The Unexpected Husband(8)

By: Lindsay Armstrong

She said, ‘Dad, you’ve not only enriched our lives but your wisdom never ceases to amaze me—when you’re not driving me mad with your forgetfulness, your inability to find your glasses, even when they’re on top of your head, and the way you persistently wear odd socks—when you remember to wear them at all.’

‘Well, that brings me to you, Lydia, my younger and most practical daughter,’ James said humorously. ‘We’re going to miss you, my dear. Who else will we have to fix fuses and start our cars when they break down? You know how hopeless I am at that kind of thing.’

‘I do.’ Lydia grinned. ‘Heaven alone knows where that expertise came down to me from, but ii you just look in the Yellow Pages you’ll find there are electricians, mechanics, plumbers and so on galore—on second thoughts, I’d better write you out a list.’

‘Now that makes us feel really small,’ James Kelso admonished, ‘but I’d be much easier if you did! And I know I speak for the rest of us when I say we’re all happy to think of you enjoying a new challenge, a new experience—may it be a wonderful one!’ He raised his glass again.

‘Hear, hear!’ Chattie and Daisy echoed.

‘So let’s think up a suitable limerick,’ James went on.

It was a game they’d played ever since Lydia could remember...

‘Lydia Kelso is going to Queensland,’ Daisy started.

‘To... look after cows... with a magic hand,’ Chattie supplied.

‘Not for too long,’ James said.

‘You won’t know I’m gone!’ Lydia laughed.

There was silence until Daisy said frustratedly, ‘The last line is always the hardest! What rhymes with Queensland? We’ve got hand...’

‘Wedding band?’ Chattie suggested.

‘Oh, no!’ Lydia protested. ‘There’s not the least likelihood of that happening, and anyway, I didn’t like to interrupt the creative flow, but I’m actually going to the Northern Territory.’

Everyone groaned. ‘Oh, well,’ James murmured, ‘that’s right next door, so we won’t start again—and you never know! So... And she’ll come home complete with a wedding band.’

‘Very amateurish,’ Lydia said. ‘But thank you all for your good wishes!’ And she looked round the dining room, with its heavy old oak table, dark green walls, examples of her aunt’s sculpting and some lovely gold- framed paintings on the wall. ‘I’ll miss you,’ she added. ‘Just promise me you’ll all be good!’

It struck her as she got ready for bed that she could go away with a much easier mind, now. A quiet word with Chattie had revealed that she was aware of Daisy’s dilemma and would keep a weather eye out for her.

‘We won’t tell your father,’ she’d said. ‘He’s liable to go and want to have things out with this Joe Jordan.’

Lydia had confessed that she’d already done that, but that Daisy was unaware of her actions.

‘What’s he like?’ Chattie had asked curiously.

‘Interesting, but not serious about her—nor, I suspect, did he stand much chance. She made the running, so to speak’

‘So she is sleeping with him?’

‘She hasn’t actually admitted to that, but she looks, well, you know...’ -

‘I do. But he could have knocked her back. How like a man!’

They’d looked at each other, then grinned simultaneously.

‘Daisy, in full flight, is a sight to behold,’ Chattie had acknowledged. ‘Perhaps I was being a bit hard on him. What about you?’

Lydia had blinked. ‘What about me?’

‘When are you going to lay Brad to rest and start living again?’

‘Not you too!’

‘Your father been giving you a hard time?’

Lydia had shaken her head. ‘Daisy. But I am living, and enjoying myself and really looking forward to this job!’

‘All right.’ Chattie had looked as if she’d been about to say more, but had desisted and hugged her niece in stead. ‘Leave them to me; I’ll look after them!’ -

Lydia took off her pinstriped trouser suit, donned a velvet housecoat and sat down at her dressing table to brush her hair, after removing a few very dark strands from the brush.