THE 9:45 TO BLETCHLEY – Book 4 in The Dudley Sisters Saga
The 9:45 To Bletchley: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GEVW3Z8/
In the midst of the Second World War, and charged with taking vital equipment via the 9:45 train, Ena Dudley makes regular trips to Bletchley Park, until on one occasion she is robbed. When those she cares about are accused of being involved, she investigates, not knowing whom she can trust. While trying to clear her name, Ena falls in love.
Excerpt from Chapter Seven
A squally March wind gusted along the platform of Rugby’s railway station. Ena turned her back on it, dropped her head, and peered under the brim of her hat. What had begun as drizzle when she arrived at work that morning had turned into sheeting rain.
The railway tracks started to whine and Ena looked to the north. A black steam engine blundered into view, its brakes screeching as it slowed down before coming into the station. She looked across the concourse to the ticket office. Mr Silcott was next in the queue. She watched him bend down and speak into the round porthole in the glass window. Above him the clock said 9:40. They would make the 9:45 to Bletchley.
Ena stepped back from the platform’s edge as the hissing train clunked to a halt. Before steam from its engine engulfed her, she looked at the ticket office again, Mr Silcott wasn’t there. She scanned the concourse, looked up and down the platform, he was nowhere to be seen.
The reinforced suitcase containing her work was heavy. She swapped it from her right hand to her left and rolled her right shoulder. Going to Bletchley Park with the boss was important. And thinking about her work; the rotors and the complicated wiring, the casing on the X-board that only she was trusted to fit, made her feel important. Nervous too. Her stomach was doing cartwheels. She wished Mr Silcott would hurry up.
Ena swapped the suitcase back to her right hand, looked through the steam and rain, and there he was. In his camel coloured overcoat and brown trilby – Mr Silcott was coming out of the Gentlemen’s lavatory.
‘Here we are, miss,’ the station porter said, opening the door of the carriage. ‘Can I take your case?’
‘No thank you, I can manage.’ Ena hitched the string of her gasmask box further onto her shoulder and, holding her handbag in one hand, the suitcase of work in the other, struggled up the steps.
Standing in the doorway of the train, she saw Mr Silcott running across the platform. She needed to attract his attention so, putting the case down gently, she waved out of the window. He didn’t see her. Shielding his face with one hand and holding the brim of his hat with the other, he turned his back to the wind, wrenched open the door at the other end of the carriage and disappeared inside.
Ena picked up the suitcase and heaved it along the narrow corridor, resting it every now and then on her knees to peer through the glass in the doors. In the last compartment she spotted Mr Silcott sitting by the window reading his newspaper.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Ena pulled open the door. ‘Thank goodness I’ve found you.’ Hauling the suitcase into the compartment she stood it down beneath the window, flung off her handbag and gasmask and, exhaling loudly, dropped onto the nearest seat. ‘Oh!’
The man looked up from his newspaper, his fair eyebrows raised with surprise. ‘Hello.’
‘Hello?’ Ena felt her cheeks blush with embarrassment. The man sitting opposite her was not her boss. Ena studied his face. His square jaw, blond hair and pale grey-blue eyes looked familiar. ‘Excuse me, have we met?’
‘Yes, some time ago. You were with a fair-haired young woman. I was going to my company’s head office in Bletchley.’
The only female Ena had travelled to Bletchley with was Freda. She traced back in her mind the times she and Freda had travelled to Bletchley. Then she remembered him talking to Freda. Distracted, concerned about Mr Silcott, Ena nodded.
‘You look worried; is there anything I can do to help?’
‘No, it’s all right. I saw my boss get on the train at this end of the carriage and, as this compartment is the nearest one to the door, I thought he would be in here.’
‘What does your boss look like?’
There was something about the man that Ena didn’t like, but she needed to know if he’d seen Mr Silcott. ‘He’s in his mid-fifties, about five feet ten inches tall. black hair with grey in it, and he’s wearing a camel overcoat and brown trilby.’
The man shook his head. ‘Sorry.’
Ena blew out her cheeks. ‘He’s got my ticket. I’d better go and find him.’
‘If you want to leave your case here while you look for him. I’ll keep my eye on it for you–’
‘I can’t do that. Thank you anyway,’ she said, picking up her belongings. Ena walked the short distance back to the next compartment. Mr Silcott wasn’t in there, or the next. She described him to everyone she met. No one had seen him.