Chapter Three

I can say, with hand on heart, that it was the most words I have ever heard in one day, ever.

I remember a story I heard as a kid. It was about an old man that talked so much his head fell off, much to the relief of the long-suffering folk in his village. Someone dropped his head down the town well, just in case some fool sewed it back on again. They all got poisoned by drinking the water and died. I can’t remember the moral of the story, but it gave me nightmares for weeks.

Henry’s wife reminded me of the story, and by the end of the evening I was looking for a well.

I can say, with hand on heart, that it was the most words I have ever heard in one day, ever.

In amongst it all, she told us about George and May. Regardless of whether you like the story or not, just be thankful I’ve filtered out the rest of her words.

May was the only child of a returned serviceman and his wife. They won a ballot to break in a bush choked finger of land on a windswept, rock strewn, bit of coast. Not much of a reward for having seen your mates blown to pieces, but that was all that was on offer. May’s dad never said much about the war, probably because the words were too sad.

Many of the soldiers that made it back from the war took to the bottle, May’s dad took to work. He worked from daylight to dusk and endured the nights.

He was too busy hiding from his memories to pay much attention to May, and hardly noticed when she became a young woman. Neither did any of the young men in the district. May was very plain, and sadly for her, she knew it.

Like her dad, she took to hard work to bury her demons, and fell in love with horses instead of men. It was much safer. Her father wasn’t keen on all the grass they ate, but May proved to be a shrewd breeder of horses, and they were soon paying their way. Don’t ask me what breed they were, I don’t know much about horses, just ask May.

So where does George fit into all this?

May’s dad was out hand sowing grass seed when he took a wrong step and found himself at the bottom of a slip. Cursing himself for his clumsiness and the loss of a bag full of seed, he tried to stand up but couldn’t. A broken leg will do that to even the best of us. It took him nearly a day to drag himself back to the house, and by the time he arrived, his compound fracture was full of dirt. Two days later he was fighting for his life in hospital, and his wife and daughter were beside themselves with worry.

Spring was a busy time on the farm, and the workload was a bit beyond a young woman and her mum. Fortunately, they were a frugal family and had managed to put a bit of money aside for a rainy day, and right now it was pouring.

A young man named George was employed to help out while Henry fought a severe case of osteomyelitis.

George was a nice young bloke, a committed Christian, and a very hard worker. He didn’t work quite as hard as May’s dad, but he wasn’t that far behind him. George spent the first couple of weeks getting into the swing of things and was shattered by days end. After dinner, he hit the sack with a vengeance and was up with the sparrows next morning to do it all over again.

By the third week, he was getting on top of things and would stay up for a while to chew the fat after dinner. And then a funny thing happened. The more he talked with plain young May, the better looking she got, until eventually, he got quite keen on her. May’s mum saw it happening, and she was quite keen on the idea too. But not nearly as enthusiastic as May, when she started noticing.

By the time the old man came home from the hospital, George had his heart set on making an honest woman of May and was working up the courage to ask his permission. That’s how they did things back then.

You know as well as I do that something didn’t go well.

But more on that in the next blog.

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