Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (74) The Roespring Verger (Part 01)
Downshire is a relatively small English county but like a pocket battleship it packs a lot in, a short but beautiful coastline, a channel port, the Ancient forests of Dancingdean and Pepperstock, the craggy ridges and manmade lakes of the Pepperstock Hills National Park, the rolling hills of the Downshire Downs, the beautiful Finchbottom Vale and farm land as far as the eye can see from the Trotwood’s and the Grace’s in the south to the home of the Downshire Light infantry, Nettlefield, and their affluent neighbour’s, Roespring and Tipton in the north and our story begins in the affluent village of Roespring.
As part of his recuperation Mark Adams took an extended walk around his neighbourhood in Roespring and after about forty minutes he began to tire so he headed towards home.
He had been in and out of hospital for the previous ten years following a bad car accident just after his 15th birthday.
As he got close to home he turned into Bridge Farm lane which led past the back of St Catherine’s Church and that was when he met Abigail Evans coming the other way and his heart fluttered because he was in love with her.
She was the verger at St Catherine’s where her Uncle, James Hall, was the vicar.
She had her curly red hair tied up and hidden beneath a broad floppy hat and was wearing a green summer dress and a pashmina around her shoulders.
Abigail didn’t see him because she was looking at her sandals as they were shuffling and scuffing down the lane, if she had seen him her heart would have raced, but she just ambled along and she almost walked into him.
“Oh hello Mark” she said when she finally looked up
He really liked Abigail, he had got to know her during his years of recuperation, and she had been very kind in providing assistance to his family, respite care, parochial support and pastoral care.
They were similar ages, and got on very well, but despite that in many ways they were chalk and cheese.
Abigail was a very confident young woman, in fact she was ultra-confident and self-assured.
While he was shy, socially awkward and riddled with self-doubt especially around the opposite sex.
For ten years his only contact with woman were nurses and doctors so he was completely inexperienced in their regard.
She was also pretty which made him even more conscious of his own inadequacies.
Although they had become good friends, Abigail was the driving force in their friendship, she was bold and bubbly and pushed him along which made him feel more confident, and she gave him the daring to do things he would never have done on his own.
And he would have been perfectly happy living life on her coat tails because without her he would founder.
The problem was he had absolutely no idea how to move thing along however or even if she would want him to.
“Hi Abigail” he responded
“So what have you been up to?” she enquired
“Just walking” he replied “What about you?”
“I’ve been to a BBQ at aunt Sian’s” she answered, “I left early because I caught the sun a bit”
She lifted the pashmina off her shoulder so he could see.
“Oooh” he said “is it sore?”
“Have you put something on it?” he asked and Abigail shook her head
“That’s going to burn if you don’t,” he told her
“Well come to the vicarage then and you can do it for me”
“Ok” he replied cheerfully “You have the wrong complexion for sitting in the sun”
“You need to be careful with your lovely pale skin” he added and blushed when he realized he had said it out loud.
They went inside the house and she removed her floppy hat and said
“Make yourself at home I’ll just get the after sun”