A Time To Reap – Episode 51

A Time To Reap

The car sputtered to a stop after a few yards.

“See? I can’t do it.” Peggy turned to Auntie Mamie.

“You’ve been learning to drive for exactly a minute, Peggy. Was Rome built in a day? Now, turn off the engine, take a deep breath and start again.”

Peggy did as she was told. It was good of Auntie Mamie to give up her time to such a hopeless cause.

How many afternoons would it take before she threw up her hands and declared that Peggy should never be allowed to sit in a driving seat?

“Relax your hands, dear, the steering wheel isn’t going to run away. Good. You’re doing fine. Keep your eyes on the road.

“Mind that sheep. No, it’s decided to stay where it is.”

Steadied by her aunt’s soothing voice, Peggy was soon delighted to find they were a couple of miles away from where they’d started.

“Pull into this lay-by. We’ll stop for a minute. Well done! Did you enjoy that?” Auntie Mamie asked.

“I did,” Peggy said cautiously. “I might be able to do it, provided you’re always sitting beside me.”

Mamie laughed.

“Let’s go on. I thought the old aerodrome would be a good place to practise turning and parking.”

Turning and parking! That sounded scary.

“How about a sweetie first?” Peggy said, playing for time. “I’ve got some butterscotch.”

She leaned over to her bag at Mamie’s feet.

“Here, have one.”

“Have Hugh and Donna gone?” Mamie asked, unwrapping the paper.

Peggy nodded.

“Day before yesterday. Alec was upset, I could tell. The boys too, especially Colin. He’s moping about with a long face.”

Mamie raised her eyebrows questioningly.

“Yes.” Peggy sighed. “Hugh’s going to try to get Col work on a ranch for a few months, to see if he likes it, and likes America. With luck, he’ll hate them both.” She smiled ruefully. “I don’t think that will be the case, though.”

Her aunt nodded.

“I told Neil what you said about Davy having the police recruitment article. It turns out he did say something to Neil about it.”


“Yes. Just general stuff. He asked if Neil thought it would be hard to get in, that kind of thing. And I don’t know if you remember, an uncle of Neil’s was a deputy chief constable somewhere, so he knows a bit about it.”

“Oh, no! That’s all I need,” Peggy said. “What’s Alec going to say? Two sons shipping out. I’ll have to get Davy to speak to him, but not until after this beastly gillies’ ball. It’s three weeks away. Alec will be taken up until then with practising his fiddle tunes.”

“I have some good news for you on that score. Elizabeth is going to the ball! She didn’t want to, but the invitation came with a personal note from Lady Annabel saying she hoped Elizabeth would accept.”

Peggy clasped her hands in delight at the thought that her cousin would be at the ball held every September in Rosland House to mark the end of the shooting season.

“Great. We can have a laugh.”

“Elizabeth doesn’t seem to be laughing much at the moment,” Mamie said. “She seems preoccupied, but whatever it is she doesn’t want to tell either me or her father. Neil came straight out and asked if anything was wrong, but she shrugged him off.”

“I’ll see if I can find out,” Peggy said. “Probably Mr Shaw making her life difficult, as usual. Do you know what she’s going to wear to the ball?”

“Crys is going to come home that weekend. She says she’ll borrow some dresses for you both so can you let me know your measurements? And she’ll do your hair and make you up London-style.”

“She’ll have her work cut out with me!” Peggy cackled. “Oh, did I tell you what Nancy saw the other day . . .?”

Auntie Mamie held up her hand.

“Tell me later. Back to the wheel, Peggy! Now, turn on the engine, that’s it . . . ”

Once again Peggy did as she was told.

Nancy’s startling news – that she had seen a fair-haired girl she was sure was Lady Cecily in the passenger seat of Frank Robertson’s truck – would have to wait.

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.