One Summer In France – Episode 18

“Andre has a passenger who would like to stay. He forget when he bring her here that I’m not the owner now. But I tell him that’s not a problem,” Agnes said. “His passenger is welcome.”

“But I’m not open,” Libby protested. “Isn’t there anywhere else locally the taxi driver can take her? I’m really not ready.”

Agnes wagged a finger at her.

“Libby, you have a business now. You have to take the guests when they come. Andre here always recommends me with the tourists. You turn him away today, perhaps he no come with others. You have a room ready, oui?”

Libby nodded slowly. She had this feeling she was being bulldozed once again by Agnes into agreeing to accept her first guest.

“The lady has been ill and she wants simply to rest and recover in the countryside for a week.”

Libby took a deep breath.

“OK. I’ll just go and check that the room is suitable while Andre gets her things out of the taxi.”

There was no time now to put a vase of fresh flowers on the dressing table, but Libby grabbed a box of Bretagne biscuits from the kitchen to put on the tea tray she had set up on all the bedside tables.

Libby had a quick look around the front bedroom to satisfy herself that everything was in order and that there were enough towels and soaps in the en-suite bathroom before going back downstairs ready to greet her guest.

Her first thought when she saw the woman standing in the hallway was how frail she appeared.

“She’s so thin,” Libby whispered to Chloe. “She must have been very ill.”

Moving across to the woman, Libby held out her hand and said, “Welcome to the Auberge du Canal, Madame . . .?”

There was a slight hesitation before the guest offered her hand in return.

“Patem.” And there was a longer pause before she added, “Madame Evie Patem.”

Libby smiled.

“If you will follow me, Madame Patem, I will show you to your room.”

Madame Patem followed her slowly up the stairs, leaning heavily on the bannister for support at one point.

“If you need anything, please ask,” Libby said, opening the bedroom door. “Breakfast is at eight thirty – if that time’s all right for you?”

“I never eat breakfast, so it is not important. Just coffee for me, please. Now I sleep – it has been a long day. Thank you. I will see you in the morning.”

And the bedroom door was firmly closed behind Madame Patem.



Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.