Middlemere 8 (Chapters 11 – 12)



Jem’s trial doesn’t go well for him. It is clear that the judge’s sympathies are with Ray, and then there is a witness who saw him flee the place and then one of the policemen who questioned him describes how Jem got upset and he had to be restrained. The lawyer tells Romy that things are not looking well for Jem, so his only way now is to plead guilty, which will mean he will be sentenced to two years in prison. Otherwise, he risks being found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intention, which means life sentence. So that is what happens, and when Romy talks to her brother, he is resigned and doesn’t blame her.

After that, Romy feels she needs to see Caleb. So she takes a train out of London and then at the station she takes a bus. As the bus traverses the county, she has a glimpse of a property with a lake, and suddenly, she remembers her mother’s words describing the Daubenys’ house. So acting on impulse, she gets off the bus and walks to the house. Seeing the enormous house, she feels very angry, pondering how the house where she grew up could be just a room of this humongous mansion. Evelyn is trimming her rose garden and when she sees Romy, she approaches her and asks her whether she needs something. Romy realises that this is Mrs Daubeny, and in her impulsive nature she tells the woman who she is and how her husband threw them out of Middlemere, causing her father’s death just because Osborne wanted to give the house to her mistress. The shock in Evelyn’s face reveals that she didn’t know a thing about her husband’s adultery, so Romy bolts away.

Evelyn is in disbelief at first, but then she realises that what Romy said is true. Later when Osborne comes home, she can’t keep quiet and confronts him about what happened years ago. Osborne struggles to describe how Samuel Cole had to be evicted because he was neglecting the land. Things went wrong when a policeman tried to get into the house and Samuel shot him. The man must have thought he had killed the police officer, and feeling that he had lost everything, not just her family and home but also his freedom, he turned the shotgun on himself. Osborne admits that he could have done things better. When Evelyn pushes him to tell her the truth about his affair with Betty Mesketh, he says that it happened twenty-five years ago, and it was just a couple of times and didn’t mean anything. He swears that he didn’t get Betty the house because of the affair.

Days later Evelyn is thinking about what Osborne had told him when she wonders what she should do now. The thing is that she didn’t know how to start all by herself, and she has too much to lose. Then she wonders why Romy Cole thought that Osborne could have given Betty a house when the affair had taken place ten years ago. When she starts thinking, she remembers how Betty was pregnant when she lost her first baby, which is when Osborne said he had his affair. So now she wonders whether Caleb could be Osborne’s son, and the reason why he got the Coles evicted was to give his own son a good home. I think Evelyn is right, and I wonder what she will do with that information.

The day Romy accuse Evelyn Daubeny of what happened to her father, she goes to her mother instead of her initial intention of waiting for Caleb in Middlemere. Caleb finds her there and comforts her because of what happened at the trial. They walk to a nearby forest where Romy used to spend time on her own as a child, and it is there that she and Caleb become lovers. What Romy doesn’t tell him is about her visit to Evelyn Daubeny as she knows that he will disapprove of what she has done. I have the hunch that this secret might come back to haunt her, because if what Evelyn suspects is true, this could have repercussions especially for Caleb. How would he react if he were to learn that Osborne Daubeny, a man he has always scorned, is his real father?


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