“Aunty Stella!” exclaimed the terrified bird.
The tall, slender creature stood before him, clad as last time he’d seen her, in greatcoat, piped and brass buttoned, tall boots of black leather, still the tall Astrakhan hat, but the muff was gone. Over one shoulder was slung a cartridge belt and she carried a Browning B78, falling block, 45-70 hunting rifle, which she fired, once, into the air. The wolves departed.
“Oh… Aunty Stella!”
Ferdy rushed at her and they stood hugging for a longtime.
“I think I might be able to rustle up some ginger biscuits, do you fancy a fortifying snack?”
“I’ve had rather a lot of ginger biscuits just lately,” replied Ferdy, hoping he did not sound ungrateful. “You don’t have a bag of millet around do you?”
In the back of the van they partied well into the night. There were finger snacks and tiny triangular sandwiches and a variety of sweet meats deep fried in beer batter, which Aunty Stella insisted was a Scottish delicacy. There was pop in abundance, liberated from the Strathbogie supplies and “The Shadows Live at Doncaster Coliseum” on the Vicecream van sound system.
Next morning they had a barbecued full English, assessed their situation and surveyed the local geography. The first signs of a thaw were now unmistakable. The Vicecream van was looking much more serviceable than when it left The Land of Green Ginger. It now had heavy duty tyres, the more trivial pieces of baggage were missing from the roof rack, abandoned along with their owners to the music halls of Northumbria, and replaced by jerry-cans of diesel and two spare wheels, strategically placed brackets held towrope, snow-shovel, flares. The ice-cream maker had been removed and stored in a barn somewhere north of Berwick-upon-Tweed, making room for supplies, a small primus stove and an Elsan Visa model 268. Ready for anything.
“Last leg. Lets get this rescue wrapped up.” proposed Aunty Stella.