Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (42) A Kind Heart Reawakened (Part 02)
Keith Hartley was in his mid-forties, a tall and upright man with greying and receding hair and he checked into the Clayton Manor Hotel late on Friday afternoon and was met with embraces from everyone he met and to be perfectly honest he was rather overwhelmed by it.
Having lost his wife Glenda since the last getaway he had as a result not participated much in church life over the previous year and his friends had missed him.
In fact after finally caving into the pressure from friends to attend he planned to use the week away to attempt to reconnect with God after his bereavement.
He found the first evening rather exhausting, with all the hand shaking and hugging and constant questioning and Saturday morning was almost as bad though he was flattered that so many people cared about him.
After breakfast the morning was full of seminars which kept him busy however later after lunch there was a free period when people could either relax or participate in one of the many activities that the hotel boasted.
Keith knew precisely what he wanted to do with his free time and he was on his way to the plush residents lounge in the old manor house where he thought he would use his two hours of free time to enjoy a pint or two of Guinness in the residents bar while he read a few chapters of his book.
As he walked purposefully down the gloomy mahogany panelled corridors he passed numerous likewise panelled doors that led to modern furnished meeting rooms, leather chaired reading rooms and comfortable bars while some room doors were unmarked and were of a more mysterious use.
His route also took him through the occasional intersection where another corridor running from the front steps to the rear terrace crossed his path.
It was along one of these intersecting corridors from which he heard the plaintive sound of a sobbing girl.
His first instinct, he would have been ashamed to admit, was to ignore it and hurry on to the bar and a welcoming pint of the black stuff.
He even got a yard beyond the intersection, but he was not that man, he never had been, so he stopped and turned back because he was kind hearted so naturally in the end he could not ignore her.
He took a deep breath and walked along the corridor to investigate the source of the uncontrollable sobbing.
When he had tracked down the precise area the sobbing had emanated from he discovered a girl was pressed into the corner of a recessed doorway.
He didn’t recognise her, he just saw a small wailing creature with her shoulders shaking in unison with the heart-breaking noise she was making.
He placed a hand on one of her shaking shoulders and said
“What on earth is the matter? Are you ok?”
Her immediate response to his gentle enquiry was for her to turn around abruptly which was when he first realised who the girl was, and her complete and utter embarrassment was clearly apparent.
When the crying girl turned he was surprised to see it was Louise Burrell, a particularly close friend of his deceased wife and by extension of him as well.