HINDU MOON

A Novel of Romance and Mystery


HINDU MOON is the story of an Englishman and
his love for a young widow and their brief romance,
But he is whisked away to England without telling her goodbye.
Handicapped, he doesn't return to Ceylon to find her,
but upon his death, he bequeathes an estate of 75 million pounds
to her and her children. The task of finding her a quarter century later
falls to a barrister who must go to Sri Lanka and find the woman
and her children, and give them their inheritance,
amid a country embroiled in a civil war.


EXCERPT

Chapter One

London , 1983

The sounds of London are faint as Nick Newhouse sits in the quiet of his office after another restless night and another argument with Meredith. At twenty-nine, Nick is stuck in a loveless, childless marriage, with a wife who constantly reminds him of his failings.

He could still envision Meredith, twenty and spunky, red hair and green eyes flashing with her quick smile. She had taken him completely by surprise and he became instantly infatuated with her. He accepted her invitation to walk in the garden, abandoning her father’s party, a festive occasion to celebrate his father’s retirement. They walked and talked, chatting about anything, about nothing, as she slipped her hand into his, pulling him towards the lake on the pretense of looking at the swans. She had asked for his handkerchief to spread on the grass, to protect her clothes, as he knelt beside her, feeling warmth in her smile.

She was forward, placing his hand in her lap, hers resting gently on top, as she leaned towards him, placing her lips on his. But she withdrew quickly, teasingly, pretending shyness for the boldness of her action, explaining he possessed the charms to sweep a girl off her feet.

He shook his head, free of the haziness of her flirtation, married four years and hardened by a romance gone sour. He probably would have caught on to her ploys had she not intensified her efforts, tangling him in her web. After the second date, she had feigned her surrender to his irresistible charisma, she said, and taken him to bed, exposing him to wonders of lovemaking he had only suspected. The romance was heated and fast-paced, marked with frequent episodes of passion, highlighted by their efforts in the back seat of her father’s limo, in the garden, or several sessions in the library of her home. Rarely did they find time to make love in bed, not until the wedding night, with exhausting feats of passion from many positions, in every room, and on all the furniture. But she seemed to tire of lovemaking, or of him, he wasn’t sure which.

It began when he had refused to join his wife’s family’s company and handle legal affairs. She had become angry and more disenchanted, ridiculing him for not building the law practice, and for failing to bring home the income she had expected.

He sipped his cup of coffee and watched as the day slowly lightened, giving definition to the buildings, poles, and lines throughout his neighborhood. He continued thinking of how miserable his life had become, loveless and without prospects in either his profession or his passions.

He heard the outer door open and rose to see who was there.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, suh. I ‘ave a delivery for a Mr. Nicholas New’ouse, Barrister.”

“I’m Newhouse. I’ll take it.”

“You’ll ‘aveta show me some identification, guv’ner.”

“Certainly.” Nick showed the man his license and signed for the large envelope, placing a shilling in the man’s open hand.

“Thank ya, guv’ner, and good day to ya.”

Nick didn’t recognize the Liverpool return address. He slipped the opener into the envelope and slid it across the width of the thick paper, allowing the contents to fall onto his desk. He picked up the stapled legal document and read the title page. “Last Will and Testament of Robert Lewis Lowell.”

Lowell, thought Nick to himself, remembering the man of whom his father had so often spoken. Lowell was a businessman with offices in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin. He was handicapped, having lost the use of his left arm in an accident, but had amassed a small fortune from his businesses. 

“Was is right,” Nick said aloud as he glanced at the evidence of the man’s death. He noticed a second thick envelope lying on his desk, one addressed to him, and marked, “Personal and Confidential.”

Nick opened the envelope and removed the pages within, allowing a slip of paper to fall onto the desk. He picked it up and gasped. It was a bank draft made out to him for five hundred thousand pounds. A notation on the draft read, “For duties as executor.”

Nick was extremely puzzled, but flushed with excitement of so much money. He retrieved the letter and began reading.       

 

    15 January 1983

    Nicholas Newhouse, Esquire

London

My dear Mr. Newhouse,

As you read this letter, you are aware of my death, but as I write it, and my will, I assure you I am of sound mind, if not body, and am fully aware of my actions. My own solicitor has gone to considerable trouble to vouch for my sanity and has filed these papers with the proper courts. Thus, I assure you, the instructions contained within this letter and the document are free of all legal challenges and you can proceed with all haste to execute them.

As the son of one of my closest associates, I have chosen you, for I suspect you also possess the same fierce honesty as your father. Also, my inquiries have revealed you are a man of impeccable reputation, unsullied by greed, politics, or wanton ambition. Thus, it is with confidence I entrust the bulk of my estate to you to administer according to the terms set forth in my will.

Nick, my estate totals to about seventy-five million pounds. The sums are available to you at various institutions listed in the will, and you will have no difficulty getting access to these funds as you need them. I trust you will see the monies distributed as described in the document. The enclosed draft is to serve as a retainer and you will receive the customary commission for your services.

I want you, Nick, to go to Sri Lanka , for it is there you will find the only woman I have ever loved. It is to her, her children, and her village that you will administer my estate. The attached letter of that time in my life will give you more details, but I will tell you briefly all I know of them and the village.

I do not know the name of the village, or even if it had a name. It is southwest of the city of Trincomalee, on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka . It is small with twenty or thirty huts located near a large lake east of the river Yan. I remember a very large tree on the edge of the village where I camped. It was thick and produced a large canopy, offering excellent shelter.

The woman’s name is Sharaah, but I don’t know her last name. She had two children, a boy, eight, and a girl, six. She was a widow at the time of my arrival, as a crocodile had killed her husband. I do not remember the names of the children, or if I ever knew them. Sharaah would be about forty-nine now, still young enough to enjoy the trust you establish for her.

 There was an old man in the village who spoke good English, and I remember his name was Kumar Nasikanilam. He was old then and it is doubtful he is still living, but there may be people who remember him. They were Hindus and there was much friction between them and the ruling Buddhists. Nasikanilam had explained the situation to me, always cautioning me to be careful, but I failed to heed his warnings. He was a wonderfully bright man, and I found the people very warm and friendly, at least before I settled with Sharaah.

There was also a Buddhist officer in Trincomalee, Captain Sirimavo Sakti, of the Sinhalese army, who may also be able to help you. He may remember me. If he does, he will remember the village and can show you where it is.

Please, give it all the effort you can and find them for me. Once you locate Sharaah and her children, establish trusts for them, to provide for their welfare and their families, forevermore.

For the village, establish a hospital, schools, better housing, water, electricity, and any other civilities it needs. If you are able, establish a fund for the improvements of other rural villages. Do this for me, Nick, for it is all I am able to do to amend my failures to them.

Complete instructions and details are contained in the Will.

In the event you are unsuccessful, or should you choose not to accept the commission, please return the documents and retainer to my solicitor who has further instructions.


Good luck, my boy.


Robert L. Lowell

Liverpool

Nick laid the letter on the desk, stunned with its contents and excited at the prospect of this assignment. It was the break he had dreamed of, one that would insure his future for the remainder of his life. He would be wealthy with the retainer alone, not even considering the long term administration of the trusts. But he would have to find the woman, her children, and the village, with very little to go on, in a foreign land torn with civil unrest. If he were to fail, then he would have to face Meredith with another failure, a prospect he didn’t want to consider.

As he picked up the lengthy manuscript, he was pleased and felt the heat of excitement, a challenge to his skills. He settled back to read the story of Robert Lowell’s one true love, and he had little conception of the events that awaited him.


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