Grabbing his dressing gown Steve went to answer it closely followed by Dora and the rest of the household. It was the Colonel's housekeeper to say that he had collapsed and been taken to hospital still unconscious, she had accompanied him to hospital and was still there waiting for more news.Slugger immediately put the kettle on and the others went upstairs to get dressed. All the time Dora kept shaking her head and murmuring' not uncle, please not uncle.' Steve knew that platitudes were no good. The colonel had barely managed to survive a serious illness a while back. He had since become very dear to Steve having willingly accepted his relationship with Dora and done his best to keep her parents sweet.
Slugger, now fully dressed himself knocked on the door with mugs of hot sweet tea. 'No Slugs, ' said Dora 'we need to get to the hospital.' Steve took control saying firmly 'Drink it girl- it's only 5.30am and they probably won't let us in to see him at this hour. We'll go soon I promise. I'll take you and Slugs, see how things are then probably come back and see to things here. We'll let ron know too- he'll have to pull his weight now.'
The last time the colonel was ill Dora had shut Steve out turning only to Slugger for comfort- that had been before he and Dora had become an item and he hoped that this time she would lean on him a bit more. Slugger was not young and in need of support himself- well Steve would be the rock both of them needed- if they would let him.
Reluctantly Dora took the tea, Steve sat on the bed and drew her down beside him. Slugger tactfully withdrew saying 'See you in a bit then.' Dora- listen- I'm here for you, slugs and Uncle Geoffrey too. Please darling, don't shut me out again.' She put her tea down on the bedroom cabinet and leant her head against his chest- as he enveloped her in a loving embrace she whispered tearfully 'I won't, I need you so much.' Steve kissed her hair and wiprd away her tears. 'Now drink your tea' he said and picking up his own he drank deeply from it.' I wish I could promise that everything will be alright but I can't. We'll just have to take things one step at a time.' Hazel knocked and entered. 'Do you want me to start the chores after you've gone?' 'Oh Hazel can you- will you be okay here on your own till ron gets here? asked Dora. 'Course I will' 'Look' said Steve 'I reckon we should give it at least another half hour before we leave for the hospital- let's have breakfast and at least you can say good morning to Copper before we go' 'I don't think I could eat anything ' said Dora' 'Slugs is already cooking- needed something to do he said.' Hazel picked up their empty mugs and went downstairs. 'Come on sweetheart you need to keep your stregth up- just have toast and marmalade if you can't face anything else. It might be some time before we get another chance to eat.' 'Come and get it' came Sluggers voice up the stairs.As they were eating without much enthusiasm there was a knock on the door and Slugger went to answer it.......... to be continued