Author Topic: One for sorrow- by Norfolk Dumpling  (Read 5371 times)

Offline loopylin

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One for sorrow- by Norfolk Dumpling
« on: February 01, 2010, 03:35:22 PM »
Dora shuddered as she looked out across the fields' What's up'asked Steve coming up to stand behind her and drawing her into his arms. ' Look- see that bird up there? It's a magpie.'
'Yes- I know- so what?' 'You know the old rhyme surely-about magpies  one for sorrow.' 'None of that- it's just an old rhyme- there's no truth in it you know!' 'I couldn't bear anything to spoil our happiness. ' The dinner bell rang from the house- 'There you are' laughed Steve 'Slugger's stew- enough to bring sorrow to anyone's stomach!' She play-punched him in the ribs and her bad feeling momentarily forgotten grabbed his hand and ran with him inti the farmhouse. Afterwards though she went round every four-footed creature on the farm to make sure they all seemed healthy and happy. Over tea Ron asked 'Hey girl- are you going to start on us next- want me to strip off for inspection?' She shook her head.'Na- course not- that treatment's reserved for Stevie boy. How about you look at my tongue then?' He stuck it out. 'Definitely needs surgery!' said Steve picking up a knife from the kitchen table.
Although Dora laughed at their antics her vague unease refused to go away. She kept going from room to room refusing to relax. At midnight she insisted on going to have one last check around the stables.' You go to bed' said Steve- I'll do it. 'No I need to see for myself- come with me though-please.' So together they checked and double checked and finally he persuaded her to bed. Steve cuddled her close and kissed her lovingly. She responded to him as always but when he fell asleep with her still in his protective embrace she remained awake not even dozing until after 2am and then she murmured restlessly in her sleep. At one point she sat bolt upright in bed waking Steve who soothed her with gentle words and lovemaking. They both drifted back to sleep but they were rudley awakened by the sound of the telephone in the study below their room................ to be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2010, 05:26:45 PM »
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
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2010, 10:48:03 PM »
There was an old man standing there holding a very old-looking horse. 'I've brought him here ter spend 'is last days.I can't tek care of 'im. 'e's me brothers and 'as wanted fer nowt but me brother's 'ad to go into a home and left me to sort out Cromwell 'ere.' Dora put her head into her hands. 'Not today-of all days.' 'Well we do have room for him' said Steve. 'Hazel can settle him.' 'Yes- I've finished my breakfast. I'll take him' Hazel grabbed her coat and took the horse from the old man. 'Come in and have a hot drink' said Slugger.'You two do what you need to do quick so we can be off- You going into town?' he asked of the man. 'Yes- I need ter tell me brother I'vegot Cromwell sorted out. 'E'll be that relieved I can tell you.' 'We'll give you a lift. We've got to go to the hospital. Which home is your brother in?' 'Heathcliff Court' Slugger whistled. 'Phew- thaty place aint cheap!' 'Aye- well George is worth a bob or two and there's no family to leave it to- just 'im and me and it's even money who'll kick the bucket first. He's getting his solicitor over ter mek a new will- the last one's out of date. All't people in it are long gone sev fer me and I don't need nowt. Reckon it'll all go ter charity.
He finished his tea and soon found himself with the others on the way to town. Heathcliffe's Court was quite near the hospital so they dropped him outside. 'Bye Mr....... ?'
'Oliver, Sam Oliver.Thanks fer the lift and everything.'Appen I'll come and visit old Cromwell soon-Bye fer now!'
Well, well- a celebrity in our midst eh?' said Slugger. 'Oliver's Cromwell!' It lightened their mood a little as they prepared to go into the hospital. Steve dropped them at the main entrance while he went to park. He found them in the waiting area by 'Intensive Care' Mrs. Porter was sitting huddled in a chair looking grey and worried' 'Have you found anything out?' Steve asked her. 'He's very poorly Steve. They say i they manage to stabilise him we'll be able to see him- so far he's not regained consciousness' 'There's a coffee machine along the corridor- can I get you a drink- you must have been here on your own for ages.' 'The nurses have been very good and brought me some tea. Don't you worry about me- look after Miss Dora' 'I'll take you home in a bit for a rest- no point in all of us staying.' 'Nay- you're right. I was just waiting till you got here. I'll get a taxi or the early bus.' 'You'll do no such thing- hang on till Steve can take you' said Dora putting her arms around the older lady's shoulders.Just then the sister in charge came out. she knew them because her daughter had once taken some lessons aty the farm.'We've done all we can for now. Colonel Mdddocks is heavily sedated and hooked up to a monitor so we can keep a close eye on him. You can go and have a peep at him and two of you will be able to stay with him if you like. Mrs. Porter and Dora went in together.'That doesn't sound very good, said Steve to the sister.She shook her head sadly. 'We're keeping everything crossed- but he is very ill' 'Slugs- it's your place and Dora's to be with him at the moment. I'll phone Ron and make sure he gets to the farm on time. I'll take Mrs Porter home then go out to Follyfoot myself for a while.' 'You need to get back here quick son- Dora needs you.' 'I know. I feel torn in two but I'll do my best for everyone.
Ron sleepily agreed to go to the farm as soon as possible when Steve phoned from the hospital. He went to have a look at the Colonel, hug Dora and tell her he'd get back as fast as he could then left with Mrs. Porter.
'Will you be alright here by yourself' he asked or would you like me to take you anywhere else?' 'No Steve- my place is here. Miss Dora should phone her father- or maybe you can do it. ' 'I'll have to see what she says' 'It's about time you two got married-the colonel has been longing to see you wed cos he's rather old fashioned at heart- and so am I come to think of it and that baby needs a name'Steve's face registered his amazement. 'How did you know about that- we've only just found out ourselves!' 'Miss Dora's mother had a craving for Turkish Delight when she was carrying her so the colonel said. He always keeps a supply for when she visits because she still likes it- sweetens her up he says! Anyway Miss Dora has never cared for it- then a few weeks ago she asked for some. I just put two and two together like- so I'm right am I?  Oh but the colonel will be so chuffed. 'She put  her handkerchief to her face  and Steve squeezed her shoulder. 'I'll try and make sure we tell him about the baby- as to the other we'll just have to see  but I can't see Dora's parents being happy about their grandchild having a coalminers son for a father- and a gaolbird at that!' 'Arthur'll be ok but Prudence and Dora are world's apart. They'll never get on!' Back at the farm Steve weighed into the tasks of the day. He didn't stop for lunch but before heading back to the hospital grabbed some essentials for overnight hoping to persuade Dora away from her uncle's side to spend the night at his house.
Back at the hospital nothing had changed and Slugger decided to go and keep Mrs. Porter company refusing Steve's offer of a lift and saying he'd get the bus. 'I think you need a break girl- let's go and get some tea and sandwiches.' To his surprise Dora agreed. 'I feel so helpless just sitting here Steve. I could do with some fresh air. Steve told her that Mrs Porter knew their secret.'Do you think anyone else has guessed?' 'No or we'd have got our legs well and truly pulled by Ron or an earful from Slugger. Now what about your parents- do you want to ring them?' 'I think I'd like to give it a few hours-there might be some improvement.They sat outside on a bench and ate ham sandwiches from the hospital cafe. The tea came in polystyrene cups but still tasted good.'I don't think we should stay here tonight. I'd rather we went back to your uncles-........ to be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2010, 10:45:15 PM »
.... we can go back to say goodnight to the horses first. In the morning when we've found out how the colonel is we'll phone your Dad- are you okay with not staying here?' Steve was prepared for an argument but she noded saying ' I need to rest- I don't want to risk harming our baby' 'I'd like us to tell your uncle- they say there's a chance he can hear us. It might help so let's go and try.' In her uncle's room Dora bent near to him. She took one of his hand and Steve took the other' Uncle- Steve and I have some wonderful news- we're going to have a baby.' His eyelids flickered and for a moment he opened his eyes and looked from one to the other. Then the monitor made a loud bleep and the staff rushed in ushering Dora and Steve out. 'Do you think we had anything to do with that' asked Dora worriedly. 'I dunno but in those few seconds before the alarm went off I'm sure he smiled' When the sister came out they spoke to her about what had happened. She said it sometimes happened that very sick people   seemed to rally- then have a setback- this she said was a major setback. Dora's uncle had slipped into a coma and it was doubtful that he would wake again. Steve took the sobbing Dora into his arms and the sister hurried off to find a nurse to make some tea. They were allowed back into the room for a bit but were advised that they should go and get some rest. They paid a brief visit to the farm and put the others in the picture then returned to the colonel's where Mrs. Porter had prepared a room for them. If there was to be no cure for her employer then she hoped he would slip away quietly in the night as that would be kinder than protracted bedside vigils- and the colonel had always been a kind man.
The telephone in the hall rang early the next morning. Slugger who had risen early as usual, answered it. The others came down as he was saying'Yes I see- we'll be there as soon as we can. He turned to face them- tears in his eyes-'He's had another attack- they got him back but they say if he has another one they don't think it would be appropriate to intervene again. We should prepare ourselves for the worst to happen at any time and go and say goodbye if we want to.' Steve expected dora to protest that they should keep on trying but she merely nodded miserably. All four were in tears as Steve said 'We need to let them know at Folltfoot but first Dora you need to ring your parents' . She begged first Slugger, then Mrs. Porter, then Steve to do it for her but they said it was really her job. 'I won't leave you on your own my love- I'll get the number for you and hold you while you call but your mother doesn't even like me and you get on well with your father.' 'I don't know what the time differrence is' 'No more excuses girl. It's got to be done. come on we'll use the phone in the library.' Dora cried her way through the phone call and in the end Steve took the receiver from her and listened to what her father was saying 'So you definitely won't be able to get back this week- yes I understand- we'll keep you posted.' Keeping Dora close to him he telephoned 'Follyfoot and woke up Ron 'I'll try and make it back this morning so you and Hazel can come to the hospital' He propelled dora into the kitchen for tea and toast. 'I'll drive us all to the hospital, see the colonel then leave you with him while I relieve Ron and Hazel.At the hospital Dora needed a bit of time to compose herself so she syayed with Steve while Mrs. Porter and slugger went in. 'Darling- this might not be the most appropriate time  but I want to settle things before your parents come over. I love you and I want our baby to have Ross for it's surname so please Dora my only love will you marry me? @ Tears were streaming down both their faces as she said ' Yes, it's what I want too. I love you more every day- and no less today with all its sadness.'He kissed away her tears, dried his own and said' Let's go and tell the colonel and then I'll see what Slugs and Mrs. P want to do- I don't want to leave you but we must let Ron and Hazel say their goodbyes too.' Mrs Porter said she had things to do and wanted to return home but Slugger said his place was with his old commanding officer -and Dora. The news about the wedding was quietly passed on to Uncle Geoffrey and then the others. Steve and Dora shared a tender farewell hug and kiss. He dropped off Mrs. Porter then hurried to the farm. Hazel and Ron left immediately. As Steve was having a coffee break the phone rang and he quickly answered it- but it was not the call he had been half expecting and dreading. It was Sam Oliver asking after his brother's horse. 'He's fine' said Steve who had just finished grooming him.' 'Eeh, George 'll be reet med up to hear it. Now lad what did yer say yer names were?'
'I'm Steve Ross and the boss lady, my fiancee (the first time he'd used the word!) is Dora Maddocks.' 'Right, good. Well I'll tell George- he be pleased to know the names of those looking after Cromwell- happen I'll see you soon. Steve went and spen time with all of the horses seeing to their needs and apologising to Copper and Alex for not spending time exercising them recently. 'I'm getting as bad as Dora' he said' I'm half expecting them to answer me back.' It was late in the afternoon when Ron and Hazel arrived back. 'What's this about the patter of tiny feet and the sound of wedding bells?' asked Ron.'Well I'm sure uncle Geoffrey will wan to know that I'm committing myself to taking care of Dora and taking Follyfoot into a next generation. If the colonel is going to be missing then there'll be someone to have his share of love as well as it's own- ok Uncle Ron?' Ron grinned. @You know the old saying that when one soul leaves the world another comes to take its place' 'Blimey Steve- don't go all religious on me or I'll have to retaliate and get out me hells angels gear.' Hazel interrupted 'Steve- get on back to Dora- she needs food or she'll faint! -----to be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2010, 11:50:00 PM »
The bakery where Mr. Plum still worked part time was open late on Fridays and he was behind the counter when Steve dropped in to pick up some scones. The old gentleman was sad to hear about the colonel's state of health and sent his love to Dora. Steve entered the intensive care waiting room just as the alsrm sounded and Dora was ushered out of her uncle's room with Slugger.'They're going to let him go- he's had enough.' said Slugger. THe sisster came out and confirmed that thy had not tried resussitation and that the colonel had died. When the machines had been switched off and disconnected and the colonel made presentable they were allowed back in to the room. He looked to be peacefully asleep but they knew that it was the final sleep from which he would not wake. Dora kissed him- so did Slugger and Steve. Dora bit her lip recalling once saying to him 'I thought you loved but you hate' all of that hate had gone now and had been replaced with a caring nature which she had only seen glimpses of before things came to a head between them on that day when Copper disappeared. They each had private thoughts and memories as they stayed in the colonels room and each said a quiet goodbye to the man they all loved. Finally Steve said it was time to go so that Dora could get some food and rest. They went back to the colonel's where Mrs. Porter spread Dora's favourite blackcurrant jam on the scones and they sat looking into their teacups and making a brave attempt at eating. I want to go back to Follyfoot' said Dora. 'I'll stop over if you like' said Slugger and Mrs Porter nodded her agreement. 'Shall we take the sportscar back and leave the truck here so Slugs has got some transport? ' said Steve and Dora agreed this was sensible. 'Shall I go and ring your father? ' 'Please Steve' ' You've got a lovely young man there Miss Dora' said Mrs. Porter. Dora said 'I know- I'm so lucky' and she shivered as she remembered the times when they had seemed so far apart that she was sure she would lose him Slugger had warned her but it had worked out well for them. When he returned Steve said that Mr Maddocks had asked that they were to try and defer the funeral date at least two weeks to allow them time to settle things so they could return and stay for a few months. He had also intimated that they were to deal with everything regarding the arrangements.' 'Dora nodded sleepily.'Let's get you home now. Slugs ring Ron and tell him we're on our wayand that I'll bring some food. 'He stopped at the Chinese takeaway and got enough food for four.No-one was particularly hungry but the all ate something washed down with hot sweet tea. Hazel went to her room after the meal and Ron elected to stay the night.Steve settled in the big comfy armchair and took Dora onto his lap.' Come on- have a good cry if you want to' ' I'm okay Steve- at the moment I just feel numb. The tears will come later - I know that and I'm so glad you're here with me. Oh there's so much to do- so many people we need to contact.' 'Hey come on- we'll think about that tomorrow- right now it's time we were in bed. He carried her upstairs in his strong young arms, undressed her and popped a comfortable nightie over her head. Then he ushered into the bathroom, waited while she washed and took her iron and folic acid tablets  and cleaned her teeth all the time waiting for her to say she wasn't a baby and he wasn't her mother. It worried him a bit that this retort didn't come. They got into bed and she lay looking at the ceiling. Not expecting her to respond he leaned over and kissed her lovingly. She kissed him back hungrily and they made love lingeringly till they were both sated and spent. Then they fell into an exhausted sleep still wrapped in each others arms. Once again they were both awake early and to Steve's delighted surprise Dora made it clear that she wanted to make love to him . It was in the aftermath of loving that the tears began to fall. Steve held her and kissed her and even cried with her at one point. Then he gently made love to her again and they dozed until their alarm woke them at 6am. 'I wish we didn't have to get up' she said.'Here in your arms I feel safe from whatever the day is going to throw at me' 'I know how you feel but there are the horses to see to before we go back to town- and remember that even though my arms cannot always be physically round you all the time that's where I imagine they are and I'm always just a breath away from you' 'Oh Steve, darling- what a lovely thought- thankyou.'She made to get up but Steve stopped her. 'Now remember what the Doctor said- you should have a cup of tea and a biscuit before you get up. We need you to feel as fit as possible today so stay there till I bring it to you. You may be mistress of Follyfoot but I'm he who must be obeyed as far as you and our baby are concerned. Clad only in his dressing gown Steve went downstairs and was soon back with tea and biscuits for two. 'It's called togetherness' he said. 'you take your time but in my case it's a quick cuppa then I'm off to do the morning chores before breakfast' 'I want to help' 'I'm not going to stop you- a little of the light work won't hurt and it will take your mind of your grief. You can have a little chat to Copper while I get on with the heavy stuff- don't want to leave it all for the others. With a quick kiss he was gone and Dora sank back against the pillows a little smile playing at the corner of her mouth at the thought of the night just passed with her gorgeous husband to be. Dora Ross- that sounded so good! Getting on with the business of running the farm was difficult but it did help. All too soon however they were in the real world again going to the hospital to pick up the death certificateand arrange for the colonel to be taken to 'Coogan's' the undertaker whom Dora liked because he still used horse drawn carriages when required and that was what Dora wanted for her uncle's last journey.
to be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2010, 03:52:09 PM »
Mrs. Porter was happy to stay on at the house until Dora's parents arrived and in the long term was going to live with her married daughter. She wanted to organise the catering for the wake and hold it in the house. It's lovely grounds would make a fitting background .They phoned Mr. Coogan,Mr. Bricklebank the solicitor and Rev.Harcourt the local vicar who had been a personal friend of the colonel. They took care of registering the death and put the death announcement in the press.They made provisional arrangements for the service to be in two weeks time at 11am to give them time to see to the horses. Dora rang her father and he said they could get home in time and would Dora arrange for a wreath. 'Flowers!' said Dora- I didn't think of that. ' When we see the solicitor we'll ask if there's anything in the will about that- I can't see your very practical uncle wanting a lot of money spent on flowers which will only be left to fade and die. This brought the tears on again and he held her close.'Come on sweetheart- you've had enough for one day. Let's get some lunch then I'll catch up with some things at Follyfoot while you get some rest. News had started to spread around the little town. As they ate in the high street cafe several people came over to offer their condolences. Mrs. Laidlaw who owned the cafew said 'The colonelwas a lovely man. Never to posh to come in here for a bite to eat or say how much he enjoyed it.Will you be living in his house now?' 'Well we don't know how ownership stands now and the colnel already gave me Follyfoot- Steve and I will still be running it together- we're self supporting now thank goodness.' She took Steve's hand. ' I'm glad you and uncle persuaded me to let Mr. Chadwick look after some of our older horses whilst we got everything up and running with the new stables' We didn't like upsetting you that we made temporary arrangements and now most of them are back with us where they belong.' 'And I was still able to be there at the end for the others- Mr. chadwick was so good and I'm glad he's making a go of things too. Back at the farm they found they had a visitor- Sam Oliver. 'Sorry to hear about your uncle miss- George said to give you this for Cromwell's keep. He can afford it and he knows he's not got a great deal of time left- ner me either happen.' 'Please thank him for us' said Dora.'Aye I'll do that- and if yer need ter call vet fer anything yer ter let us know- 'eres me number and George's at t'ome. I'll be off now- you tek care!'
'Shall I run you back?' asked Steve. 'Nay lad- me friend dropped me off and he'll meet me on the road back. Tara fer now- I'll see thee!' Dora looked inthe envelope and found a cheque made out to her for £1000.'Steve I can't accept this- it's far too much' 'Don't be daft- you heard what Sam said- George can afford it. We're in the black at the moment and this will help us to stay that way.We'll get a photo taken of us with Cromwell, get it framed and taken in to George. 'Oh Steve- that's a lovely idea.' 'Right- off you go for a rest while I go and help the others and if you're a good girl and do as you're told you can come with me later to exercise Alex and copper- just a gentle ride mind you- no haring off for a gallop.' 'Ok- I'm going' Steve went and put his back into some hard physical work to help get his emotions in check. When he went in for a cup of tea in mid afternoon Dora said she was ready for a ride and they rode down to the lake together. It was quiet and tranquil in the afternoon sun. THey dismounted and let the horses go free knowing that neither of them would run off. 'I still feel uncle is here with us' 'Yes I know what you mean- he's still that distant voice- I keep expecting him to appear and tell us to get on with our work.' I wonder what is going to happen to the house? - to be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2010, 11:14:41 PM »
I presume it's been left to Daddy. Oh goodness- I hope he and mummy don't decide to live there!''Now don't start worrying about what may not happen. Let's talk about when we want to get married- it ought to be soon. There's only six months till the baby arrives and it ought to be when your parents are still here.''I don't want a lot of fuss. A quiet wedding in the church with just our families and the people from 'Follyfoot' and Callie and her mum. No white dress, no fancy reception or even a big marquee on the lawn- a special; licence perhaps and as soon as is decently possible as soon as is decently possible given that my parents wont stay for too long and wont want to come back again this year.''Do you really think your folks will let us get away with that kind of wedding?.' 'I'll talk Daddy round. Do you remember what you said to him when he thought you were talking about Ladybird' Out there is the big wide world and she's afraid of it!' I'm not now- because we're together I can even stand up to mummy let alone daddy.' 'Brave words when they're not here!' She shivered suddenly as the sun disappeared. 'Come on, let's go back- Slugger's home so we know what we'll be eating!'
Slugger told them that Mr. Bricklebank wanted to see them the next day so they drove into town. 'Now said the solicitor- you were asking about your uncles wishes for the funeral- He wants your dad and Steve to read the lessons. He would like a horse drawn carriage with Mr Jones and Mr. Stryker up front and the two of you riding beside.There's to be a funeral car for your parents and Mrs. Porter.  Burial in the churchyard where he has already reserved a plot- family flowers only and donations from others for the upkeep of Follyfoot. Normally funeral expenses have first call on the estate but I understand that he had a funeral plan with Mr. Coogan.'' Has the house been left to my parents?' your uncle has left a letter for all the beneficiaries and the details will be in there. when your parents arrive I will call a meeting of all concerned and explain things in more detail. The will is of course subject to probate and there will probably be duties payable on the estate. i would like to come to the funeral if you would please let me know when you have finalised the details. Here are the letters for you both.'
They waited until they were by themseles at home before reading their letters sitting side by side on the sofa in the study. Dora opened hers first it read 'My dear Dora, I hope that when you read this Steve will be with you because I know it will upset you. I would have dearly loved to keep my old house with its stables and horses but the upkeep and running of it was to much for me as you know. In order to support my love of horses both the fit and health in my stables and the less fortunate ones at Follyfoot the property was partially mortgaged. The sale provided enough capital to repay this, buy my new house and provide some spare capital- though not as much as I hoped. I don't think that there will be much left after duties have been paid and my bequests met. I am leaving my house to you. All the paintings and artefacts in the house and in store I am leaving to your parents, the rest of the contents are yours to dispose of as you wish. In all likelihood the house will need to be sold but Bricklebank will advise you. I know Steve will reqad his letter when he is with you and so there are other things I need not mention here. My one regret is that I have not lived to see you two married- it's what I have hoped would happen.Be happy- you're loving uncle Geoffrey. ' Of course the letter did upset Dora and Steve's arms tightened round her in a comforting embrace. The contents of his own letter brought a huge surprise. 'My dear Steve- what a way you have come since you walked into our lives withg the weight of the world on your young shoulders. you have moved from being a trusted employee to dear friend and rock for our beloved Dora. I know you have never liked being financially dependant on anyone and I wanted to make life easier for you. I want you to have whatever horses remain in my stables and any saddles and other items you wish- I am sure any others can be put to good use at Follyfoot. I thought long and hard about whether I should impose a condition on my last gift to you namely that you would only inherit it provided you and Dora were married within a year of my death but I decided that to be unfaior so it is yours unconditionally. I expect it will come as a surprise to everyone that Mrs. Oldcastle dfid not in fact own her house and land. I bought if from her when she was in financial difficulties aftyer her husband died and she was allowed to stay there for the duration of her life after which time it was mine. It has stood empty since her death, the keys and deeds are with my solicitor. I hope that
you and Dora now have enough options to lead a happy life. Your affectionate adopted uncle Geoff Maddocks.
Steve buried his head in his hands- 'Oh Dora- I'm so glad we'd agreed to get married before we knew about this- but will you want to live in either of these houses- I know they'rwe only a short distance away. 'Didn't you once say Steve that the colonel was always right? He has given us the chance of a new start. We have to go and look at the cottage and land. i think there will be enough space to build another stable block so we could move Copper, alex, Folly and the two horses from uncle's stables. ' I've been looking after those two- Diadem and Flamenco. They're really special. We are going to have to get some extra help with our added responsibility and the baby. Hazel is much more experienced now and Callie can help when she's on holiday from college- she comes to see Magic after all but we'll need either a part timer or someone on a voluntary basis. If we do move into Mrs. Oldcastles we'll be able to offer accomodation at Follyfoot.- to be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2010, 11:13:09 PM »
That night at the table the conversation was a little restrained- Ron didn't want to appear flippant so he didn't even poke fun at Slugger's cooking but knowing about the visit to the solicitors he couldn't help being curious. 'So who gets the colonel's house then?' Dora just lowered her eyes so Steve asked 'Do you want me to tell them sweetheart? ' She nodded so he told them about the two houses.'So where are going to live then?'' We haven't made up our minds yet- there's a lot to be considered. Are you going home tonight Ron? ' 'May as well'
When they were on their own Dora and Steve planned what had to be done in the days before her parents arrived. They had to finalise details with the undertaker and the vicar and put the funeral arrangements in the press. 'When we see Rev Harcourt I'd like to ask about wedding arrangements too' said Dora. 'It's a bit insensitive love and anyway we  really need to speak to your parents' ' Uncle has made his wishes clear and daddy's said they'd stay three months at the most- let's see what dates are available.
On Monday they went to bank George's cheque then visited the undertaker and set the time for a week on Friday at 11am. He would sort out the carriage and horses and also see to the press announcements for them. Next they saw Rev. Harcourt to arrange the service and hymns and readings. When they asked about the wedding the vicar said they had made his day. They confided the news about the baby but asked that everything  be kept quiet for the time being. The date they chose provisionally was May 10th
Dora would be married from the Colonel's house as no sale would happen before then.She also wanted the reception there. They visited the florist next and as well as ordering the flowers for the funeral Steve bought her a little posy and she looked at photos of wedding bouquets.
On Saturday Steve got out the little box where he had been saving money in the hope of using it to buy Dora a ring. They travelled into town and were pleased to find within their price range a matching set of his and hers engagement and wedding rings. The wedding rings were left to be engraved with their names and the wedding date when it was confirmed. Steve put the box with their engagement rings in safely in his inside pocket. On their way to lunch they passed a boutique with a sale on' Steve- go and get a table in Carries I just want to look in here at the wedding dresses.' 'Hadn't you better wait for your mother' 'Not if I see something I like' In fact she had already seen a dress in the window but had deliberately not drawn his attention to it, The price was good and when she tried it on it felt good- there was room for her to grow and the only thing needed was to alter the length which she could do herself. She was pleased that as it was the last day of the sale the price was even lower than the one on the ticket. She would not allow Steve even a peep at it and put him on his honour not to look at it when she hung it up at home. They had fish and chips with bread, butter and tea then drove home past Mrs. Oldcastles house stopping to look at it from the outside. Suddenly Dora gasped- Magpie- Steve looked up- there's another. 'Oh thank goodness - two for joy- let's hope it's right.
At home with the dress safely hung away and the posy in water Steve led her outside to stand under the lightning tree. She was wearing one of her pretty dresses and looked radiantly happy. They slipped the rings onto each other's fingers the sunlight catching the diamond in the small star of Steve's ring and the larger one in Dora's. They kissed lovingly then called for Slugger to bring the camera. As well as photos of themselves they had one of them taken with Cromwell and another with Copper an Alex. 'Do you think uncle can see us?' 'I'm sure he can' They stood wrapped in each others arms looking up into the tree.Slugger called from the house that Dora's father was on the phone so she went to speak to him. He said they were flying home on sunday and would spend a couple of days at the London house before travelling up to Yorkshire. Dora asked him to bring her sewing machine, dressmaker's dummy and a small jewellery box that had been left to her by her grandmother. She told Steve that in it was a charm bracelet- also a gift from the same person- she wanted to wear it on her wedding day with the silver locket Steve had given her last Christmas.
Later in the day a reporter from the Tockwith examiner turned up to interview Dora about her uncle. It made her very emotional again and Steve had to help her out.
The next few days were taken up with caring for the horses and fitting themselves, Slugger and Ron out with black riding gear which fortunately they were able to borrow- Joe Rimmington was very helpful. On Sunday armed with a key and a map showing the boundary they rode over to Steve's house.'Will you really be able to live here?' asked Steve as they looked round the house. It's big- a good place to raise a family.' 'Well it'll need a lot doing to it but furniture wont be a problem as uncle had lots but yes after we've had it altered to suit us which will take time- I think I'll be ok with moving' 'You know Dora- you never cease to amaze me- I know you hate change and I didn't think you'd want a bar of moving away from Follyfoot- even this little distance' 'Home for me now is where you are- I've grown up and you've lost all your hate. We need to build a new life together. We can do this now without being too far away from Slugger and the others- it wont be a sudden dramatic change but will happen gradually giving both of us the chance to get used to it.
Later that week Steve and Dora were exercising Diadem and Fandango by walking them round the colonel's grounds  getting them used to their new owners. They saw a car approaching 'My parents' said Dora. Steve took the horses back to the stable. Dora went to meet them
wondering how  she was going to tell them her be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2010, 11:54:27 PM »
'Hello darling' said her father. Her mother surveyed the outside of the house with distaste. 'Well- this is a bit of a comedown' she said lighting a cigarette. 'It's okay mummy- it was quite big enough for uncle and Mrs. Porter.' The lady in question opened the front door. 'Come in all of you- the kettle's boiled and I've baked a fruit cake this morning. Will Steve be coming in?' 'Yes he's just settling Diadem and Fandango' As her parents went into the spacious lounge Dora whispered to Mrs. Porter. 'No tea for me- I'll just have orange juice please- I was a bit sick this morning- my parents don't know about the baby or anything yet so we'll just take things one step at a time' Steve came in then and went to wash his hands calling in to the kitchen on the way back to carry the tray. He elected to have juice too.He was very nervous as he set the tray down and needed to be close to Dora. He waited for her parents to sit down before sitting with Dora on the sofa as close as they could.
'Well now' said Dora's father.'Can you bring us up to speed with the funeral arrangements? ' They were on safe ground here and Dora let Steve do most of the talking. 'Well that all sounds splendid doesn't it Prudence? And how are you bearing up darling- I know you loved Geoff very much and you'll miss him dreadfully.' 'Just so long as you aren't going to go about crying all the time. I had enough of that nonsense last time.' Steve's arm tightened round Dora's shoulder. 'It's okay mummy- I've got Steve to support me' He's ben fantastic.' Dora had been wearing her engagement ring on a chain round her neck and she took it in her hand and fiddled with it.' Dora' don't fidget' said her mother and Steve decided enough was enough. He whispered in Dora's ear. She turned and let him unfasten the chain and re-fasten it without the ring. Then in a deliberate gesture he slipped the ring onto her finger and held her left hand in his. 'What's this' said her father. 'Dora and I are getting married in a few weeks time- I hope we can have your blessing sir.' There was a sound of disapproval from her mother-' Why the hurry- are you pregnant Dora' 'Yes mummy- but that's not the point. We're getting married because we love each other' Prudence looked disapprovingly at Steve. 'And how do you propose to manage financially -after all you're just a h...''Don't you dare say it mummy- Steve is my partner in every way- my equal- not an employee. He works harder than anyone- uncle knew that. When you've seen Mr. Bricklebank and know the terms of the will you'll see that things will work out okay. Come down to the farm daddy and you'll see that between us we've turned things around and we're even making a small profit at last.' 'Why on earth didn't you use protection? Honestly an unwanted pregnancy in this day and age!' 'Prudence please. It's none of our business. Dora is now a grown woman.' 'What makes you say that the pregnancy is unwanted?' said Steve trying to stay calm.'Maybe it's a little earlier that we expected and we think we know exactly how it happened but we are over the moon about it. I tell you this I'll work my butt off to make sure everything's okay with Dora throughout the pregnancy and that no horse is neglected either. Could you at least try and be happy for us?' Arthur smiled at Dora.'Are you really happy darling?' 'The only thing that could have made me happier was if uncle had lived to see us married it's what he wanted. Will you stay till May 10th to see us married and give me away Daddy?' 'I'd be glad to- and in the meantime Steve and I will get to know each other better eh?.' Steve smiled and nodded and went to shake his future father in law by the hand. Prudence gave a look of pained resignation.'Oh well-at least I can take you shopping for your dress.'' It's sorted mummy- but I can come with you to choose your outfit and we need bridesmaids dresses for Hazel and Callie.' 'Well we'll need to sort out somewhere for the reception too. It doesn't leave us much time' I'll get onto it in the morning.' 'Mum- no. We want to hold it here. We only want immediate family and friends. Steve only has his mum and aunt- it wont be a big occasion and anyway a big wedding wouldn't seem appropriate so soon after uncle's death.''But darling- your father is a very important man- there are people we simply must invite. We've been to loads of society weddings.We can't have a paltry little affair.' Sorry- I just wouldn't be comfortable with a grand occasion.' said Steve. 'Me neither' said Dora.'It's our day after all!' 'But you're our only daughter- you can't blame us for wanting to give you a good send off' 'Prudence-leave it!'
Dora said that they needed to get back to the farm. 'You need to cqll Mr. Bricklebank tomorrow as he'll want to see you as soon a possible. 'Steve was very quiet on the way back to the farm. Dora told him to stop and pull over. 'What's wrong Steve?' 'I'm just not sure that my mum and auntie Milly are going to agree to come to the wedding. They'll feel so out of place.' 'Steve- it's my parents that are going to feel out of place! Think about it- Slugger, Ron, Callie, Anna, Hazel- they're our kind of people- and speaking of your folks we need to get in touch with them as soon as possible. Perhaps your mum could bring Bert. You must have someone from the family here for you. 'Steve's mum Kathy and her sister Milly had been reconciled at their mother's funeral. Dora had gone with Steve. She and Milly had taken to each other straight away Kathy was a bit more dificult but they had parted on good terms.
Steve was up and hard at work early the next morning as usual. Arthur found him cleaning out Copper's stable.'Hi Mr Maddocks' he said. 'Dora's inside. She's feeling a bit sick this morning so she's taking things a bit easy. Is Mrs. Maddocks with you? 'No Prudence is bending Mrs.Porter's ear about the catering for Friday. I just came to say that we're seeing Bricklebank this afternoon at 3... to be continued
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2010, 11:22:04 PM »
'Can you and Dora be there- and all the others too. I hope Geoff has left the house to Dora as Prudence and I have no use for it.'
'He has done that- he's been very generous to both of us.'
'Excellent-I'm glad.  I can see you are very good for our girl. You love her very much don't you?'
'I do Sir- she's calmed me down and makes me so happy.'
'Steve-can you call me something other than sir or Mr. Maddocks- what did you call Geoff?'
'Usually Colonel- but recently at his request I've been calling him ''uncle''.'
'I know I'm not an ideal father figure or I'd ask you to call me dad'
'I would actually like that if you don't mind- I hardly remember my own father as he died over 15 years ago, I don't think I'll be calling Mrs. Maddocks mum though!!'
Arthur laughed. Steve gave Copper a pat.
'There- that's Copper done. Shall we go and see how Dora is? Ron and Hazel have gone to pick up uncle Geoff's two remaining horses but they should be back soon'
Steve rinsed his hands at the outside tap then hurried indoors. Dora was sitting by the window so she knew that her father had arrived. She looked rather pale. Steve went and kissed her forehead and asked how she felt.
'Still a bit nauseous but I've managed to keep some toast and marmite down.'
I've just got to tell Slugs we've all got to be at the solicitors at 3 today and ask him to ring Callie.'
When he came back Dora said she would like some fresh air and asked her father to go with her while Steve got on with his work. Steve fetched Dora's jacket, helped her on with it then walked outside with his arm round her and her head on his shoulder.
'I'll be in the new block if you want me'  he said kissing her again.
'Dora- I like Steve very much already. I know Geoff thought a lot of him and I'm sure we're going to get along fine. I understand Geoff left you his house- are you going to live there?'
'Probably not' Dora went on to explain about Mrs. Oldcastle's house and that the colonel's house would probably be sold.
'I know uncle left you and Mummy some paintings and other things from the house but I don't know the exact details'
'Your mother  and I already told Geoff not to leave us anything much as we are comfortably off and of course when anything happens to us you and any grandchildren will benefit. Prudence does like her paintings  however so she'll be content. I've got the things you asked me to bring in the car- there's also some fabric we bought overseas'
'Wonderful- now I can sew for relaxation- and make some maternity clothes!'
The horse box drew up just then and Ron and Hazel got out.
'Uncle left Steve these horses- they're beautiful!'
'Aren't you a bit jealous?'
'Not at all- as I told you Steve and I share everything.'
She called to tell him the horses had arrived and went forward to stroke them as they were led out. Steve came to stand behind her.
'Which is your favourite- as if I can't guess'
'Fandango of course- he's the same colour as Copper'
Steve led the grey, Diadem into his stable and Dora followed with Fandango.
'I feel lots better now, Steve. I think I'll be ok to eat lunch'
' How about I treat everyone to lunch in town' said Arthur magnanimously. They told Hazel and Ron about the solicitors and everyone went to tidy up while Arthur unloaded Dora's sewing things and jewellery box. The will revealed generous cash bequests to Slugger and Mrs. Porter, Ron received enough to buy a motorbike, Callie received  money to help with her studies and some of the colonels books which would help her later in her training to be a vet.
They were all given their letters and Hazel was quite overcome that the colonel had left her some money too.
Prudence went into raptures of delight when she learned what art treasures had been bequeathed to her and Arthur.
Dora was told that whatever cash was realised from the sale of any surplus items was hers and Steve received £500 which surprised him greatly in the light of what he had already been told about.
'Miss Dora- how many people do you think will come back to the house after the funeral service?'
'Probably at least 50- uncle's business associates, British legion members, RSPCA representatives- will we have enough cups and glasses?'
'Yes dear- my friends at the WI are helping with the food and will bring what we need.'
Whilst in town Dora and Steve went to meet George Oliver and take him the photograph of them with Cromwell. He loved it but was just as happy to be able to talk horses with people who knew about them.
When they got back to 'Follyfoot Steve said
'Shall we give the new horses a try?'
'I'd rather not ride anything unfamiliar at the moment so I'll stick to Copper. You ride Fandango because he'd be a good one to use on Friday.'
Hazel and Ron had arrived back before them and Hazel was trotting round on Callies Horse- called Magic like her first pony. Ron opened Diadem's stable and he ran out like a rocket thropugh the open gate knocking Ron over in the process. Dora made as if to try and grab his collar as he went past but Steve shouted a warning and she let him pass heading in the direction of the colonel's place.
 'Oh blazes- he's away- probably back to his old stable. You stay here and phone your parents Dora. I'll take Fandango and follow him'.
Ron had got up unharmed and Steve told him to drive the horsebox. Steve galloped off  after Diadem and by taking a couple of shortcuts managed to get him in sight. Dora hurried indoors worried for Steve going full tilt on a strange horse. The phone rang and rang so obviously no-one had arrived back yet.
The ride back to the colonels was mainly across the fields and not too far. Steve was glad to be on Fandango as not even Copper would have kept up with Diadem- he was gaining ground but not much.The horsebox arrived back at the house just before the Maddocks drew up in their car.
Prudence had taken a real dislike to Ron on their last visit home so she paid little attention to him shouting to her to 'Look out' -To be continued........
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Offline loopylin

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Re: New story by Loopylin- one for sorrow
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2010, 11:38:17 PM »
She slammed the door and turned to see Steve just manage
 to turn Diadem to the side of the house. He pulled Fandango up and recognising where he was Diadem stopped too. Prudence clutched at her chest her face contorted in pain.Arthur was at her side in seconds.

'My spray- quickly' she gasped.

Arthur found it and handed it to her.

Steve who with Dora had just completed a first aid course told her to sit back in the car for a few minutes till she recovered her breath.

The truck with Slugger and Mrs. Porter had arrived in the middle of the drama and the housekeeper hurried to put the kettle on.

Between them Steve and Ron Settled the horses and rubbed them down, speaking to them calmly and persuading them into the horsebox. By the time they had finished Arthur and Prudence had disappeared inside. Steve went in to see how things were.

I've phoned the doctor to be on the safe side' said Mrs Porter.

Arthur shook Steve's hand
'That was a fine piece of riding.'

'Thanks- dad! ' said Steve squatting down beside Prudence's chair. She looked down at him taking in for the first time his dark good looks and in particular his deep brown eyes-like molten chocolate.To his solicitous enquiry as to how she was she managed to reply that she was just a bit shaken.

'Dora is a very lucky girl.'
To her surprise Steve took her cold hand in his and gave it a squeeze.

'Thank you both for having such a lovely daughter'

Prudence was not usually given to showing emotion but now she began to cry quietly.

'There, there, old thing. You're going to be fine' said Arthur
patting her on the shoulder.

'Would you like to go and have a lie down upstairs until the doctor's been? Steve asked and she nodded.

Without further ado he scooped her up in his arms as he had done so many times with her daughter.

'Lead the way dad'. In the bedroom he set her down gently.

'There you are your ladyship- all part of the service you can expect from now on.'

Prudence had the grace to blush.
'Erm thanks -Steve. You're calling Arthur dad now- I know you've got a mother but I also know from Dora that you recently lost your grandmother- I used to call my grandma 'Nonna'- you can call me that if you want to- after all you and Dora will be making me a grandma soon.'

'Ok Nonna, see you soon. Call us if you need us. I'd better be getting back or Dora will be worried.'
He shook Arthur's hand again and on impulse bent and kissed Prudence's cheek.

'Let us know what the Doctor says eh?'

Prudence nodded putting a hand to her cheek and smiling a little smile to herself.

Ron was waiting by the horsebox, Slugger was still around too.

'Been making friends with the dragon lady have you?'

Steve play-punched Ron and said 'Remind me to give those two in the back some extra horse nuts- I think I might be accepted into the Maddocks family!'

On Friday Copper and Fandango were made to look their best. Steve, with help from Dora had spent the previous afternoon schooling Fandango and getting him used to the sound of his voice. They took the horsebox to the Colonels and there changed into their borrowed black riding habits.
Dora had been feeling sick again and Steve asked if she was sure she was ok.

'Yes- I like being out in the air.

Steve was nervous about reading in the church.
Dora was apprehensive about seeing the coffin on the carriage.
Slugger was concerned about he and Ron being in charge of unfamiliar horses on such an important occasion.
Ron himself was scared about being so close to Dora's mother.
Arthur was worried about Prudence's health although the doctor would be at the service.
All that bothered Prudence was whether all the crockery would match and be free from chips.
Mrs. Porter fretted about if there would be enough food and Hazel who was accompanied by her probation officer wondered what to expect having never attended a funeral before.

In the end everything went well' It was a moving service full of tears but laughter too. Dora was glad of Steve's supporting arm round her shoulders as they walked to the graveside. The carriage had been taken away by the undertaker's staff. and after the brief committal Steve said

'Slugs take Dora back in the car with her parents. Ron can take Copper and I'll ride Fandango and we'll be back before you know it.

'Come on Girl- Steve's right- it's for the best.'

Ron was not usually allowed on Copper's back and he enjoyed the ride in spite of the sadness of the occasion. When they got back and had the horses settled Steve turned to go inside-

'Come on Ron'

'Er look mate- Dora's mum scares the life out of me. I think I'd prefer to stay with the horses.'

'Ok- someone'll bring you some food out.'

Steve found Dora chatting to her uncle's doctor. He attended patients at Heathcliff's retreat and knew tha George Oliver's horse was at 'Follyfoot'. He told them George had been taken ill and was in hospital.

After making sure Dora had sandwiches and juice Steve asked Slugger to take something to Ron. While Steve was getting some food himself Arthur asked Dora if they were going to stay the night.

'No- Steve has to be up early in the morning- but we'll stay and have tea- Mrs P's made one of her casseroles.

Slugger came back and said that he and Ron were heading back, Hazel had already been taken home by her probation officer.

'Let me know when you want to escape love' said Steve taking her hand in his and covering it with tiny kisses.

'Let's give it a bit longer- I need to say goodbye to a few people.'

Prudence came over with the vicar.
'Rev. Harcourt has to go now as he has a meeting to attend.'

Steve got up to shake hands.'We'll come and see you soon about the wedding sir'

Prudence opened her mouth to say something but was silenced by a look and shake of the head from Arthur.
When the vicar had gone however she said-

'Are you quite sure you don't want to get married from home?'....... to be continued

'Well let me know when you want to go and I'll drive you

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Offline loopylin

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Re: One for sorrow - by Loopylin
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2010, 11:29:46 PM »
Our house is a lot bigger and we could have more guests....'
Dora sat shaking her head.

Steve said  'Look- how about after the wedding and before the baby is born why don't we come up for the weekend and you can throw a party for us- perhaps invite some of Dora's ex schoolfriends and Dad's colleagues-we'll leave that to you'

'That's a splendid idea' said Arthur.
The departure of the vicar  made more people decide to leave. Steve helped Dora to her feet and they moved round saying ' goodbye and thanks' to the departing guests.

'Time you had a rest now Dora sweetheart' Steve cast a mischievous look at Prudence. 'Are you going to walk or would you like me to carry you?'

'I'll walk thankyou!' Hand in hand they went to the room they used when staying at the colonel's house where Steve took her in his arms for a long cuddle.

'Are you okay if I leave you for a little while?'

'Yes of course. I think I need to sleep as I have a bit of a headache. '

'Right I'll go and help with the clearing up and wake you in time for dinner'

In bed that night Steve asked 'Have you still got a headache?'

'No- it's gone'

'Good. You know I was really proud of you today. I know it was hard saying goodbye to uncle Geoff. It was nearly as bad for me- but he wouldn't want us to be sad for too long. We've got a lot to look forward to.'

'I can't believe how you're managing to get round my mother. If she were a horse she'd be eating out of your hand!'

'It's my masculine charm'

'Mmmmn- works on me every time. I think it's the first time ever I can say-like mother like daughter!'

Dora felt sick again the next morning. 'What can I get you sweetheart?' asked Steve 'toast, juice, biscuits?'

'Flat Cola there's an opened bottle in the fridge'

'Yuk- ok' Steve was soon back with her drink, coffee for himself and digestive biscuits.

'I hope this sickness thing passes before the wedding' said Dora.

'Well there's another six weeks to go yet so hopefully it will'

'Apparently some people have problems right through their pregnancy. I hope I don't! Tell Slugs no eggs and bacon for me- just the smell of it cooking sets my stomach churning at the moment'

'I don't like leaving you but I need to get going. I'll come and check on you when I come in for breakfast' Steve went to pass on Dora's message to Slugger who mumbled about needing to eat for two now.

Ron roared up on his bike, Hazel came down and soon all three were working outside doing their pre-breakfast chores. When they went back in Slugger was on the phone.
'That was Sam Oliver- he's coming over to see us about Cromwell. Old George has died'

Steve went to tell Dora who was sitting on the edge of her bed in her dressing gown. She said that she needed a shower and Steve decided to join her. The smell of bacon being fried was coming up the stairs as they got dressed.
'Can I bring you anything to eat?'

'Not just now Steve- I'll get something when you've all finished eating.' Later that morning she went outside just as Steve was leading Diadem out of his stable making sure he kept a tight hold on him.

'Come and help me with him- try your feminine wiles.' Steve led him to the field and he and Dora spent some time putting him through his paces.

 'He's really beautiful and coming on well now. How's Fandango doing?'

'He's a little belter. You'll love him when you are able to try him out. Goes like the wind- just like Copper.'

Hazel came past just then riding Cromwell. 'You know I'm sure he's sensed that George has gone. He's just not the same horse.' At that moment however the old horse's head came up and he seemed to brighten as a familiar figure got out of the passenger seat of a car.

'By 'eck if it isn't old Cromwell' said Sam going over to give him a pat. 'Sorry I'm not yer master fella.' He went over to Dora and Steve.'I just came over with a bit of news- yer may remember I told yer that George were meking a new will. Just in time that were- only signed it just afore 'e were took bad. Any road he left a lot of his money to charity and £25,000 will come ter you ter tek care of Cromwell and yer other old horses. 'E were right teken wi' you telling 'im all about what yer do 'ere.

Dora's hand had gone to cover  her mouth as she took in what Sam had said and tears began to fall' 'Nay lass- don't tek on- you've done your share of grieving lately losing yer uncle an all.' He wiped a tear from his own eye and blew his nose loudly with a spotted handkerchief. 'I'll 'ave ter be going 'cos me friend's waiting.

Steve walked with him to the car leaving Hazel to lead Cromwell to his stable with Dora following. ''Thanks for coming to see us so soon after losing George- you were very close weren't you?' He said putting an arm round the old man's shoulders.

'Aye lad' - now go and see ter the lass. I'll be okay.
Cheerio fer now'

'Bye Sam- you're always welcome to come and see Cromwell.As he slowly got in the car old Sam slightly shook his head and said quietly. ' Tara Cromwell old lad. I doubt I'll see thee again!'

Steve went to find Dora and as he suspected her eyes still held the trace of tears. 'Come on now, cheer up. The money from George will help us a lot when it comes through. I'll find out when his funeral is and go along- but I don't think you should go.'

'I don't think I could' The sound of birds overhead made Dora look up. 'Magpies!!' She counted Four. Seeing Steve looked worried she said 'It's okay the rhyme says three for a girl and four for a boy!'

'Is that what you want my darling- a little boy?'

'Mmm- a Steve look-a-like would be good then maybe a girl next time.'

'Whoa steady on- one jump at a time' He drew her over to  the lightning tree. With their arms around each other they looked up to where the new growth was spreading  rapidly. 'Things seem to be coming good for us at last- hopefully we've come out the other side of the black cloud. Our love and our family will grow
linda-norfolk dumpling