The Eye of the Beholder – Ten Short Stories by M A Lucas
Alpha : the first of ten short stories
The silver Healey swept through the large gates, the roar of the engine splitting the silence that hung in the avenue of trees as it sped on up the driveway. Adam swung the new motor around in front of the family home and slid to an abrupt halt on the gravel. Evelyn, who had been holding on tightly to her hat during their high speed jaunt through the narrow country lanes, laughed with delight at the thrill of it all.
The sound of car doors slamming echoed back from the walls at the grand entrance of Nede Hall as the couple extracted themselves from the gleaming metal machine and danced joyously up the stone steps to the Ionic pillars. They found the doors already open; the butler had been expecting their arrival. Divesting themselves of their outer garments and handing them over to his care, Adam ordered breakfast to be served, immediately, on the terrace.
The rationing imposed during the war had had little effect on life at the Hall and, in the months that had passed since its cessation, everything had slowly returned to normal. Except, that is, for the continuing absence of its rightful owner, Joshua. For Adam and Evelyn however, this did not seem to have blighted their lives unduly. Adam had experienced, at long last, the kind of self-determination that he had not known since his childhood. The loss of his freedom having been initiated by his removal to boarding school and completed by the revelation of his true identity, within days of his departure.
It would be Joshua, his father’s one and only true heir, who had inherited the family fortune; Joshua, who had followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Suffolks. But unlike his father, a heroic and much decorated survivor of the Great War, Joshua had gone missing from the Second, some four years ago. It was now presumed that he had either been killed in action or died in a Japanese prison of war camp. Adam, in his timorous wisdom, had made himself essential to the war effort and therefore remained on the estate to enjoy all the luxuries of home; a home that would very soon become legally his own, once Joshua had been officially declared, “deceased”.