The Ferryboat – Episode 18

THIS is parsley and these are chives,” Roberta told Angus. His little fingers were just the right size for potting up the herbs. “When it’s warmer we’ll take them out of the greenhouse and put them in the garden. The weathermen say it’s going to be a good summer. OK, I think we’re finished in here.”

“Dig?” Angus asked hopefully.

“No digging in my garden today. But if you want to come up to the hotel with me there’s a lot of digging to do in their garden.”

Today Iris and Lizzie were painting their sitting-room and Roberta had volunteered to take Angus out of their way. It was a pleasure for both of them getting mucky in Robbie’s garden was one of Angus’s favourite things to do.

“We’re going to two other places first,” Roberta told Angus, reaching for his hand. “We’re going to see Charlie who used to live in the hotel, remember? And then we’ll pop down to see Donnie and have a look round the ferry boat if you like.”

“I do like the ferry boat,” Angus said, smiling up at her.

He looked uncannily like his mother, Roberta thought, with his light brown hair and delicate features. But whereas Iris’s eyes were grey, Angus’s were blazing blue, an inheritance from his father.

Roberta hadn’t known Iris very well six years ago; she’d just been aware of her in the background of the hotel that summer. But she remembered the consternation of Iris’s great-aunt, with whom she was staying at Brook Cottage, when Iris announced she was leaving with Fin only weeks after they met. And she remembered three years ago when the news came that Fin had not survived an accident on that motorbike of his.

Now Iris’s first love, Sandy, was back in town, as it were, although not for long. Apparently he was much in demand for his IT skills and hired himself out on lucrative short-term contracts. It was hard to believe that the go-getting young man was any relative of Charlie Mack’s.

It would be a treat for Charlie to see Angus, Roberta thought now. He’d always made a fuss of the little boy when Iris brought him to the hotel, bringing him crisps and lemonade from the bar and letting him swivel round on his office chair.

Both Charlie and Sandy were in the house. It was very tidy and smelling of furniture polish, so it looked as though Sandy was keeping up Iris’s good work.

Charlie installed Angus on a little footstool and went to find him a snack.

“Hey, Angus,” Sandy said, “do you remember that trick I showed you when I came to tea at your house?”

Angus bounced in anticipation.

“The one with the penny?”

“The very one.” Sandy put his hand behind Angus’s head and apparently pulled a ten pence piece from his ear. “Let’s see if there’s one on the other side.”

There was. With eyes as big as saucers Angus carefully tucked the coins into his pocket. Sandy turned to Roberta. “What will Donnie do when the ferry stops?”

What a nice-looking lad he was, Roberta thought. Not handsome, exactly, but with a friendly, open face.

“Tinker about with engines,” she replied, and was about to elaborate on this when Charlie came through from the kitchen with a chocolate biscuit for Angus.

“And when’s Donnie going to get you to the altar?” he asked Roberta, a twinkle in his eye.

“How do you put up with him?” Roberta raised her eyebrows at Sandy. “To every thing there is a season,” she said loftily to Charlie, who chuckled and nudged her in the ribs with his elbow.

He certainly seemed very cheery today, she thought, when she and Angus walked down to the pier. But how would he be when Sandy went away again?

Angus tugged her hand.

“The boat is in.”

Roberta could see Donnie with one of the bridge workers the one with the moustache who had been brusque with Iris.

“Shouting,” Angus said as they got closer.

Roberta was torn between finding out what on earth was going on and not wanting Angus to hear anything he shouldn’t.

But Donnie was walking towards her, visibly angry.

“This idiot has just accused me of vandalising the bridge!”

Fluffy Moustache took off in the other direction.

“You’re the one with something to gain from the delay, Campbell,” he called over his shoulder. “It’s got to be you!”


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