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Turner's Rage: Chapter Four

The Bugle App

James Seymour

30 March 2024, 10:00 PM

Turner's Rage: Chapter Four

Turner's Rage: List of Characters - Keep track of the characters here!

Chapter 4

The Turner Household, Guildford …

Sunday morning was an important day for the Turner family, being the Sabbath and a convenient opportunity for meetings with influential community members and friends. Aside from spiritual issues, the cost of grain was always high on the discussion list. The Corn (grain) Laws¹ were a significant issue for landholders and the community, and Jonathan Turner delicately managed both parties.  

¹ The Corn Laws related to grains such as wheat, corn, and sorghum. The Corn Laws were legislated as a method of protection for British grain farming after the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. It kept the price of bread high. There was much opposition from the industrial workers in northern cities on limited wages. The corn laws suited the Aristocracy well. Being landholders, it maintained their income from corn harvests and allowed the maintenance of their worker’s wages. However, workers in the industrial cities were demanding the Corn Laws be repealed. This would result in a lower price for bread. Wikipedia.

Jonathan was a shrewd businessman and understood the importance of good relationships with the landowners who supplied him with grain. Also, the business owners, customers and Guildford citizens were equally important to his business. The future of his baking and other companies depended on developing new markets, which both classes of society would support. Grain contracts with fair prices were essential for keeping his products at a reasonable cost. Church provided the opportunity to further relationships with suppliers and customers, ensuring their support. 

Waking early, he lay in bed, thinking through his marital predicament. Being in the guest room was not his preferred option. Eleanora remained quite cold towards him despite his talking with her several times since the incident. He now realised his abuse of her was inexcusable. At times, Jonathan’s behaviour was beyond his understanding. His problem with rage was unresolved, and somehow, he must find a cure. 

Now fully awake, he enjoyed the warmth of the early morning summer sun coming through the easterly-facing window. England was a beautiful place in mid-summer. His bed was now warm from the sunlight, and he felt a sense of energy and happiness. Being thankful for all the blessings his family enjoyed, Jonathan decided it was time to solve the situation with his wife. Jumping out of bed in his nightgown, he went downstairs to the kitchen, made two cups of tea, and found two crisp bread rolls and butter. With the offerings on a tray, he climbed the stairs and entered Eleanora’s bedroom. 

“Morning, my love!” 

Eleanora slowly rolled over, noticing the cups of tea and bread rolls and the pleading look on Jonathan’s face. His stay in the guest bedroom was having the right effect. She sat in bed, brushed back her long blonde hair across her shoulders and waited for his next move.

“I brought you a cup of tea so we could talk before the day begins.” He sat the tray on the bedside table and passed across a full cup. Waking fully, she rubbed her eyes and looked at him. Was this the same man who beat her into submission the other night? She was pleased by his warm smile and the offering of an early morning tea and rolls. 

Eleanora took the cup, “Thank you, Jonathan. This is the first time in our twenty-four years of marriage that you have made me a cup of tea. Is there something that you want to say?”

“Eleanora, my Dear, I have thought deeply about my actions the other night. I realised that I was wrong in what I did. My passion for you overcame me, and I lost control. I know I should have shown more control and failed you, but I am truly sorry and plead for your forgiveness. I truly love you and will always cherish you. Please forgive me, and let us put this behind us?”

“Forgiveness now, Jon, requires change on your part. Firstly, I must be sure that this will not happen again, and secondly, I must believe I can trust you. Will you assure me it will never happen again? Should I trust you?” Eleanora took a sip of the tea. 

Jonathan Turner was not a man of great vocabulary. He struggled to find the right words that would win his case. So, he kept it simple. 

“Eleanora, you are the only woman I have ever loved and will always be the only woman I love. I will never let this happen again. I am ashamed of my actions and ask your forgiveness.”

Eleanora was amazed that Jonathan was so repentant and wondered what had influenced this. She was still unsure he was genuine but would give him the benefit of the doubt. She also wanted this episode over and was quite content with his repentant state. 

“Jon, as you know, I am with child, and I am bruised and battered from your beating the other night. I am afraid of you and that you will turn on me. I will forgive you, but it will take time. You must give me more time.”

Jonathan breathed a deep sigh of relief, leaned forward, and kissed her gently on the forehead. She leaned back on the pillows and watched him. 

“You shall have all the time you require, Eleanora. Here is a buttered roll for you and one for me.”

Eleanora took the roll and felt a sense of relaxation for the first time since the incident. She realised the cup of tea and the roll was a peace offering. It was more important than anything else could be at this time. Jonathan’s repentance this morning had restored her husband and her marriage. There was a future again and another child on the way. A slight look of contentment came over her face.

“The children will attend church with me this morning. Anne, Clementine, and Marcia will remain here with you. Mrs Jennings will bring your breakfast soon. Anne will keep you company while Clementine looks after Marcia until we return home. I will pray for forgiveness from the Almighty and a steady hand in the future. You have my commitment to this, Eleanora. Your welfare is my first concern, and regaining your trust is everything. We will make this work, Eleanora. We will make this work!”

“Thank you, Jonathan,”

“I will also be attending the Guild meeting in London this week. Brother Richard has requested I break my trip at Ewell to discuss some business matters. I will be gone on Tuesday, returning on Friday. Thomas will look after the bakery, and Anne will watch over the household while I am away.”

“Jonathan, please give my apologies at church, as the ladies will notice I am missing.”

“Of course, my Dear. I must go now, or I will be late.”

Jonathan exited the room, and Eleanora watched until the door closed. She lay back on the pillows and smiled as the warm sunlight seeped into her room. The commitment made by Johnathan now assured her of a secure future. She felt a growing sense of calm, and a tear ran down her face – there would be a relationship for them again. Having lived with this man for twenty-four years, she knew him backwards. She now believed he was genuine and would make a change for the better. She closed her eyes and quietly gave thanks while she felt her stomach for signs of the baby.

At breakfast, Jonathan looked around the kitchen. Mrs Jennings and Anne were busy serving, and Clementine shouted instructions at them all. William was teasing Marcia, who was becoming agitated. Simeon was quietly thinking and eating, probably still half asleep. He was a slow starter in the mornings. Thomas, having finished breakfast, was upstairs dressing for church.

“William, leave Marcia alone!” 

“But Father, she loves it!” William cried out. 

Jonathan glared at William, and the boy took the hint that he should stop immediately. As the room calmed down, Jonathan thought through how he would handle the issues at church today.  

“Anne and Clementine. You will remain home with your mother today. She will require company and assistance while we are at Church. I will need Thomas with me as there will be an important visitor and his wife who we must attend.”

Clementine was happy with this, as she was not fond of the hour and a half at church on a Sunday morning. However, Sunday was the only time Anne met with friends and acquaintances. Missing this would be a disappointment indeed. Anne quickly assessed the situation – this must be diplomatically put and not arouse any suspicion. 


“Father! Mother will not be attending! The ladies will ask after her; it would be better if one of us answered their inquiries. Given you will be busy with the menfolk and introducing Thomas, might it be better if I come and fend off any questions?”

Anne was very respectful, ensuring her father would not become suspicious. Surely, he would understand that dealing with the lady’s questions was better left in her hands. It was in his interest that they presented a unified and consistent approach at church. She was not sure that her father knew of her knowledge of the incident, but she suspected he was quick on the uptake once hearing from William of her suggestion that it was a bad dream.

“And what shall you tell the womenfolk, Anne?”

“That mother fell on the stairs, and she suffers severe bruising, and Doctor Stephens insists she remains home resting this week.”

Jonathan Turner was acutely aware, just as at any other church, that the gossip chain here was quick. He needed a counter against any rumours spreading. Anne’s suggestions sounded far more plausible. She was gifted at speech and would add creditability by giving a simple answer. Working together, they could dispel any rumours that might surface. 

“And if one of the ladies requests a visit, what shall you tell them?”

“Simply that Mother is embarrassed by the bruising and should have subsided by next Friday, and she would welcome visits then?”

Jonathan was pleased with this. It was a better plan than his. His daughter had a sound mind, and he must not ignore it. 

“Certainly, Anne, I think your plan is an excellent one. You shall attend Church and manage the ladies’ enquiries. I will confirm your comments if required. Let us be off soon, then.”

William watched as Anne breathed a sigh of relief. He smiled at Anne as she walked past, and Anne stuck her tongue out at William but then smiled. Together, they were thieves of the truth but protecting their mother and father. Surely, this could not be wrong. 

The family house was not far from the church. As they walked along the street, William suddenly remembered his exploits with Richard Smith and Caleb Elliot. Simeon and William were last in the family line. Jonathan Turner led with Thomas at his side. They were busily discussing the corn laws, reflecting on what Jenkinson’s² next move would be in parliament. Anne and Madeline followed them. Much to Marcia’s disgust, Clementine and Marcia remained home as she doted on being with her father. 

 ² The Right Honourable Robert Jenkinson 2nd Earl of Liverpool, Prime Minister of the UK. Wikipedia.

William nudged Simeon. 

He whispered, “You don’t suppose Richard and Caleb will be there?” 

“Of course they will! Perhaps not Caleb. “


Simeon whispered back, “Just keep the pact.” 

“Did Reverend Taggart tell you about it?”

“Yes, he did, and I agreed too, as I was the only other witness. If you say nothing, things will remain calm. If you say the wrong thing and others become aware, Father will beat us miserably, and I don’t want that.” Simeon was now speaking in an urgent but hushed voice. 

William nodded eagerly in agreement. 

As the family reached the church stairs, the Smith family were ahead. Jonathan Turner greeted the mayor warmly, who in turn reciprocated. Moving down the aisle towards their family pew, Jonathan nodded a friendly greeting at several gentlemen. 

The lady folk noticed Eleanora was not with them, and a ripple of side glances followed the Turner procession. Anne was correct in her predictions. As they moved down the aisle, Anne noticed the ladies passing hushed but concerned comments. Eleanora’s absence would be the hot topic of gossip after the service. Jonathan appeared very relaxed and smiled at one and all. He mouthed sideways, “I am glad you are ready for this, Anne, as I may have underestimated the concern!” Anne gave her father a reassuring smile, giving him some confidence.

Four rows back on the other side of the Church, Jeb sat by himself in his Sunday best. Anne glanced around, smiling at friends; suddenly, seeing Jeb, she smiled at him. Jeb was so overcome he nodded back without any change in expression. Anne quickly looked forward as the congregation stood for the entering clerical procession. It was a good move as her father looked around at her and saw her nondescript expression as she gazed forward, concentrating on the empty cross. Noting this, her father thought no more of it. Anne relaxed. 

William and Simeon saw Richard Smith scowling at them in the pew directly opposite. Simeon ignored Richard, but William was petrified and looked down at his clasped hands as if he was praying. He remained that way for most of the service.

The Reverend Andrew Taggart was a friendly, ordained man who loved his job. He was of the liberal tradition, which suited the congregation very well. His Church was a church of faith and an important social centre for the community. Bearing in mind the death of the chimney sweep, Olivia Stepton, and her funeral, Andrew Taggart searched the scriptures for comfort and was encouraged by what he found. Many of his congregation attended the funeral, including friends of the Easton family from Batton Place and associated tenants. This morning, he knew they would question why this accident occurred. Some may even be casting blame. He, too, wondered at times about sad incidents. 

For the Reverend Andrew, his sermon preparation increased the number of personal questions he considered about his faith. He was unsure of where it was leading, but the question of why these accidents happened needed answering. His sermon today was fragmented, confused and not very convincing. Each member of the Turner family had different expectations. Simeon had expected a lesson on love, and Anne thought an appeal for forgiveness might be appropriate. Jonathan’s mind dwelt on his upcoming conversations with customers, and Thomas was worried about being involved with Catholics. Madeline was starting to take notice of the boys about a year or two older than her.

But Reverend Andrew Taggart surprised them all. His sermon was about ‘Sin’. He said he would develop this theme over the next few weeks and explain it as best he could each time. Unfortunately for the good Reverend, who had little theological training and far less in sermon giving, he made quite a mess of his first sermon on sin. 

By the end of the sermon, everyone was confused about the aim of his message. However, the longer he talked, the more relaxed he became. Most were thankful when the sermon finished, and the familiar prayer book liturgy for the eucharist commenced. 

At the time of communion, they all went forward in order of pews in two queues to the communion rails. William and Madeline remained seated as Anne quietly but firmly told Madeline not to move from her seat. As Anne followed her father forward, she noticed that Jeb was on the other side of the aisle in the other queue. As Jonathan Turner passed, he took Jeb’s hand, shook it, smiled, and patted Jeb on the back. He quietly said, “Thank you, Jeb, for all you did at the funeral.” 

Jeb smiled back at him, “It was my pleasure, Mr Turner.”

Anne was surprised at how human her father could be. She looked at them both and thought how handsome they were but then checked herself, realising that any sign of familiarity might lead Jeb on unfairly and spoil their working relationship. 

Following the other family members, Simeon suddenly found Richard Smith beside him. Richard whispered in his ear, “Turner, meet me at the back of the Church after the service; bring little William with you!” Simeon swallowed backwards and nodded, wondering what this bully wanted. Richard was the typical spoilt brat who must have his way. Simeon was sure this would involve the events on Friday when he accidentally fell! 

After the service, as they exited the church, Mrs Smith, the Mayor’s wife, grasped Jonathan Turner’s hand.

“Jonathan, where is Eleanora? I intended to invite her for afternoon tea on Tuesday, but she is not here. Is she unwell?”

Jonathan smiled, “She is a little battered as the result of a fall, and at the request of Doctor Jeremy Stephens, she will remain resting at home till next Friday. But perhaps, Marjorie, you could discuss it with Anne, as I must catch up with the McPhersons while they are still here. Anne, come and talk with Mrs Smith about your mother, please.”

Anne was quick in attendance and produced a lovely warm smile for Mrs Smith. 

“Certainly. Now, Dear Anne, do tell me all?”

“Mrs Smith, I have been attending Mother since Tuesday last, and the swelling and bruising from the fall is slowly fading, but she is most reluctant about appearing in public or having visitors until the swelling goes down. But she is coping well and … .”

Jonathan Turner left the two in deep conversation as the pair soon became a swarm of women discussing the topic. Pleased that Anne handled the situation so well, he gazed over the congregation, seeking Hamish and his wife so he could introduce Thomas. Thomas followed reluctantly, knowing his duty. 

“Good day, Hamish and Mrs McPherson. I am delighted you are attending our little church here. May I introduce my son Thomas, who manages the bakery!” Thomas was surprised to hear of his promotion but took it in his stride. 

Hamish McPherson owned four Scottish breweries, two in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh, and a string of pubs around the Scottish countryside. He recently built a brewery in Woolwich, invested in a pub in London and was now negotiating for a large hotel in Guildford. Jonathan Turner could see a significant future trade with Hamish if he settled here and built a chain of businesses in the accommodation and hotel industry.   

“Jonathan, good to see you, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Thomas. Let me introduce my niece, Miss Marion Steele, who is with us for the next few weeks. She is from Woolwich, near London, and greatly enjoys your country town!”  

Not expecting an introduction, Thomas was pleasantly surprised by the young lady. Marion was attractive and of a similar age, if not slightly older than Anne. 

“A pleasure, Miss Steele. Are you enjoying your stay in Guildford?” 

Overjoyed about meeting someone around her age, Marion was interested in Thomas and his sisters. 

“Yes, the fresh air out here away from London is lovely. I understand you have sisters, Mr Turner. Are they here today?”

“Miss Steele, please call me Thomas. We are a little less formal out here at Guilford.”

“Then please call me Marion.”

Thomas nodded in agreement. He was most taken with the young lady and was unsure why Miss Steele was so friendly.  

“Please let me introduce my sisters – I have five, but today, you must be content with the two who attend, Anne and Madeline. My oldest sister, Bethany, is a governess at Woking and attends church there. Clementine cares for my indisposed mother at home, and Marcia, the youngest, is also there today.” 

Thomas beckoned his sisters. Madeline acknowledged Thomas’s call and advised Anne, who politely excused herself and followed Madeline to meet Marion. It was apparent from the smiles and good wishes following Anne that she had settled the congregation’s women. The gossip network was well and truly under control. 

“Miss Marion Steele, may I present my sisters, Anne and Madeline.”

“Delighted Miss Anne and Miss Madeline. It is so nice meeting some folk my age.”

Anne twigged that this may be a significant introduction and was impressed by how beautiful Miss Steele appeared. She could see that Thomas was also finding Miss Steele’s company welcome. Quick thoughts of a future sister-in-law started flashing through Anne’s mind. 

Thomas’ sister was familiar with most resident families in the town and realised Miss Steele must be visiting. She would enjoy making a new friend. “Miss Steele, it is a pleasure. I do hope you are enjoying a lovely stay.”

“Yes. I accompanied Mr McPherson and his wife, my auntie, who are currently talking with your father. It appears they have much in common. We are staying at the Black Moon Inn on Quarry Street, and perhaps you could join me for tea there later in the week.”

Anne happily accepted this invitation, but another thought crossed her mind. 

“Why, Miss Steele, on a Sunday afternoon, we often stroll beside the river and enjoy the view. We also play a pirate game with the children. Father often supplies some biscuits for a picnic, which is most pleasant. If you have nothing planned, perhaps you would join our family for this outing today.”

Thomas was astounded that things were moving this fast. What was Anne doing?

“That is kind, Miss Anne – I would enjoy that very much. I must first check with Mr and Mrs McPherson; however, I am unaware of any appointments this afternoon, and it would be so refreshing joining with you and your family.”

Marion quickly confirmed the arrangements with her aunt and uncle. Thomas and Anne found they were due at the Black Moon Inn at three in the afternoon and would escort Miss Steele down the High Street, meeting the others at the riverbank.

Behind the church, Simeon and William looked for Richard. He dramatically appeared without warning from behind a gravestone. Standing menacingly above them, the Turner boys took a step backwards. He was a big lad for his age and stood a foot above them. Simeon knew he used his size as a weapon but also knew Richard was lazy and moved and reacted slowly.

“Hey, Sim – I think your little brother here might have hit me from behind last Friday. I don’t fall over and hit my head – that has never happened!”

“That’s what Reverend Taggart told us happened. Anyway, William was in class with me.” Simeon thought a little white lie would not hurt at this time, especially against a bully like Richard. Simeon wanted this line of questioning stopped before it went too far. He was not sure if William could hold his tongue.

Richard commenced his tactics, “You are lying. Liar, liar, liar!” 

Simeon wanted this finished as he worried William would say the wrong thing. 

“Why not tell Reverend Taggart he is a liar? We’re only saying what he told us happened!”  

William was impressed with Simeon’s quick thinking under pressure. He knew Sim would not be hurried in anything and was calm and calculated, but this deflection was clever. Unable to counter this fact, Richard lost whichever way he answered. Being a bully, losing was not an option. He decided on action rather than reason.   

Richard rushed William, punching him hard in the eye with his right fist. The six-year-old went down like a sack of oats, holding his head in his hands. Simeon knew his turn would be next, so he backed up against a rather large but flat gravestone. Richard turned on Simeon and ran towards him with fists clenched. Simeon stood quite still, watching for the punch. He ducked sideways from the right-hand fist, inches away from his face. 

His observation of Richard’s processing information slowly proved correct. Simeon noticed Richard closed his eyes before his punch hit William’s eye socket. The pattern was similar in the schoolyard, where he bullied other children. Simeon assumed that once Richard’s arm commenced the punch, he would close his eyes and follow through.

The timing of Simeon’s evasive action was perfect, but it was close. As he ducked sideways, he felt the rush of air against his cheek as the fist flew past and then collided heavily with the gravestone. It shuddered with the force of the punch. There was a loud crack of a breaking bone and then silence. 

Richard opened his eyes, seeing his hand hanging limply, and then the pain struck him. He screamed in agony and sat on the soft, thick grass. Tears ran down his cheeks as he sat there, sobbing and holding his wrist. Simeon knew it was now time for action. 

“William, quick, help me lift him.”

William was still rolling around and quite giddy. Thinking, ‘Are you kidding, Sim, I can hardly stand up, and this big brute will have another go at me!’

“Quickly, William! Grab his arm, and let’s find his parents.”

William begrudgingly pulled himself up and staggered towards Richard but tripped and fell on him. Richard screamed again in agony. 

“Oops. Sorry, Richard!” William exclaimed. Richard howled.

Under Simeon’s instruction, they both took one of Richard’s arms and lifted him onto his feet as best they could. The three were lopsided, as William was slightly shorter than his brother. They staggered towards the front of the church and approached the mayor’s wife. Marjorie Smith noticed her son in agony, and she immediately rushed over and consoled him. 

“Thank you, Simeon and William. Whatever happened, Richard? Oh, poor little fellow!”

Simeon was careful with his words and produced a brief explanation.  

“We were playing hide and seek in the graveyard when Richard came out from behind a gravestone, and William ran into him. As Richard fell, he put out his hand and struck it on the gravestone.”

“Oh, poor little Dear – we must find Doctor Stephens and have him look at you. It's probably a sprain. Quick now, Simeon, please tell Mayor Smith that I need him. That would be so helpful. And William looks like he is hurt as well.”

“It’s nothing, Mrs Smith – just a slight knock. He will be fine.” William grinned at her gingerly with more of a grimace than a smile. However, Marjorie Smith now lost her focus on William and attended to her howling son.

Simeon dutifully collected the mayor, and the Smith family set off with Doctor Stephens towards his surgery.   

The Reverend Andrew Taggart watched the complete discussion between Mrs Smith and Simeon Turner with some trepidation. Jonathan Turner became suspicious when he saw the look on Andrew’s face but felt more pressing matters were at hand.

Anne and Marion Steele, standing beside Simeon and William, chatted and became acquainted. 

Anne mouthed at Simeon, “I don’t want to know!”

Sim tried hard to cultivate a concerned expression for Richard and William but could not contain a slight smile. Observing this as he completed his discussions, Jonathan Turner decided it was time for the family to return home for lunch.

Approaching Miss Steele, Mr Turner said, “I understand you will join Thomas and Anne for a walk to the river this afternoon. The weather looks fine, so I am sure you will have a lovely time. Please take care as the riverbank can be rather steep. I hope we shall see more of you, Miss Steele.” 

Having grown fond of Thomas and Anne far quicker than expected, Marion replied, “Thank you, Mr Turner. That is kind of you, and I will heed your advice.”

Anne lifted her eyebrows and thought that the morning events were taking a turn for the better. She wondered what might develop from this.

The Turners and the McPhersons were among the last families leaving the church. Simeon Turner gave Reverend Taggart a confident wave acknowledging everything was fine. Reverend Taggart waved back with a smile and then wiped his brow with a handkerchief. He turned and escorted Mrs Taggart into the Rectory for luncheon. 

At lunch, Jonathan Turner wondered what happened at church to cause Richard’s injury. The mayor’s son was a fine specimen of a boy, and Jonathan doubted that Richard’s injury resulted from a game of ‘hide and seek’. He focused his enquiries on Sim.

“Simeon, how exactly did Richard injure his wrist?”

“Just as I told Mrs Smith, Father. He bashed it at an awkward angle on a gravestone. I have never seen anything like it before. He shuts his eyes when he throws his arms around. I heard the bone crack as he did it. It was a bit sickening.”

Jonathan Turner considered this for a while and said, “It must have been a freak accident – how unlucky! Was it broken?”

“I’m not sure, Father, but I would say it probably was by the sound of the crack we heard!”

William could not contain himself and let out a little laugh. 

Dismayed by William’s laugh, Jonathan said, “It is not a laughing matter, William, and your eye socket is turning blue. It looks like someone gave you a good bruiser! Have you an explanation?”

Simeon quickly answered, “Richard’s elbow knocked William in the eye quite hard as he fell.”

“Is that what happened, William?”

“Yes, Father!”

“I also heard that Caleb Steele knocked his front teeth out at school on Friday. Did you boys hear anything about this?”

Simeon sensed this question was more of an interrogation than a mere passing comment. He felt danger. William quickly said, “We were in class then, but Reverend Taggart told us what happened.”

Eleanora broke into the conversation before Jonathan could dig any further. 

“You boys should take more care when you play around the back of the church. I was pleased that Anne and Thomas had acquainted Miss Marion Steele, and she will attend the river walk this afternoon. I, too, need a walk in the cool beside the river, Jonathan. If I wore a veil, that would sufficiently cover my bruising.”   

Simeon and William looked at each other in relief. They knew their father suspected foul play, but their mother had cleverly diverted him. 

“I’m not sure that is wise, my Dear, as it is still Sunday, and we explained at church that you would not receive visitors until next Friday.”

“Jonathan, I will not receive visitors; I’m regaining strength on a sunny afternoon walk. I will cover up, and as usual, all the families we know will probably be up at the castle grounds where the band is playing today. We will not be disturbed at the river, and I will cover my face and body. I would enjoy a walk in the sun with the children and a rest down by the river.”

Jonathan was terrified but held his voice. He had no choice and must agree. 

“I shall join you then, Ma’am. Mrs Jennings? Would you, please, pack a basket of biscuits, some rolls and a rug. We can make a little picnic afternoon feast.”

“Splendid Jonathan, what a wonderful idea. Off you go, girls and boys! Run upstairs and put on your play clothes.”

The boys and Marcia needed no more encouragement and were gone in a second; the other girls finished their lunch and quietly went upstairs. Eleanora then spoke softly. 

“Jonathan, the opportunity for Thomas with Miss Steele may be fortunate. Anne tells me she has a sweet personality and is quite pleased with Thomas. He is of marriageable age. From what Anne tells me, she would be a good match.”

Jonathan enjoyed a conversation with his wife again on a subject other than the incident. He quickly replied, “It took me by surprise – I was talking with Mr McPherson, and he introduced his niece. She is charming. However, I am not sure why she would prefer our family. Surely, coming from London, there must be a finer catch there. If a match eventuates, it will be a good alliance for the family. Eleanora, are you sure about this walk?”

“Yes, Jonathan, I have been shut up all week and would welcome some fresh air. I will be very gentle with myself and enjoy walking with you.”

Jonathan was quite pleased with this comment, and it lessened his fear of a chance meeting with friends. 

The Picnic Beside the River Wey, Guildford … 

At the time appointed, Thomas and Anne set out for the Black Moon Inn with high hopes for their new friend. The afternoon became quite warm, requiring light clothing. Eleanora worked hard on disguising her bruising with a full-length sleeved dress, hat and veil. She felt more alive today than in a week and eagerly awaited watching her children play beside the river.  

As they set out, Jonathan took her arm and waited attentively on her. He was concerned about any contact with other friends and neighbours. While Eleanora enjoyed the walk in the warm sunshine, the experience outdoors would also emphasise to Jonathan that he must fulfil his promise about change. She noticed how rigidly he walked, which must be from his stress over the situation. 

William loved these excursions where the family played games beside the river. He ran ahead, full of energy and excitement, leaving everything behind until he reached the riverbank first.  

They found a pleasant spot where the bank was mainly gently sloping, covered in deep green grass and, in some places, little grassed mounds and trees on each side of the river. The calm brown water drifted past slowly and moved the branches of the weeping willows so they looked like ghosts walking on water. William found a stick and waved it madly, scattering the ducks and swans away from the riverbank. His imagination took him into the pirate world, where adventure reigned supreme. He jumped onto a mound near the water’s edge and imagined himself on his ship’s quarter deck. Soon, commands could be heard as he issued orders to the crew. 

“Hoist the sails me, lads, and cast off. There be a treasure for the taking!” 

Turning, he found himself facing Simeon, who also held a stick. 

“Surrender, Captain of the pirates! I, Captain Turner, arrest you in the name of the King. Yield and stand down.” 

“Never!” cried William, “We will fight to the death!”

“Then prepare pirate captain for the hereafter. My crew will take your ship!”

Clementine and Marcia soon joined Simeon’s crew, ready for the boarding. Clementine yelled, “Aye, Aye, Captain,” Marcia gave little shrills of excitement as she ran back and forth, and Maddie jumped in, joining pirate Captain Will. 

The two boys started jousting, and the imaginary pirate swords struck and waved as the boys danced around the mound. 

As Anne, Thomas and Marion Steele approached the riverbank, they laughed as they saw the small boys and girls battling with sticks. 

“It is the age they are at, Marion. Pirates are a great romance in their lives now. We have a lot of fun as a family this way. I hope you don’t mind?” Thomas was concerned that she was comfortable with this informal behaviour.  

“Thomas, I am honoured and privileged by your family’s hospitality. I have three elder brothers at home, and I can see myself some years ago doing just as Marcia is. She is so cute. Let us join in!”

“Aye, Aye, Captain,” Anne yelled, and the two girls were off in a run, joining the melee.

Thomas stood there with his mouth open. He was amazed that this polished young lady from the city would run and join in with these childish antics. Perhaps, he thought, he was taking himself too seriously. An excellent old pirate battle would be fun, especially with Marion. He launched himself into the yelling frenzy on the quarter deck. 

Any bystander would have been confused by the running and yelling of this small swarm of young folk. But these free spirits knew precisely what they were doing. The difficulties of this world disappeared for a time, and they revelled in the energy of youth under a warm summer sun. 

Jonathan and Eleanora, nearing the riverbank, stopped in amazement, seeing Thomas fencing with Marion, obviously as an opponent, laughing and giggling as the others wrestled and ran around them. 

“I haven’t seen Thomas enjoying himself so much in ages, Jonathan. They do make a good match, don’t they?”

“I’m not sure what Mr and Mrs McPherson would think if they saw this!” Jonathan shuddered at the thought. His striking a deal with Hamish McPherson could be a clincher for a much larger business in Guildford. It would also possibly involve Richard in Ewell with a new pub. He was keen that these possibilities were not spoilt. 

“I think I might just calm them down a bit.”

Eleanora smiled as Jonathan walked towards the pirate brawl on the bank. 

As the numbers increased on the poop deck, William, leading the pirates, broke his first sword and now held a fallen thick tree branch as a landing hook. He twirled the weapon around at anyone he could. As Jonathan approached for a word with William, the young boy missed seeing his father nearby. As Jonathan came into range, William, unawares and facing the other direction, took a mighty swing at Sim, the King’s man, and missed. The momentum of his large branch twirled him around, striking Jonathan a beauty right across the forehead. 

When Jonathan regained consciousness, he found himself lying on the ground peacefully with his head in his wife’s lap. She looked down at him with a gentle smile and delicately wiped his face with a wet cloth. Jonathan smiled back, thinking, ‘This was nice!’ Until the pain started. Suddenly, he remembered what happened. His body went rigid. He wrestled with sitting up, but Eleanora held him back. She whispered in his ear, “Let it go, Jonathan – it was an accident. Let it go!”

Jonathan stopped and realised, ‘That wretched William belted me one!’

Eleanora could see the rage growing. “Jonathan, listen, please! The children and Marion are most concerned for you. There is much going on here, Jonathan. Remember Thomas and Marion. Do not spoil this, Jonathan. Please relax.”

Jonathan Turner was not in the mood to listen, but for Eleanora, he complied. He would prefer thrashing William, as the boy was too volatile. Perhaps the events at the church school involved William. Perhaps not. If his suspicions were correct, then he would lose business for sure. But the deal with the McPhersons was more critical. Marion’s goodwill could be a significant influence. His wife was right; he must control his temper.

Jonathan laid his head back on his wife’s lap and closed his eyes. He relaxed and said, “More, please.”

Eleanora smiled, “Now, that’s the boy.” She wiped his face again softly.

William slowly came near his father and knelt beside him. “I’m sorry, Father! It was an accident.”

Jonathan said back, “Thank you, William.” He opened his eyes, seeing William kneeling close and a shadowy figure behind his head. He shut his eyes and opened them again, this time achieving a better focus - Hamish McPherson was grinning at him from behind William’s shoulder. 

“My, he clocked you a beauty, Jonathan. I have not seen such entertainment since my children were young. Ha, Ha. You were out for a while, but Eleanora was very calm and told us how tough you were and that you would be conscious soon. A fine wife, you have, Sir.”

Jonathan lay there with his mouth open. Hamish laughed. 

“Eleanora told us a bit about the children while you rested. I must also say these biscuits are delicious. We need them in my hotels, Jonathan. We can discuss this tomorrow at our meeting before you leave for London. Just take it easy – I must re-join the pirate game!”

Hamish saluted with a stick and rushed off after William, shouting pirate-type commands. 

Eleanora wiped Jonathan’s face and smiled, saying, “Such a nice man!” Jonathan closed his eyes again and let the rage leave his body. The sun was warm. The tension was gone. 

Anne, Marion, and Thomas laughed about the day as they walked home up the High Street. Anne was keen to know more about this new friend from Greenwich. 

“Marion. Do you have brothers and sisters at home in Woolwich?” Anne was curious about Miss Steele’s family and why she would visit with her uncle rather than her mother and father. 

Marion looked down and swallowed deeply. Blushing, she struggled with her words.  

Anne immediately felt worried. Marion was upset by the question. But then Marion spoke up before Anne could apologise.

“It is difficult discussing my family at this time. We are going through some deeply personal issues.” Anne spoke forthrightly, “I am sorry, Marion. Pray, forgive me if I caused you any sorrow.”

Marion slowly looked up. Anne could see the moisture in her eyes – as tears appeared. 

“No, no …it does not cause me sorrow – it has been so wonderful being included in your family fun today. I have felt more alive today than I have been for months.”

Her sentiment touched Thomas, and he handed her a handkerchief, noticing her tears. 

“Please, Marion, do not let us press you.” 

“No, Thomas, I must explain. My mother is unwell. Father has placed her in a hospital for her care, and we visit often. She has lost her memory. One day, she knows us, then the next, there is nothing!

I have three brothers who work with my father in the cannon casting business. They make cannon shafts for the army.

My brothers and father have disagreed over my mother entering care. My brothers want her home; however, my father feels that she is at a stage now where we cannot meet her care needs. I love my family dearly and hate this disagreement destroying our happiness. 

Mrs McPherson is my mother’s sister. Mr McPherson and Auntie Marjorie have been such a tremendous help. They are such kind people. You would never know it of Mr McPherson as he is a tough businessman and has made a fortune. They have taken me under their wing. Mrs McPherson has replaced my mother over the last year, and I cannot thank them enough for their generosity. 

Our family is like yours. We are tradespeople who have done well. That is why it was so much fun being with you today. Being part of some family fun again was so good!”

Thomas felt sympathy for her situation but found himself wordless. Anne was impressed that Marion would be so open. She felt a close bond growing with this girl. 

“Marion, while you are here in Guildford, please spend as much time with us as you wish. Perhaps we could have tea tomorrow afternoon – you will not see much of Thomas for the rest of the week, as he will be running the bakery while Father is away, and Thomas rises early in the morning – about three. I, too, work at the bakery for a few hours in the morning, but I am free in the afternoons. Perhaps you and Mrs McPherson would join us for afternoon tea?”

Marion wiped the tears from her eyes, “I would like nothing more!”

The two girls took each other’s hands and hugged. Then, each taking one of Thomas’ arms, they strolled up the High Street, letting the warm summer afternoon soak into this growing friendship.