Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 05)
Caroline Hart was extremely welcoming and she reiterated that she would not have forgiven Donald if he had let Sally leave the village without visiting the vicarage and Sally found that she was every bit as friendly as her husband.
“I never like to miss an opportunity to speak with fellow foreigners and get news from the outside world” she said “Don’t get me wrong we love living here. It’s a beautiful corner of the world and the people are lovely but it’s nice once in a while to hear real news”
“You make it sound like we’re in the colonies” Donald said and poured the tea.
“It feels like it at times” Caroline said with a chuckle and then added.
“Donald tells me that you paint”
“Yes” Sally replied “But I’ve only recently come back to it”
“Oh?” she said inquisitively
In response to Caroline’s unasked question Sally went on to explain the circumstances of her epiphany, the events that led up to it and the plans she had made after it and how she ended up in Sharping St Mary.
“That’s fate, that is” Sally remarked mimicking the Coachman’s receptionist’s country accent again.
“Well there are plenty of picturesque scenes in Sharping St Mary” she said
“The Church is very pretty” Sally said
“Yes it is” The Vicar agreed
“It’s even better viewed from the meadow across the river” Caroline added
“Perhaps I’ll paint it from over there then” Sally suggested
“Unfortunately its private property” Donald said
“And the owner Ben Noble is a bit of an old curmudgeon”
“What a shame, do you think it’s worth asking him for permission?” Sally asked “Appeal to his better nature”
“I’m not sure he’s got one” Caroline said then rebuked herself
“No that was unchristian, he’s got one, he just keeps it well hidden”
“He’s not really a people person” said the Vicar
“Though he wasn’t always like that”
“It’s only since his wife Mary died that he’s been so curmudgeonly” Caroline said
“How long?” Sally asked
“Three years” she replied
“She was the sun and the moon in his sky” Caroline added
“So when her light was extinguished his world went dark”
“Her light still shines just not in this world” Sally said
“Quite so” agreed the Vicar and paused for a moment
“His problem is that he hasn’t forgiven the world for carrying on after her death” he said “or God for taking her”
“Was he very different before her death?” She asked
“Oh yes we were all friends back then” Caroline replied
“We miss them”
“Them?” Sally asked
“I think the Ben we knew died soon after Mary did” Donald said
“We haven’t quite given up on him but we’re close. There is a limit to the number of olive branches you can have thrown back in your face, even a Vicar can’t turn the other cheek indefinitely”
“Well I think I’ll give it a try anyway” Sally said
“He’ll treat you as a hostile” He said
“Look Vicar I’m a sister on a Children’s ward, which is often like bedlam so I think I can handle one old curmudgeon”