A Time To Reap – Episode 04

A Time To Reap

“Hello, darling!” Mamie kneeled down and held out her arms and Flora ran into them.

Mamie stood up, lifting her granddaughter with her.

“Neil wanted to visit one of his cronies in the village so I thought I’d come with him and catch up on the news,” she told Tibbie. “Here, let me help.”

She sat down on the chair on the other side of the fireplace, with Flora on her knee, and reached for a sock to darn. The two grandmothers got on well enough, and with a smile Tibbie handed her a ball of wool and a large needle.

“Where’s Libby?” Mamie asked.

Tibbie’s lips tightened.

“I sent her to bed for an hour. Answered me back when I asked her to finish her dinner. It was a good plate of Irish stew. I’ve never known such a faddy child.” Tibbie’s darning needle went in and out determinedly.

Mamie felt sure she wouldn’t have been able to finish the stew, either. Tibbie’s knitting and sewing skills were second to none; her cooking skills were not.

“Flora was a good girl, weren’t you? You finished yours.” Tibbie smiled over at Flora who squirmed and wriggled off Mamie’s knee.

“Grannie Mamie, look!” she said, “Grannie Tib’s teaching me to sew.”

She produced a square of cloth with a neat row of stitches across the top.

“You couldn’t have a better teacher,” Mamie told her.

Two years ago Mamie had promised herself that, whatever the provocation, she wouldn’t interfere with the way Tibbie ran the household. The last thing Elizabeth needed was her mother and her mother-in-law falling out.

Mamie hadn’t yet broken the promise, but had bitten her tongue many a time.

Tibbie looked at the clock.

“You can tell Libby she can come down, Flora. You’ll have tea, Mamie?”

As Flora ran upstairs and Tibbie went through to the kitchen, Mamie heard the door open and the phone being lifted in the hall, then her daughter’s voice.

“It’s Elizabeth, Andy. We’ve a newborn calf which doesn’t look healthy. Can you come out? The mother won’t let us near her.”

Elizabeth popped her head round the sitting-room door, then came in when she saw her mother.

“Mum, this is a nice surprise.” She gave Mamie a hug. “I can’t stay. Just popped in to phone the vet. Everything all right?”

“Your dad and I are fine.” Mamie lowered her voice. “We’ve had a letter from Chris but I don’t want to talk about it in front of Tibbie. You know how disapproving she is.”

“What’s she been up to?” Elizabeth didn’t look worried, just amused, at the mention of her sister.

“I wish I knew. Here, read it when you have time.” Mamie took an envelope from her bag and Elizabeth stuffed it into her pocket.

“Don’t worry, Mum. Life in London is bound to be different from ours here in the wilds. I’ll say hello to the girls then I must dash.”

Libby rushed over to her mother.

“Mummy! Granny Tib says the poor children in Africa would be very pleased to have Irish stew to eat. Can we send it to them? I don’t like it.”

Mamie bent over Flora to hide her smile. The child was thrusting a rather damp bundle at her.

“What’s that, darling?”

“I put it there when Granny Tib wasn’t looking,” Flora whispered, and Mamie realised that she’d been given a handkerchief full of Flora’s dinner.

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.