Tradition rarely varied, for Beatrice at Yuletide..rise early, chores, then to the beach for a long horseback ride….
“I roast potatoes in the coals of my fire, with mince tarts for afters, curl up quiet with a book when early I retire”.
“The coming of Adelaide and Benny, added an odd new element to my peaceful life on “Sonsie”. They had been on the farm more than a year. Of indeterminate age, she former “Bed Chambermaid To The Queen”, partner Benny a horseman, bush balladeer of the outback kind. They treasured a decrepit, old plaid steamer trunk, they wandered at will about Wales, pulling their trunk in a wagon behind.
Nefariously light fingered, a pair of jolly pad-foots, they built a cozy sleep out shack of lumber they’d dragged home. Now, snecked in for winter, they dreamed of yellow houses, and the warm months ahead when they could set out to roam.
“Tell us a story”, genteel, yet obtuse as a lady be, Adelaide could invade even a trip down the path to my outdoor Loo. Early Christmas morning she sought me- time mattered not to the worldly old pair, and though they never knew my friend, the vagabond Godfrey, loved the childhood stories of him, when I chose to share.
“We invited you to breakfast in your home”, grinned Benny. They made themselves welcome frequently, food splattered on the stove top, a slab of “Eggy Toast”had been saved for me. Mugs of tea were slurped, I decided to tell them the tale of “Dragonwell”, south end of our valley.
“Godfrey called that end of Sonsie Farm “Dragonwell”. It’s hills rise from lowland, cool and misty year round. When small we were forbidden to play there by my mother, yet we oft hid in the deep, oak woods of “Dragonwell”, to scare the shite out of each other.
On the softest summer day, in “Dragonwell” the grass was damp, where we found ancient, half buried ruins, the stones of a castle. Traveler folk paused for water from the old well, but did not ever camp. Our ponies shied from the trail, would snort and paw. “Godfrey’s sister, Alice told us, “Dragonwell at full moon, legend has it if you dance neath the oak with twisted limb, you will turn into a stump on the 5th turn”….”you ought take Godfrey, said Alice, and try it out on him”.
Two elderly faces were fixed on mine, chewing and slurping of tea paused abruptly. Benny, more whimsical of the pair, said- “A stump?, bugger me days, you did not try it?, did you?.”
“Believe Alice?..no, but something about the oak woods compelled Godfrey, as we grew older, bolder down to “Dragonwell”. Wrote Godfrey, “I oft sat neath the great old oak, there was chuckle of running water, scent of musky Badger sett, autumn wood smoke from I knew not where”. “The shadows moving in the gloom did not frighten me, though after dark, I did not linger down there”.
“That last winter before Godfrey left Wales, money, coal and fuel were low, it was time of deep snow”. “We took the horse, “Flickertail”and sleigh, was a cold, clear blue afternoon”. “Neath the great oak tree down “Dragonwell”, Godfrey asked as we stood, asked the mighty tree for a gift of wood, that we may have a good, hot fire Christmas Day. “Our horse trembled, unhappy, I’m sure I heard a muttering in the oak woods of “Dragonwell” as we drove away.
“I never came to like the path through “Dragonwell”, but next time we coaxed Flickertail with sleigh, under the tree that Godfrey asked for warmth, the mightiest of it’s oaken limbs lay” ” In perfection it fell, for us to saw up and shift, we had warm fires well in to spring, we thanked the old oak tree for her precious gift”.
“I rarely go down to “Dragonwell”, south end of Sonsie, but it no longer scares me, makes for a good, mid winter myth and story”. “I knew Adelaide and Benny, had explored the valley over, by the look on the two poker faces, indeed suspected they’d been down to “Dragonwell”. Feasting on “Eggy Toast ” resumed, Benny poured fresh Billy tea, whatever the pair of old rogues knew, they were not yet prepared to share with me…..