A Time To Reap – Episode 31

A Time To Reap

“He’s down in the dumps because his lassie and her family moved away.”

One of his lassies, June thought. But maybe that was why he’d sought out Tam’s company the other night.

“He can do better for himself. He’s going places, Frank is.” The honeyed tone Isa had adopted while talking about her son changed back to the gleeful one she used when imparting gossip. “And as for Matthew Duncan . . .” She tapped her nose.

June knew what was coming. It was one of the first stories Isa had told her. The last thing June wanted was to hear it again, but there was no stopping the tide of words.

“What was he doing on the road that afternoon? I was in the farmyard when they came to give Elizabeth the news that he’d fallen off his horse. ‘Why was he there?’ she asks. ‘I thought he was up on the hill’.”

Isa raised her eyebrows and nodded at June.

“I can guess what he was doing there. I know whose house was near, who he must have been visiting.”

June felt sick. She hadn’t known Matthew Duncan, but she’d never heard anyone else say anything against him.

And she liked and respected Elizabeth, who’d been very good to Tam and herself. Even listening to this sorry tale seemed a betrayal of Tam’s boss.

“I’m not interested in gossip,” she said firmly. “I don’t think you should be talking like this, Isa.”

“Don’t you?” Isa stood up and put her hands on her hips. “Well, you might not have to put up with me for much longer, madam.”

“What do you mean?”

“Lady Muck. Selling the estate, isn’t she?” Isa said, her expression triumphant. “We’ll all be out on our ears by Christmas!”

* * * *

Surely Tam would have heard a rumour if the estate was to be sold, June thought, as she set the table for their evening meal.

When he came home, he had a wash and then sat with Sadie on his knee. June handed him the day’s post and prepared to tell him about her visit to Isa.

Tam opened a letter which drove all other thoughts out of her head. It was from his auntie, Rita’s mother – Rita, Sadie’s birth mother.

Rita had a new boyfriend, apparently, a reliable one this time. It looked like they might settle down together.

Rita knew she’d given up her right to be Sadie’s mum but, Auntie wrote, she was wondering if Tam could send a photo of her baby.

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.