Author of Mysteryby Julie Heginbotham
In this tale by Julie Heginbotham, the Five Find-Outers and dog (all old!) go along to a book signing and discover, to their astonishment, that the author is an old friend of theirs... with a bit of a mystery to tell!
"Gosh, it's hot," thought Fatty to himself, as he sat on the banks of the river, with a fishing rod in hand, all part of his disguise as he watched Frinton Lea. He was glad of the hat he wore protecting his eyes from the blazing sunshine.
Every now and then he gazed at the fisherman sat in the boat that rocked gently on the river. He couldn't help but grin to himself. What was Goon thinking of to wear such a hideous disguise? His hat was a large cloth cap with a rather loud check pattern. His scarf was a curious green and his coat was so tight it fell open in front revealing red braces.
"He must be awfully hot," thought Fatty sighing, "I feel as if I'm about to melt."
He began to wonder whether or not this was a good idea, watching Frinton Lea for the 'invisible thief'. Goon obviously thought it was, so he may as well stick it out until the others came along at least.
"Fatty! Fatty!" he heard his name being called. Sounded like Bets. What on earth was she doing calling his name when he was in disguise? Goon would hear if she carried on like that.
"Fatty," said Bets a little louder, shaking him gently on the shoulder.
A startled Fatty woke from his sleep, puzzled for a second before he realized where he was.
"So this is what you do when you say you're going to write your memoirs," Bets grinned at him. "Fall asleep instead." She placed a mug of tea on his desk. "How's it going?"
"Not bad," he said, rubbing his stiff neck. "I only sat back to think for a moment or two and must have nodded off."
"You didn't sleep well last night," commented Bets, "you kept waking me with your tossing and turning."
"Sorry dear," he smiled at her, "writing my memoirs is more trying than I thought."
"It's suppose to be a pleasure, Fatty," Bets reminded him firmly. "If it's causing a problem then maybe you should stop a while."
"I'm fine," he said, picking up his tea. "Is that the local paper in your hand?"
"Yes," she nodded, opening it to a specific page. "Look, our favourite author is having a book signing over in Maidenhead the day after tomorrow. We've got to go. I was going to buy her latest anyway."
Fatty put down his tea and took the paper that Bets offered. "Okay, my dear, we'll see if the others want to come along. Daisy definitely will, she's read all of E. Martin's books."
"I'll go and ring her," said Bets, excitedly.
Fatty watched as Bets hurried out, then after finishing his tea he set to work again typing his memoirs.
Fatty drove as the Find-Outers headed for Maidenhead. "I feel so excited," said Daisy, happily, sitting in the back of Fatty's car between her brother and Pip. "I'll be meeting my favourite author after all these years. I can hardly wait."
"You'll have to," scoffed Larry, "we're not there yet."
Bets turned to look at Larry and grinned. She loved his dry sense of humour and the irony he injected into his tone sometimes. "Are you going to get a signed copy for Helen?" she asked him.
"I'm under orders to," he returned, dryly. "Personally, I can't see why everyone raves about her books." He turned to glance out of the window at the passing scenery.
"What about you, Pip," his sister asked, "are you buying a signed copy for Mary?"
"Definitely," Pip said, brightly. "Mary and I love E. Martin's books. She's a brilliant writer."
"You're out numbered, brother dear," grinned Daisy, giving him an annoying nudge.
"So it would seem," said Larry, turning to glance at Daisy, with a sly grin.
"It'll be interesting to see what she looks like," said Pip, "to my knowledge I don't think there are many photos of her. There's never any on the book's dust jacket."
"That's true," said Bets, glancing around. "I can hardly recall seeing a picture of her."
"Maybe she likes her own privacy," said Fatty.
"She probably doesn't like having her photo took," said Larry. "That way if the readers don't like her books, they can't connect them to her."
Daisy glanced sideways at her brother. "Only you could think of that one," she said, dryly.
"Well we're here," Fatty said, suddenly turning into the car park and driving into an available space.
Once they'd fed the meter and locked up the car, the Find-Outers made their way along the High Street and entered the book shop where the book signing was to take place.
They noticed a small queue already gathered over in the far corner and stacks of the author's books were readily at hand for the customers to buy. The Find-Outers joined the queue, the author's latest hard back in hand. Bets was holding their copy and was going to ask for both their names to be signed in her book.
At last she and Fatty reached the table and Bets handed over her copy to the elderly woman sitting behind it for her sign. "Could you please put 'to Bets and Frederick'," she smiled, as the woman looked at her with an enquiring brow.
"Of course," she smiled, looking down to sign. Once done she looked up and handed the book back to Bets, with a quick glance at Fatty. Bets saw her face change to one of surprise and heard her say, "You're name isn't Frederick Trotteville by any chance?"
Fatty looked swiftly at Bets in surprise before turning back to the woman behind the table. He nodded slowly. "That's right."
"You don't recognise me, I see," she smiled in amusement. "You knew me many years ago as Eunice Tolling."
Both Fatty and Bets were completely stunned and Daisy, who was standing just behind them, heard every word and came to stand besides Bets in complete wonder.
"I can hardly believe it," Fatty found his voice at last. "Eunice Tolling."
He was almost speechless with utter surprise. Daisy in her usual forthright manner smiled and said. "I would never have recognised you, Eunice. I'm Daisy, remember? My brother Larry is here and Pip, Bets' brother." She put her book before Eunice for her to sign and whispered, "We used to call ourselves the Five Find-Outers."
Eunice smiled her pleasure at meeting up with them once more after so long. "I remember," she nodded.
Larry and Pip had now come to stand besides the others, lining up along the front of the table. Eunice smiled at them all and in turn signed their copies. "I'm staying in Peterswood at the Tally-Ho Hotel. Will you all call later and have tea with me, about four o'clock?"
"Of course," nodded Fatty and the others agreed.
"Lovely," smiled Eunice. "I'll look forward to seeing you all then, when I'll be less busy," she finished off with a grin, indicating the now growing queue that had formed behind the five.
Giving Eunice one last smile they left the shop, still amazed to learn that their favourite author E. Martin was none other than Eunice Tolling.
"How do I look, Fatty?" asked Bets, brushing a few of Buster's hairs from the skirt of her suit."
"Lovely as always, my dear," smiled Fatty, turning around to see Buster sniffing amongst the flowers in the garden of the hotel. "Come on, Buster, back in the car." Fatty was holding the rear door open waiting for Buster to jump inside and curl himself up on the rug placed on the seat. Once Buster was safely inside, they made their way into the hotel, where they were to meet up with the others.
As they entered they spotted Daisy, Larry and Pip over by the reception desk chatting to Eunice. They all turned as Bets and Fatty approached.
"Good, we're all here now," smiled Eunice, then turning to the lady behind the desk said. "We'll have tea in the conservatory, can you arrange it?"
"Of course, Madam," came the reply.
"Shall we go through?" said Eunice, turning to look at everyone.
They all made their way down the long corridor of half wood panelling and sat down in the conservatory by the large window that over looked the garden.
"I still can't get over you being E. Martin," said Fatty to Eunice, with a grin and looking around at the others.
Eunice gave a small laugh good naturedly. "Martin is my married name, but unfortunately my husband died six years ago. He was my senior by twelve years."
"Sorry to hear that," said Bets, quietly. "Have you any children?"
"Two daughters, both married with children of their own. What about everyone else?" Eunice looked around at the others and the conversation centred on everyone's family and grandchildren, being interrupted by two waiters bringing in a tray of sandwiches, cakes and tea.
They all chattered away with Eunice, learning that her father, Mr. Tolling, once a friend of Mr. Trotteville, Fatty's father, had lived to be almost 90 years of age. Everyone remembered how he once came with Eunice to a beetle conference in Peterswood held at the town hall and the pair had stayed at The White House with Fatty and his parents, much to his horror.
Speaking to Eunice brought all this back to Fatty as he listened to her taking centre stage of the conversation. She was still very confident and sure of herself, but then again, thought Fatty, she probably has had to be, being in the profession that she was in.
"Have you always written books, Eunice?" he asked her, when there was a pause in the conversation for him to quickly ask.
"No, I started off as a publisher's reader, sometimes called a first reader, for one of the publishing houses in London and made my way up to be the editor. I didn't start writing until I was in my fifties and that's all I do now."
"I thought an editor read all the manuscripts that get sent to publishers," said Pip, looking surprised.
"They do have the final say, but a first reader, or publisher's reader, is a person who gets paid by the publishers for reading from the slush pile."
"Slush pile?" Bets repeated, in questionable tones.
"In publishing the slush pile is a set of manuscripts that the first reader reads through, and it's also their job to advise their employer as to the quality or marketability of the work."
"What an interesting job you had," remarked Pip, "reading through all the hopeful submissions that were sent in. I bet a lot of them get rejected."
"Unfortunately, they do." Eunice nodded, "only a small minority make it to the final stage."
"We've got all your books," said Daisy, changing the subject, "and read them more than once." She looked at Bets, who was nodding in agreement.
"You're such a talented writer, Eunice," said Bets, with admiration. "Where on earth do you get all your ideas from?"
Eunice glowed with the compliments that she obviously adored. "Oh, they just come to me," she began, modestly, "sometimes I wake with an idea and off I go," she finished with a small smile, looking around at her admiring audience.
"Fatty's writing his memoirs at the moment," said Bets, smiling over at her husband. "He was a Commander of Police until he retired."
"Really," smiled Eunice, looking over at Fatty. "You always did think of yourself as a sort of detective, if I remember rightly."
"Fatty was a clever Find-Outer," said Larry, defensively, not liking Eunice's tone. He felt she had not altered since the days when they'd first met her. Too full of herself and all this admiration the others were reigning on her was beginning to annoy him slightly.
Eunice seemed to take Larry's tone in her stride and said. "So, what was your profession, Larry, as well as being Frederick's spokesman?" She eyed him challengingly and for one small moment, Larry felt out of his depths with this forthright woman, who was far more outspoken than his sister Daisy. This was a woman of strong determination and was a match for anyone with a strong will. The tension between them was evident and the others waited for Larry's retort with baited breath and a sense of excitement. Pip was the only one who felt slightly uneasy. He wasn't one for confrontation of any kind. Fatty sat back slightly amused. He knew Larry could hold his own but knew he'd met his match in Eunice. As for himself, he sat waiting for his own opportunity knowing that Eunice would never get the better of Frederick Algernon Trotteville.
"I was a senior partner in a firm of solicitors, in the City," he returned dryly. "My wife and I moved back here to Peterswood last year."
"How nice," smiled Eunice, the smile not quite reaching her eyes. She looked around at the others. "What about you, Daisy?"
"I've lived here in Peterswood all my life," Daisy returned, proudly, "I was the post mistress, until I retired."
Eunice looked at Pip, enquiringly. "I'm a retired school teacher; we live just outside Burnham Beeches."
"What about you, Bets," she asked, "did you find time for a career with bringing up your two boys and Frederick here being in the force?"
"Oh course," said Bets, firmly, resenting the idea that Eunice thought she'd had no life of her own. "I was a full time theatre nurse before we had our boys, then after they were born I took a few years out, then returned part-time. With Frederick's work being shift work we managed to juggle it around very well so that the boys were always looked after by one us."
Eunice looked impressed. "I worked from home for many years whilst my daughters were young, then as they got older and I became editor my husband and his family would help out."
The conversation went on happily from there and Eunice ordered another pot of tea. In the midst of their chatting a woman came into the conservatory and headed for Eunice.
"Excuse me," she said, smiling around at everyone, with a fleeting glance of recognition at Larry, which she quickly covered up before looking at Eunice. "The local newspaper has been on the phone; they'd like an interview tomorrow morning, so I've arranged it for eleven o'clock if that's okay?"
"That's fine, Janet," nodded Eunice, "you did say no photos though?" Her brows rose enquiringly.
"Yes, I made that quite clear," said Janet, before walking away.
"My secretary," explained Eunice, looking around at everyone.
"Why no photos?" asked Larry, suspiciously.
Eunice looked across at him with cold eyes. "That's my prerogative but seeing as you've asked, my philosophy is if you lose your anonymity you lose your freedom."
Eunice and Larry stared at each other silently for a brief moment, before Pip said, "That's a very good point, Eunice."
Eunice smiled at him. "I'm still able to shop without being pestered and that means a lot to me."
"If I was a talented author, I'd want everyone to know about it," said Larry, matter-of- factly.
"We don't always think alike, Larry," said Daisy, firmly, not understanding why her brother seemed to be taking his dislike of Eunice this far. "I think I agree with Eunice, keeping your freedom is worth a lot."
"Well I hate to break up our heartily discussions, but I think it's time Bets and I rescued Buster from the car and took him home," said Fatty, rising from his chair, sensing more under currents about to erupt.
"Yes, I'd best be getting back too," smiled Pip, glad that Fatty had brought the afternoon tea to a close.
Larry and Daisy rose too and everyone thanked Eunice for the invitation. "How long are you staying here?" asked Bets, as they all made their way slowly from the conservatory.
"A few days, I'm not sure yet," returned Eunice. "Hopefully we can all meet up again before I go back to London." She looked straight at Larry, with a wicked grin. "It's been many years since I've had a sparring partner."
The others looked at Larry's rising colour and grinned, before saying good-bye to Eunice and heading for the car park of the hotel.
"Well she's not changed much," said Larry, gruffly, as they walked over to Pip's car.
"You'll have to watch her, brother dear," grinned Daisy, wickedly, "I definitely read a proposition there."
"Don't be ridiculous;" barked Larry, glaring at his sister, "the woman's obnoxious."
The other's exchanged amused glances with each other but said nothing further.
"I'll phone you tomorrow, Daisy," said Bets, watching her and Larry getting into Pip's car for a lift home.
"Okay," smiled Daisy, "bye, Fatty, see you soon."
Fatty and Bets waved the others off then went over to their car for the short journey home.
It was dark and stifling in the cupboard, made worse by the fact that Fatty's hands and feet were tied securely and the curtain around him showed no sign of freeing him from the cocoon he was in. Those men had done a really good job of securing him; thank goodness he'd managed to free the handkerchief from around his mouth.
He was mostly annoyed at Goon, giving the game away like that by sneezing and being the one not to be discovered! It just wasn't fair, the trouble he'd gone to disguising himself as Napoleon, even to the point of layering his face with a thin film of wax... and all Goon had to do was to move aside the figure of the policeman and stand in its place. "Where's the justice?" he asked himself, getting more annoyed at his tightly bound hands and feet and this blasted curtain around him.
Then, to top all that, Goon had decided to leave him there whilst he went off to grab all the glory for himself. "I'll get back at him," he thought to himself. "Inspector Jenks will hear of this without doubt. I'll get Goon into a lot of trouble, no more than he deserves."
Suddenly Fatty heard a sound. Who was that? One of the gang coming back? "Fatty, Fatty." It sounded very much like Larry. He tried to shout that he was in the cupboard but the words wouldn't come. What was wrong with him, why couldn't he shout? He could hardly move now. He started to panic; Larry would never find him in here. He must force the words out, as he could still hear Larry calling him.
"Come on, wake up, sleepy head," grinned Larry, shaking Fatty a little harder and removing the opened newspaper that lay over his face.
"Oh it's you, Larry," yawned Fatty, from his sleep. "I was just having forty winks."
"Bets said you were out here doing a spot of gardening," said Larry, with a raised brow.
"I was, believe it or not. Then Bets came out with a cuppa and the local paper and I must have nodded off." Fatty stretched his aching back and rose from the comfort of the deck chair he'd sat in. "Come on, time to go inside." He looked around for Buster, but the dog was nowhere to be seen.
"Buster's inside," said Larry, guessing who Fatty was looking around for, "enjoying his lunch."
"Do you want a tea?" asked Bets, as they entered the kitchen. "I'm just about to make one."
"Please," nodded Larry, sitting at the large kitchen table. Fatty sat opposite and opened the paper in his hand, pushing it towards Larry.
"Have you read the interview by your favourite person?" he mocked.
Larry took the paper and began to read. "Still full of herself," he commented, closing the paper with a shrug, once he'd finished, "and no photo, that's very odd."
"I agree," said Fatty, seriously. "I think there's more to Eunice than meets the eye."
"Honestly," said Bets, in exasperation, placing two mugs of tea down for them both and sitting next to Fatty, holding her mug between both her hands. "She just values her privacy. What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing, if that's all it is," returned Fatty.
Larry nodded silently.
"I think you're both over reacting," said Bets firmly. "We've not seen Eunice since we were youngsters. Okay, she's still very sure of herself and a little over bearing but I don't think you should both make a comment like that without good reason, and wanting to keep her private life private is a good enough reason for me."
"Her secretary seemed to recognise you, Larry," said Fatty, with a raised brow, wondering if Larry had thought the same.
"I noticed her fleeting glance of recognition," nodded Larry, "but I can't for the life of me bring her to mind. I thought maybe she'd recognized me from when I was working maybe. She certainly wasn't my client, but I can't speak for my partners."
Fatty contemplated over his mug of tea and Bets looked between them both. "Why is it I sense you both think there's some sort of mystery here?"
"Just a gut feeling, my dear," Fatty informed her.
Larry nodded. "I'm with Fatty on this one, there's more to Eunice than meets the eye."
Bets shook her head in exasperation. "Well, I think you're both making something out of nothing." She picked up the mugs and took them over to the sink to wash. "If you're both so sure, why don't you just ask her outright? Or is that too logical for you both to work out?" came Bets parting shot, as she left them both sitting at the kitchen table watching her departing back.
Two days after having tea with Eunice, the Find-Outers met at the 'Water's Edge' for an afternoon meeting. It was still rather chilly for the end of March to be outside in the garden, so they decided to sit by the fire that was lit in the lounge area. Buster was curled up under the table after his walk along the river.
Fatty had already put forward his 'gut feeling' to the others and Larry of course, had made them all aware of how Eunice's secretary had for some reason recognised him but he couldn't enlighten them to as where. No one but Fatty said they'd noticed and so an intense discussion was inevitable.
"I suggest we just ask her outright," said Bets, putting forward her idea, "but don't be surprised at the reaction you'll get."
"Look, we've no proof of anything here," said Daisy, firmly. "Why shouldn't Eunice value her own privacy, I'm sure I wouldn't want photographers constantly pointing their lenses at me, either."
"I agree," said Pip. "Let's face it; she's a famous, talented author. We certainly don't want to go around upsetting her."
"Judging by our afternoon tea, I guess she's more used to upsetting others than the other way around," scoffed Larry.
"I've never known you take such a dislike to anyone before, Larry," Daisy pointed out. "Why are you so against her?"
Larry shrugged. "She just winds me up the wrong way, I guess, and comes across as being more unbearable than when she was younger."
"Well, she's a very good author, there's no escaping that," said Bets. "Her plots are just fascinating. I never know who did it until the last chapter."
Daisy nodded. "I agree with Bets, her books are so gripping, you just can't put them down."
"Well, well, speak of the devil," whispered Pip, indicating over to the door, where Eunice had just walked in.
"Are we all in favour of calling her over?" asked Fatty, quietly.
"Of course," said Bets and Daisy, Pip merely nodded and Larry said, "If we must."
Fatty stood up and walked over to the bar where Eunice was standing. The others watched as he spoke to her, turning her head, she smiled at everyone before turning back to the barman. A few minutes later, Fatty walked over with Eunice, a tray of drinks in his hand.
"Compliments of Eunice," he explained, putting the tray down and handing everyone a drink from it, before taking it back to the bar.
"Thank you, Eunice, cheers," was the chorus that went around the table; even Buster popped his head out from underneath to see who had joined them. Eunice was surprised to see him and fondled his head asking whose dog was he?
"That's Buster," smiled Bets, "he belongs to us."
"Buster?" said Eunice in surprise. "Frederick had a dog called Buster when we stayed with him."
"We've had a few Busters since then," grinned Fatty, sitting back in his seat.
"So what brings you into the 'Water's Edge'?" asked Larry, as pleasantly as he could, seeing as Eunice had just bought them all a round of drinks.
"I've been walking along the river. It brought back memories of when you were locked in that caravan, Frederick, and I was trying to make my way back to get help, only I lost my sense of direction."
"That was when we were solving the mystery of the 'Missing Man'," said Pip. "I thought that was a very exciting mystery we solved."
"I loved it when we were on the trail of the 'Invisible Thief'," said Daisy, smiling around at everyone.
"The 'Missing Necklace' was my favourite," said Bets, excitedly, "especially when we found it around the waxwork figure of Queen Elizabeth."
"That was your good thinking," smiled Fatty, winking affectionately at Bets.
"I still think fondly of when we first got together and worked out who had set fire to the cottage," said Larry, looking around at his friends.
Everyone nodded and started to tell Eunice about some of the mysteries they'd solved. It was always a pleasure for the five of them to reminisce over their childhood 'mystery' solving days.
Fatty smiled. "A lot of water's gone under the bridge since then."
"How right you are," nodded Eunice, a touch of sadness in her tone.
Everyone looked at Eunice, picking up on the tone of her voice. Bets for some reason felt a twinge of sadness for her. "You can talk to us, Eunice, if there's something on your mind."
Eunice took a sip of her drink in quiet contemplation. The sincerity in Bets voice had her swallowing hard, could she really trust these people? If only she could just talk to someone who would understand without being judged? She looked at the serious faces waiting for her to speak.
"I've had a life time of looking after myself and supporting others," she began. "My father with his conferences – my mother – then my own children and finally my husband who became ill with Parkinson's, as well as having a career."
Everyone listened intently reading between the lines of her words. "For once I'd really like to sit back and let someone else take the burden from my shoulders." She looked around at the others with a watery smile. "There is something on my mind and I wish I could tell you, but I can't," she shook her head sadly.
Everyone was silent for a moment until Daisy broke the silence. "What about your daughters', can you speak to them?"
"No," Eunice shook her head.
"You can trust us, Eunice," said Larry, suddenly, sincerity upmost in his voice. "I was a solicitor, the sole of discretion and Fatty retired Police Commander."
Eunice smiled softly, nodding her head. "Good combination, I'll give you that."
"I think that places you in safe hands," said Fatty, with a raised brow.
Eunice finished her drink, before saying. "I can't really talk here, it's too public."
"No problem," said Bets, quickly, "we can all go back to ours."
"Good idea," said Daisy, rising from her chair. "No time like the present."
"I've still got half a pint left," said her brother, indignantly.
"Come along when you've finished then," was the tort reply.
Larry quickly finished his drink as everyone got ready to leave. Pip had come along in his car and offered to take anyone who wanted the ride. So it was decided that Fatty and Larry walk back with Buster and the others went back in Pip's car. All were thinking the same. What an earth had Eunice to tell them?
By the time Larry and Fatty arrived back at The White House, the others were seated comfortably in the lounge. Bets had made a pot of tea and placed some small cakes on a plate for anyone to help themselves. Buster rushed straight into the kitchen as usual, to see what his mistress had given him for his snack. The fire in the grate was still burning low and Fatty put on more logs as the afternoon had a chill in the air. When he'd seated himself comfortably in his favourite chair, tea in hand, he looked straight at Eunice and said. "So, what's on your mind, Eunice? You're amongst friends here and if we can help in any way, we will."
For a split second Eunice wondered whether she was doing the right thing or not, then decided that if she told part of her story, it may help lighten the load in some small way and Frederick and the others may be of some help. Taking a deep breath and putting her tea down on the low table before her, she started part of her story.
"Larry, you asked why I didn't want any publicity photos." He looked at Eunice and nodded silently. "That's because I don't want people to recognise me. I've been getting a few anonymous letters and I'm worried."
"How awful," said Bets, alarmed. "Why an earth would anyone want to send you an anonymous letter?"
"I don't know," said Eunice, "the price one has to pay, I suppose, for being well known."
"That's terrible," Daisy shook her head.
"An act of a coward," Pip said, angrily. Only Fatty and Larry remained silent, both as shocked as everyone else.
"Do you have these letters with you?" Fatty asked her.
"Only the one," said Eunice, picking up her hand bag and rummaging inside. "It came this morning, delivered at the hotel." She handed Fatty the letter.
Putting on his glasses he read the letter and asked if the others could see it. Eunice nodded.
It's a mystery???
Whilst everyone was reading the letter, Fatty was examining the envelope's postmark and made a mental note. Once the letter was read Eunice popped it back into her bag.
"I doubt whether there'll be any finger prints of the sender on there," said Fatty, matter-of-factly. "So there's no point in getting it tested. How many others have you had?"
"A few during the last three years actually," said Eunice, rather surprisingly, "but the first lot started about fifteen years ago."
Everyone was stunned and words of exclamation past between them.
"Fifteen years!" Fatty repeated.
Eunice nodded. "If you're all sitting comfortably, I'll begin," she said in nursery rhyme tones. "My first book was published in 1989, and my photo was on the dust jacket of the book, then sometime in 1993 I started to get the first letters. It was sent to the publishers, who of course forwarded it on to me, thinking it was fan mail. I can't even remember what was in it now. Anyway a few more arrived over the next twelve months. I just ignored them. Then one day out of the blue, this woman kept stalking me. I can only guess that she must have somehow followed me home from a visit to the publishers. How else would she have learned where I lived?"
The others nodded, listening intently. "Well, one day I spotted her outside by my garden gate and went out to tackle her. She saw me walking down my path and turned to walk away, crossing the road. Unfortunately, she didn't look where she was going and a car knocked her down."
"How awful," murmured Bets.
The others said the same.
"I yelled to my husband Roger, to phone for an ambulance," Eunice carried on, "and I rushed out to see what I could do. The driver was already out of the car and kneeling by her side and I made her as comfortable as I could by putting my cardigan under her head. She was unconscious and I remember saying to the driver, it's not your fault, I saw her dash into the road. He was so shaken up."
"I bet he was," said Daisy, sympathetically, and everyone agreed.
"Anyway, the ambulance arrived and took her off to the hospital. I phoned them later that evening and they said she was stable and her family was with her. So I knew she'd be okay and that was the end of the letters and the woman stalking me. Then about three years ago the odd letter started to filter through again."
"So she's started again?" said Daisy, with a raised brow, looking at Eunice.
"I don't know," said Eunice, truthfully. "The letters from years back were hand written. As you can see, they are now typed."
"Did you ever know this woman's name?" asked Fatty.
"The hospital said it was Mary Greenwood. That's all I know. They only told me as I'd witnessed the accident. The driver was never charged with anything, as it was entirely her fault. It only got a few lines in the newspaper," finished Eunice, with a shrug.
"Obviously we've got to find this woman," said Pip, looking around at everyone. "She could be dangerous."
A few murmured words went around the group and nodding heads. Everyone looked at Fatty. "What do you think, Fatty?" said Bets, looking at him.
Fatty was contemplating silently. "What we have to ask ourselves is this, why has she suddenly taken to sending these letters again?"
Everyone was silent a moment, then Daisy said. "Maybe she had certain problems caused by the accident and now she's fully recovered and back on form."
"Something tells me that's highly unlikely," said Fatty, screwing up his face slightly and shaking his head. "The big question has to be, how does the anonymous writer know you are staying at the Tally-Ho Hotel?"
"That's true," nodded Larry and everyone murmured the same. "This person whoever it is must know more about you than you think." Larry finished, seriously.
Eunice shivered slightly; this was something she had not given much thought to.
"So you have to ask yourself, who knows you are staying at the hotel for a few days?" Fatty asked the worried looking Eunice.
"Only the people who should know," answered Eunice, looking around at everyone's concerned expressions. "My family, my publisher and my agent."
"No one else?" asked Fatty.
"No, I've no one else to tell," answered Eunice, shaking her head.
"What about friends?" asked Daisy.
"A few of my friends know, but none of them would be the anonymous writer. I trust them implicitly."
"All the same, this must be very worrying for you, Eunice," commented Pip. "Always having to look over your shoulder, so to speak."
"I'm not paranoid about it," returned Eunice, "more annoyed that someone's got nothing better to do than hound someone my age."
"It would worry me," said Bets. "Have you told the police?"
"No," was the reply, "There's no point. What could they do?"
"They'd trace this woman, Mary Greenwood, and interview her for a start," said Larry firmly. "Personally, I think that's the road you should go down."
"I just want to keep it low key," said Eunice. "If I involved the police then the papers get to hear of it and quite frankly they'll publish what they want, rather than what is."
"We all know the papers exaggerate," began Fatty, "but at least the police will be of some help."
"No, I don't want to involve them," returned Eunice, flatly, rising from the settee. "Look, maybe I shouldn't have said anything to you all. Just forget what I've said. No harm has come to me yet and probably never will." She picked up her handbag, looking around for her coat. "I really must be going anyway. I need to get changed ready for the evening meal."
"You're coat's hanging in the hall," said Bets, rising from her seat, "I'll get it for you."
Eunice smiled her thanks, and then looked around at everyone. "Please don't concern yourselves; I'm sure I'll be fine." She took her coat from Bets with a thank you and made for the door.
Fatty was also on his feet, walking over to Eunice. "I'll walk you to your hotel."
Eunice looked at him gratefully. "Thank you."
"I won't be long," he said, turning to Bets and giving her a smile.
Everyone said 'bye' to Eunice and watched her and Fatty as they left.
"I feel awful taking you away from everyone," began Eunice, as they walked steadily along, "I'm sure I'll be okay, Frederick, if you want to go back." She glanced at him with a smile. He really was a good looking man, she thought to herself, noting he'd not lost any of his hair, even if it was now silvery grey, it suited him well. He walked proudly along with strong determined strides, holding himself upright with an air of authority. "Bets must feel really proud and safe hanging on to his arm," she thought, with a touch of envy.
Fatty glanced at her and said seriously, "I thought you might like to tell me parts of the story you've left out." He raised a questioning brow.
Eunice felt a shocked chill running through her and quickly tried to brush it off. "I don't know what you mean, Frederick?" she said lightly.
"Oh I think you do," he returned, in strong tones. "Don't try and pull the wool over my eyes, I'm a bit too long in the tooth and have years of experience of knowing when someone is holding something back."
"Frederick, I really..." began Eunice, but was stopped short by Fatty's interruption.
He pulled her to a halt gently by her arm and they both faced each other challengingly. "If you want my help, don't play me for a fool," he growled softly. "I can understand you not wanting to mention anything to the others, but it's just you and I now." He brows rose but his expression softened.
Eunice wished she could have met someone as forthright as Frederick years ago, someone she could have depended upon, who always took the lead, instead of her having to take the lead in everything she did. She nodded her head slightly and they both carried on walking.
"If I tell you the truth, Frederick, please keep it to yourself and don't judge me on what I'm about to say."
She sent him a side glance and saw a glancing look of sympathy, before he said. "I won't."
"You remember me telling you I was a publisher's reader before I made my way up to be an editor?"
"Yes," came his reply.
"Well, to cut a long story short, Mary Greenwood sent in quite a few mystery and crime stories. I read nearly all of them but they weren't good enough to put into publication. One of them I did put forward for the editor to read, just to make sure I was doing my job correctly in rejecting her manuscripts, but the editor rejected it outright."
"I understand now," said Fatty, glancing at her.
"I didn't actually steal her stories, Frederick," Eunice said, with conviction. "I just used some of her plots and expanded on them, nothing more."
"So when Mary Greenwood read the books by E. Martin, she recognised them vaguely as her own rejected stories," Fatty put forward, guessing correctly.
Eunice nodded. "That's why I didn't contact the police. I knew it was her, then when she had the accident, I felt terrible, but at least I knew she'd be okay."
They walked on silently for a few moments, Eunice contemplating Fatty's silence. "You have to remember, Frederick," she began, with conviction, "that there are only so many book plots that an author can use, it's just the way you use and expand the plot that makes them all different. It's like musical notes, there's only a few and by putting them into a different order you get different tunes."
"I know what you're saying, Eunice," Fatty looked at her, "but you could have had all this sorted years ago, without any fuss."
Eunice felt angry with herself, more than Fatty's words of truth. "I can't turn back the clock, what's done is done. I just don't know where this woman is now, to stop this happening all over again."
They reached the gates of Tally-Ho Hotel and Fatty said he'd see her into the hotel. Once inside, Fatty took Eunice to one side of the reception hall and they both sat down. "How long has your secretary been with you?" he asked.
"Janet?" Eunice questioned. "It's not Janet."
"How long?" Fatty repeated his question, seriously.
"She took over from Marjorie in 2005."
"Marjorie was a secretary too?"
"Yes," Eunice nodded. "I took her on in 1991. She was a good secretary but she retired in 2005, and that's when Janet joined me." Eunice looked at Fatty. "Her name is Grimshaw, not Greenwood, she's forty-four and very good at her job. I just dictate my stories and she types them up, sends them off and does any alterations once I've vetted everything."
"Can I have her address," asked Fatty, pulling out a small note pad and pencil from his over-coat pocket. "Also Marjorie, your first secretary."
Eunice looked at Fatty puzzled. "Is that really necessary, Frederick?"
"If you want me to help you, yes," he nodded.
In reluctant tones, Eunice gave him the addresses he wanted and watched as he closed his small note pad and placed it back into his pocket.
"What will happen now?" She asked.
"Leave it with me for a day or so and I'll get back to you." He stood to leave. "Will you be here for a few more days?"
"Yes, I'm enjoying the break. Janet's staying on for a couple of days too; she lives alone so she's nothing to get back for."
"Oh, one more question," said Fatty, suddenly remembering. "When did you arrive at the hotel?"
"The day before the book signing," answered Eunice, looking rather surprised.
Fatty smiled silently and nodded. "I'll be in touch soon," he promised, walking towards the door. "Oh and don't mention any of this to anyone, not even your secretary."
Eunice walked with him to the door. "No one knows anyway, I only ever told my late husband. Anyway, thanks, Frederick." She gave him a grateful smile and watched him leave, then collecting her key from the receptionist behind the desk, she made her way to her room on the first floor.
Buster greeted Fatty like he'd been away for days, when he got back from walking Eunice to the hotel. The others had left shortly after Fatty had, Bets told him, as she prepared their evening meal.
Fatty sat himself at the kitchen table, watching Bets silently for a few moments before she came to sit opposite him. "You've learned a bit more than Eunice was prepared to say whilst she was here, haven't you?" guessed Bets. "Is it anything you can tell me?"
Fatty knew he couldn't tell Bets as it would destroy her fondness for the books she loved to read. He'd made a promise and he never went back on his word. "Sorry, my dear," he shook his head, "it's nothing that would be of interest to you but I did promise Eunice I'd keep it to myself."
Bets smiled and reached out to touch his hand. "I'm not going to ask," she smiled. "How about a drop of sherry whilst the evening meal's cooking?"
"Lovely," he nodded. "What did the others have to say once I'd left with Eunice?"
"Nothing much," shrugged Bets, handing him the schooner of sherry and taking a satisfying sip of her own. "Obviously everyone feels concerned, as Pip said, it's terrible having to look over your shoulder, so to speak."
"Yes," Fatty nodded gently, in agreement.
"What do you really think of all this?" Bets asked, studying his expression, knowing that look he had, of old.
"Do you remember when we were up against those anonymous letters that Goon received over that lovely old couple who were the caretakers of Fairlin Hall?"
"Yes," nodded Bets slowly, "we found some diamonds in the water-pipe."
"That's right, but think back to the letters. Can you remember who was responsible for making sure Goon received them?"
Bets contemplated silently for a few moments, casting her mind back through the years. "Wasn't it his cook...? No, wait a minute; she was his cleaner, wasn't she?"
"I think she was," nodded Fatty with a knowing smile. "Her name was Mrs Hicks, if I remember rightly."
"That's right," returned Bets, amazed at Fatty's ability to remember names. Funny how it suddenly came flooding back once the memory was prompted.
"What's your point though?" asked Bets, puzzled.
"Basically, Mrs Hicks would have been the last person you'd have thought of, as she was working for Goon. He certainly never gave her a thought as the one who was leaving the letters around."
"Fatty, are you saying that the person responsible for the letters that Eunice is receiving is someone who works for her?" Bets sounded quite alarmed.
Fatty nodded, downing the last of his sherry. "Yes, I am, my dear. I don't know as yet why and how they come to be somehow integrated with Mary Greenwood, who Eunice spoke of but I'm almost certain that the latest set of letters are written by someone Eunice knows."
"So what's the next step?" asked Bets.
"Fortunately we have two sons in the force, my dear. So I'll just give Thomas a call, give him two addresses that Eunice gave me and hopefully the police computer can do most of the work. After all, my dear," he smiled, mischievously, "I am retired."
Fatty had a dilemma. He needed to speak to Eunice and sort out the anonymous letters, but as Eunice didn't want anyone to know the full reason behind them, he couldn't bring the others in on any discussions. So there was only one thing he could do and that was to speak to Eunice alone and put his suspicions to her. He'd spoken to Thomas last evening, giving him both the addresses, which Thomas said he'd check out and phoned that morning with the results.
Fatty contacted the hotel to make sure that Eunice was there, then told Bets where he was off to.
As understanding as ever, Bets said, "Okay Fatty, you go and do what you have to do. We won't say anything to the others until everything is sorted and if Eunice still wants to keep her secret between you both, that's fine with me."
Fatty kissed her gently on the lips, before he left her and Buster alone and made his way over to the Tally-Ho Hotel.
Eunice was waiting for him in the conservatory with a pot of tea and biscuits. After she poured out his tea and handed it to him, she said. "So, what have you learned, Frederick? That's why you're here I guess."
Fatty nodded and put down his tea. "I have an inkling the writer of the latest set of letters is someone you know. I don't think for one minute that they're being written by Mary Greenwood."
Eunice was surprised and shocked by Fatty's words. "I find that statement incredible; I don't think anyone I know would do such a thing."
"How about the daughter of Mary Greenwood?" Fatty's brows rose with his question.
"Her daughter?" Eunice was puzzled. "I didn't even know she had a daughter, let alone know her."
"You don't only know her but she works for you."
Eunice was speechless for a few moments. This was incredible. What was Frederick talking about? "Who is it?" she asked, with a puzzled frown.
"Your secretary, Janet Grimshaw. Her maiden name was Greenwood."
Eunice paled slightly with the shock and sat back in her seat, shaking her head in disbelief. Feeling slightly concerned, Fatty said. "Shall I get you a brandy?"
"No, I'm fine; I just don't know what to say. I don't understand." Eunice looked at Fatty appealingly.
"I think we'd better ask Janet herself," said Fatty, softly. "Where is she?"
"She went for a walk after breakfast along the river."
"How long has she been gone?"
Eunice looked at her watch. "Just over an hour. She should be back soon; it's almost eleven-thirty."
No sooner had Eunice spoken, when Janet walked into the conservatory and spotting Eunice and Fatty made her way over. Fatty quietly said to Eunice not to say anything but to leave it to him.
Once a tea had been poured for Janet and she sat back, relaxed in the chair, Eunice quietly asked if she'd enjoyed her walk. Janet said she had but couldn't help pick up on the tension that seemed to be in the air. Looking at Eunice's pale face, she said. "Are you feeling okay?"
Eunice gave her a slight nod, with a glance over at Fatty.
"Eunice has just had a bit of a shock," Fatty started to explain, looking straight at Janet.
"Oh!" came the sound of concern, as she looked at Fatty and then back at Eunice. "Is it one of your daughters, or grandchildren?"
"I've just told her you are the writer of those anonymous letters." Fatty was watching Janet closely and didn't miss the guilt that shot briefly into her eyes before it disappeared. Janet looked at Eunice, then back at Fatty.
"I don't understand," she said, evasively. "What anonymous letters?"
"The ones you've been sending to Eunice," returned Fatty, angrily. "There's no point in denying it, we know that Mary Greenwood was your mother."
Janet looked at Fatty, with cold eyes, then suddenly with a sigh she sat back and looking at Eunice, slowly nodded her head. "I'm glad you know, it's been a strain for me, believe it or not."
"How do you mean?" asked Eunice, in a small voice.
"I promised my mother, just before she died," was the surprising answer. "I didn't want to and that's the truth." Janet looked at them both with genuine concern.
"I think Eunice deserves an explanation," said Fatty, seriously.
Janet's expression softened as she nodded her head. "After Mum was knocked down, she lost her eye sight and had trouble walking. Dad looked after her up until he died. That's when I moved in with Mum and became her carer. I was already divorced so it made sense. Mum told me how she'd come to be knocked down and the reason why she'd sent you those letters."
Eunice was watching her silently, so was Fatty, both intrigued by the story that was unfolding. Janet carried on after a few moments of silence. "She showed me the manuscripts she'd sent to the publishers and told me to read them. She produced the books you'd written that she said had her story line and plots. They weren't identical, I know that but it was obvious you'd used her stories." Janet was watching Eunice closely.
"Mum had even seen a solicitor in the city but was told as there was no copyright on her manuscripts, there was nothing she could do."
"I noticed when we were here the other day, you recognized my friend, Larry," said Fatty.
Janet nodded. "Mum had a pamphlet from the solicitors she saw, I noticed your friend from a photo, as the senior partner."
"I wasn't responsible for your mum's accident," said Eunice, softly. "I rushed out when it happened and made her as comfortable as possible."
"I know," nodded Janet. "Mum was bitter because her work was never accepted. Reading through her manuscripts I could see why. When she knew her time was drawing to a close, she asked me to continue to hound you with letters. I didn't want to and told her to let it rest but she was persistent and being her last wish, how could I refuse her?" Janet looked between them both, before carrying on. "Then as luck would have it, I saw your publisher advertising for a secretary, I thought that if I got the job, then at least I'd find out where you were, of course I had no idea they were advertising on your behalf."
Janet looked at Eunice, regret uppermost on her face. "I wrote the odd letter, as you know, but it was out of loyalty for Mum. I dwindled off writing them as I loved my job working for you. None of the novels you've written since I started have any resemblance to Mum's novels. The day we left London to come here was Mum's anniversary of her death and so I decided to write one last letter and that was it. That's the honest truth, I swear," she finished off, with strong conviction.
Eunice's expression softened. "I believe you. Your loyalty for your mother does you credit."
Janet had tears of remorse in her eyes. She didn't deserve Eunice's understanding but at least it was all out in the open now and that was a weight off her shoulders. "What will happen now," she asked, looking between Eunice and Fatty. "Will the police be called?"
"That all depends on Eunice," said Fatty, glancing over to her, as she sat silently in the chair, the colour having returned now to her pale cheeks.
"What would you like to happen?" she said suddenly, surprising Janet and Fatty with her question.
Janet was silent a moment trying to read Eunice's blank expression. She knew deep down that she'd like to continue working with Eunice but the probability of that happening now was remote. Plucking up the courage anyway, she said that was what she would like to do.
"Then there's no reason why you shouldn't," said Eunice, suddenly, surprising not only Janet but Fatty also.
Janet was speechless but it was evident that she was more than delighted that Eunice had taken this decision, rather than going down the line of getting the police involved.
She couldn't thank Eunice enough for her understanding and promised that she would be the devoted secretary that she had always wanted to be. Eunice nodded in agreement and said she would see her later.
As Janet rose to leave them both, she stopped by Fatty to ask how he'd found out.
"The post mark on the envelope that was dated the day you both left London. Also it had to be someone who knew where Eunice would be. With that and my son, who's in the force, checking through the police computer and turning up your maiden name, it all fitted nicely."
Janet nodded silently before walking away. "If you'll both excuse me?" They watched her depart silently.
"Is this the way you want it to be?" asked Fatty, looking at Eunice.
"Yes, she's a good person and a good secretary."
"What about the upset you've gone through, doesn't that count?"
"Funnily enough, I never felt I was in any kind of danger. The wording of the letters was always harmless enough and there weren't that many. I feel better now it's all in the open and cleared up. I was just as much to blame in all this." There was a touch of sadness in her voice and understandingly Fatty nodded.
"It's your decision," he said, glancing at his watch. "I must go." He stood to leave and touched Eunice gently on the shoulder. "Will we see you before you go back to London?"
"I expect the others will want to know the outcome," she said, looking up at him.
"Not if you don't want them to," he smiled, understandingly.
Eunice looked at him gratefully. "I'll let you know when I've had time to get my head around everything."
He nodded and walked away, leaving Eunice to watch his departing back, tears burning the back of her eyes.
"What time did Eunice say she'll meet us here?" asked Daisy, as they all sat in a quiet corner of the 'Water's Edge' the following lunch time.
"Twelve thirty," returned Fatty, glancing at his watch.
"She's just come in," said Larry, looking over towards the door.
Fatty stood up and turned to look at her, indicating where they were, acknowledging him she came over, a smile, lighting up her face.
"Hello everyone," she greeted them all, "thanks for turning up before I set off back home."
"We couldn't let you go without saying goodbye," Bets smiled at her.
Larry put a drink before her and smiling at him she said, "Thanks, Larry. Good job I'm not driving."
"What time's your train?" asked Daisy.
"One fifteen, so I've got a bit of time to let you all know that Frederick here has sorted out the little mystery for me and there'll be no more anonymous letters."
Everyone looked at Fatty in surprise, of course this was the first they'd heard of it, as he or Bets had not mentioned the meeting between Fatty and Eunice the day before and true to his word Fatty had not mentioned the outcome to Bets.
"Well, I'm pleased to hear that," said Pip. "Was it who you thought it was?"
"Wasn't her name Mary something or other?" asked Larry, as interested as all the others who were watching Eunice closely, waiting for her to reveal the name.
Eunice shook her head. "No, it wasn't Mary Greenwood, I'm happy to say but unfortunately, I can't tell you any more than that, or who the person was."
The disappointment on their faces was something Eunice couldn't over look. "I'm sorry," she said, apologetically, "but there's a little bit more to it than just someone sending me the odd letter and as it's someone I know and funnily enough, trust, then I'd rather this matter drop and nothing more be said."
The others, except Fatty, looked at Eunice rather startled to hear that she knew the person who was responsible. Fatty sat quietly, admiring Eunice in a way. She smiled at the others apologetically.
"I can't believe that someone you know, could do this to you," said Daisy, softly, "and you're not going to the police?"
"No," Eunice shook her head and took a drink of her sherry. "This person had their reasons and quite frankly I respect and understand why they did it. We've spoken at great length and there it ends. Without going into detail, I feel responsible, in a way, and partly to blame. The subject will never be raised again and our friendship will continue as it was before."
This was not what everyone expected to hear and Larry said admiringly. "Well I think you're one in a million, Eunice, to forgive and forget in this way. You're to be admired."
Everyone agreed and Eunice quietly blushed under their admiration, wishing she could tell them the whole story, but preferring to just forget about the whole affair. She glanced quickly at her watch, finishing off her drink. "You're all very kind," she said, standing to leave and picking up the bag by her side. "It's been a great pleasure to have met you all once more." She looked over at Fatty and gave him a grateful smile. "You have a remarkable husband in Frederick, Bets," she said, admiringly. "He's one of the best, and you're all lucky to have such a good friend," she finished off, looking around at everyone.
Fatty had the grace to colour and gave her a smile that shone out of his blue eyes. "You're my friend and everyone else's here too, Eunice," he said, looking around at the others, who all nodded their agreements, with a chorus of 'yes', and 'absolutely'.
"If ever you're over this way, you must call on us," said Bets, with a smile. "You'll be most welcome."
"We'll all meet up and that's a promise," said Pip, looking at everyone.
"Definitely," nodded Daisy.
"I'll look forward to it," Larry smiled at her.
Eunice looked at everyone. "You're all so very kind and I promise we'll meet one day soon, but my train won't wait, so I'll have to say goodbye."
"Do you want a lift to the station," asked Fatty, rising from his chair.
"No, thank you, Frederick," she smiled, gratefully, "Janet will be waiting outside in a taxi. Bye everyone."
"Bye Eunice," they all said, as she slowly walked away.
Eunice was the topic of conversation once she'd left. "What a forgiving nature she has," said Daisy, "after all she must have gone through receiving those letters."
"She had her reasons," said Fatty, "and for what it's worth, I think she did the right thing." He looked round at the others, knowing they must be desperate to hear all the facts but knowing he had to respect Eunice's wishes to say nothing.
"So this is one mystery we'll never know the answer to," said Pip, looking enquiringly at Fatty.
"'Fraid so," he nodded. "It's Eunice's wish that I say nothing and I respect that."
"We wouldn't expect you to betray a confidence, Fatty," said Bets, patting his hand. "So we're not going to put you in an awkward position by asking." Bets looked around at the others, rather sternly.
The others agreed. "Wouldn't dream of it," said Larry, speaking for everyone.
"For what it's worth," began Fatty, "some things are better left alone. If it causes too much hurt by bringing something in the open, then it's kinder to leave it unsaid."
"Ignorance is bliss, as the saying goes," said Daisy.
"That's true." Fatty agreed, with a serious expression.
"I think that should be the last word on the subject," said Bets, smiling at Fatty.
"Agreed," nodded Daisy. "Now, are we going to order some lunch or not?"
At the mention of lunch, Buster popped his head out from under the table, where he'd been snoozing quietly, he wasn't about to be left out of any titbits that came his way.
"We need some menus," said Daisy, looking around, as none were on the table. "Go and bring us some, Larry, a couple will do, we can share."
"I'll get us some more drinks at the same time," said Larry, glaring at his sister, "before she who must be obeyed asks."
Everyone grinned at Larry's departing back. "I'll go and give him a hand," said Daisy, suddenly surprising everyone, as she got up to follow her brother.
"Well, what a surprising day this is turning out to be," grinned Pip. "I hope you're taking note of Daisy's example of sisterly love, sister dear," finished Pip, mockingly.
Fatty grinned, glancing at Bets sarcastic smile. "I won't answer that one, brother dear," was the retort, "on account that it is Sunday."
Pip and Fatty exchanged amused glances, both of them admired Bets in their own way and loved her dearly.
"Well said, my dear," Fatty smiled. He looked over at Daisy and Larry as they approached. "Here come the drinks and menus, the perfect start to a lazy Sunday afternoon."
"Not so lazy for you, Frederick Trotteville," grinned Bets, "we're taking a nice long walk along the river to walk some of the lunch off."
"Yes dear," smiled Fatty, meekly.