One Summer In France – Episode 31

Beating the batter for the courgette starter, Libby looked across at Agnes.

“Are you OK? You look a bit tired.”

Agnes sighed.

“Did I tell you that Isabelle is to come soon?”

“You must be looking forward to that,” Libby said.

“Oui and non. I do not understand why she come alone. Bruno think maybe she and Alain are having problems.” Agnes rinsed the salad and rocket leaves that were to accompany the courgette flowers and spun them vigorously in the salad drainer. “I tried to ring her the other night but there was no reply.”

“Alain is probably too busy with work,” Libby said, remembering how happy Isabelle and Alain had been on their wedding day seven years ago. Their wedding – the only French one she and Dan had ever been to – had been such a joyful affair. The whole village had celebrated with the happy couple, and Isabelle had been so vivacious she’d positively radiated with happiness that day.

“Perhaps. He is responsible for several people now,” Agnes said. “He works long hours, I know.” She began to scrub the new potatoes ready for cooking. “I try not to worry, but I can’t stop. Perhaps I need more to do.”

“Well, you know you’re more than welcome to help me up here,” Libby said, glad to be given an opportunity to change the subject. “I’m definitely going to need some help and I’d rather have you than anyone else.”

“I know, but you need someone regular and Bruno no want me to work every day now.”

“Fair enough,” Libby said, hiding her disappointment. Having Agnes help her regularly would have been ideal. “Are you still thinking about starting a monthly luncheon club?”

Agnes nodded.

“Yes, but I think I wait until after the summer. September would be good.” She paused. “I will know then what is going on with Isabelle.”

For several moments they worked in companionable silence, Libby making the tarte tatin and Agnes preparing the asparagus before placing them in the steamer.

“Libby, could I have a word, please?” Suzette asked, standing in the kitchen doorway.

Libby looked around in surprise.

“Sure, Evie. Coffee?”

Suzette shook her head.

“No, thanks. It’s about my stay here.”

“Do you want to check out?”

“No, no. The opposite. I want to stay for the summer. But not in the auberge. I would like to rent the gîte from you.”

“Oh! Evie, I’m sorry. There are two people moving into it right now.”

“How long are they staying?” Suzette asked, disappointed.

“Three days, they think.”

“After that I could rent it for the rest of the summer?”

“Yes,” Libby said. “But I thought you had to get back to Paris soon?”

Suzette shrugged.

“Not necessarily, although if I can’t move into the gîte right away, I think I’ll take the opportunity to go up for a quick visit to sort a few things out and to collect some extra clothes and other things I’ll need for a longer stay.”

“I’m glad you’re staying for the summer,” Libby said, smiling at Suzette. “I’ll make sure the gîte is ready for you to move into when you get back.”



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.