Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (17) Copper Beech Farm (Part 05)
It was about half an hour after Anthony returned dripping to the house after speaking with the drain man when Charlotte finally came downstairs.
“Anthony” she called
“I’m in the study,” he answered
The door opened and her blonde mopped head appeared around the door, her face all pink and shiny.
“I accidently dunked the bath robe in the bath” Charlotte said with a giggle “so I borrowed one of your shirts, is that ok?”
She stepped in from behind the door wearing one of his denim shirts like a dress, she had the sleeves rolled half way up her spindly arms and the shirt tails almost reached her knees, her legs and arms were also pink from her hot bath.
He found himself thinking that in his shirt she looked even more of a tomboy, but he also reflected that with her damp pixie cut hair she looked quite delicious.
“No problem” he said “It looks better on you than it does on me”
She blushed and then he realised he’d said it out loud
“Your t-shirt and pants are on the airer in the lounge” he told her
“The rest is still in the dryer”
Just at that moment there was a loud bang on the door so she stepped into his study and he went to answer the door.
When he returned to the house he found Charlotte in the kitchen and she was fully dressed.
“All dry?” he asked
“Yes” she replied and smiled
“Good” he replied, “and the drain is all clear”
“Is the water running away ok?” she asked and tried to look out of the window,
“Yes it is” he replied “but remember what I said “no more work today””
“Oh ok” she said and slipped on her coat and then as she went towards the door she kissed him on the cheek and her gangly arms wrapped serpent like around his neck.
Almost as quickly she relinquished her hold and went out through the door to the yard.
“Remember no more work” he shouted after her “I’ll be watching”
The morning after couldn’t have been more different the sky was clear blue and the yard was bathed in bright September sunshine and Anthony was reluctant to lock himself in his study and put his nose to the grindstone and spent most of the morning prevaricating.
By eleven o’clock he was sitting on the bench in the yard chatting to Lynda Radcliffe, who was running her riding school out of the yard.
She was a rotund redhead who he had known for years, they even dated briefly when they were at school.
And it was their childhood that was the subject of their discourse when Charlotte appeared from the stable block looking more lethargic and leggy than was the norm.
She was walking towards them or at least towards the farmhouse with some paperwork for the office but when she got closer Anthony noticed a pallor to her countenance.
“Are you alright?” he asked with concern
“I’m fine” she replied unconvincingly
“You don’t look it?” Lynda added
“I’m fi…” she began and fainted into Anthony’s arms