They both looked transfixed for a moment staring upwards. The coastguard helicopter was travelling quite low overhead. It was an impressive sight, Timonthy acknowledged, but Gerard’s enthusiasm in particular seemed a bit overdone, almost childlike.
Timonthy carried on dressing. He was disappointed. He liked the look of Gerard but he would find it hard to really appreciate a man without full mental capacity. Not that it mattered he told himself sternly. They would almost certainly never meet again and even if they did, why would the younger man give him a second look, apart from the fact that he thought he had, just briefly before Lizzie and Paris turned up on the scene. But he was allowed to dream he argued. It did no-one any harm.
He made his way back downstairs to find Paris drinking tea in the kitchen.
“Did you sleep well?” he asked.
“I did,” she said smiling. “Why didn’t you wake me? You must be so tired.”
“Well Lizzie came and convinced me that I’d hear everything lying on our bed, so I got some sleep in the end.”
“I wouldn’t have slept at all if I knew that,” Paris shook her head. “But it turned out alright in the end, didn’t it? They don’t seem violent at any rate.”
“No, not violent,” Timonthy agreed. “They’re very odd though.”
“Perhaps it will all make more sense when this woman comes back from wherever she is,” Paris said. “I suspect from the way they fobbed explanations onto her, that she’s the brains of this group.”
“Peter’s wife?” Timonthy was thoughtful. “That was unexpected. What has Stolid got into?”
Lizzie turned up at that moment looking perfectly made-up and well dressed: almost too elegant, Timonthy thought for this town. Alright for a city, probably alright for France where he had heard that they believed in dressing smartly but in this town standards were more relaxed. Still he had to admit that she looked beautiful. Looking good was important to her and inclined to improve her nature which was all to the good.
“It’s almost half eight. Shall we go and see if the Haven is open?” he asked.
They all agreed and they made their way down their hill to where Timonthy’s car was parked. The Haven was just at the bottom of the main hill as it met the sea, sitting on the beach in the same way that restaurants in warmer holiday destinations did. At this time of year most of the customers were inside looking out at the view of the sea from behind glass. It opened just as they arrived and they ordered: sat and waited for their food, clutching coffee in their hands.
“When did you get here?” Paris asked her mother with a smile.
“I think it was about half past one. Straight to bed for me in spite of the mystery that surrounds us. So are you two going to explain how you got into this situation?”
“I asked Timonthy to help me find Uncle Stolid,” Paris explained simply. “I was worried about him.”
“Have you really heard nothing from him since he went away?” Lizzie sounded curious.
“And did you used to hear from him regularly?” Lizzie asked again.
“Well he used to answer my e-mails,” Paris said with a frown. “He wasn’t exactly a fount of information but I used to know whether he was alive or not.”
“I’ve sort of lost touch since the funeral,” Lizzie sounded a little guilty. “How about you, Timonthy? Were you in touch regularly?”
“I tried very hard,” Timonthy mused. “I didn’t want Stolid going off and doing something stupid. I thought it was quite likely given what had already happened and his state of mind. But he was always pushing me away. I struggled to get information but like Paris I could usually tell if he was alive or not. Now I really have nothing to go on apart from the evidence of these men who said that they saw him yesterday.”
“If they’re not lying and he is alive, do we need to do anything else?” Lizzie asked. Timonthy could see that she was not trying to interfere, just to understand their motives but he answered quickly before Paris jumped to attack her.
“We want to see him. We want him to tell us that he is alright and then we can ask him to make sure he keeps in touch for our peace of mind.”
“I see,” Lizzie said. She didn’t sound completely convinced but she let the subject drop. Their breakfasts arrived then: they concentrated on eating for a few minutes and talked of ordinary things.
It had been a long time since they had all been together and there was a lot of catching up to do. Timonthy looked at his watch, it was nearly ten.
“I suppose we’d better get back,” he suggested.
“I was wondering whether Paris would like to go shopping with me,” Lizzie suggested. “It sounds like it might be a boring day waiting around the house for this woman to turn up. You could drop us off in town and we’ll walk back. If you call us to say things are happening we’ll get a taxi right back.”
Timonthy looked at Paris who shrugged her shoulders.