Mrs Fytton's Country Life

Mrs Fytton's Country Life by Mavis Cheek

Book: Mrs Fytton's Country Life by Mavis Cheek Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mavis Cheek
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that department.'
    And again Angela wondered if she was laughing at her. 'How do you know all these things?' she asked.
    'It's passed on. Mother, daughter, grandmother.' She shrugged. 'It's the country for you.'
    'Yes,' said Angela. And she suddenly giggled. 'Even the trees.'
    'All promise and no delivery,' said Mrs Perry, looking firmly at her glass. 'When you see it from the front. It was got at. By Archie.'
    Mrs Perry held her glass up to the sunlight, where it glowed like a ruby. 'It's supposed to have once been a white fruit that got stained by the blood of a pair of murdered sweethearts. According to our history woman.'
    But Angela was already far away, imagining herself slipping out in the moonlight to stroke those rippled buttocks; or winding and spreading herself within its arm; or reaching up to bite the fruit so that the juice ran down ...
    The dog was pushing the Perry pinny up over the round knees with its nose. 'He wants a walk,' Mrs Perry said.
    Angela tried to look at him fondly. Go away, stick your head up your bum and let me finish, she thought, hoping it was true that dogs had extrasensory perception.
    The dog eyed her. No doubt about it, he knew. Any more from you, she transmitted, and you'll go into the pot too. No Sheherazade could have felt more desperate, she thought. I am telling this story to win.
    Angela put down her glass and continued. 'Well, to cut a long story short, my husband met a pretty woman who wanted a baby. Just when we were almost free again, he falls for the oldest trick in the world. Young, blonde, with size four feet. Shafted by my own sex. First there was the Green-ham group, who shafted me because I had a child. Then there was this Belinda woman, who shafted me because I didn't.'
    Mrs Perry said wryly, 'The one thing about the old days is that you had no choice in the matter. Bit of a relief in some ways. If you lived.'
    ‘I want to come here to a decent, honest community where I can rebuild my life. Please.'
    Mrs Perry stood up very quickly. She was embarrassed. 'I must take this dog for a walk.' The dog came rushing over to her as she reached for his lead.
    Miserably Angela downed her wine. So she had lost, then?
    ‘I do understand,' said Mrs Perry kindly. 'But I won't break our promise. The man has made us an offer fair and square.'
     
    She held out her hand. 'Come again, Mrs Fytton,' she said. 'Will you do that?'
     
    'Why?' said Angela aggressively as they walked off down the path together.
    'Come in three weeks' time and the mulberry will be in leaf,' said Mrs Perry at the gate.
    Angela turned. She traced the words in brass - Church Ale House - and looked back along the path to where the breeze moved through the boughs of the tree. She fancied it was waving at her. I will not go and look at the front of it until I own it, she thought.
    She knew now that the ruddy-faced cook would have been making mulberry tarts, of course, while the fantasy ladies of the house wore the product of the worms in which to eat them. And what had the Roman women who lived here worn? Or eaten? And what did the Saxon matron use to make the cakes that Alfred burnt? How she wished she could be a part of that whole cycle - the timelessness of Mrs Perry's own connections, her innate happiness drawn from a sense of belonging. That was what she lacked. Now she no longer belonged anywhere. She could have belonged here, but someone with shiny shoes and insider knowledge was buying it. Nothing short of an act of God could prevent the sale, and God was unlikely to have a gap in his schedule, given the state of the world.
    She watched Mrs Perry set off towards the hill where the pig man kept his pigs. Angela heard her say, 'If you chase those pigs again you'll be on the lead properly.' The dog walked soberly by her side. Even at a distance the old woman was looking very thoughtful. Angela slowed as she went past, and waved.
    The woman turned. 'By the way,' she called, stopping for a moment and leaning on her

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