"Chapter Five" of a novel I have been trying to complete for years. 

I myself like this Chapter, well I like the rest but need to get it finished.

 

"Put that Chapter five back on I was asked in November 2016 so I have."

 

 

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December the twenty third twenty fifteen! it is, in North Oxfordshire.

And this village cricket pitch is waiting for action.

 

Progress with the book this last year has been at a stand still because of other project as you will see if you read the 2015 news page.

There have been a couple of the family that said they did not get around to reading chapter five last year, so I have brought the page back up just for them, or any body else that has nothing better to do over this holiday but to chill out.

 

I will try to retrieve a couple more chapters of the book from my old computer if I can find the time and then you may find out what the story is really all about.

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Other chapters on for Christmas 2016.

 



Chapter Five.

 

After a day with the family, before some of them jet’ off for the winter break, I had told them about the novel I started in about 2001. I am now up to chapter nine.

 But was interrupted with the writing in 2010 when I did my Classic trials bike research for that year’s Classic trials Show, and the amount of time it took, ringing around the top fifty Classic trials riders in that category at that time, some have gone on to greatness in our sport since, and unfortunately we have lost two of my classic trials heroes since that time.

 

 Anyway the family abroad so to speak ,would love to take a look at Chapter Five of the book while sipping there pina-colada’s , on the beach or hotel pool side, while relaxing on this winter break. So here it is for you and to all of my readership. And a very Merry Christmas to you all.

 This is only live, during this Christmas break so read it if you need too. Enjoy.

 

Regards Pops, Grumpy, and any other name you care to name me. We  know who we are.

 

Chap 5.

 Win had managed a good night’s sleep after treating her self to a couple of glasses of the master’s finest Napoleon brandy. And was in a better frame of mind than she had been for a long time. The past couple of days had been put firmly behind her.

At two o’clock she had her hand’s, and arms up to the elbows in the cream mixing bowl making a batch of pastry for the flans that she said she would make for the village cricket match at the weekend, and was in full vice with her rendition of “Green sleeves”, joined by the cats for the chorus, when Milton stepped over the threshold upon his return from his expedition to the border of the three counties.

“Every thing been al-right M-dear” he said. “You seem in good form”.

“Yes I’m fine thank you”, said Win, not wishing to return to the last couple of days.

“Just got to fetch “The Dog Rex” from the car, he must need a drink” said Milton. The old dog drank like he had just crossed a desert, but there again it was a tiresome journey along a winding and dusty road.

“How’s your sister” said Win.

“She’s in fine fettle, and enjoying every minute of her retirement, she was a nanny you know”!  Said Milton peering into the top of the teapot on the table.

“You go and get changed and I’ll make a fresh pot”, Win said wiping her hands on her apron.

Tom appeared through the kitchen door with a couple of cucumber’s that he’d been forcing especially for the sandwiches for the match.

“Feeling better today dear,” he said.

“Yes yes I’m fine to day,” Win said frowning at him and trying to change the subject. “These are a fine pair did you grow them yourself” she said taking the cucumbers from his hand.

“My Missis deals with them, her grows um in our little green house at home, I only as to water um two times a day”.

“Well there very nice you must be proud of them” said Win placing them into the new fridge. “What a lovely pair”.

The three servants sat round the table and drank their tea along with one of the cakes that Win had brought from the shops. Milton spends ages picking the small specks of black from the top of the cream horn, but didn’t complain.

How about tossing me a few up then said Milton.

“Are I might be able to give yer three or four over’s Tom said where’s the ball still on the mantle piece.

“Yes still in pride of place along side M-Lords Rugby meddle”.

Tom wandered through to Lord “A”s study to collect the ball. Milton went off to his room for his bat. He returned with an old willow bat that had seen better days, and was now dark brown in colour and bound with cord around the middle of the batting surface. He was sporting a pair of pads that had faded into a shade of harvest straw, and were speckled with dashes of red ironmould.

“What a fine figure of a man” Win said trying to get into the same spirit the pair of boys were in.

“Nearly played for the county old Ted”, said Tom. “Came through the test, but then slipped and done his ankle in, the day before the match”.

“Yes what a bugger”, said Milton taking his stance in the middle of the kitchen floor and tapping the crease with the old bat.

“Might have changed my life, twenty four runs though last year, and top scorer”.

“Yes, and I had four for thirty-one, and two caught in the slip’s,” said Tom. Tossing the ball from one hand to another and then polishing it down the front of his dirty brown cords.

“Where’s the stumps still by “The Dog Rex’s” bed in the stable block”.

“I think so”, said Milton but I did see Betty with one of them one day trying to poke one of the cats from the top of the large wardrobe in the master’s bedroom, so I hope she put it back”.

“Better go and have a look then me boy,” Tom said disappearing through the kitchen door side wards and shuffling his feet as though he was about to make his first run in to bowl.

“Fast old boy Tom in his youth” said Milton “When I first came here he was the envoy of most of the villages around”.

“Is it a local team you are playing on Saturday?” said Win.

“Yes one of the finest around here, Little Wetstone, and a real local derby” Milton said adjusting his box.

Tom had found the stumps although “The Dog Rex” had tried to eat one of them for his supper. And he had manufactured the bails with the help of his “neats-foot” pocketknife from a length of green ash from the hedge.

Milton knocked them into the flattest stretch of the front lawn with his old bat, and then strode off at full stretch to measure the length of the wicket. The fourth stump was knocked in and a bowling crease scratched in to the surface with the heel of his boot.

Tom was already running up and down the lawn at full tilt with his right arm acting like a windmills sail. He stopped and removed his waistcoat and rolled up the sleeves of his grubby shirt. Then proceeded to jump up and down on the spot for a few minuets.

“What’s he doing?” said Win with puzzled look across her face.

“A-r-r-m, he’s only trying to settle the bottom part of his body”, Milton said, embarrassed.

“Oh- Oh, I know what you mean”, said Win wishing she hadn’t asked the question.

Milton marked his crease and then shuffled his feet up and down the first yard from the stumps, then stood beating the ground with the end of the bat with his eyes fixed securely on the antics of Tom at the other end. After three false run up’s and dropping the ball once, a corker of a ball came whistling through the air, bounced and met the batsman at about chest high.  Milton leapt into the air and padded it to the ground while the bat was still perched over his left shoulder. Tom continued to run up the wicket to collect the ball, giving a fine demonstration of how to do high kicks as learnt during his period doing his National Service.

Win stood on the edge of the lawn a broad grin across her face  “Bravo”, she shouted.

The next three balls were not on par with the first and Milton simply tapped them down with a straight bat towards the bowler. But the fifth ball was an extremely fast daisy cutter, and left Milton trying to beat it away from the stumps with both feet and the bat. Unfortunately he stepped back to close and removed the bails with the corner of his pad.

Tom lepped into the air both arms reaching for the sky, “How was he?” he shouted at the top of his voice. xz

“He was out”, said Win “No doubt about it”.

“Bloody bails are to small,” said Milton showing a crack in his usual easy- going manner.

“You were out old boy and that’s one down to me,” said Tom dancing up the wicket as though he had just bowled out W, G, Grace.

Win thought it best to keep a neutral position so asked if either of them wanted a glass of her lemonade before round two. “I’ll just pop in and pour some in a jug anyway,” she said.  Milton was still not playing the sportsman that one would think he would be, and had made every excuse under the sun why the bails had been removed, “A mole moving under ground! Now I ask you”, said Tom.

After five minutes of arguments, Win had provided the lemonade along with some small salmon spread sandwiches, and told the pair of them to grow up, as it was only a game? They agreed and moved back into their respective positions for round two.

Milton was not going to miss the next ball at any cost and was on his marks like the finest athlete, with his head moving from side to side as he beat the ground with the old bat.

Tom was again limbering up at the other end running back and fourth horizontally to the wicket.

Win had been positioned in a most dangerous position, in the slips so that she could get a good view of the stumps.

Tom moved the stone that was marking the start of his run up back another pace. And then had two more practice run- inns.

The grimace on Milton’s face was getting worse by the second.

“This is the one” Win thought as Tom came thundering in, not unlike a charging bull, he released the ball right at the top of his swing, it hurtled up the wicket like the shot from a gun. Milton was ready and moving from his crease to meet it, and with a crack like a lightning strike, he changed the direction of the ball at the same speed. It vanished across the lawn over the parkland fence and landed in the middle of a bunch of grazing rabbits, this sent them scuttling back to their warren at speed. The old fox that had been eyeing up his tea slunk away shacking his head in disbelief.

Six! Shouted Win at the top of her vice and jumping up and down clapping her hands.

Tom slunk off like a drowned rat to fetch the ball from the parkland. Milton placed a huge kiss in the middle of his bat “Well done me beauty,” he said.

The next three balls were only average with the concentration lapsing slightly and some of the pace gone from the bowler, or was he just sulking?  Two were taped back down the wicket and one pushed into the slips gently, where Win picked it up.

The fifth ball of the over bounced once, and Milton lifted it into the sky. Tom was under it, his old trilby threw to the ground as he darted one way then the other, he shuffled to the right, he shuffled to the left, and still the ball would not fall from the sky, then it plummeted towards the ground at speed, and straight through Tom’s fumbling hands like butter. He took a dive and caught the ball inches from the ground.

“Out”! Shouted Win putting her head on the chopping block.

Tom leapt up from the ground the ball aloft in his right hand “Two to me he shouted regaining his vigour instantly.

“It touched the ground,” said Milton

Throwing his old cricket cap to the ground in disbelief.

“I think he caught it,” said Win backtracking.

“Fluke”, Milton muttered as he took his stance for the final ball of the over. Tom bowled a full toss and Milton took the ball right in the middle of the bat for a straight drive along the ground back towards the bowler. Tom stuck out his right foot to stop the speeding ball; it struck his boot and ran up his leg, and came to rest in the most delicate part of his anatomy. He fell to the ground with agonising groans, and balls in both hands.

“Two to me,” Milton said under his breath.

The match was abandoned straight after the incident, as the bowlers ball was scuffed and out of shape, and needed attention before the weekend.

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Lord Armetrad arrived back at the manor at ten o’clock on Friday morning, driving the Bentley, accompanied by one of his chums, Robert, (Bunny) Rabitton. They had broken off their fortnight of the high life in the city for a couple of days, to attend the village match.

Bunny was somewhat of an all rounder and could be thrown in to any situation as long as there was a stiff drink at the end of it. He qualified as a villager, as he had spent a few month’s after the war in one of Lord “A”, s workers cottages down by the brook.

Win had been expecting the pair, and had a full English breakfast on stand by in the Aga, and only had eggs to fry.

Milton had trotted up to one of the guest rooms with Bunny’s luggage, not a difficult task as he was travelling light, and only had a few items of clothing stuffed into an old leather school satchel.

But his most cherished possession was a brand-new cricket bat that he had just purchased, with a blade a lot wider than most.  The old one had disintegrated as he swiped the winning six across the other side of the duck pond in last years match.  Milton needed both hand’s to deliver this princely item to his room as it was like carrying the crown jewels to him.

 

After brunch, the chums strolled off down to the Wheatsheaf to meet the rest of the team, and to oil their joints for the Saturday match; Milton did the same by partaking a double scotch from M-lords favourite bottle.

Win set about finishing the flans, the bases had been baked blind, and now all she needed to do was finish preparing the fillings. Two of her famous asparagus and cheese tarts were already in the oven and the couple of Quiche Lorraine’s waiting to be put in, sat on the side of the table. The final case she thought she would fill with scrambled egg and chopped parsley and then top it off with crumbled cheese.

She checked on the flans in the oven and nipped to the garden for the bunch of parsley.

She knelt down to pick the crisp green curly leaves, and was about to rise to her feet, when she was suddenly struck by fear and was frozen to the spot. Her body trembled and her hand closed around the fresh leaves like a clamp. A feeling of despair flowed freely through her mind, tears from her eyes dropped softly to the ground turning red as they hit the path. Her eyes through blurred vision became fixed to a large crow perched high up in the elm tree in front of her, a remnant of scarlet cloth in its beak. As it flapped it’s wings and lifted itself from the branch and ascended into the sky, her feelings started to drift away as quickly as they had arrived. She got to her feet and stood, until the last tear had dried onto her face. The tension released its self from her body and her brain awakened as from sleep. She gazed for a moment at the bunch of parsley in her hand, and then walked slowly back to the kitchen. A strong smell of baking pastry met her nostrils as she crossed through the doorway. She dropped the parsley onto the table and grabbed the nearest towel; the flans were swiftly removed from the oven and placed down quickly onto the table. The oven door she left swinging as she inspected the two flans. One was brown all the way over, but the other only caught around the edges. A sharp knife dealt with this one but the other was only fit for the bin.

“Bugger” she said on one of the few occasions that she swore. The other two were placed into the oven and she made her self a fresh pot of tea.   Milton returned from the village and had mysteriously bumped into the rest of the cricket team.

“We’ve sorted out the strategy for tomorrow” he said, “where going to win the toss and make them bat first”

“How”? said Win pouring the last of the tea from the pot down into the sink?

“M-Lords got two double sided coins and which ever they call, he’ll throw the other into the air”.

“That’s dishonest”, snapped Win,

“Not to M-Lord its not” said Milton.

“Won’t they spot the two coins any way?” she said,

“No-no, Lord “A”’s ambidextrous, and a juggler like most people who grew up in the Neverlands.

“Well I still think it’s dishonest,” said Win, drying her hands on her apron with disgust.

“Not as dishonest as the captain of Little Wetstone said Milton,”He’s just had to pay a hefty fine for sheep rustling, and some of the sheep belonged to M-Lord.

“Oh dear” said Win beating the scrambled egg in a bowl.

The next morning was fine but the meteorological office had forecast for showers later in the day. Old Jack Jumper, (Pully to his friends), had aimed his hazel twig at the full moon and had forecast that the first shower would fall at precisely four thirty. The match was due to start at two o’clock but this had been brought forward an hour as “Pully’s” predictions were usually right.

Tom had told the committee that he would have to shorten his run up, due to injuries sustained while trying to get fit earlier in the week, and he was, god bless him, still walking with a limp.

The pitch had been marked out with a particularly strong batch of creosote and the whole area smelt like the hen huts up at the big farm.

The wicket had a fair bit of movement as well, as Len Crosby and his shire horse had rolled it after a thunderstorm, and even the sand applied afterwards, had a job to disguise these large footprints.

The first over was bowled to the manager of the quarry up at Wetstone hill, by the lad that he had sacked the previous week, for under filling the lorry loads of stone that were going out, as ballast down to the mill. The first two were just about below head high and it was lucky for him that the umpire’s glasses had steamed up, or he defiantly would have got a warning for dangerous bowling, and the batsman would have been out for a duck. A short ball from the last of the over was struck with a straight bat and true but into the air, it caught a branch of the oak tree and landed in the lap of the vicar’s wife who was playing twelfth man, but was sitting in one of the chairs on the boundary. “How was he?” the team all shouted dancing up and down on the spot. The umpire threw his hand in the air “Ask the lord” he said “because I know not”.

After an umpires huddle, it was decided to give the quarryman another fair chance. This meant that Tom would bowl his first over to the cellar man of  “The Raged Robin” from the duck pond end.

He limbered up in his usual fashion but not quite at the same pace, but managed a full toss from the first ball, that was clouted for four in the direction of the rectory, and picked up by the chimney sweep, still black from his mornings work. The ball was covered with soot as it reached Tom’s fair hands, and left a nasty mark down his flannel’s, that would take two boiling washes to remove.  Two more singles from the over left the quarryman facing his foe, and he was quickly despatched by the second ball, which sent his middle stump scuttling for cover in the undergrowth.

The second man in was the lorry driver that had shopped the “Young Man”, and he faced a barrage from that end for the next few over’s that would have won him a meddle in the war. He managed eventually to clip the edge of a ball for a single, which left Tom to finish him off with his second ball.

The Captain was next and replaced him, and Tom had been asked to keep a few special balls in his pocket for this man by Lord “A”.

The first ball that he faced was slightly more than chest high and only meant as a warning. The next came along the ground like a torpedo searching out its pray, the Captain did well to fend this one from his bow. The next ball a particularly fast one bounced once and caught the batsman’s glove with a crack, it flew into the air but was then dropped in the slips by the shepherd who had been half a sleep and counting his flock.

Tom moved his marker back for the last ball of the over, and polished the ball till it gleamed he came hurtling up the track like the “Flying Scotsman” and even was producing the steam. The ball left his hand like an arrow but was aimed a bit to the right it hit the lucky horse shoe print and shot round the back of the Captains legs removing all three stumps from the ground like skittles.

The next man in was their blacksmith a burly man by any standard’s, and measuring six foot four and one of their best all-rounder’s. The “Young Man” was a friend of his daughter, and had only one option to be polite, so bowled him a slow in-swinger that caught his bails from the right. The blacksmith was not amused as he strode off back to the hut, the duck tucked inside his head. The “Young Man” turned white as a sheep bleating, “Can I bat last Captain”.

Lord “A” agreed that he possibly should.

Tom was taken off after eight over’s as he had run out of steam, and was replaced by “Bunny” who bowled three superb over’s making great use of the prints in the wicket and ending up with four for thirty two. Milton was given the chance of a couple of over; s at the tail enders, as the chimney sweep had to dash off for ten minuets, to remove the brush that was jammed in the top of Mrs Windrush’s chimney, she had told him she needed to bake a batch of scones as her contribution to the tea.

A last wicket stand by the farmer from “Quarry fields farm” Stan Mule or (donkey) as he was known, and a fine bowler, along with the lad that worked for him Simon (Large) White, six foot six and worth every penny. These two had put on twenty-three runs, and were refusing to be budged. Milton was taken off with frustration and needed to rest for his place in the batting. The sweep arrived back just in time, brush in hand, he rolled up what were left of the sleeves of his shirt, and set about bowling three fine over’s; dismissing “Donkey” in the first with a superb spinning ball that brushed his pads and was played onto the wicket. Then had the last man caught behind in the third while he was still tying his laces?

 

Lord Armetrad looked at his watch, it was three o’clock, and this first innings had taken much longer than was expected.  He was to be opening bat along with his long-standing friend of many years, The Right- Honourable Douglas Bayliss MP member for Cartnipp on the Wolds, and a fine captain of the village domino team.

Donkey bowled the first over from the duck pond end to M-Lord, but was stopped in his tracks after being hit for two consecutive four’s and a six. The fourth ball was much slower and as straight as a die, Lord “A” stepped up to meet it to tap it down, but the toe of his right boot caught one of the horseshoe prints, he tripped, and the ball nestled itself under the stumps bails on top. The MP went on to score fifteen before being caught behind.

Milton had replaced Lord “A” and was in fine form and was beating the pair of bowlers about like bantams in a fight.

“The Captain”, who had a grudge against our man, replaced “Donkey”, for it was Milton that had shopped him, for the offence of stealing M-lords ram.  Every other ball was a bouncer and were getting harder to strike but Milton managed one four from the over and a bout of nervous fright. “Bunny” had replaced the MP and was ready with his new bat, they ran two from the first ball of the over, but unfortunately that was that, the next ball from “Young White” turned in from the bounce at some flight  “Bunny” swung his big bat but missed it and it took all three stumps out from the left to the right.  “The Sweep” replaced “Bunny” and managed to tuck four onto his sheet before missing one on the seam from the Captain that caught the top of his pad, and was declared as leg before wicket, as the sweep bent double and fell to the ground. Tom joined Milton for a spell at the wicket and the pair put on another fine twenty-one before Tom was run out with a pronounced limp. The Captain had given up trying to reap his revenge on Milton and had gone off sulking down at long off.

The school caretaker that had been practicing his bowling with the PE mistress in their lunch break had replaced him. She had taught him all she knew about balls, and it showed as Milton was caught in the slips.

Bob’s mate John Hunter was the next batsman in, his reputation was built on his poaching and as a bats man he was also stubborn to remove. It was now the turn of their blacksmith to bowl to the Vicar at the other end, the first ball whizzed past his ear and he whispered “Bless you my son”. He then pushed a four to the boundary and had struck it with all of his might, the blacksmith shouted, “Bugger it” the vicar declined but polite.

The next ball he edged for a single, which left John Hunter facing his wroth the “Poacher” just blocked the ball then tapped it back down the wicket towards the blacksmith, who picked it up and threw it at the man of the cloth. “I was only making a fare comment” said the vicar as he dropped his bat to his feet “and anyway I didn’t know that you hadn’t got a father my son, but ours up there is yours always to keep” he said lifting both hand towards the darkening sky.

The next two balls were corkers but the poacher thought he was back in the nets, the first he hit straight to the Captain his arms folded and lip dropped, he saw the ball at the last minuet dived to stop it and landed in the middle of a large cow plop. Two runs were taken slowly and the blacksmith refused to have the ball back until it was washed. The next was struck like lightning the ball shot up into the sky the quarryman ran underneath it but dropped it, with the sun shining into his eye.  The last ball of the over caught the “Poacher unawares it ran around his feet like a rabbit and took leg stump out before being caught by wicket-keep John Hares. The last man but one was the Shepherd who was only picked the day before last he wasn’t much of a cricketer but could run and pick up lambs fast. The vicar faced the next ball from young Toby a schoolboy with much talent, and said set to go far, he spun the first ball to the vicar’s feet, and he cracked it straight into the covers. “Run,” shouted the shepherd who came up the wicket at speed, the vicar tripped on his cassock his bat missing the crease by a breeze as the ball hit the stumps. The last man in was the “Young Man”, and you know he only wanted to get out before facing the blacksmiths wroth. The shepherd padded two balls down, and blocked the third as though he had been doing this job all of his life.

The “Young Man” was getting real jumpy as young Toby bowled the last ball in, the shepherd hit it for a magnificent straight four, and the “Young Man” lost his entire grin.

He stood trying to hide behind his bat as the black smith swung his arms to warm up. Lord “A” looked at the church clock, and then at his pocket watch too, they were both past four thirty, the sky was dark but not a spot. The blacksmith was just starting his run up, when a bolt of lightning shot down from the sky, a rumble of thunder quickly followed, the skies opened, the “Young Man” jumped into the air and shouted “Yha Hi”. The blacksmith loosed the ball at one hell of a rate it took middle stump out wicket-keep and all.

“Pully” stepped out of the background as the teams all huddled in the hut, “This twigs never bin as good as the uther un, this un’s slow, the uther were fast”, he said with a beaming grin.

The rain now was more than persistent, the wicket more suited to ducks, both Captains decided the best policy was to play Domino’s in the pub instead of the second innings. After all games were played it was still a draw, so the Captains decided to settle the match with a flip of a coin.

“Heads” shouted the Captain of Little Wetstone, as Lord “A” went to throw the coin up into the air. “We’ve Won” “We’ve Won” shouted Milton as the coin barely hit the floor.

 

 

If you have enjoyed reading this chapter, I may see if I can find time to finish the novel in the spring.

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