Early twentieth century
An island near the Northumberland coast
|To Thomas Llewellyn's unaccustomed ears the sudden noise sounded like A
firework cracking the may air, disturbing the peace of an island and the small
sixteenth century castle he'd just bought. it seemed idyllic; he hadn't counted on
unruly elements shattering the rustic charm.
But Then Striding Along the castle's upper gallery and glancing through a
window, Llewellyn saw the reason for the disturbance, as an orange flare from a
sea-going Vessel ripped through the grey sky.
He trod a flight of stairs, opening an oak door leading onto a former gun battery
which now provided a roof garden with a spectacular panorama.
But it was the sight of the sinking ship which caught his eye.
Viewed from a distance it seemed small, its stern largely submerged in the high
seas while the bow appeared marooned above them; and then as a klaxon
sounded repeatedly he watched the island's lifeboat crew assemble before
setting out to sea.
Llewellyn felt a hand on his shoulder and smelled his sister's cologne blasting
across his nose.
'Is this what possessed you to buy the place Thomas? So that you could watch
real life dramas unfold? No theatre can adequately portray the real thing, isn't
that a fact? Prey - let us take a seat and watch.'
'Shame on me should I ever consider such a thing; shame on you that you actually
propose it.' Llewellyn removed his sister's heavily jewelled wrist. 'come
dorothea, if there is nothing we can do to assist, there is little point in witnessing
some wretched soul's demise - we shall go inside.'
'do so if you wish thomas, but you are not my keeper; nor am i one of your city
Dorothea gave llewellyn a defiant, dark eyed stare. 'I intend to watch the show
Llewellyn met that stare momentarily; dressed in her black cape, its hood
veiling her dark curly hair, her prominent nose the only distinctive feature,
Dorothea seemed every inch the sorceress. there were times when her support
was invaluable, but there were occasions when her behaviour was insufferable.
Such a time was now.
Llewellyn closed the door on her, took the gallery steps and made his way down
to the lounge where he stood by a gothic window and stared out across the
island, surveying the scenery, wild now in the developing storm. He reflected on
his decision to purchase the castle as a second home, and how it would fare
under the auspices of his sister, to whom he'd entrusted the day to day
The plan was for Dorothea to manage his staff of three which consisted of david
hambleton, the butler, who had made the move from london to undertake the
task; Mrs.Simms, who had been recruited from amongst the island's residents as
cook, along with John Gibbings, the young gardener cum handyman, who he'd
been assured was both a gifted gardener and industrious worker.
The acquisition had been at considerable expense, but as a prominent banker it
provided him with a prestigious residence to dine, accommodate and impress
his influential clients. They could not fail to be so.
With the wind buffeting its stout walls llewellyn commenced a routine evening
of a castle that had been expertly redesigned by a leading architect to resemble a
fortified house. Its many rooms were mainly small in nature and encouraged
intimacy, but the castle also contained areas where entertainment could be
provided for important guests.
Llewellyn was examining the wide entrance hall, with its exposed pillars and
red herring-bone stone floor, when he heard dorothea's hurried footsteps behind
'Thomas - our drama appears to have been played out with success - come
witness a happy ending.'
Llewellyn shook his head, but nonetheless allowed dorothea to snatch his hand
and lead him back to the roof garden - 'Behold, a fair maiden is rescued...'
He followed his sister to the parapet; below on the shores, visible in the fading
evening light the lifeboat had come ashore. ANd embarking from it, shawl
wrapped around her shoulders and supported by four boatmen was a tall, slim
woman. as llewellyn watched, for a second the setting sun slipped behind racing
clouds and reflected her long red hair.
The wind whipped that hair around her face and as she swept it back he saw her
profile. Her face was full and healthy looking, and the straight nose gave her a
refined look; he could see at once her elegance and class.
Dorothea watched his chest swell. 'Fair takes your breath away, does she
brother? can she be that pretty?'
'It was the wind, nothing more,' Llewellyn said, aware that his reply had been
curt. 'I was merely curious.'
Dorothea said nothing further as Llewellyn returned inside, but her eyes
followed the party all the way to the village.
Go to chapters two & Three
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