Monday, January 05, 2009

On the Road Again - Toby 6


Well, I knew it would end but that doesn't make it any better. It has been bliss. Farewell to Cornwall and hello to travel. I hate dropping the boys back at school - I miss them terribly but the up side is that I'm around for a writers' lunch on Tuesday!


I shan't be blogging for a few days - me thinks, as I won't have any connection until I reach the airport. So for the time being here is the next installment of Toby's story.


Farthing House School, Surrey 17th May 1846
The letter was addressed to Master Tobias Trevenen but Toby didn’t recognize the writing. It had been left on the table in the hall as all post was. He did not often get letters so he wasn’t sure why he looked. Maybe it was the flourish of the writing that caught his eye.
He tucked it under his jumper and went quietly up to his bed. The dormitory was empty as the other boys were outside running in the last of the late evening sun before the final bell. Once prep had finished, they all exploded out into the grounds. He could hear the shouting from four floors below. If he was quick he could read his letter without anyone looking over his shoulder. He was still not accustomed to the lack of privacy; no time alone. In Trevenen House he was often on his own and he realized that he liked being on his own, not sleeping in a dormitory with twenty other boys who all knew each others’ business. Most of the boys had been here for ages. He was the new boy.
Slowly Toby opened the page. In clear black strokes it began:
Dear Tobias,
I have finished your portrait. I am very pleased with it. It hangs beside your mother’s. By now you know that you can never take it to Trevenen House. It was your mother’s wish for me to paint your portrait and I am happy that I have fulfilled it. She would be pleased.
I would like you to see it and I would like to meet you again. I plan to visit the school on the first weekend of June. I will be painting in a nearby house. I look forward to our meeting again soon.
Yours,
Frederick Peters

The sound of pounding feet reminded Toby where he was. He folded the letter and placed it in its envelope before hiding it under his mattress. Chaos reigned as the boys scrambled to get ready for bed. The master would be through in a few minutes. He took pleasure at shouting at them even when they were doing what they were supposed to.
Half an hour later the lights were out and the noise had disappeared except for two boys on the far side of the door who were discussing the cricket match. Toby closed his eyes and let up a silent prayer that he finally had something to which he could look forward. He had had only one letter from his father and he had been here for five weeks. He longed for news of home. Had his father’s mare given birth yet? Had Mrs. Williams’ son come back from the Navy yet? He had been due leave. Had she made that lovely lamb stew? Had the bluebells finished? He longed to walk through the wood and see the swathe of blue as the sunlight crept through the trees. He wanted to be home.
Frederick’s visit was only a week away. Would he bring the portrait with him? What would Frederick do with the portraits? Frederick had been in love with his mother but why would he want Toby’s portrait? Toby had so many questions he wanted answered yet there was no one he could ask. He hadn’t known that his mother and father were cousins. Did that make Meredith father’s cousin as well? Somehow Toby didn’t think this was so. He wondered how distant? Frederick had said distant. Frederick made it sound as though mother shouldn’t have married father, or wouldn’t have if Frederick hadn’t been away.
Toby had always thought that his father loved his mother. Toby knew that she was a wealthy woman. It was held in trust for him. The money came from the American side of her family. She had been an only child like him. Toby had always wanted brothers and sisters but none ever came. His mother had laughed at the idea every time he had raised it.
Mother had been so lively. Once she had left for America, the house became very quiet and the life had never returned. His father never had parties and very few people came to stay. Not that that mattered to Toby. He didn’t care whether the house was full of people or not. He would have liked to have seen his father smile a bit more. His father didn’t leave the estate often and after a while few of the surrounding families came to visit. At first there were invitations but they stopped coming when father never accepted them. Mrs. Williams would shake her head and rub her hands on her apron. Once he heard her talking,
“It’s not good for the boy to be on his own so much. He needs to meet up with his peers. The master can’t get past his grief.”
“Enough,” said Mr. Smith. “The boy could hear you. He’s always around the kitchen.”
Toby was hidden in the larder and could just see the butler’s feet.
“That’s because his father takes no interest. It’s his guilt, no doubt. He’s no one but us, the poor lad.”
“No use talking about it, Mrs. Williams.”
“No, Mr. Smith, I expect not.”
Toby had remained hidden on the big bottom shelf until he was sure he could get out unseen. He wanted to know more as it never made sense. Why did his father want to be alone? Why did he feel guilty? Toby didn’t mind being alone. It was better than being with these boys at school.
Something hit his head. Toby sat up. He wasn’t sure where it had come from. He stayed still. He didn’t want the master to come storming in because of the noise. There was a little light coming in from behind the curtains so only dark shapes were visible. He waited listening carefully for any movement. This was not the first time so he knew there was more to come. It was best not to react.

11 comments:

Leon Basin said...

Hello fellow writer!!!

JJ said...

Hi Liz, have a good trip back to Dubai. JJx

Lane said...

Have a safe trip back Liz. I've been enjoying Toby's story:-)

Debs said...

Loving Toby's story too, and safe journey back to Dubai. x

Nell Dixon said...

Safe journey, Liz

Jan Jones said...

Enjoying Toby's story - safe journey to you and I'll see you at the Awards lunch. I'll bring a copy of Fair Deception with me!

HelenMHunt said...

Have a safe trip back, and I look forward to reading more about Toby once you're online again.

KAREN said...

Really enjoying Toby's story. Have a safe trip :o)

Fiona said...

Fly safely and keep posting Toby's story, I'm so enjoying it.

Barrie said...

Hope the writers' lunch was fun. And safe travels.

liz fenwick said...

Hello Leon. Welcome.

Thanks JJ.

You are very kind Lane but strangely enough I too have been enjoying revisiting Toby :-)

:-) Debs

Thanks Nell.

Thank you Jan - I do feel quite cheated but hopefully whoever has my copy will become an ardent fan!!!

Thanks Helen, karen, and Fiona.

The lunch was great barrie!