Friday, 2 February 2018

Cousin John's Inheritance chapters 10 and 11. Violet moves to Booralla Road, Hovee starts egg farm.

10.              Booralla Road September 1941.
Marjorie heard the truck grinding up the hill and pushed the kettle onto the hot spot.
She had placed two cups on the table and was on the side verandah when Violet called from the back door. ‘Yoo-hoo! Anybody home?’
Marjorie entered from the side door with cake and milk fetched from the safe. ‘Of course I’m home. How are you?’
Violet slumped into a chair and rubbed her face then cradled her chin in her hands. ‘The time has come, Sister Marjorie, for the workers to come to the aid of the party.’ She looked up, face grim. ‘The old boy gave me my marching orders, so I’ve come to get the shed ready.’
Marjorie placed her burden on the table then proceeded to make tea. ‘What did you do to upset the old goat?’
Violet laughed and Marjorie sensed laughter had been a rare pleasure for Violet of late. ‘What did he say?’
Violet sat back in her chair as Marjorie placed the tea pot on the table between them and sat. She took the pot handle and held it. ‘He said I was a Jezebel and that he would not have me bringing Satan’s ways into his house!’ she slammed her fist onto the table.
‘Oh dear! and what did you say to that?’
‘He had already had a talk with Bill, who made himself scarce, but he had warned me that his father was upset with me.’
‘What did you do, for goodness sake?’
Violet replaced the tea pot on the table and stood. ‘What do you see?’
Marjorie took the teapot and poured for both of them, then looked her over. Violet sat.
‘I know what it was. It was those overalls.’ She left the room for a few seconds and returned with a photo album. She riffled through a few pages then turned one toward Violet. ‘See that?’
‘You, my girl, are wearing overalls!’ she looked up at Marjorie, smiling broadly. ‘And that’s the old curmudgeon’s back yard.’ She laughed. ‘I bet you copped it for that!’
‘He said nothing to me, but really gave Staff a dressing down about allowing me to offend the Lord.’
‘What did Staff say?’
‘He said he told the old boy that he had no idea what I was wearing and that it was Clissie who took the snap.’ 
‘What happened then?’
‘Staff suggested to me that it might be a good idea not to wear overalls at his father’s place again, so I haven’t.’
Violet moved the album to face her and began to turn over pages, commenting on family members at weddings and at the beach. She indicated a photo of Marjorie in a bathing suit. ‘Just look at those legs!’ She leaned closer. ‘I’m just checking to see if the legs are in one piece like a mermaid.’ They both laughed together and drank more tea.

11.              Booralla Road January 1941.
‘I reckon we’ll lose these chooks. Just look at them.’
Stafford and Hovee had at last completed the fowl run in time to release two hundred pullets from their cramped space in the brooder house only to see them, beaks open, wings spread out, sitting on the ground under what mottled shade there was under a desiccated wattle tree.
Hovee’s venture had started with a truck load of second hand wire mesh, posts cut from trees on the property and a lot of hard work. Unable to afford a flock on the point-of-lay, they had borrowed an old kerosene-heated brooder from “Coromandel” and bought two hundred and fifty day-old chickens. This was Hovee’s project, but Stafford had suspended work on the house to help build two fowl houses, with roosts and laying boxes with a thick layer of shell grit as a soft bed for eggs and a source of calcium for the hens.
They had collected the grit from Thirroul beach.
The long trip south was worth the drive. Marjorie’s children were joined by Beryl and Frank Ray’s Robert, running towards the towering breakers then being chased up the sand by foamy wavelets, while Marjorie and Beryl watched and the men gathered grit with a wide shovel, carefully skimming off shell that was revealed as each breaker retreated down the sand.
In the afternoon, Frank Ray came to join them on the beach to watch the children. ‘You’d better be careful with Eleanor, her skin.’
Marjorie stood and walked to the water, calling the children to her. Inspection of Eleanor revealed red skin and a promise of severe burning. She wrapped her in a towel and herded them all back to the group.
‘We’d better get a move on,’ she said, collecting towels as the men stood.
Frank helped his brothers lift bags of grit as Beryl took her picnic basket and headed off towards their house a block away. ‘I’ll get some dinner on!’ she called, pushing Robert ahead of her while the men carried the grit to the truck.
Stafford was driving on the way home along the Princes Highway, with Violet and Marjorie in the front, Violet nursing little Billy and Marjorie against the door holding Eleanor who was asleep, her face flushed with sunburn and exhaustion. Hovee was relegated to the table top, sitting on the grit bags with the just Fordie to hold on to. He too was soon asleep, and Bill let him slip down to be curled up on the folded tarp. He pulled a corner over the little boy to keep the wind off.
Inside the cab, noise from the motor rendered normal speech almost impossible, so conversation such as it was, became a series of shouts punctuated by long silences.
They had negotiated Bulli Pass with the radiator still below boiling point, not possible in the heat of the day, and with noise now seeming almost gone after the fifteen minute climb, the old Dodge growling its way up the mountain, mostly in first gear, Stafford shifted to top gear and turned to the women. ‘I wonder how the chooks are.’
Marjorie, by the window, almost asleep herself, looked away to watch black vegetation whipping by and left the conversation to Violet.
‘I don’t know. This has been the hottest summer I can remember.’ She looked to Marjorie then to Stafford. ‘I don’t want Bill to know I told you, but he wanted the chook farm so he could be in a protected industry.’
Stafford’s face seemed shocked as he darted her a glance. His full attention was required on the road and he seemed to go back to it. But his frown stayed put as he shifted down to second for a hill. ‘I didn’t think Bill was frightened of anything,’ he said as he kept his eyes on the road. ‘In fact I thought he would join up when Walter did. I was surprised when he didn’t.’
‘He doesn’t want to leave you.’ Marjory threw that into the conversation then turned back to her window.
Violet stared at the back of her head for a moment then turned back to Stafford. ‘Staff, do you really think he didn’t join up so he could stay home with me?’
‘If you’re asking me, I reckon he’s not keen to go for the same reasons I’m not and that’s because we’d be fighting for the Poms and that bloodthirsty blighter, Churchill. If we were fighting for Australia we’d both be in it already.’
Marjory had turned back to face them at that. She was staring at him, her face showing her concern. ‘I hope you have other reasons to stay out of it, like three children and me.’
Stafford let out a long sigh. ‘I reckon I’d go in if I was called up, but I can’t imagine that will happen unless we are invaded here in Australia.’
Marjorie looked outside as if she might see enemy soldiers on the side of the road, then looked back. ‘Who’d want to invade us? There’s nothing here!’
Violet moved to be more comfortable moving her plump three year old niece to the other knee. She brushed a whisk of hair from the little girl’s red and swollen face and kissed her ginger hair. ‘You are going to be a very sore little girl tomorrow.’
The truck was now back in top gear and humming along, nearing the Heathcote Road turn-off.
Both women were tired but their eyes joined his, staring ahead into the inadequately lit gloom.
‘I think you’re right, Madge. I think he is afraid of being away from me, God knows why!’
Stafford shot her a glance of concern. Although he would not reprimand another man’s wife, he was dismayed that she should blaspheme in their presence. His lips pressed together, he let the truck run faster down the hill to the Woronora than he otherwise would. Marjorie was aware he was angry and leant across Violet to touch his arm. He immediately braked and shifted down a gear to hold the truck back as it negotiated curves and the narrow bridge before starting the long climb to the plateau and the Heathcote mad mile.
Violet looked from one to the other but they were both staring ahead, apparently not interested in conversation with her.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Cousin John's Inheritance Chapters 8 and 9. Violet in trouble and Owen plans to make a charcoal gas producer.

3.      38 Baker Street. 1940.
‘Did you see Violet!’ Young Mary’s hand was at her mouth as if to prevent the outrage from escaping. ‘She was wearing trousers!’
Her sister Clarissa had indeed seen Violet wearing trousers and although she knew it was not the Brethren way, did understand that to drive a truck, wearing a long dress would make clutch, brake and accelerator pedals difficult to manipulate. ‘They were overalls.’ She corrected, and continued stirring flour on the way to becoming bread.
‘But, Clissy!’ Mary insisted, now beside her in kitchen. ‘Father saw her!’
Clarissa wiped her hands on her apron and pushed the kettle over the flame. ‘Mary, you run along now and get ready for school. I’ll have a talk to Father.’ She pushed Mary toward the door, but the child resisted.
‘But Clissy,’ she insisted. ‘If she dresses like a man, she will go to Hell! Deuteronomy 22.’
Clarissa laughed. ‘Not quite, Mary. Deuteronomy 22 is not quite that harsh. It is an abomination, but does not guarantee an eternity in hellfire.’
‘But it’s still bad.’ Mary insisted, ‘Violet’s sins will bring dishonour upon our house.’
Clarissa hugged her little sister and wondered at the wisdom of filling children’s heads with the language of retribution without the wisdom to assess its appropriate applications, then led her to her room. ‘Now, get dressed. The bus goes in fifteen minutes.’
Mary glanced at the big clock in the hallway then closed her door to dress.
The kettle was boiling when Clarissa returned to the kitchen so she made a pot of tea and carried it out to where her father sat in the sunroom reading his Bible.
‘Here you are, Father. Would you like some cake?’
Her father patted the arm of the easy chair, where his wife had spent so much time with him for so many years, knitting, crocheting and reading. ‘Sit a minute.’
She sat and began to pour tea but he stopped her with a raised hand. ‘No, leave that, I want to talk to you about Violet.’ He looked to the door where Mary was waving her hand in goodbye. ‘Bye Mary and mind you do not eat with heathens or the Lord might not find you on Judgement day.’
The happy smile faded as Mary contemplated another lunch time alone. She turned and left, the clack of the front door closing allowing him to turn back. ‘I heard what you said to Mary about Deuteronomy 22, and cannot agree with you. Did you ever see your mother wearing trousers? No. Did you ever see your sisters wearing trousers? No. Did you ever see any other women of the Meeting wearing trousers? No. So I don’t want you watering down the word of God. The directive is clear. Women are not to wear men’s clothing, no matter what you call. Is that clear to you?’
Clarissa was still frozen with the tea pot poised over his cup. Before speaking, she started to pour. ‘Did you also hear me say that as a truck driver perhaps she could wear overalls, which are not strictly speaking, trousers.’
He did not stop her pouring, but waited until she had added milk and handed the cup to him.
‘I think if you tried to make that distinction to our elders, you would be laughed at. Trousers are garments that cover the legs that are split into two, and that is what defines them, as against a single piece garment that covers the legs, like a dress or a skirt.’
She poured herself a cup while she considered his words. ‘Do you really think or Lord cares that much about what Violet wears while she is driving a truck, that he would see only an abomination?’
He drank half his tea before lowering the cup gently.
‘No, He would not. She is a good woman who has been led from the Lord’s path by her father. But, if she wears trousers she cannot live under my roof. I will tell her when she returns.’ He lifted his cup to his lips and sipped. ‘When is she coming back?’
Clarissa had put her cup back in its saucer and laced her fingers together to keep them quiet. ‘I have no idea. She is delivering something for her father, so she could be quite late and might even stay tonight with Marjorie.’
The old man’s face reddened. ‘But today is Saturday! I hope she doesn’t think she can come back here on the Sabbath dressed in men’s clothing! She will not enter this house!’
She sighed, drank her tea then collected cups, tea pot and milk jug onto the tray then stood. ‘Perhaps you should speak to Bill about her wearing trousers before you throw her onto the street.’
He picked up his Bible and opened it at the pages marked by a narrow purple ribbon. ‘I might do that. Where is he working, do you know?’
She paused in the doorway. ‘He’s working with Walter, but I don’t know where.’
He looked up from the passage he had been reading. ‘Now there’s a God fearing woman,’ he asserted. ‘You’d never see Nellie sporting herself in men’s trousers.’
As she turned to continue her path to the kitchen she mumbled, ‘There seems so much to fear from such a loving God!’
He heard what she had said and turned back to his book. ‘Yes indeed!’ he whispered and turned another page to more of what he knew by heart, still searching for the love and certainty he lost when his Mary died, now four years gone.

 Eusebia’s Diary, August 5, 1941.
‘Eric got up at 4 o’clock to get away for deliveries and still have time to order a gas producer (charcoal).
‘I reckon I can make one of those.’
Owen Turnbull was poring over drawings recently arrived from the government with an accompanying letter that exhorted all that could, to reduce their consumption of petrol to an absolute minimum, with the warning that future supplies could not be guaranteed, even for essential occupations like transport and farming.
His father, Erwin Wilberforce Turnbull was a horse man, and had already ‘dusted off’ old horse-drawn machinery that had been rusting away at the edges of paddocks since the purchase of their first kerosene powered Fordson tractor, with its steel spiked wheels and cranky oil-bath clutch.
But Owen was an inventor and mechanical wunderkinder. He embraced mechanisation with the simple argument that “tractors don’t eat grass when they’re in the shed”.
But tractors were not his only foray into the wonders of mechanisation. An old T model Ford motor had been sourced from a wrecking yard and “done up”, to drive a long shaft of flat belt pulleys that powered a row of small tools and implements. Ranged along a rough hewn bench were grinders, a drill press, a grain grister and, with a change of belts, a chaff cutter and a circular saw. “Henry”, as the old four cylinder side-valve motor was known, was controlled by a governor that kept his revs within required bounds. The radiator that had kept him cool when he was on wheels was not used, but rather, he was connected by hoses and galvanised water pipes to a 44 gallon drum of water that bubbled away happily at exactly 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
On a sledge, he had mounted a similarly sourced Maxwell engine to drive a centrifugal pump that was used for irrigation and water transfer wherever it was needed on the mixed crop, chicken and dairy farm.
Now with extensive citrus and apple orchards, hand drawn water of his father’s day would no longer suffice, so Owen’s investigation of alternative sources of fuel for the farm’s multiple petrol and kerosene engines had moved from “urgent” to “vital” as the war prevented tankers of crude making the perilous journey across the Pacific.
But through the grapevine, he had heard that engines running on charcoal gas suffered excessive wear from charcoal dust and sand pollutants cbeing sucked into cylinders to chew into rings and bores, then to bypass worn rings and enter sump oil and grind away at big ends and main bearings, not to mention cam shafts, timing gears and chains.
He turned a drawing toward his father. ‘What this system needs is a hookah,’ he said, nodding to encourage his father for support.
But Irwin’s understanding of the drawings now before his eyes was only marginally greater than his grasp of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. He pushed the papers back to his son. ‘If you reckon you can make one, how long will it take, and how much?’
Owen pushed the papers together and stood to place them on top of the old Harmonium. ‘Don’t know. I’ll think about it.’
Eusebia watched as her elder son walked to the door and wondered what was to become of them all if he was called up. Both girls had gone to the city, then married, leaving the farm and their parents in the care of her two boys. She was still relatively young, under fifty, but Irwin was well past sixty and no longer confident he could still control the horses he so loved.
Father followed Owen out to help with the cream separator and to wash up after milking, that had been completed before breakfast then to drive the cows, now fed, back to pasture. The early start had left much of the day free until afternoon, when the three of them would again need to milk the herd by hand and drive the cows to the high paddock to overnight.
She watched through the fly screen door as Rowdy stirred himself from his place in the sun and trotted after them to the milking shed, where he would curl up again on a pile of pollard sacks in the sun beside the cattle feed trough that had been fashioned from a hollow log, split in two longitudinally, the two halves now butted end to end with the free ends plugged by sheets of galvanised iron, beaten to shape and secured by nails.
She made herself another pot of tea and fetched her writing pad, pen and ink. “Dear Ella,” she began and filled a page with her schoolteacher handwriting that expressed her anxiety at the war and possible call up of either or both of her sons.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Cousin John's Inheritance,chapters 6 and 7. Violet's father in trouble again and Marjoriie pregnant (again).

To my dear readers. What you are seeing is the first draft as she is writ. If you see any anomaly, please comment. If it is boring in parts (or the whole) please let me know. 
Particularly for my overseas readers, it any terms need explaining for you to understand the meaning, please say so.
 Also, if you are enjoying this little sojourn into the past, I would be overjoyed if you say so.

3  Fairfield 1937.

‘Hello Mum! Put the kettle on.’
Martha rushed to the back door to hug her daughter. Flour from her apron rubbed off onto Violet’s navy skirt.
‘Oh Vi, how are you?’ Violet brushed the flour away as she kissed Martha on the cheek. He mother watched her hand brushing, then her eyes rested on her stomach. ‘You’re not pregnant are you?’ She flushed then gabbled on. ‘Not that I don’t want a grandchild, you know I do. How’s Hovee?’
‘If you mean my husband, he’s well and the old man’s good too.’
‘How’s he taking the loss?’
‘That’s the thing with them, Mum. They seem happy that she’s with God and Jesus in Heaven. Of course they miss her, and she was lovely. I seem to be the only one who cries for her.’
‘Strange people aren’t they!’
‘Yes, they are, but they’re mostly happy in a serious sort of way.’
Martha took her arm. ‘Let’s have a cuppa.’
She led violet to the kitchen and pushed her toward the ice chest. ‘We have fresh milk today.’
‘Good. I don’t like condensed in tea. Where’s Dad? Has he got a job?’
Martha was spooning leaves into a teapot. She stopped and fixed Violet with her serious stare. ‘No, he’s in court today.’
Violet sighed then smiled back at her mother. ‘What’s he done this time?’
Martha carried the tea pot to the stove and poured boiling water over the leaves. ‘Driving with someone else’s number plates. He says he found them on the side of the road.’
‘What, both plates?’
‘Yes, both of them, and he put them on his truck.’
Violet laughed, despite her mother’s serious face, as she continued. ‘He was pulled over by the sergeant because those very same number plates had been reported stolen just over a week ago.’
‘No!’ she exclaimed. ‘He pinched someone’s number plates? Oh sweet Jesus! Did he really?’
‘He says not, but you know what he’s like: one law for the proletariat and a different law for him. He might even go to jail this time.’
‘Then what will you do for money?’
‘Young George works part time as a barman at the Cabramatta Hotel now, so that brings in a bit, well, what he doesn’t drink himself. Margaret has a part-time job at the grocer’s and brings home food that can’t be sold, you know, stuff in broken packages, fruit with spots.’
Martha lifted two cups and saucers from a shelf, placing them either side of the table, poured milk into a small jug which she covered with a delicate, crocheted cover, held in place by tiny seashells sewed into the edges. ‘The chooks are laying, so we have eggs. Young Louis looks after them, He’s a good boy.’
The tea pot was now at the centre of the table, a woollen cosy with a red pom-pom adding a jaunty touch to an otherwise drab room.
‘How’s things with you?’ She poured tea for them both, barely taking her eyes off her daughter’s face.
‘I’m a bit worn out, catching the tram to Burwood then the train to the hospital every day. I’m hoping Bill gets a real job soon. We want a baby.’
Martha smiled. ‘If you’re anything like me, you’ll fall every time you do it!’ She laughed, embarrassing herself. ‘I mean there were times when we didn’t.’ Now she was laughing harder, even more embarrassed.
‘Don’t worry about it Mum,’ Violet laughed. ‘There’s no chance of that. We’ve been trying for nearly two years and believe you me, Bill is insatiable.’
Martha sighed and took Violet’s hand. ‘You poor girl. George can’t get it up anymore. Too much beer, I reckon. I’ll be glad when he stops bothering me altogether.’
Violet squeezed her mother’s hand. ‘Poor Mum. It must be hard.’ Her eyes opened in surprise at what she had said. She laughed. ‘Sorry Mum, you know what I mean. No, I love it that Bill is always ready for me. I just adore making love with him.’
Martha was blushing as she poured more tea. ‘I just hope that never stops then.’ She looked up as she replaced the teapot. ‘Does Hovee know you’re here?’
‘No, Mum. I’m forbidden from coming here since Mother Ray died.’
‘Why’s that? She seemed to support you coming to see me.’
Violet sat back, tears filling her eyes. ‘She left a huge hole in the household. And some of them somehow connect me with her death. It’s horrible.’
‘Who? Why would they blame you?’
‘It’s not all of them, not the men except for old Hovee, just the two older women, the more devout ones. They always seem determined to make a connection between anything that happens to a sin someone has committed. Like… it’s the idea of revenge. Someone sins and God’s wrath descends.’
‘That’s horrible. Is it Clarissa?’
‘No, Mum, Clarissa is an angel and Mary is a ball of fun. They are like sisters to me. I love them both and I know they love me.’
‘So it’s coming from the old man then.’
‘Some of it, but he’s not consistent. Sometimes he just doesn’t talk to me but on many occasions he has said I am good for his son. No, it’s the mainly the other two girls I think. Anyway, I can handle it. Don’t worry.’

4Booralla Road, September 1940.

Little Eleanor ran into the kitchen when she heard voices, frilled pillow under her arm, big blue eyes excited.
Violet lifted her to be kissed on the cheek then sat her on her knee to continue the cuddle. She sniffed the child’s bright ginger hair then squeezed her again. She tried not to show her envy as she noted Marjorie’s awkward gait.
‘When are you due?’
Marjorie looked down at her swollen body and sighed. ‘October, I think and it’s a girl.’
‘How do you know it’s a girl?’
She carefully lowered herself into a pale green spindle backed chair that made up a set of four that Stafford had bought for one pound from Harry’s second hand timber yard in Smithfield Road, along with the matching table.
‘She is higher than Ford, more like Eleanor was but she doesn’t kick as much. Got to be a girl.’
Violet smiled then kissed Eleanor’s hair. ‘I’d settle for either… or both.’
‘I think you’re too stressed to conceive.’ Marjorie suggested. ‘I’ve seen it before; women who are highly strung, then something happens to change things and Presto! They’re pregnant.’
‘Yes, it’s a bit awkward there.’ She broke off a piece of sponge cake Marjorie had retrieved from the Coolgardie safe, and popped it into the child’s mouth then took a bite from the remainder. ‘Bill doesn’t have permanent work and I leave early every day for the hospital, so I’m tired when I get home and he isn’t. Clissy’s wonderful, but I’d really like to get away from the judgement.’
‘What’re they saying?’
‘Nothing to my face, but I’m sure they’ve said something to Bill about Mother Ray’s death and the behaviour of my family being connected.’
Marjorie laughed and stood to make the tea, her back to violet. She was still laughing. ‘I know it’s not funny to you, to read about your dad and that woman at Smithfield. Let’s hope they don’t get the “The Biz” down there!’
‘Oh, I’m sure they know. The Fairfield Brethren read the Fairfield papers no doubt… and theirs is a small world.’
‘I thought it was really funny. I can imagine George rushing to the aid of a damsel in distress, so long as it wasn’t your mother.’
‘Yes, poor Mum. She suffers the embarrassment… and there’s the fines. It’s hard enough for her to put food on the table without the embarrassment of Dad being drunk or having our name in the papers so much.’
‘It’s just your dad though, isn’t it? Is George Junior behaving?’
‘No, he’s been caught driving without a licence, again, and this time he had dodgy number plates as well!’
‘How awful for your mum. How would you like to live here?’
Violet’s attention was suddenly drawn away from Eleanor to stare at Marjorie. She had come to ask that very thing. But now she was afraid she might have pushed her sister-in-law into making the offer.
‘Are you sure? Is… are your bedrooms ready? Where will you put the new bub?’
‘She’ll be in with us for a while, but then she can sleep in with Eleanor. She’d love a baby sister. We’re totally out of the shed now, so if you and Bill wanted to move in, I’d love to have you closer.’
‘It would be a lot easier here than being cramped up in that house, but what do you think Stafford would say to that? I get the impression he’s glad to be away from the Baker Street mob. He doesn’t go there much.’
Marjorie poured water into the tea pot and refilled the kettle.
‘He doesn’t go anywhere much. He works five and a half days at Chartres in Liverpool Street, has to ride his bike to Cabramatta station to get the train, then spends every other waking moment working on this house. He would like to go to the meeting every Sunday, but there just isn’t time.’
‘What does his father have to say about that?’
We don’t have a phone, so they don’t bother us much.’
‘How do you think Staff would react to Bill starting a business here?’
‘What sort of business? Have you and Bill been planning on coming here all along?’
Violet looked away, through the open back door where a big melaleuca dominated the skyline but there was no help there. Marjorie had returned to the table with the tea pot, her eyes on Violet who seemed to be contemplating the demise of the many flies attached to the helix of sticky paper hanging from the ceiling, entrapped by their lack of acuity.
‘No, she replied, eyes back on Marjorie’s, her heart racing. ‘We had hoped to get a place where Bill could establish a poultry farm but it was me, just now, that thought that this might be a good place to start.’
“Hovee might not like the idea of moving here,” she thought, “but it was not Hovee that was the target of innuendo, it was she.” She needed to have a plan to get him away from his father and that house.
‘No, he’s been talking about getting our own place but there’s no money even for a deposit and Staff’s not doing much with the land. What do you think? We could work out a deal that paid you something as well.’
Marjorie poured tea for both of them then sat back to engage her newest sister-in-law. She smiled. ‘Yes, I would like you to be closer. I can’t have close friends that are not in the Meeting. There are no other Brethren around here, so I feel very much alone sometimes.’ She glanced over her shoulder toward the neighbour’s house. ‘Ruth Brazel is nice, but if I invited her for a cuppa and the Brethren found out, I would be ostracised by everyone.’
‘Where will you send Fordie to school?’
‘He’s at school. Kindie.’
‘Oh yes! I had noticed he wasn’t here. Where did you send him?’
‘Canley Vale.’
Eleanor was bored with talk about her brother and was wriggling to be put down. Violet lowered her to the floor and watched as she ran outside, then looked back at Marjorie.
‘Why not St John’s Park, it’s closer.’
‘Staff didn’t want him mixing with the local kids, the Italians and reffo’s.’
‘No, you wouldn’t want that.’