No. 4, Whitehall Gardens – Episode 27

No. 4 Whitehall Gardens illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

Clementine stood at the back of the garden of No. 4, half hidden by trees. Her mind raced and she felt sick.

Over the heads of the Peel children playing on the grass, she watched William Grant’s figure disappear round the house. William, the man with whom she knew she was in love.

For the past half hour, he had been talking to her so sweetly and so earnestly. She had even allowed herself to think that he might declare himself right there and then.

If he had spoken of love, she would have fallen into his arms, never mind what stern Miss Everett would say if she’d happened to look out of her window on the second floor.

But then, as William talked and she let her eyes luxuriate in his face, he had said a name. Westall. It was Molly’s name – the surname of Clementine’s so-called friend who had nearly landed them both in a prison cell for fraud.

It was also the name of Molly’s father, that feckless, arrogant excuse for a confidence trickster whom Molly worshipped as a hero.

It had been a passing comment for William, that John Westall was the first husband of William’s mother, but Clementine was as certain as she could be that this John was Molly’s father, and that Molly was William’s half-sister. The coincidence was too great for anything else.

She knew that he had a sister, but not Molly! Oh, how happiness could turn on a pin head!

Clementine reran their conversations in her mind. William had told the story of his mother’s first marriage, calling it a mistake.

He’d spoken of his mother’s first husband as a master criminal, and now Clementine recalled his sarcastic tone and the way he had been unable to hide how much he despised Westall.

“Miss Clementine.”

The sound of a deep voice jolted her out of her thoughts, and she looked up to see coachman Griff Jones striding across the lawn.

“Oh, it’s you, Griff,” she said, straightening her shoulders. “How can I help you?”

Griff’s head was turning one way and then the other, looking down the side of the house then back at Clementine.

“There was a man here,” he said.

“Yes,” she said. “That’s right. He is a policeman, Griff.”

“Is something amiss?” Griff asked.

She watched him scan the garden for the children and count them. He reached five.

“No, nothing amiss, Griff,” Clementine replied.

“He was one of them men from Bow Street,” Griff said.

He was frowning, and with a sinking of her heart Clementine realised that he was jealous.

“Yes, that’s right. He was from the Runners,” she replied.

Clementine did not need the added complication of a jealous man. She was miserable enough.

But Griff had something else to say.

“You spoke about the new pair of horses for the stables?” he said, brightening a little. “Mr Peel himself has agreed the purchase from this friend of yours.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.