A Time To Reap – Episode 02

A Time To Reap

June pinned the last nappy to the line, picked up the laundry basket and looked up at the sky. The air was definitely warmer. Spring was here at last.

This was a beautiful place. On Sunday afternoon they’d pushed the pram around the estate. Tam had pointed out Mrs Duncan’s house, and the lodge where Mr Shaw lived.

They’d peered through the gates of Rosland House, a grand Victorian building. It was empty most of the year, Tam said, as the estate owner, Lady Annabel, lived most of the time in England.

June turned to gaze at the pram by the back door. After five long years they had a baby. A miracle!

A miracle for Tam and herself, of course. Not for Rita, Sadie’s birth mother.

Circled on the calendar and engraved on her heart was a date. June 17, 1963. On that day, June prayed, Sadie would truly be their daughter.

There was another black cloud on her happiness, but on this lovely morning June was not going to let her new neighbour get her down.

She hadn’t ventured far on her own yet. Today she would walk the mile to the village post office to buy stamps for the letter she had written to her mother.

*  *  *  *

Nancy Douglas looked up as the bell jangled and a woman came in, pulling a pram. She dashed round the counter to help.

The pram would have been safe outside, but as she peered into it she saw this was a very new baby. First-time mothers could be overly protective.

“How are you liking Rosland, Mrs Morrison?” she asked, enjoying the look of surprise on the newcomer’s face.

“I’m liking it fine. How do you . . .?”

“It wasn’t difficult. I’m Nancy. I’ve been working in this post office for almost forty years. There’s not much gets past me.”

June held out her hand.

“Nice to meet you. I’m June, and this is Sadie.” She stroked the little hand lying on the blanket.

“A redhead, by the look of it.” Nancy glanced at June’s dark curls.

“There’s red hair on my husband’s side,” June said, almost defensively. “I’d like six thruppenny stamps, please.”

She looked around. The post office took up a corner of the shop which was crammed with all manner of household items.

“Is this where the grocery van comes from?”

“Yes, it goes round all the farms and outlying areas. Tuesday is Rosland day. Elizabeth will have told you about it. Mrs Duncan?” she added, seeing the question in June’s eyes.

“She’s nice, Mrs Duncan, isn’t she?” June sat on the chair Nancy kept by the counter to encourage folk to sit and chat. “She’d put food in the larder and had the fire lit for us when we arrived. I’ve never heard of a woman being a farm manager before.”

“A good job she’s making of it, too.” Nancy took the money for the stamps and held out her hand for June’s letter. “I’ll put it in the bag for you.”

She dropped it into the sack behind the counter, glancing at the address.

Paisley. Not that she was being nosy – just gathering information.

She perched on her own chair and leaned forward on her elbows.

“I mind Elizabeth when she was wee, tramping around in her wellington boots after her dad – he was a shepherd up Helmsdale way. In the war, the land-girls were here, so she knew that girls could be farmers, too.”

“What happened to . . .?” June stopped.

Nancy nodded. It was natural to want to know about Elizabeth’s situation, which was unusual, but she liked that June felt some delicacy in asking.

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.