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Steve Savage Publishers Ltd
CoverBlown Seed

David Toulmin
sample extract...

Helen's heart was beating quickly now, and she shrank from the ordeal like a spectre would fly the dawn. All that she had tried to hide would now be dragged out in the full light of day. She suddenly felt an alien even in her father's own farmyard; alone in the world, crushed by its enormity. Her next thought was to turn and flee -- but whither she knew not. And not a soul to welcome her: not even the bark of a dog or a cock crow; nothing but a brooding silence that awaited her intrusion, hanging in the air, ready to spring. Even Little Janet with a ball at the gable would have broken the ice for her.

Helen caught a glimpse of her father at the gable window, deep in his armchair and the newspaper over his head. But it was the bark of the collie dog that scattered the cats from the kitchen door and brought her mother forth in her work-a-day apron.

'Oh, my quine,' she cried, 'I'm right glad tae see ye back. The sicht o' ye near gars me greet.' She hugged Helen and kissed both her cheeks and when she bent down Ruth heId up her cheek also for her lips. Big tears hung at Helen's eyelids but they refused to fall, while she clung to her mother's slender shoulders. She would have to be braver than this to face the others. Rachael seemed to sense her fears for she said: 'Never mind what Daw says, and dinna greet for ony sake; mak them think ye're brave and hearty.' And then Rachael led them down the stone step into the kitchen.

But Helen hadn't the brazen heart of a bitch and she winced under the stares that met her eyes in the gloom of the smoke-filled kitchen. She sat down wearily on a hard chair in front of the box-bed, her raffia basket on the floor, while Ruth stood beside her with her hand on the back of the chair. Nobody stirred a foot to welcome them, nor moved a lip; nobody except Rachael, who busied herself between the table and the peat fire, getting something for them to eat. 'Tak aff yet coat and yet hat,' Rachael said, 'and I'll hang them in the passage.'

Helen took out her hat-pins and removed her hat, but shook her head when Rachael asked for her coat as well. With a woman's instinct Rachael knew what this might mean, but she said nothing and went to hang up the hat, while Ruth stood guard over the raffia basket.

It seemed that Helen couldn't have chosen a worse evening for her homecoming.