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Recusancy, said Dru.

Sonia looked blank and Ginevra said, An aversion to authority.

It runs in our family, Diana.

I detached myself from that particular set of genes.  They weren’t

part of my DNA.  Actually, they weren’t anything to do with us at all.

Not Dru, Augustus, nor myself.

It was the family who owned the Wyvern Estate who were recusants.

That’s why they had a priest hole, Mum, Dru commented, as she read the

rest of the tale of the missing boy from Ginevra’s tablet.  Anthony Revelly

had a brainwave. He had been teaching the boys about The Civil War and

he suddenly thought that Lionel might have found the idea of a secret hiding

place exciting.

Was Lionel the nasty boy? I asked.

Yes.  Anthony told the estate staff to knock along the panelling in the library.

The walls were so thick that no one had heard Peregrine’s frantic tapping.

They were able to find a hollow sounding area and then they discovered a

section of book shelving which was metamorphic and turned around.  The

poor child was shocked and dehydrated.  He had been in darkness and the

only bottle he could find was a Bellarmine which contained bones and nails

and nothing else.

Ginevra looked stunned at the thought of a bottle which contained

no liquid.

How had he become trapped?  I asked.

It says that Lionel had deliberately enclosed his brother, or immured him,

to be precise.

How awful!  What happened to him?  How was he punished?  He was old

enough to know better.

I think his mother sent him away to a boarding school.

Well, that explains why Peregrine’s mother thought so much of Anthony,

Sonia stated.

Yes, she would, wouldn’t she? observed Ginevra.  I hope she disinherited

that awful elder son.  I know I would have.  I wouldn’t even have left him

my empties.

I wonder what happened to the two boys in later life? I deliberated.

We had some drinks and Dru continued to search while the tablet’s

battery was charged.

Oh, that’s sad, she said.

What? we all chorused.

Lionel amassed gambling debts, dropped out of university and went

to Phuket.

What? said Ginevra.

It’s a place in Thailand, Dru elucidated.  I’ve just called up his obituary. 

He seems to have developed a drug habit and died in his early thirties.

His mother must have passed away by then as it only gives Peregrine as

kin. It says an estranged brother was resident in Vancouver.  The boys

were designated ‘of Wyvern Mote’, before its gifting to The National Trust.

I wonder if Peregrine is alive? I ventured.

Apparently not.  There is a eulogy to him in his old school magazine,

under ‘Old Boys’ which says that he perished in a ski-ing accident and

left no issue.

So, how was Anthony able to remain in the stable block apartment for

life?  I mean, the family had revoked any right to ‘demesne’, I think it’s

called, I enquired.

Their mother must have arranged a codicil or something which gave him

the privilege, in recognition of his outstanding services as a tutor, said


And all I ever got was someone’s mother’s bath oil from the previous

year, I protested.

Well, that’s one more votive offering than I ever got, replied Dru.

But anyway, one should beware of cretins bearing gifts.

Cretans, I corrected.  Honestly, my daughter’s Classical Education

leaves a lot to be desired.  She only did Class Civ.  It’s as well Gus

didn’t hear her.

Actually, if my memory serves me right, it is timeo Danaos et dona


So, that would be a warning against Greeks.  The Cretan admonition is

about lying, I think.

Mum! Are you paying attention? Dru brought me back to earth.

Yes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, nodded Ginevra sagely.

Not even a free drink!

And she looked somewhat downcast at this reflection.

I’d better go, said Dru.  I’ve got such a backlog of marking to deal

with before Monday morning.  Dad’s floated away, but mine is very

present and unless I hide in a Trojan Horse, or a priest hole, the girls will

be after me first thing to know if they have got stars on their A’s.

We used to have stars in our eyes, said Ginevra.  Now they only have

them on a piece of paper.  How sad.

And we all agreed.

I was so pleased that Dru HAD got the Classical reference after all.

Thanks, guys, she said as she rushed off. I appreciated the hospitality.

I bet Anthony Revelly appreciated his too.  Only he had it for a good few

years longer and the accommodation did seem to be rent-free, lucky man.

I wonder who is paying his nursing home fees?  Probably you and I, if he

has no savings.  Some people do get free lunches!  But it is never likely to be

Dru or myself.  We just get snarled up in bureaucracy like poor old Laocoon

and his snakes, so it isn’t worth the struggle.