Stock Exchange, and when things didn’t go quite according to plan, I was left carrying the bag.’
When Harry repeated the story to Quinn that night, he raised his eyes to the heavens.
‘More likely he spent the money on slow nags and fast dames.’
‘Then why go into such detail,’ asked Harry, ‘when he’s never mentioned the reason he’s in here to anyone else?’
‘You’re so naïve sometimes,’ said Quinn. ‘With you as the messenger, Lloyd knows there’s a far better chance of the rest of us believing his story. Just be sure you never make a deal with that man, because he’s got six fingers on each hand’ – a pickpocket’s expression that Harry recorded in his diary that night. But he didn’t take much notice of Quinn’s advice, partly because he couldn’t imagine any circumstances in which he would make a deal with Max Lloyd, other than about whose turn it was to pour the coffee when the warden dropped in.
By the end of his first year at Lavenham, Harry had filled three exercise books with his observations on prison life, and could only wonder how many more pages of this daily chronicle he’d manage before he completed his sentence.
He was surprised by how enthusiastic Lloyd was, always wanting to read the next instalment. He even suggested he might be allowed to show Harry’s work to a publisher. Harry laughed.
‘I can’t imagine anyone would be interested in my ramblings.’
‘You’d be surprised,’ said Lloyd.
‘S EBASTIAN A RTHUR C LIFTON ,’ said Emma, handing the sleeping child to his grandmother.
Maisie beamed as she took her grandson in her arms for the first time.
‘They wouldn’t let me come and see you before I was packed off to Scotland,’ said Emma, making no attempt to hide her scorn. ‘That’s why I called you the moment I got back to Bristol.’
‘That was kind of you,’ said Maisie, as she stared intently at the little boy, trying to convince herself that Sebastian had inherited her husband’s fair hair and clear blue eyes.
Emma sat at the kitchen table, smiled and sipped her tea: Earl Grey, how typical of Maisie to remember. And cucumber and salmon sandwiches, Harry’s favourite, which must have emptied her ration book. As she looked around the room, her eyes settled on the mantelpiece, where she spotted a sepia photograph of a private soldier from the first war. How Emma wished she could see the shade of his hair, hidden under the helmet, or even the colour of his eyes. Were they blue, like Harry’s, or brown, like hers? Arthur Clifton cut a dashing figure in his army uniform. The square jaw and the determined looked showed Emma that he’d been proud to serve his country. Her gaze moved on to a more recent photo of Harry singing in the St Bede’s school choir, just before his voice broke, and next to that, propped against the wall, was an envelope displaying Harry’s unmistakable hand. She assumed it was the last letter he had written to his mother before he died. She wondered if Maisie would allow her to read it. She stood up and walked across to the mantelpiece, and was surprised to find that the envelope hadn’t been opened.
‘I was so sorry to hear you had to leave Oxford,’ Maisie ventured, when she saw Emma staring at the envelope.
‘Given the choice of continuing with my degree or having Harry’s child, there was no contest,’ said Emma, her eyes still fixed on the letter.
‘And Sir Walter tells me that your brother Giles joined the Wessex regiment, but has sadly been—’
‘I see you had a letter from Harry,’ interrupted Emma, unable to contain herself.
‘No, it’s not from Harry,’ said Maisie. ‘It’s from a Lieutenant Thomas Bradshaw who served with him on the SS Devonian .’
‘What does Lieutenant Bradshaw have to say?’ asked Emma, aware that the envelope hadn’t been opened.
‘I’ve no idea,’ said Maisie. ‘A Dr Wallace delivered it to me, and said it was a letter of