Village Fortunes (Turnham Malpas 17)

Village Fortunes (Turnham Malpas 17) by Rebecca Shaw Read Free Book Online

Book: Village Fortunes (Turnham Malpas 17) by Rebecca Shaw Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rebecca Shaw
red marble in Glebe House was a standing joke in the village.
    Greta liked the idea of them coming back. ‘They are lovely people, even if he has been to prison. So generous they were, and Merc so clever with her embroidery. Remember, Dottie? I bet the embroidery group have missed her on Monday afternoons.’
    ‘We have missed her and not half. She was brilliant at it. I’m OK for slaving at the dull repetitive background, none better, Evie says. But for sheer talent you can’t beat Merc Barclay. Her embroidery is absolute bliss, and she’s so good with colour. I’m glad they’re coming back.’
    Greta asked, ‘Do you know exactly when, Dottie?’
    ‘No. But they are.’
    Greta decided she too was glad they were coming back. He was a good spender, was Ford; he liked the good things in life and was generous to a fault. Though perhaps now he’d been in prison the money wouldn’t flow so freely as it had before. And anyway the village had Johnny now, and he’d enough money for all of them put together. Still, Merc and Ford would be good to have around, even if they weren’t rich. Greta remembered Merc’s overdone make-up and startling clothes, and Ford being overweight. Would he have slimmed down in prison, or eaten far too much to compensate for missing Merc, because they all understood how much he loved her?
    ‘Well, Dottie, I think you’ve topped the gossip stakes well and truly tonight. Best bit of news we’ve had in months, except for the new baby at the Big House,’ said Vince. ‘I can’t wait for ’em to arrive. Nicest chap there is, Ford, even if he has been to prison.’
    Greta added, ‘Sometimes I think that some people are in prison that shouldn’t be, and Ford is one of those. I reckon he was innocent, but couldn’t prove it.’
    ‘Well, I for one couldn’t understand why he was in. There couldn’t have been a kinder, more frank sort of person than him in that prison. He never seemed to me to have secrets he shouldn’t have,’ ventured Dottie.
    ‘There must have been something a bit iffy about him though, otherwise why would the law have accused him?’ asked Greta.
    ‘Buying stolen scrap metal, they said. But how could you know,’ argued Barry, ‘which was stolen and which wasn’t, when they came and tipped it off a lorry morning, noon and night. Church lead didn’t have it stamped on every yard or so, “this lead belongs to St Whatever’s”, did it? Or copper piping, “this came from forty-seven Withering Lane and has been stripped out by Ted and Terry while the builders nipped off for lunch”.’
    ‘Another one?’ Barry asked.
    ‘Yes, please,’ they all said, and settled down to the further detailed examination of the latest village news.
    It seemed as though everyone had only just heard the news about the return of their old neighbours when they appeared in the village. In truth, it was six weeks to the day since they’d been discussing it in the bar when Ford and Merc moved in. This time it was the middle of the morning when the furniture van arrived, and the two magnificent royal blue pots which Merc had placed each side of the front door when they first lived there reappeared at the front door once again, and declared to the world in general that they were back . Many net curtains were gently pulled aside by anyone who happened to be at home at the time. And before Ford and Merc had time to begin instructing the removal men where the furniture needed to be put, gifts were arriving, pleasantries were being exchanged and a general hubbub of greetings filled the garden of Glebe House.
    Grandmama Charter-Plackett invited the pair of them to lunch. ‘I expect you’ve been up since dawn, so shall we say noon for lunch in my cottage and then we can talk? Really talk.’ She strode purposefully round to the store, collected one of the larger shopping baskets and began planning the meal. She had to admit Merc’s fashion sense appalled her, and she found her lavish,

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