The Library

The Library by May Shepherd

Coppiton library was situated at the north end of the town. It had been built on the site of a Tudor manor House, but had been demolished by fire sometime during the civil war.

It had been years since Elizabeth had been back to the library: not since the unruly episode in sections S-T in fact. That was the time when Jack Bower, with his raging teenage hormones had tried to grope her and she had pushed him into the bookshelves spilling the books across the floor. Mrs Smith, the librarian had taken a very poor view of the incident and had banned them from the library forthwith.

Elizabeth smiled at the now elderly Mrs Smith, and asked where she would find any books on the history of Coppiton. Mrs Smith sniffed and pointed her to the history section of the library, then watched as Elizabeth wandered off.

Elizabeth had recently returned to Coppiton after working as a teacher in Bristol. She had jumped at the chance when the job of a deputy head teacher was offered to her in her old town, and she was now enthusiastically researching the town’s past history.

A book caught her eye right on the top shelf, and she reached up on tip toe to fetch it down. As she did so, she heard a grinding noise and she watched in awe as a whole section of the wall, opened inwards revealing a deep dark tunnel. She looked around to see if Mrs Smith was anywhere about and seeing the coast was clear, and with great trepidation, she stepped through the doorway to investigate the passage. As she entered the tunnel, the door swung shut and she was left in the dark. She felt a sudden spasm of panic before her usual inquisitiveness took over, and she inched her way along the passage. Hearing footsteps running ahead of her she realised she wasn’t alone.

“Come along Elizabeth, keep up. We don’t want to get caught.”

Elizabeth followed the voice until she saw ahead of her a small light and a group of people. They were all dressed in strange clothes, and when she looked down she was amazed to see that instead of her jeans, she wore a long dress covered by a cloak.
The group of people moved off further into the tunnel, and she followed at a distance until she felt the cold night wind on her skin, and the taste of the sea in her mouth.
The tunnel had opened out onto a beach, and she heard the men talking about a boat, which would take them safely to France in their escape from the Parliamentary forces which were pursuing them.

“Elizabeth.”

A young man held out his hand. She reached forward and touching his finger tips stared into the smiling brown eyes of her teenage lover Jack Bower. In shock she snatched back her hand and turning, ran back up the tunnel, her dress no longer hampering her. Reaching the top she fumbled around for some way of opening the door which led back into the library. With relief she heard the grinding noise as the door opened and she was able to return to the history section.

She stood in the library picking cobwebs off her jeans, when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Startled, she turned round and stared straight into the face of Jack Bower.

“Hi Liz” he said. “You look as if you’ve just seen a ghost. And why are you covered in cobwebs?” Jack eyes still held a playful sparkle.

“Jack! How nice to see you again” she mumbled.

“Yes! Well before Mrs Smith sees us together, and with you looking as if you’ve just been pulled through a hedge, I suggest we go down to the Kings Arms for a drink and we can catch up on our news.”

Feeling calmer with a whisky in front of her, Elizabeth asked Jack what he was doing back in Coppiton.

“My grandpa died and left me his cottage, so I just, kind of stayed on. I’m now the editor of the local paper, and in my spare time I’m researching the history of our little town. It’s not the same here without you though,” his eyes twinkled.

Elizabeth smiled and replied that she too had returned to the town and was researching the same thing herself.

“You’ll be interested in our old family bible then“ he said. “Grandpa left a lot of papers and letters which date back into the seventeenth century. Did you know that the library was built on the site of an old manor house, and you’ll never guess who lived there?”

“You did.” She replied, and explained what she had found in the library.

“Do you think that Elizabeth went with Jack that night?” she asked.

“We might find out from grandpa’s papers and the bible. Will you come with me to find out?”

Jack stood up.

“Elizabeth?” Jack held out his hand.

Elizabeth reached out and touched Jack’s finger tips. Then looking up into his eyes she slipped her hand into his and held it tightly.

This time she wasn’t running away.

The End



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