|“It’s cold on the beach,” John held out his plate as David inelegantly dumped potatoes on it. |
“Did you go out with the kids?” Rix asked, distractedly. He was reading papers from the forthcoming annual general meeting for the San. David had a similar pile, but was more concerned with finishing the newspaper crossword. John smiled at how different his brother and cousin were.
“Yes. Not for long. They wanted to go to the cave. Alex was very insistent.”
“Over my dead body.” Rix looked up at this and pushed the papers away. “That cave is cursed.”
“I don’t fancy it myself.” John said, suppressing a shudder, thinking of both the temperature outside and the thought of water rushing in suddenly. He watched Rix start to eat his meal, wondering if he could broach the idea of moving out. David’s words, though they had caused trouble, had set him to thinking about his future. He doubted if it would be with Daniel. It seemed wrong to leave the Quadrant when he had just started to be helpful after his long period of convalescence. That morning he had helped with the milking and mended some fencing himself, leaving Rix to do the paperwork, looked after the triplets in the afternoon and spent the early evening doing the rounds of the farm while David and Rix talked San business. He was tired, but not overly so. Also with the elder Bettanys and Mary-Lou returning from Australia in two weeks, he could think about moving out after that. Would Rix tell his parents that he was homosexual? He finished and pushed the plate away. David looked up.
“There’s a pud - apple crumble - it’s on the oven.” he said, hopefully.
John grinned and stood up. Some evenings they served themselves, very different from the formal dinners of their adolescence. Cook and Loveday often went out nowadays. Of course, it would change when their parents returned. He idly wondered if his sister-in-law was happy to leave her life in Armiford for the Quadrant, which was isolated. On evenings like this, with the wind howling, it felt like the last place left in the world.
It was draughty in the corridor and he thought he heard a faint yelp, like one of the triplets crying out. For a moment, he debated whether to go upstairs and check, but changed his mind when he heard David following with the rest of the used crockery. Later, he wished he had.
“Are you sure we can go? Uncle John said you couldn’t go.” Thomas was worried. He sat on the bed, anxiously pulling at the sleeve of his knitted jumper. Despite the fact that it was nearly ten, the triplets were fully-dressed under their bedclothes.
“Yes. He said I couldn’t go by myself, you moke. I won’t be by myself. You an’ James will be there.”
“But Daddy’s got to do the farm rounds…”
“He did. We heard him come in. He said to Cousin Davy that he didn’t need to go out until six. We’ll be back ages before six. We’re only going to the cave anyway.”
“Tom’s right.” James said, suddenly getting up and starting to undress. “We shouldn’t go at night. We’ll go tomorrow with Uncle John.”
“But he said not till summer…” Alex knew how stubborn his elder brother could be. He immediately grabbed Tom’s arm.
“Ow!” Tom screeched.
“Shut up!” Alex retorted. “They’ll come up!”
“They won’t. They’re too busy.” Tom said, rubbing his maltreated arm.
“Come with me.” Alex said, urgently. “We can go down the cliff and then it’s hardly any time to the cave. We won’t go in far, and we’ll take string with us like in that book.”