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黑莓酱的故事 下

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Maggie turned away, her thoughts racing, her peace shattered. She thought about retreating to the safety of her car. But having come so far she was determined not to turn back. She ambled along the path, picking the occasional berry, enthusiasm gone.

He gathered slowly, moving backwards and forwards through the bushes, but always keeping up with her. After a while, he came back to the path. She answered his questions - the children, her job, her parents - but always skirted round the main issue.

At last, they reached the point where all the moorland paths crossed. Maggie was glad of an opportunity to rest. Seating herself at one end of the bench, she stretched her legs in front of her. Mike sat down as well a little way along and stared, like her, at the patchwork of fields that lay beneath them. She couldn't recall the number of times they had come to this spot and shared a picnic lunch. Maggie had been looking forward to this moment, but hunger had deserted her. His nearness unsettled her even more; why couldn't he sit somewhere else.

"Are you on your own?" Stupid question. No sooner was it said than Maggie wished she had phrased it differently or thought about it more. But it was the question that she had been wanting to ask and there seemed little point in dressing it up with more words.

"Yes. In every way." He kept his eyes on the fields. Maggie didn't speak, waiting for him to go on. "It didn't last into the Spring. She moved on."

For the first time that day, Maggie turned and really looked at her husband. His eyes were deeper, his hair greyer, his face more lined, and his expression more worn. A sad face. Somewhere deep inside she wanted to pull him close, to tell him that everything was fine, to make those eyes smile again. But the pain that he'd caused could not be erased by a hug, even in this place, and she looked away.

After a while, she stood up. Despite the sunshine, there was a chill in the air.

"I'd better be going now." She didn't know what else to do or say, but nothing would be achieved by sitting on a bench. "Here, let me take that." He took the bag and they made their way in silence. Maggie wondered what he was thinking, were his thoughts as much of a jumble(混乱) as hers?

At last, the cars came into view.

"How did you get here?" she asked as she fumbled in her pocket for her keys.

"Train to Tonechester, then bus to here. There's a bus back to Tonechester this evening."

She resisted the sudden urge to offer a lift to the station. But perhaps there was a middle way.

"You've time for a cup of tea before you go?" She hoped it sounded more like a question than an order.

"And would there be scones and blackberry jam?"

Maggie laughed, relaxing for the first time since hearing his voice.

"You're pushing your luck! Is that all you've come back for?" She didn't give him time to reply. "No scones, but I've fresh bread which is just as good."

And after tea, she drove him to the bus stop. Getting out of the car, he turned, "Will you be out next week?"

"Possibly, if the weather holds."

A brief nod, and he joined the others waiting for the evening bus.

She didn't wait. Making her way home, she chose the longer route that twisted along the foot of the moor. They had a long way to go, but, like the weather, maybe the outlook was promising.


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