Umbridge – episode six

An everyday story of extraordinary country folk

The story so far:-

Young John Farmer arrives home from University to find that all is not well at Rookfield Farm.  Both the prize Boar, Quinton, and his Father, Loon E Farmer have contracted Triple X Lemonade Disease.  This is caused by a rare virus which renders the victim unable to partake of Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter.  In fact the sufferer will not eat or drink anything except lemonade.  The only known cure is to drink pints of shandy and then to slowly decrease the lemonade content. Quinton is shot by the Ministry of Agriculture under the Triple X Lemonade Eradication Scheme and John mistakenly buys a sow to replace Quinton at the local market.

Now read on:-

Two days had passed and John was endeavouring to repair one of the many broken fences which surrounded Rookfield Farm.  He was working with his back to the lane in the act of planting a new post in the muddy ground.

     “John!”  The cry came from behind him.  It was Grace Ourchurch, the fifteen stone vicar’s daughter.  She was wearing a bright yellow summer dress and carrying a basket under her arm.  “Hello, John,” she said.  “I’m off to pick flowers in the woods.  Would you like to come?”

     John looked uncomfortable and fidgeted with the post.  Eventually he said, “I’m sorry, Grace.  I can’t.  Father is still not well and there’s a lot of work to do.  Also I upset him by buying a sow instead of a new boar.

     “Oh dear,” said Grace sympathetically.

     “However, we managed to swop the sow for a young boar we sold to Lord Chasterly a couple of months ago.  The boar is one of Quinton’s progeny.  We’re going to call him Quinton the Second.”

     “Oh that is good news,” said Grace.

     “Yes,” he said.  Once more he looked uncertain and hesitated, looking at the ground.  Then he looked up and said, “I’ve learnt a lot of interesting new things these last few days.”

     “Oh, what sort of things, John?” she asked.

     “Again he looked uncomfortable and blushed.  “Oh, it doesn’t matter now,” he said and then added bashfully, “Grace, would you like to come to tea this afternoon?”

     “Oh, John, I’d love to.”

     “Oh,” he said still uncertain, “I’ll see you about five o’clock then.”

     A little later that day, John sat with Grace and his parents around the kitchen table at Rookfield Farm.  A large plate of bread and dripping stood at the centre of the table.  At its side was a large brown enamel teapot.  John and Grace sat opposite each other across the oblong table, with its checked cloth, with Loon and his wife at either end.  However, the table was only set for three and Loon’s place was empty except for a pint of shandy.  He looked at it with disgust, picked it up and put it to his lips.

     “Loon,” hissed his wife, “what about Grace!”

     Loon looked puzzled.  “She can ‘elp ‘erself,” he said.

     “I don’t mean her,” she whispered, “you know.”  She put her hands together.

     Loon realised what she meant and followed suit, closing his eyes.  Then he hesitated and opened them again.  “Grace,” he said, “seeing as you be ther Reverent Phil’s daughter, would you like to say Grace, Grace?”

     This embarrassing scene was suddenly interrupted by a loud banging at the door.  Loon’s wife opened it and in rushed Ma Stitis, the daily help.  “Mr Farmer!” she cried.  “The pig-sty be on fire!”

     Loon leapt to his feat and cried, “John, you know what we must do!”

     “Yes, father!” he shouted as he got to his feet.  “You and I will try and put out the fire.  Grace, you must go into the sty and save Quinton the Second!”

Will Grace save Quinton the Second?  Will the Farmers survive this latest ordeal?  Will Loon ever again be able to drink Old Bart’s Triple X Special Bitter?  Find out next week in the final episode of Umbridge.

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