This is part two of “When The Tide Turned”, first published in “The People’s Friend” in 1914.
We published part one in our newsletter before Christmas, which was quite some time ago!
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Postie, as he was familiarly called, duly made his way to the window and signed on Peter to raise the sash.
“Lord save us, Postie!” cried Peter, evincing genuine astonishment, “what brings you here on sic a day?”
“Red tape, Peter,” was the cheerful retort; “red tape, a soun’ constitution, an’ a pair o’ strong sea-buits!
“That’s a registered letter, Peter. Sign your name here,” and Postie placed the receipt and a pencil in the old man’s hands.
“Let me see the packet,” cried Marget, eagerly stretching forth her hand for the letter.
“If it’s a windfa’ frae your long-lost uncle in Australia, Peter,” said Postie jocularly, “I’ll expect to be remembered in your will for bringing the good news thro’ sic a flood.”
Peter watched his wife keenly as she proceeded to open the packet. As she read the contents of the missive he saw her eager expression give place to one of dull despair; then, with a cry of distress, she allowed the letter to drop from her nerveless fingers into the flood below.
“God help us, Peter!” she sobbed; “this is the final blow.”
Without a word the old man stooped down and rescued the unwelcome missive from its watery berth. As he read its contents a shadow passed momentarily across his countenance.
The letter was from a firm of lawyers intimating that through unforeseen circumstances their clients found themselves reluctantly compelled to withdraw the loan of £50 in name of Margaret Pringle, and stating that for reasons which their clients much regretted it was necessary that the money should be repaid by the end of the current month.
In the face of such disturbing news Peter recognised the utter foolishness of attempting to lighten his wife’s burden with idle words, let them be ever so cheerily spoken; and noticing that the quantity of water in the shop was rapidly diminishing he quietly slipped from the room and made his way into the front premises with the intention of “tidying up” a little.
Soon the water receded from the shop altogether, leaving behind it a trail of muddy sand and sodden goods.
Peter cast his eyes around the little store, seeking to estimate the amount of damage done.
Suddenly they alighted upon the aperture through which the tide had rushed, and he noticed that the dislodged board had not been fastened in the ordinary way.
It was somewhat worn at the ends, and had merely been wedged into position.
In a flash, an idea came to the old man. What if—
His heart almost stood still at the thought.
Dropping with difficulty upon his knees, Peter placed a hand through the opening and cautiously drew it along the edge of the flooring.
Presently it touched something hard, unyielding; with a jerk the object was dislodged from its position on a ledge which had been fixed against the joist, and next moment the light revealed to the old man’s astonished gaze a little metal box, tightly sealed, but bearing unmistakable evidence of the ravages of time.
“Marget!” he shouted in a tone that was intense with excitement; “come here, quick!”
In a moment the old woman was by his side.
“Peter!” she screamed hysterically, as her eyes rested upon the “find”, “whaur did you get that! — my mither’s box. Oh, oh!”
And carried away with excitement, Marget tore the casket from her husband’s hands and rushed with it into the adjoining room.
“Some folk are no’ blate,” said Peter, reproachfully, as he limped into the apartment.
But Marget was not listening. With frenzied haste she was seeking to prise open the casket, and when at length the catch gave way, to the astonished eyes of the old couple there was revealed in the wood-lined receptacle a thick roll of bank notes, carefully tied, and bearing a tag on which were the words, in faded characters — “To my daughter, Margaret.”
“Eight hundred and fifty pounds!” cried Marget, when the task of counting the notes had been gone over time and again, and they were at length satisfied as to the good fortune that had befallen them.
“God be praised, Peter!” she exclaimed, wiping the traces of joy-tears from her eyes; “we can hold up oor heids ance mair, an’ pey oor way wi’ the lave.”
“What did I tell you!” said Peter — the old jocular Peter once more — “you’ll be bowlin’ aroon in your motor caur before the week’s oot.
“An’ I’ll no need to go in for the sewin’ machine tred after a’!”
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