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Chapter 5 Philpots

Sitting at dinner in Philpots that evening, Anna felt wonderful. The fresh air, the sun, the swimming, everything had made her feel so alive. She found it hard to remember the Anna of a few days ago, and she almost couldn't recognise Stephen he looked so relaxed.

'You've got a red nose,' she said.

'It's not red, it's the light in this restaurant. And have you seen yours, by the way?'

'Yes, it looks very healthy,' she replied.

'Why is mine red and yours healthy?' he laughed.

'What are you having?' she asked, changing the subject.

'Need you ask?' said Stephen. 'Lobster à l'Américaine, of course. And you?'

'The same. Do you think it's one of Tristan's?'

'Will we be able to taste the difference?' he joked.

Anna knew that over dinner Stephen would probably find it easy to start talking about the things that were making him unhappy, but she didn't want him to. She wanted a relaxed, uncomplicated meal - an evening without thinking about London, work or Stephen's problems. So she deliberately kept the conversation away from anything serious.

'Hey, look at that! Doesn't it look wonderful,' Anna said when the waiter brought their plates to the table. The warm lobster pieces covered each plate, and a little bowl of extra sauce came with it. She dipped some bread into the sauce, 'This is seriously delicious!'

The lobster was followed by a lime and lemon dessert, and a wonderful selection of cheeses. They finished with strong coffee.

'We're going to be all right here, aren't we?' said Anna as they stood up to go. 'I think this is going to turn out to be our best holiday ever.'

'I hope so,' said Stephen.

Just as they were leaving, Tristan arrived.

'Evening. I thought you might be here,' he said. 'I just wondered if you'd like to come fishing tomorrow morning

Stephen? You obviously get up early and I usually go out about six, six thirty for a couple of hours. You too, Anna, if you'd like.'

'Thanks, Tristan,' said Stephen, 'I'd enjoy that. What about you, Anna?'

'I'd rather have a bit longer in bed tomorrow morning.

I'm still catching up on my sleep. But you go, Stephen.'

'Meet me at the harbour at about six tomorrow then,' said Tristan. 'It's a blue boat called Wave Dancer.'

'Right. See you there, and thanks again. Goodnight.'

'That should be interesting,' said Anna to Stephen as they walked home. 'I shall expect you to find out everything about him - all that business with that man in the pub yesterday, who the woman is who lived in our cottage - everything, please.'

'I'm going fishing, I'm not going to question him about his private life!' Stephen laughed. 'If I catch anything we can have it for tomorrow night's dinner, can't we?'

'Yes, but don't bring home a lobster, please. I don't know whether I could cook one of those. They're alive when you put them in boiling water and they make a terrible noise. I know it's stupid but I'd rather eat lobster at Philpots and not hear them dying.'

'Don't worry,' Stephen said. 'I don't expect Tristan will let me have one. I should think he needs to sell the expensive stuff to make some money'.



* * *

At six the next morning, Tristan was waiting on his boat, Wave Dancer. He was dressed in the shorts he seemed to live in during the hot weather. He was wondering why he'd asked Stephen and Anna to come with him. He didn't usually ask the Dolphin Cottage people out on his boat in his 'private' time, but there was something he liked about

Stephen and Anna - they were different. But was he feeling just the smallest bit of disappointment that it was only

Stephen who was coming?

He turned and looked up at Dolphin Cottage, just in time to see Stephen coming out, pulling a black T-shirt over his head. A few minutes later, he jumped onto the boat.

'Am I late? Sorry,' he said. 'Had a bit of difficulty waking up this morning. Could be something to do with the excellent wine last night!'

Tristan smiled. 'Do you know anything about boats?' he asked.

'Sure. I'm used to boats. We always had holidays by the sea when I was a kid, and my parents taught me what to do.'

They left the harbour and turned north following the coast. Tristan dropped some lobster pots into the sea and said he'd collect them later that day. The sea was calm as they continued northwards. It was a bit cooler on the water than on the land and Stephen was pleased he'd remembered his sweater. He'd left Anna in bed, sleeping like a baby. She hadn't even woken up when he'd dropped his keys on the floor. Lucky her!

Being out on the sea was beginning to work its magic.

As the boat rose and fell gently, Stephen remembered his excitement as a child on fishing trips with his father. His memories of his childhood holidays were of fishing with his father for hours, not saying much but enjoying the activity. It was one of the few times they'd spent a lot of time together. Now it was too late. His father had died a year ago from an unexpected heart attack, leaving Stephen full of things he'd wanted to say to him.

Today, the sea was calm. The sun made the tops of the waves dance and shine. And when Tristan stopped the boat there was silence, no more noise from the engine, just the rather sad sounds from a few seagulls. Together they started fishing off the back of the boat.

After a few minutes Tristan said, 'Got one.'

He pulled in the fish and said, 'Mm, a mackerel.

Nothing special, but quite nice grilled on the barbecue.

Right, I can relax now. I always think it's a good sign to catch the first fish quickly. I think we're going to have an excellent couple of hours.'

'I hope so,' replied Stephen, Anna wants something for tonight's dinner.'

Are you both OK in Dolphin Cottage? It's not very modern, I'm afraid. I haven't done much to it, really. My grandmother lived there all her life and she left it to me when she died four years ago.'

'We're absolutely fine. We love it. Actually, I don't think we'll ever want to leave it.'

Tristan looked at him rather sharply.

'Sorry. Have I said something wrong?' said Stephen.

'No, not at all.' Tristan shook his head. 'I was just remembering someone else who said that about the cottage. But in fact she did leave in the end.'

'You're very lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Have you always lived here?' Stephen was interested in getting people to talk about themselves - and it was easier than talking about himself.

'Yes, except when I went away for four years to university.'

Stephen hadn't expected that. Apparently, Tristan had left Polreath when he was eighteen and had been very excited about living in a city. But he'd found that he missed the sea and the open spaces.

'Now, when I have to go to London, I look at people's faces and see how difficult life is for a lot of them,' Tristan explained. All that running about and all that fear. You know - fear of crime, fear of losing your job. I couldn't live like that. I've tried and I know. Polreath is home for me. I know it is.'

'Have you got any family here?' asked Stephen.

'Only my sister now,' Tristan replied. My parents moved away when my father retired from fishing. But my sister and I are very close. She's happy here, like me.'

Stephen listened to what Tristan was saying and, for the first time, he began to feel he understood. Of course, he'd heard other people say how hard city living was, and he'd even said it himself. In fact, last year when they were on their way home from two weeks' holiday in Greece, he'd suggested to Anna that they should sell their house and move to somewhere peaceful. But he'd known it was only a dream. When he'd gone back to the agency the following

Monday he found he enjoyed the office politics and the competition for new business - it made him feel alive and at the centre of things. But now, something was different.

Perhaps it was because everything at work was so uncertain.

Again, there was silence in the boat. Both men watched the water to see if any fish were biting, and both men were deep in their own thoughts. They each caught some fish - mainly mackerel - and Tristan talked a little more about Polreath and his life there. Stephen liked the easy way in which Tristan talked; he knew that that was how Anna would like him to be.

'Well, we'd better go back, I suppose,' said Tristan. 'I've got a trip to do later. How many have you caught?'

'Four. Not bad for a city boy!' Stephen replied.

There was something in Stephen's voice that made Tristan look at him.

***


Date: 2015-04-20; view: 661


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