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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!

    #6236
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The Liverpool Fires

    Catherine Housley had two older sisters, Elizabeth 1845-1883 and Mary Anne 1846-1935.  Both Elizabeth and Mary Anne grew up in the Belper workhouse after their mother died, and their father was jailed for failing to maintain his three children.  Mary Anne married Samuel Gilman and they had a grocers shop in Buxton.  Elizabeth married in Liverpool in 1873.

    What was she doing in Liverpool? How did she meet William George Stafford?

    According to the census, Elizabeth Housley was in Belper workhouse in 1851. In 1861, aged 16,  she was a servant in the household of Peter Lyon, a baker in Derby St Peters.  We noticed that the Lyon’s were friends of the family and were mentioned in the letters to George in Pennsylvania.

    No record of Elizabeth can be found on the 1871 census, but in 1872 the birth and death was registered of Elizabeth and William’s child, Elizabeth Jane Stafford. The parents are registered as William and Elizabeth Stafford, although they were not yet married. William’s occupation is a “refiner”.

    In April, 1873, a Fatal Fire is reported in the Liverpool Mercury. Fearful Termination of a Saturday Night Debauch. Seven Persons Burnt To Death.  Interesting to note in the article that “the middle room being let off to a coloured man named William Stafford and his wife”.

    Fatal Fire Liverpool

     

    We had noted on the census that William Stafford place of birth was “Africa, British subject” but it had not occurred to us that he was “coloured”.  A register of birth has not yet been found for William and it is not known where in Africa he was born.

    Liverpool fire

     

    Elizabeth and William survived the fire on Gay Street, and were still living on Gay Street in October 1873 when they got married.

    William’s occupation on the marriage register is sugar refiner, and his father is Peter Stafford, farmer. Elizabeth’s father is Samuel Housley, plumber. It does not say Samuel Housley deceased, so perhaps we can assume that Samuel is still alive in 1873.

    Eliza Florence Stafford, their second daughter, was born in 1876.

    William’s occupation on the 1881 census is “fireman”, in his case, a fire stoker at the sugar refinery, an unpleasant and dangerous job for which they were paid slightly more. William, Elizabeth and Eliza were living in Byrom Terrace.

    Byrom Terrace, Liverpool, in 1933

    Byrom Terrace

     

    Elizabeth died of heart problems in 1883, when Eliza was six years old, and in 1891 her father died, scalded to death in a tragic accident at the sugar refinery.

    Scalded to Death

     

    Eliza, aged 15, was living as an inmate at the Walton on the Hill Institution in 1891. It’s not clear when she was admitted to the workhouse, perhaps after her mother died in 1883.

    In 1901 Eliza Florence Stafford is a 24 year old live in laundrymaid, according to the census, living in West Derby  (a part of Liverpool, and not actually in Derby).  On the 1911 census there is a Florence Stafford listed  as an unnmarried laundress, with a daughter called Florence.  In 1901 census she was a laundrymaid in West Derby, Liverpool, and the daughter Florence Stafford was born in 1904 West Derby.  It’s likely that this is Eliza Florence, but nothing further has been found so far.

     

    The questions remaining are the location of William’s birth, the name of his mother and his family background, what happened to Eliza and her daughter after 1911, and how did Elizabeth meet William in the first place.

    William Stafford was a seaman prior to working in the sugar refinery, and he appears on several ship’s crew lists.  Nothing so far has indicated where he might have been born, or where his father came from.

    Some months after finding the newspaper article about the fire on Gay Street, I saw an unusual request for information on the Liverpool genealogy group. Someone asked if anyone knew of a fire in Liverpool in the 1870’s.  She had watched a programme about children recalling past lives, in this case a memory of a fire. The child recalled pushing her sister into a burning straw mattress by accident, as she attempted to save her from a falling beam.  I watched the episode in question hoping for more information to confirm if this was the same fire, but details were scant and it’s impossible to say for sure.

    #6229
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Gretton Tailoresses of Swadlincote and the Single Journalist Boot Maker Next Door

    The Purdy’s, Housley’s and Marshall’s are my mothers fathers side of the family.  The Warrens, Grettons and Staleys are from my mothers mothers side.

    I decided to add all the siblings to the Gretton side of the family, in search of some foundation to a couple of family anecdotes.  My grandmother, Nora Marshall, whose mother was Florence Nightingale Gretton, used to mention that our Gretton side of the family were related to the Burton Upon Trent Grettons of Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton, the brewery.  She also said they were related to Lord Gretton of Stableford Park in Leicestershire.  When she was a child, she said parcels of nice clothes were sent to them by relatives.

    Bass Ratcliffe and Gretton

     

    It should be noted however that Baron Gretton is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, and was created in 1944 for the brewer and Conservative politician John Gretton. He was head of the brewery firm of Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton Ltd of Burton upon Trent. So they were not members of the Peerage at the time of this story.

    What I found was unexpected.

    My great great grandfather Richard Gretton 1833-1898, a baker in Swadlincote, didn’t have any brothers, but he did have a couple of sisters.

    One of them, Frances, born 1831, never married, but had four children. She stayed in the family home, and named her children Gretton. In 1841 and 1851 she’s living with parents and siblings. In 1861 she is still living with parents and now on the census she has four children all named Gretton listed as grandchildren of her father.
    In 1871, her mother having died in 1866, she’s still living with her father William Gretton, Frances is now 40, and her son William 19 and daughter Jane 15 live there.
    By the time she is 50 in 1881 and her parents have died she’s head of the house with 5 children all called Gretton, including her daughter Jane Gretton aged 24.

    Twenty five year old Robert Staley is listed on the census transcription as living in the same household, but when viewing the census image it becomes clear that he lived next door, on his own and was a bootmaker, and on the other side, his parents Benjamin and Sarah Staley lived at the Prince of Wales pub with two other siblings.

    Who was fathering all these Gretton children?

    It seems that Jane did the same thing as her mother: she stayed at home and had three children, all with the name Gretton.  Jane Gretton named her son, born in 1878, Michael William Staley Gretton, which would suggest that Staley was the name of the father of the child/children of Jane Gretton.

    The father of Frances Gretton’s four children is not known, and there is no father on the birth registers, although they were all baptized.

    I found a photo of Jane Gretton on a family tree on an ancestry site, so I contacted the tree owner hoping that she had some more information, but she said no, none of the older family members would explain when asked about it.  Jane later married Tom Penn, and Jane Gretton’s children are listed on census as Tom Penn’s stepchildren.

    Jane Gretton Penn

     

    It seems that Robert Staley (who may or may not be the father of Jane’s children) never married. In 1891 Robert is 35, single, living with widowed mother Sarah in Swadlincote. Sarah is living on own means and Robert has no occupation. On the 1901 census Robert is an unmarried 45 year old journalist and author, living with his widowed mother Sarah Staley aged 79, in Swadlincote.

    There are at least three Staley  Warren marriages in the family, and at least one Gretton Staley marriage.

    There is a possibility that the father of Frances’s children could be a Gretton, but impossible to know for sure. William Gretton was a tailor, and several of his children and grandchildren were tailoresses.  The Gretton family who later bought Stableford Park lived not too far away, and appear to be well off with a dozen members of live in staff on the census.   Did our Gretton’s the tailors make their clothes? Is that where the parcels of nice clothes came from?

    Perhaps we’ll find a family connection to the brewery Grettons, or find the family connection was an unofficial one, or that the connection is further back.

    I suppose luckily, this isn’t my direct line but an exploration of an offshoot, so the question of paternity is merely a matter of curiosity.  It is a curious thing, those Gretton tailors of Church Gresley near Burton upon Trent, and there are questions remaining.

    #6220
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Helper Belper: “Let’s start at the beginning.”

    When I found a huge free genealogy tree website with lots of our family already on it, I couldn’t believe my luck. Quite soon after a perusal, I found I had a number of questions. Was it really possible that our Warren family tree had been traced back to 500AD? I asked on a genealogy forum: only if you can latch onto an aristocratic line somewhere, in which case that lineage will be already documented, as normally parish records only go back to the 1600s, if you are lucky. It is very hard to prove and the validity of it met with some not inconsiderable skepticism among the long term hard core genealogists. This is not to say that it isn’t possible, but is more likely a response to the obvious desire of many to be able to trace their lineage back to some kind of royalty, regardless of the documentation and proof.

    Another question I had on this particular website was about the entries attached to Catherine Housley that made no sense. The immense public family tree there that anyone can add to had Catherine Housley’s mother as Catherine Marriot. But Catherine Marriot had another daughter called Catherine, two years before our Catherine was born, who didn’t die beforehand. It wasn’t unusual to name another child the same name if an earlier one had died in infancy, but this wasn’t the case.

    I asked this question on a British Genealogy forum, and learned that other people’s family trees are never to be trusted. One should always start with oneself, and trace back with documentation every step of the way. Fortified with all kinds of helpful information, I still couldn’t find out who Catherine Housley’s mother was, so I posted her portrait on the forum and asked for help to find her. Among the many helpful replies, one of the members asked if she could send me a private message. She had never had the urge to help someone find a person before, but felt a compulsion to find Catherine Housley’s mother. Eight months later and counting at time of writing, and she is still my most amazing Helper. The first thing she said in the message was “Right. Let’s start at the beginning. What do you know for sure.” I said Mary Ann Gilman Purdy, my great grandmother, and we started from there.

    Fran found all the documentation and proof, a perfect and necessary compliment to my own haphazard meanderings. She taught me how to find the proof, how to spot inconsistencies, and what to look for and where.  I still continue my own haphazard wanderings as well, which also bear fruit.

    It was decided to order the birth certificate, a paper copy that could be stuck onto the back of the portrait, so my mother in Wales ordered it as she has the portrait. When it arrived, she read the names of Catherine’s parents to me over the phone. We were expecting it to be John Housley and Sarah Baggaley. But it wasn’t! It was his brother Samuel Housley and Elizabeth Brookes! I had been looking at the photograph of the portrait thinking it was Catherine Marriot, then looking at it thinking her name was Sarah Baggaley, and now the woman in the portrait was Elizabeth Brookes. And she was from Wolverhampton. My helper, unknown to me, had ordered a digital copy, which arrived the same day.

    Months later, Fran, visiting friends in Derby,  made a special trip to Smalley, a tiny village not far from Derby, to look for Housley gravestones in the two churchyards.  There are numerous Housley burials registered in the Smalley parish records, but she could only find one Housley grave, that of Sarah Baggaley.  Unfortunately the documentation had already proved that Sarah was not the woman in the portrait, Catherine Housley’s mother, but Catherine’s aunt.

    Sarah Housley nee Baggaley’s grave stone in Smalley:

    Sarah Housley Grave

    #6219
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    The following stories started with a single question.

    Who was Catherine Housley’s mother?

    But one question leads to another, and another, and so this book will never be finished.  This is the first in a collection of stories of a family history research project, not a complete family history.  There will always be more questions and more searches, and each new find presents more questions.

    A list of names and dates is only moderately interesting, and doesn’t mean much unless you get to know the characters along the way.   For example, a cousin on my fathers side has already done a great deal of thorough and accurate family research. I copied one branch of the family onto my tree, going back to the 1500’s, but lost interest in it after about an hour or so, because I didn’t feel I knew any of the individuals.

    Parish registers, the census every ten years, birth, death and marriage certificates can tell you so much, but they can’t tell you why.  They don’t tell you why parents chose the names they did for their children, or why they moved, or why they married in another town.  They don’t tell you why a person lived in another household, or for how long. The census every ten years doesn’t tell you what people were doing in the intervening years, and in the case of the UK and the hundred year privacy rule, we can’t even use those for the past century.  The first census was in 1831 in England, prior to that all we have are parish registers. An astonishing amount of them have survived and have been transcribed and are one way or another available to see, both transcriptions and microfiche images.  Not all of them survived, however. Sometimes the writing has faded to white, sometimes pages are missing, and in some case the entire register is lost or damaged.

    Sometimes if you are lucky, you may find mention of an ancestor in an obscure little local history book or a journal or diary.  Wills, court cases, and newspaper archives often provide interesting information. Town memories and history groups on social media are another excellent source of information, from old photographs of the area, old maps, local history, and of course, distantly related relatives still living in the area.  Local history societies can be useful, and some if not all are very helpful.

    If you’re very lucky indeed, you might find a distant relative in another country whose grandparents saved and transcribed bundles of old letters found in the attic, from the family in England to the brother who emigrated, written in the 1800s.  More on this later, as it merits its own chapter as the most exciting find so far.

    The social history of the time and place is important and provides many clues as to why people moved and why the family professions and occupations changed over generations.  The Enclosures Act and the Industrial Revolution in England created difficulties for rural farmers, factories replaced cottage industries, and the sons of land owning farmers became shop keepers and miners in the local towns.  For the most part (at least in my own research) people didn’t move around much unless there was a reason.  There are no reasons mentioned in the various registers, records and documents, but with a little reading of social history you can sometimes make a good guess.  Samuel Housley, for example, a plumber, probably moved from rural Derbyshire to urban Wolverhampton, when there was a big project to install indoor plumbing to areas of the city in the early 1800s.  Derbyshire nailmakers were offered a job and a house if they moved to Wolverhampton a generation earlier.

    Occasionally a couple would marry in another parish, although usually they married in their own. Again, there was often a reason.  William Housley and Ellen Carrington married in Ashbourne, not in Smalley.  In this case, William’s first wife was Mary Carrington, Ellen’s sister.  It was not uncommon for a man to marry a deceased wife’s sister, but it wasn’t strictly speaking legal.  This caused some problems later when William died, as the children of the first wife contested the will, on the grounds of the second marriage being illegal.

    Needless to say, there are always questions remaining, and often a fresh pair of eyes can help find a vital piece of information that has escaped you.  In one case, I’d been looking for the death of a widow, Mary Anne Gilman, and had failed to notice that she remarried at a late age. Her death was easy to find, once I searched for it with her second husbands name.

    This brings me to the topic of maternal family lines. One tends to think of their lineage with the focus on paternal surnames, but very quickly the number of surnames increases, and all of the maternal lines are directly related as much as the paternal name.  This is of course obvious, if you start from the beginning with yourself and work back.  In other words, there is not much point in simply looking for your fathers name hundreds of years ago because there are hundreds of other names that are equally your own family ancestors. And in my case, although not intentionally, I’ve investigated far more maternal lines than paternal.

    This book, which I hope will be the first of several, will concentrate on my mothers family: The story so far that started with the portrait of Catherine Housley’s mother.

    Elizabeth Brookes

     

    This painting, now in my mothers house, used to hang over the piano in the home of her grandparents.   It says on the back “Catherine Housley’s mother, Smalley”.

    The portrait of Catherine Housley’s mother can be seen above the piano. Back row Ronald Marshall, my grandfathers brother, William Marshall, my great grandfather, Mary Ann Gilman Purdy Marshall in the middle, my great grandmother, with her daughters Dorothy on the left and Phyllis on the right, at the Marshall’s house on Love Lane in Stourbridge.

    Marshalls

     

     

    The Search for Samuel Housley

    As soon as the search for Catherine Housley’s mother was resolved, achieved by ordering a paper copy of her birth certificate, the search for Catherine Housley’s father commenced. We know he was born in Smalley in 1816, son of William Housley and Ellen Carrington, and that he married Elizabeth Brookes in Wolverhampton in 1844. He was a plumber and glazier. His three daughters born between 1845 and 1849 were born in Smalley. Elizabeth died in 1849 of consumption, but Samuel didn’t register her death. A 20 year old neighbour called Aaron Wadkinson did.

    Elizabeth death

     

    Where was Samuel?

    On the 1851 census, two of Samuel’s daughters were listed as inmates in the Belper Workhouse, and the third, 2 year old Catherine, was listed as living with John Benniston and his family in nearby Heanor.  Benniston was a framework knitter.

    Where was Samuel?

    A long search through the microfiche workhouse registers provided an answer. The reason for Elizabeth and Mary Anne’s admission in June 1850 was given as “father in prison”. In May 1850, Samuel Housley was sentenced to one month hard labour at Derby Gaol for failing to maintain his three children. What happened to those little girls in the year after their mothers death, before their father was sentenced, and they entered the workhouse? Where did Catherine go, a six week old baby? We have yet to find out.

    Samuel Housley 1850

     

    And where was Samuel Housley in 1851? He hasn’t appeared on any census.

    According to the Belper workhouse registers, Mary Anne was discharged on trial as a servant February 1860. She was readmitted a month later in March 1860, the reason given: unwell.

    Belper Workhouse:

    Belper Workhouse

    Eventually, Mary Anne and Elizabeth were discharged, in April 1860, with an aunt and uncle. The workhouse register doesn’t name the aunt and uncle. One can only wonder why it took them so long.
    On the 1861 census, Elizabeth, 16 years old, is a servant in St Peters, Derby, and Mary Anne, 15 years old, is a servant in St Werburghs, Derby.

    But where was Samuel?

    After some considerable searching, we found him, despite a mistranscription of his name, on the 1861 census, living as a lodger and plumber in Darlaston, Walsall.
    Eventually we found him on a 1871 census living as a lodger at the George and Dragon in Henley in Arden. The age is not exactly right, but close enough, he is listed as an unmarried painter, also close enough, and his birth is listed as Kidsley, Derbyshire. He was born at Kidsley Grange Farm. We can assume that he was probably alive in 1872, the year his mother died, and the following year, 1873, during the Kerry vs Housley court case.

    Samuel Housley 1871

     

    I found some living Housley descendants in USA. Samuel Housley’s brother George emigrated there in 1851. The Housley’s in USA found letters in the attic, from the family in Smalley ~ written between 1851 and 1870s. They sent me a “Narrative on the Letters” with many letter excerpts.

    The Housley family were embroiled in a complicated will and court case in the early 1870s. In December 15, 1872, Joseph (Samuel’s brother) wrote to George:

    “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that….His daughter and her husband went to Birmingham and also to Sutton Coldfield that is where he married his wife from and found out his wife’s brother. It appears he has been there and at Birmingham ever since he went away but ever fond of drink.”

    No record of Samuel Housley’s death can be found for the Birmingham Union in 1869 or thereabouts.

    But if he was alive in 1871 in Henley In Arden…..
    Did Samuel tell his wife’s brother to tell them he was dead? Or did the brothers say he was dead so they could have his share?

    We still haven’t found a death for Samuel Housley.

     

     

    #6196
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Ay, the framework knittin’ were ‘ard work, but it were our own, and better by a mile than what come next. We ‘ad the frame in our home and all the family helped, the girls’d be the seamers and the spool threaders and many a fine stocking we made in our cottages, until those industrialists and capitalists came to our fair dales with their factories and such and took our livelihoods from under our noses.

    We ‘ad a needle maker in our village, a miller and a baker, and a dressmaker. We ‘ad farms and a dairy and a butcher, and all the old families in our parish ‘ad their place. There’s always those that find work hard, and those that find it rewarding, but even them as found the framework knittin’ ‘ard soon changed their tune about the framework knittin’ being hard when they was doubled over under gods green earth all the day long in the coal mines.

    Ay, the changes wrought upon our fair parish wreaked an unholy disruption upon the face of village life.  It were the inclosures act what started our downfall, when our common land was took from us, that were indeed the beginning of the end of our fine community of largely honest souls, and even the good nature of the gent from the hall and the Parish poor fund couldn’t halt the downfall.

    Ay and I’ve traveled to the future and seen the ungoldy sight of it now. The old farm on the turnpike road surrounded now by house upon house and not an onion nor a carrot to be seen growing in their gardens, and the fronts all hardened floors for those contraptions they move around in, and empty all day long with not a sign of life until nightfall when they all come home and go inside and shut the doors, and never a one passing the time of day with their neighbours over the garden fence, and not a chicken or a cow in sight.

    There’s no needlemaker now, and the mill’s been knocked down, and there are painted lines on all the hard roads, although I will say that ugly as they are they don’t get near so rutted and muddy when the weather’s bad.

    I can’t stay long when I visit the future with that woman who comes to call upon us asking questions. I can’t stay long at all.

    #6122

    In reply to: Tart Wreck Repackage

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    “Wait!” said Star. “Have we unwittingly stumbled upon a secret meeting of the bellbird cult?”

    The bouncer laughed. “Not exactly a secret meeting. It’s more of our monthly get-together. We have drinks and what-not and a bit of a sing-song”

    “Sound great! Where do I sign up?” asked Tara, mesmerised by the burly bouncer’s biceps.

    Tara!” hissed Star. “I think you’ve had a few too many!” Just then, she noticed April trying to make a sneaky getaway.”NOT SO FAST, APRIL!” she shouted.”Grab her, Burly Bouncer!”

    The BB grinned charmingly and grabbed hold of April. “Anything to oblige,” he said, flirtatiously winking at Star.

    “Now, April,” said Star sternly, “you are not going anywhere until you have told us exactly what is going on?”

    April sighed crossly. “I came to the get-together tonight to find out if anyone had seen or heard from Vince. It was mere chance I stumbled upon you two.”

    Tara sneered at the obvious lie. “Then why did you run? Huh?”

    “If you must know, and it appears you must, I believe I saw him.” She pointed to the entrance. “He was wearing a disguise of course. When he saw me, he ran, clearly fearing I would see through his disguise and reveal to the world that he is not in a coma.”

    Star scratched her head. “I see,” she said.

    “So much for New Zealand and your remote viewing skills,” sneered Tara.

    “Why is Vince French pretending to be in a coma? And, if it is not him, then who is in a coma?” asked Star, ignoring Tara’s rudeness. She had always been a nasty drunk.

    April shook her head. “Those are questions only Vincent French can answer.”

    “Going around in circles a bit, aren’t you?” said BB with a kindly smile. “Cheer up! Look around you! Beauty is everywhere and drinks are on the house!”

    #6065
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Those last few days have been hectic. But we finally arrived. I can’t believe we survived all those police controls and those christian mobs, and I didn’t know Kady was a adept at car borrowing.

    I forgot my journal because it was on the computer and I didn’t take the computer. So I don’t know how to contact you, Whale, other than using the old method: with a pen and a sheet of paper. Max gave me this piece of wrapping in which Kady had put the chocolate. He said he can still reuse it later with the writing. He’s nice, although he doesn’t look like it. I think I like him.

    However, the whole thing is not like I expected. Oh sure, the pistil itself is quite impressive: that lone and long stem coming out of that canyon and surrounded by those mountains in the distance. I’m talking about the camp. It’s like a refugee camp, and all of them avid to be able to go in somehow. I’m not sure what they expect. Kady hasn’t been in a sharing mood lately, and I haven’t asked that many questions. But she told Max we had to discuss before we go in tomorrow. So I’m feeling nervous about what I’ll learn tonight.

    I’ve been told once: ask and you will receive. What am I supposed to know now? What am I supposed to do? Maybe that’s not the right question because I just got my voice telling me that I’m not supposed to know or do anything. Maybe supposed is not the right word. I’m too tired and excited at the same time to figure it out, but you get the gist I’m sure.

    I didn’t have any more dreams. I’ve been watching the drawings in that book religiously every night of that trip before I go to sleep. Although I’m not truly sincere when I say that I didn’t have any more dreams. I had at least one that I recall. It was like some news about a parallel self, one that got the virus. I dreamt about that other me before, he couldn’t breath and it hurt. I had wondered if he had died because I didn’t have any more dreams about him, until last night. He seemed ok, he had recovered quite well considering the difficulties. He was at a gathering with other people at some kind of Lebanese buffet. I’m not too fond of the spicy merguez sausages, I prefer the hummus.

    Max is calling, diner is ready. He’s made lasagna, apparently he makes the the best lasagna in the whole camp. I’m not sure when will be the next time I contact you so far Whale.

    #5964
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    They walked through a labyrinth of tunnels which seemed to have been carved into a rocky mountain. The clicks and clacks of their high heels echoed in the cold silence meeting all of Sophie’s questions, leaving her wondering where they could be. Tightly held by her rompers she felt her fat mass wobbling like jelly around her skeleton. It didn’t help clear her mind which was still confused by the environment and the apparent memory loss concerning how she arrived there.

    Sophie couldn’t tell how many turns they took before Barbara put her six fingers hand on a flat rock at shoulders height. The rock around the hand turned green and glowed for two seconds; then a big chunk of rock slid to the side revealing a well designed modern style room.

    “Doctor, Sophie is here,” said Barbara when they entered.

    A little man was working at his desk. At least Sophie assumed it was his desk and that he was working. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and bermudas. The computer screen he was looking at projected a greenish tint onto his face, and it made him look just like the green man icon. Sophie cackled, a little at first.

    The Doctor’s hand tensed on the mouse and his eyebrows gathered like angry caterpillars ready to fight. He must have made a wrong move because a cascade of sound ending in a flop indicated he just died a death, most certainly on one of those facegoat addictive games.

    That certainly didn’t help muffle Sophie’s cackle until she felt Barbara’s six fingers seizing her shoulders as if for a Vulcan nerve pinch. Sophie expected to lose consciousness, but the hand was mostly warm, except for that extra finger which was cold and buzzing. The contact of the hand upon the latex gave off little squeaky sounds that made Sophie feel uncomfortable. She swallowed her anxiety and wished for the woman to remove her hand. But as she had  noticed more than once, wishes could take time and twists before they could be fulfilled.

    “Why do you have to ruin everything every time?” asked the Doctor. His face was now red and distorted.

    “Every time?” said Sophie confused.

    “Yes! You took your sleeper agent role too seriously. We couldn’t get any valuable intel and the whole doll operation was a fiasco. We almost lost the magpies. And now, your taste for uncharted drugs, which as a parenthesis I confess I admire your dedication to explore unknown territories for science… Anyway, you were all day locked up into your boudoir trying to contact me while I just needed you to look at computer screens and attend to meetings.”

    Sophie was too shocked to believe it. How could the man be so misinformed. She never liked computers and meetings, except maybe while looking online for conspiracy theories and aliens and going to comiccons. But…

    “Now you’re so addict to the drugs that you’re useless until you follow our rehab program.”

    “A rehab program?” asked Sophie, her voice shaking. “But…” That certainly was the spookiest thing she had heard since she had arrived to this place, and this made her speechless, but certainly not optionless. Without thinking she tried a move she had seen in movies. She turned and threw her mass into Barbara. The two women fell on the cold floor. Sophie heard a crack before she felt the pain in her right arm. She thought she ought to have persevered in her combat training course after the first week. But life is never perfect.

    “Suffice!” said the Doctor from above. “You’ll like it with the other guests, you’ll see. All you have to do is follow the protocol we’ll give you each day and read the documentation that Barbara will give you.”

    Sophie tried a witty answer but the pain was too much and it ended in a desperate moan.

    #5818
    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Dear Diary

    Cousin Lisa came calling yesterday morning and she tells us there’s some in the Village have come down with sickness. Of course it would be Lisa being the bearer of such news, her face lit up when I tell her I have heard nothing. Cook, over hearing our conversation, which was private but Cook is always sticking her great nose in where it is not required, she’s hung braids of garlic at the front door. I caught her telling the children it was to keep away the evil spirits that brought death. Poor little Jimmy couldn’t sleep last night he was that afraid of the spirits bringing death in the night. He asked endless questions,  how will the garlic stop them? Can the spirits get in through a window instead? He got his sister afraid also and the pair of them wouldn’t sleep then for crying in fear. I told Cook off roundly this morning for speaking to them thus.

    The master came home filled with drink, crashing around like the damned drunken fool he is nowadays. He shouted at the children for their crying and shouted at me for not keeping them quiet. At least he did not raise his fists for he wanted to lie with me and I nearly retched with his stinking breath coming close and thank God for His mercies that the fool passed out before he could do the deed. I may have done harm if he’d tried for the brass bell was sitting there on the table (and it is a heavy thing) and I was seeing at it as he came close and there was a moment I could have picked it up and crashed it to his skull. May God forgive me. 

    He makes my skin crawl for I know what he has done that he thinks I don’t know. But all will come to light if not in this world then the next. I am more sure than ever I must get away and the children with me.

    #5657
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    “So, what do we do now?” asked Fox. Call it a sixth sense or a seventh sense, but he knew before he got the answer that he was going to regret it somehow. He had always been too quick to ask questions, and his years at the service of Master Gibbon apparently hadn’t made this habit go away.

    “Well dear assistant. You can start with the dishes,” said Kumihimo with a broad smile, “and then clean the rest of the hut.”

    Fox swallowed. He looked at the piles of stuff everywhere. What had seemed fun a moment before, playing with Kumihimo’s recipes and what he still thought of as her power toys, had turned into a chore. Though, his eyes stopped on a paquet he hadn’t notice before. It looked heavy and wet. The wrapping was not completely closed on the top and he thought he could see pink. That renewed his energy and motivation. Thinking that afterwards they would revive Gorrash suddenly made him feel the cleaning would be done in no time. He simply needed to be methodical and tackle each task one by one.

    First the glassware, it was the most fragile and took most of the space outside.

    Fox didn’t know how long he had been at it. He had been so engrossed in the cleaning, that he hadn’t paid attention to the others who had been talking all along. He felt a little exhausted and his stomach growled. How since he last ate. His body was stiff with all the movements and carrying stuff around. He was about to ask for some food when he noticed Kumihimo and Rukshan were still talking. The Fae looked exhausted too, he had his panda eyes, but he seemed captivated by their discussion.

    “Things are going to get worse,” was saying Kumihimo, “We need everybody ready for what’s coming next. The fires were just the beginning.”

    “Do you have anything to eat?” asked Fox not knowing what else to contribute to the conversation. But he knew he wouldn’t be of any help if he didn’t eat something first.

    #5648
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    It was the new moon. Rukshan had been walking into the dark of the forest for some time. The noises of nocturnal animals felt like deep silence after his return from the land of the Giants. There, day and night, the giants were restless. You could hear them growling and shouting. It didn’t matter if it was a nasty fight or a friendly brawl, the noise had been taxing for his nerves and his right eye was still twitching randomly.

    Rukshan stopped a moment. The silence almost made him cry of relief and he thought in that moment the enchanted forest deserved its name.

    He took a deep breath. His nose wiggled, tickled by the scent of smoke from a fire. He was close to his destination, then. He had been following symbols traced with moon paint on the trees, a trail that only his Fae eyes could see even without moonlight. Humans would not to see it the same way. This trail of symbols might even have been left for him by someone who wanted  to be found when he would come back.

    Rukshan had found the start of the trail by chance behind the cottage after diner today. He had told Glynis he needed fresh air. The truth was that he had been alone for so long now that having so many people around him made him feel a bit claustrophobic. He had spotted was a faint glow behind a jasmin bush and had thought it was one of the baby snoots. As he was feeling the need for some pet company he had walked up to the bush. Instead of a creature there was the first glowing symbol, a spiral with seven sticks that looked like a hand with seven fingers. Not long after Rukshan had found another symbol, and another. It was clear the hands made a trail for him to follow. So he had followed.

    Soon, he found a wooden shack. Smoke was coming out of a hole in its roof and light from the windows. Rukshan could hear two people talking together. One was asking questions and the other answering them. He recognised the voices.

    He didn’t bother to knock on the door.

    “So that’s where you’ve been going every night after diner”, Rukshan said to Fox.

    “I’ve been waiting for you”, said Kumihimo the shaman.

    “I’m her new apprentice”, said Fox. “You’ve been away for so long”, he added as if apologising for something.

    A wet and warm thing touched Rukshan’s hand. Ronaldo the donkey brayed to welcome him. “Of course you are here too”, said the Fae. He found an apple he had put in his pocket after diner and gave it to the donkey. Ronaldo rolled up its chops and gave a heehaw full of joy, sparkles in its eyes.

    “Good, you haven’t forgotten good manners”, said the shaman. “Now, seat! We have much to talk about.”

    #5595
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “I’m keeping you up,” said Norma, yawning. “Thanks for listening. And for the wine.”

    “Oh you weren’t whining really, well not much. Oh! I see what you mean,” replied May.  “Say, where’s that kid got to? Norma, help me find the kid!”

    But it was too late. Norma had gone. And so had the child she was supposed to be babysitting.

    May’s intention to search for it as a matter of urgency was abruptly sidelined by the supreme urgency of a visit to the nearest lavatory.  It was a peculiar child anyway, May thought, and if it had been hers, she no doubt wouldn’t have minded being rid of it, no questions asked.  But it would be embarrassing to admit that she’d failed: not just the failure to look after the child, but failed to kidnap it either, and that she had simply lost it instead.

    #4823
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    Bugger them all then, Lucinda said to herself, I’ll carry on here without them.

    For a time she had been despondent at being abandoned, sinking into an aching overcast gloom to match the weather. Waiting for it to rain, and then waiting for it to stop.

    On impulse, in an attempt to snap out of the doldrums, she signed up for a Creative Writing and Rambling course at the local Psychic Self Institute. Institutionalizing psychic matters had been the brainchild of the latest political party to gain power, and hitherto under the radar prophets, healers and remote viewers had flocked to sign up. The institute has promised pension and public health credits to all members who could prove their mental prowess, and needless to say it had attracted many potential scammers: useless nobodies who wanted to heal their diseases, or lazy decrepit old scroungers who wanted to retire.

    Much to everyone’s surprise, not least their own, the majority of them had passed the tests, simply by winging it: making it up and hoping for the best. Astonishingly the results were more impressive than the results from the already established professional P.H.A.R.T.s ~ (otherwise known as Prophets, Healers and Remote Technicians).

    This raised questions about the premise of the scheme, and how increasingly difficult it was to establish a criteria for deservingness of pensions and health care, particularly if any untrained and unregistered Tom, Dick or Harry was in possession of superior skills, as appeared to be the case. The debate continues to this day.

    Nothwithstanding, the Institute continued to offer courses, outings and educational and inspiring talks. The original plan had been to offer qualifications, but the entrance exams had provoked such a quandary about the value and meaning (if any) of qualifications, that the current modus operandi was to simply offer each member, regardless of merit or experience, a simple membership card with a number on it. It was gold coloured and had classical scrolls and lettering on it in an attempt to bestow worth and meaning. Nobody was fooled, but everyone loved it.

    And everyone loved the tea room at the Institute. It was thought that some cake aficionado’s had even joined the Institute merely for the desserts, but nobody objected. There was a welcome collective energy of pleasure, appreciation and conviviality in the tea room, and it’s magnetic appeal ~ and exceptional cakes ~ ensured it’s popularity and acclaim.

    A small group had started a campaign to get it placed on the Institutes Energetic Cake Connector mapping programme. As Lucinda had said in a moment of clarity, “A back street bar can be just as much of an energy magnet as an old stone relic”, casting doubt over the M.O.S.S group’s (Mysterious Old Stone Sites) relevance to anything potentially useful.

    “In fact,” Lucinda continued, surprising herself, ““I’ve only just realized that the energy magnets aren’t going to be secret, hidden and derelict. They’re going to be busy. Like cities.”

    Several members of the M.O.S.S group had glared at her.

    Lucinda hadn’t really thought much about what to expect in the creative writing classes.

    #4669

    In reply to: The Stories So Near

    FloveFlove
    Participant

    Why does Arona have a key?

    Note: I am keeping this very simple. TRACY DID YOU READ THIS HELPFUL STUFF I DID FOR ERIC?

    Background story to the dolls: already supplied in Maeve’s comment to Lucinda explaining about her Uncle Fergus giving her the instructions to send the keys, via dolls, to certain addresses. Maeve doesn’t know why.

    Lucinda bought a doll from the market. How did it get there we want to know?

    This is how:

    One of the addresses on the list provided by Uncle Fergus was Bert’s address. Bert is mysterious. We don’t know much about him. We do know he refused to remortgage the house and maybe this is why.

    Aunt Idle opened the parcel for Burt out nosiness. She is very nosy. She fell in love with the doll and decided not to mention it to Burt. Even when he said, “I don’t suppose there’s been any mail for me?”

    TSK TSK

    Finly, who is still working there, came along and found the doll and thought it was “awful rubbish and dirty” and put it in the charity pile.

    The doll was purchased by a lady for her daughter. They were tourists in Australia. They took the doll with them to (wherever it is that Lucinda lives. CANADA?). The lady noticed the key at the airport and took it out as she thought it may not get through airport security.The child eventually got tired of the doll and the doll ended up at the market where it was purchased by Lucinda.

    How did Arona get the key?

    The keys have a lot of psychic energy. Arona picks up on psychic energy and zones in on it. She found the key at the airport.

    Any questions?

    #4636
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    It had been a strange tale that Maeve had told her, and Lucinda had a feeling that her neighbour hadn’t told her the whole story. Surely, if one was going to enormous trouble to make lots of dolls, one would ask more questions about why the keys were being sent to particular addresses. But Lucinda hadn’t asked any questions, as she didn’t want to stop Maeve moving towards the door without the doll. If she had done there was a danger that Maeve would remember to take it. Lucinda had wanted to know why that Australian Inn was full of coachloads of Italian tourists, and wondered why Maeve had used the word wop to describe them. It wasn’t like her to be rude, the comment about her ears notwithstanding.

    Granola, meanwhile, from her temporary current vantage point of the dreadlocked doll, was pleased to see that the doll had drawn attention. The misinterpretations were mounting up, but that didn’t matter at this stage.

    “Do you mind?!” hissed the doll to Granola. “Can’t you see there’s only room for one of us in here, and I was here first!”

    “Oh give over, a bit of merging never hurt anyone, least of all a cloth doll. Good lord woman, think of all the tapestry and weaving symbolism of it all!”

    “Oh alright then,” the doll grudgingly admitted. “I feel a ton lighter since passing that dreadful key. Holding on to that made me feel constipated. If you’d barged in while I still had the key, it would have been a bit cramped.”

    Lucinda was looking suspiciously at the doll. “What did you just say?” she asked, feeling ever so slightly foolish.

    “I wasn’t talking to you,” the doll snapped back. Lucinda’s jaw dropped. Well, I never! Not only does the doll talk, it talks to imaginary friends.

    #4600
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    (…)

    The pigeons dove from the thirtieth floor’s balcony in an attempt to mimic the planes it had seen above, or maybe in an attempt to mimic the ultrabright advertisement that its mother’s mother had seen long ago. It had left an unalterable trace in that lineage’s DNA.

    The pigeon that had seen at least one plane had been a pigeon, but when the pigeons dove and created a ripple, they didn’t leave a trace like the pigeons that had witnessed only the distant planes.

    In the air, they were flying against the wind, while on ground they were falling along a riverbank.

    “I guess they didn’t hear a loud noise because when they stopped for some distance they stopped and looked up, and what they saw looked as if they had died.”

    In the future, those pigeons, who could remember the names of the buildings they had seen during the war, could join together and explore another world and its inhabitants were not like them.

    On one of the banks of the river, a lone pigeon watched them from afar, and she looked at them with the calm of a mother on her child while saying,

    “Please tell me something. If they are so brave, then tell me anything.”

    She didn’t say any of the usual questions from a child, but she knew the answers in her

    #4577
    EricEric
    Keymaster

    Everyone was back, safe and sound from that ghastly trip in space and time.
    Rukshan hadn’t felt the exhaustion until now. It all came down upon him rather suddenly, leaving behind its trail a deafening silence.

    For the longest time he’s been carried by a sense of duty, to protect the others that’d been guiding his every steps, acting through him without doubt or concern. But in the new quiet place they were for that instant, there was no direction.

    Riddles still abounded, and he knew too well their appeal. Knowledge and riddles seemed to go hand in hand in a devilish dance. Lila or Masti of the divine… Or just fool’s errand, enticed by the prospect of some revelation or illumination from beyond.

    There had been no revelation. The blue beams that had attracted them seemed to have come with more questions than answers. Maybe they were only baits for the naive travellers…
    Even the small crystals he’d collected from the trip, glowing faintly, apparently alive with some energy felt as though they weren’t his own riddle to solve. He left the pouch on the desk with a word for Fox, along with the other small gifts he’d left for the others: some powdered colors, a rare vial of whale’s di-henna, a small all-seeing glass orb, and a magical shawl.

    It was time for him to pack. He didn’t like it much, but his only calling at the moment was that of coming home. Back to the land of the Faes. The Blood Moon Eclipse was upon them, and there would be a gathering of the Sages in the forest to honor the alliances of Old. Surely their little bending of time and space wouldn’t have gone unnoticed at such auspicious moment. Better to anticipate their questions than being marked as an heretic.

    And he wasn’t all too sure the Shadow has been vanquished. Its thirst for the power of the Shards was strong, beyond space and time. If it were to reappear again, the Faes skills would be necessary to help protect the other Shards holders.

    “I’ll see you again my friends” he said, as he entered the center of the nine-tiled square he’s drawn onto the ground, and vanished with it.

    #4563
    TracyTracy
    Participant

    “Enough of all that nonsense!” exclaimed Liz, who was brimming with enthusiasm, a bit like a frothing glass of cava. “Now then, Finnley, pay attention please! I’m calling a meeting to be held this evening for ALL of our story characters. I’d like you to make sure they are all made welcome and have suitable refreshments. Yes, I know it’s short notice, but I’ll give you the key to the special pantry in the Elsespace Arrangement. Some of the characters will help you, you just need to make a start and it will all fall into place.”

    Liz beamed at Finnley, who was looking aghast, and then fixed a piercing gaze on Godfrey.

    Godfrey, my good man. You know what I’m like with technical details. Your job will be to write my questions, with the relevant technical minutia. Don’t interrupt my flow with questions! Use your powers of intuition and telepathy!”

    Roberto attempted to slip out of the French windows, but his yellow vest got caught on the latch.

    “Not so fast, young man!” Liz had plans for the gardener. “There won’t be room inside for all the characters, so it will be a garden party. I’ll leave it to you to ensure there is plenty of outdoor furniture for people to make themselves comfortable. I’ll give you the key to the special garden shed in the Elsespace Arrangement.”

    “May I ask”, Godfrey ventured, “What the meeting is to be about?”

    “Indeed you may! I want input, lots of input. And ideas. The topic is Alternate Intelligence. That is a slightly better way of saying it than Artificial Intelligence, but not quite the perfect term. But we can change that later.”

    #4404
    AvatarJib
    Participant

    Liz left her bed at 8:30am, wearing only her pink and blue doubled cotton night gown, a perfect hair and her fluffy pink blue mules. She had been thinking about her characters while the sun was trying to rise with great difficulty. Liz couldn’t blame the Sun as temperatures had dropped dramatically since the beginning of winter and the air outside was really cold.

    When Liz was thinking about her writings and her characters, she usually felt hungry. Someone had told her once that the brain was a hungry organ and that you needed fuel to make it work properly. She didn’t have a sweet tooth, but she wouldn’t say no to some cheesy toast, any time of the day.

    She had heard some noise coming from the kitchen, certainly Finnley doing who knows what, although certainly not cleaning. It might be the association between thinking about her characters and the noise in the kitchen that triggered her sudden craving for a melted slice of cheese on top of a perfectly burnished toast. The idea sufficed to make her stomach growl.

    She chuckled as she thought of inventing a new genre, the toast opera. Or was it a cackle?

    As she was lost in her morning musings, her mules gave that muffled slippery sound on the floor that Finnley found so unladylike. Liz didn’t care, she even deliberately slowed her pace. The slippery sound took on another dimension, extended and stretched to the limit of what was bearable even for herself. Liz grinned, thinking about Finnley’s slight twitching right eye as she certainly was trying to keep her composure in the kitchen.

    Liz, all cheerful, was testing the differences between a chuckle and a cackle when she entered the kitchen. She was about to ask Finnley what she thought about it when she saw a small person in a yellow tunic and green pants, washing the dishes.

    Liz stopped right there, forgetting all about chuckles and cackles and even toasts.

    “Where is Finnley?” she asked, not wanting to appear the least surprised. The small person turned her head toward Liz, still managing to keep on washing the dishes. It was a girl, obviously from India.

    “Good morning, Ma’am. I’m Anna, the new maid only.”

    “The new… maid?”

    Liz suddenly felt panic crawling behind her perfectly still face. She didn’t want to think about the implications.

    “Why don’t you use the dishwasher?” she asked, proud that she could keep the control of her voice despite her hunger, her questions about chuckles and cackles, and…

    “The dirty dishes are very less, there is no need to use the dishwasher only.”

    Liz looked at her bobbing her head sideways as if the spring had been mounted the wrong way.

    “Are you alright?” asked Anna with a worried look.

    “Of course, dear. Make me a toast with a slice of cheese will you?”

    “How do I do that?”

    “Well you take the toaster and you put the slice of bread inside and pushed the lever down… Have you never prepared toasts before?”

    “No, but yes, but I need to know how you like it only. I want to make it perfect for your liking, otherwise you won’t be satisfied.” The maid suddenly looked lost and anxious.

    “Just do as you usually do,” said Liz. “Goddfrey?” she called, leaving the kitchen before the maid could ask anymore questions.

    Where was Goddfrey when she needed him to explain everything?

    “You need me?” asked a voice behind her. He had appeared from nowhere, as if he could walk through the walls or teleport. Anyway, she never thought she would be so relieved to see him.

    “What’s that in the kitchen?”

    “What’s what? Oh! You mean her. The new maid.”

    He knew! Liz felt a strange blend of frustration, despair and anger. She took mental note to remember it for her next chapter, and came back to her emotional turmoil. Was she the only one unaware of such a bit change in her home?

    “Well, she followed us when we were in India. We don’t know how, but she managed to find a place in one of your trunks. Finnley found her as she had the porter unpacked the load. It seems she wants to help.”

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