An #FF Tale – Chapter 16

Lord Scholes-Fogg sat on a large leather sofa in the music room. This was his favourite day room. The high ceiling and bright airiness made the room feel fresh and alive. Facing him was his life long friend and legal advisor John Storer. “You have the documentation John” he asked. “Yes. It’s all here and ready. I’ve had a friend in the city study it thoroughly. It’s water tight, legal and within your powers to enact.” At that moment the door opened and Lisa walked in with a tray. She placed it on the low table between them. “Thank you Lisa” said Lord Scholes-Fogg. “Please sit with me a moment. I need your assistance.” After a short discussion Lord Scholes-Fogg signed the document which was duly witnessed by John and Lisa. “I know I can leave this in your hands now John. Thank you.”

A maid entered the room followed by Peter who closed the doors behind him. The maid carried a tray with tea, coffee, orange juice and pastries and approached where Monsieur Renier, Mark Payne and Pink were sat. “Papa. It’s a beautiful morning. Shall we not sit on the terrace?” asked Peter. “A splendid idea. Aurelie, please take the tray outside.” Aurelie continued to the large french windows and Peter stepped ahead and swung them open for her. The sound of birdsong flooded into the room. “Superintendent, please” said Monsieur Renier as he held out a hand inviting Mark onto the terrace. They sat around a large table and took in the wonderful view whilst Aurelie served drinks to everyone. Pink’s mind wandered onto how rich this family clearly were and how many pairs of boots and shoes she would buy if she were part of it. “You enjoyed the helicopter trip up the valley officer?” asked Monsieur Renier. Pink pulled herself up and chastised herself for day dreaming. “Very much Sir. Not something I experience everyday as a police officer.” Monsieur Renier smiled warmly. “Indeed. It is a very beautiful place no?” Pink agreed enthusiastically. “So Superintendent. Let us begin. This is my friend, confidante and advisor Mr Clive Chamberlain. Mark and Clive exchanged nods as Monsieur Renier continued. “I understand you are investigating the theft of the remains of Amylou Renners from a grave in the UK?” Mark Payne nodded and went on to explain the theft and the ongoing enquiry.

Jane Hamilton had driven back into the village and was now sat outside a small cafe with coffee. She was somewhat confused by the presence of the UK Police officers at Le Chateau Jeane. Her links were somewhat tenuous and her presence here was speculative. This was normal for her line of work but not for the police. At least not where international enquiries are conducted in person. She rang Evans but he had no new information and then called Rob Preece but drew another blank. The waiter came back to her table and offered more coffee. She accepted, flashed him her best smile and decided that in the absence of anything else she should do some digging with the locals and he had just become her first target.

Cairnsy sat at the kitchen table facing Katharine Winter and explained why he had called. He pushed the plastic bag across the table toward her. “Is this the key that used to hang by your front door?” he asked. Katharine lifted the bag and examined the key carefully. “Yes it is. Where did you find it?” Dave explained how the key had been found and more importantly where. “The investigation is still ongoing so it’s good not to speculate at the moment but does seem that it is all linked to the graveyard theft.” Katharine looked slightly puzzled. “Why if they stole the key would they then not use it?” she asked. Dave shrugged his shoulders. “Who knows. Maybe they didn’t know where the lock was?”

“You have the document with you Supt?” asked Monsieur Renier. Mark Payne handed over the original document. He briefly scanned it and then handed it to Clive. “Supt. This document could bring an end to a great deal of research over many years and be the final piece in the jigsaw. I have employed a researcher for quite some considerable time. He has been tracing my family ancestry and also that of the Scholes-Fogg/Scholes family.” Up until this point Mark Payne felt comfortable with the information provided but the fact that Monsieur Renier was also investigating the Scholes family set all sorts of bells ringing. He suddenly felt like a pawn in a much larger game. Monsieur Renier looked toward Clive. “Initial thoughts Clive?” he asked. Clive took off his glasses and held out the document like an exhibit. “Robert. If this document is genuine then the line is now complete. We can prove the link we needed that was previously missing. Monsieur Renier looked toward Mark Payne. “Superintendent. I think I need to fill some gaps for you. As you know the body of Amylou Renners was stolen from the grave. She was the housekeeper of Lord Scholes some 200+ years ago. There were very many rumours that she and Lord Scholes were lovers. However, due to the nature of her domestic status this was never allowed to be more than just a rumour. I’m sure Lord Scholes has told you this? Mark nodded as Monsieur Renier continued. My family have an interest in the Scholes family and this story because Miss Renners as she was known was French. She fled the country to the UK from this very Chateau. Her name was intentionally altered when she arrived in the UK. Her true family name, as you are probably now realising, was Renier. Pink was completely focussed on the conversation but very nearly blurted orange juice all over the table at this piece of news. Monsieur Renier continued. “My researcher has traced back the family line to Amylou and secured authentication from many sources that is accurate. He has done the same for the Scholes/Scholes-Fogg family. We have suspected for many years that the relationship between Lord Scholes and Amylou was much more than was publicly visible. We believe there were children and we believe they were married. However, we have systematically failed at every turn to prove this with documentation. You today have brought me the information that confirms my theories. I have my suspicions as to who is responsible for the desecration of her grave but they are speculative and I will not name people without evidence. It is well known that the Scholes family were very wealthy and that Lord Scholes could not bestow upon Amylou the treasures and jewels he so desperately wanted to. It was rumoured that such jewels were placed in a cache and devoted to her. The thief’s disturbing her grave were no doubt looking for that cache which will be of some considerable value. We will never know if the jewels were in the grave.”

Mark Payne found himself in the same position as Monsieur Renier. His attention for the theft was slowly but surely turning back to either Lord Scholes or more likely his son Tom. Doug Beattie had been arrested and he still believed he was the thief but he suspected he was acting on instructions from much high up the family tree. Yet he had no direct evidence to prove it and this was the frustration.

Monsieur Renier continued with his story. “The direct link Superintendent is the boy. Amylou was believed to have had two children. The first born was a boy. The fact that Lord Scholes had fathered a child to the housekeeper was a scandal that had to be covered up. The boy was sent to France into the care of family friends. The second was a girl and she was believed to have died very young. Superintendent. The boy didn’t go to family friends. He came to family and he lived here. He was my great, great, great-grandfather and his name was Peter which as you know in France is Pierre. This is a family name that has carried across the generations.” He looked toward his son, Peter, sat to his left. “I myself am Robert Peter. Pierre lived here all his life and was raised in the Lemon Nursery and is buried in the grounds of our private chapel down by the river.” He vaguely pointed down the valley as he said this. Pink’s mind was racing. She knew exactly where she had seen “A Lemon Nursery” before. “Monsieur. You say Pierre was raised in the “Lemon Nursery?”. “That is correct officer. The Lemon Nursery is in the Chateau. I myself and Peter here both used that room as children.” Pink took a breath whilst she pushed letters around in her head. “Sir. Do you have a pen and a piece of paper please?” she asked. Peter stepped into the room and came back moments later with them. Pink began scribbling notes down on the paper whilst Mark and the others watched on somewhat bemused. Pink suddenly stopped and smiled. “Monsieur. That document was found hidden behind a chimney breast in an attic room where she lived that could well have been a nursery. On the front of the envelope were the words “A Lemon Nursery”. If you rearrange the letters you get this.” She held up the piece of paper for all to see that she had written “Amylou Renners”. Monsieur Renier stared at the writing for a moment. “How remarkable” he said. “She styled her fake name to match her room here in the Chateau.” At this Clive stood. “If you will excuse me Robert. I should make some calls with regard to this document.” Monsieur Renier nodded as Clive spoke brief farewells to Mark and Pink before going back into the house.

Pink asked to see the room and was duly shown up by Monsieur Renier and Peter. It was a fine room and as the name suggested, Lemon in colour. The room was delightful and really was a childs dream but one thing stood out for her. On the wall above the fireplace was a large painting. It depicted vines and grapes intertwined around the central image of a key, surrounded by a rectangle.

Mark Payne turned toward Monsieur Renier. “Sir. I believe we have come to a conclusion. Thank you for your time and your hospitality. We need to get back to the UK. The matter of the family line is not a police matter and I’m sure you will be pursuing that yourself.” Monsieur Renier smiled. “I will indeed Superintendent. You understand of course that I am the direct heir to the peerage Lord Scholes-Fogg currently holds but as a French national I cannot take it even if I wanted it. My son Peter on the other hand is a British and French national having been born there when I was taking a trip with his mother. Peter is rightfully entitled, should he wish, to take his place in the House of Lords.” Mark Payne stood and offered his hand. “I wish you well with your efforts Monsieur.”

Two weeks later…

The death of Lord Scholes-Fogg whilst expected at some point had come as a shock to many. Tom had made the correct noises and shown appropriate grief but he was, deep inside, utterly delighted to now have the freedom to follow his political desires. What happened at the reading of his fathers will though took the wind completely out of his sails. Amended, signed and witnessed only a few weeks ago his will wrote Tom out of the estate. He surrendered his peerage to the Government and outlined a link to the french Renier family that undermined his own entitlement and that the family line was flawed. By doing so it could not be passed on to Tom or any other. Calder Hall was to be left to Lisa and on her death it would pass to the National Trust. Tom had been released to the dogs and left high and dry. His fathers words were that he should “Carve his own path now in the great traditions of his family as his ancestors had done before him.” He also requested the removal of the body of Amylou’s daughter from the tomb, the exhumation of Edward Scholes and on the return of the remains of Amylou, they were to be buried in their own plot so they could finally be together.

A month later Mark Payne was no closer to pinning the graveyard theft on anyone. He suspected Tom Scholes-Fogg was behind it but if he was he covered his tracks very well. The alibi on Doug Beattie could not be disproved and the trail had dried up. He signed a piece of paper on his desk that authorised the release of the remains of Amylou Renners to the undertakers.

On a damp drizzly afternoon a very small clutch of people dressed in black stood in the churchyard of St Stephens. Husband, wife and child were laid to rest. Rev’d Kneewax conducted the short ceremony. The headstone simply had their names and across the bottom was just one word. “Reunited” and below was the image of a key within a rectangle. The attendees gradually filtered away and the vicar returned to the church. The grave was still open and a dark figure in heavy coat with the hood up came out from under the nearby trees and stood by the opening. His job was to fill in the grave. He stood silently for a few minutes to be sure nobody was lingering. Then he walked back under the trees and returned with a large metal box that was wrapped in a heavy cloth. He carefully placed this into the open grave and then grabbing his spade began to fill the hole. Keeping hold of this box for the last month or so had been the most stressful thing he had done. He was glad to see the back of it. “Nothing but trouble this bloody family” he muttered to himself.

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