The End Of The Rainbow – Episode 46

It was late when Mirren awoke the next morning. Sunlight was streaming in the open window, and she could hear birdsong.Somewhere, there was the sound of running water, and Mirren remembered with a start of pleasure that the little house boasted a bathroom! It had been overlooked in the excitement of their arrival. There was the bath, the rail beside it festooned with fresh white towels.When the lamps had been lit the previous evening, and they’d sat by the fire for a while discussing the splendour of everything from the bath to the chenille armchairs, a sudden silence had fallen between the Grays.“Aye.” Thomas had knocked out his pipe at last, his face serious. “This is a braw place. But ye ken whit they say, Mirren ye never miss what ye never had.”She had known, looking at his face, that he was thinking of tenements and of Dixon’s Blazes.When she rose at last, Mirren found that her husband’s mood had brightened. He had risen at his usual time of six o’clock and had gone for a walk, returning to unpack the basket left in the front porch.By the time his wife had joined him, he had prepared a breakfast of boiled eggs andthick slices of home-baked bread, liberally buttered.“Ye’ve tae tak’ a rest, an’ makin’ a bite tae eat’s a wee change for me. I need somethin’ tae dae,” he explained.After Mirren had cleared up, he suggested a walk.“It’s juist a step tae the watter. No’ far enough tae tire ye.”****It was a short distance across tree-studded grass to where the land sloped down to the broad expanse of the Clyde. Heat shimmered on the water. Through a slight haze, there was a glimpse of Dunoon in the distance.“Could we sit on the grass for a wee while?” Mirren asked.Her husband didn’t respond. He pointed to a steamer making its way down river.“Makin’ for the Tail O’ The Bank,” he said in a faraway voice.Mirren looked at him as he gazed out on the expanse of water. He was wearing his only suit the one he’d been married in. Now, it hung loosely on his spare frame, the sleeves somehow too short, his bony wrists protruding from them. In collar, tie, cap and boots Thomas looked out of place in this beautiful setting.“Tak’ off yer jacket, Thomas and yer cap. Let the good fresh air in around ye, get the good o’ yer holiday. And, as I was sayin’, could we sit on the grass for a wee while?”He took off his jacket and spread it on the grass.“Here, hen, sit on this. The grass might be damp.”Sitting beside her, his cap tossed aside and shirt sleeves rolled up, he said little, but watched the ships on the river, the slight breeze ruffling his hair with its glint of silver.Mirren was content to sit with the sun warm on her back. Now and then, she would touch thegrass, running her hand over its carpet of daisies and remembering her childhood, when she and Jenny had played carefree in meadows, paddled in burns and made daisy chains when they sprawled on the grass for a rest.After a while, her husband turned to her.“I think I’ll tak’ a walk ower tae the Cloch the morra, Mirren. It’s too far for ye, but . . .” He glanced at her uncertainly. She smiled back at him, aware that he, too, was revisiting his youth.“Ye should dae that, Thomas. I’ll be fine.”They began the walk back to their holiday cottage, Thomas with his jacket slung across one shoulder, Mirren with her hand slipped into his. Once, he placed his arm round her waist to help her over a rough patch of ground. She smiled up at him as he turned his bright, blue-eyed gaze on her, and she saw, for the first time in many years, the handsome boy she had wed. As if reading her mind, he spoke gruffly.“Aye, ye’re still my bonnie lass, Mirren.”Her heart sang.


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