On Mar­ram Shore

A young girl goes in search of a new life in this at­mo­spheric com­plete story by June Davies.

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A pe­riod story by June Davies

An­wen was leav­ing ev­ery­thing she knew be­hind her, and set­ting off on a quest to find her fam­ily. What awaited her on the other side of the wa­ter?

An­wen took the bat­tered sewing-tin from her cup­board and for a mo­ment just stood, hold­ing the pre­cious item in both hands. Rais­ing wist­ful eyes, she looked around the at­tic room that had been home since she was twelve years old. It was al­most empty now, stripped of all but a rolled-up rag-rug and the dis­man­tled nar­row bed, its striped pal­liasse neatly folded and tied.

An­wen sighed. She had been happy here! And she felt very sad to be leav­ing Mrs Jenk­ins and this house in Glyn­dwr Square.

Mrs Eli­nor Jenk­ins had brought An­wen from the parish work­house and given her a home and a sit­u­a­tion. She’d be­gun as the lowli­est scullery maid and had worked hard, grad­u­ally im­prov­ing her ed­u­ca­tion to be­come her mistress’s lady’s maid . . . and bet­ter than 15 years had flown by.

Now Mrs Jenk­ins was wid­owed, her sons serv­ing in In­dia, her daugh­ters mar­ried and liv­ing far away, and the house in Glyn­dwr Square was be­ing closed up.

For the first time since leav­ing the work­house An­wen felt lost, and very, very alone in the world.

Hear­ing foot­falls upon the land­ing, An­wen was taken aback to find Mrs Jenk­ins in the door­way, lean­ing heav­ily on her cane.

“Can I get you any­thing, ma’am?” she asked, her soft voice con­cerned. Smil­ing, Eli­nor Jenk­ins shook her head. “I wanted one last look around our dear old house, An­wen. My hus­band and I came here as new­ly­weds, you know.”

“This day must be dif­fi­cult for you, ma’am.”

“Glyn­dwr Square is far too large for one per­son.” Mrs Jenk­ins sighed. “Now my sis­ters and I are wid­owed, it makes sense for us to live to­gether. And it will be lovely re­turn­ing to Beddgelert where we girls grew up. I’ve missed the coun­try­side.”

An­wen glanced down through the at­tic win­dow. Her mam and da’s lit­tle ter­race house was but a few hours’ walk away. Da had worked – and per­ished – in the cav­ernous col­liery pit­ting the aus­tere land­scape be­yond the pros­per­ous min­ing town.

Im­per­cep­ti­bly, An­wen’s slen­der fin­gers tight­ened around Mam’s lit­tle sewing-tin.

“There’s another rea­son I wanted to see you be­fore my car­riage ar­rives,” Mrs Jenk­ins con­tin­ued. “It’s not too late for me to find you a new sit­u­a­tion, An­wen. Sev­eral friends have en­quired af­ter your ser­vices.”

“No, thank you, ma’am. While I don’t know what lies ahead, I cer­tainly will need to find em­ploy­ment some­where and I’m greatly obliged for the fine ref­er­ences you’ve given me.”

“You’re quite de­ter­mined to go to Eng­land?”

“Since I was a lit­tle girl and found Mam’s let­ter, I’ve longed to do this,” she replied sim­ply. “I’m tak­ing this af­ter­noon’s coach to the coast.”

“You’re very brave,” Eli­nor Jenk­ins mur­mured, pat­ting An­wen’s arm af­fec­tion­ately. “When does the packet sail?”

An­wen care­fully placed the well-worn sewing-tin into her car­pet-bag and fol­lowed Mrs Jenk­ins out on to the land­ing.

“Wind and weather per­mit­ting, ma’am, I shall sail for Liver­pool on the mor­row.”

****

Gusts of fine, cold rain were sweep­ing across the quay­side next morn­ing when An­wen boarded the Ellen Mary.

From the pit towns of Flintshire and Den­bighshire, Liver­pool by sea was both quicker and cheaper than trav­el­ling over­land by coach.

Min­utes be­fore the packet set sail, a young lady and gen­tle­man were wel­comed aboard by Cap­tain Mcguffie and shown through low doors to the shel­ter and what­ever other ameni­ties awaited within.

An­wen and the other pas­sen­gers made them­selves as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble on the open deck.

She fell into con­ver­sa­tion with a woman about her own age, who said she was head­ing home to Liver­pool.

“How long does the jour­ney take?” An­wen asked. The woman eyed the heav­ily laden deck. “We’ll not see Liver­pool till past night­fall,” she opined in a broad ac­cent. “The packet stops a fair few times, un­load­ing and tak­ing on cargo, as well as pas­sen­gers. Let’s hope this bloomin’ rain gives over, eh?”

It didn’t. It fell re­lent­lessly. The wind got up, and the packet was tossed and buf­feted along her way. An­wen sat with her head bowed against the rain, hud­dled into her shawl.

She was soaked through and chilled to the bone, for de­spite it be­ing early sum­mer, the sea wind was keen and cut like a knife.

At long last, the Ellen Mary skirted the Lan­cashire coast­line sail­ing south­ward for Liver­pool. Still it rained. Day­light was fad­ing fast and the tide choppy, with waves wash­ing across the packet’s decks and drench­ing her pas­sen­gers in icy salt-wa­ter.

The ves­sel sud­denly pitched, her keel grat­ing. Tim­bers groaned and splin­tered. Cargo was break­ing loose, pas­sen­gers shout­ing and scream­ing. An­wen grabbed for the side, but was flung across the slant­ing deck. She knew noth­ing more.

****

Ashore in Mar­ram, Joss Lives­ley sighted the Ellen Mary’s dis­tress sig­nal and ran to St Christo­pher’s, ring­ing the church bell and sum­mon­ing the crew of the res­cue gig.

Men downed tools in vil­lage work­shops, left fields and farms, fetched horses and sped down to the boathouse.

Smooth as clockwork, coxswain and crew rolled the wagon bear­ing the gig from the boathouse, hitched up the huge horses and drove into the waves.

With the gig launched, cox Bernard Tyler took the tiller while his son, Harry, Joss Lives­ley and the rest manned the oars and struck out for the stricken ship.

Left alone on the rain-swept Mar­ram shore, Nina Tyler led the horses from the shal­lows and into the sta­ble, rub­bing them down with straw be­fore go­ing through to the ad­join­ing cot­tage to tend her daugh­ter and pray for the safe re­turn of her men­folk and the pas­sen­gers and crew of the Ellen Mary.

GRAD­U­ALLY An­wen stirred to con­scious­ness. Strug­gling to open heavy-lid­ded eyes, she glimpsed an un­fa­mil­iar room and a lit­tle girl in a patched pi­nafore hov­er­ing in the door­way. A silky white and black dog stood at her side.

“Mammy!” the child cried, bolt­ing from sight. “Mammy, the lady’s woke up . . .”

Sev­eral hours later, An­wen was clad in some of Nina Tyler’s clothes and com­fort­ably seated at the hearth, sip­ping the warmed honey pos­set Nina had pre­pared for her.

“Ev­ery­body was fetched safely ashore by the gig. No­body else was hurt, save for a few cuts and bruises,” Nina ex­plained as she darned a gansey. “You were hit by sum­mat. Dead to the world, you were. Bernard – he’s my fa­ther-in-law and cox of the Mar­ram gig – brought you here and sent for Doc­tor Sed­don.

“The rest of ’em from the packet piled into the cart and Harry – my hus­band – drove them to the vil­lage. They spent the night at the inn and next day took the coach for Liver­pool. All ex­cept the qual­ity folk, of course,” she added as an af­ter­thought. “Squire Al­cott sent his car­riage down here for the lady and gen­tle­man and they went up to the Hall.”

An­wen strove to gain her bear­ings.

“I’m sorry to ask so many ques­tions, but how long have I been here?”

“Ellen Mary foundered the evening be­fore last,” Nina replied, smil­ing at her pa­tient. “We’ve had a wor­ri­some time wait­ing for you to wake, An­wen, so don’t you mind a scrap about ask­ing me too many ques­tions!”

An­wen re­turned the younger woman’s smile, watch­ing as Nina dis­ap­peared into the pantry and emerged with a trug of pota­toes.

“I can peel those!” she ex­claimed.

“I dare­say,” Nina re­marked. “But Doc­tor Sed­don said once you woke up, you were to take things easy.”

“It’s peel­ing pota­toes, not danc­ing a jig!” An­wen per­sisted earnestly. “Let me help – please? I can’t sit do­ing noth­ing while you’re so busy!”

“I sup­pose you could shell the peas,” Nina agreed, tak­ing up the potato knife. “If Mil­lie and that dog of hers ever come back from pick­ing ’em!”

“You have a veg­etable gar­den?” An­wen queried. “Oh, it must be grand be­ing able to grow things!”

“Boathouse Cot­tage has a good patch of land, so we have plenty of veg and fruit,” Nina replied en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. “I’ve beds of flow­ers and herbs, too, and Harry’s made me a bench so I can sit in the gar­den ad­mir­ing them!

“We Tylers farm fields up be­yond the vil­lage as well, but they’re not ours,” she con­cluded, slic­ing car­rots into a pot. “Them fields be­long to the squire.” “The squire?” “Squire Al­cott of Mar­ram Hall. Be­fore Harry and me got wed, I was linen-maid up at the Hall. Grand place it is.”

“I’m in ser­vice –” An­wen be­gan, then she stopped. “Well, I was. Un­til this week.” Nina’s eyes widened. “Is that why you were head­ing for Liver­pool? Look­ing for a new sit­u­a­tion?”

She broke off at Tinker’s ex­cited bark­ing and rose, look­ing from the win­dow.

“It’s Joss – my brother. He must’ve been to Mar­ram Hall. He’s wear­ing his uni­form,” Nina added by way of ex­pla­na­tion, glanc­ing to An­wen. “Joss is Mar­ram’s con­sta­ble. When­ever he goes to the Hall on vil­lage busi­ness, he has to wear his uni­form. Squire Al­cott is par­tic­u­lar about things be­ing done proper.”

Dry­ing her hands on her apron, Nina went out to greet her brother and presently they ap­proached the open door­way.

“I came by to ask af­ter the young lady,” Joss Lives­ley was say­ing, his deep voice grave. “Is she any bet­ter?”

“Aye, she is!” Nina replied as they came in­doors. “Why don’t you sit down and talk to An­wen, while I make us a brew?”

****

Joss Lives­ley was a kind and con­sid­er­ate man, An­wen thought as they sat drink­ing their tea.

He’d tact­fully asked af­ter her well­be­ing, en­quired if An­wen wanted him to send word to fam­ily or friends no­ti­fy­ing them of her where­abouts, and stressed that as Mar­ram con­sta­ble, he was at her ser­vice.

Joss had no sooner left the cot­tage than Bernard and Harry Tyler came home from the fields. Dur­ing supper, An­wen dis­cov­ered it was Joss Lives­ley who’d risked his life board­ing the stricken Ellen Mary and car­ried An­wen from where she’d lain un­con­scious on the shat­tered deck.

She also learned the packet’s cargo had been lost over­board, to­gether with the lug­gage of her pas­sen­gers.

An­wen re­tired early, ex­hausted, re­lieved to rest her head upon the smooth bol­ster. Sleep would not come, how­ever.

Long af­ter the Tyler fam­ily were abed and Boathouse Cot­tage fell silent, An­wen lay wake­ful.

Her sav­ings and all her be­long­ings had been in­side the car­pet-bag. She’d lost ev­ery­thing, but it was for the sewing-tin and its pre­cious con­tents she grieved that end­less night.

Nina, I can’t stay here,” An­wen rea­soned a few days later while they were peg­ging out wash­ing. “I can’t im­pose any longer.”

“You’ve no choice – not for the time be­ing,” Nina said prac­ti­cally. “Be­sides, it’s nice hav­ing another woman about this old cot­tage, so you’re to stay as long as you want, and that’s an end to it!”

“I need to find work,” An­wen per­sisted. “Any work!”

“There’ll be fruit-pick­ing and plenty more come harvest-time,” Nina as­sured her. Then she beamed. “Re­mem­ber me telling you I was linen-maid at Mar­ram Hall? Well, ev­ery sum­mer the Al­cotts have a house­ful of guests. Mrs Burn­aby, the house­keeper, takes on ex­tra maids and such­like for three months. Mrs Burn­aby and me are still friendly,” Nina went on ex­cit­edly. “Sup­pose you and me go up to the Hall and see if she’ll take you on?”

“My char­ac­ters were lost with the rest of my be­long­ings,” An­wen replied bleakly. “A house­hold like Mar­ram Hall won’t con­sider me with­out ref­er­ences, Nina.”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” she re­sponded sim­ply.

That af­ter­noon, the two were weed­ing flower-beds while Mil­lie and Tinker played on the sands. Tinker be­gan bark­ing joy­fully and Mil­lie rushed in at the gar­den gate.

“Mammy – it’s Un­cle Joss! He’s come for the cart!”

With Tinker scam­per­ing at his side, Joss Lives­ley fol­lowed Mil­lie to­wards the well-tended gar­den. An­wen looked up, shield­ing her eyes from the bright sun­shine.

Con­sta­ble Lives­ley was clad not in his smart uni­form, but in sea-boots, fus­tian breeches and a coarse cal­ico shirt, its wide sleeves rolled back over sun-browned fore­arms.

A bat­tered cap, bleached by sun and salt-wa­ter, shaded Joss’s dark eyes, and he tipped its peak po­litely when he

reached the gate.

“Mil­lie said you’re fetch­ing the cart,” Nina said to him, sit­ting back on her heels. “Is it sal­vage from the Ellen Mary?”

“Per­haps,” Joss replied care­fully. “There’s wreck­age wash­ing in with the tide at Prospect Bay. I’m go­ing up to see what’s there.” He paused, meet­ing An­wen’s eyes. “I’ll re­trieve as much as I can, Miss Lloyd, but it’s best not to get your hopes up.”

De­spite his warn­ing, An­wen couldn’t help hop­ing her be­long­ings might be re­cov­ered.

“Con­sta­ble Lives­ley – may I come with you?” Joss was taken aback. “Aye . . . aye, if you feel up to it. Prospect Bay’s a fair dis­tance away. By the time we get there,” he went on, glanc­ing across the shore to the spume-crested, bil­low­ing waves, “the tide will have ebbed and we’ll see what she’s left be­hind.”

****

Fol­low­ing the ragged coast­line, they drove north to­wards Prospect Bay. As Joss had said, the tide was al­ready out and An­wen saw bro­ken tim­bers, spars and all man­ner of de­bris strewn across the ex­panse of wet, ridged sand.

“I fear we’re too late,” Joss mut­tered as, some dis­tance away, three men fled the beach, each of them heft­ing a bulky pack. “Too late?” “Scavengers.” Joss’s face set grimly as he handed her down from the cart and they pro­ceeded to­wards the tide­line. “It’s all been picked over, Miss Lloyd. Any­thing of use or value will have been taken.”

An­wen was scarcely lis­ten­ing, her gaze light­ing upon a mis­shapen ob­ject amongst skeins of sea­weed and driftwood. “There’s my bag!” The car­pet-bag lay wide open. Its con­tents were ri­fled. Her purse was gone. Her gar­ments were dis­carded. With thump­ing heart, An­wen searched amongst her scat­tered be­long­ings for Mam’s sewingtin.

It was there! Tan­gled up in the folds of a sod­den pet­ti­coat – but the hinged lid was ajar.

She blinked back sud­den tears. They’d taken her fa­ther’s bi­ble with Mam’s let­ter.

Then, from the cor­ner of her eye, An­wen caught sight of the dog-eared book, just a yard or two away, its wafer-thin pages flut­ter­ing. Care­fully, she picked it up. Mam’s let­ter was still there, tucked safely in­side the back cover. Clutch­ing the bi­ble to her chest, An­wen just stood there on the beach, heed­less of Joss Lives­ley’s me­thod­i­cal col­lect­ing of what­ever re­mained of Ellen Mary’s cargo and goods and load­ing them on to the cart.

He mat­ter-of-factly gath­ered up the strewn gar­ments and packed them back into An­wen’s car­pet-bag be­fore go­ing to her side. “How much is lost?” She turned to him and smiled, her eyes shin­ing.

“My sav­ings are gone – but the pre­cious things are safe, Joss! I have them still!”

“I’m glad,” was all he said, of­fer­ing her his arm.

“I was only lit­tle when Mam passed away,” she be­gan as they started away from the tide­line. “But I have such lovely mem­o­ries of her. Mam was al­ways sewing. Al­ways. While she sewed, I’d sit play­ing with the but­tons from her sewing-tin. This sewing-tin was very spe­cial to Mam be­cause it had be­longed to her mam.”

“No won­der it means so much to you,” Joss mur­mured, help­ing her clam­ber aboard the laden cart.

“There’s more to it than that. Mam was English. When she mar­ried my da, she fell out with her par­ents and they never spoke to one another ever again,” she ex­plained.

“Years ago, af­ter Mam and Da were both gone, I found a let­ter she’d writ­ten to her par­ents while she was ill.” Her quiet voice fal­tered. “She must’ve passed away be­fore . . . The let­ter never was posted,” she con­cluded briskly. “I’ve had it all this while in­side my da’s bi­ble, and kept them both safe in­side Mam’s sewing-tin. These keep­sakes – and my mem­o­ries – are all I have left.”

THE set­ting sun was pour­ing molten gold on to dis­tant, rip­pling waves when the cart trun­dled down on to Mar­ram shore. Shad­ows were al­ready cling­ing to the boathouse, and lamps burned at the cot­tage’s low win­dows.

“Any­thing of value is long gone to scavengers,” Joss was say­ing. “But I’ll be writ­ing to Cap­tain Mcguffie and the Ellen Mary’s pas­sen­gers, so that they might come to Mar­ram and claim what’s theirs.

“Miss Lloyd – An­wen,” he went on hes­i­tantly. “You’ve lost your sav­ings and, well

– will you let me pro­vide the fare and such­like so you can get home to Wales?” “I couldn’t pos­si­bly –” “I meant no im­pro­pri­ety,” he in­ter­rupted earnestly. “I only want to help. I’m sorry if I’ve spo­ken out of turn.”

“You haven’t!” she ex­claimed. “It’s such a kind thought, Joss, and I do need money – but I’ll not be go­ing back to Wales.”

An­wen ex­plained about leav­ing her sit­u­a­tion with Mrs Jenk­ins, and went on to tell Joss about seek­ing work and Nina’s plan for them to call at Mar­ram Hall.

“Although I’m sure the peo­ple at the Hall will not take me on, not with­out –”

She broke off, div­ing into her car­pet-bag for the sewing-tin. From be­neath the nee­dle-cases, yarns, scis­sors and but­tons, An­wen fished out Eli­nor Jenk­ins’s neatly writ­ten char­ac­ter ref­er­ence, wav­ing the sheet of pa­per in de­light.

“I’d put it there for safe­keep­ing!”

Joss Lives­ley’s lean face creased into a broad smile, but be­fore he could say any­thing Tinker be­gan bark­ing, the cot­tage door swung open and the fam­ily spilled out to greet them.

Ex­plain­ing that he had letters and the sal­vage re­port to write, Joss de­clined Nina’s in­vi­ta­tion to supper, and as he made to leave, he turned to An­wen.

“Will you be com­ing to church on Sun­day?”

“Oh, you must come with us!” Nina chipped in. “Rev­erend Holmes preaches such good ser­mons!”

“I’d like to come,” An­wen re­sponded, glanc­ing across the ex­panse of dark shore to the moon-washed thread of sea, then to the kindly faces gath­ered about her. “I have so very much to give thanks for.”

ON Sun­day morn­ing, Bernard Tyler led the fam­ily from Boathouse Cot­tage into Mar­ram vil­lage. Joss Lives­ley was wait­ing for them at St Christo­pher’s, talk­ing with a clus­ter of folk.

Nina barely had time to in­tro­duce An­wen be­fore they all went in­side for wor­ship.

Af­ter­wards, Joss fell into step be­side An­wen and they strolled to­gether, fol­low­ing the Tylers down the wind­ing lanes to­wards the shore.

“It’s grand Mrs Burn­aby’s taken you on!” He beamed.

She looked at him in amaze­ment.

“How­ever did you know? I was look­ing for­ward to telling you the news my­self!”

He laughed, his dark eyes sparkling.

“Mar­ram’s a small place – the whole vil­lage knows! I’m pleased for you, An­wen. And very glad you’ll be stay­ing here for the whole sum­mer,” he went on, se­ri­ous now. “I’d thought you’d be in a hurry to get down to Liver­pool.”

She shook her head vig­or­ously.

“I was sail­ing into Liver­pool so I could take a coach to Durham.”

It was his turn to look amazed.

“Durham? That’s clear across coun­try!” Now An­wen laughed. “Mam came from Durham. That’s where my par­ents met. Da was work­ing in the mines,” she went on qui­etly. “As you know, the let­ter in the sewingtin is for Mam’s mother and fa­ther – my grand­par­ents – but Mam died be­fore she could send it, so . . ”

“You want to take her let­ter to them?” Joss fin­ished thought­fully, his steady gaze never leav­ing An­wen’s face.

“That’s why I came to Eng­land,” she replied, as they reached Mar­ram shore and fol­lowed the fam­ily into Boathouse Cot­tage.

****

Their com­pan­ion­ship deep­ened dur­ing that sum­mer. An­wen lived in at Mar­ram Hall, but she saw the Tylers and Joss at church ev­ery Sun­day, and she and Joss spent her weekly half-days out wan­der­ing hand-in-hand through the pinewoods, pic­nick­ing amongst the dunes above Mar­ram shore, or sim­ply sit­ting to­gether in the seclu­sion of Nina’s flower gar­den at Boathouse Cot­tage.

It was upon such a day late in Au­gust that they bumped into Nina bustling down the lane with her shop­ping.

“I saw Mrs Burn­aby in the vil­lage,” she be­gan at once, beam­ing at An­wen. “Singing your praises, she was! Say­ing how hard you work be­low stairs, and how pleased the mistress is with you be­ing able to step in as lady’s maid when need be. Don’t you be sur­prised if Mrs B wants you to stay on at the Hall af­ter sum­mer ends!”

Although she wasn’t sur­prised when Mrs Burn­aby of­fered her a per­ma­nent sit­u­a­tion, An­wen was deeply trou­bled by the choice be­fore her.

She en­joyed work­ing at the Hall, and Mar­ram was a fine place. She felt at home here. She’d found dear friends – fam­ily, al­most – with the Tylers. And Joss. There was Joss . . .

“With you not be­ing lo­cal, you’ll need time to think on it,” the kindly house­keeper had told her. “Let me know one way or t’other by morn­ing.”

Af­ter her du­ties were com­pleted that evening, An­wen slipped away from the Hall and went to St Christo­pher’s. She didn’t go in­side, but sat within the ly­ch­gate.

She sorely needed to gather her thoughts, and the still­ness helped soothe her ag­i­tated mind.

Presently, she heard foot­steps and im­me­di­ately recog­nised their steady pace. Her face was up­turned, catch­ing the sil­very moon­light, when Joss en­tered the ly­ch­gate.

“Mrs Burn­aby said I’d likely find you here,” he be­gan awk­wardly. “Do you mind com­pany?”

She shook her head slowly, smil­ing up at him.

“I was just think­ing about you.”

“Good things, I hope!” he replied with a bright­ness in his eyes. “What are you go­ing to do, An­wen?”

“I don’t know,” she mur­mured, her eyes down­cast. “I’ve been try­ing to think clearly . . .”

He reached out, hes­i­tantly tak­ing her hand.

“I came to ask you to stay – to stay in Mar­ram. With me. Will you stay here, An­wen? Will you –”

“I can’t, Joss!” she blurted out, in­ter­rupt­ing him be­fore those words could be spo­ken.

The in­ten­sity of her feel­ings for him was al­most over­whelm­ing. To love and to be loved was some­thing she’d never be­lieved would hap­pen to her. Now it had, but . . .

“I’ve saved enough for the coach fare to Durham. I must go. I must, Joss!” she whis­pered mis­er­ably, gaz­ing up into the dark­ness of his eyes, des­per­ate for him to un­der­stand. “It isn’t that I don’t care for you – I do! I care for you very much.”

“Not enough to stay with me!” Joss re­torted bit­terly. “Why must you go to Durham? Why can’t you write first? Your grand­par­ents might have moved. Or sup­pose they’re . . .”

“I be­lieve Mam knew she was dy­ing, and wanted to make peace with her fam­ily,” An­wen said softly. “One or both of my grand­par­ents may well have passed away by now, but at least I’ll have tried to find them and give them Mam’s let­ter.”

He did not speak, merely stared down at her. The sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment she saw in his ex­pres­sive brown eyes tore at her heart.

“I’m sorry,” she mum­bled bro­kenly. “I can’t stay.”

“Then there is noth­ing more to be said,” he replied. “I’ll see you safely back to the Hall.”

CHILL sea mist was rolling in over the dunes that early Septem­ber morn­ing, drift­ing like wraiths around the quiet vil­lage while An­wen waited alone out­side the inn to board the north­bound coach.

She’d said affectionate farewells to the Tyler fam­ily, been wished Godspeed, and promised to write and keep in touch. She hadn’t seen Joss since that night at the ly­ch­gate.

Clutch­ing her car­pet-bag, she climbed aboard, won­der­ing if she was mak­ing the big­gest mis­take of her life.

But as she set­tled into her seat, An­wen saw Joss strid­ing through the vil­lage to­wards the coach and im­me­di­ately she scram­bled out, run­ning to meet him.

“I couldn’t let you leave Mar­ram with an­gry words be­tween us,” he be­gan at once. “You’re very dear to me, An­wen – I wanted to tell you that. And for you to know I wish you well on your long jour­ney and in your quest to find your grand­par­ents.”

“Joss, what­ever hap­pens in Durham, I’ll come back to Mar­ram and –” She fal­tered, gaz­ing up into the warmth of his brown eyes. “And more than any­thing, I’d like to stay here . . . if you still want me to, that is?”

“Here I shall be, my love,” he whis­pered, for the first time ten­derly touch­ing his lips to hers.

“Here I shall be, wait­ing for you . . .”

The End.

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