A Time To Reap – Episode 55

A Time To Reap

An hour later Elizabeth felt exhilarated – the music had a buoying effect and it was hard not to smile amid all the high spirits.

But she also felt physically exhausted. She hadn’t danced for such a long time and doing so in unaccustomed high heels made her feet ache.

She felt even more uncomfortable about the unfair encouragement she must be giving to Andy since she’d literally thrown herself at him earlier. Because when they danced he could have been anybody.

She willed herself to thrill at the admiration in his eyes, the warmth of his arm around her waist, the clasp of his hand, but she felt nothing. Nothing at all.

The American seemed to be enjoying himself. It was evident he had never done Scottish dancing before but his various partners pushed and pulled him into position with much laughter. When their eyes chanced to meet she looked quickly away.

“I hope you’ll come into supper with me.” Andy held on to her when the music stopped. “It’s always a grand spread.”

“That would be nice,” Elizabeth said mechanically. What else could she say? “When do we break to eat?”

The sooner this evening was over, the better.

Andy looked at his watch.

“Another half hour, probably. There’s a ceilidh part now – I’m singing for my supper! Alec’s playing for me.”

Elizabeth remembered that Andy was an accomplished singer.

“That’s lovely.”

He gave her a shy grin before releasing her.

“The song’s for you,” he said, and made his way to the dais.

Lady Annabel materialised beside her.

“Elizabeth, can you come through to the hall?”

Her voice was very kind and Elizabeth, at first suspecting that this was something to do with Bill Brock, realised that something was wrong.

“Your sister is on the phone. I’m afraid one of your little girls is unwell.”

She led the way, Elizabeth almost running behind her.


“It’s Libby,” Crys said. “Her left ear’s burning red and – listen, you can hear her crying.”

The sound chilled Elizabeth’s blood.

“I phoned Mum,” Crys said. “She said I must get the . . . doctor. He’s on his way.”

That must have been an ordeal for Crys, on top of her concern for Libby – having to phone her ex-boyfriend, Dr Struan Scott.

“I’ll get someone to drive me.” Elizabeth replaced the receiver.

But who? Alec and Andy were entertaining the crowd.

“What can I do to help?” her employer asked gently.

“I must get home at once. The doctor’s on his way.”

At the far side of the ballroom, in his strong baritone, Andy began the second verse of Robert Burns’ love song.

“So fair art thou, my bonnie lass;

So deep in love am I.”

Words meant for her. She felt sick.

“I’ll take you down myself,” Lady Annabel said.

“You can’t leave your guests,” Elizabeth protested, but feebly.

“Is there a problem?” Bill Brock came and stood beside their hostess.

Lady Annabel explained briefly.

“I’ll drive you,” Bill said.

“Is that all right with you, Elizabeth?”

Lady Annabel didn’t wait for her answer.

“I’ll take the Land-Rover round to the front and then I’ll tell your cousin where you’ve gone.”

Elizabeth glanced up at Bill. His blue-grey eyes were soft with concern. The very last thing she wanted was to be in his company, to be beholden to him.

But the first, the only thing she wanted was to get home to her precious daughter.

Wordlessly, she followed him down the steps into the night.

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.