Lizzie and Timonthy exchanged looks of caution. Gerard’s leg pushed against Timonthy’s. He thought it was a warning until he looked at Gerard’s face and saw it was more of an unseen embrace. Perhaps he was feeling a little tense too and in need of reassurance. Lizzie and Paris were distracted by the new arrival so his hand provided what reassurance it could in the circumstances.
Will appeared in the double doors again with Peter by his side. Timonthy was surprised by the meek look on his face, the quietness of his stance. He already knew what Peter looked like from Miss Gregg’s photograph but he didn’t think he would have recognised him just walking in the street without an introduction. Unlike the other two men he was dressed completely normally, in casual wear, though he gave the impression of someone who usually wore a suit.
Timonthy didn’t know what to expect. He had been told so many things about this man and none of them seemed to fit together to make a whole comprehensible being. There was a pause as if everyone was waiting for someone to talk before Peter stepped forward. He introduced himself and shook hands. Then he nodded to Gerard with a quizzical look as if he was not sure why he was there but not willing to make an issue of it in front of company.
“I didn’t know that Stolid had such good friends,” he said. “I think I’ve been working him too hard. If I’d known I would have told him to invite you over before now to see what he’s been up to.”
“Would you like a coffee?” Paris asked.
“I’d love one, thank you.” His gaze fell on Paris just a fraction of a second longer than Timonthy was happy with.
“So what is the plan?” Timonthy asked unwilling to stay in suspense any longer. “Are you heading straight back to Scotland now or will you take a break here first?”
“If we are not trespassing on you too much I was planning to spend half an hour or so recovering. There were a couple of things that Stolid asked me to order. I was going to do that on his computer quickly before I forgot but I don’t have to if it’s inconvenient. I didn’t drive down myself although I got a very early flight. I picked up the lorry locally so I’m fine to drive. Will said that you wanted to follow us to Scotland, is that right?”
“That’s what we intended,” Timonthy said.
“You wouldn’t rather go up on the train? We could meet you at the station and show you how to get to the place.”
Timonthy pondered this option. He knew it would make the journey simpler but he was reluctant to let any of them out of his sight. He knew Paris would feel the same. What if they just vanished as Stolid had vanished and there was no way of getting hold of them.
“No, we’re happy to drive,” he said. He saw that Peter understood he was not completely trusted but found it amusing.
“So, are you ready to set off in half an hour or so, or would you need more time?” Peter said, turning towards Paris with a warm smile. She handed him the cup of coffee.
“Give us forty minutes,” Timonthy said, looking at the other two for agreement, “and we’ll be ready.”
They sat peacefully for a few minutes then Peter, Will and Gerard went out to start loading the lorry.
“He didn’t seem very charming today,” Paris said. She sounded disappointed. “He looks more worried than anything. I don’t know what he’s got to be worried about.”
“I daresay we’ll find out,” Timonthy said ominously.
“Does he know who we are? Have we explained that?” Lizzie said. “He might think that we are Stolid’s parents.” She sounded hurt and angry at the thought.
“And I could be his little sister,” Paris said. She sounded more delighted with the prospect.
“No, he hasn’t asked many questions,” Timonthy mused. “Neither did Will. They assumed we had a right to be here, although we questioned their right.
“I’m going to pack. I can keep an eye on them from my room and it won’t take long,” Paris said and skipped out of the room.
“I’ll pack too,” Lizzie said. “You might want to go out and check they’re not planning on disappearing. I’ll take over from you when I’ve finished and you can pack.”
Timonthy gave her a wry smile as she left. She seemed greatly recovered considering her condition last night. It was a long time ago since they had had an adventure to keep their minds alert, their adrenalin stirred and she seemed to be appreciating the change.
He made his way to the front door and opened it. In front of the driveway there was a small lorry, large enough not to be confused with a van but no more. The back door was open and Will was loading plants into the empty space.
“So how did you get here?” he heard Peter’s calm voice and Gerard’s answer.
“Stolid arranged it.”
“I don’t supposed he explained why, or what I‘m supposed to do with you now?” Peter asked. His head lifted as he saw Timonthy coming towards him.
Timonthy smiled as if he had heard nothing, “do you need a hand?”
Peter looked at him blankly, not even seeing him. He was thinking deeply about something else, Timonthy decided.
“Come on. I’ll show you what to do,” Gerard stepped in. He grabbed a couple of pots and hurried over to the lorry quickly as if trying to avoid Peter’s next comment. Timonthy followed him equally as quickly, thinking about that conversation. It implied to him some sort of equality, some sort of co-operation. Peter was not completely in charge. Stolid was able to make decisions for himself that Peter felt obliged to support: that sounded promising in terms of Stolid’s well-being.