Hold Fast To Your Dreams – Episode 15

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

“Beth! Johnny!” Sarah clutched the letter and stood at the door of the cottage. The sun shone down on the golden fields, ripe and ready for harvest.  

Joe winced, rubbing his muscles after his morning’s work, and eased himself down on to a chair.  

“Go on, read it, Sarah,” he said impatiently, leaning down to swing toddler Joey up on to his lap, to shrieks of delight from the little boy. “They can hear Jenny’s news later.” 

“Oh, Joseph,” she chided lovingly. “We’ll wait as long as it takes. Look, here they are.” She waved to hurry them along. 

It had become a tradition: Sarah’s reading of the letters to the family, first Emily’s and now Jenny’s, before the midday meal.  

It was always a mixture of fascination, laughter and wistful tears, with much scoffing from Joe about Emily and her daft ideas, and why Ben and Jenny couldn’t have stayed close to home.  

Sarah saw through his gruffness, knowing that later on he would ask her to read the letters again, with the two of them sitting by the light of the candle.   

“Why doesn’t Davey write letters to us now that he’s moved away?” Beth asked as she and Johnny jostled to peer into the earthenware crock heaped with Sarah’s plum jam which filled the cottage with its sweet fragrance.  

“He doesn’t give a thought to us, that’s why,” Joseph said.  

“Of course he does, Joe. But letter writing isn’t his way,” Sarah said. “Johnny Callow, keep your fingers out of there!”  

“Open the letter, Sarah,” Beth urged. 

“All right. Sit down, you two.” She slid a knife across the top of the envelope and ceremonially took out the letter. 

“Dear Sarah, Dad, Davey, Johnny, Beth and Joey,” she read. 

“I hope you’re all well. I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner, but I had no idea how busy Ben and I would be here at Orchard End. Lord and Lady Bracken are away, and we have no idea when they’ll return.  

“Ben and I are getting to know our new home, and the big house, too. Ben has been working very hard in the garden. It’s been neglected for a long time, and he has so much to do.  

“Once it’s cleared, he wants to make it very beautiful, with lots of different small gardens within the big one, with flowers everywhere, and ponds and even a fountain.  

“I don’t know what my duties will be, but I’ve been cleaning the house to make it welcoming for the Brackens. I know that Lady Bracken seemed rather strange when we met her, but I’m looking forward to getting to know her, and I’m hoping she’ll become a kind of friend, like the countess has been.  

“I miss you all very much and I’ll be thinking of you when time comes for the Harvest Supper. It will feel very strange not being there with you for the festivities. We hope that you’ll visit us very soon.  

“With all my love, 


“The garden will be so lovely,” Beth said dreamily. “I do miss Jenny and Ben. Can we go and visit soon?”  

“We’ll see,” Sarah said. “We must give them more time to settle in.”  

She smiled. Worries of Ben going off the rails again had always niggled at the back of her mind.  

But now that he’d been given the chance to immerse himself in work he loved, and could be his own man at last, Sarah knew that all would be well for him and dear Jenny.  

“Why can’t the two of them come back here to visit?” Joe asked.  

“Joe, you know that they’ve only just –” 

She was interrupted by a low growling sound from far away. It grew louder, and Johnny jumped up and ran outside. 

“It’s Davey!” he shouted, and the family hurried to the door to see the black motor car swerve into view. 

When Davey had first come home to show off his pride and joy, his father had been – as Sarah had put it – like a bear with a sore head. For hadn’t those blasted motor cars caused nothing but trouble?  

Later on they’d all seen the look of excitement on Joe’s face as he’d sat behind the wheel, Davey sitting anxiously in the passenger’s seat as they weaved along the road. 

Davey leaped down and there were hugs all round. But then Sarah saw the look on her stepson’s face. 

“Come in and have some dinner,” she said, and they all trooped back inside. 

To be continued…

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