The Shriving of Miss Esme Stamp…

Episode 78… Rebecca’s Help… (Part Three)

That thought puzzled Charles for some time. He turned it over in his mind, time and time again. To put Herbert in some form of danger, enough to bring Rebecca to his aid was simply daunting. It had to be convincing or it would not work, but what could he do. If he tried to fake anything Rebecca would know. Her all-seeing eye and inner feeling would expose him as a fraud and that would undo everything. The dilemma was real.

He carefully remembered something in the past. It was a day at Ruislip Lido. He had taken to the lake like many others on that hot day. Herbert had been with him and yet refused to take a dip, saying he hated water and had never learnt to swim.

Others in their group, numbering some half dozen, and all from theatrical backgrounds, began to goad Herby for not taking to the water.

‘Just strip off to the waist Herb’s’ was the retort. ‘Go Go Herby,’

‘Are you ashamed or unclean.’ Some of the words were unkind and clearly upsetting Herbert.

Charles thought this was going too far and began to be concerned. ‘Ok guys, this is out of order. Just leave him alone.’

‘Sorry Charlie, we are just having a little fun, I’m sure Herb’s doesn’t mind.’

‘Well, I think he does, and as so called friends of his, you should know better.’

‘I will go into the Lake Charlie, I will show you all, that I am not scared,’ Herbert looked determined and yet frightened.

‘No you won’t Herby’ Charles looked at him with absolute conviction. ‘These guys are just messing around. Cool it.’

‘I have to do this Charlie, if not for you, for myself.’

The words played around in Charles mind, he knew Herbert would try to prove himself.

‘I gotta do it Charlie. I ain’t gonna be shamed.’

He stripped to the waist, just his trousers remaining, and walked carefully to the edge of the Lake. Its muddy bank was slippery and he almost fell into the water that covered him in an instance. Seconds passed, and he bobbed up, much to everyone’s relief. He laughed and thrashed his arms about him.

‘This is easy!’ he shouted, then suddenly he began to sink below the disturbed water.

‘Oh no’ this is what I feared.’ Charles voice rang out. ‘Get him out of there!




About Patrick

a photographer, writer and blogger, a studio and press photographer since the mid 1960's, first published writings in 1974
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