Chapter Eight

By the time I had a good nights sleep, I was ready to hear the rest of the story.

The death of Lily and departure of Bernice had turned the farm into a gloomy place. The boys rarely spoke, and the joy of working had vanished like mist on a hot day. Henry was beside himself with worry about his sons and soon depression robbed him of the drive that was such a big part of his life. Essential chores were done, but with no enthusiasm, and progress on the farm ended.

I guess that’s how things would have continued if it were not for a small stone not much bigger than a pea. The stone became lodged in Molly’s hoof and caused a nasty infection to set in. Despite the apathetic gloom that possessed the three of them, there was no way in the world they would allow their horse or any other animal to suffer, so the vet was called.

The vet was a large, jovial man with fat red cheeks and a contagious smile. Len led him up to Molly’s paddock; she was listlessly picking away at the spring growth.

Examining Molly’s hoof, he clucked and grunted and made various other noises before seeming to come to some sought of diagnosis. Stretching his back with a long “Ahhhhh,” he asked Len to fetch his bag. Len dutifully went back to the car to retrieve it, leaving the vet to enjoy the beautiful spring day that Len had failed to notice.

Len returned with the large bag clutched in both hands and passed it to the vet. “How’s your mum and Dad keeping?” Asked the smiling vet as he delved into its mysterious depths.

“They’re both well.”

“And your brother?”

“He’s okay.”

“And how’s Lily? She must be a fair old size by now!”

It took Len all his self-control not to break down. “She died” he choked.

“Lily died? What happened Len?”

“She got very sick, and Dad had to” Unable to complete the sentence he turned his head to hide the tears.

“You should have called for me Len, perhaps I could have helped, what were her symptoms?”

Len managed to find the strength to describe that horrible morning and the terrible state that Lily was in.

When Len finished speaking, the vet turned to face the morning sun,  deep in thought. "Hmm," he said, nodding his large round head, “that doesn’t sound like sickness to me.”

“What do you mean, ” asked Len, his voice barely a whisper.

“Sounds like poison to me, strychnine poisoning. Did you have rat bait out?”

Len shook his head.

“Well, it sounds like poisoning to me, she must have found some old bait. Terrible stuff, they should ban it”

Satisfied with his diagnosis, the vet turned his attention back to Molly.

Len held Molly’s bridal in stunned silence as the vet completed his work, his brain overwhelmed by what he had just heard.

The vet chattered away to Len as they walked back to the car, but Len didn’t hear a single word, his mind was swamped with words, grief and a slowly seething anger.

They had rat poison, it was on the top shelf of the porch pantry, but no one had used it in an age as they all knew how eagerly Lily sought out titbits.

The only way Lily could have got hold of rat poison was if someone deliberately gave it to her.

Bernice had once commented on the packet, asking what it was and how it worked,

But no, never in a thousand years could he bring himself to believe that Bernice would commit such a horrible crime.

That left Lou. Len desperately tried to exclude him, but Lou's words on the night before Lily’s death kept taunting him.

“It’s only because of Lily that she’s afraid to go out”

It had to be Lou.

Len was not violent, never had been, never could be. There was only way he could deal with his terrible anger and that was to turn it inward.

It burned to the depths of his being, scorching, consuming and destroying.

A lifetime of cruel taunts about his appearance and the events of the last few days had sucked the last vestiges of hope and joy from him. When Len went to bed that night he was just a shell.

By the time Bob got to this part of the story I was feeling very depressed and it was time to go home.But as the old saying goes, things have to get worse before they get better. This is one saying that may have some truth in it, even if it does take 60 years or so.

By the time I had a good nights sleep, I was ready to hear the rest of the story.

But more on that in the next blog.

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