“Mom, are you in?” His stentorian bellow echoed through the house. “No,” fluted back, “I’m out!”
His mother appeared in the corridor. “What is it, Laurie?”
“You have a visitor.” He waved an expansive hand toward the open door.
His mother clucked impatiently as she approached. “Well, why don’t you just…” Breaking off as she saw the figure in the doorway, she flung herself forward, shrieking, “Meg!”
They met with the force of two express trains meeting. Laurie looked on with a satisfied smirk.
Amidst laughter, tears and half-asked questions, they sorted themselves out of the doorway and into the house. Laurie closed the door and shooed them towards the kitchen. “It’s warmer there, and I’ll put the kettle on. Nothing like a good cup of tea when you’ve had a shock.”
The oven buzzer sounded while the welcome proceeded, but only Laurie noticed. He removed the trays of scones from the oven and replaced them with an unbaked tray of biscuits standing on the counter. Then he turned his attention to making and pouring the tea. Placing steaming cups between the sisters he said, “I’ll just tidy my room and move my things to the kennel, then I’ll be back.”
His mother nodded absently, not removing her gaze from her guest. For a short period they just looked at each other. Then, “Where did you spring from, Meg?”
“New South Wales. The Central West Slopes and Plains, to be exact.”
“Answer all my serving men.” Rhoda demanded.
“Gary and I arrived in Durban mid-afternoon yesterday. He has come for agricultural research. I am here to hold his hand. His fare was paid by the farming consortium, we blew all our savings to pay mine.” Meg’s eyes filled with tears. “I was so hungry for the mountains, and I needed so much to spend some time with you. I didn’t say anything, but Gary knew. So when this trip come up he insisted that I came along too. Today some of them have gone through to Midmar, but by the end of the week they will be in the Transvaal, and I think they will be there for about a week. After that, it depends on circumstances. They are to visit the Eastern Cape and the Karroo, but dates are not yet finalized.”
“Can you stay?” At Meg’s affirmative nod, Rhoda turned. “I must have a word with Laurie…”
As she spoke, Laurie came into the kitchen. Pouring himself a cup of tea, he said, “What word, Mother dear, do you desire to have with me?” He did not wait for her reply but continued, “I have vacuumed and tidied my bedroom and moved across to the kennel. I have put some bedding in the sun to air and warm-just as well the weather today is fine! While you ladies catch up on the gossip, and hopefully design some lunch, I will complete the refurbishment of the bedroom.” He turned with a grandiloquent gesture to his aunt. “You, my dearest Aunt Meg, are IN, and I, your abject but faithful servant, am OUT!”
Cup in hand, he bowed himself out of the kitchen. Meg turned back to her sister. “What on earth was Laurie on about?”
“He has vacated his bedroom to make way for you and Gary to stay.”
“But what did he mean-he has moved across to the kennel?”
“Oh, the kennel!” Her sister waved a dismissive hand. “That is a sort of storeroom, not really big enough for a bedroom, but it will take a truckle bed, and there is some shelving. Not much room, but Laurie uses it when we have visitors. He is very accommodating, which is more than can be said for the house. Not spacious, but we manage.”
The oven buzzer sounded and they both jumped. “Gracious! The scones!” But the scones were out already, and she removed the tray of biscuits Laurie had put in. “What a blessing Laurie is on leave this week. Now I suppose it is time to tidy the kitchen and think about lunch. You’ll find some biscuit tins in there, Meg, and I’ll get this washing up out of the way.”
While they filled the kitchen with bustle and chatter Laurie entered unnoticed to place his cup in the sink, going back to finish making up the beds for the guests. He thanked God for the happiness, love and laughter in the home, and this opportunity to share his mother’s joy.
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