A Time To Reap – Episode 38

A Time To Reap

Andy arrived looking slightly self-conscious. He had a large box of chocolates in his hand and looked undecided as to whether to hand it to Elizabeth or to Tibbie.

The matter was decided for him when he saw the longing gazes directed on the box by Elizabeth’s little girls, Libby and Flora. With a laugh he handed it over.

“You’re not to open it now,” Tibbie warned them, predictably.

“You can have one each if you finish all your tea.” Elizabeth softened the blow of Tibbie’s words. “Andy, come and sit down.”

Tibbie had made a high tea of cold ham, salad and fried potatoes, followed by scones and fruitcake. She looked benignly on Andy as he tucked in.

“It’s grand to get some home-cooking!”

He was the only person who really appreciated Tibbie’s rather heavy scones and cake, Elizabeth thought, hiding a smile. It was a pity he had no-one at home to look after him.

A thought crossed her mind, but before she could explore it Tibbie spoke.

“That was a bad knock you got. I mind it happened to my husband once – cow kicked him in the shin. He was laid up for weeks.”

“I didn’t know he was a farm worker, Mrs Duncan.”

“He was a stonemason,” Tibbie said, “but he used to help his brother out on the family farm. What a mess his leg was in! Matthew was a wee boy at the time. He was sitting on the gate; saw it happening.”

There was a pause.

“It didn’t put Matthew off?” Andy asked. “He still wanted to work on a farm himself?”

Tibbie nodded. She looked white around the mouth, as she always did at the mention of Matthew, her only child.

“Flora, eat up,” Elizabeth said, more sharply than she intended, to change the subject.

“Shan’t.” This was Flora’s favourite word this week.

“Come on.” Elizabeth picked up Flora’s fork and speared a piece of potato. “Here, have one for baby Sadie. And one for Tomcat up at Glenmore. When they’re all finished you can have a chocolate.”

“I don’t believe in bribing children to eat.” Tibbie sniffed her disapproval as she pushed her chair back and stood up. “I’ll make a pot of tea.”

Libby looked shyly at Andy.

“Can we do a jigsaw again?”

“Mr Kerr won’t want – ” Elizabeth began.

“I’d like to,” Andy said. “Really, I would.”

Elizabeth nodded to Libby.

“All right, but take your plate through to the kitchen first.”

She popped another fried potato slice into Flora’s mouth.

“Come to any conclusions about what happened to Bonnie Boy, about the barbed wire?” Andy asked.

Elizabeth wondered if she should say anything to Andy about the strands of wire Tam had found. She’d had to tell Rodney Shaw, of course, and he’d advised her not to talk about it. He said he would make his own enquiries.

But she told Andy about her talk with Jimmie.

“I believe him,” she said. “He’s always been truthful and he loves animals. He’d never do anything that would harm them.”

“It was Rodney Shaw who first saw Bonnie Boy limping?”


Elizabeth wondered if he’d told Lady Annabel. She was afraid of where Shaw’s “enquiries” would take him. Jimmie would be his first suspect; an easy target for bullying.

“You don’t think that, maybe . . .?” Andy stopped. “No, even he –”

“What? You think Rodney Shaw had something to do with it?” Elizabeth clattered the fork down on to Flora’s plate.

“No, forget it,” Andy said. “Stupid idea.”

He reached for another piece of fruitcake.

“How’s Crys? I heard it all ended in tears with Doctor Scott.”

Elizabeth looked at him. The thought that had begun to cross her mind earlier returned.

Andy was a few years older than Crys, certainly, but so what? He was unmarried; a nice, steady man, good with children. The next time Crys was home she’d ask her and Andy here together.

“She’s upset, but she’ll get over it,” she told him.

Libby came back with a jigsaw and Elizabeth cleared the table so the pieces could be spread out. The more she thought about it the better her idea seemed. Life was like a series of jigsaws, really.

Sometimes a piece was irretrievably lost, as in her own case. But you could try to join other pieces together, to make a satisfying picture.

Her sister and their childhood friend. Why hadn’t she thought of it before?

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.