This is the second and final part of this little mystery story.
If you missed the first part, you might wish to click here and read that first.
I found Jim in the study grappling with one of granddad's crossword monstrosities.
If mum had been trying to turn granny's legacy into a lesson for me then Jim was without doubt the inspiration. For five years we had co-habitated in splendid non-marital bliss.
I suspected that mother secretly disapproved, not so much of our reluctance to wed as of our blatant success in staying together without doing so.
If she had calculated that granny's experience would spur me to the altar, she was misguided. All it had done was shatter the illusion of yet another happy marriage.
Jim looked up and grinned as I came in.
"He had a very devious mind, your old grandpa," he said. He had solved only three of the clues and yet I could tell he was inordinately chuffed with himself - his Northern Irish accent was very pronounced.
I handed him the note.
"What do you make of this?" I asked.
He read it quickly once, guffawed loudly, and then went over it again more slowly.
"It's terrible." He said.
"Apart from that."
I told him the story. In the middle of it he snapped his fingers and filled in 3 down in the crossword. I wasn't annoyed - Jim's mind worked on many levels but at least one was always reserved for me. When I'd finished, he got up and bestowed one of his patented friendly bear hugs on me. I must have looked as if I needed it.
"So old Faye was having it off with a Welshman?"
"Guess so, can you figure it out?"
"Well, it is a bit of a mystery, isn't it? I thought maybe you could 'read between the lines' and tell me where JJ has been waiting for my granny all these years?"
He looked longingly over at his crossword.
"He probably wasn't at all. The amorous auld goat probably met some other old biddy somewhere on his travels and never bothered turning up. I mean, if Sophie and Faye went cruising every July twelfth to every place they'd ever been together then surely they would have found him if he was there, wouldn't they?"
"August." I said.
"They went looking on August 12th, not July."
Jim picked up the letter again.
"Naw, look it says the 'Glorious Twelfth'..." he blinked hard and then laughed, "Oh yeah! 'Glorious Twelfth' means different things to different people, doesn't it? To you it's the day the grouse hunting season starts but to me it's Orange day, the Twelfth of July."
"Oh God! Do you think they were looking for him in the wrong month?"
It was too much, I sat down.
"Well, it would be an excellent example of how certain phrases can be subject to misinterpretation but, no, it doesn't make sense. Look, the poem is dated August 12th and he says here he's going off for a year. Besides, what would a Welshman know about sodding William of Orange? No, it's not that - it's not anything except an old funeral-day fable and you shouldn't go annoying yourself with it. Here, I'll mind it for you."
I snatched the letter out of his grip, surprising both of us by my ferocity.
"There should be a reason, Jim, an explanation, otherwise it's just too futile. Too...sad"
Before I knew it, I was being bear-hugged again, and crying.
"Get your coat. I'll take you home."
It sounded like a good plan.
I must have been with Jim longer than I thought because, when I came out of the study, mum was at the door seeing the last of the guests out.
I slipped into the drawing room, avoiding them. Granddad sat alone among the fire lit debris of paper plates and half empty glasses. I looked down at him. A string of saliva spun from his lips. I took out the poem and read it once more in the firelight.
...and if you don't
then you will find
old JJ by reading
between the lines.
A low, alien, chuckle made me jump. I looked down to see my Grandfather staring directly at me in a way he had not done in many years. I fell back in shock. His eyes were unbelievably lucid and clear.
"Correk teen fluid." He slurred, the saliva falling away.
"What?" I whispered.
His eyes jerked from me to the letter I was barely holding onto.
"'Didn't have any such thing then, 'weren't even 'vented. 'Had to scratch...take razor blade...scratch it out."
Unbelievably, his hand lifted from the armrest. A bony finger momentarily pointed at the open page then fell back.
Mother came in.
"Is he peaceful?" She asked.
Ignoring her and with trembling hands, I held the sheet of paper up before the firelight. Even by that fickle glow, I could clearly see the scratch mark on the paper. My stomach lurched inside me as I suddenly understood. He had changed one capital letter to lowercase, nothing more.
The tiniest alteration, two lives destroyed.
I swung angrily to face mother.
"You were wrong, he knew all about Granny and JJ."
"No, mum, it's not! He must have found the letter in the hall before you did. He was probably going to burn it but, when he saw the golden opportunity it provided, he couldn't resist. He loved his word games far too much.
Mothers pupils were jumping from Granddad to me and back at an alarming rate. She didn't have a clue what I was saying.
"You said granny worked in Buckinghamshire but she didn't, did she?. It was Berkshire, wasn't it mum?
"Why yes, yes it was but_"
"JJ waited for her in the first place that he ever caught sight of her, ages before she ever met him. This poem doesn't say 'reading', it says 'Reading'. Don't you see? The London-bound platform of Reading station - the one between the lines - that's where he was."
(c) Ken Armstrong