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Authors: Carl Leckey

Angelique (49 page)

He disappears through the door, Tony pleads. “I don’t have to do it do I Sir?” I laugh.

“No lad you stay in here.” The Vicar’s voice thunders out, although his words are not really registering, my mind is consumed with other thoughts. That is until I hear the agreed phrase. I lead the way through the door sweep back the curtain where Gunter and I find ourselves standing at the front of the church beside the altar. The church is packed with every pew full, there are even people standing at the rear. On the other side of the altar is Father Peter alongside a heavily bearded man in strange apparel, presumably a Rabbi. There is complete silence from the congregation rapidly followed by a united gasp of astonishment.

In the front row pews I recognise almost my entire English and French family including Gunter’s wife Estelle. The first ones to make a move are Angelique and my Wife. As I head towards Denise she leaps from her seat and rushes into my arms. Mother stands close by until I reach out and hug her to me. The two women I love most dearly are enfolded in my arms. But this idyllic moment only last for a short while. Within seconds chaos reigns as I am hugged, kissed, and slapped on the shoulder. To my surprise even Bob Cranshaw the Police Sergeant is in attendance and my fishermen friends from Sandwich.

The Vicar calls the congregation to order and invites Gunter and I to explain why we have been missing since leaving France. They mostly comply with his wishes and return to the pews, except for Denise and Estelle they remain by our sides.

With a smile Gunter invites me to tell the tale. “After all My Lord it’s your manor.”

As briefly as possible I reveal the mishap with his plane, the capture by the villains and our subsequent escape. I end my speech by thanking every one for attending the service conducted in memory of myself and Gunter. I add to the applause of those assembled. “We have no intention of leaving the land of the living quite yet.” I turn to Denise inquiring urgently

“Where’s our Son, is he ill?” Denise assures me. “No no. He is at the house with the nursery maid he wouldn’t have understood why we are here. I came here very early this morning with Louise, Yvette and your Mother to say a private prayer for your departed soul.

Instead God in his mercy has granted us your living body. She adds with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. You see my love miracles do happen, don’t they?”

Ignoring the people surrounding us I kiss her passionately. It is not the time to remind her, it was the villains who in my opinion where closer to Hell than to Heaven that initially saved us. But I know from past experience she would insist God arranged it anyway. That is her steadfast belief who am I to argue. The congregation begins to leave after the Vicar requests them to give us some time alone with our families. Denise’s Sisters hug and kiss me. Louise gives me a severe reprimand for frightening them to death. Yvette whispers in my ear. “I’m so glad you are back. I’ll have to cook you another dinner to celebrate your return.” I step back and look at her face, she is smiling. So not only has Yvette developed a sense of humour but she knows I know she didn’t cook that fabulous dinner in Le Havre. Emily kisses me and whispers. “I had every faith you would return safe and sound. Welcome home dear Nephew.” Pamela nervously attempts to shake my hand. I’m having none of that as I consider her family. I reject the handshake and give her a big hug. She stiffens then visibly relaxes and says. “I’m so glad you are safe Adam.” I answer her jokingly. “I have never had so much attention from so many lovely ladies in my entire life. I shall have to disappear more often.” She blushes steps aside giving Toot the opportunity to shake my hand and congratulate me on my safe return. As we talk I remember the boy Tony in the vestry. I explain his presence and ask Toot to take him to the station to catch the Margate train. He replies with a better offer. “I’ll look after the lad Adam. The Rolls is parked outside I have to return Rabbi Goldstein to his Synagogue in Dover.

He has a wedding to perform this afternoon and he hasn’t much time to spare.” I remark. “That was nice of him to come to the ceremony I’m sure Gunter and Estelle will appreciate the gesture.” Toot reveals. “It was Father Peter’s idea we hunted him down in Dover this morning.” He adds. “I’ve been thinking, it’s only a short hop further on to Margate shall I deliver the lad Tony direct to his front door?” Problem solved. “That’s great Toot. It will certainly save the lad humping his great big suitcase on the train. You know he struggled all the way from the ship and wouldn’t have our assistance. Thanks for that suggestion. Tony looked after us very well after we were rescued I’d like to reward him some way. Toot I will see you when you get back and relate my adventures to you in detail since I left in Gunter’s daft flying machine.”

He replies with a smile. “Adam methinks you have gone off aeroplanes?” He adds. “Well at least for a while. I think you will be too busy for the foreseeable future for yarning. We’ll get together for a chat sometime, don’t worry. Your Wife and family have to come first.”

He is right of course I nod my agreement. Taking Denise by the hand we make our way towards the door. I feel like a Bride Groom leading his Bride out after their wedding ceremony. To my amazement located at the rear of the church sits the dreaded rocking horse and a salt stained life jacket. Denise explains. “It was only when I telephoned Suzanne and she informed me you had left France with a Rocking Horse lashed to the wing we guessed what had happened to Gunter’s aeroplane. Your fishermen friends from Sandwich searched for you day and night until they recovered these articles from the channel. That is when we gave up hope of ever seeing you ever again my love.” Wonders never cease. Outside the church Gunter and I thank the Rabbi for his attendance at the memorial service, although it turned out to be a wasted journey for him. We wish Tony goodbye. By the grin on the lads face I can imagine how proud he will be to arrive home in a chauffeur driven Rolls. For his sake I hope either his family or at least the neighbours witness his home coming. They climb into the vehicle Toot loads the case onto the luggage rack firmly securing it with straps. The engine roars into life, with a wave of his hand both Tony and Toot bid us goodbye. At the gate we thank the Vicar for his arrangements. With a smile on his face he takes the opportunity to make a request. “I hope we will see much more of you My Lord?” He attempts a joke when I fail to reply. “Now you have returned from the dead, so to speak.” It is on my lips to cynically reply. Despite all the holy talk about miracles. I can’t help wondering, if God wanted me saved why did he allow the plane to crash in the first place, and why did he put my family through hell into the bargain? But I hesitate when I notice Father Peter within earshot. He is the last person I wish to upset. Father Peter has kept very much in the background until he joins us not saying a word. But when he gives my arm a gentle squeeze as he shakes my hand I notice a tear in his eye, he doesn’t have to speak to relay his feelings to me. As a group we walk the short distance to the estate. I realise this is Christmas Eve and we have made it in time to celebrate Christmas with my family, a flurry of snow makes us increase our pace. On arrival we are greeted at the door by Mr Humphrey’s. At his suggestion we assemble in the ballroom. The chairs that normally surround the dance floor have been arranged in a row a solitary chair faces them. Mr Humphreys whispers in my ear. “You must be tired My Lord? I thought it best you tell them all the details and give them the opportunity to ask their questions in one fell swoop. My Lord do you require a drink?” I settle for a large Brandy and sip it gratefully when he delivers it. Despite the room being warm there is a definite chill in my bones I have not been aware of until now. I notice with dismay Gunter has joined his Wife in the audience leaving the explaining to me alone. I run my eyes over the assembled family and well wishers. On the end of the row is Pamela with of course Lady Emily by her side then my Mother sits next to Denise with Yvette.

Louise and Father Peter with Gunter sitting by his wife Estelle alongside them is Jonah Wilkes and his wife Elizabeth. Mr Humphreys is in attendance organising the maids serving Tea, coffee, chocolate and hot toddies. The maids leave the room Mr Humphreys gives a discreet cough my cue to begin I believe, he then stands by the door.

I present the details as quickly as possible. When I finish talking the questions begin. Gunter approaches and offers to relieve me of the task of answering them. Thank Goodness! Mother approaches me by the door and kisses me and whispers.

“Thank God my Darling you are safe.” I reply with a question. “Mother I thought Luigi was visiting us for Christmas, where is he?” Flustered she explains. He was, he is. When I telephoned his home his Mother informed me he left New Brighton in his Automobile four days ago. I know it’s a long way from here to New Brighton Adam. I am very worried. Surely it shouldn’t be taking him so long?” Mother is right of course but I assure her if he isn’t here by morning I shall get my good friend Sergeant Cranshaw on the job. “Try not to worry Mother. Luigi is a born survivor. I’m sure he will move heaven and earth to be with his beloved.” Mother blushes like a little girl until I give her a hug and a kiss. Taking my Wife’s hand intoxicated by her perfume and her close presence I make my excuses before leading her through the doorway. I am anxious to see our Son and embrace my lovely Wife within the privacy of our own bedroom.

It is snowing even more heavily when through the widow I glimpse the Rolls returning closely followed by another automobile. When they get even nearer I see Toot is actually towing the other vehicle I believe I recognise the fairly new 1920 Lea Francis. Mothers beloved Luigi in his equally beloved automobile is being indignantly towed, Luigi has definitely arrived. He is much later than he promised Mother but he is here at last, thank goodness. As the saying goes, better late than never. I breathe a sigh of relief knowing now that all my family except for Billy and Paul along with close friends are safely accounted for. Selfishly I decide to leave Mother to greet him without my presence I have more urgent things to do right now. I am reminded of someone that has played a major role in my life when I pause in front of my Mother’s favourite sculpture. She admitted during a long talk we had a while ago that when they were children Lady Emily and herself began their nightly prayers every evening as they passed by this figure. The prayer was to protect them from the fearsome picture of the soldier hanging further upstairs. The statue is a winged cherub holding a bow and arrow located in a niche halfway up the stairs. My Wife looks at me in astonishment when I utter a prayer of my own.

“Thank you Guardian Angel, for protecting me through a desperate time yet again.”

I add with a daft grin. “And for guiding my good pal Toot back home through the blizzard. And, and.” I pause for effect. With a mock glare Denise threatens to thump me with a raised fist until I add. “And, for giving me such a beautiful, graceful, understanding, patient, loving, loyal, perfect Wife.” The statue does not reply but the ancient soldier definitely glares at us as we pass by his picture.

Giggling like a couple of silly kids we race up the wide ornate staircase.

The end of book three.

All rights reserved

Copyright © Carl Leckey, 2011

Carl Leckey is hereby identified as author of this work in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

The book cover picture is copyright to Carl Leckey

ISBN : 978-1-78148-021-2 in epub format

This book is published by

Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd

28-30 High Street, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3EL.

This book is sold subject to the conditions that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the author's or publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library

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