|Crossing the Siegfried line
Author: Maxisback PM
Most people believe Siegfried Farnon being rather lucky when it comes to women. Only with the women he loves he's in a lot of trouble.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 6 - Words: 65,439 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 11-07-09 - Published: 06-10-09 - id: 5127729
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Crossing the Siegfried line
An "All Creatures Great and Small" fanfiction
All rights to "All Creatures Great and Small" belong to James Herriot, his heirs and publishers and whoever else got involved with it. I only want to play a bit in Mr. Herriot's sandbox …
And I have to thank Chinoise, my beta-reader. She did great with this story.
Chapter 1: For better and worse
London, October 1945
Today my love is to be married. This morning the only man I've ever truly loved and wanted to be with stood in front of the altar, promising to love and to cherish his bride until death might part them.
I still don't really understand what happened. All through the war, even after the one fatal night, I've thought: "When the war is over and I'm free again, I'll go back home and then things will work out." Every night before I fell asleep I mused about how it would be when I'd finally return to Yorkshire and see him again. I was sure it would only take a few words and we'd fall in each others' arms again.
What an utter fool I was! Hadn't I been told often enough that he's quite a ladies' man? Weren't all the village gossips back home always talking about his womanizing? And didn't I, arrogant as I was, often smile in amusement, thinking about all the women who were head over heels in love with him? Some of them weren't even above borrowing other people's animals in order to make a call to his surgery! Inwardly I'd named them "fools" – and now it looks as if I'd be the biggest among them, a perfect imbecile. How does the old saying go? Pride goes before a fall. How could I have believed that he'd patiently wait until I made up my mind? How could I ever believe that he would still be there, loving and caring, when I returned from London? I've disappointed and hurt him not only once, but twice; I had my chances with him and I've utterly messed them up. It's no one's fault as mine, but nevertheless I feel like throttling Caroline Fisher.
She was never a favourite of mine. Even at school I couldn't stand her constant "My daddy is a big man and therefore I'm a very special little princess" attitude. Besides, I've always thought that Caroline has the emotional and intellectual depth of a not too bright jellyfish. And her appearance that she's so proud of – she's got eyes like a cow! But that's probably why he thinks she's appealing: He likes cows. But unlike the animals he operates on, he takes Caroline to bed. That's the most crushing blow of all.
Caroline Fisher marrying the man I love – actually it's the joke of the year. Only I can't laugh about it, because I know him – and I also know that he wouldn't marry her if he weren't in love with her. I remember only too well how Agatha Pemperbroke – an old friend of his mother, who has known him since he was a "gangly laddie in short trousers" – told me once that he'd rather face a raging bull than a woman with the intention of getting him down the aisle. She told me, "I'm sure nothing can make him run as fast as his girlfriend starting to talk about him meeting her dear parents."
Even my friend Prudence's letter to me shows a certain degree of wonder: "... and there's the talk of the town: Caroline Fisher is engaged to marry –no one else than your old admirer Siegfried Farnon. You can't imagine what an uproar the announcement made! Half of Yorkshire's female inhabitants are probably crying while the other half gossips about how dear ol' Caroline managed to get him to propose. More than a few think that she's with child, and yesterday, as I was with Saxon down at the market, I heard that Caroline is to have twins and is already so fat that Farnon will have to roll her down the aisle. I don't believe a word of that, but I'm already starting to wonder what Darrowby will talk about in the future when there won't be any stories about Farnon's newest conquests anymore. Of course, there's always the younger Farnon, who's got a rather interesting love life too, but in matters of charm and charisma he certainly can't compare with his older brother."
Prudence is right about that. Although Tristan Farnon is the more handsome of the brothers – compared to alpha dog Siegfried, he is only a cute whelp.
Actually I've known Tristan longer than Siegfried. I can't exactly remember when I met Tristan for the first time, although I do recall that it was at a party in Edinburgh and I remember that he came as the friend of a friend. Yet I don't remember who brought him, and I certainly would have totally forgotten him if not for his remarkable older brother whom I met a few weeks later.
It was love at first sight – or better said, I felt impressed on the spot - though the first I saw of him was his backside! From the rear I could tell he had a rather fine seat for a man his age – nicely trained by many hours on horseback, running around on farms, climbing over fences and chasing unwilling patients.
It was about a year after father had died and let me the estate. Even then I knew I wanted to breed horses, but as long as old McCaverty administered the estate I couldn't get the cows totally out. However, in March of 1942 he finally retired and, as he'd always said he would, moved back to Scotland. One week later I'd already sold half of the heifers, gotten the old stables cleaned out and renovated the place. At the end of April, 1942 I bought my first three mares.
That was when I decided to change vets. Until then it had always been old Henry Screwton over at Brawton who'd looked after our animals, but even McCaverty always said that Screwton wasn't exactly a genius when it came to horses. He didn't have much experience riding horses and admitted himself that he wasn't too fond of these "fidgety, nervous beasts."
However, George Hulton had told me that the "new Darrowby vet" – actually he wasn't too new anymore, as he already had been two or three years in residence – would be a "real fine horseman," so I called for him when Dandina injured her leg in the pasture.
Only two hours later the groom announced, "Vet's here." I'd just come home from running some errands and had to change before going to the stables. In the meantime, the groom was showing Dandina to the vet – and so it was that I had my first view of that adorable backside, because he'd just bent down to check the hoof of Dandina's injured leg.
The next thing that registered with me was the back of his head, the reddish-blond hair already slightly thinning and the skin of his neck bright pink with sunburn. And then there were his hands, stroking along Dandina's leg – strong but nevertheless gentle hands with long, pliable fingers, slowly gliding over the mare's sinews with the tenderness only a real horseman can achieve.
My approach and the groom greeting me didn't make him look up. He first finished his examination of the leg, then straightened his back, petted the mare's neck and offered me his hand, smiling with those blue grey eyes. "Good morning. I'm Siegfried Farnon, the vet."
His face showed clearly that he wasn't young anymore, but his smile made him look almost boyish. And although Siegfried Farnon certainly isn't what my girlfriends in London would call a "sweetie pie", his Roman nose, high forehead, fine mouth and energetic chin were all evidence that he's an intelligent, strong-willed man with a sense of humour and a surprising amount of warmth.
I introduced myself: "I'm Marjorie Edgerton, the owner ..."
"... of this beauty!" he finished for me, while tenderly and expertly scraping Dandina's withers. My mare obviously liked that and put her head on his shoulder, her face relaxed and happy. "You mustn't worry about her, Miss Edgerton. It's only a little scrape which will heal quickly. I take it she's had a tetanus vaccination?"
"Yes – only six weeks ago before she came here," I answered.
"Splendid!" he exclaimed. "Then I'll only have to apply a bit of salve to her wound, and in a few days she'll be as right as rain." While talking, he'd turned, opened his bag, taken out a little jar and bent down again to tend to Dandina's leg. He was incredibly quick in his movements, bustling with energy and liveliness, yet at the same time he radiated patience and a kind of self-confidence which worked well on Dandina. Although she watched him attentively, she didn't display the slightest bit of nervousness. She obviously trusted him – and so did I, from the very first moment.
Most people would probably think me silly, but I do judge people by how they tread animals. And with Siegfried it wasn't only his way with horses which impressed me, but how he immediately won over Sheeba, my cat. Sheeba was - and still is - a rather reserved lady who normally ignores strangers. However, Siegfried had hardly sat down when Sheeba jumped up on the wing of his chair, scrutinized him for a few seconds, drew her tail up and bumped her head against his shoulder. "Hello, who are you?" He smiled at her and stroked her back with one finger. Sheeba once again looked at him and then sneaked on his lap, stretched herself luxuriously and started to purr under his petting fingers.
"How do you do that?" I wondered. "Sheeba's normally very reserved around strangers."
He laughed, showing a row of strong, white teeth and a lot of tiny wrinkles around his eyes. "One of the secrets of my profession – or rather simply put, I like cats."
"You also like horses, don't you?" I asked. "Lord Hulton told me you're doing some riding yourself."
"Unfortunately I don't have many opportunities to ride nowadays," he replied while I poured him tea. "I had to put my old gelding down a few months ago."
"How sad! And you don't intend to get yourself another horse?"
He sighed. "I'd love to. The problem is that the practise keeps me very busy. Besides, we're at war and I don't know how long it will be until I'll get called to duty."
"I thought vets weren't being called."
"I volunteered," he informed me. "I served as a pilot before the war, and with the lack of pilots nowadays I thought it necessary to volunteer."
I sipped my tea. "Well, perhaps you'd like to ride one of my horses sometime as long as you're still here?" I offered. "You know I've got five of them – and at the moment I'm the only rider here, so I could do with a bit of help. Of course I intend to hire someone - but with the war it's rather difficult to get a good rider."
"You really intend to build up a stud, don't you?"
"Yes, I do – but I'm of course aware that I have to wait until the war is over. At the moment it's more important to produce milk and meat."
"And you intend to administer your estate yourself, Miss Edgerton?"
I shook my head. "I know my limits, Mr Farnon. I'm not too bad with horses, but I don't have a clue about livestock. Next week a new steward will start to work here, so I'll get a chance to learn more. But to come back to the horses - I really need some help in matters of riding. If you could get one of my horses out now and then I'd be very grateful indeed."
He emptied his cup and granted me another one of his boyish smiles. "I'd love to – especially if I could get you to come with me, Miss Edgerton." Pulling his old-fashioned watch out of his vest and looking at it, he jumped up. "I'm afraid I have to go, Miss Edgerton. As much as I've enjoyed our little chat and your charming company – duty calls."
Marjorie looked up from what she'd written, pulling her shawl closer around her pyjamas-clad shoulders. She sat at her little desk in the bedroom of her flat and realized that the window was open. Some of the cold night air and mist had crept into the room and made her shudder. Chewing at the end of her pen, she looked out on the empty street and sighed. None of her friends in London knew that she was still here, because she'd announced that she would go back to her estate in Yorkshire for a long stay. "Actually," she thought, "I had originally intended to move permanently and to come back here just for a short visit now and then." But then Prudence's letter had arrived. Since then, Marjorie had only left her flat for meals at the little Indian restaurant around the corner, absently-minded munching down the food. The entire week she'd been in a state of shock, her mind making up the most improbable schemes about rushing to Yorkshire and stopping Siegfried's wedding.
But now it was done. Siegfried was truly and really married to Caroline and they undoubtedly at this very moment were celebrating their wedding night. He was lost to her once and forever, and as much as it hurt, Marjorie knew that she would have to go on with her life – a life without Siegfried. The only problem was that life without him meant that she couldn't go back to Yorkshire, at least not at the moment. In Yorkshire she wouldn't only have to deal with him as her vet – and her estate was big enough that the vet had to come over at least once a fortnight – but she would also have to see him on social occasions. To avoid him at home was impossible, at least not without making a fuss about it.
Yet what was she to do if not to return home? Of course, as the sole heiress of not too small a fortune, Marjorie could afford to remain in London, filling her time with shopping, seeing friends and enjoying the rich cultural life of the big metropolis. Yet the idea of an idle life as a socialite had never appealed to her. Besides she knew that she'd probably become bored out of her skin after only a few months of living in London – and then she might easily enter into a relationship with one of her many admirers just because they were always there. Thinking of those admirers, she mused they were nice and it was flattering to have them around, but neither the state secretary Jonny Harcort - who was seen as one of the "up-and-coming men" - nor the handsome Rodney Vickers (penniless, but connected to some of the good old families and incredibly charming) looked to her like the kind of man with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life. Even Jonathan Viscount Malbrey, heir apparent to the sixth Duke of Gloucester and therefore considered the biggest "catch" of all by her girlfriends, had never been really interesting to her. The only man she'd ever truly wanted was Siegfried Farnon, who'd once called himself a "simply country vet" and who had sometimes even wondered what a well-bred girl like herself could want with "an aging man 15 years your senior, and always smelling slightly of pigs and cows." Yet she had minded neither the smell nor the fact that he worked for long hours, nor had she ever cared about the difference in their ages.
Siegfried. Always Siegfried. As much as she had tried to drive him out of her mind, her thoughts always seemed to circle around him. Although she hadn't seen him in almost two years, she only needed to close her eyes to remember how his hands had felt on her skin and how his kisses had tasted.
The first time Siegfried had kissed her was during a lovely ride somewhere on a hill in the Yorkshire dales. She still remembered that his lips had been rather dry and even a bit raw, and how she'd thought: "You don't get kissed enough". She'd been determined to change that, and she'd looked forward to kissing him very often.
Sitting down on her bed and pulling her legs up, she remembered how after the kiss he'd given her Dandina a peek on the nose, his smile almost a bit shy. He'd looked so young and vulnerable then and at that moment she'd known with a certainty which surprised herself that he was the one, the man she'd waited for all her life.
Now, years later, she knew that was the very moment the trouble had started. As happy as she'd been, she'd also felt frightened by the intensity of her feelings. Having grown up as the only child of a father who'd actually wished for a son and having lost her mother at the age of five, Marjorie had learned independence at a very young age. Even at the posh boarding school her father had insisted she attend, Marjorie hadn't shared the other girls' dreams about meeting the right boy, marrying him and living happily ever after. She'd always wanted a career of her own, something to give her life some meaning besides being a wife and mother.
Falling in love with Siegfried Farnon had left her feeling weak, and as he'd kissed her, she'd caught herself wondering if she should give up her plans for the winter. She'd intended to spend a few weeks in London; with her idea of becoming a horse breeder, it certainly wouldn't hurt to extend her contacts to the nobility. Additionally, she'd thought of attending the school of agriculture and stock breeding in London – she'd always been thorough and wanted to understand what she was doing at her estate.
One kiss – and she'd fought against the temptation to forget about all of her plans in favour of simply staying at Yorkshire with him. Marjorie hadn't liked that line of thought very much. Inwardly she'd scolded herself for being the same kind of fool as the girls at school whom she'd always detested for making their lives revolve around men. Was she beginning to behave like them? And after all, who was this man she'd just kissed? She had to remind herself that Siegfried Farnon was quite well known for being a ladies' man - and that people said he'd change his girlfriends more often than his average clients changed their socks!
It was no good falling too deeply for him, and it certainly would have been a big mistake to give up her plans for her life because of him. As charming as he was, and as touching as Marjorie found the little awkwardness he'd displayed after kissing her – it had been the last thing she'd have expected with a man as experienced as himself – he certainly wasn't marriage material. To him, she probably wasn't much more than another one of his other little flings.
The thought had hurt, but Marjorie was a proud woman; she hadn't intended to act like a love-struck teenager by showing Siegfried how attached she already felt to him. She had been sure that her doing so would have made him run away. Therefore, keeping her tone light, she'd told him about her plans for the winter and had invited him to the farewell dinner she'd organized for her friends.
The party had been a full success and had even given Marjorie the opportunity to discover that her "simple country vet" didn't only look splendid in a tuxedo, but was also an able and enthusiastic dancer. Besides that, he possessed social skills in abundance, charming not only her female friends but winning over the males as well. And at the end of the night he'd even managed to become the last remaining guest without the others noticing that he was still there.
Only he probably hadn't stayed as long as he'd intended, because Marjorie had suddenly started to fret.
Dressing for the night, she'd made sure not to leave her bedroom in a mess. After all, she was an adult, a 23-year-old woman who'd already gotten a bit of experience - and she'd been in love. The logical conclusion had been that she'd later invite Siegfried to stay for the night. It had felt like the right and natural thing to do, even though she had been aware that he probably wasn't as much in love with her as she was with him.
But then, finally alone with him in her sitting room, together with Siegfried on the sofa in front of the fireplace, her courage had left her. She'd thoroughly enjoyed it when he took her in his arms; she'd loved how he'd kissed her and the way his mouth – and that night it had been amazingly soft – had glided down her neck and how his strong hands had held her.
It would have been easy to close her eyes and to stop thinking. Siegfried had obviously known what he was doing and he'd done it with expertise and so much gentleness she'd almost started to cry. Nevertheless, Marjorie had suddenly known that she couldn't go the entire way with him. As much as she'd wanted him, as much as his touch had made her entire body hum with lust and pleasure – she couldn't help but think how it would be, having him leave her in the morning. Had Siegfried made love to her that night, the realization that he was now with another woman would have broken her heart.
Empathic as always, Siegfried had noticed how she'd tensed in his arms and he'd reacted immediately. Smiling at her, he'd kissed the tip of her nose and said: "It's rather late and we both have to get up early tomorrow. So we should call it a day." Another sweet kiss, this time directed at her mouth, and then he'd stood up. "I'm going to miss you, Marjorie – very much."
She'd brought him to the door where she'd gotten another indication of Siegfried as the perfect gentleman: Compliments for her hospitality, thanks for the invitation, another embrace and a kiss – and then she'd stood on the threshold, watching the lights of his car disappearing down to the street. Only then had she allowed herself to cry.
London then – Marjorie had kept herself very busy there, which hadn't been much of an effort because an old friend of her father had asked her to work for Whitehall shortly after she'd arrived. Pushing aside her plans about the agricultural college – it was after all war, and she'd felt obliged to do her share in the fight for the freedom of her country – she'd started to work at the ministry.
The longing for Siegfried she'd shoved firmly into the back of her mind. She'd written him a letter a week after she'd arrived at London, but only gotten a short card back on which he'd told her that he was very busy. That card had been a clear signal that he wasn't interested in keeping in contact.
Four weeks later, Captain David Borrows had moved into the little office opposite of Marjorie's – and suddenly it had seemed that at least once a day every female in the building needed something from the department for linguistic and translations. Marjorie had understood it – the former officer of the Royal Dragons, though he'd lost one arm in Africa, had been an exceptionally handsome young man. He was also the son of a diplomat, had therefore travelled around the world and mastered not only German and French, but also Italian, Spanish and even Japanese. He was a hard worker, a dedicated horse man and simply fun to be with. And although almost every girl at Whitehall would have given her arm for a date with him, he'd fancied Marjorie, showering her with flowers and sweet little gifts. Marjorie had of course felt flattered, and she'd really liked him. So she hadn't shied away when he kissed her during the weekend they spent at the estate of a friend. Before she'd really known what had hit her, she'd found herself engaged to the handsome Captain.
Marjorie hadn't actually been in love with David - at least not in the way she'd been; in love with Siegfried. Yet the fact that her emotions for David were different from those she'd felt with Siegfried was something she'd seen as an advantage. Siegfried had stirred up new feelings which frightened her. She'd always felt helpless and lost with him, while with David she'd just been comfortable. He'd driven away the loneliness from which she had suffered; he'd kept her entertained and had made her laugh.
For a few weeks it had felt right to be with him, but then, one night he'd called on her, looking rather grave. The ministry had attached him to the embassy in Washington. "I want you to come with me – as my wife. What do you think, Marjorie? Shall we tie the knot next week?"
After two days of soul-searching, Marjorie had called the engagement off. She hadn't wanted to leave England and she'd become aware that liking David and having fun with him wasn't enough for a lifetime – especially while she was still pining for Siegfried. Besides, Marjorie had had a talk with her friend Harriet who – after a long and very complicated courtship – had just married the love of her life. If anyone could understand Marjorie's emotions and her fears, it was Harriet, who'd gone through many of those same feelings herself. However, instead of dismissing Marjorie's confession of her dilemma regarding Siegfried with "Just forget all about him" - as Marjorie had expected her to - Harriet had wondered how Marjorie could be so sure that Siegfried didn't reciprocate her feelings for him.
"You know, my husband had his share of flirtations and even affairs, but that didn't keep him from falling in love with me. How do you know that your vet isn't longing for you too?"
"Because he didn't even try to keep in contact with me!" Marjorie replied.
"Dear, it was you who left him – and knowing you and your pride, I'm pretty sure you didn't show him how hard it was for you to let him go." Harriet had smiled at Marjorie. "I believe that a man who's able to make you feel as you do must be very special. And from what you've told me about Siegfried, he seems to be one of the rare examples of his gender who are not only intelligent, but at least to a certain degree able to understand women. I think you should fight for him - or you'll probably regret it for the rest of your life."
A few days later, after David and Marjorie had finished the big project they'd worked on for weeks and while David was preparing for his departure to Washington, Marjorie had gotten a fortnight off. Still having her friend's advice in mind, she'd decided to spend her holiday in Yorkshire. But after settling down at her place, she'd discovered that the idea of calling on Siegfried had seemed much easier when she was still in London than it was now, only a few miles away from Darrowby.
For two days she'd searched every animal in her barns, hoping to find one in need of a vet. Yet all the beasts on her estate had been in exceptionally good health, and her new steward was such a responsible man that all vaccinations were even up to date. Sheeba, normally prone to vomiting after travel, hadn't given Marjorie the pretence for a call to Skeldale either. Actually it had seemed as if every animal within a ten-mile radius of her estate was doing well, as neither by riding out nor by strolling over the hills could Marjorie discover the familiar black Rover in any of the streets or farmyards.
On her third day back home, Marjorie began to wonder if Siegfried had joined the RAF and wasn't in the area anymore. Becoming even more nervous, she'd decided to call on her old friend Prudence, who had recently moved back to Darrowby. With Prue being rather fond of a bit of tittle-tattle, she certainly would know what Siegfried, the darling of the town's gossip mongers, was doing.
Prue's new place was just at the other end of Darrowby when one came from Marjorie's estate, which meant whenever someone drove to Prue through town, he passed Skeldale House on his way.
Crossing the market place and seeing the old house with its ivy covered walls in front of her, Marjorie already felt her heart beginning to pound. She drove along the stone walls of the backyard – and suddenly heard a familiar voice. Siegfried was calling for his dogs, obviously just starting his afternoon rounds.
For a second, Marjorie thought about stopping. But then the black Rover shot out of the gate with the tires squealing and the four dogs bellowing as it quickly disappeared down the street.
Even if Marjorie hadn't heard his voice, she'd have known for sure then that Siegfried was still in residence. His driving style was notorious and she was sure that no one except him would dare to drive out of Skeldale's backyard like that.
Still smiling, Marjorie arrived at Prudence's place a few minutes later, enthusiastically greeted by her friend's guide dog Saxon. While cuddling him, it wasn't long before Prudence told Marjorie the story of how Saxon had been poisoned and nearly died, "if not for Siegfried Farnon being such a great vet."
Prue told the story while preparing and serving tea. Now she was sitting down opposite Marjorie and fell silent for a moment. Breathing deeply, she said, "Marjorie, I'm very well aware that I shouldn't pry in your private affairs, but I'm afraid I've already done so." She fell silent again, stirring her tea thoughtfully.
Marjorie cleared her throat. "What happened, Prue?"
Once again the blind woman hesitated, obviously feeling awkward. "You know, it was you who recommended Siegfried Farnon to me. You told me he was your friend, but with you knowing almost everyone around here, I didn't think much of it – until he came here and we talked about you. From how he sounded, it was very obvious that he cares deeply about you."
Marjorie sat up in her chair, almost dropping her teacup. "Really?" She knew that her friend, despite being blind, was a very good judge of character and people's feelings. Nevertheless she wondered – Siegfried being obvious? She wouldn't have expected that.
"Definitely!" Prue stated firmly. "And the night we watched over Saxon, I told him about John and then asked him if he was married. His answer was – and I quote him – that until now he'd never felt about someone so strongly – at least not about someone who felt so deeply about him, too."
Marjorie couldn't manage more than a weak "Oh." She felt as though her world had been turned upside down, and she didn't know how to cope with that. But at the same time there was already a little voice in the back of her mind, singing joyfully, "He loves you! He cares about you!"
She would have hugged her friend right there and then, but Prudence obviously wasn't finished with what she had to say. "The very next day I got the letter in which you announced your engagement to David."
Now it was Marjorie's turn to take a deep breath. "You told him, didn't you?" She couldn't help but sound slightly accusing.
Prudence sighed. "I know I shouldn't have done so, but he came to have another look at Saxon. I felt rather obliged because I simply couldn't bear the thought of this nice man fostering vain hopes regarding you. So I told him you were engaged."
Marjorie closed her eyes. "How did he react?" she asked quietly.
Prue shrugged her shoulders. "Not too well, I can tell you. It was evident that he was shocked and hurt. For a moment he only stood in the door and said nothing. Then it was as if he'd kicked himself back in gear in order to say the right things – like asking me to give you his regards. But his voice was flat and he sounded as if he were truly heartbroken." Prudence rose up and walked over to the sideboard where she poured scotch into a glass. "Marjorie, I know it's no business of mine, but I've come to care about the man. He's kind-hearted and sensitive and he certainly doesn't deserve to be hurt like that."
Two hours later Marjorie was back at her own home – and finally she did what she had wanted to do days before: She called Skeldale House.
The phone rang five times and then Marjorie heard the dry voice of Mrs Hall, Skeldale's old housekeeper: "Darrowby 385."
Marjorie cleared her throat. Her heart was beating so madly she feared it could be heard on the other end of the line. "Hello, Mrs Hall. It's Marjorie Edgerton speaking. Is Mr Farnon in?"
"Would you like to talk to Mr Siegfried or Mr Tristan Farnon?"
"Mr Siegfried, please."
"I'll inquire if he's available. Just a moment, please."
The moment seemed to stretch endlessly and while she waited. Marjorie had a vision of Mrs Hall telling Siegfried about her call and him shaking his head, saying he didn't want to take it. She almost expected to get Mrs Hall again as she heard steps on the floor coming towards the phone. But then there was Siegfried's voice, a bit hoarse and obviously very much surprised: "Hello, Marjorie."
This time Marjorie's bedroom was a mess when she'd finally heard the engine of a car in the driveway. She'd spent the last two hours pulling frocks out of her closet, trying them on and not feeling able to decide what to wear, but at least her frenzied running around in her bedroom had been a diversion from her nerves and anxiety. And now, as she was still getting into her shoes, she heard the door bell and voices in the hall: Siegfried's energetic baritone, her housekeeper's rather creaky soprano. And then there was the sound of footsteps approaching the living room, and Marjorie, finally in her shoes, tugged at her red frock and made her way down the stairs.
Entering the living room, she saw Siegfried bent over the sofa, petting Sheeba. As he heard her approach, he turned around, displaying a tense smile.
For a moment Marjorie only looked at him. His fair skin was already sporting a summer sunburn; nevertheless, there were dark shadows under his eyes. And those eyes – they were sad and distant. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Marjorie tried to start the speech she'd prepared for hours - but somehow she couldn't manage the words. Instead, she heard herself stammering something about how she'd worked on what to say, but every word sounded stupid and shallow. How could she explain her engagement to David? She could hardly tell Siegfried that she had been disappointed in him, because Siegfried had never done anything to disappoint her. All the doubts, all the insecurities which had led her into David's arms – Siegfried hadn't caused them. It all been in her head and she hadn't even given him a chance to deal with any of it. She hadn't trusted him - and therefore she had hurt him. And now, as he was standing in front of her, she could hardly bear to look in his eyes. It was as if they'd lost their shine entirely.
She still was stammering – about what a madhouse the ministry had become and how odd people reacted to the war, and David - well, David and she certainly had rushed things by becoming engaged.
"If you're happy then I'm happy, too. Congratulations on your engagement!" He proved himself once again to be a perfect gentleman.
Marjorie thought her heart would break as she listened to him. Why hadn't she seen before how deeply he cared?
"I'm trying to tell you the engagement was a mistake, Siegfried," she heard herself say.
He bent towards her, his voice almost a whisper. "You mean to say you called it off?"
"It only lasted a few days ..." And then she couldn't help herself – she had to ask him: "Did you mind awfully much?"
"Yes," he burst out. "It was a shock."
"I'm so sorry." Marjorie wanted to embrace him, but she didn't dare. Yet she knew that this time she needed to show him how she really felt, so she proceeded: "I think far too much of you to hurt you in any way."
Once again he made it easy for her. Smiling tenderly and happily he said: "It's just wonderful that you're back, my dear."
He reached for her hand and Marjorie was sure that he wanted to kiss her. But there was something else she had to tell him and so she stepped away, lifting Sheeba up in her arms and moving towards the window. He deserved the truth and he needed to know that she was only home for a few days before returning to her job. She couldn't risk hurting him again by raising his hopes once more.
To her relief – so deep a relief that she feared her knees would give way – he not only understood, but offered her full support. And now the shine in his eyes was back as was the gentle smile she'd missed so much. Stroking Sheeba's head with one finger, he said quietly, "Would you mind putting this expensive lady down for a moment?" As he bent forward, his mouth met hers and his hands reached for her arms, pulling her softly towards him.
Marjorie had known that she loved him, but she hadn't been aware of how much. In this moment she would have happily given up her career and all of her dreams in exchange for scrubbing floors at Skeldale house for the rest of her days, if only that meant she could be close to him.
The next few days passed as if in a dream. Of course, Marjorie had many social obligations and Siegfried was as always very busy in his practise; nevertheless, they managed to see each other every day. Sometimes it was only for tea, for a stroll along the river or for an early morning ride over the hills, but the time they spent together was filled with tenderness, laughter and a wonderful, deeply satisfying feeling of belonging together. They discovered more about each other and delighted in learning how much they had in common. It wasn't only their mutual love of horses and country life; it wasn't only that they both enjoyed a wide variety of music - starting with Bach, going over the romantics to Jazz - and that both were connoisseurs of fine food and old wine; that they were well-read and loved the some books and that they could laugh about the same things. It reached deeper and resulted in a connection which made both feel as if they would have waited all their lives to become a couple.
Based on that, Marjorie didn't worry anymore about how different their tempers were. On the contrary, she enjoyed the contrast. Of course, Siegfried was sometimes erratic, he tended to contradict himself, he was certainly very impulsive and had a rather eccentric streak, but Marjorie, being a calm person who thought things over carefully, found that his spontaneity and zest for life were just what she needed. Being with Siegfried was never boring, always full of excitement and joy.
There was only one shadow hanging over them: the war. Marjorie mostly managed to push that thought to the back of her mind, but Siegfried worried a great deal about it. He'd already gotten the letter calling him to his unit and he was already organizing his practise to function for some time without him. And in contrast to the optimistic attitude he normally had towards life, he didn't believe in the superiority of the British forces over the Germans. While most other people, even some of Marjorie's colleagues at Whitehall, were boasting "We'll get the Germans down in a few weeks," Siegfried proved that being a "country vet in the backwaters of England" didn't mean one wasn't well informed or able to do one's math.
"We will have to fight them on the continent and it certainly won't be one great, glorious battle, but months of struggling with blood, sweat, tears and death. It will be crawling through dirt, fighting for every inch of land ..."
Marjorie and Siegfried had just strolled over her estate and up a hill, and were now resting in a bed of heather, both lying on their backs and looking up at the clear, blue sky. Turning around on her side and bracing herself on her elbow, Marjorie looked down at Siegfried. "Are you afraid, Siegfried?"
He sighed, raised his hand, caught one of the curls which had fallen out of her chignon and wrapped it tenderly around his finger. "Only a fool wouldn't be, my dearest. I know it's no picnic I'm about to go to, but a war." Pulling her down, he kissed her, holding her tightly and turning her until she was on her back as he looked down at her. For a few seconds he scrutinized her as if seeing her for the very first time. "You know how I feel about you, Marjorie, don't you?"
Putting her hand on the back of his head, she combed through his fine hair with spread fingers. "I believe I do. And," she added with a smile, "you know what? I feel the same."
Bending down, he kissed the tip of her nose. "Marjorie, under normal circumstances I'd ask you a question now. However, with the war hanging over us ..." He fell silent, looking grave and sad.
Marjorie put her hand on his smooth shaven cheek. "Some people think the war is a reason to get one's personal affairs in order."
Once again he studied her face. "Do you think so?"
Marjorie smiled and placed as kiss on his chin. "You must really like me."
"Well," she chuckled, "it's said that the quickest way to make you run is talk about marriage."
He furrowed his brow. "Marjorie, there's a lot said about me, but I can assure you: A good deal of it isn't true. I'm certainly no candidate for sainthood, but ..."
Marjorie stopped him by laying a finger on his lips. "Siegfried, if I believed everything people say about you, I wouldn't be here."
He smiled, but only for a second before he became serious again. "You didn't answer my question, Marjorie. Do you think that wartime make it necessary to ..." This time it was Siegfried who didn't finish the line, He just gazed at her instead.
Marjorie pulled him close. "No, Siegfried. For the moment I just want to enjoy what we have."
They hadn't even gotten much time for that. Only a few days later, Marjorie found herself buried in papers in a rather improvised office at the "secret location," an old castle at a very lonely place in the Yorkshire moors. And though it was only an hour's drive from Darrowby, there was no chance for even a quick visit to Skeldale. Marjorie wouldn't have been permitted to leave – and even if she'd gotten time to do so, she wouldn't have found Siegfried home. Three days after her departure he'd left Darrowby.
But at least there were letters this time, though his had to go through Whitehall, where they were forwarded to Marjorie – after someone had read them. With her letters it was the same. They were censored before being sent to Siegfried.
Under these circumstances, Marjorie sometimes found writing very difficult. She wasn't allowed to mention anything about what she was doing, where she was doing it or with whom she worked. She learned quickly that the censors sometimes thought even a line like "I'm pretty busy, but my work is interesting" contained too much confidential information. And with strangers reading every word, Marjorie really didn't feel like waxing lyrically about her feelings. So her letters were mostly about her life at home, how she missed her cat and her horses, what she heard from the friends back home – Prudence wrote to her regularly, giving her the news from Darrowby – and her hopes for the future.
Siegfried was less restricted in his writing. He told her about his flying and how much he loved it; he told her funny stories about his comrades and him being the "grandfather" among them and he even found a way to express his feelings by quoting poetry and music. Being the son of a conductor, he'd obviously gotten a good education in matters of music, sometimes finishing his letters by simply writing down a few notes out of an opera. Marjorie, though not too bad a piano player, always needed to sing the musical notes in order to recognize them. This afforded her colleagues much amusement when they saw her re-reading a letter, quietly singing something and then beaming. But how could she have done otherwise when he came up with the melody of a sweet love song?
Nevertheless it was a long, cold winter without him. The fact that he had finished his training and was now flying real missions didn't help Marjorie through the long nights, when the wind rattled at the windows of her bedchamber and she lay awake, worrying about him.
And then it happened: For three long weeks she didn't get a letter, but instead a sad shrug of shoulders from the girl who normally got the mail for her from London. On the morning when she'd decided to ask one of her friends at Whitehall to do some research about a certain Captain Siegfried Farnon – and was regretting that she hadn't insisted on marrying him because as his wife she'd have gotten information over the official channels – a letter from Darrowby arrived.
It was from Helen Herriot, and its content made Marjorie cry with relief – and further worry. Siegfried's plane had been shot down over the Channel, but luckily an English fishing boat had plucked him out of the cold water and taken him back to England. However, he'd broken his right arm and contracted pneumonia.
"For a few days," Helen Herriot had written, "he was in a rather poor state, running a very high fever. Problem in his case is Siegfried not only caught pneumonia from being in the frigid Channel water, but he had gotten a case of Brucellosis earlier, which made his condition even worse. When I visited him in hospital he was hardly conscious and I was extremely worried. But now he's on his way to recovery and has told me on phone that he'll get a fortnight of leave for recreation. Next Wednesday he's to come home to Skeldale."
Nothing could have kept Marjorie away. With Helen Herriot's letter in her hand, she went to her commanding officer and asked him for a few days off. He wasn't too happy, but he appreciated Marjorie's and had seen how miserable she'd been during the last several weeks, so he not only granted her the three days of leave but also arranged transport for her to the next village.
The following Thursday saw her in a bus rattling over the Pennines on its way to Darrowby – after she'd spent almost two hours standing at the station, waiting in the icy wind of a cold April day. Yet even being frozen to the bone couldn't spoil her happiness. In only one or two hours she'd see her beloved. And perhaps she would even be able to persuade him to come home with her. He'd certainly be more comfortable at her quiet home with her and her housekeeper looking after him than he could be at Skeldale with the constantly ringing phone, clients coming to the surgery day and night and two assistants trampling up and down the stairs.
The bus was rather full, but Marjorie had managed to get a seat in the second row and now she was looking out of the window at the austere but familiar and beloved landscape. There was Hershey House, the farm where old Alan Grifford and his wife lived; there were the Bates family's sheep grazing peacefully at their still snow-covered pasture; there was Jim Rathers leading his big cart horse towards a field – familiar places, familiar sights. And then the bus came to a stop, picking up a farmer's wife on her way to the shops in town, heavily wrapped with a big shawl over her head and carrying a cradle. Entering the bus, she pushed her shawl back and immediately started to chat with two older women who sat behind Marjorie.
The bus driver turned around. "Can't you sit down on your arse, woman? I don't have all the time of the world, you know."
"Are the Nazis already here or are we on the bus to Darrowby?" the farmer's wife replied, but moved towards the back of the bus, suddenly stopping again and exclaiming: "I don't believe my eyes! Is that really you? And how handsome you look in uniform! But you're too thin and much too pale - and what happened to your arm? Were you injured?"
The bus driver looked over his shoulder again, rolled his eyes and - starting his engine again - got the bus back on the road.
But now the soldier to whom the woman had spoken gave his answer – and Marjorie felt like fainting as she heard his voice: "Hello, Ms Marston."
Turning around, she could only stare at him. He wore the blue coat of a RAF officer with the right sleeve hanging loosely down while his arm was in a sling underneath. In greeting the farmer's wife he'd taken his cover down, so Marjorie could see that his hair was cut shorter than she was used to seeing it, oddly emphasizing just how small his face had become. The farmer's wife had been right: He was much too pale and he'd obviously lost weight, the uniform's jacket very loose around his haggard form.
"Siegfried!" Had she yelled it or only whispered his name? Marjorie neither knew nor cared. Jumping up she stumbled down the aisle towards him. "Siegfried!"
"Marjorie!" He'd seen her too and reached out for her with his healthy hand. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm on my way to see you!" she exclaimed, smiling and crying at the same time. At that moment the bus rumbled over a bridge. Marjorie lost her footing and would have fallen down if not for the sturdy old farm worker next to Siegfried, who caught her.
Siegfried tried to rise up. "Here – have my place."
Marjorie thanked the farm worker and shook her head. "Certainly not! You would bump your injured arm."
"That's why I'm getting up to change places with the lady!" the farm worker announced and staggered around Marjorie.
Now the bus driver obviously had gotten enough of the ruckus at the back of his vehicle. "Could you all sit down on your arses?" he yelled. "I don't want deliver you to Darrowby all in a heap!"
The farmer's wife, who had finally found a place in the last row of the bus, obviously felt provoked. "Shut up!" she hollered back. "The officer here is our Mr Farnon and he's got injured in the war! He deserves to have his nice lady next to him."
Siegfried grinned and pulled Marjorie down on the seat the farm worker had just deserted. Pulling her hand up to his mouth, he turned it around and kissed the inside of her wrist. "You look so lovely, Marjorie!" he whispered. He obviously had intended to add something, but was interrupted by a fit of coughing.
"Siegfried, you're still sick! You should be in bed!" Marjorie said anxiously.
"Don't worry, my dearest. I'm fine. They wouldn't have let me out of the hospital if I weren't." Once again he kissed her hand. "I'm more than fine – I'm with you. You know, I didn't even dare to hope that you could make it because I knew I couldn't stomach the disappointment if you hadn't come."
"Nothing could have kept me away, Siegfried." The bus was just rounding a corner, which caused Marjorie to fall against Siegfried's good shoulder. For a moment she snuggled her face against the raw fabric of his coat, deeply inhaling his scent. Despite the strange uniform, it was still familiar – a whiff of rosemary soap, a bit of his honeyed pipe tobacco and some leather.
"I did so miss you, my darling!" He used his chance to kiss her cheek. "How long can you stay?"
"Only three days, but – Siegfried, I've been thinking. Helen Herriot wrote me that she'd air and clean your room at Skeldale for you, but even so – wouldn't you like to stay at my place? I mean, there's no one you're familiar with at Skeldale with James and Tristan being in service too and Helen at her father's place. And your housekeeper is pretty busy with the assistants, I think, and that big house and the phone. You'd certainly get more peace and rest at my home – and Alice Temple and I would love to look after you and fatten you up!"
"What a tempting offer, my love!" He smiled at her. "But what about your reputation? People will talk ..."
"They always do. I don't care," Marjorie replied firmly and pressed his hand. "Please, Siegfried – do come! I'd so love to have you close at least for the little time I can stay."
For the next two days Marjorie was convinced that life couldn't have given her a better gift at this time than having Siegfried at home. After they'd shared a lovingly prepared lunch at Skeldale with Helen, one of his assistants drove the couple over to Marjorie's place where she'd immediately sent Siegfried to bed – he'd looked as if he'd break down at any moment and he was definitely, though he denied it, running a bit of fever again. While he'd slept, she'd been in the kitchen – though her housekeeper wasn't a bad cook, for this occasion Marjorie had wanted to prepare the dinner herself.
On the second day, Marjorie had invited Siegfried on a carriage ride – and as a surprise she'd taken him to Brawton where she'd told him: "I thought you'd like to see your mother – and while you're with her, I'll do my shopping."
However, he'd insisted that she come with him – and so she'd gotten to meet Daphne Farnon, a rather petite woman, very quick on her feet and obviously no less impulsive than her older son, despite her age. She'd welcomed Marjorie with a hug and a kiss, happily exclaiming: "Finally I get to meet you! Siegfried's swooning over you all the time – you like horses and music, don't you?"
"Yes, I do, though I must admit I'm not very fond of Wagner," Marjorie replied.
"Who is? I mean, my late husband was. He was a conductor, you know. I was a singer – a dramatic soprano, would you believe it - with my figure?" As proof, she sang a few measures and then laughed. "I've even done some Wagner – is there anything one wouldn't do for the man one's in love with? However, croaking through Isolde was a tiresome job – I always thought that someone should give her the finishing stroke because she takes so terribly long to die. Unfortunately," she smiled fondly at her son, "Siegfried wasn't up to the job then."
"Mother, you know I only put down animals." He smiled back.
"Considering we're talking about Wagnerian characters – don't you think they're sometimes rather beastly?" Daphne Farnon promptly shouted back.
"Their names certainly are!" Siegfried made a face.
"Oh, stop whining!" His mother ruffled through his hair. "You know, it could have been worse. If you had been born a girl, your father would probably have named you Brunhilde or Woglinde. And considering how much he liked Lohengrin ..."
Siegfried shuddered. "That would have been a good reason for giving myself the finishing stroke!"
"Lohengrin Farnon," Marjorie tested it with a big grin.
"Or what about Gurnemanz?" Daphne Farnon laughed. "Just imagine calling out for Gurnemanz while in a shop! Actually I even had a woman tell me once that I should look after my dog better after she heard me call for Tristan!"
"She'd probably seen Tristan sniffing around on his eternal quest for a drink!" Siegfried commented dryly. "Besides I know a dog named after him – and there's a definite similarity!"
Daphne turned to Marjorie. "Isn't the brotherly love and sweet appreciation my sons show towards each other delightful? Sometimes I wonder if either of them will ever act like an adult around the other. You know, they started to bicker on the day Tristan learned to utter his first comprehensible words - and they haven't stopped. I'd really like to read the letters they're now writing to each other –no doubt Tristan could already get Siegfried's collected works bound as a book."
"A rather thick one, named 'Wise But Unheeded Words of an Older Brother'," Siegfried said.
The two hours Marjorie spent with Siegfried's mother had given her many insights. Siegfried had never spoken much about his family and his childhood, despite the fact that he was obviously fond of his mother. All Marjorie had known about his parents was that they had been musicians, which had always made her wonder how the Farnon brothers had become vets.
The visit had made some of his background clear. His parents obviously had travelled a lot, so he'd spent a lot of his childhood in hotels. The only steady home he'd known during this period of his life had been his grandmother's place in a rural area of Devonshire. His grandmother's second husband had bred horses, and thus young Siegfried had learned to ride. He'd also obviously developed a liking for country life and animals there.
It was their third and last night when things had gone wrong. Marjorie had felt rather gloomy all day – the thought of going back to work the next morning would have been enough to make her sad, but knowing that in only a few days Siegfried would go back to his unit - and that over the coming months she'd constantly worry about him again - drove her to distraction and misery. She knew the statistics about the survival rate of wartime pilots only too well – and he'd already stretched his luck once. What if he didn't make it through a second time? What if she was to receive a letter one day, telling her that Captain Siegfried Farnon had died in the line of duty for king and country?
This fear for Siegfried's life had a disastrous effect on Marjorie. She felt paralyzed, and the fact that she couldn't even tell him – he had enough on his plate already without her fretting – made it even worse. Every smile, every touch, every kiss was like a reminder of his mortality and the fragility of life. There was nothing out there that could protect him, not even her love.
After dinner they'd sat on the sofa and as he'd pulled her in his arms and kissed her – Marjorie hadn't been an inexperienced virgin. She'd known what he'd wanted and in a way she'd wanted it as much as Siegfried did, if not more. As his mouth had glided down over her neck and his hand had cupped her breasts, Marjorie felt like melting into his arms – and at the same time she'd started to tremble in fear. Making love to him now, letting him so close to her – how could she possibly survive without him? He hadn't even started to seduce her in earnest, yet she already felt she was losing herself entirely, becoming a part of him, unable to exist without him. She'd never felt so frightened in her life, torn between her need to be close to him and her fear of losing him. It was something close to panic that made her jump suddenly away from him, babbling about getting another glass of wine and wouldn't he like to try the biscuits Ms Temple had especially made for him? She had known that she was behaving like an idiot; nevertheless, she hadn't been able to return to the sofa - keeping away from him instead as if his touch would burn her skin.
Perhaps if he had caught her, if he had pushed her - she so longed to forget all her fear and panic in his arms! But Siegfried Farnon had never been a man to push. Manners and pride had forbidden it for him and so he'd taken the wine she'd offered him and eaten the biscuits and petted Sheeba while Marjorie sat opposite him in her chair, stiff and miserable and envying her cat who had purred in his lap. Finally he'd smiled at her, yet the smile never reached his eyes. "You have to go rather early tomorrow, so you should try to get some rest. I'll miss you while you are gone. But," he stretched his shoulders, bracing himself, "that's the war, isn't it? And we're certainly not the only people going through it." Bending over her he'd kissed her forehead, cautiously as she was made from glass. "Nighty night, Marjorie – and don't let the bedbugs bite!"
Marjorie had cried the entire night, naming herself a complete and utter fool, an absolute failure, an idiot and a coward. The next morning she'd suffered from a splitting headache and Siegfried was rather reserved, telling her at breakfast that he hated long farewells, so "Let's make it short and painless."
It had been short, but not painless. Marjorie had fought against tears all during her journey back to work, and in the next weeks it had become even worse. Siegfried's hand was still injured and he hadn't been up to writing, so she'd only gotten two cards from Helen Herriot with the PS: "Siegfried wants me to give you his regards."
After Siegfried returned to his unit he'd written her a few letters, but the sense of deep understanding between them was gone. Marjorie had known it was her fault and she'd longed to explain herself to him – but how to do so with a censor reading every word she wrote?
The fact that at his next leave she hadn't even been in England but had been sent over to Washington had probably been the final nail in the coffin of their relationship. He'd of course registered that her replies to his letters had taken a long time to reach him, and during one of his infrequent leaves in Darrowby he'd finished one of his letters with a bitter remark: "I don't expect to hear from you soon – you're obviously rather busy with more important things."
She'd received that letter on a day when she'd already been very much on edge, and in a rush of anger she'd written back: "I'm sorry to say so, but the world – even my world – doesn't entirely revolve around you, Siegfried."
She'd regretted her words the very next morning, but it had been too late – the letter was already well on its way to England, and – six weeks later – she received the reply she'd feared: "It's rather obvious that presently we're not doing so well with our letters. I think we should call off our written correspondence until we're able to talk eye to eye again."
She hadn't sent a response. What could she have written? That she still loved him, that she longed for him? He'd obviously taken her refusal that last night very badly – and the more she'd thought about that, the more she'd become upset. What had he taken her for? One of his paramours who could think of nothing better than to become a member of the famous Farnon collection of female conquests?
Besides he obviously hadn't missed her for long. Four months after their breakup he'd become injured again – a concussion caused by a bumpy landing. It had gotten him four weeks of leave at home and he'd used them well. Prudence – and yes, Marjorie had told her that her relationship with Siegfried was off without giving out any details - had delivered Marjorie the proof of it in a letter in which she'd written: "Life in Darrowby is rather dull at the moment with almost all younger men in service, so the local gossips were probably very grateful for the entertainment with which our friend Siegfried Farnon provided them. He was home on sick leave, but obviously he wasn't too sick to attend Lady Hulton's birthday party with Diana Brompton in tow. Now she isn't only a real piece of work, but his on-and-off affair for absolute ages. Yet at the moment it's obviously more 'off' than "on" again, because at the party he directed his famous charm towards one Sylvia Crampton-Forrester, a house guest of the Hultons. As a result, Ms Brompton, obviously not too happy about the straying attention of our local hero, had a go at Ms Crampton-Forrester. It's said she was trying to tell her about her pre-emptive rights on Farnon - who in the meantime proved the old saying, "When two quarrel the third wins the prize" (though after what he made you go through and his behaviour on this occasion one wonders if he's really a prize one would want to win) - with the third in this case being Janet Phillips. During the early morning after the party, Ms Hafers (Janet's neighbour) saw – and these are her words – a 'cheerfully whistling' Farnon leave Janet's place (one wonders if Ms Hafers spent all of the night on the window of her kitchen so as not to miss out on that) looking – I once again quote her – 'like the cat who's gotten the canary' (considering that Janet always loved to wear yellow, though it clashes terribly with her hair, the picture suits - don't you think?). In any case Farnon managed once again to give Darrowby something to talk about and in times like this one has to be thankful even for small favours."
For a long time she hadn't heard anything more about Siegfried. Even Prudence had had other things to worry about. But now the war was over – and Siegfried had married Caroline. He'd obviously forgotten all about Marjorie – and she would have to forget him as well. She would take up the offer to do some travelling – it would help her to forget. One day it would no longer hurt to think of Caroline's new husband – and then Marjorie would be able to return to Darrowby to breed horses and to deal with one Siegfried Farnon, MRCVS.
To be continued