Under An Island Sun – Episode 15

The main characters from the story

Mairi and Philippe were standing at the shoreline, calling out urgently towards the waves, which were several feet high.

A second later, they were stripping off their outer clothes.

Hilary soon saw why. Two heads were bobbing among the breakers.

She cried out in horror as Mairi and Philippe plunged in.

Antonio pulled off his T-shirt and sprinted to join them, followed by the younger Englishman, whose girlfriend ran over to Hilary.

“He used to work as a lifeguard in Cornwall, so he’s a strong swimmer. He won’t be familiar with these currents, though.”

The next minutes were agonising as Hilary, knowing she wasn’t a strong enough swimmer to help, could only watch with everyone else.

Glimpses of the six people between the waves only added to her fears, especially as she couldn’t see Mairi.

If anything happened to her niece, she would never be able to forgive herself.

After what seemed an age, they all made it back to the shore.

Antonio and Mairi pulled one man between them, Philippe and the lifeguard the other.

Hilary wasn’t surprised to see the two men in question were the ones who had been grumbling earlier.

She could sense everyone’s suppressed anger, but it was Philippe who expressed it, in no uncertain terms.

“What do you think you were doing?” he cried.

“You were told that the water was too dangerous, but you went in anyway.

“Did you think the rules didn’t apply to you?”

One of the men lumbered towards him, but Philippe wasn’t deterred.

“I will answer that question for you. They do. You are not special. You put other lives in danger.”

“We were fine till you decided to play the hero,” one man complained.

“No, you were not. You were being swept out as we approached.

“If we hadn’t acted when we did, you would have been too far out to reach.”

Both men were standing over Philippe now.

Hilary saw him square his shoulders and lift his chin, standing his ground as the second man, towering over him, jabbed his chest with his finger.

“I don’t like your tone of voice. You haven’t heard the last of this. We’ll be putting in a complaint about you.

“And we’ve got witnesses to how you’ve just treated us, haven’t we?”

The man looked round as if for support, but no-one said anything.

Instead, Antonio moved between them and Philippe, followed by Hilary, Mairi, the lifeguard and his girlfriend.

Outnumbered, the two men backed off.

Hilary noticed, with a shock, that she was shaking.

As a teacher, she had dealt with potentially dangerous incidents with teenagers in the past.

This was different, with grown men angry and close to boiling point.

If Antonio and the others hadn’t stepped forward when they did, she dreaded to think what might have happened.

As they walked back to the Land-Rovers, a cloud blocked the sun, plunging the beach and mountains into shade.

The rest of the trip was soured by the incident, certainly for Philippe.

His mood was barely lifted even when several passengers quietly told him that they would have reacted in the same way.

Most seemed to avoid the men.

The young English couple ignored them completely, pointedly keeping their distance and chatting with the two elderly ladies.

The only silver lining was that the men weren’t in Philippe’s Land-Rover.

He felt sorry for Mairi, having to put up with them for the whole day.

Maybe he should have gone along with Nicole’s plan of moving to Paris.

He wondered what she was doing at this moment, and whether she’d be having another expensive dinner with the colleague she had mentioned.

Their texts since he had arrived had been short, and there had never been much opportunity for anything more.

Luckily his Land-Rover was a joy to drive on these tracks, which were demanding enough to require his full attention, and his passengers were happy to take in the views around them.

To be continued…

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