Extract from a novel
|He never wanted to remember this. For many years he seemed to have forgotten. He thought her name had been erased from his memory. Her face merely a blank. But really, she always remained just beneath the surface. Someone who would appear around the corner when he was least expecting it.
Agnes. The housekeeper.
He was the only heir when his uncle died. And the house, in rural Shropshire, was his uncle’s only possession.
Stephen thought he had nothing at all. Some money in the bank, the redundancy pay from his last job, but no property, no prospects of new employment, no friends, certainly no girlfriend and then suddenly a cottage in a country village.
A long drive from London. Far from the motorway, narrow winding roads. He found the village almost by instinct. But the house was distant from the centre. He drove over a bridge, to the other side of a little river, past some weeping willows. A small, detached, ivy covered bungalow in a garden hidden behind a green hedge.
He parked at the side of the road, walked up the path, holding the key the solicitor had given him. But before he could exercise his right of ownership, the front door opened.
The woman who stood looking at him, unsmiling and austere, was middle aged, tall with short white hair, stout without being fat. She wore a dark coloured dress, long sleeved, which reached down to below her knees.
‘Good afternoon,’ she spoke loudly, with an accent which was not English but difficult to place. ‘My name is Agnes. I am Thomas’s housekeeper.’
Stephen started. No one had mentioned an employee.
He smiled politely and waited to be invited to enter. Was he now going to be an intruder in his new property?
‘I prepared your room. I’ll serve lunch as soon as you are ready.’
In a daze Stephen allowed himself to be led to small bedroom at the end of an L shaped corridor. The house had a fresh smell and there was faint fragrance of flowers.
He had wanted to explore the house but as soon as he emerged again from his bedroom he found himself being led to another room, where there was a fire in the hearth and a table set for one.
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