Back in the house, I was in luck. The lounge door was still a little open. I saw the small bottle on the tray hidden behind the gin. Mrs Hilton-White had been careless, or perhaps there was no place to hide it in what she was wearing: the evening dress had no pockets. And she had no clue what I was searching for. Quietly I stepped inside the lounge and removed it. In the kitchen I poured a few drops from the bottle into a plastic cup, then I returned to the lounge and replaced the bottle.

When I was safely back in my room I held the cup to my nose. The smell was exactly the same as the weed killer in the garden shed. And then I knew for sure what Mrs Hilton-White was doing. She was killing her husband slowly, just like her twin killed hers. Mr Hilton-White was a very wealthy man, and so had his brother been.

When night had fallen I slipped back into the house from my room. I walked in the dark back to the lounge. I switched on the table lamp and picked up the photograph of the girls. I looked at it carefully.

There were the twins, smiling back at me. But it was what was behind them in the picture that I was interested in. There was a small house. I recognised it. I had seen many like it, painted in that light green colour. It was one of the railway houses. These girls didn’t come from a rich family. Their father was a railway worker.

Underneath one of the windows was a rose bed, of red, white and yellow roses.

Did these two girls, growing up poor in this small house, think of something that one day could change their futures? Did these smiling beauties watch their father killing rose beetles with his special weed killer? Did an idea form in their minds? Were they staring into the lens of a wealthy man’s camera when he took the picture that summer day, unaware of what was to happen to him?

I stayed staring at that picture far too long. I was not as alert as I should have been, because, having heard no footsteps I looked up and saw Mrs Hilton White in the doorway. She smiled at me. It was strange. Mrs Hilton-White never smiled at me. She had changed out of her evening gown into a nightie and dressing gown in a pale peach colour.

As she walked towards me I knew something was wrong. Something didn’t fit. Her voice when she spoke was softer than usual. Almost soothing.

“Twins,” she said softly. “That’s me” she said as she tapped her fingernail against the glass, indicating the girl on the right of the picture.

I looked up quickly. She had just given herself away, in that moment. You see, I have a good memory. Like an elephant, I never forget.

“I just got up to fetch some water,” she said quickly. “I’m working late.”

I watched as she walked back across the foyer and slipped in through the door to the west wing.

Now I knew for sure. But I would have to wait. I am a patient person. I was prepared to, because however long I had to wait, would be worth it in the end.


Tell us what you think: What did Nosipho know for sure?