Together We Stand – Episode 47

In the event, there was no need to make the journey to the police station in Llandudno. Inspector Williams, accompanied by Evan, was waiting for them as they arrived at the Bron Derw guest-house.

“I heard the excitement,” he said as Tanni and Madeleine helped Mari from the car. “I thought I might as well meet you here.

“Doctor Humphries came along to see if there was any patching up to be done.” He frowned as Mari wearily stumbled towards the door. “I think you might have a patient, Doctor.”

“I’m not hurt,” Mari said. “But my baby . . . I’m worried about the smoke.”

“Of course,” Evan said gently. “Don’t worry, Mrs Jones. I’ll make sure you and your baby are as well as can be.”

While Madeleine acted as nurse in the comfortable little room on the first floor that was to house Mari until a new home could be found for the little family, the inspector followed Tanni and Henry down to the kitchen, where they built up the range and put the kettle on to boil.

By the time Evan and Madeleine returned, accompanied by Mari with Alice peacefully asleep in her arms, they were sitting in front of the fire, cradling cups of tea.

“Now, then,” the inspector began as Mari settled in an armchair next to the fire. “I’m afraid I need to ask you all some questions.”

“Surely this can wait,” Evan said, frowning. “Mrs Jones has had quite an ordeal. She must be exhausted.”

“My apologies, Mrs Jones,” Inspector Williams replied gently.“I won’t be long.”

“I can’t.” Mari bent over the baby, rocking her. “I can’t.”

“What can’t you do, Mrs Jones?”

“I can’t tell you anything.” She looked up in distress. “My grandfather –”

“Don’t you worry,” Inspector Williams said, leaning forward and patting her arm reassuringly. “The first thing I did when I heard about the fire was to place a guard on your grandfather.” He nodded towards Tanni. “And on Miss Phillips’s family.”

Mari burst into tears.

“They’ll think it’s me. They’ll think I said something. I’ll never see him again.”

“Who might you never see again?” the inspector asked. “It wouldn’t be your husband, would it?”

Mari gasped.

“How did you know?”

Inspector Williams clicked his tongue.

“I wouldn’t say know, exactly. More like a guess.”

“You mean he’s dead?” Mari whispered, turning pale.

“There’s been nothing to suggest anything of the sort. But if you want to help him, Mrs Jones, you need to tell me what it is – or who it is – you are afraid of.”

Mari swallowed.

“He told me that my husband had been arrested as a spy –”

“A spy?” Tanni exclaimed, horrified.

“But he’s not, miss. All he wants is to come home to us. He’s not interested in governments or spying.”

“But worth Mr McGovern threatening you,” the inspector said, frowning.

“Yes, I . . .” Mari bit her lip.

“It was Mr McGovern.” The inspector smiled. “Well, well. What might be his interest, then?”

“This is my fault,” Tanni said. “I should never have got you to ask your grandfather, Mari. It has to be something to do with the picture wagon. All of this has.”

“I rather think it might,” Inspector Williams agreed thoughtfully. He smiled at Mari. “You look all in, Mrs Jones.

“Perhaps you would like to retire, since Mr Gillingham and his sister have offered you their hospitality.”

“I must go, too,” Evan put in. “I dread to think what my mother is imagining.”

“Of course, Doctor, and thank you for your assistance.” Inspector Williams smiled. “And try not to worry about your husband, Mrs Jones. I’m sure this can be cleared up.

“It’s bound to be a misunderstanding of some kind. Your husband will be home in no time.”

He waited until Madeleine and Evan left with Mari, then turned to Tanni.

“Now, Miss Phillips, I should instruct one of my men to escort you home. But first of all, perhaps you would like to tell me what it was you were all bringing to show me?”

“Of course!” Tanni scrabbled in her pocket. “I’d forgotten.”

She pulled out the canister and placed it on the table.

“We found it in the picture wagon.”

“It contains a roll of paper,” Henry explained.

“With what looks like code,” Tanni added.

“Code?” The inspector looked from one to the other. “That is interesting. I have a feeling the Secret Service might be interested in this.” He took the canister in his hand. “I shall have this sent to them straight away.”

“I hope that’s the end of it,” Tanni said with a shiver. “I hate all these secrets.”

“Well, this is the best chance we’ll have of finding out,” Inspector Williams replied.

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.