As Thomas Gray took off his boots and put his feet on the fender, his wife glanced warily at him. Was this the right time to show him Sir Hugh’s letter? Thomas had followed his usual evening routine of having a quick wash at the sink in the corner of the kitchen, before sitting down to his one meal of the day. His newspaper and pipe awaited him beside the fireside chair, and Mirren reflected that now might be the right time to show him the letter, with all the arrangements for the holiday. The holiday. A break in the country for her and Kirsty, with the Firth of Clyde on the very doorstep!When she’d received the letter, Mirren had hardly believed her eyes, and had cried a little at Sir Hugh’s unending kindness. Since then, she had read it until she knew the contents off by heart. Now, she was working up the courage to tell her husband and praying that he wouldn’t forbid it.A good holiday will ensure complete recovery from your illness, Sir Hugh had written. A gatehouse at my country residence near Gourock will be set aside for you and full arrangements made with the housekeeper there as regards provisions. My son, Josh, has spoken to Miss Constance and Mrs Dinnimont, and has arranged a week’s leave for Kirsty so that she can accompany you. You may choose the time at your convenience now that the summer weather has come.Drying her hands on her apron, Mirren turned to look at her husband, puffing contentedly on his pipe, taking his well-earned rest. Thomas’s face had become more deeply lined, his hair greyer since her illness. It had been hard for him, she reflected, trying to fight the feeling that she’d be betraying him by leaving him for a whole week. She sighed. Her sister, Jenny, had volunteered to come up to make Thomas’s meals and fill his piece box, certainly, but even that made her heart sink. He was fond enough of Jenny, but he had never really forgiven her for taking Adam’s part when he’d left the house to go to art school.There had been a truce when Mirren had fallen ill, but the notion of Thomas left to depend on Jenny for a whole week made his wife sigh slightly. She felt in her pocket for the letter. Suddenly, her husband looked up.“Ye’ve never said aboot the letter.” He nodded at the clock on the mantel. “Ahint the clock there, wi’ a French stamp.”Her heart did a somersault. She’d been so taken up with the letter in her pocket that she’d forgotten to tell him about Adam’s letter. It had been tucked behind the clock for days!Her husband was feigning unconcern, but she knew that Thomas was anxious for news. Her illness had brought another truce, this time between Adam and his father. Still, although his son’s success had pleased him, Thomas would never admit it.“I forgot about it.” She held out the letter to him, but he shook his head.“I dinnae need tae read it. Juist tell me the news,” he said gruffly.Mirren was doing just that when an unexpected visitor arrived. Sir Hugh Glenavon stripped off his hat and gauntlets and took the offered fireside chair.“I just looked in as I was passing to see if you had come to a decision, Mrs Gray.” One look at the faces of the Grays told Hugh that the matter hadn’t yet been discussed. Nothing else for it, he reflected, than to plunge in at the deep end!“I’ve taken the liberty of making all the arrangements,” he said in conclusion, smiling. “So that I can present them to you both, and you can make your decision.”Mirren breathed a sigh of relief at no mention of the letter.Hugh lit his cigar while he used his well-practised powers of persuasion.“I had the idea of the gatehouse when I visited Miss Letty Primrose recently. She, too, has one that has lain empty for a while. No sense in letting these wee houses fall into ruin. They could have many uses not least as a holiday home.” As Hugh went on to describe the place, Thomas suddenly leaned forward.“When I was a laddie, I used tae walk as far as the Cloch lighthouse wi’ ma pals. Up ower the hill whaur ye could see the Clyde spread oot at yer feet . . .”There was a faraway look in his eyes and a softness in his voice. For a moment he just gazed into the fire, at one with his memories.“Aye, I wid go if I had the chance.” He looked up at his wife. “But there’s work, aye the work. Oor Kirsty can go wi’ ye, lass. The fresh air’ll dae ye guid, so it will.”There was tenderness in his gaze.Hugh Glenavon seized the moment.“What if there was no work for you for a week? I know some of the top men at Dixon’s. One of them owes me a favour.” He winked. “He’d make sure you’re not left out of pocket.”“Ye could aye ask, I suppose,” was all Thomas said, but in his face his wife saw a glimpse of the handsome, spirited boy she’d married all those years before. And, watching him, she too suddenly felt as if she was a young girl again.