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Authors: Rose Tremain


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Table of ContentsCoverCopyrightBy the same authorDedicationAcknowledgementsTrespassChapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33Chapter 34Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43Chapter 44This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.Epub ISBN: 9781409090496Version  Published by Chatto & Windus 20102 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1Copyright © Rose Tremain 2010Rose Tremain has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this workThis book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.First published in Great Britain in 2010 byChatto & WindusRandom House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,LondonSW1V for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British LibraryHardbackISBN9780701177942Trade PaperbackISBN9780701178017The Random House Group Limited supports The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading international forest certification organisation. All our titles that are printed on Greenpeace approved FSC certified paper carry the FSC logo. Our paper procurement policy can be found in Garamond by Palimpsest Book Production Limited,Grangemouth, StirlingshirePrinted and bound in Great Britain byCPI Mackays, ChathamME5 8TDBY THE SAME AUTHORNovelsSadler’s BirthdayLetter to Sister BenedictaThe CupboardThe Swimming Pool SeasonRestorationSacred CountryThe Way I Found HerMusic and SilenceThe ColourThe Road HomeShort Story CollectionsThe Colonel’s DaughterThe Garden of the Villa MolliniEvangelista’s FanThe Darkness of Wallis SimpsonFor ChildrenJourney to the VolcanoFor Richard, with loveAcknowledgementsExtract fromSalad Daysreproduced by permission of The Agency (London) Ltd 1954 © Julian Slade.Extract fromStaying Onby Paul Scott, copyright © 1977 Paul Scott, published by William Heinemann. Reproduced by permission of David Higham Associates on behalf of the author.Drawing of mulberry leaf by Nicole Heidaripour.TRESPASSRose TremainChatto & WindusLONDONThe child’s name is Mélodie.Long ago, before Mélodie was born, her pretty mother had had a stab at composing music.Mélodie is ten years old and she’s trying to eat a sandwich. She prises apart the two halves of the sandwich and stares at the wet, pink ham inside, and at the repulsive grey-green shimmer on its surface. All around her, in the dry grass and in the parched trees, crickets and grasshoppers are making that sound they make, not with their voices (Mélodie has been told that they have no voices) but with their bodies, letting one part vibrate against another part. In this place, thinks Mélodie, everything is alive and fluttering and going from one place to another place, and she dreads to see one of these insects arrive suddenly on her sandwich or on her leg or start to tangle its limbs in her hair.Mélodie’s hair is dark and soft. As she looks at the slimy ham, she can feel sweat beginning to seep out of her head. Sweat, she thinks, is a cold hand that tries to caress you. Sweat is something strange inside you trying to creep from one place to another place . . .Mélodie puts the sandwich down in the dusty grass. In moments, she knows, ants will arrive and swarm round it and try to carry it away. Where she used to live, in Paris, there were no ants, but here, where her new home is, there are more ants than you could ever count. They come out of the earth and go down into it again. If you dug down, you would find them: a solid mass of them, black and red. Your spade would crunch right through them. You might not even have to dig very deep.Mélodie lifts her head and gazes at the leaves on the oak tree above her.These leaves are yellowing, as though it were already autumn. The wind called the mistral keeps blowing through the tree and the sun keeps moving and piercing the shade and nothing in this place ever ends or is still.‘Mélodie,’ says a voice. ‘Are you all right? Don’t you want your sandwich?’Mélodie turns to her teacher, Mademoiselle Jeanne Viala, who sits on a rug on the grass a few paces away, with some of the younger children hunched up near to her, all obediently chewing their baguettes.‘I’m not hungry,’ says Mélodie.‘We’ve had a long morning,’ says Mademoiselle Viala. ‘Try to eat a few mouthfuls.’Mélodie shakes her head. Sometimes, it’s difficult to speak. Sometimes, you’re like an insect with no voice, which just has to make a movement with some part of its anatomy. And everywhere around you the mistral keeps blowing and autumn leaves keep falling, even though it’s a midsummer day.‘Come and sit here,’ says Mademoiselle Viala. ‘We’ll all have a drink of water.’The teacher tells one of the boys, Jo-Jo, (one of those who tease and bully Mélodie and imitate her posh Parisian accent) to pass her the picnic bag. Mélodie gets up and moves away from the sandwich lying in the grass and Mademoiselle Viala holds out her hand and Mélodie sits down there, near the teacher whom she quite likes, but who betrayed her this morning . . . yes she did . . . by making her look at things she didn’t want to see . . .Mademoiselle Viala wears a white linen blouse and blue jeans and white canvas shoes. Her arms are soft and tanned and her lipstick is a bright, startling red. She could have come from Paris, once. She takes a little bottle of Evian water out of the cumbersome bag and passes it to Mélodie.‘There,’ she says. ‘There you are.’Mélodie presses the cool bottle against her cheek. She sees Jo-Jo staring at her. Bully-boys’ faces can be blank, absolutely blank, as though they’d never learned to say their own names.‘So,’ says Jeanne Viala in her teacher-voice, ‘I wonder who can tell me, after the presentations we saw at the museum, how silk is made?’Mélodie looks away, up, sideways, far away at the jumping light, at the invisible wind . . . All round her, the children raise their arms, bursting to tell Mademoiselle Viala what they know, or what, Mélodie suspects, they havealwaysknown, because they’re part of this landscape and were born out of its earth.Jo-Jo says it: ‘Silk is made by worms.’He, like the others, always knew it. Everybody learned about it from their grandparents or great-grandparents and only she, Mélodie Hartmann from Paris, had never ever thought about it until today, until Jeanne Viala took the children to the Museum of Cévenol Silk Production at Ruasse . . .‘Right,’ says Mademoiselle Viala. ‘Don’t all shout out at once.Youtell me, Mélodie. Imagine you wanted to breed a healthy crop of silkworms, what would be the first thing you would do, once you’d bought the eggs?’The first thing.She looks down at her hands, which are dirty with sweat and dust – with human mud.‘Keep them warm . . .’ She whispers it. Her voice smaller than the voice of some tiny creature living between two stalks of corn, or underneath a tree root.‘Yes,’ says Jeanne Viala. ‘Good. And how would you do that?’Mélodie wants to say: I said my answer. I said it. I don’t want to say any more of it. But she just keeps looking down at her muddy hands, clutching the Evian bottle.‘I know!’ says Jo-Jo.‘We know!’ say two girls, two inseparable friends, Stéphanie and Magali.‘Go on then, Magali, you tell us,’ says Jeanne Viala.Magali’s face is scarlet, puffed out with pride and embarrassment. ‘My Gran told me!’ she explodes. ‘You put them in a pouch and you stick the pouch up your knickers!’As laughter breaks round her, Mélodie gets up. Her legs feel trembly, but she walks as fast as she can away from the huddle of children.Red-backed crickets jump and flit in her pathway. She snaps off a stick with a brittle seed-head at its tip, and tries to stop the insects from coming near her with this. She hears the teacher call to her, but she doesn’t turn. Surely, Jeanne Viala knows . . . surely she does . . . that if you’ve lived your life in Paris – ten years of it – then you’re homesick for the city, for a nice clean, carpeted room in a nice apartment, and you don’t want to talk about worms writhing in a pouch under your skirt. Because it isn’t as if Paris had been obliterated. It’s still there. Your street is there. Your apartment. The room that was once yours. And it’s only you who are never going back. Never. Because Papa has been given a ‘great opportunity’. Papa has been offered a promotion. He’s been made the Head of a Laboratory of Medical Analysis in Ruasse.Head.‘It’s fantastic,’ says Maman. ‘You have to understand that it’s a wonderful chance.’ And all it means is . . . Paris has disappeared. Now there is a house made of stone, way out on its own in a shadowy valley. Mosquitoes whine in the dark, hot nights. The house is known as amas,pronounced ‘masse’. In the crannies of its stones, where the mortar has flaked or fallen out, scorpions hide from the sun. And sometimes there is one, black and deadly, on the wall of your bedroom and Papa has to come and . . .. . . he brings a wooden mallet or a hammer. Blood comes to his face.The blow of the hammer leaves a mark on the plasterwork of the wall.‘There,’ he says, ‘it’s all right now. It’s no more.’No more.No more walks home from school, past the optometrist’s shop and the flower shop and the pâtisserie on the corner. No more winter afternoons when the Paris sky is electric blue behind the shoulders of buildings.No more ballet class, swimming club, violin lessons.No more.With her seed-head stick, Mélodie flays her path through the grasshoppers.She opens a rusty iron gate and walks into a tussocky pasture, going towards shade, towards yellowing ash saplings, a place where she will be alone and drink her water. The teacher is no longer calling her. Perhaps she’s walked further than she realised? The air is quiet and still, as though the mistral has died.Mélodie opens the water bottle. Not cool any more, but dirtied by her muddy hands and smelling of plastic. Not meant to smell of plastic, but smelling of man-made plastic only here, where Nature is so . . . determined . . . so . . .everywhere. Only here, where Nature fills the ground and the air and the sky. Where it fills your eyes. Where you can taste it in your mouth . . .Halfway through gulping the water, Mélodie hears a new sound.People talking on the radio? One of those discussions, far off, about politics or about the life of someone famous? A conversation you weren’t quite expected to understand?She stops drinking and listens. No. Not people. Something gabbling softly like them, but not them . . . unless they’re talking in a language Mélodie has never heard before . . .She looks down to where the pasture seems to end in a line of nettle-green, feathery-leaved weeds. The weeds grow in clusters, so close together it looks almost impossible to find a way through them. But Mélodie is determined to discover the source of the new sound, so she makes her way towards them. She still has her stick. She begins to whip the weeds down. She thinks: This is the way to treat this place, this land of the Cévennes: you whip it! But then it fights back. The stick breaks. So Mélodie begins kicking and stamping a pathway through the weeds with her white sneakers, bought in Paris, no longer white. She takes big strides. She feels the ground underneath her begin to slope downwards. One of the ash trees trembles between her and the sun, like a flimsy curtain drawn above her head.She’s invisible now. Neither the teacher nor the other children can see her any more. They, the others – every single one of them – knew about old women who incubated worms under their heavy skirts, white worms against the white flesh of their bellies, their thighs, but they didn’t come here, didn’t dare to come and whip the weeds and stamp them down and make a path towards . . .. . . a curving beach of grey stones and sandy shingle. And there, beyond the shingle, eddying between huge boulders, a narrow sliding stream. Not a river. Stillpretendingto be a river,talking to itselfin the language of a river, but shrunk by the heat to a streamlet. Dragonflies darting above the high stones. Ash leaves flying off and riding on the surface of the water.Mélodie crosses the shingle to the stream’s edge. She stoops and drenches her hand, washing the mud away, loving the cool, the cold, the almost-ice of it. A thrilling feeling, suddenly. And here she is, invisible in the beautiful tree shade, invisible and safe, as though the dark green weeds had sprung up again behind her, cutting off her way back.Almost happy, she walks along the little beach, following the stream to where it turns a corner. And she turns the corner and sees the water flowing unexpectedly into a deep, sea-green pool. She stares at the pool. A streamlet trying to be a river again! So even Nature could have a memory – could it? – just as she has a memory, of what she thought she was meant to become and where. For this is how it feels to her, that the streamlonged for the pool.It was embarrassed by being a rill, a runnel. It might even have been sad, sorrowful, as she is, ‘heavy of heart’, as Maman calls it. But now that it’s merged with the great, deep pool, it knows that it’s come home.For a long time, Mélodie stands still, observing. Then, she’s overtaken by a desire to bathe her itchy, sunburnt body in the water. She looks behind her, half expecting the teacher to appear through the curtain of saplings. But no one comes.Shoes. Jeans. T-shirt. She casts everything away except a little pair of red-and-white knickers, bought at Monoprix in the Champs Elysées. Then she begins to climb the first of the rocks that separate her from the pool. Agile now, she goes from boulder to boulder, towards the highest of them, which stands in mid-stream, and she remembers her instructor at her swimming club saying to the other children: ‘Watch Mélodie. This is how I want you all to be when you dive: like a bird, graceful and light.’So she’s going to dive now. She’s positioning her bare feet on the edge of the white boulder. She’s a moment from a neatly executed dive, a moment from the drenching, reviving cold of the pool, when . . . at the very corner of her vision, she sees something which shouldn’t be there. At first look, she doesn’t recognise what it is. She has to look again. She has to stare.Then she starts screaming.The tapestry (‘French, late Louis XV pastoral, by Aubusson’) depicted a gathering of stylishly dressed aristocrats, sitting on the grass in the shade of some broad-leaved trees. Approaching the group were two servants, an elderly man and a young woman, bringing meat, bread, wine and fruit.A dog lay asleep in the sunshine. In the distance (‘Some fading evident, texture of weave slightly hardened’) was a flower-filled meadow. The border was intricate (‘Formal frame pattern: escutcheons, roses and oak leaves’) and the colours (‘Reds, blues and greens on a neutral ground’) soft and pleasing.On a cold spring morning in London, Anthony Verey stood in his shop,Anthony Verey Antiques,warming his hands on a mug of coffee, staring up at this tapestry. It had been in his possession for some time. Four years? Five? He’d bid for it at a private sale in Suffolk. He’d wanted it badly enough to pay more than a thousand pounds over the reserve price of £6,000 and when it was delivered to the shop he’d hung it on a wall at the very back, opposite the desk where nowadays he sat all the time, pretending to do work of some kind, but in fact existing in a shallow state of reverie, keeping watch over his marvellous possessions – hisbeloveds,as he called them – and sometimes peering beyond them to observe the passers-by on the Pimlico Road.Once the tapestry was in place, Anthony found that he was dismayed by the idea of selling it. The sale-price he put on it – £14,000 – was intended to discourage buyers, but in fact this price only existed in Anthony’s mind and wasn’t written down anywhere. Sometimes, when people asked him about the tapestry, he told them it wasn’t his, he was just looking after it. Sometimes, he announced that the sale-price was ‘in the region of £19,000’ and waited for dealers to wince. Sometimes, he just said baldly that the tapestry wasn’t for sale. It was his: his own Louis XV Aubusson. He knew in his heart that he’d never part with it.Anthony was a sixty-four-year-old man of medium height, with abundant grey crinkly hair. Today, he was wearing a red cashmere polo-neck sweater under a jacket of soft brown tweed. It was never very warm in the shop because thebelovedshad a tendency to crack, bulge, fade or split in temperatures above 60° Fahrenheit. But Anthony himself was thin and he feared the cold. By his desk, he kept a heavy old oil-filled heater, which creaked companionably on winter afternoons. He drank a lot of very hot coffee, occasionally spiked with cognac. He wore thermal socks. Even scarves, sometimes, and woollen gloves.He knew that this inconvenient palaver for thebelovedswas eccentric, but he didn’t care. Anthony Verey had no wife, mistress, lover, child, dog or cat. Across his life, at one time or another, in various pairings and combinations, he’d possessed all these things – all except the child. But now he was alone. He was a man who had grown to love furnishings and nothing else.Anthony sipped his coffee. His gaze remained on the tapestry, in which the aristocrats sat on the right with the trees behind them and the servants approached from the left. The dog’s slumber and the happy expectation apparent on the faces of the people suggested a moment of undisturbed, hedonistic contentment. Lunch was arriving. The sun blazed down.But there was something else. At the very edge of the scene, to the extreme right of it, almost hidden among foliage, was a sinister face, the face of an old woman. On her head was a black cap. She was directing towards the people a look of exceptional malevolence. But nobody paid her any attention. It was as though they hadn’t seen her.For long periods of time, Anthony found himself looking at this old woman’s face. Had she been part of the original design? She seemed insubstantial: a disembodied face, a gnarled hand on her chin, the rest of her hidden by the trees. Had the tapestry weavers (‘Probably from the atelier of Pierre Dumonteil, 1732–1787’) alleviated the monotony of their work by adding this small but telling detail of their own devising?Anthony drank the dregs of the coffee and was about to walk over to his desk, to make a half-hearted beginning on his weekly accounts, when something else caught his eye. It was a loose thread in the tapestry.A nearby halogen lamp illuminated it. This black thread hung down over the old woman’s brow, as though it might have been a lock of the crone’s hair. Anthony put down his mug. He reached up and took the minute silk filament between thumb and forefinger.The filament was less than a centimetre long. The feel of it was exceptionally soft, and Anthony kept his hand there, rubbing the little thread for a short space of time which could have been a minute, or could have been three minutes, or four, or even seven, but which was in any case long enough for him to come to full consciousness of the shocking and incontrovertible fact about his life that it had suddenly revealed to him: when he died, not one shard or splinter from any one of hisbelovedswould he be able to take with him. Even if some afterlife turned out to exist, which he doubted, he wouldn’t have with himanythingto console him, not even this black silk thread, less than one centimetre long.The door buzzer sounded and woke Anthony from a trance which, in all the days and weeks to come, he would see as being of paramount importance. A man in a pinstripe suit and wearing a pink tie came into the shop. He looked around him. Not a dealer, Anthony concluded swiftly, not even an amateur collector, just one of the Ignorant Rich, looking first at this thing and then at that, not knowing what he’s seeing . . .Anthony let the ignoramus move towards the most expensive piece in the shop, a marble-topped giltwood console table (‘The top assorted specimen marbles withinverde anticomoulded borders, first quarter 19th century, Italian. The gilt frames and supporting standing Atlas figures, 3rd quarter 18th century. Also Italian.’), then wandered slowly towards him.