Extract from A Magpie Mourning


That year of 1891, the year that Polly and Ned were married, was a time of plenty. Fruit trees were laden with apples, pears and plums, branches boughing towards the earth in their abundance. Bees hovered over fields of purple clover and the cows in the meadows, where the tall thistles grew, lazily chewed their cud and daily yielded rich creamy milk into brimming pails.

     Every cottage had its store of preserves and pickles laid down on pantry shelves and every man who had worked up at the Fuller farm was happy that they had brought a good harvest home. The extra beer, the extra coins they jingled in their pockets, and the harvest dinner they had just this evening enjoyed, left each with the satisfaction of a job well done. And so it was with full bellies and high spirits that the women helped to clear the tables and the men rearranged the tressles and chairs to make a space for the dancing.

     Sarah stood in the doorway of the farmhouse with Mrs Fuller, watching as the music struck up and everyone, excited and laughing, joined partners for the first dance.

     "Harvest Home! I love Harvest Home, don't you, Mrs Fuller?" she said.

     "Yes I do, me dear, but I must admit I'm not as fit as I used to be. It's bin boiling hot today and no mistake. I don't mind telling you, I shall be glad when it's all over and I can get me boots off. Me feet are fair talking to me right now."



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