Together We Stand – Episode 25

“You are certain the window was bolted?” Inspector Twm Williams queried, completing his cursory glance around the photographic studio in the early morning light.

“Yes,” Gwendolyn returned, not bothering to hide her irritation. “I closed them myself.”

The inspector nodded.

“And there would have been no reason for the lady photographer, Miss . . .” He held his notes out at arm’s length, peering at them with the gaze of a man in need of spectacles when not on duty.

“Phillips,” Gwendolyn supplied, irritation mounting. “No, none.”

“Yes, of course. Miss Tanwen Phillips.”

The inspector sighed. Llandudno was not exactly a hotbed of crime compared to his days as a young constable in London’s East End, but he did have a particularly nasty robbery and an attempted murder waiting for him on his desk.

He gave a second glance around the neat studio. There were no signs of damage and no-one was hurt. Just a camera missing.

Twm glanced at Gwendolyn, who still, after 20 years or more, could set his hard policeman’s heart racing with a twitch of her well-arched eyebrows.

“I’ll make certain we’re looking out for the camera, should it ever turn up. I’ll also make certain one of my constables takes in the tearooms on his rounds from now on. That should put any would-be intruder off, Mrs Humphries.”

“Not if they’re already inside,” Evan said from the studio door.

“Inside?” Twm repeated.

“Whoever stole the camera must have been inside. They opened the windows from inside.”

“Indeed,” the inspector said dubiously.

Evan frowned.

“Inspector, doesn’t it strike you as more than a coincidence that someone tried to break into the picture wagon at the Bron Derw, and now a camera has gone missing?” He met the inspector’s blank look.

“Henry Gillingham was stabbed. I patched him up myself. It could have been a nasty incident if that knife had gone in any further.”

“And you expect us to wait to be murdered in our beds,” Gwendolyn put in.

“I’m not . . .” The inspector coughed and recollected himself. He glanced again at the empty space where the camera had stood. “Are you telling me that the camera that was stolen belonged to Samuel Gillingham?”

“Yes,” Evan replied. “I left a message with your housekeeper last night.”

“Ah.” Twm fished out his notebook. “I’m afraid Mrs Girdon is still rather wary of the telephone.”

He went to the window, peering at it closely.

“No sign of forced entry.”

“Miss Phillips was convinced there was someone in the studio before she left. She thought it might have been one of the volunteers,” Gwendolyn told him. “Which is why we returned when she realised the young woman in question had already left.”

“I see.” The inspector was making notes. “And the young woman is . . .?”

“Edith McGovern,” Gwendolyn supplied.

“Any connection to McGovern’s Merchant Shipping?” the inspector asked without looking up.

“She is Mr McGovern’s youngest daughter,” Gwendolyn replied and Twm raised his eyes to meet hers. “Her family don’t approve of her being here. She volunteered to help at the tearooms with her cousins.”

“Does a young woman good to see something of the world before she settles down,” Twm remarked to no-one in particular.

“Not when they are attempting to marry her off to the highest bidder,” Gwendolyn retorted. She met his thoughtful gaze.

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.