“And where were you last night young lady?” Enquired my owlish father, peering over his poached eggs. I was not fooled by the calmness of the question, his eyes betrayed a simmering anger. “Last night?” I feigned surprise. “Yes Sophie, last night. The one in which you did not come home at all!” Outburst. “Well?” the calmness returned “I, I met someone” Apoplexy threatened “You did what? A man?!” “Yes, no, sort of, I didn’t mean to.” The awful implications of my disappearance only now seemed to dawn upon me. “What man? Where is he? Did he touch you?” “No no, not at all, at least I don’t think so…” as these words came out I could see I had to be less vague “You don’t think so?!” “No, no father he didn’t!” “Then what were you, a 14 year old girl, doing with this man all night?” The horror of accounting for this dawned on me deeper and deeper, I began to tremble. “Nothing, he, said he knew a short cut home, across the downs back to here.” “Oh he did did he, and I suppose you stopped to pick flowers off the path too!” I looked at the breakfast table. “Sophie, have you any idea how dangerous that could have been?” I started to cry “Did he hurt you?” I sobbed onto the table cloth, “Did that bastard hurt you? Because if he did…” “He, he did’t h hurt me.” “Then what, you stopped to play tiddly winks? Sophie you were gone all night!” “No, we w walked ac cross the d downs, I didn’t know where we were.” “Then why did you go? What were you thinking?” “I d don’t know, I wasn’t scared, father it was… strange.” My father paused, something arrested the anger in him, some interest was piqued. I looked up from the table cloth. “I don’t know where I was.” I said through tears “And I don’t know how I appeared in bed this morning. He looked shocked. “Sophie, you haven’t been to bed! Between your mother and nanny and I someone has been waiting up for you all night!” “Father I don’t understand” Waves of distress overcame me, accounting for my actions had seemed like a problem, but now realising that I couldn’t account for them. This was an anguish my mind could take. “Sophie…” calm but firm “Sophie, who was he?” “He, he said he was my uncle. He was like a frog.” the absurdity just came out “Your Uncle? But you know both your uncles. One lives in Newport and the other in London.” “He wasn’t either of those uncles father, he was a different uncle.” “What do you mean? What was his name?” “He said his name was Ambrose.” The word dropped like a stone into the room as if it were a pool. The ripples were visible. My father’s whole expression wavered, and trembled the recomposed slightly “Ambrose, you say?” “Yes…” I mirrored his waver “uncle Ambrose.” “Uncle Ambrose?” “Yes.” My father lost his composure and the colour drained out of him. Silence filled the room. “Father?” “Mm?” The replay came as if he returned from somewhere distant. “Do, do you know him?” “Who?” “Uncle Ambrose?” “Him, oh, yes, maybe. Sophie…” “Yes father.” “Sophie, maybe since you just came down from upstairs, maybe you you weren’t out all night, maybe you were there all along and we didn’t see you.” “But I remember him father, I remember being out in the hills in the dark, I remember the glowing stones in the twilight.” The fake composure tried to reassert itself “Sophie, Sophie, listen to yourself, glowing stones, dark hills, these are dreams not reality. No, you must have come back when we didn’t notice and you must have slept in a flat and inconspicuous way and we, we your worried guardians have been fools.” I was almost carried along with this narrative, if only because the ill formed images of the twilit path seemed more disturbing than this notion that I had been at home and dreamt it. The concealment however was too great for the vivid feeling that I had not dreamt it. “Who is uncle Ambrose?” He twitched slightly “I, I’m sure I should ask you the same, since it was your dream and not mine.” He tried to make this sound jovial, but his anxiety showed through “You said you something like you might know him father, what did you mean?” “That oh, I don’t know, I must have been thinking of someone else.” “Who?” “No one, nothing, nothing to do with this.” “Father your lying!” “Don’t! Don’t say that! Ambrose is a phantom, a fiend, a nothing!” The words erupted suddenly, his anxiety dissipated a fearful intensity gripped him and he stared at me with pointed eyes “A devil!” “But where do you…” “Sophie, I do not know if you dreamed him or saw him, it matters not a jot of difference. If you see him Sophie you must hide and run or both.” “But why? What do you mean? I am quite unharmed.” He calmed again as if accessed a place in which to talk of this was allowed “Things like Ambrose give clues, Sophie, the clue here is the name.” “I looked quizzically on.” “Think Sophie, think, his name is ‘uncle Ambrose’. U A are the initials. These stand for no less than ‘Utter’ ‘Abomination’. Do you see? This is what he is!” There was something persuasive in my fathers tone that rendered his decoding as quite sensible, even powerful. I began to feel frightened at this unmasking of his nature.