Sometimes he got his way. On other occasions, particularly if lunch or dinner weren’t far away, I’d say no. Usually that was fine. Once or twice, however, Ben decided that wasn’t good enough. He screamed the place downuntil Sissy came out with an ice cream for him. After that, whenever she saw him she would hand one over. It was a really sweet thing to do, although annoying if I’d already said no.
    Sissy was surprised at the size of Stephen’s order of cheeses and meats.
    ‘You are hungry today?’ she said.
    ‘It’s not all for me!’
    He explained that Mum and Danny and the two Bens had paid them a surprise visit. Then, loading up the water and food, he sped back up the mountain to the farmhouse.
    They all sat down on chairs or boxes and had a typically Greek lunch. Ben was eating on the go, too excited to stay still longer than it took to pick up half a cucumber or a tomato. Then he’d wander off eating them like an apple, popping back for some bread and olives when he ran out.
    It was a blissful afternoon. Those who wanted the sun sat in it and those who didn’t had the shade of the trees. And it was so peaceful. Earlier in the day there had been a digger truck transporting rubble from a building renovation at the bottom of the lane to the top. The driver had to pass the farmhouse to dump the hardcore ready to be used to improve the dirt track before driving back down again, kicking up a trail of dust with its heavy wheels as it went. But now building work had stopped there for the day, and they were able to eat undisturbed.
    By coincidence, it turned out to be the perfect day to visit. Michaelis had ordered a shipment of supplies for the roof but the delivery truck hadn’t arrived first thing as promised. By the time they finished lunch, the men had pretty much written off any hope of it arriving that day at all. It was frustrating for them, but it didmean everyone could enjoy their food and conversation without hurrying.
    ‘We’ll give it another hour,’ Michaelis sighed, ‘and then you may as well go home early, Stephen.’
    So they waited and ate some more, and all that time they were royally entertained by a tiny jester. Ben had discovered a water barrel and after he’d skimmed his cars along the surface he’d started scooping bowlfuls out to mix potions with dirt and leaves. When he tired of that, the next scoop was tipped straight over his own head.
    I suppose it was pure instinct to try to cool down in that savage heat. Even so, the look of shock on Ben’s face as the water soaked him made it look like he’d jumped into a shower of ice.
    Stephen saw it happen and burst out laughing. Everyone else joined in when they saw the drowned rat dripping in front of them. That was enough for Ben. That boy lived for laughter. He thrived on it. So, uncomfortable as he was, what did he do?
    Scooped another bowl of water onto his head.
    The laughter was even louder this time, more so when he yelled, ‘I’m so funny!’ Of course, he carried on dousing himself until Mum put a stop to it and dried him off. She hung Ben’s shorts from a tree to dry and told him not to get anything else ruined because there were no spares. Ben didn’t care about wearing only a T-shirt and little buckled sandals any more than he did about being wet. He just loved being a showman.
    With that little performance over, Ben moved onto his next escapade. This involved jumping on the gravel mounds, then taking handfuls of the stuff through the house and dumping them out the other side. Every couple of minutes he’d be back. Evenwhen he wasn’t in sight, his laughs and imaginary conversations with his tools could still be heard.
    Finally, Michaelis gave up on the hope of the delivery arriving and told Stephen to go home early.
    ‘Even if the materials arrive, it will be too late to start.’
    Dad agreed, adding, ‘Grab the jerry can, son, and fill it up at the garage.’ They would need the diesel for the generator in the

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