Chapter 19. Things change.
Marianne had dashed off following Orla, Maeve hung back. Something’s not quite right, she thought. Tuning into her feelings something was pushing her away from the dovecote. Using her senses like a divining rod she closed her eyes, and turned round, with the chapel now at her back she began to move forwards. Once she felt sure of where to go she opened her eyes. Lucky, she was just in time to stop herself from walking under a bus. Recovering her breath, she crossed the road, and walked towards the Terrace. Under some large trees was a short section of a red brick wall, probably the remains of the old walled garden. There cowering by the wall was Edward. He was sitting on his haunches, holding his head in his hands, mumbling, “Oh no, not my time, no, no, no. It’s not.”
As soon as he saw Maeve, he put his fingers to his lips,
“Shhh. Whisper, don’t let him hear you.” As he registered certain thoughts, expressions drifted across Edward’s face. Looking at Maeve he grew anxious, eyes open wide, as he stood up and looked around them. “He didn’t follow you did he? He’s sneaky, he could be following you.” With that Edward disappeared.
Maeve took a good look around, then as she was about to try this concept of ‘tuning in’ to herself she stopped. “Edward, if I ‘call’ him then he might feel me and know where you are. So far he is not here nor at the house.” She felt pleased with herself, this was progress. She was controlling her ability, albeit in a limited sense. Edward did not reappear.
Maeve waited for a few minutes, and then said, “Okay, you stay hidden for the moment, that way I can’t show him where you are by accident. I will try to get to the bottom of this.”
He still didn’t appear but she could hear him clearly as he said,
“Let him know that I left food out for them every night by the dovecote. But he never came. My master was looking for men, good men. Thomas wasn't a good man, but I couldn’t let them starve, could I?”
As soon as she couldn’t feel him anymore, Maeve crossed back over to the dovecote. Orla and Marianne had done the recce by the time she arrived. As it was Orla who got over the railings first, so she was taking charge of the find,
“We can’t get inside. But there is something wrong with this. From talking to Adam,” slight pause of embarrassment, “I know that Christians are normally buried facing East. So all the graves run in an East-West direction. Look at these ones. They are like spokes of a wheel coming out from the chapel. What is that about? And what’s the story with the trees? One for each grave.”
Marianne added, “There are thirteen graves in a ring, then there is a second ring so twenty six graves in all. Does that signify anything? Apart from the obvious. I mean two times thirteen is twenty six dead people.”
Orla said what they were all thinking, “Thirteen. I’m pretty sure that’s not a good number.”
They looked at each other for a moment. Maeve said,
“It doesn’t feel good to me and I don’t want to draw any spirit’s attention to the fact that I am here. So I’m not going to try and see if I can find anyone. This is not a good place. I am heading home, right now.”
The girls got back over the bent railings and ran to catch up with Maeve. On the walk back Maeve shared her conversation with Edward.
“Back to our list. We have different things that need to be sorted out. One, we need some more historical background. Marianne, so far this has been really useful, at least to have some idea of the world that Edward’s coming from.”
Going with the random flow of her thoughts, Maeve said, “Maybe we should work out when we are going to start this bubble with Adam and get him over to pick his brain too?” Maeve was thinking that it might reduce any awkwardness if he had a role, something to do, but she had moved her mouth before she had engaged her brain.
It set Marianne and Orla off, talking over each other. This was Marianne’s area and she didn’t want Adam taking over. Orla was excited that her ‘friend’ could be a part of this too. And Orla used the trump card, Adam owed Maeve, since between Orla and Maeve they had saved his life.
Bickering reminded Maeve that they still knew how to irritate each other, and were childish enough to do it. She thought that they were mature enough to make it up later. Time would tell.
She didn’t have time for that now, so Maeve just up-ed the volume and talked over them,
“We do need to get some more background info on Matthew and who else might be in the woods. That’s your info Orla plus I can call Steve.” By now Maeve wasn’t paying any attention to the bad atmosphere between Marianne and Orla, she was lost in her own thoughts.
She went on almost talking to herself, “But this idea of shutting out everything else and concentrating on ‘feeling’ works. It’s as if emotions are what connect or guide us on the other side.” She looked at the girls but clearly wasn’t expecting an answer when she spoke. “The big question is, when I ‘zone in’ does it act like a beacon? Do I suddenly appear in their world with a flashing neon light over my head, saying ‘can I help you?”
Back around the table, Ada had asked to listen-in to all the news, so she was on screen as Maeve exploded.
“But that’s ridiculous. Canterbury Cathedral is the centre of the Church of England, and you are telling me that they don’t do anything for the homeless? That’s not possible.” Maeve was outraged and kept interrupting as Orla was recounting her discoveries.
“No, they do do something, just not directly. Or at least I couldn’t find anything.” Orla flicked through her notes. “They do have a soup kitchen but that’s to raise money for the homeless charities. So they give money to Porchlight and Catching Lives, but they don’t do it themselves.”
“Don’t like getting their hands dirty.” Maeve muttered to herself.
She had forgotten that Ada was ‘there’ as her voice emerged from the table.
“I’m sure that they do good things that we don’t see too.”
Marianne chipped in, “Well one of my friend’s mothers had a shop. And you know the Cathedral is the landlord for a lot of the shops in town. Anyway they are not a kind, or compassionate, landlord. She’d been there for years, a perfect tennant but they wouldn’t give her any kind of break when times weren’t great, and in the end they put her out of business.”
Orla jumped in, “since lockdown, I’ve heard that the Church is still charging the shops full rent even though the shops can’t open!”
“Ah now. You can’t know that for sure.” Ada wasn’t keen on the direction of the conversation. “I heard that there was a lovely deacon, or someone from the Cathedral anyway, who at the worst part of the lockdown made sure that my friend had a lovely funeral. So the family said. Small but proper and personal. This man made a big effort when it mattered. So they are not all bad.”
Maeve brought them back to the matter in hand. “It does mean that there’s no point in going to them to find out about the homeless or any ex-service people who might be in difficulty.”
Orla, jumped up. “I forgot about that. I do have some information. I spoke to a lovely woman, who knew everything about ex-service people and how to get help for them.” She was now reading directly from her notes.
“Her name is Jan, she said “sometimes you see people begging and they have a sign saying they were in the service, well ask them for their service number. If anyone has ever been in the service they will never forget their number.” Looking up Orla added, “Jan left the WREN’s in 1962 and she rattled off hers.
“That’s good to know. Did she say where they could go for help? Is it to the army?” Maeve wanted to help Matthew if she could.
“Well, she laughed when I asked that exact question. She said, ‘when they’re out, they’re out.’ So back to Catching Lives. But Jan will help if she can. She has been doing it for years. They are lucky to have her.” Orla sat down as she finished.
Ada had been looking for the right moment to jump into the conversation. “We mustn’t lose sight of the big picture. You have something for Matthew which might help. The stuff with Edward is a brilliant way to practice, Maeve. His chum, what’s his name, in the wood. You can try controlling your access to him and getting stuff out of him. You did it before. And if you are in the woods you won’t be letting on where Edward is.”
Ada was rubbing her hands, pleased with the way things were going.
“There is something else, deeper, that you picked up there before, Maeve. And that Orla had an even stronger reaction to. Something else definitely happened there.” Ada paused for dramatic effect. “You have to talk to Steve. It might be recent.”