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  • #6286
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Matthew Orgill and His Family

     

    Matthew Orgill 1828-1907 was the Orgill brother who went to Australia, but returned to Measham.  Matthew married Mary Orgill in Measham in October 1856, having returned from Victoria, Australia in May of that year.

    Although Matthew was the first Orgill brother to go to Australia, he was the last one I found, and that was somewhat by accident, while perusing “Orgill” and “Measham” in a newspaper archives search.  I chanced on Matthew’s obituary in the Nuneaton Observer, Friday 14 June 1907:

    LATE MATTHEW ORGILL PEACEFUL END TO A BLAMELESS LIFE.

    ‘Sunset and Evening Star And one clear call for me.”

    It is with very deep regret that we have to announce the death of Mr. Matthew Orgill, late of Measham, who passed peacefully away at his residence in Manor Court Road, Nuneaton, in the early hours of yesterday morning. Mr. Orgill, who was in his eightieth year, was a man with a striking history, and was a very fine specimen of our best English manhood. In early life be emigrated to South Africa—sailing in the “Hebrides” on 4th February. 1850—and was one of the first settlers at the Cape; afterwards he went on to Australia at the time of the Gold Rush, and ultimately came home to his native England and settled down in Measham, in Leicestershire, where he carried on a successful business for the long period of half-a-century.

    He was full of reminiscences of life in the Colonies in the early days, and an hour or two in his company was an education itself. On the occasion of the recall of Sir Harry Smith from the Governorship of Natal (for refusing to be a party to the slaying of the wives and children in connection with the Kaffir War), Mr. Orgill was appointed to superintend the arrangements for the farewell demonstration. It was one of his boasts that he made the first missionary cart used in South Africa, which is in use to this day—a monument to the character of his work; while it is an interesting fact to note that among Mr. Orgill’s papers there is the original ground-plan of the city of Durban before a single house was built.

    In Africa Mr. Orgill came in contact with the great missionary, David Livingstone, and between the two men there was a striking resemblance in character and a deep and lasting friendship. Mr. Orgill could give a most graphic description of the wreck of the “Birkenhead,” having been in the vicinity at the time when the ill-fated vessel went down. He played a most prominent part on the occasion of the famous wreck of the emigrant ship, “Minerva.” when, in conjunction with some half-a-dozen others, and at the eminent risk of their own lives, they rescued more than 100 of the unfortunate passengers. He was afterwards presented with an interesting relic as a memento of that thrilling experience, being a copper bolt from the vessel on which was inscribed the following words: “Relic of the ship Minerva, wrecked off Bluff Point, Port Natal. 8.A.. about 2 a.m.. Friday, July 5, 1850.”

    Mr. Orgill was followed to the Colonies by no fewer than six of his brothers, all of whom did well, and one of whom married a niece (brother’s daughter) of the late Mr. William Ewart Gladstone.

    On settling down in Measham his kindly and considerate disposition soon won for him a unique place in the hearts of all the people, by whom he was greatly beloved. He was a man of sterling worth and integrity. Upright and honourable in all his dealings, he led a Christian life that was a pattern to all with whom he came in contact, and of him it could truly he said that he wore the white flower of a blameless life.

    He was a member of the Baptist Church, and although beyond much active service since settling down in Nuneaton less than two years ago he leaves behind him a record in Christian service attained by few. In politics he was a Radical of the old school. A great reader, he studied all the questions of the day, and could back up every belief he held by sound and fearless argument. The South African – war was a great grief to him. He knew the Boers from personal experience, and although he suffered at the time of the war for his outspoken condemnation, he had the satisfaction of living to see the people of England fully recognising their awful blunder. To give anything like an adequate idea of Mr. Orgill’s history would take up a great amount of space, and besides much of it has been written and commented on before; suffice it to say that it was strenuous, interesting, and eventful, and yet all through his hands remained unspotted and his heart was pure.

    He is survived by three daughters, and was father-in-law to Mr. J. S. Massey. St Kilda. Manor Court Road, to whom deep and loving sympathy is extended in their sore bereavement by a wide circle of friends. The funeral is arranged to leave for Measham on Monday at twelve noon.

     

    “To give anything like an adequate idea of Mr. Orgill’s history would take up a great amount of space, and besides much of it has been written and commented on before…”

    I had another look in the newspaper archives and found a number of articles mentioning him, including an intriguing excerpt in an article about local history published in the Burton Observer and Chronicle 8 August 1963:

    on an upstairs window pane he scratched with his diamond ring “Matthew Orgill, 1st July, 1858”

    Matthew Orgill windowMatthew orgill window 2

     

    I asked on a Measham facebook group if anyone knew the location of the house mentioned in the article and someone kindly responded. This is the same building, seen from either side:

    Measham Wharf

     

    Coincidentally, I had already found this wonderful photograph of the same building, taken in 1910 ~ three years after Matthew’s death.

    Old Measham wharf

     

    But what to make of the inscription in the window?

    Matthew and Mary married in October 1856, and their first child (according to the records I’d found thus far) was a daughter Mary born in 1860.  I had a look for a Matthew Orgill birth registered in 1858, the date Matthew had etched on the window, and found a death for a Matthew Orgill in 1859.  Assuming I would find the birth of Matthew Orgill registered on the first of July 1958, to match the etching in the window, the corresponding birth was in July 1857!

    Matthew and Mary had four children. Matthew, Mary, Clara and Hannah.  Hannah Proudman Orgill married Joseph Stanton Massey.  The Orgill name continues with their son Stanley Orgill Massey 1900-1979, who was a doctor and surgeon.  Two of Stanley’s four sons were doctors, Paul Mackintosh Orgill Massey 1929-2009, and Michael Joseph Orgill Massey 1932-1989.

     

    Mary Orgill 1827-1894, Matthews wife, was an Orgill too.

    And this is where the Orgill branch of the tree gets complicated.

    Mary’s father was Henry Orgill born in 1805 and her mother was Hannah Proudman born in 1805.
    Henry Orgill’s father was Matthew Orgill born in 1769 and his mother was Frances Finch born in 1771.

    Mary’s husband Matthews parents are Matthew Orgill born in 1798 and Elizabeth Orgill born in 1803.

    Another Orgill Orgill marriage!

    Matthews parents,  Matthew and Elizabeth, have the same grandparents as each other, Matthew Orgill born in 1736 and Ann Proudman born in 1735.

    But Matthews grandparents are none other than Matthew Orgill born in 1769 and Frances Finch born in 1771 ~ the same grandparents as his wife Mary!

    #6249
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Grettons in USA and The Lusitania Survivor

    Two of my grandmothers uncles emigrated to New Jersey, USA,  John Orgill Gretton in 1888, and Michael Thomas Gretton in 1889.  My grandmothers mother Florence Nightingale Gretton, born in 1881 and the youngest of eight,  was still a child when they left.  This is perhaps why we knew nothing of them until the family research started.

    Michael Thomas Gretton

    1870-1940

    Michael, known by his middle name of Thomas, married twice. His occupation was a potter in the sanitary ware industry. He and his first wife Edith Wise had three children, William R Gretton 1894-1961, Charles Thomas Gretton 1897-1960, and Clara P Gretton 1895-1997.  Edith died in 1922, and Thomas married again. His second wife Martha Ann Barker was born in Stoke on Trent in England, but had emigrated to USA in 1909.  She had two children with her first husband Thomas Barker, Doris and Winifred.  Thomas Barker died in 1921.

    Martha Ann Barker and her daughter Doris, born in 1900, were Lusitania survivors.  The Lusitania was a British ocean liner that was sunk on 7 May 1915 by a German U-boat 11 miles (18 km) off the southern coast of Ireland, killing 1,198 passengers and crew.  Martha and Doris survived, but sadly nine year old Winifred did not. Her remains were lost at sea.

    Winifred Barker:

    Winifred Barker

     

    Thomas Barker sailed to England after the disaster to accompany Martha and Doris on the trip home to USA:

    Lusitania

     

    Thomas Gretton, Martha’s second husband, died in 1940.  She survived him by 23 years and died in 1963 in New Jersey:

    Lusitania

     

    John Orgill Gretton

    1868-1949

    John Orgill Gretton was a “Freeholder” in New Jersey for 24 years.  New Jersey alone of all the United States has the distinction of retaining the title of “FREEHOLDER” to denote the elected members of the county governing bodies. This descriptive name, which commemorates the origin of home rule, is used by only 21 of the nation’s 3,047 counties.  In other states, these county officials are known as commissioners, supervisors, probate judges, police jurors, councilors and a variety of other names.

    John Orgill Gretton

     

    John and his wife Caroline Thum had four children, Florence J Gretton 1893-1965, George Thum Gretton 1895-1951, Wilhelmina F Gretton 1899-1931, and Nathalie A Gretton 1904-1947.

    Their engagements and weddings appear on the society pages of the Trenton Newspapers.  For example the article headline on the wedding in 1919 of George Thum Gretton and his wife Elizabeth Stokes announces “Charming Society Girl Becomes Bride Today”.

    #6246
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Florence Nightingale Gretton

    1881-1927

    Florence’s father was Richard Gretton, a baker in Swadlincote, Derbyshire. When Richard married Sarah Orgill in 1861, they lived with her mother, a widow, in Measham, Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire. On the 1861 census Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth, is a farmer of two acres.

    (Swadlincote and Ashby de la Zouch are on the Derbyshire Leicestershire border and not far from each other. Swadlincote is near to Burton upon Trent which is sometimes in Staffordshire, sometimes in Derbyshire. Newhall, Church Gresley, and Swadlincote are all very close to each other or districts in the same town.)

    Ten years later in 1871 Richard and Sarah have their own place in Swadlincote, he is a baker, and they have four children. A fourteen year old apprentice or servant is living with them.

    In the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Gazette on 28 February 1880, it was reported that Richard Gretton, baker, of Swadlincote, was charged by Captain Bandys with carrying bread in a cart for sale, the said cart not being provided with scales and weights, according to the requirements of the Act, on the 17th January last.—Defendant pleaded guilty, but urged in extenuation of the offence that in the hurry he had forgotten to put the scales in the cart before his son started.—The Bench took this view of the case, regarding it as an oversight, and fined him one shilling only and costs.  This was not his only offence.

    In 1883, he was fined twenty shillings, and ten shillings and sixpence costs.

    Richard Gretton

    By 1881 they have 4 more children, and Florence Nightingale is the youngest at four months. Richard is 48 by now, and Sarah is 44. Florence’s older brother William is a blacksmith.

    Interestingly on the same census page, two doors down Thomas and Selina Warren live at the Stanhope Arms.  Richards son John Gretton lives at the pub, a 13 year old servant. Incidentally, I noticed on Thomas and Selena’s marriage register that Richard and Sarah Gretton were the witnesses at the wedding.

    Ten years later in 1891, Florence Nightingale and her sister Clara are living with Selina Warren, widow, retired innkeeper, one door down from the Stanhope Arms. Florence is ten, Clara twelve and they are scholars.
    Richard and Sarah are still living three doors up on the other side of the Stanhope Arms, with three of their sons. But the two girls lived up the road with the Warren widow!

    The Stanhope Arms, Swadlincote: it’s possible that the shop with the awning was Richard Gretton’s bakers shop (although not at the time of this later photo).

    Stanhope Arms

     

    Richard died in 1898, a year before Florence married Samuel Warren.

    Sarah is a widowed 60 year old baker on the 1901 census. Her son 26 year old son Alf, also a baker,  lives at the same address, as does her 22 year old daughter Clara who is a district nurse.

    Clara Gretton and family, photo found online:

    Clara Gretton

     

    In 1901 Florence Nightingale (who we don’t have a photograph of!) is now married and is Florrie Warren on the census, and she, her husband Samuel, and their one year old daughter Hildred are visitors at the address of  Elizabeth (Staley)Warren, 60 year old widow and Samuel’s mother, and Samuel’s 36 year old brother William. Samuel and William are engineers.

    Samuel and Florrie had ten children between 1900 and 1925 (and all but two of them used their middle name and not first name: my mother and I had no idea until I found all the records.  My grandmother Florence Noreen was known as Nora, which we knew of course, uncle Jack was actually Douglas John, and so on).

    Hildred, Clara, Billy, and Nora were born in Swadlincote. Sometime between my grandmother’s birth in 1907 and Kay’s birth in 1911, the family moved to Oldswinford, in Stourbridge. Later they moved to Market Street.

    1911 census, Oldswinford, Stourbridge:

    Oldswinford 1911

     

    Oddly, nobody knew when Florrie Warren died. My mothers cousin Ian Warren researched the Warren family some years ago, while my grandmother was still alive. She contributed family stories and information, but couldn’t remember if her mother died in 1929 or 1927.  A recent search of records confirmed that it was the 12th November 1927.

    She was 46 years old. We were curious to know how she died, so my mother ordered a paper copy of her death certificate. It said she died at 31 Market Street, Stourbridge at the age of 47. Clara May Warren, her daughter, was in attendance. Her husband Samuel Warren was a motor mechanic. The Post mortem was by Percival Evans, coroner for Worcestershire, who clarified the cause of death as vascular disease of the heart. There was no inquest. The death was registered on 15 Nov 1927.

    I looked for a photo of 31 Market Street in Stourbridge, and was astonished to see that it was the house next door to one I lived in breifly in the 1980s.  We didn’t know that the Warren’s lived in Market Street until we started searching the records.

    Market Street, Stourbridge. I lived in the one on the corner on the far right, my great grandmother died in the one next door.

    Market Street

     

    I found some hitherto unknown emigrants in the family. Florence Nightingale Grettons eldest brother William 1861-1940 stayed in Swadlincote. John Orgill Gretton born in 1868 moved to Trenton New Jersey USA in 1888, married in 1892 and died in 1949 in USA. Michael Thomas born in 1870 married in New York in 1893 and died in Trenton in 1940. Alfred born 1875 stayed in Swadlincote. Charles Herbert born 1876 married locally and then moved to Australia in 1912, and died in Victoria in 1954. Clara Elizabeth was a district nurse, married locally and died at the age of 99.

    #6232
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Looking for Photographs

    I appreciate how fortunate I am that there are so many family photographs on various sides of the family, however, on some sides, for example the Warrens and the Grettons, there are no photographs. I’d love to find a photograph of my great grandmother Florence Nightingale Gretton, as she is the only great grandparent I don’t have a photo of.

    I look on other people’s family trees on ancestry websites, and I join local town memories and old photos groups on facebook hoping to find photos. And I have found a few, and what a prize it is to find a photograph of someone in your tree.  None found so far of Florence Nightingale Gretton, although I found one of her sister Clara, her brother Charles, and another potential one, posted on a Swadlincote group: a Warren wedding group in 1910.

    Charles Herbert Gretton 1876-1954 and his wife Mary Ann Illsley:

    Charles Gretton

     

    The wedding of Robert Adolphus Warren and Eveline Crofts.  Photo in the collection of Colin Smith, Eveline Crofts first cousin twice removed. Reposted with permission:

    Warren wedding 1910

    The groom was Florence’s husbands cousin, but identifying my great grandparents in the crowd would be guesswork.  My grandmother was born in 1906, and could be one of the children sitting at the front.  It was an interesting exercise to note the family likenesses.

    Ben Warren the footballer is the man on the far right, on the same line as the groom. His children are sitting in front of the bride.

    There are many mentions of Ben Warren the footballer on the Newhall and Swadlincote groups ~ Ben Warren was my great grandfathers cousin, and is a story in itself ~ and a photograph of Ben’s daughter, Lillian Warren was posted.

    Lillian Warren (reposted with permission)

    Lillian Warren

     

    Lillian was my grandmothers first cousin once removed or second cousin. The resemblance to my grandmother, Florence Noreen Warren, seems striking.

    #6195
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Sometimes Bob spoke without his lips. Telepathy is what Jane liked to call it. It’s just thinking that other people can hear, apparently.

    Bob could hear Jane thinking now and she didn’t sound too pleased. “What’s she doing here?” she hissed in his head.

    Jane and Julienne never got on. Well, they used to years ago. Then something happened. Something to do with a fruit cake recipe … Bob could never understand the ins and outs of it. They hadn’t spoken much after that. Jane called Julienne the town gossip.

    “That’s very thoughtful of you,” said Bob reaching out for the offshoots.Goodness knows what he was going to do with them. It was Jane who was the gardener.

    Clara smirked. “I’ll go and see if Nora is up.”

    “No, she’s alright,” said Bob sharply. “You stay here. She’ll just be resting up now. It’s all been quite a shock for her I think.”

    “What’s all this?” asked Julienne. “Someone’s had a shock?”

    #6191
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    VanGogh darted toward the cypress fence and when close enough started to bark.

    “Good dog!” said a feminine voice, “You recognised me?” It was Julienne, she was about the same age as Bob and lived in the old vicarage not far from Bob’s house. “I was tending to my raspberry trees and I thought I could bring you some of the offshoots”, she said showing her pink plastic bag. “Hi Clara, I didn’t know you were there,” she added as if she should have.

    Clara looked at Bob. Not a word, he said with his lips.

    #6188
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Reddening, Bob stammered, “Yeah, yes, uh, yeah. Um…”

    Clara squeezed her grandfathers arm reassuringly.  “We’re looking for my friend Nora.” she interrupted, to give him time to compose himself.  Poor dear was easily flustered these days. Turning to Will, “She was hiking over to visit us and should have arrived yesterday and she’d have passed right by here, but her phone seems to be dead.”

    Will had to think quickly. If he could keep them both here with Nora long enough to get the box ~ or better yet, replace the contents with something else. Yes, that was it!  He could take a sack of random stuff to put in the box, and they’d never suspect a thing. He was going to hide the contents in a statue anyway, so he didn’t even need the box.

    Spreading his arms wide in welcome and smiling broadly, he said “This is your lucky day! Come inside and I’ll put the kettle on, Nora’s gone up to take some photos of the old ruin, she’ll be back soon.”

    Bob and Clara relaxed and returned the smile and allowed themselves to be ushered into the kitchen and seated at the table.

    Will lit the gas flame under the soup before filling the kettle with water. They’d be too polite to refuse, if he put a bowl in front of them, and if they didn’t drink it, well then he’d have to resort to plan B.  He put a little pinch of powder from a tiny jar into each cup of  tea; it wouldn’t hurt and would likely make them more biddable.  Then the soup would do the trick.

    Will steered the conversation to pleasant banter about the wildflowers on the way up to the ruins that he’d said Nora was visiting, and the birds that were migrating at this time of year, keeping the topics off anything potentially agitating.  The tea was starting to take effect and Clara and Bob relaxed and enjoyed the conversation.  They sipped the soup without protest, although Bob did grimace a bit at the thought of eating on an agitated stomach. He’d have indigestion for days, but didn’t want to be rude and refuse. He was enjoying the respite from all the vexation,  though, and was quite happy for the moment just to let the man prattle on while he ate the damn soup.

    “Oh, I think Nora must be back! I just heard her voice!” exclaimed Clara.

    Will had heard it too, but he said, “That wasn’t Nora, that was the parrot! It’s a fast leaner, and Nora’s been training it to say things….I tell you what, you stay here and finish your soup, and I’ll go and fetch the parrot.”

    “Parrot? What parrot?” Clara and Bob said in unison.  They both found it inordinately funny and by the time Will had exited the kitchen, locking the door from the outside, they were hooting and wiping the tears of laughter from their cheeks.

    “What the hell was in that tea!” Clara joked, finishing her soup.

    What was Nora doing awake already? Will didn’t have to keep her quiet for long, but he needed to keep her quiet now, just until the soup took effect on the others.

    Either that or find a parrot.

    #6186
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Will didn’t like unexpected visitors. What kind of people turned up unannounced nowadays? He was tempted to ignore the knocking but then it is the not knowing that’s the killer. And what if someone gets it in their head to nose around the property?

    “Yep?” he said opening the door. The pair of them were starting off down the front steps as though they meant to go exploring. He’d been right to answer.

    “Oh, you are here!” said the girl, turning towards him with a bright smile. “Sorry to just turn up like this …”

    Will gave her a curt nod and she faltered a little.

    “Uh, my name is Clara and this is my grandfather, Bob, and we are hoping you can help us … “

    The old fellow with her, Bob, was staring hard at Will. He looked familiar but Will couldn’t quite place him … he wasn’t local. And he certainly didn’t recognise the girl—very pretty; he would definitely have remembered her.

    “Have we met somewhere, Bob?” Will asked.

    #6184
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Clara had an uneasy feeling which, try as she might, she could not shake it off. She attempted to distract herself by making a sandwich for lunch, but the feeling wouldn’t go away. She went outside to look for Bob, eventually finding him chatting away to himself out in the orchard. It sounded like he was arguing with someone.

    “Grandpa?”

    Bob jumped. “Didn’t see you there, Clara!” He laughed shakily. “What are you doing sneaking up on me like that? It’s not good for me old heart.”

    “Grandpa, I need to go and find Nora. I’ve got a bad feeling, like she’s in some sort of trouble.”

    “Go and find her? Do you know where she is then? Has she been in touch?”

    “I need to go to the Village. Where the statue man lives.”

    “Well you’re not going by yourself. Not with all these strange goings ons and the numerous bits of paper and maps and whatnot which keep turning up all over the place.”

    #6183
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Nora commented favourably on the view, relieved to have been given a clue about what she was supposed to have noticed.  It was a splendid panorama, and Will seemed pleased with her response.  She asked if it was possible to see the old smugglers path from their vantage point, and he pointed to a dirt road in the valley below that disappeared from view behind a stand of eucalyptus trees.  Will indicated a tiny white speck of an old farm ruin, and said the smugglers path went over the hill behind it.

    Shading her eyes from the sun, Nora peered into the distance beyond the hill, wondering how far it was to Clara’s grandfathers house. Of course she knew it was 25 kilometers or so, but wasn’t sure how many hills behind that one, or if the path veered off at some point in another direction.

    Wondering where Clara was reminded Nora that her friend would be waiting for her, and quite possibly worrying that she hadn’t yet arrived.  She sighed, making her mind up to leave first thing the next morning.  She didn’t mention this to Will though, and wondered briefly why she hesitated.  Something about the violent sweep of his arm when she asked about her phone had made her uneasy, such a contrast to his usual easy going grins.

    Then she reminded herself that she had only just met him, and barely knew anything about him at all, despite all the stories they’d shared.  When she thought about it, none of the stories had given her any information ~ they had mostly been anecdotes that had a similarity to her own, and although pleasant, were inconsequential.  And she kept forgetting to ask him about all the statues at his place.

    Wishing she could at least send a text message to Clara, Nora remembered the remote viewing practice they’d done together over the years, and realized she could at least attempt a telepathic communication. Then later, if Clara gave her a hard time about not staying in contact, she could always act surprised and say, Why, didn’t you get the message?

    She found a flat stone to sit on, and focused on the smugglers path below. Then she closed her eyes and said clearly in her mind, “I’ll be there tomorrow evening, Clara. All is well. I am safe.”

    She opened her eyes and saw that Will had started to head back down the path.  “Come on!” he called, “Time for lunch!”

    #6177
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Grandpa, I can’t get hold of Nora. I keep getting her answer phone.” Clara flicked back through her texts. “Last time she messaged me was to ask if I knew anyone in the Village she could stay with. And I never got back with the details like I was supposed to … I got distracted by Van Gogh going missing and everything … ” She screwed up her face. “Also I couldn’t recall the man’s name.”

    “I’m sure she’ll be fine,” said Bob soothingly, reaching out to pat Clara’s hand.  “She always were a bit unreliable that one, weren’t she?”

    Clara looked like she was about to burst into tears. “Grandpa, I’m such an idiot! What if something bad has happened to her?

    #6175
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “”Sorry, I’m only just telling you this about the note now, lovie. Your Grandma’s been on at me to tell you. Just in my thoughts I mean!” he added quickly.

    Jane smirked and tapped her forehead. “Careful, Old Man. She’ll think you’ve completely lost it!”

    Clara stared at him, a small frown creasing her brow. “So, the note said you were to call him?”

    Bob nodded uneasily. Clara had that look on her face. The one that means she aren’t happy with the way things are proceeding.

    “And then what?” asked Clara slowly.

    “I dunno.” Bob shrugged. “Guess they’d bury it again? They was pretty clear they didn’t want it found. Now, how about I put the kettle on?” Bob stood quickly and began to busy himself filling the jug with water from the tap.

    Clara shook her head firmly. “No.”

    “No to a cup of tea?”

    “No we can’t call this man.”

    “I don’t know Clara. It’s getting odd it is. Strangers leaving maps in collars and whatnot. It’s not right.”

    “Well, I agree it needs further investigation. But we can’t call him … not without knowing why and what’s in it.” She tapped her fingers on the table. “I’ll try and get hold of Nora again.”

    #6174
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Clara breathed a sigh of relief when she saw VanGogh running towards her; in the moonlight he looked like a pale ghost.

    “Where’ve you been eh?” she asked as he nuzzled her excitedly. She crouched down to pat him. “And what’s this?” A piece of paper folded into quarters had been tucked into VanGogh’s collar. Clara stood upright and looked uneasily around the garden; a small wind made the leaves rustle and the deep shadows stirred. Clara shivered.

    “Clara?” called Bob from the door.

    “It’s okay Grandpa, I found him. We’re coming in now.”

    In the warm light of the kitchen, Clara showed Bob the piece of paper. “It’s a map, but I don’t know those place names.”

    “And it was stuffed into his collar you say?” Bob frowned. “That’s very strange indeed. Who’d of done that?”

    Clara shook her head. “It wasn’t Mr Willets because I saw him drive off. But why didn’t VanGogh bark? He always barks when someone comes on the property.”

    “You really should tell her about the note,” said Jane. She was perched on the kitchen bench. VanGogh pricked his ears up and wagged his tail as he looked towards her. Bob couldn’t figure out if the dog could see Jane or just somehow sensed her there. He nodded.

    “What?” asked Clara.

    “There’s something I should tell you, Clara. It’s about that box you found.”

    #6171
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Nora was relieved when  the man with the donkey knew her name and was expecting her.  She assumed that Clara had made contact with him, but when she mentioned her friend, he shook his head with a puzzled frown. I don’t know anyone called Clara, he said.  Here, get yourself up on Manolete, it’ll be easier if you ride.  We’ll be home in half an hour.

    The gentle rhythmic rocking astride the donkey soothed her as she relaxed and observed her surroundings. The woods had opened out into a wide path beside an orchard. Nora felt the innocuous hospitability of the orchard in comparison to the unpredictability of the woods, although she felt that idea would require further consideration at a later date.  One never knew how much influence films and stories and the like had on one’s ideas, likely substantial, Nora thought ~ another consideration not lost on Nora was the feeling of safety she had now that she wasn’t alone, and that she was with someone who clearly knew where he was going.

    Notwithstanding simultaneous time, Nora wondered which came first ~ the orchard, the man with the donkey, or the feeling of safety and hospitability itself?

    It was me, said the man leading the donkey, turning round with a smile. I came first. Remember?

    #6167
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Box?” said Bob placing a hand on his chest. “Not the … ”

    “Not box, Grandpa. Crops.” Clara spoke loudly. Poor old Grandpa must be going a bit deaf as well—he’d gone downhill since Grandma died. “His dogs got into your garden and dug up the crops. He says he’ll come by in the morning and fix up the damage. ”

    “No, need to shout, Clara. I swear you said box. I thought you meant the box in the garage.”

    “Oh, no that would be awful!” Clara shuddered at the thought of anything happening to her precious treasure. “Maybe we should bring the box inside, Grandpa? Make sure it’s safe.”

    Bob sighed. Last thing he wanted was the damn box inside the house. But Clara had that look on her face, the one that means she’s made up her mind. He glanced around, wondering where they could put it so it was out of the way.

    “Hey!” exclaimed Clara. “Where’s VanGogh gone? Did he sneak outside when Mr Willets came.” She went to the door and peered out into the darkness. “VanGogh! Here, Boy!” she shouted. “VanGogh!”

    #6166
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Grandpa,” Clara said, partly to distract him ~ poor dear was looking a little anxious ~ and partly because she was starting to get twangs of gilt about Nora, “Grandpa, do you remember that guy who used to make sculptures?  I can’t recall his name and need his phone number. Do you remember, used to see him driving around with gargoyles in the back of his truck. You look awfully pale, are you alright?”

    “No idea,” Bob replied weakly.

    Tell her! said Jane.

    “No!” Bob exclaimed, feeling vexed.  He wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t want to rush into anything. Why was Clara asking about the man whose phone number was on the note? What did she know about all this? What did he, Bob, know for that matter!

    “I only asked!” replied Clara, then seeing his face, patted his arm gently and said “It’s ok, Grandpa.”

    For the love of god will you just tell her! 

    “Tell who what?” asked Clara.

    “What! What did you say?” Bob wondered where this was going and if it would ever end. It began to feel surreal.

    They were both relieved when the door bell rang, shattering the unaccustomed tension between them.

    “Who can that be?” they asked in unison, as Clara rose from the table.

    Bob waited expectantly, pushing his plate away. It would take days to settle his digestive system down after all this upset at a meal time.

    “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost, Clara! Who was it?”  Bob said as Clara returned from the front door. “Not the water board again to cut us off I hope!”

    “It’s the neighbour, Mr Willets, he says he’s ever so sorry but his dogs, they got loose and got into some kind of a box on your property.  He said…”

    #6165
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Knock, knock! Dinner’s ready!” Clara popped her head around the door to Bob’s room. “What are you doing?” she asked as Bob started and hurriedly put his hand over a small piece of paper.

    “Er, nothing, just …” His words trailed off. He smiled brightly at her. “Dinner eh. Smells good. I’ll be right with you.”

    Clara’s gaze travelled from Bob’s face to the cardboard box on the bed. “Are you okay? You look strange. What’s in that box?”

    “Odds and ends. Just doing a bit of sorting.” He put the piece of paper in the box and placed the lid back on. “Nothing that won’t keep till after dinner.”

    “If there are any old photos in the box I’d love to see them.”

    “Tell her,” said Jane. There she was, sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed near the box. “Go on, tell her about the number.”

    Bob shook his head vigorously and Clara regarded him strangely. “Not to worry about photos then,” she said

    “You were wishing I was here and now here I am and you aren’t even going to listen to me?” Now Jane was whispering into his ear and he imagined he could almost feel her breath like a feather tickling his cheek—it was all he could do not to laugh. “Tell her or I will.”

    #6164
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    VanGogh was sniffing frantically on the patio outside the house, a usual indication that he’d found the perfect spot for a healthy stool, but this time, as soon as Clara had looked the other way to take care of the sautéed mushrooms on the stove, he darted for the shed where the odd big toy had been unearthed and stored out of sight.

    His tail wagged frantically as he pushed the door open, and slid underneath the tarpaulin behind the sleeping lawn-eater.

    He started to scratch the box, the way he usually tried to open the puzzle ball Clara would fill with some kibble. It didn’t roll like the ball-that-dispensed-kibble. In frustration, VanGogh started to push his paws on the sleek smooth surface, near the curious indentations.

    Something clicked open.

    “VanGogh! Where are you boy?! Come!”

    Suddenly distracted from this puzzling quest, he rushed to the kitchen for dinner.

    #6162
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    When Clara remembered who it was she knew in that little village, she realized she didn’t know how to contact him. She didn’t even know his name;  he made gargoyles and stone heads and statues, that was all she knew, and all the strange rumours and stories surrounding some of those statues, quite a local legend in a way. But what was his name?  He had a white donkey….

    Clara assured Nora that her friend was expecting her, keeping her fingers crossed that she would be able to find out who it was, contact him and ask for his assistance, before Nora arrived there.  It was a long shot, admittedly.

    By nightfall, Clara had not made contact, and was forced to rely on a miracle; or even to wash her hands of the whole thing: it was Noras’s trip after all.

    #6160
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    The message was scrawled in pencil on a roughly torn off piece of note paper. Bob had to squint to make out some of the words.

    Hopefully you won’t need this but put this somewhere safe, just in case. The  man i introduced you to today will know what to do. 

    And then there was a phone number. Bob wondered if the man would still be there. It was nearly 15 years ago and Bob’s memory was sketchy. He frowned, trying to remember. When the receptacle had been unearthed in the bad flooding of that year, he had contacted someone … how he got onto him he can no longer recall … some number from the archeological thingamajigs maybe. The person he spoke to came round, him and another fellow, said he shouldn’t tell anyone about the receptacle. Said it should be put back in the ground. Said it was important. The other fellow, the one he is supposed to call, made sculptures—Bob remembered that because there had been some sitting on the back of his truck.

    Bob sat on the side of the bed and rubbed his head. He couldn’t really be bothered with all this carry on. It all seemed a bit crazy now, having to keep the damn thing buried. What’s all that about? And Clara was so excited, contacting her archeological friend and whatnot. Strange girl though, that Nora. He wished Jane were still here. She’d know what to do.

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