Out For A Walk

A friendly spaniel plays his part in Cilla Moss’s de­light­ful com­plete story.

The People's Friend Special - - CONTENTS -

An up­beat story by Cilla Moss

IT was a cold, windy Satur­day, and just what Mar­got didn’t need was the per­sis­tent bloke from Flat 2b ar­riv­ing on her doorstep to ask for a favour. She al­ready had plans for the day. They in­volved a du­vet, lots of cho­co­late and a “Down­ton Abbey” marathon on DVD.

But then her door­bell had rung and there was Sam, red-eyed and raw-nosed – not at all the usual bright, smil­ing guy she was used to see­ing head­ing off for a bike ride or a game of football.

He was plead­ing for her to take Jeeves for a walk.

“I just can’t make it out of the house to­day,” he ex­plained un­nec­es­sar­ily, paus­ing to cough and blow his nose. “And the poor lit­tle guy’s climb­ing the walls.”

Jeeves the spaniel sat se­dately at Sam’s feet, star­ing up at Mar­got, the tip of his tail thump­ing. He didn’t look like he was climb­ing the walls, Mar­got de­cided. He looked like he might quite en­joy join­ing her un­der her du­vet for her “Down­ton Abbey” marathon.

How­ever, much as she would have been con­tent to live like a her­mit and pre­tend no-one else ex­isted in the world, Mar­got had to ac­knowl­edge that Sam’s friend­li­ness was the only kind­ness that had been of­fered her since she’d moved to the area three months ago.

She didn’t have the heart to turn him down when he seemed so poorly so she found her­self agree­ing to take Jeeves.

“Thank you so much,” he said, watch­ing her as she re­luc­tantly pulled on her jacket and boots. “Just fol­low Jeeves, he knows the way. You’ll be back in no time!” He handed her a wad of plas­tic bags. “Lovely,” Mar­got said sar­cas­ti­cally.

****

An hour later she was back and knock­ing at Sam’s door. As soon as it opened, Jeeves slipped in­side and made for the rug, ly­ing flat as if he were com­pletely ex­hausted.

Sam watched him benev­o­lently, then he turned to her.

“How was the walk?” he asked. “Ev­ery­thing go OK?” “Fan­tas­tic,” she said, nod­ding. “Fancy a cup of tea?” “That would be nice.” It was the first time she’d taken Sam up on one of his in­vi­ta­tions and her re­sponse ob­vi­ously caught him off guard, but he cov­ered it well and opened the door wider.

“Great. Come on in.”

“How are you feel­ing?” she asked, clos­ing the door be­hind her.

“A lit­tle bet­ter now that I’ve had a nap, thanks.”

“I bought you some­thing,” she said, fol­low­ing him to the kitchen where he put the ket­tle on. She shrugged off her damp coat, then reached into the pocket for a packet of men­tho­lated sweets.

“Thanks,” he said as she put them on the ta­ble.

“I rather feel it was Jeeves’s idea,” Mar­got said. “He took me right to the chemist’s!” Sam laughed. “You’ll be think­ing I trained him to do that. But, no, it’s just on our most usual route.”

“Yes, I got that im­pres­sion. The phar­ma­cist – Mr Pole?” “Mr Pole, yes.” “He sends his best re­gards and says he hopes you feel bet­ter soon.” “That was nice of him.” “Yes, he seemed a nice man. When he recog­nised Jeeves he in­tro­duced him­self and wanted to know all about me. And then Sally, in the gro­cer’s, sent you these.”

She pulled two or­anges from her other coat pocket.

“She says you need to boost your vi­ta­min C.” He laughed. “That sounds like her. She’s lovely, Sally. She plays in a band, you know. They’re go­ing to be do­ing a gig at the pub down the road to­mor­row.”

“I know. She was telling me about it. She in­vited me along.” “Great! Are you go­ing to come?” Mar­got hes­i­tated, rub­bing her thumb over one of the or­anges. This was the first time she’d been tempted to take up a so­cial in­vi­ta­tion since her boyfriend Mike – whom she’d moved here to be closer to three months ago – had jilted her, leav­ing her alone and friend­less in a strange place. Sally had seemed so en­ter­tain­ing. “We could go to­gether,” Sam com­mented, and Mar­got looked at him askance.

He glanced up from pour­ing the tea and met her gaze with be­muse­ment. “What?” he asked in­no­cently. “Then Jeeves took me around the back of the lane,” she went on, avoid­ing his ques­tion. “I didn’t re­alise there was a park there, or a stream. It was beau­ti­ful.”

“It’s bet­ter in sunny weather,” Sam said, putting a plate of cho­co­late chip cook­ies in front of her. “We have bar­be­cues there in the sum­mer.”

He was loung­ing ca­su­ally in the door­way, and she mir­rored him, lean­ing against the work­top. The kitchen was small, push­ing them to­gether, but she had rarely felt more com­fort­able.

MAR­GOT thought back to what he’d said about the bar­be­cues. “Re­ally? I bet that is nice. Oh, then we met a guy on his bike out­side the newsagent’s. He didn’t tell me his name, but Jeeves went crazy over him. I think at first he thought I might have dog-napped Jeeves, so I had to ex­plain who I was.” “That would have been Brian.” “He told me to tell you the rounders team is get­ting to­gether again soon and he’ll be in touch. I used to play rounders,” she mused. “Years ago, though.”

Sam was stir­ring a spoon­ful of honey into his tea but he glanced up at this.

“You’re welcome to join us. We need all the help we can get!”

She leaned back in her chair and folded her arms over her chest, ap­prais­ing him.

“What?” he de­manded again. “You keep look­ing at me like we’re in a poker game!”

She shook her head and took a sip of her tea. It was Earl Grey. Nice, she thought.

“It’s noth­ing. Any­way, that’s why we were so long. We kept bump­ing into peo­ple who all seemed to be Jeeves’s ador­ing fans.”

Mar­got didn’t add that they all had seemed to be ador­ing fans of Sam, too. Each man or woman she’d met had been very keen to stop and chat. And each had made sure to add a word or two on what a lovely guy Sam was.

“Sounds like you had a good time,” Sam said war­ily. “I did,” she ad­mit­ted. It was the truth. Get­ting out had been

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