"For goodness’ sakes, Bridget. It’s your trunk and you ought to know what goes in it and what doesn’t. Pack it, please."
"Shan’t." The afore-mentioned Bridget sat in a corner, hugging her knees to her chest and sulking. Golden hair shone on either side of her face, making her look more like a pouting angel than the recalcitrant child that she was. "You’re just trying to get rid of me, I know it."
Jane Crowley sighed. She was just a child herself, a year younger than Bridget, but with at least twice the maturity. But then, she’d been brought up by loving, intellectual parents, whereas Bridget had had, until recently, only the backrooms of a public house for her nursery.
"It’s only boarding school," Jane said, for the sixth time that night. "And I’ll be coming with you next year. Don’t be tiresome; when Daddy gets home...."
Almost on cue, the front door slammed, signalling the return of Philip Crowley to his house. Jane left Bridget to her sulking, and slipped out of the room. She paused at the top of the stairs to organise her complaint, and was still there when the gunshot exploded into the silence.
Frightened, Jane carefully crept down to the landing and squeezed herself into the shadows behind the newel post. From there, she could see her father crumpled on the floor at the foot of the grandfather clock. This couldn’t be happening, she thought. They were supposed to be safe here in London. Everybody had said so.
She was aware, a minute later, of a shadow approaching the body downstairs. It resolved itself into a tall, fair man, with an impressive moustache and even more impressive eyebrows. He knelt beside the body for a moment, then stood up and swiftly departed. He’d had a revolver in his hand, and Jane was sure its barrel was still smoking. It occurred to her that she hadn’t heard the door close behind him, though he must have gone out that way.
She was too shocked at the moment to really register that her father was dead. Her mind had retreated from the turmoil of emotion into a cold, cruel place, where every detail was clear and logically delineated, and nothing was felt.
She’d seen the man who’d killed her father, she thought. She would recognise him again.