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Authors: Marcia Willett

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Echoes of the Dance

BOOK: Echoes of the Dance
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ECHOES OF THE DANCE

Also by Marcia Willett

FORGOTTEN LAUGHTER
A WEEK IN WINTER
WINNING THROUGH
HOLDING ON
LOOKING FORWARD
SECOND TIME AROUND
STARTING OVER
HATTIE'S MILL
THE COURTYARD
THEA'S PARROT
THOSE WHO SERVE
THE DIPPER
THE CHILDREN'S HOUR
THE BIRDCAGE
THE GOLDEN CUP

For more information on Marcia Willett and her books,
see her website at
www.devonwriters.co.uk/marcia.htm

ECHOES OF
THE DANCE

MARCIA WILLETT

McArthur & Company
Toronto

First published in Canada in 2006 by
McArthur & Company
322 King St. West, Suite 402
Toronto, Ontario
M5V 1J2
www.mcarthur-co.com

Copyright © 2006 Marcia Willett

All rights reserved. No part of this publication maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

All the characters in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.d

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Willett, Marcia

Echoes of the dance / Marcia Willett.

ISBN 1-55278-574-2

I. Title.

PR6073.I277E24 2006     823'.914    C2006-900634-2

eISBN 978-1-77087-088-8

To Annie Keay

Family Trees

Contents

PART ONE

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

PART TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

PART THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

CHAPTER FORTY

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE

CHAPTER FORTY-SIX

CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN

EPILOGUE

PART ONE

CHAPTER ONE

Uncle Bernard was becoming bored with sitting in his drawer. Although he liked to be raised above the other dogs – he considered it to be quite right and proper that a person of his age and infirmity should be granted certain privileges – he was now looking forward to his late morning ritual of a little gentle exercise. He fidgeted irritably. Bevis, stretched out on his side on the flagstones in a puddle of early May sunshine, rolled a sympathetic eye upwards but didn't move until he heard the sound of a car's engine. Both dogs grew alert, ears cocked, listening to familiar sounds: the crunch of tyres, the slam of a door, Roly Carradine's footsteps crossing the yard.

As the door opened, the telephone on the deep-set slate windowsill began to ring. Roly dropped a bulging plastic bag onto a chair, gave Bevis a quick pat and hastened to answer it.

‘Mim! How did it go?' His deep flexible voice was warm with interest. ‘I didn't dare phone after your description of the dress rehearsal . . . Really? What a relief . . .' Roly sank into a wicker chair, cradling the telephone between his ear and shoulder as he listened to his sister's excited voice, pulling Bevis's ears as the big retriever pushed his head against his outstretched legs. Her voice changed down a gear and Roly's cheerful expression altered to one of frowning concentration. ‘Who? Who did you say? Daisy Quin? Yes. Yes, the name is familiar . . . A serious injury? . . . Yes, I don't see why not. How long would she stay? . . . No, that's fine. And you'll be down by then? . . . OK . . . Look, shall we talk again later? I've just got in, Uncle Bernard is whining to go out, and I've just fetched a foster and she's still in the back of the car . . . About five o'clock then? Bye.'

He remained quite still for a moment, his face thoughtful, until Uncle Bernard – indignant at such a disrespectful lack of concern – yelped sharply to remind him of his duties.

‘Sorry, old fellow.' Roly pushed Bevis aside and went to thebattered pine chest, the top drawer of which was the elderly miniature rough-coated dachshund's sanctuary. ‘Out you come.'

He lifted him down and watched him patter importantly – if rather stiffly – out into the yard, followed by Bevis who went to look at the newcomer sitting rather anxiously in the back of Roly's estate car. For the last few years, since he'd announced his early retirement and closed his photographic studio in London, Roly had been fostering dogs for the local retriever rescue society. Bevis and Uncle Bernard were quite accustomed to dealing with a procession of misfits from broken relationships, bewildered puppies abandoned as soon as their charm wore thin a few weeks after Christmas, and faithful companions whose owners had died or been moved into residential accommodation. Here they stayed until homes could be found for them.

The old stone house standing just above the ford, amidst quiet lanes with tracks winding away onto the moor and up to Rough Tor, was a perfect staging post for these confused animals. Bevis, rescued from an acrimonious divorce, was rather like a kindly prefect dealing with nervous new pupils away from home for the first time, whilst Uncle Bernard – loved and cherished from the hour of his birth – adopted the attitude of a confident housemaster given to fits of irascibility at any signs of unsocial behaviour.

Roly raised the tailgate of the car and, ducking his head and hunching his broad shoulders, sat inside close to the small bitch whose tail thumped nervously as she gazed out at this unfamiliar scene. He stroked her trembling body reassuringly and she snuggled in under his arm.

‘This is Bevis,' he told her. ‘He's a nice person, really. I wish I could say the same for Uncle Bernard, but I wouldn't want to lie to you so early in our relationship.' Bevis advanced his nose, tail wagging, and Roly sighed with relief. ‘Good fellow,' he said. ‘Make her feel welcome. Her mistress died last week and she's in shock. Her name's Floss.'

He stood up, leaving the tailgate open so that Floss might choose her own time to jump out, and paused for a moment in the sunshine. Across the yard, at right angles to the house, a small stable was set back a little, a short flight of steps climbing to the upper storey and its own front door. It provided excellent – if minimal – guest accommodation and had been a useful source of income as a holiday let in the past. Now, it seemed, holiday-makers required dishwashers, jacuzzis, and wall-to-wall luxury – even on the edge of Bodmin Moor – and these days the flat was used by their own friends, who came with Mim from London at regular intervals to escape from the city. At least it would be available for Daisy Quin.

‘Do you remember me telling you about her?' his sister had asked. ‘She was one of my favourite pupils. Well, everyone loved Daisy: a real sweetie and such a gifted dancer. She'd just begun to get principal roles with the company she joined last year. Such a blow . . .'

He hadn't asked the nature of Daisy's injury: Mim's words – bringing forcibly to his mind her own terrible accident – were enough to tie his tongue and tense his muscles.

‘It's a partly torn muscle in her back and the tissue is badly inflamed,' Mim had added quickly, as if guessing his reaction. ‘She did it during rehearsal about six weeks ago and it's pretty serious because it's the third time she's damaged it and each time it takes longer to heal. Anyway, the company has gone on tour without her. She's managing to get about again and I thought a holiday in Cornwall might do her good. Would you mind?'

Of course he didn't mind. It would be good to have some company: human company. He opened the plastic bag that contained Floss's worldly goods and experienced the now-familiar pang of compassion: a good-quality leather lead, a green Frisbee, two hard rubber balls and a well-chewed teddy with both ears missing. These were her toys. A clean tartan rug, folded quite small at the bottom of the bag, and a metal feeding bowl completed the inventory. Taking one of the balls he went out to the car. Bevis was watching with benign alertness as Floss hovered uncertainly, making up her mind to jump out.

‘Good girl!' said Roly encouragingly. ‘Come on, then. Look! What's this?'

He bounced the ball several times and Bevis jumped at it, barking excitedly; even Uncle Bernard bustled back to check what was happening lest things were getting out of hand. Floss leaped from the car, chasing the ball with Bevis, and Roly reached for his cap, closed the back door, and led them all out into the lane that descended to the ford.

The clear water trickling down from the high moors barely covered the stony bed of the ford. Nevertheless, Uncle Bernard chose to cross by the old granite bridge as if to disassociate himself from the antics of the two bigger dogs, who rushed gleefully into the stream. Floss drank deeply from the icy water until Bevis barged her playfully and they began a mock fight, splashing and leaping, until Roly threw the ball far beyond the ford and they both raced after it. As he turned up onto the track he could hear the soft clicking call of a stonechat and presently saw the handsome fellow perched high on a clump of bright-flowering gorse. His warning ‘tac-tac' cry indicated that he was guarding his mate's mossy nest, hidden out of sight, low down in the bushes.

BOOK: Echoes of the Dance
11.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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