A Time To Reap – Episode 03

A Time To Reap

“It was terrible! Matthew was on his horse on the road between here and the farm. Something caused the horse to shy and he was thrown off. And there was Elizabeth, left with the wee ones.”

“Two girls? I’ve seen them around the farmhouse.”

“Libby and Flora. Well, Elizabeth had been at the agricultural college, where she met Matthew, so she begged Lady Annabel to give her a chance and let her have Matthew’s job.

“Rodney Shaw wasn’t too pleased about it – he had a pal lined up. But she’s a sensible woman, Lady Annabel. She could see what Elizabeth was like.”

“How does she manage with the children?”

“Tibbie, Matthew’s mother, moved in with her. She lost her man in the war and Matthew was her only child.”

June raised an eyebrow.

“I’m awful fond of Tam’s mum,” she admitted, “but I don’t think we’d get on in the same house!”

“Aye. Tibbie’s not an easy woman to live with, but her heart’s in the right place.” Nancy looked June in the eye. “And what has Isa Robertson been telling you about us all?”

June fumbled for words at mention of her next-door neighbour.

“Let me guess.” Nancy counted them off on her fingers. “One, Nancy Douglas can’t mind her own business. Two, she knows who Matthew Duncan visited the afternoon he died. Three, Elizabeth’s sister is no better than she should be. Four, Frank, her own blue-eyed boy, is being unfairly threatened with dismissal by the factor.”

She took a breath.

“And I’m sure that wasn’t the half of it!”

June’s scarlet face told Nancy she was spot on.

“As to the first allegation, you can make up your own mind!” she said. “The next two are pure Isa poison. And the last? Well, I’m no admirer of Mr Shaw but there’s nothing unfair about what’s happened. Everyone knows Frank Robertson skives off work and stravaigs about the countryside, breaking hearts. It’s a wonder he’s lasted this long in the job.”

June’s mouth was open.

“What does Frank do?”

“He’s the forester.” Nancy patted June’s hand. “The best thing is not to believe a word Isa says – and don’t tell her anything!”

There was a clatter outside as a woman with windblown hair leaned a bicycle against the wall.

“Here’s Peggy Mackay. I’ll introduce you. She’s a cousin of Elizabeth’s. You’ll get to know everybody!”

June put the stamps in her purse.

“I’m sure I will,” she said, looking dazed.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.