Blackberry Lane – Episode 13

NO, you’re not having that tub of drawing pins,” Kate said firmly. “You’ll be tipping them all over the floor.”

“I will not!” Russ replied indignantly. “I’m not taking the chance. You can pass the streamer to me, and I’ll pin it to the ceiling.”

Paul was gazing in wonder at all the coloured paper streamers now festooning the walls. He’d never seen such lovely things before. His family had never decorated the house for Christmas.

Kate noticed the look on his face, and smiled softly. The poor lad. It took so little to make him happy, yet most people couldn’t be bothered with him. Thank goodness he’d been taken in by Annie, she thought. She was just the sort of woman to bring the best out in him.

Thinking of Annie gave Kate a mental nudge. Goodness, time was getting on! Surely she’d be coming in soon, and when she did she’d be cold and hungry.

“Pop out to the dairy and ask Auntie Annie how much longer she’ll be, while I get the food ready.”

Spring, 1941

Russ shot out of the door and up the road the second that Miss Lovejoy said “dismissed”. He’d been on tenterhooks all day wondering what he was missing. The birth of Maisie’s litter had been eagerly anticipated all weekend. Monday morning had arrived, though, and still no piglets.

Racing past the farmhouse and across the yard, he made straight for the pigsties. Archie’s head popped up from the sty. He held a finger to his lips.

Russ squatted on his haunches. He could hear the sow making low grunting sounds, then all at once a little head appeared.

Archie’s hand was poised, and as the body slithered out he pulled it clear, rubbing it with straw from the bedding, and clearing the tiny creature’s mouth so it could take its first breaths.

One by one, the little piglets made their appearance into the world. Six, seven, then eight. Then Maisie relaxed, as if she sensed that the job was finished.

Russ’s expression was full of wonder. He’d never imagined the sow could hold so many babies in her belly, nor how quickly they’d be born, one after another like that.

Archie chuckled to himself. It was already clear to him where each of the boy’s interests lay. Russ loved being with the animals, whereas Marty was never happier than when he was riding on the tractor.

He doubted that anyone meeting them now would take them for a pair of city boys. They had settled into farm life a treat.


Jeanie eased herself into a church pew. Worn smooth by years of use, the old wood felt cool under her fingers.

She recalled again the words in Ray’s last letter. It had been a while coming, and she’d had an uneasy feeling that something was wrong, so it was almost a relief to learn that he’d been taken prisoner. At least it put an end to the uncertainty.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t hear Reverend Edwards come through from the presbytery.

“Why, Jeanie!” he exclaimed softly. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen you in church.”

Jeanie smiled at him apologetically.

“I know, but work takes up most of my time these days. And now I’m not a mother…”

Gordon Edwards slid on to the seat beside her.

“You must never say that, Jeanie.” He shook his head reproachfully. “Sending your boys to a place of safety is an act of love.”

Tears welled in Jeanie’s eyes, as they always did when she let her thoughts dwell on how much she missed Russ and Marty.

“Is anything else troubling you?” he asked.

“Well, yes, now that you come to mention it.” She blew her nose, and took a deep breath. “I’ve had a letter from Ray. He’s been captured, and is in a POW camp.”

Reverend Edwards nodded his head, and waited silently for her to continue.

“The thing is, I should feel something, but I don’t.” Her head dropped. “Not really.”

“And what is it you think you should feel?”

He considered for a moment, then said, “The relationship between two adults depends on give and take. As we said when we spoke previously, I think it will take a lot of hard work from both of you to make your marriage work.”

“But you think it can?”

“I do.” He chuckled softly. “I have confidence in you, Jeanie. I think you could do anything.” His gaze was levelled at her.

“But you do have to want it.”

She flushed, dropping her eyes from his.

“You know, don’t you?” she whispered.

“I know you’re unhappy.” He shrugged.

“As to the rest, let’s say that I can appreciate how you feel about Raymond.”

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!