The Ferryboat – Episode 29

IRIS brought in the lunch dishes from the garden and stacked them in the dishwasher.

“That’s it,” she said, switching it on.

“How many today?” Holly asked. She was sitting at the kitchen table with her sewing machine, running up curtains for the annexe.

“Don’t know,” Iris said, counting on her fingers, “but there must have been fourteen outside, and the dining-room was full.”

Verity, enveloped in a rosy Cath Kidston apron, looked up from the mixing bowl.

“Are you off now, Iris? Holly and I are on afternoon teas.”

“Yes, I’ll be back in the evening.” Iris smiled at Mrs Grainger senior, or Verity, as she’d been told to call her.

She’d been surprised, and suspected that Tom and Judy were, too, at how good Verity was at mucking in with whatever required to be done. She’d been here, on and off, for the last few weeks and Iris wondered how they could possibly have managed without her. She knew that Holly had been rather dreading seeing so much of her mother-in-law but it seemed to Iris that they were getting on well.

She walked slowly home, enjoying the sunshine and the view of the purple hills above the loch.

Sandy had e-mailed to ask how Lizzie was and to say that tomorrow, Friday, he was coming to stay with Charlie for the weekend. So that was something to look forward to. Everyone had been so kind their sitting-room was still full of the flowers Lizzie had received, including a beautiful arrangement from Sandy.

She turned the corner. Sandy was getting out of a car.

Seeing him unexpectedly was disconcerting, almost as if she was seeing a stranger. A tall, broad-shouldered man in jeans and a white shirt, stretching his back after a long drive, pushing his hair out of his eyes. But when he turned and saw her, his face breaking into a smile, there was her old friend Sandy, so familiar and reassuring, so real, that she ran forward to greet him.

He knew the facts about Lizzie’s fall, of course, but she longed suddenly to tell him how she had felt when it happened. Lizzie was much better now and would be ready to go back to work next week. The hospital had given her a clean bill of health. But Iris couldn’t get out of her mind the sight of her sister lying so still and so white, and she couldn’t bear to think of Angus seeing her like that, too.

It was frightening to remember that accidents could happen so quickly, how short life could be . . .

But it was funny too, the way things had turned out. It seemed that Jim (she must stop thinking of him as Fluffy Moustache) was keen on Lizzie and as her sister went pink when his name was mentioned it would appear the feeling was mutual.

“I thought you weren’t coming until tomorrow.”

“Managed to get away early and grabbed a flight cancellation,” Sandy said. “Hey, come here. You need a hug. Bad time, eh?”

“Yes,” Iris said, her voice muffled against his chest.

She couldn’t be sure but she thought he dropped a light kiss on the top of her head.

“Lizzie’s fine now,” she said, blinking in the sunlight as he released her. “There she is at the window.”

Sandy returned Lizzie’s wave.

“I hear love is in the air.”

“Who told you that? The Lorn bush telegraph travels far! Yes, Lizzie’s really happy. Jim’s a bit older than her but they seem to have a lot in common. Are you coming in?”

“Thanks, yes, I’d like to see Lizzie. Angus at school, I expect?”

“Yes. He’ll be thrilled you’re here. Prepare yourself for a magic show before you leave.”

“Nothing I’d like better! Well, almost nothing.” He caught her arm as they walked down the path. “We never really got a chance to catch up when I was here in March. Are you free tomorrow night? Shall we hit the bright lights of Oban?”

“I’m not working tomorrow, but what about Charlie?”

“Don’t worry about Uncle Charlie. I’ll make him a nice meal before I go out. Will Lizzie be here to look after Angus?”

“No, she and Jim and Roberta and Donnie are going to a ceilidh in North Lorn. But Angus is staying with one of the little boys from his class tomorrow night his first sleepover. He’s really excited.”

“So that’s a yes, then?”

“That’s a yes.”


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