Stephen drove back to Thorncombe through drifting sheets of fine, dense rain and turned into the yard just as Hugh and Camellia, triangular in waterproof capes and boots, were driving the sheep up the steps. Hugh’s hair was plastered darkly over his forehead, feeding streams of water down his nose and over his cheeks. Dorset Down ewes shoved and scuttled by, Shetlands with matted fleeces trotting trimly behind. Hugh stood back to wave a quick greeting and shooed the stragglers through the front door. In they went, streaming round into the newly cleaned drawing room, where Camellia was standing with her hand on a child's safety gate, ready to shut it behind them quick - in case they turned as soon as they'd arrived and ran towards the kitchen instead.
Hugh waited briefly 'neath the scant shelter of the lintel, then, beckoning Stephen to follow, ran round the corner of the house, under the arch and along to the back door where they burst in together like schoolboys, laughing and shaking their heads. Hugh flung his coat into the gun room and threw open the door to the kitchen so Stephen could pass by first - into the place where warmth and hairy scones made it the most homely spot in the world. Camellia who had come through the hall door already, was shaking herself out of her cape, smiling but apprehensive.
“How did you get on?” she asked, handing it to Stephen so he could put it out with Hugh's.
“Fine,” he said. “No trouble. Harry says I can commute from Kings Hampton. All we have to do now, is to get organised.”
Hugh made a movement.
“Just tell me what to do," Stephen added as smoothly as he could, "and I’ll do it.”
_____To continue - Twenty-Eight
For the post before this - Twenty-Six