(In which Jack gets an important message from home’)
William rang me and asked if I wanted to join him for a whisky tomorrow night and I said I thought that he had a good chance if he twisted my arm a little. I worried a little about his motive. William was not a devious sort of person but I thought it was a little strange. As it turned out I didn’t need to have been at all concerned.
“Annie and I just wanted to thank you for everything that you’ve done this year,” he said. “I don’t know if either of us knew just how serious Annie’s problem with forgiveness was until you opened up the subject. I know you were unaware when you got to know Annie but it must have caused you quite a lot of concern.”
I didn’t get a chance to respond before Annie had her say.
“Yes Jack. I don’t think I knew just how bad I was myself. My psychologist had been working on me very quietly and, in fact, I don’t think I had got anywhere. I know you had no idea what you were dealing with but you made me see myself a lot more clearly. Tell me if I’m wrong but I think your wife Katie had the most amazing effect on me. Quite often when we talked you would stop for a while as if you were listening to someone else and then you’d say something that really hit the spot.”
“I don’t know, Annie. That sounds awfully weird and spooky. But I did often stop and ask myself what I thought Katie would say. Maybe you’re right. I was very lucky to have a girl like Katie at my side for so long.”
We talked on and on for well into the night. As I was leaving Annie mentioned that she was going away for a few days, to London.
“I’ve got another appointment with my gynaecologist. I hope I can finish with him soon. It’s a bit inconvenient these days, organising visits. I wish he was here in Jersey.”
I said goodnight and walked in the heavy darkness, past the Green Lizard Log and back to Molly’s place. The children were well and truly asleep and so was Molly. Dylan was in his room working and I went off to bed, tired and peaceful. It had been a good night.
William rang the next morning. Would I be able to take them to the airport tomorrow? He was going with Annie to see the gynaecologist and they would be away for four days. The doctor wanted to run a series of tests that meant she had to stay in bed in a small private hospital. I was happy to do this; it gave me a sense of being useful.
When I got back to the house from the Airport there was a message on the table asking me to ring Margany Station. It didn’t say anything about relative importance and I was rather puzzled. I looked at my watch. It was just before two o’clock, which would make it eleven at night over there. I don’t like to ring anyone that late but maybe there was something important. I couldn’t imagine what. So I dialled the number.
Lois the new owner’s wife answered the phone. There was about a minute of polite greetings.
“Jack,” she said. “We’re in a bit of trouble and we don’t know what to do. Clarrie said you might be able to suggest something.”
“What sort of trouble?”
“We bought a big Santa Gertrudis bull from some place the other side of Charleville. Clarrie said you’d now who I mean.”
“Lois,” I said. “Stop beating around the bush. What’s the matter with Clarrie? Where is he?”
Lois let out a long sigh and there was a lump in her voice when next she spoke.
“When they were unloading the bull one of their stockmen who brought the bull over fumbled with a latch on one of the stockyard gates. The bull backed up hard and Clarrie got caught between the side of the yard and the gate. He broke four ribs and his right arm. He’s in hospital in Toowoomba. They had to fly him there.”
“Oh Lois I am so sorry. Just what can I do to help?”
“Clarrie wanted me to ask you if you know anybody from around here who would be able to come in and manage the place until he’s able to do it himself? They say it could be more than six months before he’ll be able to handle things.”
“I’ll ring you back tomorrow morning. That’s tomorrow your time. About seven. Will that be okay?”
“Thanks Jack. Clarrie said you’d probably know someone.”
I put the phone down. I didn’t need to think about it. The only problem was that the only fellow I knew who could do what Clarrie needed was stuck on the other side of the world on a little island in the English Channel. I’ll ring her back at 10 o’clock. I looked at my watch again. It was 2.30. I don’t know who is going to be home first. Molly or Dylan. I hope it’s Molly. She won’t like it but she’ll understand. They’ll need to do something about the girls and school. I rang the woman at the travel agents. If I was going to have to isolate in Brisbane for fourteen days I needed to go straight away. The next possible plane.
I went into my room and started packing. Then I just sat at the kitchen table and waited for Molly or Dylan to come home. I didn’t like it, but there wasn’t anything I could do. It was getting close to time to pick up the girls and Hanna came in with Benny. I went and got the girls, came back and fussed around with them for a bit and went back to waiting.
Molly came in and slumped into her chair and the little ones climbed all over her as usual. She turned her head to look at me and ask how my day had been and as she did her eyes caught the sight of my bags, packed and next to the front door. Then her eyes flashed back and forth between me and the bags.
“Hanna,” she called, “Can you stay here for a little while. Jack and I need to go out the back for a bit of a chat.”
Hanna had been tidying up the girls’ school bags and nodded her head in assent. Molly and I went out to the back yard and sat around a table with our cups of tea. She just looked at me with sad doleful eyes, raised her eyebrows and waited for me to start.
…..to be continued.