Author Topic: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)  (Read 8971 times)

Offline loopylin

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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2011, 11:14:34 PM »
Is that why you've been so quiet?' Dora nodded. 'I bought a pregnancy test and I'll do it tomorrow- but I don't think there's much doubt. I've been so hungry lately and can't drink black coffee, being sick this morning- it all adds up. Oh Steve- do you mind?'
For answer he gently stroked her still flat tummy and planted a kiss in her navel. 'If you're really in there baby Ross I love you already-and your beautiful mummy.' Steve I can't face the thought of Slugger's bacon and eggs. I bought fruit, juice and cereal yesterday but I don't want Slugger to know yet. 'No problem- I'll tell Slugs we're on a health kick and we're going to have breakfast up here so we won't get tempted by the bacon. Now back to bed with you. Tell me when you feel like eating and I'll get you what you want- I'll have the same.'
The next day Dora took the pregnancy testing kit into the bathroom then went back to where Steve was sitting on the bed fully dressed to look at the result. They had read the instructions together the night before. Her hand shook. Steve enveloped her in a hug. 'Well- it looks like you were right sweetheart. We're going to have a baby. As he went to kiss her she disentangled herself from his arms and ran for the bathroom. He followed her and turned on the taps full to help hide the fact she was being sick from Slugger and Hazel if they were awake. Back in their room Seve cuddled her gently again and kissed her hair. 'Steve- you are sure you're okay with this aren't you?' He turned her to face him, put his hands on her shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes. 'I'm sure. It's come a bit out of the blue and perhaps a bit sooner than we would have liked but that's okay. I am a bit confused though because we've been so careful.'
'Not the night of my accident we weren't! We made love more than once and didn't use a condom every time.'
'Oh yeah- now I remember!' he said smiling to himself at the memory. Tears had begun to form in Dora's eyes. 'I hope they're happy tears' he said cradling her against him. Dora nodded.'It's probably my hormones!'
'Oh mate! Seven months of soaking wet shirts then months and months of soaking wet nappies! I tell you this love- I'm going to try and be a really good dad. I want our little one to be brought up knowing that we both love him or her. Next thing is to get you a doctor's appointment.'
'I want to see Dr. Rees' she said naming the female gp in the practice. 'I'll see to it after breakfast.'
Two days later Steve drove Dora into town for her appointment. He wanted to go in with her but she told him to wait in the car. 'I don't like the idea of you being alone. It's my baby too.'
'I know darling and after this I promise you'll be as involved as you want to be- every step of the way, but just this once I want to go in by myself okay?'
'Okay. It's times like this when I almost wished I smoked!'
'Uh uh- bad for the baby!' He got out of the car,opened the door for her' helped her out held her close for several minutes and said 'I love you.'
'Me too!' and Dora walked into the surgery with butterflies in her stomach. Steve did not sit in the car  but paced up and down in the car par oblivious to the biting cold wind. When Dora came out she was holding a prescription form, nodding and smiling. Steve opened his arms and she ran into his loving embrace. He gently lifted her off her feet and as he set her down again she whispered 'Hello daddy.' Steve felt her tears again and shed a few of his own. ' 'Come on love it's perishing out here. Let's go get a bowl of soup and a roll.' Over lunch Steve suggested they should tell Slugger and the others but Dora was adamant that she wanted to keep it between them for a few weeks more until the pregnancy was a bit further on. Steve agreed but said it was going to be difficult particularly if the morning sickness persisted. 'The doctor suggested trying a glass of juice and a couple of digestives before I get up- I can't face tea now.' When they got back to the farm Dora said she was going for a ride to get some fresh air and assured Steve the doctor said it would be okay to ride provided she was careful.As Copper could be frisky she decided to take Alex who weas steady and dependable. Steve thought he'd go with her but Slugger came out and told him he needed to go to the hospital as Auntie Jane had taken a turn for the worse.
 
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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #31 on: February 23, 2011, 12:04:00 AM »
When Steve entered the ward the staff were hurrying backwards and forwards and there were curtains around Jane's bed. 'You can go and see your aunt but be warned she's very poorly. Her mind is wandering- keeps talking about Daniel playing the piano for her and isn't the music beautiful.' said the ward sister. Steve was shocked when he saw Jane. He took hold of her hand which was fluttering in the air as if she was conducting music. 'It's Steve auntie.' She opened her eyes and looked at him.
'Isn't that nice Daniel dear? Steve is here. Play something nice for him- ah yes- that's lovely. Do you recognise it Steve?.' He felt a shiver go down his spine because whether it was a radio somewhere or the television he didn't know but he could hear piano music. 'I do- but I'm not very good on titles.'
'It's Oh for the wings of a dove dear- oh Daniel darling don't stop. I'm so glad you've come Steve.I want to say goodbye- is Dora not with you?'
'No- she's been a bit under the weather so she's gone for a ride in the fresh air.'
'Take care of her and the baby.'
'How did you know?'
'She has a look about her. It's a pity I can't say my farewells to her- you'll have to do it for me.'
'Don't say that, you'll be around for a long time yet.'
'No dear I won't. That's why Daniel is here. He's waiting for me you see. I won't be long now Daniel.'
'We haven't told anyone about the baby yet. Not even Dora's uncle so please don't tell him.'
'Steve, dear kind Steve, I won't be seeing your uncle again. There's just one thing more I need to say- the cats- Sooty is the black one and the other is Sam. Give your old adopted auntie a goodbye kiss. I feel like sleeping now. Daniel says he'll play Brahams Lullaby.' Steve kissed her forehead, then both her hands. 'Adieu Aunt Jane, from Dora, me and the baby you'll probably never know.' He walked silently from the ward convinced he could still hear the piano. He knocked on the door of the sister's office and was told to enter. 'What's made my aunt's condition deteriorate so quickly?'
'She's been taking tablets for her heart for years. She didn't want anyone to know. It seems she's given up on life. We've been told she wants no attempt to revive her if her heart stops. ' Steve made as if to protest. 'Now, you wouldn't want to go against her wishes would you? Part of her is in another place already.' The door burst open and a young nurse rushed in. 'Sister, please can you come- it's Mrs Oldcastle!' Sister put her hand on Steve's shoulder and hurried from the room. Steve stayed where he was. The piano music went on in his head until there was one final chord- a discord and the sound of a piano lid being shut with finality. The young nurse came in carrying a tray of tea and biscuits which she set down on sister's desk as the senior nurse re-entered. ' I'm sorry- Steve- your aunt has passed away. Were you very close?'
'We have been recently.'
'Do you want to go and sit with her for a while? '
'No thanks. I need to go to her bungalow. There's something I need to do.'
Sister spoke to him about formalities and he hoped he'd taken everything in. As he got up to leave however she handed him a sheet of paper. 'There's everything you need to know. Are you sure you'll be okay to drive?' 'Yeah- I'll be fine.' When he arrived at the bungalow Steve sat for a while listening but hearing no music. Then by chance Dora came riding up, she'd ridden in the nearby fields and was going to ride through the woods back to the farm. Steve now had his head pillowed on his arms and resting on the steering wheel. 'Steve, darling, are you okay?' he raised his head and dashed his hand across his eyes. 'Jane's gone Dora. I just want a few minutes in the bungalow. Will you come in and see to the cats? I suppose we'd better find them somewhere to sleep at home but not today. They can't stay here long though. I expect I'll need to take the key in to her solicitor.' Dora followed him inside and stayed in the kitchen while he went into the library. The lid of the piano was down, the key was in a little glass dish on the top of the instrument, he locked it and returned the key to it's place. The sheet music was all gone and he found it all neatly stacked in the piano stool except for Braham's lullaby which was torn into pieces and scattered on the floor. In his heart Steve knew that Daniel's task was over and he would not hear him play again. He picked up the young man's photograph 'Goodbye Daniel, adopted cousin. Now may you rest in peace.'
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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #32 on: February 24, 2011, 11:59:11 PM »
When he arrived back at the farm Steve waited for Dora to see to Copper then asked her to walk down to the lake with him. He looked out across the water. 'As Jane named me as her next of kin I have to see to the formalities tomorrow.'
'Shall I come with you?'
'Please- if you feel up to it. how was your ride by the way?'
'Wonderful, it blew all the cobwebs away and gave me an appetite. I don't think I can face anything greasy.'
'Don't worry. Hazel's been looking at recipes and she's doing sausage casserole.'
'That sounds good'
'Do you know Jane had guessed that you're pregnant? he said softly as if the trees had ears and could tell tales. 'Umm- I wonder if anyone else has.'
'Well they'll all know soon enough. Let's go in, it's getting cold out here.'
Next day when Steve was handed Jane's few possessions he found a letter addressed to him which had been left in her locker and found by the staff. He slipped it into her handbag to read later and saw in there was a copy of her latest will made only recently. He was handed her death certificate and he and Dora then drove to Tockwith to register the death. They called in at Mr. Bricklebank's office and Steve made an appointment to see him the next day. From there they went to the undertakers to arrange the cremation.Dora had to register with the midwife's unit attached to the hospital as she wanted a home birth. Theresa O'Sullivan was on duty and said she had a cancellation at 10.30am the next morning which fitted in with Steve's appointment with the solicitor later. 'I'll see you tomorrow then Dora and? ' Teresa said questioningly.
'Steve- Steve Ross, we're not married.'
'Oh-well never mind. By the way, you can call me Teri.'
Steve looked from Teri to Dora. Was it his imagination of did one look slightly disapproving and the other wistful? They had told Slugger not to cook lunch for them so ate in a cafe in the high street. Afterwards they went food shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread and other things not usually on the menu at Follyfoot. They knew they would be out at lunchtime the next day too.
'Slugger's not going to be too pleased with us.' said Steve.
'Never mind he'll be fine when he knows we're expecting!' Dora replied.
'Let's tell everyone soon. I'm finding it hard to keep the secret.'
'A few weeks more- that's all' said Dora. Steve blew out his cheeks. 'Okay.'
As Jane had indicated there was very little money in her bank account, the book was in her handbag.
In her will she had left the piano, stool and music  to the local high school which all her children had attended. As promised she had left Steve all the books and indicated that he and Dora could have anything else that they wanted from the house. She wanted Dora to have her jewellery. The mystery house owner could dispose of the rest of the items as they saw fit and her clothes were to go to the Salvation Army shop.
'What on earth am I going to do with all those books?'
'Uncle will probably store them for you. Much as I love a lot of the furniture there's nowhere for it at the farm. Such a shame if it all has to be sold.'
Steve had taken the letter from it's envelope. It was a single sheet and he read it out to Dora.
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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #33 on: February 26, 2011, 11:00:35 PM »
Dear Steve (and Dora) I want to say thank you for these last few weeks when I have come to think of you as my family. I want to ask you yet again not to try and contact my real family yourselves. The solicitor has instructions to let them know of mt death. You will find my will contains my wishes regarding cremation. If you let him know the date and time Mr. Bricklebank will pass this on to the family but do not expect any of them to come. What little money I have is yours for Follyfoot and to take care of my cats. I would loved to leave you my bungalow but sadly as you know that cannot be. However, it is not beyond the bound of possibility that one day you will raise your family there. Do not grieve too much for me but be happy to have known me. Your affectionate adopted auntie, Jane Oldcastle.
Teri O'Sullivan frowned at Dora's blood pressure reading. 'It's a bit higher than it should be. You're going to have to take it easy from now on. No early morning duties.' She went on to share tips on coping with pregnancy and suggested they attend her parentcraft classes. As neither of them had any experience with babies they readily agreed. 'I'll see you here in 4 weeks time and I'll then make an appointment for a home visit as you would like a home delivery.'
'I don't like hospitals.' said Dora especially now. The smell of discinfectant makes me feel sick.'
On the way home they visited Geoffrey Maddocks and talked about Jane. 'I guess I'd better let the solicitor have the key to pass to the owner. I don't know what to do about the books.'
'I shouldn't worry about that for the time being. Bricklebank will let you know if he needs them to be moved. After they left Geoffrey phoned Mr. Bricklebank and said he needed to change something in his will.
'Do you think uncle looked okay?' Dora asked on the way home.
'He seemed rather tired- perhaps he's been overdoing things.'
'I don't think he is- I've asked Mrs. Porter to keep a close eye on him and let us know if she notices him getting any worse. Perhaps he'll be better in the spring.'
 
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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #34 on: March 02, 2011, 12:00:59 AM »
Jane Oldcastle's funeral was arranged for the beginning of March. The solicitor had contacted her family and none of them seemed at all interested in attending. Steve was very upset and annoyed. Martha Carne, The Colonel, the doctor, Anna,  Steve, Dora and two neighbours were the only mourners as she was laid to rest in the village cemetery in the same grave as her husband. Sooty and Sam had been taken to the farm but kept going back home and had to be fetched back. Steve was working harder than ever to stop Dora from doing too much. She often went to bed early and he would go upstairs to keep her company. They had installed the TV from Jane's bungalow in their bedroom, sometimes Steve watched the news but more often than not he read. One night just after the funeral Dora told him he didn't need to stay in every night and suggested that he go down to the pub where he might meet up with Ron. He didn't like leaving her as no-one else knew about the pregnancy but Dora insisted telling him she fancied a bitter lemon and a bag of nuts. His intention was to have a couple of halves and then go back to her. When he arrived several people who had worked with him at the squire's were standing drinking at the bar. 'Put your money away Steve,' said Brian. 'We'll treat you to make up for the treatment you received after the night rider incident.' Steve assured them it was quite alright, he was the happiest he'd ever been and they needn't worry. Nevertheless a pint soon appeared before him. Steve drank very slowly hoping they would drink up and leave but they didn't. 'Drink up Steve.' said Matthew. 'There's another one waiting. Steve finished his drink and reluctantly acceped another. He bought what Dora had asked for and a couple of bags of crisps then offered to buy a round. They wouldn't let him and tried to get him to have yet another pint but he refused, he just wanted to get home to Dora. By this time he was feeling decidely off. He went to the gents and one of the workers he only knew vaguely followed him in. Seeing the look on Steve's face he said 'What's the matter mate- can't you hold your drink?'
'I can't understand it. 'Steve replied. I've only had a couple of pints. I know that's double what I normally drink now but I've had that much before without feeling bad!'
'Well I wouldn't try and drive if  I were you, they slipped a double vodka into each of your drinks! Don't let on I told you!' Steve cursed and debated whether to ring Slugger to come and pick him up but decided against it After checking with the landlord that it was okay to leave the car overnight he rang for a taxi to drop him off on the main road hoping a walk through the fields in the fresh air would help clear his head. It was only just after 10 o'clock when he got home. Slugger and Hazel had gone to bed but Dora was dozing in the chair. Steve put the drink and snacks on the table carefully as he was not focussing very well. Going over to Dora he said 'Hello my darling. Come upstairs with me and get your togs off so I can run my hands over your sexy little body. ' He leant over to kiss her so his beery breath wafted over her and he gave a large burp. Dora turned her face away. 'Steve Ross you're drunk!' She ran upstairs and slammed the bedroom door. 'Oh mate! I've gone and done it now!'
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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #35 on: March 02, 2011, 11:08:33 PM »
Steve made himself a strong black coffee and was promptly sick in the downstairs bathroom. When he felt a bit better he went upstairs half expecting to find the bedroom door locked but it wasn't. He went in and picked up his dressing gown. 'Don't you come near me- you were very coarse just now. I know it was the drink talking, fancy letting yourself get in such a state!'
'I'm going to have a shower- please don't lock me out. I need to explain. ' Steve felt lousy, the shower helped but not much. He still couldn't remember what he'd said to Dora. When he went back into the bedroom she was sitting at the dressing table dressed in one of her passion killer nightdresses and banging her silver backed hairbrush against her hand. 'Dora- please tell me what I said to upset you and make you so cross. I'll do my best to put things right then go and sleep this off in the box room.'
'I'm angry with you because of the state you're in!' She then told him what he'd said. Steve didn't really think it was so bad but he kept his thoughts to himself as she railed on him again. 'What made you have so much to drink in such a short time. It's not like you at all! You didn't drive home did you?'
'Nah- got a taxi.' 'So drunk you left the car behind!' Steve sat down on the bed and explained what had happened then he said 'Well, I've paid for my night out. I've made myself look a fool in the eyes of my so called 'mates'. I've been sick, upset you, I'll probably have one helluva hangover and I get to spend the night in the other room. Before I go I just want to say I'm sorry and it won't happen again, I promise. Please say you forgive me and let me give you a goodnight kiss.' He looked really sad.  Dora thought about how hard he'd worked doing her early morning chores as well as his ever since her pregnancy was confirmed. He'd been saddened by Jane's death and her family's rejection of her and she'd had to work hard at convincing him to go out tonight. She looked at him- his old blue dressing gown open revealing his bare flesh, his hair still damply clinging to his face. His hand was covering his mouth in that dear familiar way of his. Her heart went out  to him. She slipped the dressing gown from his shoulders and took off the passion killer. Kissing him tenderly she led him to the bed. 'The only place you're going Steve Ross is into bed with me.'
'I don't deserve this.'
'Of course you do my darling.It wasn't your fault.'
'I should have realised after the first pint that it was having more effect on me than usual. I thought it was because I'd drunk it too quickly. I usually make half a pint last twice as long as that pint did but they kept on and on about another one waiting. They offered me more you know. I shudder to think what might have happened if I'd drunk any more.'
'Never mind. You're paying the price now- you're at my mercy. She began caressing him and he revelled in her lovemaking. He actually cried and thanked her for making him feel so loved and cherished. Nevertheless he woke during the night with a pounding head. Dora got up and got him a glass of water and some tablets then massaged his neck and shoulders and kneaded his scalp with her fingers. Her touch was gentle and soothing. 'Thank you for forgiving me and being so lovely sweetheart. You know your body is starting to change- so subtly at the moment that it's only obvious to me but we really must tell the others soon.'
'I know- I'm just scared something will happen.'
'Try not to think like that love.' He began to stroke her abdomen. 'We're going to take good care of you baby Ross.' Dora snuggled down in his arms she so wanted their baby to really be baby Ross but so far Steve had failed to mention getting married. She drifted into sleep wishing it was leap year.
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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #36 on: March 04, 2011, 11:05:44 PM »
In the morning Steve was up early but not bright. The fresh morning air made him feel better but he could only manage orange juice and toast for breakfast. Ron arrived uncharacteristically early and sought him out. He had arrived at the pub only minutes after Steve had left and the miscreants were laughing and boasting about what they had done. 'Shame I didn't arrive earlier I could have given you a lift back. I gave those blokes a piece of me mind though. The landlord wasn't too chuffed wiv 'em eiver- said he'd never seen you drunk before. Did you cop it off Dora then?'
'Yeah at first but she was okay once I'd explained.'
'Ere Steve you've been doing her early morning chores for a few weeks now, whas going on?'
'Labour of love Ron.'
'Keeping her sweet eh?'
'Something like that. Could you take Dora in the landrover to pick up my car later? I don't think I'm fit to drive yet.' Ron agreed and Steve was glad he hadn't suggested taking her on the bike as he wasn't happy about her being on the back of it now she was pregnant.
Dora had lunch with the colonel later and quizzed Mrs. Porter about his health. The housekeeper was non committal and said he was as well as could be expected. Dora was concerned enough to call in again  the next morning. Steve was going to the library later and she asked him to call and see what he thought. Mrs. Porter let him in 'You know dear you really don't need to ring the bell now what with you and Miss Dora being so close. I was just going to take the colonel his afternoon tea. He's in the drawing room.You'll have some won't you?'
'Yes, thanks ' he replied 'How is the colonel today?'
'Much the same as usual dear' Geoffrey made to get up when Steve entered the room. He had not seen the colonel for a few days and was not happy with what he saw. 'No don't get up,sir ' he said.
'Steve- i think it's about time you dropped the formalities and started to call me uncle. '
'It would be a pleasure- uncle.'
'Good. It's lovely to see you and Dora on the same day. what can I do for you?' Mrs Porter carried in the tea tray and offered the colonel and Steve a scone and a cup of tea. Steve took a bite of the delicious home baked scone before saying 'Doa and I are a bit worried about you.'
'Wprried, what on earth for. I'm just getting old Steve. Nothing to be done about it more's the pity.
Dora wants me to be the same as I was when she first arrived but that's not possible. I'm afraid that last illness took a lot out of me. She has to accept that I won't always be around- that's why I'm glad you two are an item. Took you long enough but it's what I wanted to happen. Promise me Steve that whatever happens you won't go off and leave her with just Slugger who like me is slowing up and Ron. That boy's got a good heart deep down but his committment to work leaves much to be desired.' After saying this the colonel leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes for a few moments. slugger had said he did this a lot just before his bad attack and he was very concerned. 'Uncle- let me call the doctor, just to keep Dora happy.'
'Oh he'll call in some time soon and say 'Geoffrey you must rest more and make sure you take your tablets. Between you and me although Hugh's a good friend he can be a bit of an old worrier.'
'Well I know Dora's going to pop in every day from now on and I'll call whenever I'm this way. If you need us just phone or get Mrs. Porter to do it.' He went over and laid one hand on the older mans shoulder and pressed his other hand.
'Steve- before you go I need you to promise me that you'll look after Dora.'
'I promise uncle, I love her so very much.' Geoffrey watched as Steve took his leave. His dearest wish was to see him marry Dora. He knew that Arthur and Prudence would not be happy about their daughter marrying the hired hand and resolved to write to them telling them what a fine young man Steve was and how he would have been proud to call him son.
As he drove home Steve thought about the last half hour and decided that Dora was right, they should consult the doctor who could assess Geoffrey's condition while socialising and perhaps insist on  checking him over. He also thought about his relationship with Dora. Since they had admitted their true feelings for one another he had become relaxed and happier than he'd been in his entire adult life.
He belonged at Follyfoot with Dora and now they were going to have a baby he knew he needed to make a committment to her and began making plans for the anniversary of his return from Liverpool.


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Re: A Wintry Follyfoot Tale by Loopy Lin (Norfolk Dumpling)
« Reply #37 on: March 06, 2011, 12:49:51 AM »
The doctor called in to see Geoffrey in response to a phone call from Dora. The colonel reluctantly submitted to an examination which resulted in his medication being increased. When told he should rest more he replied that if he rested any more he would grow roots. 'Good to see you've still got your sense of humour Geoff.'
'Well they do say laughter is the best medicine Hugh. How's your wife these days?'
'Daphne's not so good. Never did laugh much herself and now she has precious little to laugh about.'
'Well being in a wheelchair can't be much fun. give her my regards.'
'I'll drop in again next week Geoff- time we had another game of chess.'
'Hmm I don't think so. Even Dora can beat me now. I taught her to play you know. '
Well ok- we'll play Scrabble.'
'Don't be surprised if I come out with some really rude words then!'
Worrying about her uncle had meant Dora's own blood pressure was causing concern. She was pleased that the extra medication seemed to be helping him and hoped that if she was more relaxed her problem would sort itself out. Lady Caroline Beck visited Geoff with her son. 'How's Dora?'she asked.
'Happy and in love.'
'With that stable boy, Steve?'
'Oh for heaven's sake Caroline, he's more than that, he's her right hand man.She'd be lost without him.'
'Still got her horse has she?' asked Lord Beck. 'What was it called Cobra?'
'Yes she still has Copper Prince.'
'Splendid beast what. Not quite up to champion of Beck though.'
'Dora hasn't time to do much in the way of serious training otherwise Copper could be a force to be reckoned with. I'm sorry Caroline, I'm feeling rather tired.'
Caroline and her son took their leave and the colonel breathed a sigh of relief. He was sure that the extra tablets were responsible for his increased tiredness. 'Infernal things' he said. Well let everyone think he was still taking them but he ballywell wasn't going to!'
Dora had made up her mind that it was time to tell everyone about her pregnancy. The morning sickness had almost stopped but now she was tired most of the time. It was a struggle to get up in the mornings and she had a nap every afternoon. 'You oughta see a doctor girl- it ain't natural all this sleep.' 'Don't worry Slugs. I'll be okay.'
'Steve can't you talk sense into her?'
'Slugs, I promise you- Dora will see the doctor when she needs to.'
They went to their room soon after supper each night and Dora soon fell asleep. Steve had bought a small television and sometimes watched it for a while but more often than not he read. Dora usually woke up as the 9 o'clock news was finishing. Steve would make them both a hot drink then get into bed himself.
The weather had continued to be cold but towards the middle of March it brightened. Dora was outside with Steve and had just watered the lightning tree. Looking up to check it's growth she saw a bird- a magpie. Frantically she searched the sky for more but saw none. 'Steve' she cried in an agonised voice.
He turned round in time to see her clutching at the tree. Hurrying over he supported her as she almost collapsed . He picked her up and carried her indoors where she soon revived and waived aside his suggestion they should call the doctor. That night the dream she'd had weeks ago became a reality.

This part of the story ends here and continues in 'One for Sorrow.'
There follows a postlude for this story which also fits in the later one.

It was April 2nd only a couple of weeks since the colonel died. Steve was conscious that his proposal to Dora had been made rather hurriedly  so that they could tell Dora's uncle about it and the baby as he lay unconscious and hope he heard. It certainly had not been romantic or how Steve had envisaged it would be, The ring had been bought soon afterwards.Steve was worried in case deep down Dora thought that he'd done it because of the baby, to please her uncle, and appease her parents and Slugger. This was far from the truth. She was still getting over her uncle's death. The pregnancy was still not noticeable to anyone who didn't know her well. Her figure hasd altered only slightly but her clothes fitted more snugly and she was convinced she looked fat in spite of all Steve's loving assurances to the contrary. She was depressed thinking of the months ahead. Steve was determined to go ahead with the plan he'd formulated before the colonel's death and enlisted Ron's help to carry it through. After breakfast next morning Ron announced he was going to clear out the small barn and suggested  Dora might like to supervise. She looked at Steve who said he was going into Tockwith to see Jane Oldcastle's solicitor so Dora agreed and was soon seated on a chair with her feet on the trusty footstool. Steve kissed her, told her to take it easy and he would see her soon. She dozed in the early spring sunshine till much later Ron gently nudged her awake saying 'Ere Dora, are you ready for a nasty surprise?' The words struck a chord in her memory and she looked up to see Steve at the gate, the knapsack he had taken to Liverpool slung over his shoulder. In his hand was a bouquet of spring flowers. This time when Dora called his name he ran to her and setting knapsack and flowers in a handy wheelbarrow swung her up carefully in his arms. 'Hello darling, I'm home. ' He set her gently down, picked up the flowers and the knapsack and produced a box of her favourite chocolates. 'Let's put these indoors then I want you to come down to the lake with me'. A small bench had been erected in a shady spot amongst the trees and here they sat down with Steve's arm draped round her.
'Dora, I've been thinking. When I proposed you might have thought it was mainly so that the baby would be legitimate. I want to tell you this wasn't the case.I did it bcause I really love you.' He slid down on one knee, took her hand in his and gently eased her engagement ring off. Now I'll ask you again will you marry me?'
As she said 'Yes' he kissed the ring, kissed her finger and slipped it carefully back on. I've had it in mind for a long time to propose today and I want to promise you-as I promised uncle that whatever happens I won't go off and leave you again.'
As we're being honest I was hoping you'd propose on Valentine's day. I was disappointed. I had been going to tell you I thought I was pregnant but it didn't feel right. I didn't know how you'd react and I didn't want to spoil our lovely weekend.'
'So that was the real reason you went all quiet on me!'
'Yes' she whispered.
'Well, tonight we're going to have our engagement celebration- just you and me. I'm nor taking no for an answer because I've already booked a table at Georgio's. I promise we won't be out late . You can put on that pretty kaftan your mother bought you. You look lovely in it- not pregnant and certainly not fat! Slugger rang the bell for lunch. 'Oh Steve you're wonderful!' she said as he took her hand and led her indoors.

THE END
linda-norfolk dumpling