Read Blood From a Stone Online

Authors: Dolores Gordon-Smith

Blood From a Stone

Table of Contents

Further Titles by Dolores Gordon-Smith

Title Page



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Further Titles by Dolores Gordon-Smith

The Jack Haldean Mysteries








The Anthony Brooke Spy Series



* available from Severn House

A Jack Haldean Mystery


Dolores Gordon-Smith


This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.


First published in Great Britain and the USA 2013 by
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.

eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

Copyright © 2013 by Dolores Gordon-Smith.

The right of Dolores Gordon-Smith to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Gordon-Smith, Dolores.

Blood from a stone. – (The Jack Haldean mysteries; 7)

1. Haldean, Jack (Fictitious character)--Fiction.

2. Murder–Investigation–Fiction. 3. Novelists,

English–Fiction. 4. World War, 1914-1918–Veterans–

Fiction. 5. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title II. Series


ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8263-9 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-415-7(epub)

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

This eBook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

Dedicated to my friend, Jane Finnis,
who knows stacks about ancient Roman curse tablets!


Lamont's Rambles in
Sussex and Hampshire Byways
, published by Rynox and West, 1922, price one shilling and threepence, the following entry may be read:

Breagan Grange
, Breagan Hollow, near Madlow Regis, Sussex: the property and chief residence of Francis Leigh, Esquire. The house, a neo-classical edifice on a mediaeval foundation, was extensively remodelled c.1728 under the influence of John Vanbrugh and little of the original structure now remains.

The gardens are particularly noteworthy, boasting a classical Arcadian temple ascribed to Vanbrugh. The temple, built into the hillside of Breagan Stump, acts as the portico or entrance to a cave housing a Roman altar and carvings dating from the latter period of Roman occupation.

The altar has been ascribed to the worship of the British-Romano god, Euthius, to whom one other dedication in Tidepit, Dorset, has been found.

A Roman urn, of native manufacture, was discovered buried beneath the altar, which, when opened, was found to contain the treasure which came to be known as The Breagan Bounty. Part of this treasure is now in the British Museum. The Bounty, dated to the late Third Century, consisted of Roman coins, jewellery and a golden box of exquisite workmanship containing a collection of uncut sapphires.

A series of excavations in the cave were carried out in 1834 when the grisly discovery of ancient human remains led to speculation (fuelled in part by a possible interpretation of the carvings on the altar and walls) that the cave could have been the scene of human sacrifice.

Nearest Railway Station
: (approx. 2 miles) Madlow Regis.

: by application.

Mary Hawker shielded her eyes from the August sunshine, looking at the man standing beside the wooden bench. ‘I don't like the thought of digging in the cave, Frank. Whose idea was it?'

Frank stuck his hands in his pockets, hesitating before he answered. ‘It's Evie's, as a matter of fact.' He grinned. ‘I think what she's really hoping for is some more treasure.'

Mary nodded unenthusiastically. She'd had a good idea that it was Frank's wife, Evie, who was responsible. She didn't like Evie, a fact of which Frank was completely oblivious. Mary chose her words carefully. She always did when talking about Evie.

‘I don't like it,' she said. ‘Perhaps Evie doesn't understand but you grew up here, Frank. You know – you
know – there are forces in the cave which shouldn't be disturbed. No good will come of it.'

Frank turned and glanced up the gentle slope of Breagan Stump to where the white stone of classical pillars gleamed through the surrounding trees. His mouth twisted.

Mary Hawker, who was usually such a nice, sensible woman with no nonsense about her, had an obstinate belief in what his wife, Evie, roundly dismissed as stupid rubbish. Mary Hawker had even, Frank knew, gone in for séances after her husband, Charlie, had died.

Mary saw how his shoulders went back as he unconsciously braced himself. ‘Nonsense,' he said with false heartiness. ‘Absolute nonsense. It's about time the temple and the caves were properly looked in to. It might put a stop to some of these silly local superstitions.'

‘You can't dismiss the stories about Breagan Stump as silly local superstitions, Frank. It's a place that must be treated warily.'

Frank, stuck for a reply, scuffed his foot awkwardly.

‘What about Terry's painting of the temple?' asked Mary, knowing she was onto a winner. Although it was years since Terry and Frank had met, she knew the depth of Frank's affection for Terry. He was Frank's cousin but, after his parents had died, Terry had lived with the Leighs and been more like a brother than a cousin to Frank. ‘You've always said it's one of the best paintings he ever did and yet you don't like it, do you?'

Frank shrugged. ‘There's something about the shadows, that's all. I've got it on display,' he added defiantly. ‘It's in the hall for all to see.'

‘I remember talking to him about it,' said Mary reminiscently. ‘It's years ago now, of course, but Terry was very dubious about having it framed. I remember him saying that when you paint a scene, even if it's somewhere you know well, you get under the skin of a place. There was something about the temple that he didn't care for at all. You must have sensed a presence there at times.'

Frank ran his hand through his grey hair. ‘I suppose I have,' he admitted with a rueful grin. ‘But dash it, Mary, that has to be nothing more than a flight of fancy or a trick of the light. It's different for Terry. He's an artist and a damn good one. He has to have a lively imagination. I haven't got any imagination. I'm no artist.'

No, Frank wasn't an artist, thought Mary. He was something far better, a kindly, honest man with a capacity for hard work. Evie didn't appreciate him ...

I appreciate him, she thought savagely. I care for him much more than Evie, with her fashionable clothes, her holidays and her trips to Town ever could.

Mary was in love with Frank. She didn't know how long she'd been in love with him, but she knew to the minute when
she'd first admitted it to herself.

It was sixteen months and three days ago, the second anniversary of Charlie's death. Frank had called with a bunch of flowers for her. ‘Something and nothing,' he'd said awkwardly. ‘Celia sends her love. She picked the flowers for you. Sad occasion and all that, but we wanted to mark it in some way.' He coughed awkwardly. ‘Charles was a grand chap. You must miss him. It's been tough for you.'

Frank really did understand how tough it had been. She knew that. His wife, Diana, had died years before, leaving him with baby Celia.

Celia was a young woman now, engaged to be married. Frank had been a good father. She'd always liked that, and it had been kind of Celia to think of her. She remembered thanking him – she'd said something about Celia – and reaching out for the flowers. Their hands touched and she suddenly noticed how strong and capable his hands were.

It was like a dam bursting. In that instant, with shattering force, her world turned upside down. She loved Frank.

She hadn't said anything, of course. But Frank knew. He
know. The world, which had been grey, drab and everyday was suddenly shot through with blinding light and glorious possibilities. She didn't have to say anything. They were such old friends it could surely only be a matter of time.

Frank sat down on the bench beside her, took his pipe from his pocket and filled it thoughtfully. ‘Evie's going to dig up an expert to investigate the cave. I'll be interested to hear what he has to say.'

‘When's she expected back?' asked Mary.

‘Soon, I hope,' said Frank. ‘The holiday will have done her good.' He brought out his tobacco pouch and pipe and stuffed tobacco into the bowl. ‘I wish there was more for her here. She gets bored with the country.'

Evie had no right to be bored, thought Mary waspishly. What on earth was wrong with the country?

‘I can't really blame her for being bored,' Frank said with his shy, rather boyish smile. ‘I'm so tied up with the estate it's difficult to come and go as I please.'

‘Only because you work so hard.'

‘Yes ...' His brow furrowed in a frown. ‘I can't afford to be away.'

Mary looked at him sharply. It sounded as if Frank couldn't afford the time, but she was fairly sure he couldn't afford the money, either. He had to be careful. Evie, she guessed, resented it. She probably, thought Mary, resented it very much ... Had Frank guessed? Maybe not. He had never guessed how she felt, after all.

Sudden, bitter hatred clutched deep inside. If only Evie would stay away and never return! Without Evie she could pretend that her dearest dream, that the enticing future that leaned out and beckoned to her sixteen months and three days ago was still possible.

Frank was an idiot. A very dear idiot, but still an idiot. That was another date she would never forget, the day ten months ago when he broke the ghastly news to her.
‘Mary, I know you'll be pleased. I'm getting married again.'

God knows what she'd said or done. Nothing out of place. Nothing to make him guess that all the colour had been drained from her world. Conventional, dowdy and dull. That's what
she was and that's what she seemed. Not, she thought bitterly, like Evie, with her wonderful clothes and her perfectly made-up face.

Frank was completely bowled over by Evie. They had met at a cocktail party, and had fallen into conversation when it turned out that Evie knew an old aunt of Frank's, a Mrs Constance Paxton. Evie had, in Mary's opinion, played the connection for all it was worth, and Frank was caught, hook, line and sinker.

Frank clearly thought that Evie was the bee's knees. He really was, thought Mary, this time without a warm glow of affection, an idiot.

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