Middlemere 3 (Chapter 5)

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SPOILERS!!!

For some reason Caleb can’t stop thinking about Romy and what she said about Middlemere. Then as luck will have it, he realises that one of his company’s clients is Mark Paynter, and he is to arrange a service with him. From Osborne Daubeny he got to know that Mark Paynter was leading the committed that got Romy’s father evicted. When Caleb gets to the house, Mark Paynter is not there, only his daughter, Annie. He manages to ask her about that time, and what he discovers is that Osborne Daubeny not only owned Middlemere, but the shop that Mr Paynter owned. According to Annie, her father was ill after Samuel Cole’s suicide, and Osborne Daubeny helped him in his time of need. Annie and her father moved to the cottage and she went to a prestigious school, and after he leaves, Caleb wonders if maybe Osborne helped Paynter out of guilt because he was behind the Coles’ eviction.

Next Caleb plans to talk to Romy, so he gets her address from her mother, and without a moment’s hesitation he turns up at the hotel. Caleb tells her about Paynter and Daubeny, and wonders the reason why he would want the Coles evicted. Then Romy, who by now we know that she has no problems speaking her mind, tells him that she can guess, and the reason why he wanted her family gone was that he wanted to house for his lover, that is, Caleb’s mother. Caleb is outraged at her implications, and she storms out of the hotel, intending to ask his mother for the truth. He thinks that Romy is a liar, but when he asks Betty, his mother, and her silence makes him fear. Eventually, she admits to having had an affair with Osborne Daubeny, and she even says that from her part the affair could be regarded as a business transaction. She and Caleb used to live in terrible conditions, and she says she is not sorry for what she did for her and her son. Caleb is shocked and somehow he seems to be seeing his mother for the first time.

This matter with the Coles is not the only matter that worries him. At work a new boss has come and discovered the breakages that Loman has been involved in. Yet, Pickering, the poor bullied clerk, is the one to take the rap and he gets fire as he was in charge of recording the wrong data. Caleb thinks that it is unfair as Loman is to blame. When he talks to another of the clerks and voices his feelings, the other man tells him that they all knew about the theft and kept quiet because Loman gave them presents. Eventually, Caleb decides to tell his boss the truth, but that doesn’t solve anything. Even though the man now knows the truth, he won’t reinstate Pickering. After his revelation, he knows he won’t stay as he will now be regarded as a traitor, and in any case, he won’t feel comfortable to be in a company that treats the employees so unfairly.

Apart from this, Romy has good news. Jem finally turns up, explaining that he has been fruit picking in Norfolk, and now he won’t get any other jobs as he has received his letter for the National Service. So he is going away, and Romy wonders what she will do as she knows that her job at the hotel has been temporary from the start. Mrs Plummer, who has heard about Jem’s visits, guesses that she will be leaving soon, so she asks her to talk to her the following day. To Romy’s surprise, instead of telling her that she needs to leave, Mrs Plummer asks Romy to be her assistant from now on as she has seen what a hard worker she is. The woman explains that the new job will involve some travelling, and Romy feels that this is the best thing that could have happened to her.

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