Together We Stand – Episode 19

“You have to stay still,” Madeleine said a few hours later, trying not to smile at Evan’s slightly pained expression. “I have to say, you make a rather convincing Roman soldier.”

“I can’t help feeling I’d have been far better as a bard,” he retorted. “At least I’d be swathed in robes.”

“There’s always another chance, you know,” Madeleine replied demurely. “Tanni has to practise to get this right before she unleashes the costumes and the backgrounds on the unsuspecting population of Llandudno.”

Evan was less than convinced. He wasn’t quite sure how he’d been talked into this. He couldn’t help feeling uncomfortable and exposed in the short tunic and armour created from stiffened material and painted to have the look of metal.

His legs hadn’t seen the light of day since he’d gone into long trousers, and he wasn’t sure they should be on show now, particularly not with two women eyeing him with a critical gaze.

Tanni’s look was one of the true professional, who saw only the picture she was about to capture for posterity, but Madeleine was clearly enjoying herself. In short, he felt an utter fool.

He was relieved when Tanni finally triggered the exposure, counting down clearly until she replaced the cap on the front of the large wooden box of the camera, and he could breathe.

“Thank you,” she said. “That was perfect.”

“No-one will recognise you,” Madeleine said.

She turned to Tanni, who was removing the exposed plate to develop it quickly in the darkroom down in the cellar, before storing it away, ready for printing.

“I think we should try the castle by the lake, as well. I want to try the princess costume. I’m sure that will be popular.”

“Of course.” Tanni nodded. “I think there should also be the knight, as these are supposed to show the kinds of portraits that can be taken, and I haven’t taken one of a man and a woman together to show to husbands and wives.” She cleared her throat. “If you don’t mind, Doctor.”

“I can see I shan’t escape alive if I don’t,” he replied in tones of resignation. “I’m going to have to round up some more victims for you at this rate.”

“This will be the last one, I promise,” Tanni replied, smiling.

It had been a shrewd suggestion of Madeleine’s to take a few practice photographs that she could display on the wall.

Tanni was enjoying the challenge of arranging her subjects in front of Madeleine’s painted backdrops. She’d lost her shyness of Dr Humphries, who had been surprisingly good-humoured about being the only male willing to be press-ganged into posing in costume.

The workmen had arranged an ingenious system of pulleys, resembling that of a theatre, to replace the backdrops. By the time Tanni returned with a new photographic plate ready to be exposed, the painting of the castle, with the waters of the lake in front, and Snowdon soaring up behind into the mist, was in place.

Evan had finally been permitted to regain some dignity with a flowing cloak to envelop him, while Madeleine returned from the little room at one side, arranging the ties and folds of the mediaeval-style gown, cleverly designed to fit everyone from the largest matron to the slightest slip of a girl.

“For dragon slaying,” she announced, handing over a large ornate sword made of wood. “You can lean on it,” she added as rebellion stirred in Evan’s eyes.

“I’ll never be able to show my face in public again,” he grumbled.

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.