Anne was off Bertha and seated beside Ann in Tib’s car. She wrapped her arms around her wife and kissed her gently. ‘Adney, what happened?’ Ann couldn’t speak so Marian told Anne what happened. How rude Eliza had been. How she told Ann that she had upset her family when we know only a few members have gotten their knickers in a twist.’ Ann smiled when Marian said that. ‘It seems as though we need to get the big guns out. That’s why we are visiting Mother Rawson. Come on, Ann get your gear on.’ Anne went back to Bertha to get Ann’s leather gear. Ann slide out of her jeans and into her leather pants. She stepped out of Tib’s car and put on her leather jacket and helmet. They climbed onto Bertha just as Eliza was walking towards them with her trolley. ‘Hang on, Ann.’ Anne said as she sped off before Eliza could say anything
They arrived at Stony Royd ten minutes later. They climbed down off Bertha and strolled to the front door. Anne knocked hard on the front door and when the butler opened it. Anne said. ’Miss Lister and Miss Walker to see Mrs Rawson..Is she in?’
‘One moment ma’am.I will check.’ Ten minutes later Mother Rawson was standing at the door to greet them. ‘Come in, ladies. What do I owe this pleasure?’ Anne explained what Eliza Priestley was doing and was hoping Nelly Rawson could bring an end to it. ‘I will do my best but I know she rarely listens to what I say and her feckless husband has no control over her. Would you like to stay for dinner? Just call home and tell them you are dining out with Mother Rawson.’ Anne called Aunt Anne and told her what was happening. Aunt Anne seemed excited. ‘Why are you excited, Aunt?’
‘Not saying, Anne. See you later.’
‘Okay!!!’ Anne said and disconnected the call. She pocketed her phone.
‘It’s okay! We can stay here for dinner. Only Aunt Anne seemed to be excited about something but she wouldn’t tell me.’ Anne said. Both Ann and Mother Rawson looked at her in shock. ‘I wonder what secret she is keeping from us, Anne. I suppose we will find out when we go home.’ Ann said. Mrs Rawson led them into the sitting room. She sat down in her favourite chair and offered them a seat. ‘Now, what brought you to my home today? Mother Rawson asked. They went into great detail about how even after they married William and Eliza especially Eliza had been constantly berating Ann for being with Anne then marrying Anne. Mother Rawson had said she had often wondered why Elizabeth agreed to having Eliza and William as co guardians of Ann. She knew Eliza would like having control over someone’s life and wouldn’t want to relinquish that control. So, while she was the matriarch of the family she was just as puzzled as Anne and Ann were at to how they were going to solve this problem.
Mother Rawson had her chef create a special meal for them. Anne was delighted to finally know Mother Rawson had their back and was prepared to fix this problem but no matter what she thought she could do Nelly realised that every solution was also a problem in disguise. They sat at the dinner table in silence as they waited for their meal to be dished up.
Ann had just about given up hope when Mother Rawson said. ‘Do we know anything that Eliza has done which she wouldn’t want her family to know about?’ She eyed Anne and Ann. They were smiling brightly. She wondered what information they had on Eliza that was going to make her squeal like a pig if it was ever revealed. Then Ann spoke. ‘My mum told me once when she was being open about her life that she had been in a relationship with Eliza but it only lasted for three months. Eliza broke it off saying it was unnatural. Mum didn’t mind at the time but she always thought Eliza only married .William for his connections and his seemingly never ending bank balance.’
‘Is that so? Do you have proof, Ann?’ Mother Rawson asked.
‘I will need to go over to Crow Nest and look through our family photo albums. That might take days.’ Ann said wondering how she would do that.
‘Let’s eat. I think we can get others to help us. What about your sister, Anne? Would she help.’ Mother Rawson said.
‘I am sure she would. I will call her when we have finished eating.’
When they finished eating Mother Rawson called her chauffeur to bring her car around. She was going to Crow Nest with Anne and Ann. They met Aunt Anne and Marian there. When Ann had brought out the photo albums from her parent’s old bedroom closet they sat down and began to look through each album. It seemed as though it would take hours until Ann found what they were looking for. She took a photo of it with her phone and saved it for later. ‘Is there any correspondence between them that your mum kept?’ Aunt Anne asked ‘Because I am sure she will think the photo has been photoshopped. We know it hasn’t.’
‘I’m not sure. I can go and take a look. She had a drawer in her bedside table for her personal stuff, her diary and a place where she kept her wallet. I can look there if you like.’
‘I think that might be a good idea.’ Anne said. So, Ann stood up and went up to her parent’s bedroom. It felt strange looking into her mother’s drawer. especially this one it held her mother’s most intimate things. Ann pulled everything out and there hidden underneath her mother’s memories was an envelope. It was crumpled as if it had been screwed up in anger then flattened out again. She wondered if her mother was in love with Eliza but Eliza wasn’t in love with her. She put everything back as she found it and grabbed the envelope and wandered back down stairs.
Everyone eagerly awaited Ann’s return. James had brought in supper for them and they were munching away on ham sandwiches and drinking coffee. James hadn’t forgotten about Ann. He had made her a cup of her favourite tea. Ann smiled as she sat next to Anne on the sofa and opened the envelope. It was from Eliza.
Dearest Mary, I am so looking forward to seeing you this weekend. I hope we can spend this time together and plan for our future. I have never felt such a deep yearning to know someone like I have wanted to know you. Is it possible that we could get married and make a life together? I hope so. I know that sometimes you doubt how I feel about you. Society doesn’t make it easy. I wish it would see us and hear us. Then we could be more open about who we are. Will that happen? Probably not in our lifetime, I love you, Mary. Take care and I will see you soon.
Yours faithfully & affectionately
Eliza Paley 6/6/1980
‘Goodness, Ann. She dated it too. I guess she is hoping that your mother threw the letter away.’
‘Oh, there are at least five or six more. Let’s call her and see what she had to say.’ Marian said.
‘I will call her.’ Mother Rawson said and after they had gone through the formalities that usually occur when you call someone you know. Then Eliza inquired as to why Mother Rawson was calling her. ‘I think you know, Eliza and until you stop harassing my nieces i will show proof that you had an intimate relationship with Mary Walker before she married John.’ Eliza was stunned for a moment then she said. ‘You’re bluffing, Nelly. There is no proof.’ Deep down she was hoping that Mary got rid of all the evidence. ‘Well, Ann has in her possession a photo of you and her mother in a very intimate pose and a few letters from you to her. I can read one to you if you want me to.’ Eliza was horrified. She didn’t know what to say other than. ’It’s all lies.’
‘And in your handwriting I wonder how you would feel if we harassed you about this and William found out.’ Anne said. Mother Rawson had her on speaker phone. ‘What are you going to do, Mrs Priestley? Leave me alone so Anne and I can enjoy life like we want to.’
‘I still think you are making a mistake marrying that women.’ it was then that Aunt Anne spoke. ‘How dare you speak about my niece like that? You have no idea what she has gone through. Don’t you dare come near Ann again or else you will have to deal with the might of the Listers.’ Eliza disconnected the call. ‘I wonder if we will hear from her again.’ Marian said. ‘I certainly hope not. We have enough evidence to destroy her life but I know you don’t want to do that, Ann. Do you?’
‘Don’t tempt me. She has spent the last few weeks trying to destroy my life. I hope she finally stops.’
‘I hope she does, too,’ Anne said. ‘Now, I don’t know about anyone else but this calls for something stronger than tea or coffee. Is there anything here that would fit that bill. Darn, Bertha is still over at your place, Nelly.’
‘Oh leave her there. I am sure I can get someone to put it in the shed.’
‘Not possible. I have it locked. So, it can’t be moved ‘
‘Come home with me and unlock it, put it in the shed then I will get, Henry to take you home. Now, what is there on offer? Oh same with you two, ladies. She directed her eyes to Aunt Anne and Marian. They would leave their car there at Crow Nest and collect it tomorrow. ‘I have a bottle of whiskey which I know Anne likes a few bottles of beer and a bottle of scotch and rum.’
They drank heartily. Aunt Anne stuck to drinking tea. She didn’t like drinking alcohol of any kind. They had a joyous evening together.
It was early morning when they all arrived back at Shibden. They thanked Henry for being so patient with them and bringing them home. Anne said she would collect Bertha in the morning.
Anne and Ann climbed the stairs. Anne had just been able to close their bedroom door when Ann pushed her against it. She put her arm around Anne’s neck and pulled her into a deep, passionate kiss then pulled away. Anne reached back into kiss her, all she got was air. ‘How is my bikie doing? Thanks for coming to my rescue today. I don’t know what I would do without you, Anne.’ Ann looked at her wife as she spoke. It was Anne’s turn to be unravelled by her wife. How could someone so beautiful have doubts about her ability? ‘It was all you, Ann. We were only there to support you. Nelly certainly told her a thing or two I wonder if we will see Eliza again after that.’
‘I hope not, Dearest. I think we have had a life time of her in too short a time. Haven’t we?’
‘We certainly have. I forgot to mention. I have everything organised. I left Washington in charge. He only needs to call me if he needs to change plans or to tell me when something goes wrong. I hope they have a smooth run unlike my ancestor who went on the continent and had to come home due to an ill aunt. Then she found out that the pit the Mann brothers were sinking had flooded.’
‘Isn’t that when her Ann Walker came to her rescue?’ Ann said.
‘How do you know that?’ Anne asked quizzically. ‘I think I read about it somewhere. Let me know if you need financial help dearest. I will help you.’ Anne was hoping it wouldn’t come to that but she was glad Ann had given her that option. ‘Thanks, Adney. I hope I don’t need to ask you for help. Okay!’