He would leave now, leave for good, never come back. Why don’t he. Why don’t he just go upstairs, put his clothes in a sack and walk out.
Mary, at the ironing board, picks up the trousers, walks across the kitchen, drops them on the floor in front of him. Hurrying to the wood stove where Tom’s breakfast meat is being kept warm, she feels John’s eyes following her.
“Don’t Mary me,” she hisses.
“It ain’t like this, Mary! It ain’t like I don’t still love
She looks across at him, the trousers still on the floor.
“Pick’n them up. Or since as like ‘e spend so much time
without, you think’n y’ might be do’n we’out none.”
John doesn’t answer. Tom has come ambling into the
“Breakfast ready, Tom?” Mary plops three eggs into
the large breakfast pan.
Tom gives her a half-hearted smile. “Eard ‘y shouting
all way out to cow barn.”
Mary fiddles with the black pudding, the sausage, the
potatoes stacked beside the pudding. She doesn’t know what
“You sit and eat your breakfast, boy,” John says. “N’er
bother t’ Ma and me.”
Tom glances at his father holding his trousers in his hands. He pulls out a chair from the table, sits midway ’tween his mother finishing eggs at the stove and his father.
“Y’ coming t’ picnic do?”
“Yes!” is the snappy answer.
A wave of perplexity crosses his father’s face as John
feels the comfort of the cloth around his legs. The Lord
knows he tries not to bring lad into this.
Mary sets the hot plate down on the table in front of
Tom. Leftovers from last night she’s warmed and stacked
over the meat. The boy likes leftovers.
John tries again. “You coming wit us, then?” his father
John Hopkins stares at his son scrunched over his plate
of breakfast. He should have known that. Lads grown now.
“Thanks for t’k’n care o’cows for ‘m last nait. I thought
that ‘e wodner now as work’n for Squire in stables till late.”
“Man’s off. Man’s zick, id’n’er.” Tom does not stop his
shovelling food into his mouth. “I always gid a hand wens need. T’aint for ‘e.”
The ‘T’aint for ‘e’ stabs John. He tells himself mostly
grown or not lads got some learn’n to go. E’ll come round
It’s silence as John searches for the turning gouge he
absent mindedly carried into the kitchen.
Tom munching his food again considers taking off for
his Aunt in London. In London it’d be grand. His aunt
would feed him. All those things to do.
But that would leave Fred without help. And he’s no
good at society. Or what Grand Aunt Amy calls having
the ‘graces!’ Then there’s Lucy. He’s been thinking of
proposing to Lucy. Should the two of them go to London?
What about the farm?
“Lucy will be at do,” his mother shouts above the clatter
of pots she’s crashing down on the sink board. Mary knows
her son. In a way she wished Tom hadn’t sided with her
against his father. She leaves the dishes, takes out more
pieces of black pudding from the pan, walks over, drips
them onto Tom’s plate. “I’m pleased you’ll be at picnic.”
She gives him a long, loving look. Tom smiles.
John, finding the gouge, reaches for his overalls on the
wall peg. Slipping the overalls over his shirt and trousers,
he notes to the interested company: “I’ll be d’n work on ’ay
cart avter veed’n pigs.” He slides a chair out to sit down,
begins to pull on his Wellington boots. “Mary, I’ll be back
t’noon fer picnic do.”
Mary in a spasm of rage that she cannot stop, even
though it makes her faint as she speaks the words: “‘Ores
monger!” In the huskiness of her voice the words sound
whispered, but not whispered enough so all can’t hear:
“You ’ores monger liar.”
John swings the door open, then turns back to look at the two, some moment remembered of the past, before it all changed. He stares at his wife, his expression pleading. No response, he slams the door behind him.
. . .
“It’s mother and father sitting on the beach rocks at
Torre Abbey. There’s you, Uncle.” Ronald laughs. “A
little more hair then.”
“Look! That has to be Uncle George. Uncle Arthur!
That’s Aunt Constance!” Annabell giggles at the younger,
very attractive woman. “Oh my gosh, Aunt Henrietta! Who is taking the photograph?”
“Back then we would all have to sit and sit and sit until
Henrietta would decide she had it right.”
Ronald returning from his walk out to the copse this
Saturday morning has asked Annabell if she will meet him
for a few minutes in his private study. He’s some things to
give her. Now, they’re viewing a photographic album that
Constance brought with her.
“Constance said you must have this. One of the few
photographs we have together. Henrietta captured Herbert
and Belinda just perfectly. Constance wanted me to give it
to you. She knew I was going to speak to you of something
The Squire gazes fondly at his niece. This moment here
in his study with his niece! She has grown to be such a
lovely young woman.
“After your wedding Constance and I will be planning something. I haven’t asked her formally yet, so I won’t say it in
words. Our going away, I won’t miss you so much. We’ll
be traveling for a few months.”
Annabell puts down the photograph, instinctively takes
her uncle’s hands.
“Did you sleep well at the hotel?”
Annabell smiles. “We had a wonderful dinner and when
night came we were wandering around under the electric
lights. It’s exciting to see everything so bright. I’m waiting
for the electricity to get to here, and to Mandalmane. The apartment has wire inside the walls. It’s so wonderful. The furniture, the new lights waiting, the apartment looks so
The Squire, captured as always with his niece’s youthful high spirits, opens a drawer of his desk, takes out a new Moroccan leather hide that he lays in front of her. “Details
are all here, my dear. A trust for you, Annabell.” He looks up to see Annabell staring at him most earnestly.
“Your aunt Constance, well as I say, fortune being our
way, Constance has far greater wealth than me. She doesn’t
need my money.” The Squire pushes the hide across the desk. “I have spoken to Constance and she was so excited when I suggested the idea. The solicitor brought the document out to us last night. It is all settled.”
The Squire gets up, walks around the desk to the fireplace where with the poker he stirs the coals.
“Having a legacy will provide a sense of freedom for you. The trust can never be transferred to your spouse or an agent of your spouse. Not that I do not trust Edward.”
Ronald holds up his hands. “I would wish to see that
you are independently secure. This isn’t because I do not think
Edward as ... a good husband and benefactor. But for my
personal satisfaction. Edward is a fine young man. I believe
he loves you. And I believe you love him. I think altogether
you could not have chosen better.”
Ronald smiles. “This trust, I believe what I am doing
is exactly as my dear sister would wish.”
Annabell responds earnestly. “You have always
been so kind to me, uncle. My mother could not have
wished for a better brother. Nor I for someone to care for me”
The Squire mumbles, shakes his head. “As well as this trust set aside for you, upon my death
whatever land, bonds, stock possessions and bank accounts
of mine, will become yours. You will own my half-share of
the manor, my dear.”
. . .
It’s been such a bustle. Madness in the kitchen is how
Lucy would describe it and she has escaped.
Sitting in the glasshouses, Lucy is conversing with a
rising Poinsettia plant, something she does when everything
becomes too frantic and gets the better of her.
It’s not that the plant is not concerned with its own
affairs, and she of course she is telling it much of nothing,
but it does seem to be listening.
Tom spies her through the glass. Quite aware of Lucy’s
hideouts, he had an idea she might be here. Sitting next to Lucy, a Stork’s Bill geranium in full flower beside him, Lucy’s Poinsettia the
side of her, it takes a few minutes, perhaps three, before
Lucy inquires, “What you doing Tom?”
“Sitting here, Luce.”
Then his leaning as he does and before she knows it,
he’s kissed her.
In the kitchen the baskets for the picnic are complete.
“A fine collection of food, if I might say.”
“You might, Augusta,” answers Nelly’s mother who has
popped over from her farm cottage opposite to help with
the afternoon delicacies being prepared, now stacked into
the baskets to be taken outside.
Three full salmon in fennel leaves, surrounded by a very
tangy sour cream, tarragon and lemon. Grilled fowl, olives
in white rice, beet slices in red wine to go with them.
Cob loaves that Meg just had to pull one apart, to check
it was done, packed in a large bamboo chest. A bread smell so heavenly that Meg, daubing a dash of butter over her pulled-apart loaf, couldn’t resist. “Oh! Oh! and Oh!”
Even the food box used by the Squire when he goes out
to the moors is being used, because they have completely
run out of baskets:
Glasshouse tomatoes from Jersey, rich aged in a malt
and blackcurrant vinegar sauce mixed with oregano, basil,
bay, sage and thyme.
Cheddar, radish and scallion salad. Chickpeas in olive
oil with white wine vinegar. Mushrooms and garlic with
heaps of peppercorn. Spinach cake, Leicester cheese, and
Then the deserts: Strawberry mandorle, Crème fraîche
Devon, a Mrs. Minton specialty. Chocolate cherry cheesecake. Peach, apple and pear tarts.
Mrs. Minton has not forgotten Shapanzi and Skyler. Placed in His Nibs’ fishing creel, treats for them. A woman
to be admired is Mrs. Augusta Fay Minton.
Annabell, returning to her apartment with the hide that
encloses the trust document given by her uncle, begins to
debate what exactly she is going to wear. It’s already warm
and it is going to get hotter.
A high wasted lemon-cream silk faille? Too warm! She’ll
be dancing by the Pavilion band with Edward and some of
the other boys. She’ll be dancing with Heart.
A short sleeved peach rose silk with crepe? Creased and
needs to be steamed, everybody's much too busy.
“You pick for me, Heart”
“Don’t you think it will be a good idea if we’re by the stream? Somewhere to go where it’ll be quieter, cooler. We can lay a rug under a tree.”
“There’s that rug that Aunt Constance gave me for the
beach,” says Annabell. “We can take that.”
“Oh! What fun! Where is it?”
“I wouldn’t have put it in the closet.” Annabell strolls
out of the bedroom into the apartment parlour. “None of
these drawers... It must be in the closet in the hallway,
Heart. It has to be there.”
Heart returns with the green and red tartan.
“Ah! Dear Aunt Constance.” Annabell expresses such
delight at seeing the rug. “Now, all we have to decide is
what I should wear?”
“Well, I think we should start,” Emily agrees.
Tom and Lucy have ended their kissing. At the the back
door they join Fred going in to the kitchen.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” Meg hollows seeing
Mr. McBride comes in at that moment. “Tom! Just the
fellow. Will you take the tables and set them up. They’re
stacked in the rooms behind the stables. Up the stairs. I’d
appreciate the help, Fred.”
Fred gives a quick wink. “Glad to be ‘elpin. ‘Ope Tom
lad’s up to it a’ter them glasshouzes.”
McBride stares at the two young ones.
Mrs. Minton calls from the stove, “You look all a bother,
“I’ve still to get the wine from the cellar.”
“Lucy, love. Will you help Mr. McBride bring up the
The coolness of the cellar greeting them, the butler asks
Lucy if she and Tom are getting serious. “I do like to think
those who work here can come to me.”
“I think we are serious, Mr. McBride.”
“Well, Tom has a good head on his shoulders.”
Bottles are then taken out of racks, stacked upon the
floor. Arms filled, back up the steps the two trudge into
“Over here, Lucy,” Meg points to the spring flying geese
cooler with its large brass handles.
. . .
Now later in the afternoon, for two hours Edward has
wanted to escape his mother. Enid is not easy to get away
from and for whatever reason she has been fixated upon
following him since they arrived together in the carriage.
But at last Annabell and he are perched, sans mother, on the piano stool in the manor parlour.
“Away, away, away down south in Dixie,” Annabell sings.
“Away, away, away down south in Dixie,” follows the
deep voice of Edward.
His right hand accompanying Annabell’s two hands, his
left hand fondly clutching his betrothed’s slim waist and
buttocks, they romp madly through the gay song Dixie: