Blackberry Lane – Episode 22


TED and Kate were also thinking about the end of the war. Much as they were looking forward to it, they didn’t relish the idea of Russ and Marty leaving the farm.

“We’ve got to do something about it, Ted,” Kate said one evening. “We can’t just let them go. They’ll be heartbroken.”

“I don’t like the idea any more’n you,” Ted answered, “but at the end of the day Jeanie’s their mum. Course she’s going to want them to go home with her.”

“Yes, she’s their mum, and she’s a good mum. That’s why she’s going to want what’s best for the boys.” Kate grabbed her husband’s hand, and held it tightly. “What we’ve got to do is convince her that leaving them here is for the best.”

“What on earth can I say that’ll do that?” He shook his head in a hopeless fashion. “I’m not a good man with words, you know that.”

“There’s only one thing you’ve got to say,” Kate replied with clear conviction, “you tell her that we’ll adopt them. That the farm will be theirs one day.”

Ted looked at his wife open-mouthed.

“Adopt them? Lord bless me, Kate, where did you dream this idea up from?”

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and it makes sense.” Her eyes gleamed with fervour. “You know how it plays on your mind that there’s no-one to take over after you. We give ’em the name Proctor, and there’s the future taken care of for all of us.”

“Well, that’s a neat plan you’ve hatched there, but I don’t think it’s that simple.”

She tutted at him impatiently.

“I never said it would be simple. What I said was it makes sense. What is there for them in the city? They’ve taken to farm work like they were born to it. Jeanie will see that, I know she will.”

Ted looked into his wife’s eyes. She really meant it, he could see.

Adoption, he thought. He felt emotion rise up in his throat and threaten to choke him.

Ken had been his own flesh and blood. He couldn’t be replaced just like that! Yet he had to admit he did love Russ and Marty. To no longer see their young figures darting about the place would be hard. But then that was war. There had been a lot of hard things to come to terms with.

Their son was dead, most of their animals were gone, and the farm had changed beyond recognition.

But it was still his farm; the land his family had tended for over 200 years. Didn’t he owe it to them, and to Kate, to at least try

to hold on to it?

Of course he could sign it over to Archie, but as he’d probably never have children, what then? Would the end result be the same? No, the more he thought about it, the more he could see the reasoning behind Kate’s idea. But would Jeanie see it, too?

****

Archie frowned, his eyes concerned as they rested on Ted.

“You’re very quiet this morning. Is everything all right?” he asked.

“Oh, yes. I’ve just got a bit of something on my mind.” So used to sharing all his thoughts with Archie, it was natural for him to carry on. “Kate and me, we’re going to try to adopt the boys.”

The effect of his words was unexpectedly dramatic. Archie gasped, and his eyebrows rose.

“But you can’t do that! It’ll break Jeanie’s heart,” he protested.

Ted flushed.

“Yes. Well…” he stumbled over his response. “I know she’ll not like the idea, but Kate thinks it would be best all round.”

“Well, I don’t!” Archie replied without hesitation. “I think it’s a terrible idea.”

It occurred to Ted that Archie might have his own reasons for objecting. After all, he was as good as telling him the farm would never be his.

“I’m sorry, lad, I know how it might have looked, with Ken gone…”

“Oh, do you?”

Ted had never seen Archie angry before, and was stunned into silence.

“I don’t want your farm,” Archie went on heatedly, “so you can stop frettin’ on that score. All I’m concerned about is how your idea is going to affect Jeanie. I mean, have you looked at it from her point of view?”

“Now, steady, lad.” Ted was recovering himself a bit. “Of course we’ve thought of her, but Kate thinks, and I agree, that she’ll want what’s best for the boys. They’ve taken to life here, and it would give them a secure future.”

“I can see you’ve got it all tied up very neat. I’d never have thought it of you, Ted. Neither of you.” And with that Archie got up and stalked off to resume work.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!