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The Outcast Dead(48)

By:Elly Griffiths

Ruth thinks of a strange conversation she had with Clough a few weeks ago. It was at Judy and Cathbads Halloween party. Cathbad has sold the caravan and bought a cottage in Wells-next-the-Sea. Ruth knows that he came into some money last year but was surprised to see him spending it on something as conventional as a mortgage. Still, it was good to see him celebrating All Hallows Eve in the traditional way. Ruth has quite a fondness for the day as it was on Halloween that she went into labour with Kate. Even so, she was glad that Kate held out for November 1st, All Hallows itself. A far more respectable birthday.

This party was, in itself, fairly conventional. Lots of beer and mulled wine, very little communication with the dead. At the end of the evening, Ruth got trapped with Clough on the sofa. Ruth was too tired to move and Clough seemed set in for the night. They were watching Cathbad showing Michael the bonfire in the garden (Cathbad hasnt changed in this respect; he still loves lighting fires). Michael had just woken up and Cathbad had brought him down to commune with the friendly spirits.

Hope the spirits dont get too friendly, said Ruth, reflecting that she would probably have put Kate back in bed. What a kill-joy parent.

Theres more in this spirit bollocks than you realise, Ruth, said Clough, looking into his glass. More than youll ever know.

What do you mean?

You know when Michael was missing? He pointed at the little boy laughing delightedly at the flames. Well, I consulted a psychic. Judy asked me to. I thought it was odd at the time but if she was involved with Malone it makes sense. Anyway, I saw this woman, Madame Rita her name was, and she told me to look for a red heart and a white lady. Well, you know where we found him? In a pub called the Red Hart. And he was with a woman called White, Danielle White.

I did hear some of this, Ruth admitted. Nelson has succeeded in keeping the psychic out of the papers but couldnt resist telling the story to Ruth.

But you didnt hear this, said Clough, because Ive never told anyone else. Madame Rita said that Michael was with "a woman from the spirit world". She said that this woman loved children and was looking after him. Well, when I heard about your film I thought it might be her, Mother Hook, Jemima Whatsit. Nelson says that youve proved that she was a goodie all along.

Was Jemima Green looking after Michael? On one level, Ruth doesnt believe a word of it. Jemima Green is dead, and if Frank has saved her reputation thats satisfying to him but not much good to the woman hanged outside Norwich Castle a hundred and fifty years ago. But, on another level  …  She thinks of the lights on the Saltmarsh at night, of the time when Cathbad claimed to have visited the underworld in a dream, of the saints and the spirits, of the many times when her foolish heart has overruled her scientific head. The best that she can say now is that she isnt sure. About anything.

The guy in the film, says Janet. The dishy American. Someone said that you were seeing him. Is that right?

Hes gone back to the States, says Ruth evasively.

Theres some talk of making another film about Jemima Green. Martin has even suggested that Frank and Ruth team up to film a series about the lost kings of England, starting with King Arthur and ending with Richard III. She will see him again, theres no doubt about that. As to whether shes seeing Frank, thats altogether a harder question to answer. One way or another, she doesnt really know if shes in a position to see anyone, at least not until Kate starts school. She may be a working mother, but it seems that these days shes a mother before shes anything else.


Theres plenty of time, says Janet comfortably.

And that, Ruth muses, as she gets into her car, is certainly true. One thing you learn as an archaeologist; theres always plenty of time.