IF I may speak frankly,” Roberta had said. That was the only way she ever spoke, as far as Tom could make out. He quailed at the consequences of not taking her advice, of getting off to a bad start with the locals and quailed, too, at the thought of how much the new sign had cost. What was he to do?
His dilemma went completely from his mind as he opened the front door.
“Dad!” Holly was running downstairs. “Something awful’s happened. There’s water coming down into the yellow bedroom. The back wall is dripping wet.”
“Have you phoned a plumber?”
“And the dining-room? Has the water reached the ground floor?”
“I don’t know. Corin’s crawling around the attic to see where it’s come from.”
“It’ll be the water tank. Did any of you turn the water off at the main?”
Holly lifted her shoulders in reply.
Tom threw off his jacket.
“Where’s your mother?”
“Laying out every pan and bucket we have underneath the water. But we’ve got those people coming back tonight.”
And only one bedroom available now. Tom hurried through to the hall cupboard to find the water main and then to the kitchen to run taps. Why had Corin not thought to do that?
The water had slowed to a trickle before the plumber arrived. Fortunately the damage seemed to have been confined to the bedroom. Tom checked the dining-room ceiling at close quarters and found it bore no evidence of damp. While he was there he ran his fingers over a strange little circle. As far as he could remember it corresponded with one of similar size in the bedroom floor above, as if a hole had been filled in.
“Sorry, Tom,” Corin said contritely, from the bottom of the ladder. “I didn’t have a clue what to do.”
“Your father never showed you what a water main looks like?”
“Dad wouldn’t know a water main if it bit him in the leg.” Corin grinned up at him. “Mum’s the practical one. She does all the DIY stuff.”
Despite his anxieties, Tom couldn’t help feeling a rush of pleasure at the news. Here was something Mr Big Cheese Solicitor couldn’t do!
“I think I’m more like Dad than Mum in that respect,” Corin added.
“Nonsense, son,” Tom said, climbing down. “It’s easy when you know how.”
“Dad.” Holly stuck an anxious face round the door. “Can you come? The guests have arrived. And one of them’s not too pleased. He’s insisting on speaking to you.”
Once Tom had got the water under control he’d phoned the hotel nearest them, about three miles away, and asked if they could accommodate two of his guests. It seemed to be the only solution. But the man who’d been the grumpy one of the party a week earlier was having none of it.
“We want two rooms together, as booked,” he maintained. “It’s your problem. Sort it out. At your expense.”
His wife looked apologetically at Tom.
“I’m sorry about your flood,” she said. “I do hope we can have dinner here as planned, though. We’ve been telling everyone we know about the meal we had last week.”
“Of course,” Tom said. “And I’ll call and reserve another room for you, sir.”
As he reached for the phone he could see Roberta as she stopped to look at the Bridge Inn board. She shook her head before making her determined way down the front path.
He smiled at the man through gritted teeth. What with the flood and its consequences, and the apparently inevitable purchase of another new hotel sign, it was proving to be a very expensive day.