They lived on a small farm estate in well-meaning Hertfordshire, in a cluster of hamlets ending with the word ‘End’ - Dane End, Green End, Round End.

‘End of the world!’ her Classics’ teaching father had used to joke whenever they drove back in their Ford Saloon from an adventure in Ely or Saffron Walden, but he wasn’t far wrong.

And in that part of England everything was still basic.

Fields were proper large fields, full of fog-hollows and frost-pockets, fairy rings and apple-boughs. Their small-land holding included ancient woodland on chalk soil and though they could do nothing progressive with the land they were proud to own its gnarled barks and badger dens. Herds of mythic white deer frolicked on the chalk forests.
It was an idyllic place to spend a childhood.

The Jones’s loved living there, not least because the tiny land they had gave them in that small quarter of the county some distinction. They were decent people and their only daughter was naive but kind though given to think she knew things when she probably didn’t



know them at all. She was seventeen, and not so much beautiful as handsome, her thick hair the colour of bark, her eyes a plain Suffolk coast-blue. By the time she got to India this would give her no advantage. But in England in Hertfordshire, her naivety, frankness and plain Saxon prettiness didn’t do much harm at all.

They had briefly considered Italy but Susan was half-hearted about it.

She’d had a passion for India since her childhood visits to the Buddhas of the Victoria and Albert Museum (although her father has always shielded her from the Hindu deities) and they had read her Kipling’s Just So stories – though never Kim, considered too dark and brooding. Miraculously, just as they thought of booking the boat, Imperial Airways had extended its service to Calcutta via Marseilles and Alexandria - Susan would go on the plane they called the ‘flying boat’, and this more than anything else raised ripples round the county. When totted up they had five - no six - significant contacts in India itself, which when mapped out covered roughly three months. The plan was to get back to England to find a job but who knew what avenues and options might open up for her in India.