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فصل 03

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CHAPTER THREE

The door of the old stone house was open, as it often was. When Angus walked in, he found the place in a state of unrest: the estate manager was talking loudly on the phone, the women who helped with the upkeep were hurrying through the hall and voices could be heard from upstairs.

Angus realised this was possibly not a good time, and was just about to leave when Stuart appeared. He was clearly distracted but smiled when he saw him.

“Angus, what are you doing here? It’s good to see you.”

They hugged and as they stepped back, Angus could see that Stuart looked tired.

“You too, Stuart, but this is a bad time. Is… is it your father?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yes, he’s taken a turn for the worse. James is trying to reach the doctor,” he said pointing at the estate manager, “But no one knows where he is. Will you come with me? I’m going into Tarbert to see if I can find him.”

“Of course.”

Darkness had fallen as they got into the old Land Rover. The trees around the house looked menacing and the wind, which had been growing stronger, whipped the branches around. Stuart looked grim-faced as he manoeuvred the car down the drive.

Angus was the first to break the silence: “Did Stephen also go to find the doctor?”

Stuart shot him a questioning look.

“I saw him drive past as I came up to the house.”

Stuart grimaced: “I don’t know where he’s gone. He and Dad argued and then…” He shook his head, Angus could just make out his silhouette and the contours of his face in the light from the dials on the dashboard.

“I’m not really sure why he’s come home. Or rather, I do have an inkling but… I know he doesn’t mean to annoy Dad but somehow he always rubs him up the wrong way. They’re too much alike. Both of them are pig-headed.” Angus had always seen more similarities between Stuart and his father, but now that Stuart had said it, saw it was true: Stephen McLeod shared many of the same characteristics as his dad. As a young man, Alan McLeod had been strong-willed and the arguments between him and his father were well-known on the island. He had enjoyed a few adventurous years before he came home with his new bride to work on the family estate. With Stephen, history was repeating itself. Except a return - until now - had seemed unlikely and it was his brother who had had to pick up the slack.

He looked at Stuart again and wondered what his feelings were towards his brother. He’d never considered it before, but guessed it must be difficult for him. As if he could read his thoughts Stuart spoke again: “As far as I’m concerned, Stephen can do what he likes. I’m happy for him. But he shouldn’t come and stir things up, it’s not fair of him. Not fair at all.”

After that they drove on in silence, until they reached the outskirts of the village.

“I’ll drop you here if that’s OK. I suspect the good doctor will be in the pub,” said Stuart, with tired acceptance.

“Yes, of course, thanks. I hope you find him. And… and let me know if I can do anything.”

“I will. Thank you.”

Angus watched as the car turned right, and after a moment he turned left towards the warmth of his mother’s kitchen.

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