Read The Hanging Tree Online

Authors: Geraldine Evans

Tags: #UK

The Hanging Tree (22 page)

BOOK: The Hanging Tree
9.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

'So, as I said, I was sympathetic, did my best to gain his trust, just
as he had set out to gain my daughter's trust and the trust of those other
little girls. It helped that I'm well-spoken. I don't suppose he imagined that
a woman with a correct BBC accent would be capable of violence. He got quite
chatty.

‘Of course, I couldn't afford to let his self-pitying rambles go on too
long. I had to get back to the church hall before I was missed. I only had the
interval and the last act of the play to accomplish my plan. I couldn't afford
to waste time, still, I had to let him talk for a few minutes to gain his
confidence. I'd brought a tape recorder with me and set it up on the table in
front of his armchair.

'After a little while he seemed happy just to chat into the microphone,
telling me about his grievances, while I wandered round the room. It was how I
was able to get behind him. He had no suspicions. None at all. My one regret is
that he died too quickly, happily pouring out his complaints into the tape
recorder.'

Her gaze was steady as she met Rafferty's. 'I had to do it, Inspector,
you of all people must realise that. You were right about the injustices of the
British legal system. I know that now.'

 Her voice was bitter, full of a passion Rafferty had never before heard
in her voice. He hadn't believed her capable of such a depth of emotion.

'The law wouldn't give my daughter justice. I knew that. Who better? Maurice
Smith destroyed my child and by that act he also destroyed my belief in the
law. Worse, under it all, I was conscious that I was the one who had helped him
destroy her, I the one who had failed her. First at her birth, when I was too
weak, too scared to stand up to my parents when they insisted on adoption. Then
at Smith's trial, when by my own eagerness to make a name for myself I not only
deprived those other little girls of justice, but also, unknowingly, convinced
my own daughter that her adoptive parents had been right all along. In her
mind, if Smith was innocent, then the rape must have been her fault. I knew I
had to avenge her. No one else would.'

Rafferty placed a hand on her shoulder. 'I'm sorry.' The words were, he
knew, woefully inadequate.

She made no reply, just sat, gazing at her daughter. She seemed beyond
pain now; like her daughter, she had retreated from the real world. Who could
blame her?

Quickly, he told Llewellyn to summon a nurse. He didn't want to leave
her daughter alone. He wanted to reassure Elizabeth Probyn that Sheena would be
looked after. But they both knew that this place cost a fortune. Once Elizabeth
Probyn's money was gone, her daughter would be moved from this quiet sanctuary
to the less-than-sanctified bedlam of a National Health Service general ward.

 He took refuge in silence. When the nurse came, Rafferty took Elizabeth
Probyn's arm. Surprisingly, she didn't resist, just kissed her daughter, once,
on the forehead, and allowed herself to be led away. Of course, she knew that
if she resisted, if she cried or struggled she would only upset the girl.

She had done her duty as she saw it and in so doing, had destroyed
herself. Rafferty had long ago lost belief in the infallibility of the law. But
she had believed in it, he knew, believed in it implicitly, even after the
Smith case. But then had come the knowledge, the discovery that her own
daughter had been one of Smith's victims. It had torn the foundations out of
her world. She looked empty, anchorless, beyond reach. He had no choice. He had
come this far, he had to go on. As he spoke the words of the caution, he had
never hated his job more.

He may have done his policeman's duty, but in his heart, he still felt
he had perpetuated an injustice. What made it worse was that his arrest of
Elizabeth Probyn would, after all the sensational coverage Smith's murder had
received in the media, mean that the investigation would get a thorough raking
over from his large family. He knew they would feel he'd have done better to
ignore the clues and let natural justice prevail. He couldn't help thinking
they had a point. What, after all, would Elizabeth Probyn's arrest achieve
apart from more misery?

Predictably, he could hear Llewellyn's answer echoing in his head: it
removed the stain of suspicion from others involved in the case. He supposed
he'd have to be satisfied with that.

 

CHAPTER
EIGHTEEN

 

It was much later that day, after Ellen Kemp and her friends had been
brought to the station and charged, when Rafferty and Llewellyn were getting
ready to go home, that the phone rang. Rafferty had been prepared to let it
ring, but Llewellyn, never one to ignore duty's call, picked it up. The
conversation didn't take long.

'Guess who that was,' he invited Rafferty once he’d put the ‘phone down.

Rafferty shrugged.

'Remember our travelling salesman who noted and lost the registration
number of the Zephyr?'

 He nodded.

'He's finally found the piece of paper and surprise, surprise—'

'It's the same as that on Sinead Fay's car,' Rafferty finished for him. Llewellyn
nodded. 'Pity he didn't manage to find it before.'

'If he had we may well have concentrated our attention more strongly on
them and never got beyond the fact of their involvement. If Frank Massey hadn't
begun to feel he was our number one suspect and gone missing, we might never
have learned about his and Elizabeth Probyn's youthful liaison, you would never
have begun to wonder about that liaison, and about the strange limit to the
photographs of the daughter that no one seemed to know anything about and what
exactly was the matter with her and why.'

Rafferty wasn't sure he wouldn't have preferred it that way. But he kept
the opinion to himself. It wasn't the sort of thing a police inspector should
bruit about.

At least the telephone call had succeeded in breaking the melancholy
silence that the discovery of the truth and Elizabeth Probyn's painful
confession had brought because Llewellyn went on. 'By the way, thanks for the
advice.'

'Advice?' Rafferty's head began to thump as his hangover returned. Oh
God, he thought, I haven't been dishing out more of the stuff, have I?

He could hardly believe it after all the anxieties the last lot had
caused him. Trouble was, he couldn't remember. Half suspicious, half wary, he
stared at his sergeant, trying to discern the emotions behind the impassive
countenance; never an easy task at the best of times, especially when Llewellyn
was indulging his love of irony at his expense. And, in the past, Rafferty's
unasked for and carelessly handed out pearls of wisdom had had a painful
boomerang tendency that had only served to encourage the Welshman's withering
wit. 'All right,' he muttered, 'out with it. What have I done this time?'

'You advised me to pop the question.'

Rafferty took a deep breath and asked, 'So what happened?'

'It was a beautiful night, still and silent, made for poetry, for
declarations of love and—'

'For God's sake, Dafyd, can you cull your inner poet and just tell me
what happened!'

 Llewellyn's long face actually split into a grin. 'I asked her. She said
yes.'

Thank God for that, Rafferty thought and breathed a sigh of relief. The
next minute, qualms forgotten, he clapped Llewellyn on the back. 'There – what
did I tell you? Trust your old Agony Uncle Joseph to know what's what. Now you
can start worrying about how much it's all going to cost. First it'll be the
engagement ring, then—'

Llewellyn shook his head. 'Maureen doesn't believe in such things. She—'

Rafferty held up his hands. 'Don't tell me. She thinks engagement rings
are symbols of male oppression, right?' A ring through the nose of 'Daisy' the
cow, Rafferty repeated irreverently to himself.

Llewellyn nodded.

'Jammy devil. Mind, I wouldn't bet on such luck lasting. Wait till that
mother of hers gets to work on her. That woman's got to have something to boast
about. Bet you a fiver you end up paying for a stone that Liz Taylor would
envy.'

Before Llewellyn could remind him that he didn’t bet, Rafferty thrust
his chair back and pulled on his coat. 'Anyway, you can worry about that later.
Now, I think it's time you bought the matchmaker a drink. We'll pop into the
Green Man. It's not every day my sergeant gets himself engaged, with or without
the ring.'

It wasn't every day you arrested a Chief Crown Prosecutor either, he
reminded himself. He wasn't sure whether the drink for that would be a
celebratory one or a drowning of sorrows.

 'So when's the happy day planned?' he asked as they walked out to the
car.

'Not for some time. It doesn't do to rush these things. Though,'
Llewellyn gave a faint smile, 'as your mother has bought her hat and has also
found me the most wonderful new suit, I don't think we ought to disappoint her
too long.'

'A new suit?' Rafferty queried, as an uneasy memory stirred.

'Yes, your mother showed it to me after you left last night.' Llewellyn smiled.
‘She asked me not to mention it to you. She said she didn’t have another one to
suit you. Perhaps she thought you’d be jealous? But I don’t suppose she’ll mind
me mentioning it. Not in the circumstances. Not with you being the one to bring
Maureen and me together. And it really is of a marvellous quality. And
surprisingly reasonable. Your mother really has got an eye for a bargain.'

Rafferty gave him a sickly smile. 'Hasn't she though?'

 

If you have enjoyed this novel, the author would be grateful if you
would take the time to give it a review. Here are the links with the book’s
Amazon pages:

UK:
The
Hanging Tree by Geraldine Evans

US:
The
Hanging-Tree by Geraldine Evans

CANADA:
The
Hanging Tree by Geraldine Evans

 

If you would like to receive notification when Geraldine
Evans is releasing another book or having special or free offers on her novels,
why not sign up to her (irregular) newsletter? Here’s the link:
http://eepurl.com/AKjSj

AUTHOR BIO

 

Geraldine Evans is the author of twenty published novels, including fifteen
in the Rafferty and Llewellyn procedural series. Her previous publishers
include Macmillan, Severn House, Hale, St Martin’s Press and Worldwide (US).

She started writing in her twenties, but never finished anything. It was
only when she hit the milestone age of thirty that she managed to complete a
book. For the next six years she completed a book a year, only the last of
which was published. That was her romance, Land of Dreams.

When her follow-up romance was rejected, she felt like murdering someone.
So she did. She turned to crime. Dead Before Morning, her first mystery novel
and the first book in her Rafferty and Llewellyn mystery series, was taken from
Macmillan’s slush pile and published, both in the UK and the US. It was the
beginning of a long and successful career as a mystery author.

Geraldine Evans is a Londoner, but moved to Norfolk in East Anglia, in
2000.

 

Other Books
By Geraldine Evans

Rafferty & Llewellyn procedural
series

Kith
and Kill #15

Deadly Reunion #14 (Orig Pub: Severn
House)

Death Dance #13 (Orig Pub: Severn
House)

All the Lonely People #12 (Orig Pub: Severn
House)

Death Dues #11 (Orig Pub: Severn House)

A Thrust to the Vitals #10 (Orig Pub:
Severn House)

Blood on the Bones #9 (Orig Pub:
Severn House)

Love Lies Bleeding #8 (Orig Pub:
Severn House)

Bad Blood #7 (Orig Pub: Severn House)

Dying For You #6 (Orig Pub: Severn
House)

Absolute Poison #5 (Orig Pub: Severn
House)

The Hanging Tree #4 (Orig Pub:
Macmillan)

Death Line #3 (Orig Pub: Macmillan)

Down Among the Dead Men #2 (Orig Pub:
Macmillan)

Dead Before Morning #1 (Orig Pub:
Macmillan)

 

Casey & Catt procedural series

A Killing Karma #2 (Orig Pub: Severn
House)

Up in Flames #1 (Orig Pub: Severn
House)

 

Standalones

International Medical Suspense
Novel

The Egg Factory

Historical Novel

Reluctant Queen, (Orig Pub: Hale)

Romantic Novel

Land of Dreams, Hale

WEBSITE
: http:/www.geraldineevans.com

BOOK: The Hanging Tree
9.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Fourth Crow by Pat McIntosh
My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry
The Leader by Ruth Ann Nordin
Just Desserts by Barbara Bretton
Vulnerable by Bonita Thompson
The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
Wee Scotch Whisky Tales by Ian R Mitchell
Rock the Boat by Gia Riley