The Mapping of Love and Death, p.1Jacqueline Winspear
The Mapping of Love and Death
A Maisie Dobbs Novel
With my love
There is a great deal of unmapped country within us
which would have to be taken into account in an
explanation of our gusts and storms.
--GEORGE ELIOT, DANIEL DERONDA
War is like love; it always finds a way.
Michael Clifton stood on a hill burnished gold in the summer...
Would you believe it, Billy--three years and we're still in...
Why do you think Dr. Hayden didn't say something in his...
In haste Maisie gathered her belongings, packed her case, and...
The address Archibald Davidson had given Maisie over the phone led...
Maisie was leaving Hampstead when she turned off the High...
Maisie arrived at the office with the intention of clearing...
As if it had been orchestrated by Maurice, while Maisie...
The following morning, Maisie had only just closed the front...
At the hospital, Maisie went straight to the ladies' lavatory...
The following day, after a brief meeting with Billy at...
Priscilla, good morning to you!" Maisie twisted the telephone cord...
Maisie placed telephone calls to her father and Priscilla prior...
Having left her motor car parked outside her flat in...
Maisie prepared a simple evening meal of soused mackerel and...
Maisie stopped at a pie and mash shop on her...
James, I think I ought to confess to you that...
Detective Inspector Caldwell was waiting in a parked Invicta motor...
Maisie looked around what seemed to be an expanse of...
Maisie's first task the following morning was to make the...
Maisie packed a few items of clothing into her leather...
It was Maurice who had taught Maisie that, following the...
Maisie sat on the floor in The Dower House conservatory...
About the Author
Other Books by Jacqueline Winspear
About the Publisher
The Santa Ynez Valley, California, August 1914
Michael Clifton stood on a hill burnished gold in the summer sun and, hands on hips, closed his eyes. The landscape before him had been scored into his mind's eye, and an onlooker might have noticed his chin move as he traced the pitch and curve of the hills, the lines of the valley, places where water ran in winter, gullies where the ground underfoot might become soft and rises where the rock would never yield to a pick. Michael could see only colored lines now, with swirls and circles close together where the peaks rose, and broad sweeps of fine ink where foothills gave way to flat land. Yes, this was the place. He had wired his mother a month earlier, asking her to cosign a document releasing the funds held in trust for him from his maternal grandfather's will. Each of the Clifton offspring had received a tidy sum. His two sisters had set money aside for their own children and together had indulged in a little investing in land, while his older brother had rolled the bequest into an impressive property. Now it was his turn and, following the example set by his siblings, he had taken his father's advice to heart: "Land is where to put your money. And if it's good land, you'll get your money back time and time again." Edward Clifton would be pleased when he saw the maps, would slap him on the back. Well done, son. Well done. Didn't I always say you had the nose? Didn't I, Martha? Didn't I, Teddy? And his brother would shake his hand, perhaps add a friendly punch to the shoulder. Good for you, little brother. And there would be no rancor, no slight because he had acted alone, only familial joy because he had succeeded.
Soon, perhaps early next year, a sign bearing the Clifton name would be set above the opening to a new trail into the valley, and travelers passing on the old stage road would assume that the famous company founded some forty years ago by Edward Clifton--a young Englishman who was still in his teens when he'd disembarked from a ship at Ellis Island in search of his fortune--was drilling for oil. But they would be wrong, for this Clifton was the youngest son, and this was his land, his oil.
Michael opened his eyes, gazed at the gold and green vista a few moments longer, and began packing away his equipment in a heavy canvas bag. One by one he took each piece and wrapped it carefully with linen and sackcloth: an octant, a graphometer, the surveyor's compass--a gift from his parents when he completed his studies--a waywiser, theodolite, and tripod. Using these tools attached him to the past, like a plumb line drawn across time connecting him to early mapmakers with that same curiosity. He'd always felt so young--the youngest son of a man who came to a young country in his youth. His roots were fresh, new, and in his love of the land--especially this very primitive land shaped by the power of nature--he felt those roots entrench into ancient soil.
He loaded the bag onto the back of a mule-drawn cart, the Mexican driver waiting patiently while he leapt up to sit on the floor and prepared to leave, his legs dangling down as he reached across for his stationery box. He opened the wooden box, checked that he had collected all his pens, sturdy German writing instruments each filled with a different colored ink. He liked the heft of the pens, the flow of ink, the narrow threads of color that issued from the pinlike point onto the heavy mapping paper. Michael Clifton might sometimes have been thought an impulsive young man anxious to make his mark, but he knew his business and he was nothing if not a diligent cartographer.
In Santa Ynez, Michael transferred his equipment and personal effects to a larger carriage for the journey into Santa Barbara. From there he could telegraph his father that he was on his way, but would save the good news for later, when he was home. He wanted to see the look on Edward Clifton's face when he told him of his discovery, he wanted to experience the joy and pride in person. For now he would check into The Arlington Hotel--the Clifton name alone meant a suite would be made available--bathe the dust from his skin, and then he would buy himself the biggest steak he could find in town. He might walk along the beach, smell that crisp Pacific air once more before boarding a California Pacific train bound for San Francisco tomorrow, and from there to the East Coast along the transcontinental railroad. Then, before you knew it, he would be home. But he would return soon to this place. Yes, he would be back--and this new Clifton Corporation would be his.
It was the newsboy outside the hotel who caught his attention.
"Read all about it. Read all about it. Britain goes to war! Kaiser to fight whole world. Read all about it."
Pulling a handful of coins from his pocket, Michael bought a newspaper and began reading as he made his way through the hotel foyer. He signed the guest register, only marginally aware of what he was writing, and where. He nodded upon receiving the key to his rooms, and continued reading as the bellhop struggled with his belongings. Once in the suite, he slumped down in a ch
It had come as no surprise to his family that Michael Clifton chose to become a cartographer. He had loved maps since childhood, drawn to the mystery of lands far away, fascinated by the names of places and the promise he saw held within a map. "You always know where you are with a map," he had told his parents, while persuading them of his choice of profession. "And if you know where you are, why, you're more likely to be brave, to have an adventure, to search beyond where everyone else is looking. Think of what I could do for the company!" His father had laughed, seeing through the subtle entreaty. Yet Michael was right--it had been good for the company, to have a man in the family business who could read the land. You knew where you were with family, and as Edward had told his children time and again, you knew where your money was when it was in land. But what Michael never even tried to explain was the sense of wonder that came with a map, for each one told a story, and he, the surveyor and cartographer, was the storyteller, the translator, the guide to places a person might never otherwise see. He could tame a forest, prairie, or wilderness with a few strokes of his pen. And he had a knack for finding nature's buried treasures.
It had taken no time at all for Michael to make his decision. Before leaving his rooms he copied precise details from the maps and land documents into a small leather-bound notebook, adding sketches carefully marking those places where drilling should begin. That the valley held oil deposits was without question--William Orcutt, the surveyor for Union Oil, had the coast and much of the valley all but sewn up. Yet to know exactly where to tap into the riches took an expert eye. Some said you had to touch the land to know, that a man who knew where to sink his shovel could hear oil rumbling in the earth.
His task complete, and with the series of maps rolled and placed in a leather tube along with the original title documents to the land--his land--he went directly to the Central Bank of California on State Street, where he left the leather tube in a safe deposit box, withdrew a portion of the funds held in his name at the bank, and then made his way to the railroad station, where he purchased a ticket to Boston via San Francisco and New York. He left the office, then stopped short in the street before returning to the ticket counter, whereupon he informed the clerk that he had changed his mind, and would go only as far as New York. The clerk grumbled, but asked no questions as he made out the new ticket. From New York, Michael planned to sail to England as soon as he could secure a passage--and it was surprising the speed with which anything could be reserved, booked, obtained, and acquired when you were a Clifton.
It was only right that he go, because for his family, England was the old country. He'd read that other boys were going over, boys like him who had limey blood in their veins. Of course, he suspected they probably wouldn't let him bear arms, being an American by birth, but he had a profession, and he was only too aware that in wartime armies needed to know where they were going, needed to know the lie of the land. He would wire his family and let them know of his decision just before he sailed. His father might argue, but he would also be proud that his son was going to fight for the country he'd left a lifetime ago. And his maps of the valley and the deed to his land would be safe until he returned; after all, according to reports, the war in Europe would be over by Christmas. Thus, by the time a tall spruce tree was alive with baubles, tinsel, and lights in the window of the grand house on Boston's Beacon Hill, he'd be home.
Fitzroy Square, London, April 1932
Would you believe it, Billy--three years and we're still in business!" Maisie Dobbs turned away from the floor-to-ceiling window, where she had been watching gray, rain-filled clouds lumbering across an otherwise springlike sky. She smiled and sat down at the table where she and her assistant, Billy Beale, had been working.
Billy ran his fingers through his hair. "And we've a few more clients on the books than we expected in January."
Maisie leaned back in her chair. "We've been lucky, there's no doubt about that. I just hope it continues throughout the year."
"Perhaps the Americans we're seeing this morning have a few friends over here who might need your services," said Billy. "I mean, that's how almost all the work comes in, isn't it? Through clients who were satisfied with what you did for them."
"Speaking of the Americans, I want to read that letter once more before they arrive." Maisie stood up and walked across the room to her desk. She took her seat and leaned forward, her forearms resting on the blotting pad. "Apparently they're very good people, quite down to earth, but they'll be expecting me to be completely prepared for the appointment, especially with such a strong personal reference from Dr. Hayden."
She reached for a manila folder with the words "Clifton, Edward and Martha" inscribed along one side, and took out a well-thumbed letter from Dr. Charles Hayden. Maisie had been introduced to the eminent American surgeon by Simon Lynch, a captain in the army medical corps, during the war. At the time Dr. Hayden was a volunteer with a medical contingent from the Massachusetts General Hospital. They had corresponded since the war, and now he wrote in response to a letter from Maisie.
Please do not apologize for the delay in letting me know that Simon has passed away. Though my first concern is always for my patients, in my dealings with families of the sick and dying, I know the passage of grief is a difficult one to navigate, so please do not concern yourself that you should have written sooner. You have been in Pauline's and my thoughts so often over the years, especially given Simon's medical circumstances. As a doctor, I confess, I was amazed at the man's continued physical resilience, when there was no obvious function in his mind.
He continued with reminiscences of times spent with Simon, and followed with news of his family. Then the letter took a different tack.
Maisie, I hope you don't mind, but I have taken the liberty of referring a friend to you. He and his wife are more than willing to pay for your professional services, and they are in any case planning to sail for France in late March, then will travel on to England in April. I know they will be in touch and you will want to hear the story straight from the horse's mouth. But let me fill you in on what I know so that you might be prepared for what's in store.
I met the Cliftons though their son-in-law, Bradley Marchant. He's married to their eldest daughter, Meg, and is one of my colleagues here at the hospital. We went to their wedding at the family vacation home on Cape Cod, and I'm a godfather to their eldest. I don't know if you need all this detail, but I thought I should let you know anyway.
Edward Clifton is an Englishman by birth. He came over here when he was about eighteen, nineteen, something like that. He wasn't exactly penniless, but he knew how to work--and to make something of himself, he had to work hard. He turned his hand to anything he could, then started putting money into land. Bradley said that acquiring land was an obsession with Edward when he was younger. I guess it's something about coming from over there and starting again in a new country--he needed to own a part of it, stake his claim. From land he moved into building and founded a construction company, then started investing in stocks; all tied to the land in some way. I'll cut to the chase here, and say that by the time he was thirty, Edward Clifton was very, very wealthy. Then he met Martha Stanbourne--she's from an important family, it's said their ancestors came to America on the Mayflower. The Stanbournes are what we call "Boston Brahmins" over here. They married--there's no doubt it was a love match--and had four children. There's Edward Jr. (Teddy), then Margaret and Anna, and bringing up the rear, Michael. Couldn't have met a nicer family.
Maisie paused. When she had first read the letter, as soon as she saw the word Michael the thought had crossed her mind: That's the one. It's Michael who has caused them pain. For there was no doubt in her mind, even in reading a few paragraphs, that the Cliftons were in some emotional turmoil. Why else would they need her services?
In August 1914, Michael was out in California--he was a mapmaker, surveyor of some sort
"Cuppa, Miss, before they get here?"
Maisie glanced at the clock. "Oh yes, please. They're bound to be shocked if they see me drinking out of my old army mug. Americans always expect to see the English sipping tea from fine bone china." She went back to the letter.
Michael was listed as missing in early 1916. In January a farmer working the land (somewhere in the Somme Valley) put his plough into a gully, and when he and some other men were digging it out, the ground started to fall away and the bodies of several British soldiers were found. Michael was identified by his tags. By now you're probably wondering why the Cliftons need to see someone like you. Apparently the ground gave way to a dugout and a series of what you could only describe as rooms--so well made, the Brits might have been occupying an old German trench. It was there that the soldiers' belongings were found. They were members of a surveying team. Michael's journal was discovered, along with other personal effects. Don't ask me how the Cliftons managed to get their hands on the journal. You know the soldiers weren't allowed to keep any sort of diary, so it's a wonder it wasn't retained by the authorities. It's now with Edward and Martha, along with a collection of letters. His wallet was tucked in his jacket pocket, and apparently his surveying compass and other tools he'd taken with him were also returned to the family. Now, the reason they want to see you is this: the letters were from a woman, they think an English woman, and they want to find her. That's everything I know, but at least you'll be prepared when they arrive.
The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear / Mystery & Detective have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes