A LEAP IN TIME
‘Will ye noo keep yer wee brolly out ah me belly, lass!’
Sophie withdrew her umbrella from Cameron’s enormous stomach and re-directed it to his flabby left cheek.
‘I will have you know, Cameron dear, that this brolly as you call it has more than once punctured the extended bellies of several pompous old fools like you.’
Sophie re-directed the umbrella to Cameron’s left buttock.
‘Now move your ponderous and corpulent body aside that we might climb aboard the Dover Coach.’
Cameron stepped back unaware of the pile of brown droppings behind him. He felt his feet sliding on the freshly deposited horse manure. The next moment with his feet high in the air, Cameron, accompanied by a loud splotch, landed in the deep mud that surrounded the departing coach.
Sophie and her eighteen-year-old daughter Lisa, who had been blessed with her mother’s looks, but not her intelligence and quick wit, climbed into the coach. There were only two other passengers with them, one a French priest and the other a strange looking man from North Africa. Both men remained silent throughout the journey unable to confabulate in the English language.
The guard sitting alongside the driver sounded his horn. The driver cracked his whip and the coach departed rattling and shaking as it sped down the cobbled street.
Cameron watched as the coach disappeared in the distance, ‘One day I will marry that woman and then I’ll.’…
He paused and smiled, ‘I’m just a love sick old fool and it’s surely enough for my son to marry her lovely young daughter. ‘
He wandered back to the inn. He sat in the back bar slowly drinking a jug of ale and allowed himself a large pinch of snuff. Then he carefully started to remove some of the strong smelling mud from his jacket, a task that would take him quite some time to accomplish.
Once out of the town, and with the cobbled streets well behind, the rattling of the coach ceased, to be replaced by vibration and occasional swaying as it sped down the muddy roads through Kent towards the coast and Dover.
At Dover they were to catch a night ferry to Calais and the next morning, they would take the coach from Calais to Paris.
It had been raining heavily that day and as the dusk descended it was obvious that a storm was brewing. Sophie could see the trees wavering overhead as the storm clouds gradually built up. ‘Mama, will my dearest Stewart be waiting for us in Paris or will he meet us in Calais?’
‘Child, if he is anything like his father, he will be swimming out to meet us wearing one of those dreadful swimming suits we once saw on the Brighton beach.’
‘I do love him so mother dear and I am prepared to give him everything he wants.’
Sophie raised one eyebrow and then gave a little sigh. Lucky young man, she thought. She could not imagine Stewart’s father Cameron, having much left to give to her; with a belly like his, he would be hard pressed to find anything to give.
It was dark when the coach drove into St. Peter’s Street in Canterbury, then through Burgate Street, past the great cathedral and on into the yard of the Falstaff Inn at Canterbury.
They bundled out of the coach and dived into the warmth of the old inn and stood by the open fire in the back room, and away from the noisy drunks, shouting and laughing in the front saloon. They were greeted by the Innkeeper’s wife, bearing mugs of hot ale and a meal of Toad in the Hole, a warming dish of sausages baked in a thick batter.
No sooner had they finished their welcome hot meal than they were called by the guard to re-board the coach for the remainder of their journey to Dover. Sophie would like to have spent a few days in Canterbury to visit the cathedral, where Thomas Beckett was murdered in 1170 and explore some of the many interesting buildings in the ancient town. But time was not something they had a lot of.
They climbed back onto the coach warmed by the food and hot ale and covered with a thick blanket supplied by the coach guard. The French priest surprised them all when he produced a large bottle of brandy from under his cassock. With mugs, pilfered from the inn, he poured out a liberal amount for everyone. In a short time the bottle was empty. The priest crossed himself, and with a drunken grin, hurled the bottle out of the window of the coach.
The four passengers soon fell into a disturbed and at times noisy sleep. Outside the horses were struggling to keep up the pace. Trotting through the thick mud that had built up on the very poor road surface, they strove to keep going in the heavy rain and occasional showers of hail.
As the hours passed, the storm worsened, with continual brilliant flashes of lightning, followed by loud claps of thunder. The coach was getting close to Dover, so the driver decided to continue on through the storm until they reached their destination.
The driver and the guard were struggling to keep the horses under control. Suddenly, there was a tremendous crack, as a streak of lightning hit the coach killing both men and throwing their bodies onto the flooded roadway.
The horses reared up, screamed and then, with no one to stop them, they bolted trailing the now driverless coach.
The brandy had taken its toll the passengers slept on, dead to the world.
Galloping at full speed, down the rain soaked road they approached a point where the road divided. The stricken horses veered off to the left. This was the wrong road and which turned out to be a narrow lane.
Shortly after, they came to a closed gate. They crashed through the gate and into a grass field. At the end of this field they crashed through a second gate and then turned sharply on to another narrow track.
Still at full gallop and trailing the now rattling coach behind them they raced on through the storm.
A black circle appeared ahead of them, the horses screamed again but were unable to stop or slow down as they entered the long tunnel.
It was at that time that the sound changed. The thunder of the hooves and the screaming of the panicking horses suddenly became the muffled, like the sound of horses galloping over sand, as they leapt through the time barrier and continued on.
The coach, now a train, emerged from the Channel Tunnel and jolted to a stop. The four passengers woke up. They were bathed in a brilliant light. Shouts and door slammings were coming from all directions. The coach door was flung open and the priest and the man from North Africa gathered their bags and stepped down from the coach and disappeared onto the crowded platform.
A handsome young man mounted the steps into the Coach.
‘Darling you’ve made it, that’s fantastic. Wow do you look groovy babe and is this must be your lovely sexy looking mum?’
He looked a little puzzled. ‘Err – um, I guess you will both share first prize tonight at the fancy dress party in Paris.’
Sophie stood up clutching her parasol as the young man kissed her lightly on both cheeks. ‘So you must be the famous Stewart whom we have come to see.’
For what seemed like a lifetime Stewart and Sophie stared into each other’s eyes. Stewart brushed aside the parasol and wrapping his arms around Sophie’s slim body, gently kissed her on the lips. ‘I like your daughter, but I think I could love her mum,’ he murmured.
Locked together in a passionate embrace, they hardly noticed as the Paris train started to move off. Two lovers caught up in a ‘Leap in Time.’
Lisa sat dumbfounded her mother was twice the age – of her now lost boyfriend.