The Tender Winds of Spring

The Tender Winds of Spring by Joyce Dingwell Read Free Book Online

Book: The Tender Winds of Spring by Joyce Dingwell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joyce Dingwell
need , help.’
    ‘Oh, they do, they do, but I’m not sure if it’s because of Mark.’
    ‘All right then, help is needed, but you’re not certain if it’s that kind of help. Now back to what I rang you to say. Having you in for the purpose you would expect, a service, a memorial, would avail you absolutely nothing. Mark and Geraldine are gone, Josephine. You have memories, but the memories are there, not here. I know it’s the conventional thing, the expected and accepted thing, but it will do nothing to help you. It will not help the kids. Are you following me?’
    ‘Yes.’
    ‘Then do you know what I feel you should do?’
    ‘No.’
    ‘I feel you should create your own tribute to Geraldine. To Mark, too. Those children are too young to understand a formal tribute.’
    ‘And too uninterested?’ Jo said spontaneously.
    A pause at the other end, then:
    ‘You poor kid. It’s been bad, hasn’t it?’
    ‘It’s all right.’ Abel’s few words had soothed Jo immediately. ‘I’ll do something, of course, Abel. Will you be back?’
    ‘Not till later. I’m trying to find out something more about the kids. I know you don’t approve of that, but—’
    ‘Change it,’ broke in Jo, ‘to I didn’t approve. It seemed so early then, so—’
    ‘Heartless? And now you feel differently?’
    ‘Yes, a little differently. Though I still don’t think it’s anything to do with you.’
    ‘You may be surprised. But one thing I am certain of is that it’s something that has to be done. About the other, the little gathering, can you cope?’
    ‘I can.’
    ‘Good girl!’ He put his end of the phone down, and after a moment Jo put hers down, too.
    She did not go straight out to the children. She stood a while whispering: ‘Help me, Gee.’ Then she straightened her shoulders and crossed to the verandah.
    ‘Down in the garden,’ she began to the trio (still there and why, oh, why didn’t they go exploring, or hide somewhere as ordinary naughty children do?) ‘once my sister Geraldine and I put up a cross for our little dog who had died and whom we had loved very much. We had a service. Do you know about services?’
    ‘We had one every morning and every evening,’ said Amanda, ‘at school. Our song went:
    ‘ “Here in comradeship we stand
    Members of a happy band! ” ’
    ‘Ours was:
    ‘ “Rise up, go forth and do your best”—and the boys used to finish:
    ‘“Take speedy mixture for your chest.’” Dicky said it without mirth so that it didn’t matter that no one laughed.
    ‘Well,’ said Jo bravely, ‘we’re going to have a service for my sister and your father. It’s going to be in the garden because Geraldine loved the garden and because your father must have loved the outdoors. People who fly in the sky must love the wide world.’
    No comment.
    ‘We’ll all think about things for a while, shut our eyes as we do, and after that we’ll sing.’
    ‘ “Here in comradeship”?’ asked Amanda.
    ‘Well, I don’t think so. Being a school song it mightn’t be suitable.’
    ‘Mine wouldn’t be any good,’ said Dicky, ‘because of that line about taking speedy mixture for your chest.’
    This was too awful. Abel should never have suggested it. These children were plain savages. They had no feelings at all.
    ‘Don’t you know any hymns?’ Jo asked chokily.
    ‘Don’t you?’
    ‘Yes, but I want us all to sing, all to feel, not just me.’
    ‘I don’t know any,’ said Amanda.
    ‘I don’t,’ said Dicky.
    ‘I know Hear the pennies dropping ,’ said Sukey.
    ‘Then,’ said Amanda, ‘that will have to do.’
    Before Jo could protest, could lead them to another channel, another song ... All things bright and beautiful would have done, even Bringing in the sheaves ... they broke loudly into Sukey’s pennies dropping.
    ‘I said after we go into the garden, after we quietly think,’ Jo tried to call out, but they did not hear her. They opened up and sang.
    Oh, Gee, Gee darling,

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