Together We Stand – Episode 42

Tanni and Madeleine crouched in the attic, keeping as still as they could. Tanni could hear her heart beating in her chest, and was quite sure it would betray them.

Their pursuer paused above the broken window. They could feel him listening for any sound that might betray their presence.

A tile slipped, as there was an experimental slide towards them, then abruptly halted. Tanni grabbed Madeleine’s arm as the slide began again.

“Police!” The shout was distant, but clear. The man above them cursed under his breath, followed by the sound of running footsteps across the roof, back towards the window.

“Thank goodness for that,” Madeleine breathed. “Now we have to find a way to get out of here.”

She caught the look on Tanni’s face from the light creeping in from the window.

“What is it?”

“That warning sounded like Edith.”

“Edith?” Madeleine frowned at her. “Edith was down in the basement. She could still be down there. And if she’d escaped . . .”

“Exactly,” Tanni said. “She wouldn’t be alerting her kidnapper.”

“Are you sure it was her?”

“No,” Tanni confessed, “but I can’t be sure it wasn’t. Mari Jones’s husband works for Edith’s grandfather.

“Wasn’t he sent out to Russia? That was why they wanted the photograph of the baby so badly.

“He could be out there for months. Supposing it’s not for trade, or that trade is a cover?”

Madeleine shivered.

“I can’t believe Edith would do such a thing.”

“If her grandfather is involved in any way with espionage, the rest of the family would be ruined.”

“But he runs a respectable business. He’s one of the wealthiest and most respectable men in the town. Who on earth is going to believe us?”

“Exactly,” Tanni said, scrambling over rolls of wallpaper and abandoned tea chests to try the door. “If this is to do with Edith’s grandfather, they might beat us yet.”

*  *  *  *

Henry was the first to reach the tearooms. He could see from a distance that it was open. Fear coursing through him, he hurried inside.

The tearooms were empty. The studio was shuttered with a light burning in

the basement.

“Tanni?” he called. “Madeleine?”

There was no reply.

Cautiously, he made his way down. There was no-one there, and no signs of Tanni starting her work.

Unease gripping him, he began to make his way up the stairs again.

He was just at the top when he heard the inspector’s voice arriving at the door, instructing his men to search the building.

There was a rush of boots across the room. Henry raced to the top of the steps, almost colliding with a figure heading for the shutters.

“No, you don’t!” he exclaimed, grabbing the fugitive’s arm.

They struggled for a few moments, but his opponent was strong, pulling himself free, making for the windows.

“In here!” Henry yelled, giving chase.

He managed to grasp the intruder’s coat, but with the sound of ripping the man turned, landing a blow that winded him, before escaping through the window.

“Don’t worry, sir, we’ll catch him,” Inspector Williams said, as his men gave chase.

“They are not in the basement.” Henry gasped, trying to catch his breath. “They must be upstairs.”

“It’s all right, sir.” The inspector helped him to his feet. “A lady has just reported seeing two figures on the roof.”

“The roof!” Henry gazed at him in alarm.

“Enterprising young women,” the inspector remarked. “Sounds like they managed to make their way into Harpers’ shop at the end.

“It’s closed today, but my sergeant has been dispatched to fetch the key. We’ll have them out of there in no time.”

It took only minutes for the key to be located, and for Tanni and Madeleine to be released from the gloom of the shop.

“I still need to print those photographs,” Tanni said anxiously as they emerged into the street.

“I should think the last place you want to be is in that darkroom.” Inspector Williams frowned.

“It’s all right,” Henry said. “My sister and I will stay with her.”

“As you wish. I’ll leave as many of my men outside as can be spared. I’m not letting the ruffian get away this time. We’ll catch him.

“I can see no-one in Llandudno is going to be able to sleep in their beds until we do.”

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.