General Fiction posted March 5, 2018 Chapters:  ...33 34 -35- 36... 

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Good ol' Mildred

A chapter in the book This Time - That Time 2

The Beginning of a Plan

by sandramitchell

There is a link in my author’s notes to take you to previous parts in this book.
End of part 34
     ‘Oh, no! Do you mean that he wasn’t even in the country when Francis was a little boy and needed him?’ 
     James grimaced before nodding. ‘I'm afraid so. Not only that, but he didn't return for at least ten years.’

Part 35
I groaned, holding my head in my hand. It was so much easier and much more fun when I was helping Mrs Humphries and Lady Ann. I don’t know what to do for Francis and Joe. ‘That’s it then! Francis is doomed, and Joe will be—'
     ‘Nuff of that, Miss Veronica. Since when’ve you bin afraid of a challenge? Let’s think on what we’ve gotta work with now.’ Mildred tutted and shook her head. She stood up and smoothed her skirt before moving back to her own easy chair.
     ‘Mildred’s right,’ James said. ‘I believe you’ve been sent home to learn about this setback. I also believe it’s because whoever it is who decides these things doesn't want you wasting time searching for Jacob now you know he’s left the country back in 1846.’
     I lifted my head and gave them a rueful smile. ‘You’re both right, of course. I’m sorry. It’s just that sometimes I think I’m trying to climb up a well-greased pole, and every inch I gain, I slip back two.’     
     James leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. ‘Why don’t we forget about it for now and discuss it in the morning. We had another busy day in surgery, and my mind is ready to shut down for the night.’ As if to back up his statement, James yawned and clasped his hands together before stretching his arms into the air.
     ‘I’m sorry, Love, I can see you’re exhausted. I’ll make us all a nice hot, milky cocoa, and we’ll have an early night.’ I looked at Mildred and raised my eyebrows. ‘Is that alright with you?’
     I laughed when she yawned as well, making what she tried to say incoherent.  ‘I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ then....’

My eyes struggled to open as I turned my head to face the alarm clock, and saw the time was just after eleven. We’d been in bed over an hour now, but what had woken me? I felt my arm being shaken, so pushed myself up on my elbows. 
    ‘Ann?’ I whispered, not wanting to wake James. ‘What is it, Sweetheart?’ I dragged myself out of bed and took her hand.
     She pulled me outside the bedroom, and I quietly shut the door. ‘It’s Daveth, Mummy. He wants to speak to you.’
     ‘What? He’s in your room now?’ I shook myself, trying to wake up enough to take in what she was saying.
     ‘Uh-huh,’ she mumbled, nodding as she pulled me along.
    Now fully awake, we went into her room, and, sure enough, there he was sitting on Ann’s bed. ‘Hello, Daveth, what’s up?’ I asked him.
     ‘Don’t tell me da I came ‘ere t' see you ...  ‘e’d kill me.’ I had to smile at his dramatics. ‘Fings ‘ave got right bad, an’ I dunno what t’ do.’
     ‘I think you’d better tell me what’s happened.’ I turned as Ann climbed back into bed, barely able to keep her eyes open. ‘You go back to sleep, Love.’ I smiled as I pulled the covers up under her chin and leaned over to drop a kiss on her little pink lips.  
     Within seconds, she was fasto. When I turned back to Daveth, he was looking around the room. 
     ‘Me sister’d love all this,’ he whispered with a little wistful smile curling his lips. ‘She be the same age as Ann.’
     ‘I remember Ann telling me that. If I could bring something back with me, I would, but I don’t think it’s possible. I know I can bring something forward in time. I did that on another time-travelling trip just by hiding it in the attic. When I came back to my time, it was there waiting for me.’ I smiled as I remembered hiding Lady Ann’s jewellery. I just wish this situation was as straightforward as that one.  
     ‘Let’s move over to the other side of the room, Daveth, so we don’t disturb Ann.’ Once we’d made ourselves comfortable on the carpet, I asked him what had happened.
     ‘Those two geezers came back for me da again, but ‘e were out. Now ‘e’s ‘idin’ in the attic. Only me mam an’ me know ‘e’s there. We daren’t tell our El, she can’t keep secrets yet.’ Daveth stopped and looked over at Ann’s dressing table in the corner of the room. ‘That’s where me da’s sit…. Oh! S’pose he disappears again like ‘e did last time!’
     Oh, dear God! I can’t go through that again. Michael! What if he goes inside my little boy … or Ann this time? This is not good news. I looked at Ann, sleeping so innocently. No, I will not allow it! You hear me up there?
     ‘He can’t stay there, Daveth, it’s too risky. What did those men want this time?’
     ‘They told me mam Sir John wants t’ see ‘im in the mornin’. When Mam told me da when ‘e came ‘ome, he said ‘e weren’t goin’.'
     We sat quiet for a few minutes, each deep in our own thoughts. In fact, when Daveth spoke again, his voice startled me out of my reverie.
      ‘Yer gotta ‘elp us. Me ma’s scared t’ death, and me sister keeps cryin’. I dunno wot t’ do.’
     Daveth’s huge, scared eyes never left my face as he anxiously waited for me to tell him it was going to be alright—but, would it? I was no closer to helping Joe than I was before my first visit back to his time.
     I took a deep breath. ‘Daveth, I want you to listen carefully, okay?’

     He nodded.

     ‘I’m already looking into ways to help your dad. When you get home, I want you to be strong for your mother and sister, because they need you to be the man of the house for now. I know you can do that because I’ve seen how brave you are. It will be alright, I’m one hundred percent sure of that. As soon as I’ve finished working it out, I’ll be right back.’ 
     ‘I knew yeh would. I told me ma I ‘ad a friend oo’d ‘elp us.’ Daveth smiled, his body relaxing. ‘Fanks, Veronica.’
    I was about to remind him to make sure his father moved out of the attic, when he stood up and disappeared back to his own time. I sat there for ages, staring at the spot where Daveth had last stood. A sudden volcano of intense anger erupted in my veins. How could Sir John still be chasing after Joe when he’d saved him after the fire started in the cellar? If he was that nasty, nothing I could do would convince him to change his mind....
After a while, I went back to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. It was a long, worrying night until the sun rose, and dawn filtered through my curtains like illuminated fingers of light. I felt like a wet rag when I went downstairs and walked into the kitchen. Mildred had immediately poured me a cup of tea, and James had looked at me with concern in his eyes. Now, after explaining what had happened, they were as worried as I was.
     ‘So, I have to find a solution, and find it quickly.’ I stood up and paced the floor as James and Mildred watched, both looking as wretched as I felt. ‘But what? What can I do to help Daveth and his father? This is a nightmare!’ 
     Mildred chewed on her bottom lip, her frown causing ripples around her eyes already crinkled with laughter lines. ‘Let’s start with what Joe could do t’ earn some money t’ keep his family if they get turfed outta their home.’
     I didn't have a clue, and James also shook his head. ‘He's worked for Sir John since he was a lad, so I don't know what else he can do, except maybe find someone else to employ him in a similar way.’
     Mildred looked back at us, her hands on her hips. ‘Think, Miss Veronica ... surely you haven't forgotten what he learnt when he were inside our Michael.’
     Her words caused a shiver to pass down my spine, especially after what Daveth had said the night before. ‘I think my brain has turned into cotton wool, Mildred, because I don't understand what you’re getting at.’

     'I's talking about the chocolate! There can't be too many folk who knew how to make it back then. There were nobody making it near here when I were a lass, and I were born over a hundred years after 'e was.’
     The look on both my face and James’, must have been priceless. Wonderful, dependable Mildred had done it again, and come up with a possible solution. I was just about to tell her how clever she was when she shook her head.
     'Trouble is, he don’t have the money t’ buy the stuff he needs … does he?’
     She was right. Another great idea had just fallen apart. I frowned. ‘It always comes down to money,' I muttered, before shrugging my shoulders.
     ‘What’s the matter with this Sir John anyways?' Mildred asked. ‘I’da thought he’d be wantin’ to reward Joe, not be hurtin’ him.’
     ‘I thought that at first, but it hasn’t changed the situation, has it? He’s probably still worried that Joe will tell everyone about Francis, and that’s the last thing he wants.’ 
     We all fell silent for a while. ‘Let me make a fresh potta tea,’ Mildred said, picking up the kettle. ‘It gets me old brain workin’, well, the cogs t’ move a bit, anyways.’
     ‘Good idea.’ I took our cups over to the sink and rinsed them out in hot water.     
     ‘Why’s Sir John so scared of people knowin’ bout Francis? Those men he’s got chasin’ after Joe, do they knows about the lad? Will he be gettin’ ridda them too?’
     ‘I don’t think they do know, Mildred. When he was having Joe beaten up, the only thing he mentioned was the possibility of Joe getting free drinks down the Tavern with his story. I don’t recall him even mentioning Francis.’
     Mildred poured the boiled water into the pot and gave it a stir while I dried the cups and put them back on the table with some milk.
     ‘We needs t’ think of somethin’ that’ll keep Sir John’s secret, and let Joe off the hook.’
     I looked at James. ‘Any thoughts?’

     ‘Only that Francis wouldn’t pose a threat if he was taken from the house and placed with a family. But, who would take him on thinking he was the son of the devil?’
     ‘Exactly. So that’s out of the question. Anything else?’ I dropped my head back and examined the ceiling as if I’d find an answer there.
     ‘So, we’s gotta family what’s scared to death of Sir John an’ wants some money to move away and start makin’ his chocolate. And, we have a baby wantin’ a lovin’ home.’

     ‘That’s it in a nutshell,’ I answered. ‘We’ve got ourselves two unsolvable problems.’ I sat up straight and picked up my cup after Mildred filled it.
     ‘I wouldn’t say that, oh Lordy no!’ she said, her eyes suddenly full of merriment as she turned from me to James. ‘I think we’s got ourselves the beginnin’ of a plan. Joe’s gonna ask Sir John fer some money….’

 * she was fasto - an expression meaning - fast asleep

Veronica Russell – time traveller.
Dr James Russell – married to Veronica.
Ann Russell –  Veronica and James’s five-year-old daughter with paranormal gifts.
Michael Russell – Veronica and James’s three-year-old son.
Mildred – Veronica’s closest friend and adopted grandmother to the children.
Daveth Hammett – ten-year-old boy from 1846.
Elowen Hammett – five-year-old sister of Daveth
Joe Hammett –  Daveth’s father who disappeared through a time portal
Rosie Hammett – Joe’s wife.
Sir John – Lord of the manor.
Gwendolyn – Sir John’s sister, now deceased.
Francis – Albino child of Gwendolyne.
Jacob Argall – Albino.
Meg – Francis’ nanny and carer.


Synopsis of Book 2

Synopsis of Book 1

This is written in UK English. Thank you for reading this part, if you see any clangers, please let me know, I will really be most grateful. :) xxx
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