IRIS started to run towards the cottage.
Fluffy Moustache ran alongside, gasping explanations.
“I was passing when your little lad came out the door in quite a state. He said his auntie Lizzie was lying on the floor and wouldn’t speak to him.” He turned to look at Iris. “She’s come round now and a neighbour’s with her. I phoned for an ambulance.”
“What happened?” They were almost there.
“Fell off a ladder and hit her head, I think. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”
“Thanks for all you have done.” Iris pushed open the gate. “I don’t even know your name,” she said over her shoulder as she ran down the path.
“Jim. I’m staying in . . .”
Iris didn’t wait to hear.
Lizzie was still on the floor but sitting up. Roberta had one arm round her and one around Angus, who disentangled himself, jumped up and ran over to his mother.
“Sweetheart.” Iris picked him up. “What a brave boy you are.” Still holding him, she went to kneel by Lizzie, shocked to see her sister’s white face. The ladder lay beside her.
“How do you feel?” Iris asked, reaching out for Lizzie’s hand.
“Woozy. But I’ll be OK after a lie-down.” Lizzie tried to smile.
“You’re going nowhere, young lady.” Roberta’s voice was almost unrecognisably gentle. “Any blow to the head should be checked out. We’ll sit here quietly and wait for the ambulance. Iris, why don’t you and Angus go and watch for it?”
Iris wanted to stay with Lizzie but she also wanted to get Angus out of the room and blessed Roberta for allowing that to happen.
“Let’s go and look out for the nee-naw, shall we? Maybe it will have its flashing lights on.” She hoisted Angus on to her hip. “I bet I see it first.”
“I bet I do.” Some of the usual sparkle returned to Angus’s eyes as they leaned over the gate and looked down the road. They might have a long wait, Iris worried. The nearest hospital was 30 miles away, and what if the ambulances were all out on call already? She tried to remember what she knew about head injuries. Lizzie looked bad but she’d sounded quite coherent, which was good. But from what Jim said it sounded as if she’d been knocked out when she fell.
Angus wriggled and she put him down. He wasn’t quite big enough to see over the gate even when he stood on tiptoe, so he bent down to peer through the spars. Iris crouched beside him and stroked the back of his head.
“Why was Auntie Lizzie up the ladder?” she asked, trying to keep her voice as neutral as possible.
“Don’t know. She fell down.” Angus pressed his face into the wooden gate.
“And what happened then?”
Angus still wouldn’t look at her.
“She made a funny noise. Then it stopped. I thought Robbie would make her better.”
“So you went to find Robbie? That was clever of you.”
“The man said, what’s wrong, and I said Auntie Lizzie fell, and he came in and then we went to get Robbie.”
“And Robbie told him to come to find me?”
Angus took his face out of the gate so he could nod then put it back again.
“Auntie Lizzie will be all well again soon,” Iris said, hoping against hope that she was right. “Thanks to you getting help. You’ve been a hero, like Superman.”
“Have I? Or Spider-Man?”
“Better than both of them. You’re Superspider!” Iris was relieved to hear Angus giggle. “Listen, Superspider, when the ambulance comes I want to go with Auntie Lizzie to the hospital. Will you stay here with Robbie?”
Angus sank back to sit on Iris’s knee.
“I will show her my new trick.”