The Wooden Heart – Episode 19

“Don’t put that down in here!” Ash said urgently.

Stephen blinked at her, oblivious to place and people.

“This is real history,” he said. “One of the earliest Comet swirl chambers – the device Harry Ricardo invented to turn diesel oil into a fine spray for combustion in smaller units like tractors. A major breakthrough in diesel development.”

“Take it to the woodshed,” Ash ordered, pointing to the door.

“It’s been damaged, somehow. It was in a classic Fordson at Wotherspoon’s farm,” he continued, still in his own world. “Fred wants me to trace a replacement unit on the internet, or make another in a metal-working shop.

“Oh, sorry. We have company,” he said, finally noticing Calum.

“We have.” Ash laughed. “Calum from the Hawick dyeworks. And talk English, please, because I’ve been listening to another obsessive –”

“On tractors?” Her father’s face brightened.

“Woodwork.” She sighed. “About the furniture in here . . .”

“Oh,” Stephen said. “I’d offer to shake your hand, but . . .” He held up a dirty hand.

“It’s OK,” Calum replied with a grin. “Nice to meet you, Mr Melville.”

“Stephen. Being called Mr makes me feel old.”

“He’s come to see Grandad’s workshed,” Ash said.

Stephen smiled.

“No problem,” he said. “I don’t know what half the tools are for. I’m an engineer, not a joiner.”

“Cabinetmaker,” Calum corrected.

“Yes, I suppose he was,” Stephen admitted. “Come on. Bring your tea with you. Are you coming, too, Ash?”

“No,” his daughter said quickly. “I’ll make you a mug of tea for when you come back, so don’t keep Calum out there for ever, talking tools and engines.”

However, the mug of tea was growing cold before Ash was driven to go out to the workshed and rescue Calum. By then, they had the bonnet panels folded back, and their two heads were deep inside the Austin 7’s engine.

Words like “cylinder heads” and “piston rings” were being bandied back and forth.

Boys and toys, she thought resignedly.

“Haven’t we to be in Jedburgh by five to pick up some second-hand tools?” she asked Calum’s back.

The two men looked round guiltily.

“A few minutes late won’t matter,” Calum said.

“In the real world it’s half past five,” she accused. “And we’re still twenty minutes from Jedburgh.”

“Right,” he said. “Coming.”

In Calum’s small car, heading fast to Jedburgh, Ash turned round.

“What did he say about giving you some wood?” she asked.

He shot her a shamefaced glance.

“I forgot to ask,” he replied.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.