City Of Discoveries — Episode 42

Wilkins hurried off to return with a seat and Elspeth and Harold fussed over Wilma.

“No damage has been done, Mother,” Harold said when a little calm had been restored. “Please, don’t distress yourself.”

Elspeth patted her hand.

“We think they killed the rabbit first, then threw it into the greenhouse by way of the ventilation system.”

“Well, they are a bit of a plague,” Wilma said. “Thousands and thousands of them.”

She frowned.

“I intend to write to Mr Stewart, Harold. This is beyond civilised behaviour.

“As her mother can’t – or won’t – keep a rein on that dratted girl, then someone must appeal to a higher authority.”

Elspeth formed the clear impression her mother-in-law thought Mrs Stewart was letting the female side down.

Given the rudeness Mrs Stewart had displayed at their event, Elspeth was not surprised she didn’t keep a tighter rein on her daughter. She probably applauded her behaviour!

They went back into the house and settled on the verandah with a tray of tea.

Wilma was clearly embarrassed to have become so overwrought, but Elspeth was touched by the pride she had in her son’s work and research.

The post was delivered and provided a welcome distraction.

Wilma had a letter from Tasmania. Elspeth had several letters and was looking forward to catching up with news from Scotland, India where her parents had been travelling and, possibly, the high seas to Canada.

She saw that Harold held a letter written in her papa’s hand.

“My father is writing to you?” she asked with a smile. “Have you been complaining to him about his daughter’s hoydenish behaviour?”

“As if you ever give me need, my dear,” Harold replied, but he didn’t enlighten them over the content of his letter. “I hear a carriage.”

He stood up and a smile crossed his face.

“It’s your friend, Bethany.”

“Bethany? How unexpected,” Elspeth said.

She went into the hall and brought her friend through to join them on the back verandah.

Elspeth thought Bethany looked a little peaky and she was very quiet.

“Mrs Sutherland,” Bethany said. “Harold.”

“My dear?” Wilma said.

Elspeth caught the concern in her voice just as Harold stepped forward to catch a tumbling Bethany in his arms.

They set her on to a couch with her feet raised and wafted Elspeth’s ostrich fan vigorously until Bethany came to herself.

“It’s so hot,” she said by way of explanation, “and travelling in the carriage makes me nauseated.”

Wilma nodded.

“My dear girl, when is the baby expected?”

Bethany turned anxious, tear-filled eyes to Elspeth.

“I am so sorry, Elspeth, the timing is such that I won’t be able to accompany you into the mountains.”

Elspeth was bitterly disappointed, but knew she couldn’t show it because a new baby would be a great joy for her friend.

“Why, Bethany, I am so pleased for you and Teddy! I hope there will be other chances for you to join Harold and me on a trip, but obviously not this one.”

She matched her words with a genuine smile.

“Harold,” Wilma said with a touch of imperiousness. “How old are these ladies we read of in Mr Murray’s volumes about lady travellers?”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.