Something in her mother’s voice, when she rang her to say she was home, alerted her to it. A new lightness, a younger-sounding voice—I must be imagining it, Maggie thought—but when Belle suggested a family reunion     on the cattle station, Maggie gave it some thought. The fact that her father was home had her in two minds, though.

Would she find herself unable to hide her hatred for his actions and the misery they’d caused her and Sylvia McKinnon? Was there any way she could heal the breach between David Trent and Jack McKinnon so there need not be this misery, for her, anyway? Come to that, could she hide her misery and despair from her mother?

In the end her curiosity got the better of her and she used the last few days of her leave to drive up to Kingaroy and the sprawling old wooden homestead, over a hundred years old but now extensively modernized, that had been the birthplace of the Trent dynasty.

She needn’t have worried about hiding anything from her parents. By some miracle the breach had been healed. They were in love again and, despite observing the usual courtesies, there might have been only the two of them on the planet.

I don’t believe this, Maggie thought. What has happened?

She watched them carefully, especially her father. The tawny hair was a little grey, he was close to fifty now, but even so he was attractive—it was not hard to see how he would have appealed to Sylvia six years ago despite a twenty-year age gap. And as always, when he set himself to be pleasant, he was more than that. He was vital, funny—entirely engaging, in fact, until you ran into the brick wall of the other side of his personality, the high-handed, arrogant side she had clashed with frequently down the years.

To her confusion, however, the weight of Jack’s revelations didn’t add a black hatred to her difficult feelings for her father.

Because she was so happy to see him making her mother happy again? she wondered.

Because a certain streak of common sense told her there were always two sides to a story such as— Sylvia had known her father was a married man and should have thought twice about breaking up anyone’s marriage?

Because David Trent had conveyed enough admiration of her, his daughter, to someone else even although his thirst for a son had driven him to betraying her mother?

I don’t know what to think, she acknowledged. I’m all at sea. What would happen if I told him about Jack and tried to smooth things between them? In this new mood he’s in, maybe I could?

But something held her back. Would Jack McKinnon want her permanently in his life under any circumstances? She had strenuously to doubt it. As for her feelings for Jack, she just didn’t know where she stood there at all.

Her mother did come down from her cloud nine briefly as Maggie was leaving.

‘Darling, are you all right?’ she asked anxiously as they were walking to the car. Maggie had taken leave of her father earlier. ‘You still seem a little quiet.’

‘I’m fine.’ Maggie gestured to take in the wide blue sky and the vast dusty paddocks, and artfully changed the subject. ‘I don’t know how this happened.’ She turned to Belle and put her arms around her. ‘But I’m very happy for you, Mum. You’re looking so beautiful.’

Belle trembled in her daughter’s arms. ‘You can tell?’

‘See those steers in the paddock? They could tell,’ Maggie said humorously but lovingly. She disengaged and got into her car. ‘Take care of each other,’ she added with a wave, and drove off.

She went back to work.

A month after her stay at Cape Gloucester, she went to see her doctor with an incredulous question.

‘I thought you told me I was covered against all eventualities?’

‘Sit down, Maggie,’ he invited. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I’m pregnant! It’s the only explanation I can think of, but I never once forgot to take my pills.’

The doctor digested this and said slowly, ‘It was a low-dose pill. Sometimes they’re not infallible, as I’m sure I told you—not that we were discussing them so much as a contraceptive at the time, but as a means of helping you with difficult periods. Have you had any cataclysmic upsets?’ Copyright 2016 - 2024