Together We Stand – Episode 32

“All I know is that he worked as a journalist in the Crimea and was treated at Miss Nightingale’s hospital at Scutari,” Henry told him.

“Yes, that’s one of the few things I’ve been able to establish.” Twm Williams glanced at Madeleine. “Did you know that he was treated at the same time as Miss Phillips’s father?”

“No,” Madeleine said in surprise. “Tanni’s never mentioned it.”

“But didn’t Mr Phillips die some time ago?” Henry frowned.

“Yes, indeed.” Inspector Williams drummed a pattern with his fingers on the table. “Suicide.”

Madeleine gasped.

“I’d no idea. Poor man. And how terrible for Tanni and her family.”

“Yes.” The inspector was lost in thought.

Madeleine scanned his face, deep in preoccupation.

“Are you suggesting, Inspector, that it might not have been suicide after all?”

Inspector Williams started.

“I’m not at liberty . . .” He came to a halt. “To be honest, the possibility has crossed my mind. Mr Phillips was known to be troubled, and the pain of his wounds often led him to take a little more beer than was wise.

“There was no obvious foul play, and it was a natural assumption at the time. I’d still say so now if it hadn’t been for recent events.

“It might be nothing, but it strikes me as untidy. And untidy bothers me.”

Madeleine’s eyes widened.

“Tanni said there was someone in the studio one night when she was working down in the basement.

“She only saw his shadow at the top of the steps. She thought she had disturbed him and frightened him away. But suppose . . .” She swallowed.

“Suppose it was something else that disturbed the intruder,” Henry finished slowly. “Suppose it was Tanni they were looking for.”

“Indeed,” the inspector remarked.

“I must get down to the pier,” Madeleine said, rising to her feet. “If there’s any possibility that Tanni might be in danger, we can’t leave her alone.”

“Agreed.” Henry stood up, too. “We should get down there right away. You are welcome to search the picture wagon and the house.”

“Thank you,” Inspector Williams replied. “It would be helpful if Miss Phillips is accompanied at all times.

“I’ve arranged for a couple of my officers to keep an eye on the house, but I can hardly put an officer outside the studio. It would put anyone off having their portrait taken.

“It would also give a signal to anyone wishing Miss Phillips ill that we were on to him, and heaven knows what a desperate man might do.”

“I’ll make sure there’s always someone with Tanni,” Madeleine said firmly. “The volunteers from the tearooms are itching to get back to some kind of gainful activity while it remains closed.”

“I would be grateful if you don’t mention the reason.” He cleared his throat. “Can’t be too careful in these cases.”

Henry stared at him.

“Are you suggesting whoever has been trying to harm Tanni may have come from inside the tearooms?”

“I hope not, but best to be careful. We don’t want to provoke anything until we have time to find out exactly what all this is about.”

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.