Together We Stand – Episode 41

“It sounds like a riot!” Tanni cried in despair as she and Madeleine reached the furthest roof from the window, crawling on hands and knees across the slates. “Look, the police are arriving. No-one is going to see us up here.”

“It’ll be all right. They’ll work out we are missing and look for us.” Madeleine glanced back. There was still no sign of the intruder emerging to follow.

They had reached the end of the row of terraced buildings, and were clinging to the final chimney, where the roof fell away on all sides towards the street.

“Look,” Tanni said, her voice rising in alarm. “Someone’s opening the window. They’re not giving up.”

“Well, I’m not staying here to be murdered.” Madeleine peered down.

As she had hoped, there was a small balcony with a room in the eaves below them, with an ill-fitting window, just like the one they had left.

Once they got down there, if they couldn’t force the window open, they would be truly trapped.

Tanni followed her gaze.

“At least we’ll be hidden.”

They slid down gingerly on to the little balcony.

Tanni pulled her hat from her head, using it as protection as she broke the pane, smothering the sound of shattering as much as she could, and praying their pursuer wasn’t near enough to hear.

She reached in and undid the lock, allowing the two of them to slip inside.

Like the room they had left, the little attic was used only for storage.

“Let’s hope there’s no lock on the door,” Tanni muttered.

“Shhh.” Madeleine pulled her down.

Above them came the sound of boots, clattering as they made their way above their hiding place.

Holding their breath, Tanni and Madeleine stayed as still as they could and waited.

*  *  *  *

“Mama!” Evan reached the stage as Gwendolyn was pulled out, covered in dust.

“Good grief!” Councillor Banks arrived behind Evan, his face ashen. He pulled himself together.

“This is an outrage. You can see what this foolishness can lead to. This is precisely why I was forced to shut down those tearooms.”

Gwendolyn sneezed.

“I’ve had more than a few bruises in my time.” She struggled to her feet.

“Maybe you should put your energies into dispersing your ruffians, Andrew.

“I’m quite sure the police have been alerted and are on their way. You wouldn’t want anyone saying anything they shouldn’t, would you?”

“I . . .” Andrew Banks spluttered. He caught sight of Inspector Williams, followed by half the police of Llandudno, heading their way.

“Well, if you are sure you are unhurt,” he muttered, shooting off to disperse the sections of the crowd who had been rather too well entertained at the nearest public house to notice disaster bearing down on them.

“I hope he’s arrested for what he has done,” Evan said angrily.

“Unlikely.” Gwendolyn brushed herself down, removing flour and the remains of eggs from her collar. “But it might give him pause next time.”

“Next time?” Evan gazed at her, horrified.

“In fact, there’s no reason for us not to resume, now the inebriated element has been dispersed.”

“I’m taking you back to the surgery,” Evan told her firmly. “That was quite a bang on the head.”

“I’m sure there’s no need.” Gwendolyn came to a halt as Henry pushed through the crowds to join them, followed closely by Inspector Williams.

Gwendolyn blinked at them, then turned to Evan.

“Did you hear this commotion from as far away as the tearooms?” she demanded. “Who’s staying to guard Tanni?”

Evan looked at her anxiously.

“Mama, are you sure you shouldn’t sit down? Don’t you remember, Tanni decided not to go until the morning to print her photographs.” He glanced round at the ladies from the tearoom gathering around.

“She and Madeleine must be here somewhere.”

“Of course they are not.” Gwendolyn turned even paler. “Tanni promised to deliver a print early tomorrow morning. She wouldn’t have time for it to dry.

“And I know Tanni – she wouldn’t let any of her customers down.”

“Which means she must be in the tearooms!” Henry exclaimed. “I’ll alert the inspector. The sooner we get there the better. Let’s hope we’re not too late.”

Evan hesitated.

“I need to examine your head, Mama.”

“I’ve had my head for some time, my dear. I’m quite sure it can wait. Off you go. This smells of a trick to me. It’s Tanni and Madeleine who might be in urgent need of your skills.”

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.