Under The Elm Tree – Episode 50

I LET him down. He used to be so proud of me and suddenly he had a daughter with a criminal record! It was always between us after that, even though we never talked about it.”

There was a pause, and Susan wondered if she had said too much. Then Ella’s voice came into her ear again.

“Look, Mum, I don’t think you should be so hard on yourself. Everybody does stupid things sometimes. You’ve got to get over it.”

As she listened to her daughter, Susan allowed herself a smile. Youngsters these days were so matter of fact!

“What exactly was the bracelet like?” Ella continued.

“I never saw it. The police gave a description of it to a reporter, though, and they printed it in the paper. Apparently it was made of emeralds set in gold stars. Worth twenty thousand pounds, the constable said in court. That was a lot of money in those days.”

Ella gave a sudden squeal, and Susan took the phone away from her ear.

“Good heavens, Ella, you nearly deafened me! Whatever’s the matter?”

“Hold on to your hat, Mum.Do you believe in coincidences?”

“Well,” Susan said cautiously, “they do happen sometimes, certainly.”

“You won’t believe this, Mum, honestly you won’t, but Joe’s just found a bracelet exactly like that.”

Susan felt her hands begin to shake.

“Where did he find it?” she asked.

“Up at Wembury House. He discovered it behind a skirting board.”

“Wembury House?” Susan asked faintly as the importance of the news began to hit her. Was it possible that she’d be able to clear her name at last?

“Yes,” Ella replied. “He’s just taken it down to Farchester Police Station to hand it in.”


“I think it’s terrible what the Germans are doing, bombing our airfields like that.”

“We’re at war, Mrs Bone,” Kitty said, running her finger down the list her customer had given her. “I’m afraid we can’t expect anything else.”

“They’re bombing our cities, too, and the dockyards and factories,” Mrs Bone continued, putting her shopping basket on the counter. “Nowhere’s safe, nowhere at all.”

“Not even here in the countryside,” Queenie agreed, joining in the conversation as she stopped beside the scales. She weighed out two ounces of currants and tipped them into a cone of paper. “Did you hear about the bomb at Paggets’ farm last night?” she continued, absently twisting the top round.

Mrs Bone shook her head.

“Postie told me this morning that all the windows were blown out. It was a miracle no-one was hurt.”

“Whyever would they bother bombing a farm?”

“Oh, I’m sure they didn’t mean to. No, that wouldn’t make any sense at all. They were probably ditching a bomb they had left over before going home.”

“I expect you’re right, Queenie.” Mrs Bone leaned forward, her brows brought together in a frown. “I heard on the wireless that London really copped it last night. My Bill says Portsmouth was hit pretty bad, too.”

“Our pilots have certainly got their work cut out,” Queenie replied, and Kitty was sure she could feel the old lady’s eyes on her. “I think they’re doing a marvellous job. What was it
Mr Churchill said about them in his speech? Something about the field of human conflict?”

Kitty stopped stacking grocery items on the counter and looked up.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” she quoted.

She would never forget hearing the Prime Minister’s speech on the wireless and she would never forget those words as long as she lived, for every one of them seemed to be about her Tam.

They were calling it the Battle of Britain, and the skies over southern England roared with planes almost every day. Each time she saw a Spitfire flying over, or listened to the news on the wireless about the aerial battles, her heart was in her mouth. She couldn’t help it.

The only time she could relax, even for a moment, was when a letter came from him.

But then the tension would gradually build up again until she was at fever pitch waiting for the next letter. So many pilots had been lost.

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”.