(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Copyright© 2013 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
“Thank you, Lady Cameron, I hope all of us here can agree with your desire for everyone to live in peace and harmony irrespective of differences of any sort, and may God grant us his peace, and especially to the soul of Alice which was troubled in this life, may she find peace and happiness in everlasting life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
With that summation, the remembrance service ended and people left, one or two coming up to speak with me and others to speak to the Rev Smallpiece. I asked Paul to check that Alice’s dad was okay and he discreetly slipped away to find out.
“Thank you for your help, Lady Cameron, I think your input helped the direction of the service very well.” I shook hands with the reverend gentleman who went off to attend to the crowd of people who wished to talk with him. Danni came and stood beside me, putting her arm round my waist and I draped mine around her shoulder.
“We’ll go home in a minute.”
“I don’t mind, what you said was right, Mummy, we need to live together whether we’re ordinary or special.”
“Yes we do.” I noticed the crowd had thinned and there were now just a few people around Rev Smallpiece and at the back of the church Alice’s dad was still sitting there as Paul and one or two others stood talking to him. I walked up towards him. Alice’s mum had gone to speak with the vicar.
“Good morning, how d’you feel?”
“D’ye really care?”
“I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t, would I?”
“I dinna ken.”
“I’m sorry you lost your child.”
“I can’t say I know how you feel, but I was devastated when I lost my daughter.”
“If there’s anything I can do to help...”
“Aye, gang back tae England waur ye belong and leave us simple folk alone frae yer ideas of sinfulness.”
“Man, that’s no way to speak to the Laird’s wife,” reprimanded Paul.
“I’ll speak as I wish.”
“I’m Scottish too,” I said to the distraught man.
“Aye, by marriage.”
“By birth. I was born in Dumfries.”
“Aye, sure ye were.”
“Dinna be sae rude,” chided Paul.
“I’ve lost ma son thanks tae her interference. He hanged himself in a dress—hoo’s that f’ shame on oor family. Until ye can answer me why, I’ll thank ye tae keep yer nose oot ’o ma affairs.”
“I think I know why it happened.”
“Oh Mrs clever I’ve been tae university, knows everythin’.”
“Watch your tongue, man,” Paul cautioned.
“She was completely screwed up by her upbringing and her needs to do something she knew you wouldn’t approve.”
“Aye, her unnatural urges.”
“They might seem unnatural to you, Mr MacDuff, but they weren’t to Alice.”
“His name wis Alistair.”
“His or her name is irrelevant, what is relevant is how your stupidity and small mindedness drove a child to take their own life. If there was one iota of love in you or your pathetic superstitions you’d be able to see that, but you seem unable. Until you can, you won’t ever be able to know what love is and so you’ll be consumed by your bitterness which will destroy you, you stupid man. What right have you to tell someone what to think or to feel—your arrogance is matched only by your ignorance. Good day to you Mr MacDuff, I hope you enjoy the hell you’ve made for yourself, just don’t go trying to blame it upon anyone else, because it’s all yours.”
Before he could reply to my broadside, I turned abruptly and collected my coat and pulled it on. Having vented my spleen, I felt cold. Danni came up to me. “You were right, Mummy, his bitterness will kill him, won’t it?”
“Is there no way you can stop it?”
“Why should I? It’s what he wants, then on his death bed he can curse everyone but himself. He’ll die miserable but that’s all he knows.”
“How can he do that, Mummy, that’s just stupid.”
“He’s locked into a mindset.”
“Can’t you unlock it?”
“No, sweetheart, only he can do that. What’s ironic is that he believes he’s a Christian, but it’s nothing Jesus would recognise.”
“No, he said, ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me,’ didn’t he, Mummy?”
“He did indeed, a point missed by some people who claim to follow his example. C’mon, let’s get out of here, I’m getting cold.” I put my arm around Danni’s shoulders and we went towards the door, Mr MacDuff walked towards us and I stiffened at his approach. He stopped in front of us and I felt Danni step in front of me, as if to protect me.
“I owe ye an apology, Lady Cameron.”
“Oh yes,” I said feeling myself tensing for whatever was going to happen next.
“Aye, I dinna agree wi’ onythin’ ye said, but I wis discourteous tae a lady. I wisnae brocht up like that, an’ I apologise.”
“In which case I accept your apology, Mr MacDuff.” I whisked Danni away by linking my arm in hers. Paul was driving up with the car as we exited the church and I thanked Danni for her support, then asked, “If he’d threatened me, what would you have done?”
“I dunno, Mummy: part of me wanted to slap him and part thought perhaps I ought to warn him that bigger men have spent time in hospital after trying it on with you.”
“You cheeky monkey.” He laughed as we got back to the car.
“What would you like me to do about MacDuff, Cathy?”
“In what regard?”
“Well he was rather unpleasant to his employer.”
“I don’t employ him, Paul, the estate does.”
“Want me to sack him?”
“What would that achieve except more bad feeling?”
“Might teach him a lesson.”
“I suspect it would do the opposite, it would confirm what he thinks he knows.”
“In what way?”
“He thinks we’re out to get him because we disagreed over his attitude to Alice.”
“I don’t have a problem with that, he hounded the poor kid to death not to mention screwing them up with his fire and brimstone religion.”
“He’s hounding himself to death as well.”
“Is he, can’t say I’d noticed.”
“Yes, Paul, his narrow view of life is so constrictive it’s squeezing the life out of him.”
“You could be right, five or six years ago he was a great deal more jolly than he is now, and I mean before—you know.”
“Her name was Alice, Paul.”
“Yeah, I know but remember I knew her as a boy for a great deal longer.”
“I’m feeling cold, perhaps we could go home.”
“Yes, of course.” He drove us back in ten minutes. The rain had started and the day began to close in on us and I was pleased that Mr Durrant had lit a fire in the sitting room, because I snuggled down before it in a huge winged armchair, one I could bring my legs up in as well, and covered with a travel rug, I nodded off for half an hour or so.
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