Karl called round this afternoon. He was worried about Jean-Luc and Marie and suggested it might be an idea to call on them.
As we parked in front of their farmhouse, I pointed out the freshly painted window sills and front door with tubs of geraniums standing either side. We waited a few moments then entered. Marie was humming to herself, crouching over a dish in the oven. The kitchen was transformed; dishes washed and drying in the rack, the tiled floor swept and mopped and the table covered with a red and white tablecloth, a vase with lavender placed in the centre. Bruno lay asleep on the armchair surrounded by cushions.
Marie smiled at us as we came in and invited us to sit at the table. She began searching through the pockets of a tattered denim rucksack hanging on the back of the door. She took out a piece of crumpled paper, smoothed it out, and laid it flat on the table. It dawned on me that she had prepared a speech for our visit.
She cleared her throat, took a deep breath and picked up the piece of paper. In her hesitant English she thanked us for helping Jean-Luc and explained that he had been very ill and worried about money but was now well. She paused and beamed as we clapped.
I asked where Jean-Luc was. She told us he was outside checking on the cows.
Karl gave me a meaningful look as we went out to look for him, and I had had a sinking feeling: Did Jean-Luc still believe Hilda possessed prophetic powers? We caught sight of him, head lowered and ambling up from the corner of the field where a group of cows stood. One of them was undoubtedly Hilda, but I had no idea which. He waved his hand in greeting but after this lapsed into his customary silence. I had the distinct feeling he was covering up. However, he was polite enough to invite us back to the kitchen and offered us a couple of beers. Marie watched in silence.
There is obviously still a problem with Jean-Luc. I'm not sure what it is and I don't think there's any easy answer. On the drive back Karl suggested that he should see a doctor for depression.
When we arrived back at my place, a book was sitting on the doorstep with a note. I thought it might be from Celine, but when I went to pick it up I noticed the note was signed by Adele written in large capitals. The book was The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Karl waited as I read the note. It was written in English; "I think you will like this book. You remember when we see the movie at the cinema?" I tried to laugh this off but felt somewhat uneasy about it. Adele had been here, at my cottage. Karl suggested I should just ignore her, but I can't help wondering what she's after.
Pieter came back from London this evening so I looked after Pepin whilst Solange and the children went to the airport to meet him. They were a lot longer than expected, as his suitcase was lost at Gatwick. He seemed relieved to be home, especially as it was Madeleine's third birthday today. Pepin had spent most of the time waiting at the garden fence for their return: true devotion!