Book 5 Further Tastes
“Perhaps I was impatient. I had waited twenty six years already. I suppose that’s enough to make a man impatient.”
“Surely you just didn’t sit and wait all those years? Surely you would have gone and found someone else to make you happy?”
“No, I wasn’t unhappy all that time. For years I was enjoying myself watching you growing up. It’s only been since your mother decided she no longer needed me and then I realised that you no longer needed me that I noticed I was lonely.”
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“What for, growing up?” he said amused. “I can’t blame you for that. I wouldn’t want to see you stay as a child all your life.”
“No I meant I’m sorry if looking after me meant you had no time to find someone to love you. You are a lovely person. You deserve to be loved by someone special, as well as by me.”
“They weren’t wasted years, you know,” Timonthy said thoughtfully. “I think I was happier then than I’d been before. Just to have a purpose and someone else to live your life for: these are precious things.”
“We were happy, weren’t we, just the five of us? My memories were always of being cared for and people laughing. It seems a shame that it had to come to an end. But with Mother deciding to go and live in France and Uncle Johnathon dying there’s just three of us left; and Uncle Stolid being missing makes it worse.
“We’ll try and find him,” Timonthy agreed in reply to her pleading expression. He had never been able to deny her anything her childish desires requested: another source of disagreement between Lizzie and him. Still he thought that the child had grown up to be sensible and with few signs of being spoilt so perhaps he had done something right. He was getting bored anyway. He had been thinking of taking a holiday but it looked as though this investigation would distract him as well, and he could always go away at the end if his search for entertainment hadn’t been fully met.
“We’ll go down to his house tomorrow,” he said, “and see if we can find anything to help. There may be a letter, an offer of employment with an address, or something like that. On the way we’ll stop off at the garden he used to work in and you can ask Miss Gregg that question.”
The next morning was a bright spring day. He felt light-hearted and optimistic as they got into the car and trundled along the ambling country roads which separated his house from Stolid and Johnathon’s home for so many years. Paris had been right, he thought as they drove along. They had been happy, although perhaps he had not appreciated it until she pointed it out to him.
They arrived at the garden after an hour of travelling. After asking at the main gate they made their way to the walled garden where they were told Miss Gregg would be. It was early in the season and inside the walls the garden was just beginning to bloom. There were wallflowers and blossom, bulbs and primroses but on the whole the borders were uninspiring.
They made their way to the small hut and saw a smiling woman looking in their direction, obviously expecting their arrival. There was something about her that suggested life and energy. Paris looked fragile and weak, almost a little ill, in comparison, although he had never thought this of her before.
“Hello,” she greeted them and shook their hands. “Hello. I believe you’re Stolid’s family. How is he doing in Scotland?”
“Well that is what we want to see you about,” Paris said, taking the lead for a change. “We don’t know how he’s getting on and we want to contact him, but we’ve no contact details. It’s like he’s vanished off the face of the planet. We were wondering if you’d heard anything from him, or whether you had any information about where he went to.”
Miss Gregg looked quite shocked.
“No. I know he got the train. He texted me as he stood on the platform and again as he arrived at his station in Scotland. I haven’t heard anything from him since. I was just assuming he’d forgotten me and was enjoying himself in the new place, or perhaps he couldn’t get a signal up there.”
“So you haven’t had an invitation to see his new garden?” Paris asked as she had promised.
“No, I haven’t heard a sausage,” Miss Gregg said.
“Do you have any information about the man who offered him the job?” Timonthy asked.
“Oh, he was lovely,” she replied with the hint of a smile. “I can’t believe he was involved in anything criminal or dangerous. His name was Peter Macdonald. You see it was his garden that Stolid was going to work in. I’ve got his letter and his references somewhere. I’ll go and get them to see if there is anything useful in them.”
They watched her hurry away and turned to each other with amusement.
“Can you imagine Uncle Stolid working for someone so energetic?” Paris said chuckling.
“No, I can imagine him running off to work for the charming Peter Macdonald though,” Timonthy replied with a sneer he tried to repress.