- 25. Blackberry Lane – Episode 24
- 26. Blackberry Lane – Episode 25
- 27. Blackberry Lane – Episode 26
- 28. Blackberry Lane – Episode 27
- 29. Blackberry Lane – Episode 28
WHEN Maureen skipped gleefully up to Archie next day and told him the good news, he beamed with delight.
“There, what did I tell you?” he said.
There was even a rekindling of the old friendship between Maureen and Stella. They were both far too happy to hold on to any bitterness.
“Carl’s asked me to go back to Texas with him,” Stella confessed happily, as they lay in bed one night.
“That’s wonderful, Stella. I couldn’t be happier for you.”
“What about you?” Stella asked. “Don’t you think you’ll be going to America?”
“No,” Maureen replied, but she was smiling happily. “We’re going to stay right here. Dougie Painter came round to have a talk with us, and he wants Marcus to go into the business with him. We’ll live in that lovely thatched cottage right in the middle of the village.”
Stella giggled uncontrollably.
“Heavens, Mo! That’s a bit of a turn up. You, a country girl!”
“I don’t really care where I am, as long as I’m with him.”
After just a few days back in the city, Jeanie’s life had slotted back into routine, and Archie’s words faded to the back of her mind.
She welcomed her work, preferring to keep busy. It was her home which got her down.
Her children didn’t want to live with her, she told herself. She must have been a bad mother. The feeling built up inside her until she could bear it no longer, and one day she snapped, handing in her notice to her landlord and packing her bags.
She wasn’t heading for the country. Instead, she took out the lease on a flat. It’s more convenient, she told herself. It actually pleased her that it was pokey, and in a rundown area. She felt it was where she belonged.
Maureen’s wedding plans were well under way. It was to be a simple affair. She didn’t want a lot of fuss, she said, and it needed to be arranged quickly so that Stella could be her bridesmaid.
Stella was also planning to marry, but not until she reached America. Carl’s family were arranging it.
Archie watched all the feverish preparations. For the first time in all the years he’d been at the farm, he felt restless and dissatisfied. Where was Jeanie? Far from moving out here, she seemed to be leaving it ages without visiting. She was busy, the boys said.
“Ted,” he said one day. “Can I have two or three days off, please?”
Archie had never seen a city before. So this is Southampton, he thought, as he stood outside the station building.
It was certainly noisier than anywhere he’d ever been before. And the very air smelled different to country air and there were so many people, all of them hurrying in different directions.
He noticed several men who’d clearly come back injured from the war. Many of them were walking with wives or girlfriends on their arms. To outward appearances, he was no different to most of them.
He thought how hard it must be to come to terms with a new disability, and felt himself lucky suddenly.
Eventually, with his piece of paper telling Jeanie’s address clutched in his hand, he stood outside the house.
At least it looked like a nice house, he thought. He could picture her standing on those steps.
He mounted them and knocked on the door. After a minute he knocked again. There was no answer, so he decided to try next door.
A few moments passed, and Daphne opened the door.
“Do you know when I’d catch Mrs Pryce in, please?” he asked.
“She doesn’t live here any more.”
“Are you sure?” he exclaimed in surprise.
“Of course I’m sure. I was her neighbour for fifteen years, I should know.”
Archie had the distinct feeling that, for some reason, this woman disapproved of him.
“Have you got her new address?”
“You’re that Archie from the farm, aren’t you?” Daphne asked suddenly.
“Yes. Has she mentioned me?”
“She said you were all right.”
“So, may I have her new address then?”
“Wait here.” Daphne disappeared for a few minutes, before reappearing to hand him a piece of paper.
“I think it’s a shame how she’s been treated. None of you know what she did for those boys.”
Archie rose to the bait.
“What did she do?”
“Protected them, that’s what she did. Many’s the time she took a hiding from that husband of hers, just so he’d leave them alone.”
Somewhere in the pit of Archie’s stomach he felt a hard, angry knot forming. So that explained why the boys never spoke of their dad much. It was all he could do to look Daphne in the eye.