About The Hollow Ground – Episode 49

The news rocked the entire neighbourhood and repercussions abounded.

Aggie Dewes was heard to have made a permanent home with her widowed sister at Nantwich, and many of the Vinewood staff left to find employment elsewhere.

Shortly after Christmas, Nan received a letter from Daniel.

With hands that trembled, she slipped the sheet of writing paper from the envelope and took it to the casement to read, the better to see in the wintry light.

My dear Nan, Daniel wrote. As you will imagine, this missive is not easy to write, and words cannot express how deeply I regret the sorrow and torment the recent disclosure of my sire’s fall from grace will have brought to you.

You have my solemn word that I personally had no part in what took place, nor did I have any knowledge of it.

Suffice to say that you are hereby released from any obligations of matrimony. The Vinewood Estate is to be sold, after which I shall be removing abroad to live.

It is unlikely our paths will cross again. May future peace be yours.

Your humble servant,
Daniel Harrison.

The letter shook in Nan’s hand. She thought of Daniel’s handsome face and found it in her to feel a stab of pity for him.

None of this was his fault. He’d been a pawn in the game, nothing more.

She recalled his tendency to absent himself from the family home – a result, no doubt, stemming from an unhappy childhood and the cold discipline of an avaricious, bullying father.

Nan slid the letter back into the envelope, went to the writing desk and, taking a key from a secret cavity, she unlocked a narrow drawer and placed the letter inside.

Later, she was thinking about all that had taken place when there was a rap on the front door.

Mercy’s light step sounded as she crossed the hallway to answer the summons.

Nan composed herself to greet the caller. There was a pause while the person was divested of coat and hat, and a deep voice betrayed a gentleman visitor.

None was more surprised than Nan to see her uncle enter the room.

“Uncle James. Good day to you.”

“Nan, my dear niece.”

There was a kindness in her uncle’s expression that had not been there before, a faint sense of remorse about him.

“I mustn’t keep the horse waiting too long and no doubt you have things to do. Nan, I have called to bring you blessings for the New Year.

“We Vesseys have had a tragic time of it. Nothing can alter that. All we can do is look to the future. And I include myself wholeheartedly in that.”

He spread his hands in appeal.

“I wish to apologise for my attitude towards you. My dealings with your papa were no fault of yours and I’ve been wrong to vent my feelings on you.

“I do not expect forgiveness, but your aunt and I would feel gladdened if you would visit us when you feel able.”

Of the impression that her ears were deceiving her, all Nan could muster was a silent nod.

“My thanks, Uncle. It will be my pleasure,” she replied once she had composed herself.

After some rather stilted conversation, James Vessey took his leave.

Nan felt it would be a while before kinship between them would be restored to an even keel. But the olive branch was offered. It was a start.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.