Authors: Miss Read
Tags: #Fiction, #England, #Country life, #Pastoral Fiction, #Country Life - England - Fiction
|Return to Thrush Green|
|Thrush Green |
|Houghton Mifflin (1978)|
|Tags:||Fiction, England, Country Life, Pastoral Fiction, Country Life - England - Fiction|
Fictionttt Englandttt Country Lifettt Pastoral Fictionttt Country Life - England - Fictionttt
Miss Read's delightful chronicles of life in Thrush Green continue with RETURN TO THRUSH GREEN. It's spring again in the village, and with the change of the seasons comes change in the lives of many villagers. The Young family's tranquility is disrupted by the sudden arrival of Joan's father, while Molly and Ben Curdle consider putting an end to their wandering days in order to finally settle down. Even the reappearance of Sexton Albert Piggot -- one of Thrush Green's more malevolent sorts -- cannot dim the happiness that inevitably prevails at Thrush Green.
About the Author
Miss Read is the pseudonym of Mrs. Dora Saint, a former schoolteacher beloved for her novels of English rural life, especially those set in the fictional villages of Thrush Green and Fairacre. The first of these, Village School, was published in 1955, and Miss Read continued to write until her retirement in 1996. In the 1998, she was awarded an MBE, or Member of the Order of the British Empire, for her services to literature. She lives in Berkshire.
Return To Thrush Green
Illustrated by J. S. Goodall
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
Boston New York
First Houghton Mifflin paperback edition 2002
First American edition 1979
Copyright © 1978 by Miss Read
All rights reserved
For information about permission to reproduce
selections from this book, write to Permissions,
Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South,
New York, New York 10003.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.
Printed in the United States of America
DOH 10 9 8 7 6
Sir Robert Lusty,
whose early encouragement
began it all
1 Spring Afternoon II
2 Doctor's Prescription 23
3 Prospective Lodgers 35
4 April Rain 47
5 The Coming of Curdle's Fair 59
6 The First of May 73
7 New Hopes 83
8 More News of Lodgers 97
Change at Thrush Green
9 Visitors to Thrush Green 109
10 Ella's Party 121
11 Village Gossip 133
12 House-Hunting 145
13 Miss Fogerty Carries On 156
14 Comings and Goings 169
15 Early Summer 180
16 Problems for the Piggotts 191
17 Living Alone 205
18 Hope for the Curdles 217
19 Miss Fogerty has a Shock 228
20 A Proposal 239
1. Spring Afternoon
THE finest house at Thrush Green, everyone agreed, was that occupied by Joan and Edward Young. Built of honey-coloured Cotswold stone, some hundred or so years ago, it had a beautiful matching tiled roof, mottled with a patina of lichen and moss. It looked southward, across the length of the green, to the little market town of Lulling hidden in the valley half a mile away.
The house had been built by a mill owner who had made a comfortable fortune at the woollen mill which straddled the river Pleshey a mile or two west of Lulling. It was large enough to house his family of six, and three resident maids. A range of stone-built stables, a coach house and tack room, stood a little way from the house, and at right angles to it. Above the stable was the bothy, where the groom-cum-coachman slept, and immediately above the bedroom was the stable clock.
The Youngs often wondered how on earth people managed without such storage space. Nowadays, the buildings were filled with furniture awaiting repair, lawn-mowers, deck-chairs, tea-chests full of bottling equipment or archaic kitchen utensils which 'might come in useful one day', two deep freezers, a decrepit work bench and an assortment of outgrown toys, such as a tricycle and a rocking horse, the property of Paul Young, their only child. Everything needing a temporary home found its way into the stable and then became a permanency. Sagging wicker garden chairs, shabby trunks, cat baskets, camping stoves, old tennis racquets, fishing waders, and Paul's pram, unused for nine years, were housed here, jostling each other, and coated with dust, bird droppings and the débris from ancient nests in the beams above.
'If ever we had to move, said Edward to Joan one sunny afternoon, 'I can't think how we'd begin to sort out this lot.'
He was looking for space in which to dump two sacks of garden fertilizer.
'Those new flats in Lulling,' he went on, 'have exactly three cupboards in each. People seem to cope all right. How do we get so much clobber?'
'It's a law of nature,'Joan replied. 'Abhorring a vacuum and all that. However much space you have, you fill it.'
She pushed an unsteady pile of old copies of
nearer to a mildewed camp bed.
'I suppose we could set a match to it,' suggested Edward, dragging the first sack to a resting place beside some croquet mallets. There was a rustling sound and a squeak.
'That was a mouse!' said Joan, retreating hastily.
'Rats, more like,' commented Edward, heaving along the second sack. 'Come on, my dear. Let's leave them to it. I'm supposed to be meeting Bodger at two-thirty and it's two o'clock already.'
Together they made their way back towards the house.
When her husband had gone, Joan sat on the garden seat to enjoy the spring sunshine. Cold winds had delayed the opening of many flowers. Certainly no daffodils had 'come before the swallow dared to take the winds of March with beauty'.
Here we are, thought Joan, surveying the garden through half-closed eyes, in mid-April, and the daffodils and narcissi are only just in their prime. Would the primroses be starring the banks along the lane to Nidden, she wondered? As children, she and her sister Ruth had reckoned the first outing to pick primroses as the true herald of spring.
How lucky they had been to have grandparents living at Thrush Green, thought Joan, looking back to those happy days with affection. She and Ruth lived most of the year in Ealing, where their father owned a furniture shop. They lived comfortably in a house built in King Edward's reign. The garden was large for a town house. The common was nearby, and Kew Gardens a bus ride away. But to the little girls, such amenities were definitely second-best.
!' they protested. 'Why can't we live in
? Why don't we go to Thrush Green for good?'
'Because my living's here,' said Mr Bassett, smiling. "There are four of us to keep, and the house and garden to care for, and your schooling to be paid. If I don't work, then we have nothing. You must think yourselves lucky to be able to go to Thrush Green as often as you do.'
He too adored Thrush Green, and when his parents died, it became his. Barely fifty, he intended to continue to live and work in Ealing. By this time, Joan had married Edward Young, an architect in Lulling known to the Bassetts since childhood, and the young couple had lived in the house ever since.
'But the day I retire,' Mr Bassett had said, 'I'll be down to take over, you know!'
'I'll build a house in readiness,' promised Edward. That was over ten years ago, thought Joan, stretching out her legs into the sunshine, and we still have not built it. Perhaps we should think about it, instead of drifting on from day to day. Father must be in his sixties now, and had not been well this winter. The time must come when he decided to retire, and only right that he should come to Thrush Green to enjoy his heritage. They had been wonderfully blessed to have had so long in this lovely place.
The telephone bell broke in upon her musing, and she left the sunshine to answer it.
Some two hundred yards away, the children of Thrush Green Village School were enjoying the first really warm and sunny playtime of the year.
Squealing and skipping, jostling and jumping, they celebrated the return of spring with youthful exuberance. Little Miss Fogerty, teacup in hand, watched their activities with fond indulgence. She had coped with playground duty now for over thirty years. The mothers and fathers of some of these screaming infants had once cavorted here under her kindly eye. She lifted her wrinkled face to the sun, and watched the rooks flying to the tall trees on the road to Nidden. Two of them carried twigs in their beaks. It was good to see them refurbishing their nests, she thought, and better still to note that they were building high this year. A sure sign, old countrymen said, of a fine summer to come. Well, it could not be too hot for her old bones, thought Miss Fogerty. She must think about looking out her cotton dresses. What a blessing she had decided not to shorten them last year! Hems were definitely mid-calf this season, and very becoming too after those dreadful mini-skirts which were downright improper, and must have given many a fast young man ideas of the worst sort.
A windswept child pranced up to her.
'Finished, miss? Give us yer cup then!'
Miss Fogerty held her cup and saucer well above the child's head, and looked sternly at his flushed face.
'"May I take your cup,
" is the way to ask, Frederick,' she said reprovingly. 'Just repeat it, please.'
'May I take your cup, Miss Fogerty?' repeated Frederick meekly. 'And I never meant no harm, miss.'
Miss Fogerty smiled and put the empty cup and saucer into his hands.
'I'm quite sure of that, Frederick dear, but there is a right and wrong way of doing everything, and you chose the wrong way first.'
'Yes, miss,' agreed Frederick, holding the china against his jersey, and setting off across the playground to the lobby where the washing up was done.
Miss Fogerty glanced at her wrist watch. Only three minutes more and she must blow her whistle.
There would be nice time for
The Tailor of Gloucester
before the end of the afternoon. She thought, with pleasure, of the scores of children she had introduced to Beatrix Potter. How many times, she wondered, had she carried the little picture showing the embroidered waistcoat round the room, watching each child's face rapt with wonder at the smallness of the stitches and beauty of the design.