Siddon Rock

Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest Read Free Book Online

Book: Siddon Rock by Glenda Guest Read Free Book Online
Authors: Glenda Guest
the wife of whichever Aberline was in possession of the Two Mile; and try as they might she would not be reduced to a wraith or a remembrance.
    Then there were those who thought that Granna could have been one of Henry Aberline’s sightseeing women, one of those who came to talk with him and were captivated by the romantic idea of natural love under his tree on the rock. If she was a very young woman then , they said, and is a very, very old woman now, maybe this could be the case. But to say at what time Granna had been a young woman – if indeed she had ever been – was impossible, as there was no town memory of this.
    The favourite story was that Granna had arrived at the Two Mile in one of the houses that George Aberline brought in for Eliza May. After all, who knew where they had been before George found them. But in that case, where hadGranna been for all those months while the houses were being joined together and renovated? No-one could say.
    So nothing could be proved. To those indiscreet enough to enquire her age Granna would reply, I’m as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth , and then flash a big smile that displayed teeth as white and pearly as a child’s. If they persisted she said that it was way too long ago and she didn’t remember.
    But no-one believed that.
    The bestowing of a name on the nameless woman – for she never did give a name for herself – was accidental.
    When George Aberline drove Eliza May to the house after their wedding on a cold and overcast winter’s afternoon, they saw smoke rising from the kitchen chimney. They rushed inside, there to find the nameless woman preparing the evening meal. The fire glowed in the kitchen stove, the smell of freshly baked bread wafted through the house, and a leg of lamb crackled and browned as it roasted in the oven. Eliza May smiled at the woman. How lovely to walk into the warmth , she said.
    George, however, protested loudly, throwing open the door and demanding that she remove herself immediately from their home. The woman ignored him and addressed herself to Eliza May. You’re going to need all the help you can get , she said.
    As the woman spoke, Eliza May heard, as if in the next room, many children calling out and crying. There were the sounds of arguments and fighting, mixed with the clang of slow-tolling bells. The voice of her new husbandechoed strangely: I don’t have it , he said. You’ll just have to wait. A man answered, someone she did not know. We shook on it, mate. If you can’t pay in money, then it will have to be the other way.
    What did you shake on? Eliza May demanded of George. George, what was it?
    George looked confused. I don’t know what you mean, I’ve been shaking hands all day. He took her arm solicitously and tried to help her to a chair. It’s been a long day. You must be exhausted with all the excitement.
    Eliza May waved him away. There’s nothing wrong with me , she said. And the woman stays. Obviously she can cook, and I need someone to help in the house. So she’ll always be here.
    And so she was.
    Eliza May called the woman Nanna, a name containing within it acknowledgement of her assistance in the home and deference to her unknown age. One of the many children born by Eliza May thought Nanna was her grandmother, and started to call her Grandma. When Eliza explained that this was not so, the child became confused and welded the two names together immutably, so that Granna had, in the mind of the Aberline family, and eventually of the town, always been so called.
    Granna said that the name was as good as any and served its purpose, which was to make it easy to call her from another room.

    Macha Connor’s father was Charles Henry George Aberline, great-grandson of Henry Aberline who had inadvertently caused the founding of Siddon Rock and the inheritance of the Aberline sadness, grandson of George Henry who had carted thirty-nine

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