Mr and Mrs Morton were the centre of the village community. Each year they organised a Bar-B-Que for the village with any proceeds going to animal welfare organisations. There was seldom more than a few pounds raised as they only had a small tombola stall and one or two children’s games.
Every little helps, however.
Normally they held the event at their own home but this year decided to ask friends Dane and Bea if it could be held in the grounds of their home, Camelot. Namely because Dane and Bea had quite a number of different animals that would help to occupy the attention of any children present. Dane and Bea accepted and plans for the invitations were set in motion. It was agreed from the outset that the guest of honour this year would be Old Mrs Blythe who had lived in the village throughout her entire life and had been a staunch member of the community. Sadly no-one knew any of her relatives or where they lived.
The great day came, sunny but not too hot. The first to arrive were Emma and Ginny with their mother (Mary Gooding or Mom) and grandfather (Gramps). Gramps had a full and fascinating life behind him and was a great story teller. He had travelled far and wide and thoroughly enjoyed getting together with his friends Sue and Tom Drake, also widely travelled and with numerous good stories to tell.
Another five minutes then everyone seemed to be arriving together. Sheila with her friend Doreen and lodger, Jake. “Have you not brought Sarah” asked Alexandra Morton who was always looking to befriend girls of her own age group. “I’m afraid not” replied Sheila. “Sarah has rather blotted her copy book and is no longer staying with me”. “Oh! I’m sorry to hear that” was Alexandra’s response but her attention was immediately drawn to the next car driven by Isobel with her fiancé in the passenger seat nursing their new baby and Mallorie Longfield in the rear. Mallorie was a family orientated individual with a rather vivid imagination and an unusually strong belief in her dreams. More on this later.
Alexandra had barely said hello to them when all around her started clapping. She looked up to find the cause and saw that Martha had driven in with Old Mrs Blythe as her passenger. Mrs Blythe, as always, with that permanent smile on her face. A very elaborate garden lounger had been set up on the wooden decking not far from the Bar-B-Que. Several of the chaps came up to assist Mrs Blythe to this seat. “Will this be OK for you Mrs Blythe?” asked Bea. We will happily bring an armchair down from the house if you would prefer”. “No” came the response. “The lounger will be perfect thank you. It will remind me of happy days by the sea in deck-chairs. I simply loved the seaside. Scarborough, Whitby and Bridlington were our favourite haunts when the children were little”. “Very well” replied Bea. “Would you like anything to eat yet? There is plenty of food and not only the Bar-B-Que”. “I see some ham there on the table. Might I have a small ham sandwich please?” “Most certainly” said Bea and left to prepare the sandwich.
Mary Gooding, Gramps and Mallorie Longfield had asked Dane if they could see inside the house and he said “No problem”. As they moved around they came across a picture hanging on a wall. Mallorie immediately gave a stifled shriek and promptly collapsed. On recovering she explained that the picture of a room containing an elderly couple was a picture in her constant dream and a room that she had seen recently. Dane explained that the couple were his great aunt and uncle and the room was in their house.
A late arrival was Ronald Birch the boss at a local manufacturing company. He introduced his companion, Lena Cole. “We work together and live in the same block of apartments, Blenheim Place, the old workhouse building”. He volunteered. “We met just last week at a party”.
Alexandra finally caught up with Isobel again. “Are Katherine and Paul coming do you know? I believe they are neighbours of yours” she asked. Isobel said “I don’t know any details but as far as I know Paul has left Katherine and there have been a number of police vehicles parked outside their house on and off over the last two or three weeks. I do hope they are not in any trouble”. “So do I” remarked Alexandra. “I like Katherine but I don’t find Paul a very easy person to get on with. He seems to have a bit of a down on women in general. We should be kept in our place so to speak”. “I’m afraid I have to agree with you Alexandra. Let’s wait and see what happens. No point in spoiling to-day with conjecture”. Alexandra agreed and they chatted about the baby who was still with her father.
Everyone made a point of having a chat with Old Mrs Blythe. When chatting amongst themselves later they all remarked that, without exception, they had, at some time or other, been to Mrs Blythe’s house for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. Her everlasting smile and happy, friendly outlook were legendary within the village. No-one could understand why her family remained so distant.
Most of the children had wandered to the other paddock to see the animals and the adults gradually drifted over there as well to see what was going on. Suddenly an alarm bell sounded and everyone turned towards the gate. An ambulance was pulling in and Martha was waving to it frantically. The vehicle rolled down towards the bar-b-que and stopped. Everyone rushed over to see what the problem was. The medics were on the wooden decking and Martha asked everyone to keep back. “I just called for the ambulance” she said. “I’m not sure but I think Old Mrs Blythe has just passed away”.
They all stepped back and waited. When the medics had finished and transferred Mrs Blythe into the ambulance one of them came and confirmed what Martha had said. “The lady just went to sleep for the last time and, believe it or not, she has the most beautiful smile on her face”.
© 2016 Yeadon Writers
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