A Time To Reap – Episode 40

A Time To Reap

Diffidently, Tam asked Elizabeth if the rumours about Lady Annabel selling up were true.

“You got this from Isa, I suppose?” Elizabeth asked.

Tam nodded.

“I know she talks a lot of blethers, but no smoke without fire, as they say.”

Elizabeth had gathered, that day in Rosland House, that Lady Annabel was concerned about the future of all her properties.

But she replied to Tam truthfully that if selling Rosland was her ladyship’s plan she had not told her farm manager.

Tam’s worried face cleared.

“Good to hear that, Mrs Duncan. June and me wouldn’t want to up sticks again so soon.”

“Believe me, Tam, if there’s anything I think my staff should know I will tell them.”

A couple of weeks after that conversation Elizabeth wondered if she knew anything at all about what was happening on the estate. Lady Annabel had been closeted in Rodney Shaw’s office several times, with the door firmly shut.

The mystery of Bonnie Boy’s injury remained just that, a mystery. If Rodney Shaw had made enquiries he never reported any results to Elizabeth.

And the men were saying that Shaw and Frank Robertson had almost come to blows the other day. While there had always been bad feeling between them it had never escalated so far before.

No-one seemed to know what they’d argued over.

On the bright side, Andy had taken to calling in at the farmhouse and asking if he could do anything for them. Tibbie had asked him to cut some kindling sticks and move a wardrobe from one room to another.

Elizabeth was grateful – Tibbie wasn’t up to chopping wood any more and she herself hadn’t enough hours in the day.

There were things she could call on the estate to do – sort the leak in the roof, mend the shed door, because the house and the shed were estate property. But she didn’t want to ask any of the men for help with more personal chores.

She wanted to show that she could cope with managing the farm and with everything else.

Sometimes she found herself thinking about Donna Mackay and her life in California. What must it be like not to have to think about anything, apart from which colour to paint your nails?

Still, her matchmaking plans were off to a good start. Andy had stayed to eat with them again, and Elizabeth had come downstairs one evening after supervising the girls’ bathtime to find him drying the dishes for Tibbie.

That was good. It would be perfectly natural then for him to be there when Crystal was home. She began dropping Crys’s name into conversation whenever she could, and she read snippets of her letters that could be shared.

“Crys isn’t coming home for the agricultural show,” she told him one afternoon in her office.

He wasn’t over for a social call this time, but to check up on Bonnie Boy’s hoof.

“She wouldn’t have wanted to run into Struan Scott anyway, I suspect. But she’s got a lot of work – modelling bridal gowns, of all things, in a department store in Oxford Street! She’s sorry she’ll miss the show. She always loved it.”

“Wasn’t there some story about her and candyfloss?” Andy chuckled.

“It was the first year there was a candyfloss stall.” Elizabeth laughed at the memory. “Dad gave her some money and she went straight over and spent the lot! Six sticks. She had all this pink fluff – ”

The door opened, banging against the wall, and Tibbie almost ran in, clutching Libby by the hand.

Elizabeth stood up, her heart beating fast. Tibbie never came to the estate office.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“Flora was playing with her dolly in the garden,” Tibbie gasped out. “But she’s not there. I’ve looked all around and called and called. I can’t find her anywhere!”

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.