Violet Pegg had heard the screams and came, somewhat tentatively, out of Church cottage. As she crept towards the church she could hear a violent furore and then she saw flashing sparkles of red and gold thrown against the darkened walls of the village cottages as Aubrey and his sequins spun. It was cold and dark and Violet wished she were still in her bed. What was happening to Popwell? It had always been a steady place (of course it had had its share of murder and incest like any other village) but in the last few years, things seemed to be getting out of hand. People were not to be able to sit quietly by the fire with the Reader’s Digest of an evening. Instead, they needed thrills and spills and she blamed the television; all that excitement beamed into one’s sitting room caused nothing but discontent. She vowed not to look at Strictly Come Dancing again.
Across the fields and down the long gravel driveway, Diana Chevaux also heard the screams. She was sitting up in her bed, an unread copy of Heat magazine open on the eiderdown. Dogs of various shapes, sizes and smells slumbered on and about her. The house creaked, the dogs snored and farted and Aubrey’s screams floated across the meadows, pens and copses on the autumn breeze and made her feel alive for the first time in weeks. It was as if each time he yelled the life blood flowed back into her veins. She had never been one for condoning revenge, but now on this night, she was beginning to experience the very visceral feeling of being given satisfaction.
When he had spewed his awful dark secrets to her that day in the prison, Aubrey had done so with no regard for her delicate sensibilities. What he told her had scarred her mind and consequently it had shut down in a defensive reaction. Now, tonight he was being made to feel pain too and somehow that relieved her suffering as a leech lets bad blood. Her eyes shone and a girlish flush appeared in her cheeks.
Valentine was thinking of his dear Mater as he threw buckets of water over Aubrey. The vicar was remonstrating with him but he heard nothing but the roar of the rage in his ears. He was descended from a long line of valiant knights and he felt that somewhere, in the corner of heaven reserved for the Chevaux family, his forebears were egging him on. This was his land, these were his people. They must submit.
All of sudden he felt a tug at his sleeve. He turned in anger, ready to lash out, but when he saw that the tugee was Miss Pegg he desisted. “Mr Chevaux!” said Violet firmly, “Mr Chevaux! I really must ask you sir, would you care for a flapjack?” and she held out a tupperware box full of unctious golden oats and syrupy sugar – still a little warm.
He hesitated. “Oh yes, thank you” he said and took one.
At that moment, Violet signalled to the Vicar and Adrian the Redeemer who hurried forwards and, taking the bell pull from Valentine, let Aubrey down the sodden ground.