A Time To Reap – Episode 49

A Time To Reap

There was no time next morning to dwell on the dream she’d had, where she was walking down the aisle not knowing who was waiting for her at the altar.

Rodney Shaw’s bad mood was evident. In the office next to hers his voice was raised. Now, his visitor was actually shouting back.

“Our agreement . . .”

“Never thought . . .”

“Could have been killed!”

“Without a reference . . .”

She recognised the other voice. Frank Robertson.

There came a crash as if a piece of furniture had been overturned. Were the two men coming to blows?

Perhaps if she got Tam, or one of the other farm workers, they could try to defuse the situation.

She tiptoed down the corridor towards the main door. It was standing open as usual and there on the step was Bill Brock.

“Mrs Duncan. Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth put a finger to her lips. She didn’t stop walking until they were outside and a few yards away from the building.

“What’s wrong? You’re shaking,” Bill said.

“Mr Shaw and Frank Robertson, the estate forester, seem to be fighting. I thought I’d get one of the men to help.”

“Fighting! What about?”

Elizabeth shook her head.

“No idea. There’s always been bad blood between them. Why are you here?” She was aware of his hand on the sleeve of her jumper.

“I came to say goodbye. I’m leaving for the States this afternoon.”


He let go of her arm and thrust both his hands into his jacket pockets, looking down at the ground.

“Annabel told me about your husband. I’m sorry.”

He looked up again.

“She’s invited me to come back any time. May I come and see you when I do?”

Elizabeth’s head cleared. Whatever she thought the thumping of her heart told her when she saw the look in his eyes, it was possible that she was mistaken.

A rich American, on first-name terms with Lady Annabel, making advances to her? It was ludicrous!

“You’d be welcome to look round the farm any time, of course,” she said, her voice polite but distant.

“That’s not what I –” Bill stopped as Frank came round the corner and pushed past them.

“Who is that guy? I saw him with Lady Cecily in the garden the other day.”

“Frank Robertson. What? Surely not!”

She was shocked. He must be mistaken. Lady Annabel would have a fit if it were true.

Elizabeth breathed in.

“I hope you have a good journey back,” she said formally.

“Darn it, Elizabeth! I knew the minute I saw you at that fair that –”

“Mrs Duncan?” It was Rodney Shaw. “I thought you wanted my assistance with the subsidy forms? I haven’t got all morning.”

Elizabeth met his look.

“I’ll be with you shortly.”

He stared back for a moment then turned on his heel and went inside.

“Mr Brock.” She concentrated on a spot above his left shoulder – she wasn’t going to meet that gaze again. “I know some Americans have a romantic view of Scotland, especially if they’re lucky enough to visit somewhere like this. I’m just part of the scenery. When you’re back in California you won’t give me a second thought.”

“You’re wrong about that.” Bill held out his hand but let it fall to his side as Elizabeth walked past him.

Inside, she wanted more than anything to curl up in her own office and weep.

She forced herself to gather up the forms and take them to the factor’s office. If she concentrated on her work she might forget the last five extraordinary minutes.

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.