The River Runs Deep – Episode 42

The orchard at Pipers Creek was bathed in warm evening sunlight, the trees laden with blossom.

Edith was sitting under the oldest apple tree, her head resting upon William’s shoulder as he opened the letter she’d brought.

It had arrived with the late stagecoach, addressed to Edward Havilland, so Edith assumed it must be a response to the package she’d mailed to Allan Pinkerton’s agency on William’s behalf.

She raised her head a little, glancing at him.

“Is it whatever you were expecting?”

“I was already certain.” He nodded, studying the first page. “But this analysis is confirmation.”

“You do realise,” she remarked wryly, “that I haven’t the slightest notion what you’re talking about!”

“At the waterfront, I noticed something in the supplies’ warehouses. I couldn’t ignore it.

“Edith, how would you feel,” he went on, changing the subject, “if you, Pippa and I go to the play with Bea, Gideon, Shona and Laura?

“Bea’s suggested we go together as a family. What do you think?”

“It’s a splendid idea! We can –”

She broke off as Walter burst from the house and pelted down the path towards the wicket, Laura not far behind him.

“What’s happened?” Walter demanded, meeting Andrew at the gate. “Why aren’t you aboard Missouri Belle?”

“I’ll turn round and go away again, if you like!” Andrew grinned, adding soberly, “Blame that darn boiler aboard the Belle.”

“Has it blown up?” Walter exclaimed. “The fireman told me it’d blow up!”

“No, it hasn’t,” Andrew retorted, glaring at his son as Shona hurried within hearing. “The Belle needs repair, that’s all.

“I got the chance of boarding a boat sailing this way, so here I am.” He put an arm about his wife’s shoulders.

“Am I in time for supper?”

“He’s awfully dashing!” Pippa mused, admiring Alfred Wynne’s picture in “The Clarion”.

The arrival of the theatre company and opening of the first real play to be performed in Deep River was front-page news.

“Alfred always was a handsome man,” Edith remarked.

They were in Charles’s study, and today she’d set to work cleaning his cumbersome desk.

Pippa had purchased special stuff for polishing old furniture, but hadn’t yet got around to using it.

Edith, however, had struck a stumbling block in “Riverboat Sketches”.

The best way of overcoming stumbling blocks was to concentrate one’s mind upon another challenging task – and tackling Charles’s battered old desk was certainly that!

“How will you feel when we go to the play?” Pippa queried suddenly. “I’m curious, because Alfred is one of your old flames. Seeing him will surely stir bittersweet memories?”

“Perhaps.” Edith considered. “But we’ll be watching the character, so I won’t actually be seeing Alfred, will I?”

“You never know.” Pippa chortled, returning to the newspaper. “Fate is a capricious mistress.”

The play’s run at Leasowe Hall was a huge success.

The day after it closed, the townsfolk turned out to bid the company farewell, wishing the players luck on the rest of their tour.

“I wish I could’ve seen the play, Aunt Edith,” Charlie grumbled. “Mama said I was too young, but Papa would’ve let me go!”

“Perhaps you and Barty will go when the next play comes,” Edith replied.

She was taking the brothers into town to exchange their library books, and smiled down at the younger boy.

“What kind of story do you want today, Barty?”

“A story about boats,” he said at once, frowning and adding, “Or about bears.”

“Your mama said when you’ve chosen your books, you can pick some candy.” Edith laughed. “Off you go to Miss Adelaide’s, I’ll wait for you on the green.”

To be continued…

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