A Dartmoor Childhood

dartmoor-cottage
Sweetness of mother’s milk… He recalled the vague memory from infancy. Those times were hard; father, a traveler and adulterer, abroad.
His family lived in a small cottage with peeling wallpaper and cracked windows, down a dirt track on Dartmoor. There were four of them – himself, sister, brother and mother. They would often sit, watching raindrops running down the lichen-tinged panes, longing for somewhere bigger and finer.
Work was scarce in those parts; in harder times, he and brother would eke out a living, catching rabbits and sometimes rats. Mother and sister would stay at home doing washing, singing in their own sweet fashion.
One February day a wealthy lady moved into the old manor nearby. He would see her driving a motor car across the frosty moor, dressed in finery.
Soon she came visiting and, seeing the state of the cottage, exclaimed, “You poor dears, come with me, I will give you work and wholesome food!”
She gathered their meagre belongings and the family went willingly.
Now, sitting in the sunny manor garden six months later, he heard the luncheon bell ring. Entering by a small door he went to his bowl. He approved – minced chicken in jelly. Miaow!
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