“I saw one,” she told me, her face scrunched up in both distaste and worry as she held her cup of tea. How my mother managed such an expression I’ve never understood.
“You saw one what?” I asked, accepting a cup of tea from my butler, Winston.
She brought her unencumbered hand up, shielding her mouth in case anyone nearby might overhear her. Not that she needed to worry. There was only Winston in the room with us and he would never tell a soul. She leaned a little closer to me and stage whispered “A vagrant.”
“A vagrant?” I obviously asked it a little too loudly as her grey eyes widened. She pursed her lips in disapproval. “Mum, there are no vagrants anywhere near our estate. We are too small. What could possibly attract them to here of all places?”
“What do you think is going to attract them?” She took a sip of her tea as I regarded her in silence. “Work.”
“We’re not hiring anyone.”
“Well they don’t know that. Or at least not until someone tells them as much.” She took another sip of her tea. “I almost did, to tell you the truth.”
“Did what?” I took a sip of my own tea, a very lovely English Breakfast.
“Tell him we’re not hiring. Only I didn’t think it was my place.”
“Why not?” I couldn’t imagine much that would stop her from chasing someone off.
Now she looked pointedly down her nose at me. “This is your estate, not mine. If your father were still alive, believe me, I would have said something.”
“Do you want me to go and say something to this man?”
She turned her attention back to her tea. “It’s up to you. As I said, it is your estate now.” I put down my tea cup and rose. She looked up at me in alarm. “Surely there’s no rush?”
“I thought it best to speak with him immediately.” I shot her a sly smile. “I mean, what would the neighbours think?”
“Suit yourself.” She took another sip. “I’d just hate to think something like this would be more important than having tea with your dear old mum.”
I hid a sigh as I sank back into my chair. There was no winning with this woman.