she read about how, when the girl was 14, Miss Bettany took her away for her school in Austria, and Carey wondered whether Austria had chalets as well as Switzerland.