But ... Life had other ideas! Or rather Niece had other ideas.
Whilst sitting at the tea table the telephoned rang. Nothing unusual in that I thought, except it hadn't registered before, but Anne's telephone hadn't rung once all the time I have been here. [Memo to myself ... I must make the effort to call her at least once a month. A friendship that has lasted as long as ours could wither with lack of attention.]
"Alice," called Anne from the passageway where the telephone rested on a small circular table covered with a doily. "Telephone is for you!"
Wondering who would be calling I hurried to take the receiver.
"Hallo?" I was hesitant in my speech. Only Niece knew I was here, and if she was calling then it must be urgent. All types of scary thoughts raced through my mind. Perhaps Karen and Jake had left, never to darken Niece's door again? Perhaps Niece was ill and it was Karen requesting my urgent return home? Perhaps, and at this point a smile crossed my face, though I hurriedly removed it, Harold was ill and needed expert care? Ha! He could hire a nurse!
Niece was almost incoherent as she stumbled through a miserable story. Karen and Jake did not agree to her taking over the wedding. Words had been spoken! [By that I presumed Niece had been given a ticking off for putting her nose into their affair.]
"Please, please Dear Aunt Alice, would you come home. We need your calm presence to help sort this mess out!"
Oh Dear Diary, I was not surprised. Niece can be ruthless in her ways and while that man of hers appears to be meek and mild, he has learned how to keep the peace. He goes out. If Niece becomes high-handed with me I retire to my room. We have found, from experience, that Niece and a quiet hour or two is all that is required. It fleetingly crossed my mind that Karen and her mother were very much alike!
I agreed to return. The coach is relatively quiet during the week and a seat would be easily secured. With that thought in the back of my mind, I replied, "Of course I will come home! And please, however good your intentions are, please do not rile Karen and Jake up anymore! You have just discovered them. Imagine how it would feel if they left never to return!"
A small gasp down the telephone told me my words had hit their mark.
And so Dear Diary, here I am, sitting on the almost empty coach, filling you in with the details.
What awaits me?