And, except for a select few, none of the members of Lockleigh House tennis court had ever thought it was murder, anyway. Reggie Playfair had had a heart attack. ‘Poor old bugger.’ Only Jonty Westmacott still occasionally muttered darkly about ‘foul play’.

So there was never any question of Felicity Budgen being prosecuted. But her husband did finally, unwillingly admit that she needed psychiatric help. She spent four months in an exclusive private clinic. The Budgens’ acquaintances were told this was for ‘a little gynie op’, which was acceptable in a way that treatment for mental illness wouldn’t have been.

Then Lady Budgen returned to The Old Manor and to her extensive good works. She went back to doing what she’d done all her adult life — being frightfully loyal to Sir Donald while smiling at a lot of people for whom she had no feelings at all. And their marriage was as happy as it had ever been.

Cecil Wardock died within a few weeks of his last meeting with Carole and Jude. He had just finished rereading the final, bottom-right book on his shelves, but never got round to starting the cycle again at the top left. Which he would have regarded as a very neat, satisfactory death.

The activities of Lockleigh House tennis court continued much as before. George Hazlitt still tried to recruit new members who would broaden the club’s demographic. Ned Jackson received a talking-to so severe that he never again used the court premises for anything other than real tennis. In time he married his long-term girlfriend, Kelly, and got his handicap down to plus three. Then he lost interest in real tennis at the professional level and took a job in marketing.

And at eleven o’clock every Wednesday morning, the Old Boys’ doubles was played by Wally Edgington- Bewley, Tom Ruthven, Rod Farrar and Jonty Westmacott, the last-named of whom always had some physical reason to explain the age-related decline in his real tennis skills.

Tonya Grace’s tennis, by contrast, improved by leaps and bounds. So much so that she was awarded the annual Potter Plate for Most Improved Player. She also found a boyfriend who was nice to her.

And nobody ever did more than look at the pictures of Wally Edgington-Bewley’s magnum opus, Courts in the Act.

Oenone Playfair remained as bright-eyed and cheery as ever when she was in company, and nobody ever knew what pain she suffered when she was on her own. She was, however, deeply relieved when Carole and Jude reassured her that her husband had never had an affair with any female member of the club.

Carole Seddon had her own moment of triumph when she rang Susan Holland and was able to give the desolate mother her daughter’s phone number. At first, meetings between the two were difficult because of the paranoid jealousy of Vladimir Gretchenko, but very slowly the situation improved. Marina made contact with the local authorities about domestic violence, and even managed to get her husband along to some joint counselling meetings. The marriage was never going to be ideal, but maybe some progress could be achieved.

And Susan Holland did get to know the four grandchildren of whose existence she had been unaware.

The situation for Marina’s father was less happy. The story of his paying the daughter of his first marriage to keep out of his life and letting her mother believe her to be dead was leaked to the Brighton press and spread from there to the nationals. There was no secret about who had done the leaking. Susan Holland’s fury, when she knew that her ex-husband had been responsible for her eight years of anguish, knew no bounds. Destroying his career was the very least she could do by way of revenge.

Very quickly the name of Iain Holland was no longer being mentioned by the ‘high-ups in the Conservative Party’ and his name vanished from their shortlists. The residents of his ward also took their first opportunity to elect another councillor in his place. And his new squeaky-clean marriage broke up.

None of which, in Carole Seddon’s view, was sufficient punishment for what he had done.

She, however, was much cheered by the return of her grandchild from Anaheim, Orange County, California. Lily, with her parents, came down to Fethering to see her grandmother on the very first weekend they were back. Carole thought Lily looked absolutely beautiful (though she did secretly feel that the souvenir cuddly Donald Duck they had bought for her in Disneyland was ‘rather vulgar’).

And Fedborough’s Lady in the Lake remained forever unidentified.

Returning to normal life in Fethering was harder for Jude. She and Piers Targett did see each other a few more times, but his lies — or perhaps, more accurately, the truths he had chosen not to reveal — lay between them. She did however believe him when he assured her he had had no idea that Felicity Budgen had set up Jonquil’s charade as the ghost of Agnes Wardock.

Though Piers protested that he loved her, Jude could not forget the fact that his love for her had precipitated the events that led to Reggie Playfair’s death. She also knew that he would never be entirely free of the capricious demands of the woman who was still his wife, Jonquil.

Jude loved Piers too, but increasingly she knew that their futures did not lie together. She was unlikely ever to go back on to a real tennis court. On the plus side, however, she would never have to face that awkward moment when she had to introduce Piers Targett to Carole Seddon.

So Jude did the inevitable thing and told Piers that their relationship was at an end.

But it hurt.

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