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