A Time To Reap – Episode 26

A Time To Reap

“I don’t remember Alec ever being so talkative,” Peggy said as Hugh strode off. “He never told our lads about any of these escapades! Poor Davy. He doesn’t care about missing the hay, but he hates being stuck inside with me and Donna. Maybe you three can cheer him up.”

Libby and Flora needed no second invitation.

“Is Tomcat there?” Libby asked.

Their granny was allergic to fur so they couldn’t have a cat at home.

Peggy nodded.

“Davy is supposed to be unravelling binder twine – Alec doesn’t like seeing him idle. Tomcat’s not exactly helping.”

Inside, Davy was lying back with his bandaged ankle up on a stool, dangling pieces of the thick hairy string that was used to tie up hay bales.

Tomcat watched with his paw poised, ready to strike.

Davy sat up straight when he saw Peggy and began taking out knots.

“This is hard,” he grumbled as the girls began playing with the cat.

“That’ll teach you to go jumping off hayricks,” his mother scolded. “If Hugh hadn’t been here your father would have been in a right fix.”

Elizabeth was in a fix, too. The arrangement she’d made with Alec that, in exchange for a loan of the estate baler, one of his boys would give a couple of days labour at Rosland farm, might not be possible if Davy hadn’t recovered by harvest time.

Rodney Shaw would have plenty to say about that.

Peggy spooned instant coffee into cups. Overhead there was the sound of water draining out of the bath.

“I’d love to see the room you and Mum decorated,” Elizabeth said.

“I didn’t do much,” her cousin said. “Auntie Mamie did the papering and made lovely curtains and everything.” Peggy jabbed a teaspoon in the direction of the ceiling. “She’s got wall-to-wall cream carpet in her bedroom at home, apparently. And pale peach walls. Not ‘that old-fashioned paper’.”

“She doesn’t live on a farm,” Elizabeth said gently, seeing that Peggy’s delight in the room had been spoiled. “Nor does she have children. Cream carpet – can you imagine!”

Peggy smiled reluctantly.

“She doesn’t want to do anything,” she confided, sitting down at the table. “Of course, with me not driving it’s difficult, but I’ve suggested walks, cycling and getting the bus to town. She’s not interested.”

“She doesn’t like shortbread,” Davy put in. “In America, cookies – that’s what they call biscuits – are the size of saucers, she says.”

“How long are they staying? I could show them around the estate,” Elizabeth offered.

It sounded like Peggy needed a rest from her visitors; the female one, at least!

“Maybe Rosland House will impress her.”

“That would be good of you,” Peggy said gratefully. “They were to stay for four days, but Hugh wanted to stay longer. I know it must be strange for Donna – it’s not her family history and she’s a city girl. She looks like a film star, doesn’t she, Davy?”

Davy put down a piece of string.

“Her nails are out to here!” He indicated an inch from the end of his own fingers. “They’re red.”

“Goodness!” Elizabeth put down her cup. “Peg, do you mind if I go and have a word with Alec?”

“Take their piece with you.” Peggy indicated a basket with three mugs and a paper bag of scones. “I’ll fill the flask.”

*  *  *  *

The men hailed her gratefully and came to the edge of the field to have their mid-morning cup of tea. As Hugh regaled Colin with the delights of California – soda fountains, drive-in movies, Death Valley and ranches the size of Sutherland – Elizabeth told Alec about Rodney Shaw’s proposal to do away with the dairy herd at Rosland.

“He’s taking revenge, isn’t he?” Alec said wrathfully.

Elizabeth nodded, unable to speak for the lump in her throat.

Three years earlier, Rodney had wanted to buy expensive new cowsheds. Elizabeth’s husband, Matthew, had gone over his head and told Lord Mannering his money would be better spent on buying more cows and improving the herd. His lordship had agreed.

Now it was payback time.

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.