فصل 08

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فصل 08

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CHAPTER EIGHT

Telling Beth

On Saturday, Megan drove out of Tredonald towards Cardiff. She was on her way to Beth’s house for lunch. Her thoughts, however, were not really on the road but on the letters and Huw.

She didn’t know if she’d done the right thing writing to Huw. Was it brave or was it just stupid? And what was she going to say to Beth today? And what about Paul? Did she need to tell him about the letters, too? Of course they’d talked about Huw, but it was different now. Huw was no longer safely in the past: he was once again very much part of the present.

But Paul was her present - and her future. At the age of sixty-six, and for the second time in her life, she was making plans to get married. She’d met Paul Henderson some years ago through her work for the Welsh Tourist Office and they’d become good friends. Neither of them were working now so they were able to go on holiday together. Paul had taken her to places like Japan and Peru - places she’d always wanted to visit. And slowly the friendship had developed into something more.

Megan stopped the car outside Beth’s house. Beth was in the front garden, waiting for her.

‘Morning, Mum,’ she said, giving her mother a kiss. ‘Journey OK?’

‘Yes, fine. It’s much quicker now they’ve opened that new bit of road, isn’t it?’ Megan followed her daughter into the house. ‘Where’s Philip?’

‘Playing golf,’ replied Beth. ‘He’ll be back this afternoon.’

Megan was pleased. She loved her son-in-law but what she had to say was for Beth. It would be easier to talk to her alone.

After they’d finished eating, Megan took some of Huw’s letters from her handbag and put them on the table.

‘I found these the other day,’ she said. ‘You know, in that last box. After you’d gone home.’

‘Who are they from?’ asked Beth as she passed her mother a cup of coffee.

‘Well, that’s just it…’ Megan stopped. She knew that this moment was important for Beth. ‘They’re from Huw… Huw Thomas… your father.’

‘My father! Good God!’ Beth looked at the envelopes on the table and then looked at her mother. She’d always known about her father - her mother had told her everything when she was young. But for years she’d never thought about him - Huw Thomas was just a name, not a person.

‘Here,’ said Megan, giving Beth one of the letters. ‘You can read this one.’

Beth read it quickly. ‘How many more letters are there?’ she asked.

About fifty. They stopped in 1947,’ said Megan quietly. ‘He didn’t write after that.’

‘So you never knew anything about them… That means grandpa or grandma just hid them from you and…’

‘Yes, it was my father, I’m sure. I don’t think my mother knew about them either. It was my father who was so against Huw.’

‘But you were going to have a baby, you were expecting me. Huw was my father. How could he?’ Beth was lost for words.

‘I know, Beth. It’s difficult to understand. All I can say is my father was doing what he thought was right for me. He wasn’t a terrible person.’

‘I know,’ said Beth. ‘I loved him. He was great to me when I was little. That’s why it’s so hard to believe.’

‘My father always wanted me to do well in life,’ said Megan, trying to explain. ‘He wanted me to go to college and be better than the other young people in the village. He never thought Huw was good enough for me and he clearly thought I would have a better life without him.’

‘But that was your decision to make, not his,’ said Beth.

‘Remember, I was only seventeen - still a child in his eyes. Maybe he was right. I mean, they looked after you when you were a baby and I was able to go to college.’ Megan turned to her daughter. ‘And we had a good life together, didn’t we? We made a happy family.’

‘Yes, Mum, it’s OK,’ said Beth putting her arm round her mother. ‘And what about you? How do you feel about it all now?’

‘I’ve written a letter to Huw, but it probably won’t reach him. I just felt I had to say something - better late than never.’ Megan laughed sadly.

‘Did you tell him about me?’ Beth asked.

‘No, I thought we should wait until… if… he writes back. I hope he does write back. I want to know about his life. Was I wrong not to tell him, do you think?’

‘I want him to know about me, if he’s still alive,’ replied Beth.

‘Yes, I understand,’ said Megan. ‘To tell you the truth, Beth, it’s brought back a lot of old feelings. We were very much in love, even though we were so young.’

‘I remember you used to talk about him. And he always seemed so wonderful to me as a child.’ Neither of the women said anything for a few minutes. Then Beth asked, ‘And are you going to tell Paul about all this?’

‘Yes, of course. But it doesn’t change anything,’ said Megan. ‘I’m still going to marry Paul.’

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