Together We Stand – Episode 50

“It’s all right.” Tanni caught the frightened face appearing round the door, and shot off after the figure disappearing back down the stairs. “Edith, it’s all right. Mrs Humphries didn’t mean it.”

“I don’t want to be a prisoner.” Edith sobbed.

“I said I don’t take prisoners,” Gwendolyn roared from the office. “Now come back up here, you silly girl. I hope you know you’ve quite some explaining to do.”

She came to a halt as Tanni reappeared, holding Edith’s wrist and pulling her gently but firmly behind her.

“Goodness, girl,” she added in a gentle manner. “What on earth has happened to you?”

Tanni did her best not to stare, but the grubby and bedraggled figure following her unwillingly into the light of the office bore very little resemblance to the elegant young woman who had once been Edith.

“Are you hurt?” she asked anxiously, catching Edith’s arm as she swayed.

Edith shook her head. Gwendolyn took one look at her tear-streaked face and hurried to support her.

“Fetch Dr Humphries, will you, Cassie?” she called to the girl sweeping the landing on the floor below. “And tell him to hurry.”

“I don’t need a doctor!” Edith exclaimed.

“You’ll do as you’re told, young woman. I thought you had gone abroad with your grandfather?”

“I couldn’t. I didn’t mean this to happen. Truly, Mrs Humphries, you have to believe me. I didn’t mean it.”

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Tanni said, helping her to a chair.

“And I didn’t mean anyone to get hurt, Tanni. I swear. It sounded so thrilling, and I’ve never done anything important with my life, and I wanted to prove I’m not just a silly girl.”

“I never thought you were,” Gwendolyn replied.

“Nor did I,” Tanni said.

Edith burst into tears.

“The man I was to marry – he wasn’t rich or handsome, or anything my grandfather had told me. I knew that the moment I saw him.

“He wanted a wife to stay at home, and Grandfather wanted me to be a prisoner for the rest of my life in a country far from home. I couldn’t do it.

“I remembered what you said, Mrs Humphries, and I knew the moment I stepped on that boat to go to Ireland my life would be over.” She hiccupped. “So I ran away. I can’t go back, and I have no means of support. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Gwendolyn’s expression softened.

“My dear, you are young. You can’t be expected to have acquired the wisdom of the ages. If you had, what on earth would you do with the rest of your life? It would be a wasteland of smugness and boredom.”

Edith gave a watery giggle.

“I knew I should have listened to you, Mrs Humphries. I knew I shouldn’t have done wrong.”

“No, of course not, my dear.”

“But supposing they find me . . .” She bit her lip.

“Just one moment.” Gwendolyn pulled open the door. “Cassie?”

“Yes, miss?” Cassie’s voice came from below.

“Good, you haven’t left yet. Can you step into the police station and ask the inspector to come this way? I would do that first, before you fetch the doctor. And hurry.”

“Yes, miss,” Cassie called and there was a rush of footsteps as she raced out of the front door.

Gwendolyn returned to the office.

“You don’t have to speak to them, my dear, but I think their presence is advisable.” She cleared her throat. “I know it’s difficult with families.”

Edith sniffed loudly.

“It’s all right, Mrs Humphries. I’ll tell. I don’t care any more. I was so scared when I saw he had a pistol. I didn’t think he’d try to hurt Tanni or Madeleine. But he’d have killed them if he’d caught up with them on the roof.”

“But he didn’t,” Tanni said.

“I thought he was so dashing.” Edith sighed. “Grandfather said he had hired him as there was a secret no-one else could know.”

“What was the secret?” Tanni demanded, ignoring Gwendolyn’s warning gesture.

“I don’t know. They wouldn’t tell me. Only that it was to do with Grandfather, and if anyone found out, he could be killed, and the family would lose all their money.”

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.