As I know some people prefer to read my Blog instead of my web site and as I have the prologue and chapters 1 and 2 of Satchfield Hall on my web, I didn't want visitors to my Blog page to miss out. So here is the prologue from Satchfield Hall.....I hope you will like it enough to want to read more...!
Celia stood in the shadows of the sweeping boughs of a willow tree. From her vantage point, she could clearly see the four people who were huddled together, their heads bowed as they carried out the solemn ritual of bidding their last goodbyes. But despite the distance of no more than twenty yards from where Celia watched the mourners gathered, they could not see her.
She needed only to take a few steps forward and she would be visible to them, but Celia had no desire whatsoever to be seen.
Unlike the small party, she was not dressed in sombre clothing. For her, it was not a day to mourn she’d done that years earlier. Though unlike today, she had cried: Wept at the loss of the man she believed had cared for her. And he had, but not in the way she had thought. Like everything in Henry Bryant-Smythe’s life, she was seen as an asset, an investment. And when she had deprived him of what he believed was his insurance with a healthy dividend, he had made her pay, and the price had been high; very high.
Celia shuddered. Even in death, it seemed Henry Bryant-Smythe was still able to create a sense of fear, but despite this, she knew it was at last over. Her reason for standing, silently in the cover of the boughs was to witness the end of his life on this earth. She’d waited for more years than she could count to see this day. She’d heard a saying once, that only the good die young, well here was evidence that the evil stayed on this earth for a very long time.
She herself was well beyond the flush of youth and she knew that he’d celebrated his thirtieth birthday days before she’d been born. And so with a wry smile she mused, you didn’t need to be a mathematician to work out he’d lived far more years than most.
‘Justice,’ Celia almost screamed, until she remembered where she was standing. But there was no justice she thought with bitterness. Even as he had lain dying he’d not uttered her name, or repented. In the end nothing had changed. He’d told her years earlier the reasons for what he had done, but even as he’d spoken to her, his voice had been thick with loathing. Celia knew he’d had no regrets for the pain and suffering that he had caused. She recalled he’d smiled at her, a sardonic smile that changed his face from haughty to malicious. Even his eyes had sparkled with malevolence and like lasers, they had bore into her.
‘I just wanted you to know,’ he’d snapped. His voice sounding like the crack from a whip and had cut just as deep. ‘Because of your behaviour, I lost everything. You were the catalyst for all that happened. It is you who should beg for my forgiveness.’ In the corners of his mouth spittle had foamed as his lips tightened with his deep resentment, before he had added, ‘But don’t ever ask, because I would never give it.’
Despite her mature years, his presence and tone had sent a shiver of fear down her spine.
Now, decades later, standing in the shadows of the trees, knowing his time on this earth was over, Celia could still feel his presence. And to her horror, she realised, that despite all that had happened he still had the ability to chill her blood.
Her father, Henry Bryant-Smythe, the Squire of Satchfield Hall, powerful and evil had destroyed so many and so much and had ultimately destroyed himself. Only now, as the words he had spoken echoed through the passage of time, Celia felt pity: A pity that defied all the pain and suffering. She knew the words he’d snapped at her all those years before, meant he had, if only to himself, rewritten the past and he’d seen himself as the victim.
Her mother, who had suffered at his hands, had gone to an early grave. If only Muriel Bryant-Smythe had had the fortitude to stand up to the man who’d taken her as his bride at barely sixteen, then maybe all of their lives might have been so different and so much pain would have been avoided. But somehow, she didn’t think that would have been, her mother was too beautiful and her father too iniquitous.
Even knowing he was gone, she couldn’t remove the hate she had in her heart for him. It had been there for so long, it was like another organ. It was part of her. It had shaped her life and all of those around her. Now, having witnessed all that was necessary, she turned to leave, and silently she thanked God it was over. But no sooner had she turned her back on the scene being acted out in the memorial garden then she was startled. A hand touched her arm. It took all of her will power not to cry out. And as Celia looked up, she saw with joy, it was Jack and she smiled. In a loud whisper she asked: ‘What are you doing here?’
‘It looks to me, the same as you, making sure he really has gone.’
Celia and Jack left via the concealed exit. The same one Celia had earlier walked through when she had entered the memorial gardens. Squeezing his arm, Celia was pleased to see Jack. Somehow she had a feeling he would turn up and as they walked, arm in arm, neither looked back. No doubt, she thought, her father was spinning, somewhere between Hell and Heaven.
She knew Heaven would have difficulty in taking him, there had never been an ounce of good in him, but then Hell too had its standards. Wherever he was, he would not be pleased with what in the end had been achieved.
He’d believed he was so powerful and he’d used that power to destroy and crush. It took the victories from a second world war and a country desperate to rebuild and recover from its wounds before the power Henry Bryant-Smythe wielded would be weakened and eventually removed. But despite being stripped of what he valued the most; power, reputation and above all wealth, he continued to haunt those he had sought to destroy.
Smiling that at last the chapter was closed, Celia looked up at her son, she had been blessed.
With arms linked, together they walked the few steps that took them to Celia’s car. Tony, her driver was already waiting for them. He smiled as they appeared through the thick hedge that concealed the little gate. He could see already that his employer’s step was lighter. Her face was the face of a woman who had succeeded in the end.
As Celia and Jack approached, he opened the rear passenger door.
‘Are you ok?’ he asked.
‘Thank you, Tony. Never better,’ Celia said as she stepped into the car and made herself comfortable.
Tony shook Jack’s hand, ‘Nice to see you Jack and no doubt your mother is too. Today is a big day for her.’
Jack nodded, it was a big day for him also, but he didn’t say this, instead he patted Tony’s shoulder as he made his way to the rear passenger door and joined his mother.
Once Celia’s seat belt was locked into its snap, she rested her head on the headrest and closing her eyes, she breathed a sigh of relief and at the same time a tear trickled down her cheek. It was over. She’d never stopped wondering how one person could create so much pain and suffering. She should have felt some inner peace, after all in the end she’d had the last word, but she didn’t hear that, instead all she could hear was her father’s voice as it thundered through Satchfield Hall all those years before.
What Henry Bryant-Smythe had learnt had sent him into a wild rage that no amount of appeasing by his wife would calm him down. But even as he fumed at what he saw as a scandal, he’d put a halt to it before it could do any further damage to him..........
You can read chapters One and Two from my web site www.paulinebarclay.co.uk
Satchfield Hall is available from Amazon.