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Halcyon Daysby Julie Heginbotham
"Bets, my dear. What exactly are you looking for?" asked Fatty, watching Bets going through the local paper for the third time, over the breakfast table.
"The advert for the 1940's gala days." Bets didn't even raise her eyes; she was too busy flicking over the pages.
"Maybe it's not been put in yet."
Bets looked up at Fatty with wide eyes. "But Hilary said she'd put it in for this week."
"Let me have a look," said Fatty, holding out a hand for the paper. He went through it himself page by page and finally shook his head. "Well, it's not here."
"I'll have to ring her," said Bets, shaking her head. "The gala starts in another fortnight's time, and we need to reach as many people as possible who lived in Peterswood during the 40's. The W.I. is kindly advertising our gala throughout the country."
Fatty looked at Bets' disappointed face. "It's quite a tall order to try and reach bygone residents anyway. Many of them would have died."
Bets looked at Fatty. "We know that, it would have been nice, that's all, to gather together as many local residents as we could who lived here during that time."
Fatty agreed. "Remember Lady Candling who lived next door to you and Pip?
Bets nodded. "She had some beautiful cats. Miss Harmer looked after them, and you remember that boy who worked there, Luke?"
Fatty nodded with a smile. "I wonder what happened to them all? I guess it would be nice if your W.I. advert could gather together as many neighbours as possible."
A sudden knock came at the back door and was opened. "Morning you two," said Daisy, with a smile, and stroking Buster's head who'd come up to say hello. She lifted the paper in her hand. "Great advert. Hopefully it should bring in quite a few familiar faces of bygone years."
Bets looked at Daisy in surprise. "I couldn't find it in our paper."
Daisy looked at the paper Bets held up for her and couldn't help sending her friend a sudden grin. "That's last week's. Here," she gave Bets the paper in her hand, "this is the one you want. Hasn't yours arrived yet?"
Bets took the paper from Daisy. "Obviously not."
Fatty looked at Bets with a grin. "Don't worry old thing. It's just age."
"I knew I could count on you, dear, to cheer me up," said Bets, throwing Fatty a wry smile.
Bets read the advert:-
PETERSWOOD 1940'S GALA WEEKEND
Further down the page was an advert for anyone who once lived in the village of Peterswood during the 40's to get in touch with Hilary Jenks, on the number listed, as the W.I. were hoping for a great 'get together' of residents past and present, from 2.00pm on the 24th in the village hall.
"Let's hope we have some kind of response," said Bets, handing back the paper to Daisy. "It's taken six months to organize the gala. I'm just hoping it's going to be a great success."
"I'm sure it will be," said Daisy, with a smile, sitting at the table and taking the tea that Bets had poured for her. "All of the side shows and stalls along the river will be as they once were in the 40's, right down to the way they're dressed, and the prices will also be shown, in pounds, shillings and pence."
"The vintage rally in the centre of the village will be really welcome," said Fatty, approvingly. "All the cars and buses of the 40's. Bets says there'll also be American W.W.11 military vehicles too, with the owners all dressed as they were during the war."
Daisy nodded. "We did try for the gala to be the first week of September, but many of the attractions and vehicles were already booked out to various exhibitions as it was seventy years since we went to war in1939."
"I'm looking forward to the gala dance," said Bets, with a smile. "I think I'll dress up as one of the Land Girls."
"Good idea, Bets," nodded Daisy, in approval. "I might join you. What will you dress up as, Fatty?"
Fatty thought for a few moments. "I'm not sure really, as we were only children at the start of the war and I was only 14 when it ended, so of course we didn't see any conflict like the adults did."
"That's true, Fatty," said Bets, looking at him, "but it will be nice to dress up for that era and join in the celebrations. What about dressing as a home guard? You're the right age for that anyway."
Fatty grinned at Bets. "Yes, I expect I am now. Okay, home guard it is." He looked at Daisy. "What about Pip and Larry, have they said anything about fancy dress?"
"Knowing Larry, he's probably not even given it a thought," said Daisy, with a shrug. "You'll have to ask Pip yourself when you see him."
"Well here's our chance," said Fatty, noticing Pip and Larry passing by the kitchen window before coming through the door.
"Just in time for a cuppa, are we?" asked Larry, closing it behind him and patting Buster who'd come up to greet them both.
"I'll pop the kettle on again," said Bets, rising from her chair. "This one's stewed now anyway."
"I wouldn't say no to some toast if you're doing some," said Pip, looking beseechingly at his sister.
"Don't you have breakfast in your house?" she answered, popping some bread into the toaster.
"Yes, but that was ages ago," said Pip. "This is more like my elevenses."
"In that case, I'll have some," said Larry, with a grin.
"I'll help you," said Daisy, rising from her chair to join Bets. "Then we can all discuss the gala dance.
* * *
"Hurry up, Fatty," called Bets, putting on her coat, "we're meeting for the photos in the village hall in fifteen minutes."
Fatty folded up his paper with a sigh, and calling to Buster, walked into the hall to pick up the dog's collar and lead. Buster was only too pleased to sit whilst Fatty fitted his collar and attached the lead, as this meant a walk.
"Are you going to put a comb through your hair?" Asked Bets, looking at Fatty.
Fatty turned to study his appearance through the mirror hanging on the wall. "It looks okay," he said, more to himself than to Bets.
"I want us to look good for the photos, Fatty," said Bets, opening the drawer of the small table which stood below the mirror and handing him a comb. Fatty obligingly ran the comb through his thick grey hair and replacing it back in the drawer looked at Bets for approval.
"That's better," she smiled at him. "Let's go."
They walked the short distance to the village hall, and met the others who were waiting outside for them.
"The photographer is already here," said Daisy, leading the way inside.
"I must say I feel quite flattered that Hilary suggested we have our photos taken as the Five Find-Outers and Dog at the present time," said Pip, looking pleased.
"The walls of the hall will be full of photos lent to us from various people, not only of Peterswood as it was then and now, but of the people then and now," explained Bets.
"She's got quite a few of Superintendent Jenks, too," put in Daisy, "and wants to put them near the photos we've given her of ourselves as children in our young, Find-Outer days."
"I think that's a really good idea," said Larry, with a smile. "It makes us sort of celebrities in a way, and Helen was saying the magazine, Nostalgia, is also going to do an interview with us all about some of the local cases we helped to solve."
Inside the hall many helping hands were sorting through photos and pinning them onto wall boards with various headings. Suddenly spotting them, Hilary walked over- her face lit up with a smile of welcome.
"I've put some chairs on the stage ready for the photo," she explained, and the photographer will take a few and choose the best one.
The others nodded at Hilary. "It's a hive of industry in here," said Fatty, looking around him.
"Yes, and we've got plenty of archive photos from the library, of Peterswood and its people, which will be on display in large albums that will be dotted around the hall."
Fatty smiled, impressed with all the efforts. "It's going to be grand gala, a real welcoming few days of nostalgia."
"That's what we're hoping for," said Hilary, with a smile. "The hall will be set up as a catering venue so that people can pop in and have a drink or something to eat whilst enjoying the gala, and then we'll need a few helping hands to clear it all away at 5pm on the last day to make ready for the finale dance."
"We'll all help, Hilary, don't worry on that score," said Larry.
"If you're ready, Hilary," the voice of the photographer came to their ears, as he called to them from his position on the stage.
They all climbed the few stairs onto the stage, and the photographer arranged them on the seats. Daisy and Bets, with an excited Buster sitting between them, sat on the first three seats, whilst Larry, Pip and Fatty, stood behind. He took a few photos, before he was pleased with the results.
"Well that was painless," said Bets, smiling up at him as they descended the stairs from the stage. "I believe you're now going to walk around Peterswood to take a few more."
He nodded, smiling brightly. "And also the river and the railway station."
They walked over to the wall board where a few photos were already pinned up of themselves in their younger days, with a large heading in black: 'THE FIVE FIND-OUTERS AND DOG'
"Look at your first Buster here, Fatty," said Bets, smiling with fond memories of the little black Scottie dog. "He was such a lovely dog. And went everywhere with us."
Fatty stood before the pictures and smiled with affection for his beloved Buster. "He had a lovely temperament."
Hilary came up and stood beside them, studying the photos they were looking at. "He looks just the same as the dog you've got now," she said.
"He may look the same, as all our Busters' have done," began Fatty, "but they've all had different ways and temperaments. Each dog has been a very special little character."
Bets nodded. "We've loved them all in the same way as the one before." A tear sprang to her eyes, as she thought back to the Busters' they'd loved and still miss. Fatty put a loving arm around her shoulders and squeezed her tightly. He didn't need to say anything. His warm gesture spoke volumes.
"Look at Superintendent Jenks," said Pip, pointing to one of the photos. He was an Inspector then. Are you going to put some recent ones up of the Super?" He turned to ask Hilary.
"Oh, yes. I've got them somewhere. It's taken us nearly all morning as it is, to get this far. There's still heaps to do and only two weeks till the gala. So I simply must get on, feel free to browse though," she added, as she walked over to a group of women who were sorting out boxes of photos.
"Hey Bets, look at this one with you and Lady Candling in her garden," said Pip, excitedly. "She used to live next door to us, remember? I didn't know this had been taken."
Everyone looked at the photo. Bets smiled. "You were away at school when that was taken."
"You can just see the cat pens in the background," said Daisy.
"Oh yes," said Bets. "She had some lovely cats. Remember when Dark Queen was stolen?"
The others nodded. Everyone remembered Tupping and how he tried to put the blame onto Luke.
"I hope we do manage to find some of these past residents," said Daisy, looking at the photos before her. "Such happy memories."
"There's still time," said Larry, "and don't forget the interview with the magazine, once people read that it's sure to bring in some response."
"Do we have a day for that yet?" asked Fatty.
"I'll ask Helen when we get home," returned Larry. "I think she said something about chasing it up before we came out."
"Well don't forget to ask her and let us know," said Daisy, firmly. "If there's going to be photos as well, I want to have my hair done."
"Same here," said Bets. "We've got to look the part."
"I can see this interview turning out to be quite expensive," put in Fatty, raising a mused brow.
"They'll be wanting new outfits next," said Larry, dryly.
"Don't put ideas in their heads," said Pip, raising his eyes skywards.
"Too late," said Bets, with a grin, "the seed has already been planted.
* * *
The interview with the magazine, Nostalgia, was for the following afternoon. Fortunately, Bets and Daisy were able to get a hair appointment for the morning and as the clock struck two, everyone was in the lounge of the White House awaiting the arrival of the reporter.
A couple of minutes later the doorbell sounded and Bets hurriedly got up to answer it, turning to look at everyone with a smile of excitement before she left the room. The others all eagerly looking at each other, could hear muffled voices from the hallway, before Bets entered the room with a young woman, casually dressed with a large floppy bag in one hand and a camera hanging down around her neck.
Buster rushed forward in his usual exhuberant way and greeted the newcomer, before being ordered in his basket by his master.
"This is Susan, from the magazine," said Bets, and proceeded to introduce everyone to her.
"Lovely to meet you all," she began, with a smile, sitting down by the fireplace and leaning forwards to retrieve a note pad from the bag at her feet. "As you probably know, our magazine is only a small one, mainly consisting of 'remember this, and remember that' but we've got quite a few outlets now, and our magazine is read throughout the country."
Everyone was listening intently, nodding as they did so. "The next issue is ready for the press as soon as we've got your interview, and so it should hopefully hit the public next week, just in time for the following week's gala."
"That's good," said Daisy, pleased. "We're hoping that past residents of Peterswood will read the article and hopefully come and visit the gala. All the old photos of Peterswood and its people will be on display in the village hall."
"I'm only happy for our magazine to help," replied Susan, smiling around at everyone. "So firstly, if we can talk about your 'mystery solving' as youngsters, and then I'll take a few photos to go with the article and readers can see what the 'Find- Outers look like now."
Everyone looked at Fatty to start the interview. " Well, our first mystery began back in 1943, April 25th at 9.30pm in Haycock Lane, when Mr Hick's workshop was on fire in his garden. I didn't actually live here at that time, I was staying at the hotel with my parents, and that's the first time we all met."
Larry began to speak. "Yes, Fa...Frederick here, actually threw a bucket of water on the fire, which missed and went all over me."
The others laughed remembering back, and a polite smile lit up the reporters face as she wrote on the pad in short hand.
"Well, basically we all got together the following day, and tried to work out who had started the fire," said Pip, taking up the conversation.
"We looked around, found clues and Frederick here finally solved it," said Bets, with a smile.
"Yes, it was something Mr. Hick said, about hearing planes going overhead," began Daisy, "which put him in Peterswood the day of the fire, whereas beforehand he said he was in London."
"How many of these mysteries did you all solve?" asked Susan, looking up from her pad.
"Fifteen," said Fatty, "over the course of a few years, in our school holidays." He picked up a sheet of paper from the coffee table and handed it over to Susan. "I'm writing my memoirs at the moment, that's why the dates are fresh in my mind. That's a list of the mysteries and the school holidays we solved them in."
Susan looked at the paper in her hand. "Burnt Cottage – April," she read, "July – Disappearing Cat. Christmas holidays – Secret Room." She looked up. "May I keep this and then I can read through it later?"
Fatty nodded, "Of course. I've also put roughly what the mystery was about and who the culprit was. I think we'd take up too much of your time if we went through each one now."
Susan smiled in appreciation. "That's very helpful, Mr Trotteville, thank you." She looked around at everyone. "So as children you all lived relatively close to each other?"
They nodded. "Pip and I lived in the Red House, just near here," said Bets, nodding towards her brother, "and next to us was Lady Candling, whose cat was kidnapped in the summer holidays. It's the disappearing cat mystery on your list," she pointed out as an afterthought. Susan quickly glanced down at the paper on her lap. "Daisy and her brother Larry lived a few doors away and during that first summer Frederick's parents bought this house."
Susan smiled. "So you've lived here all your life, Mr. Trotteville?"
"Up until I married, and then after Mother died, we moved back here from Cheshire."
"Has the village changed much?" Susan asked.
"I suppose it has really," said Larry, looking around at the others for confirmation. "We used to go to the dairy in those days for ice cream and macaroons, but that's no longer there."
"Neither is the police house," said Daisy, "It's a private dwelling now. Our local policeman, Mr Goon used to live there when we were children." She laughed lightly. "Old Clear-orf, we used to call him, as he was always telling us to clear off, and he hated what he thought was interference when we helped with any cases."
Pip went on to explain that they always had to go to Inspector Jenks when they'd solved a mystery as Goon would never believe them.
"I expect Goon and Inspector Jenks are no longer with us?" said Susan, enquiringly.
"Goon isn't, but Superintendent Jenks – as he became – is." said Fatty, with a smile. "He's actually living in a nursing home not far from Cookham. We still see him regularly. I've just added a bit about the Superintendent at the bottom of the list," finished Fatty, helpfully.
Susan went on to ask them more questions about the village, their mystery solving days as children and finished by saying. "May I ask you all what you did for a living and whether you married and children?" She left the words in the air as she looked from one to the other.
"Well, as you know, Frederick and I married," began Bets. "We've got two sons and four grandchildren. Both our boys followed in their father's footsteps and joined the force. Frederick was a Commander when he retired and I was a theatre nurse."
"I met my wife at their wedding reception," said Pip, "We have one daughter, Lucy, and two grandchildren. I became a teacher."
"I was a solicitor in the city," began Larry. "Married Helen and we've got two daughters and two grandchildren."
"And I ran the local post office for years until I retired," said Daisy. "I live near the post office in a cottage with my husband Paul."
"Have you children?" asked Susan.
"No," Daisy shook her head. "I only recently got married. I was engaged to be married many years ago, but sadly he was killed in a car accident."
"I'm sorry," said Susan, sympathetically.
She looked down at her writing pad. "Just correct me if I've got this wrong. Frederick was known as Fatty, because of his initials F.A.T. Larry, short for Laurence Daykin and your sister Margaret, known as Daisy. Pip and Bets Hilton, Elizabeth and Philip Hilton, and Buster, your first Buster, belonged to Frederick here." Buster's ears had risen with the use of his name but then he went back to sleep.
"That's right," nodded Fatty.
Susan looked down at her notes looking quite satisfied. "Is it okay if I take a few photos now?"
"Of course," said Bets, with a smile. "Where do you want us?"
Susan took a few photos of them all sitting together with Buster proudly sitting by his master. "That's fine," she said, putting the camera back into the case around her neck. "I'd like to call at the nursing home to see Superintendent Jenks and take some photos before going back to the office. Could you give them a ring and tell them to expect me?"
"Of course," said Fatty, rising from the settee. "I'll ring them now to see if it will be okay."
Within minutes Fatty was back in the lounge. "It's all arranged, they'll be expecting you. I'll give you the address." Fatty quickly wrote down the address on Susan's pad and after saying goodbye to everyone and that it was lovely to meet them all, she made her departure, with the Find-Outers standing at the front door, waving goodbye.
* * *
Daisy rushed eagerly over to White House, clutching a few copies of the magazine 'Nostalgia'. She could hardly wait to get to Fatty and Bets and was quite out of breath by the time she arrived.
"Sit down and get your breath," said Bets, with concern and putting the kettle on for tea.
Daisy sat at the kitchen table and passed Fatty the magazine. He looked through it feeling quite excited himself, with Bets looking over his shoulder. "There it is," she quickly said, noticing the heading that said, 'The Five Find-Outers and Dog – Then and Now.'
The article was a centre page spread with a photo of them that Susan took the week before, and one that they'd given her, of when they were children. A lovely picture of Inspector Jenks, was sitting in a circle just above their heads as children, and a present one just below. Fatty read the article, watched over by Daisy, whilst Bets made the tea.
"I'm really pleased with that," said Fatty, putting the magazine down and smiling at Daisy, who was waiting for his reaction. He took the tea Bets handed him, with a word of thanks, and Bets picked up the magazine.
"I'll read it later," she said, glancing quickly at the centre pages. "The photos are very good, aren't they?"
Daisy nodded. "I think it's a very good write up about us, not too much but enough to make the article interesting. And it's good that she's managed to put about past residents getting in touch and coming along to the village hall on Saturday afternoon to all meet up."
"Yes, let's hope we have some response," said Bets, hopefully.
"I've got a copy for Larry and one for Pip too," said Daisy, indicating the other two magazines on the table. "I'll drop Larry's off for him as I'm passing. Will you give the other one to Pip when you see him?"
"Of course," said Bets, looking at Daisy, as she finished her tea and rose to leave. "We'll be walking Buster along the river this afternoon, fancy coming for the walk?"
Daisy nodded. "Lovely. Paul likes to have a bit of a nap in the afternoon. What time?"
Bets looked at Fatty. "One thirty?" He gave a nod. "One thirty then," finished Bets, looking at Daisy as she opened at the back door.
"Okay, see you both then." She nodded before leaving.
* * *
At last, the day of the '1940's gala' arrived, and it was a lovely sunny autumn day with the weather forecast saying to expect the same over the week-end. The centre of the village was closed to traffic, with diversion signs showing an alternative route to the High Street, and banners reading '1940's Gala Days' were strewn all along the village hall. The Find-Outers spent a little time looking at the vintage vehicles lined up in the village square, some being polished by their proud owners. A vintage bus was proudly displaying a large notice board which showed off all the medals and awards it had won in various rallies up and down the country. The proud owner was allowing people to sit inside and reminisce of times when these buses were to be found rambling along at a steady pace through the countryside. A small section of American vehicles were grouped together, the owners all dressed in American uniforms and chatting together, happy to have met up once again for another event.
Peterswood had never seen such a crowd of people in the village centre before. Some had even entered into the spirit of the occasion and were dressed in clothes of the 40's. Many open stalls were lined up on both sides of the road, full of collections displayed by their owners of things that once were available to buy.
"Fatty, look at this collection of items that the old chemist shops used to stock," said Bets, pulling Fatty over to one of the side stalls. "I always remember that special smell that greeted you once inside the chemist."
The Find-Outers went from stall to stall, looking at the displays, with words of, 'Remember this, and remember that.'
"Paul will love looking around tomorrow afternoon, when he gets back from visiting his daughter," said Daisy, looking from the stalls over at Bets.
"Didn't you want to go with him?" asked Bets.
"And miss the gala, no way!" returned Daisy. "Besides, we're helping out in the village hall this afternoon, I wouldn't dream of letting everyone down."
"The gala will still be here when he gets home tomorrow," said Larry. "I bet Helen and Mary are rushed off their feet in the village hall looking at the amount of people that keep going in," finished Larry, glancing over to the hall where his wife and Pip's would be hard at work with the catering.
Bets grinned. "Well it'll be our turn at 2 o'clock."
The centre of the hall was set out for everyone's catering needs, and at the far end of the hall all food and drink orders were fulfilled by the ladies of the W.I. Many helping hands were in the kitchen and two helpers greeted their customers from a large serving hatch. Around the hall on large notice and display boards were the photos that Hilary and her helpers had displayed all around the room.
"Let's go along the river and see what the attractions are like down there," suggested Bets. "There won't be time this afternoon, and then of course we're hoping for quite a turn up of residents from years gone by."
Everyone agreed, so with Buster pulling excitedly on his lead, they all headed for the attractions by the river, hearing the music from the fair long before they reached it. All the attractions were of a bygone era. The carousel with the galloping horses going round and round as well as up and down. The coconut shires, swing boats, a hoopla stall, and the icing on the cake for the Find-Outers, a large marquee and a sign that said, 'Waxworks'.
They looked at each other with a knowing smile, memories of the last time that a waxwork display had been by the riverside.
"Come on," said Larry, pulling his sister's arm. "This has got to be too good to miss."
Everyone followed Larry and Daisy into the marquee and nodded to the lady steward, dressed in a 1940's outfit and sitting behind a table, just inside. The admission notice was £1 each, and placed besides it was the price as it would have been back in the 40's.
Fatty gave the young woman a five pound note and joked with the woman, saying couldn't she charge him the 40's price. She smiled good-naturedly, saying. "I wish I had a £1 for everyone who's said that to me this morning."
The Find-Outers walked slowly around the waxwork display of famous faces, old and new and took quite an interest in a display of the 'blitz' of war torn London. "Even though we lived during the war, it didn't really affect us as children," said Bets, looking at the wax display of a bombed out house, with two red cross wax figures and wardens trying to rescue someone beneath the rubble. "Food was rationed I know but it didn't seem to bother us."
"We were sheltered from the reality of the war really," said Daisy. "But it was something we lived with and didn't think anything of."
They enjoyed the waxworks display, but sadly there was no Napoleon, as Pip remarked to Fatty. They left the marquee as it became quite crowded and went out into the autumn sunshine, after saying 'goodbye' to the steward.
They looked around the rest of the fair and some small stalls selling crafts, and then made their way back to White House at Fatty's invitation to lunch. Bets had made soup the day before which she heated up for everyone, whilst Daisy sliced up some French bread. After a small rest and leaving a tired Buster sitting in his basket they all set off to help at the village hall.
* * *
Fatty, Larry and Pip were kept busy stewarding the photos and answering questions about Peterswood when asked. Daisy and Bets were busy with the catering side, making sure the tables were cleared and made presentable for the next customer. They all enjoyed chatting to the visitors who came through the doors, saying how lovely the gala was and others chatting away about their time when they lived in the village. Some as children who would have been the Find-Outers age, and others who had lived there in the 50's, 60's and 70's.
Whilst Fatty was standing by one of the notice boards, he noticed an elderly man with a purposeful stride walking up towards him. He looked quite a bulky elderly gentleman, thought Fatty, and smiled at him as he stood to look at the photos.
"I recognise this young face," he said with a smile, looking at Fatty, whilst pointing to the picture of Bets standing with Lady Candling.
Fatty looked at the photo he was pointing too. "Really," his brows rose in surprise.
"Miss Bets," he said, with a satisfied smile. "She lived next door, with her brother, Pip."
Fatty nodded. "That's right. That picture is in Lady Candling's garden. Did you know her?"
"I worked there for a while," came the surprising answer. "I helped in the gardens."
Fatty looked closely at the elderly gentleman by his side. "Your name isn't Luke, is it?
The man nodded, with a smile that lit up the whole of his face. "Yes, Luke Brown."
"I'm Frederick Trotteville. The others are here also."
"Frederick, yes, I remember you." He shook Fatty's hand with vigour. "Well, well, how lovely to see you again."
Fatty caught Larry and Pip's attention and called them over. "Remember Larry and Pip?" he said to Luke.
"Indeed I do," he answered, shaking hands and saying that he was Luke Brown, who worked the gardens at Lady Candlings house.
"Lovely to see you, Luke," said Pip, "Remember me – I'm Philip Hilton."
"I certainly do," nodded Luke. "I also remember you all being so kind to me, when I was accused of stealing Dark Queen."
"Many years ago now," said Fatty, with a shake of his head.
"What about the young ladies," began Luke, "Bets, and Daisy, was it?"
"They're here," said Larry, looking over to where Bets and Daisy were just clearing one of the tables. "We'll take you over."
They all walked to one of the tables and Fatty indicated for them to sit down, before beckoning Bets and Daisy over. "Luke, this is Daisy, and Bet's my dear lady wife."
Luke was just as surprised to hear the last bit of news, as they were to see Luke sitting at the table. "So you both got married," he said, with a smile. "Childhood sweethearts."
"What about you Luke, are you married?" asked Bets, sitting next to him at the table.
"Oh, yes, and I have three sons who followed me into the family business."
Everyone looked at Luke, waiting to hear more. Larry went over and ordered tea for them all, so they could sit and chat over a hot drink. "A lot of water has passed under the bridge, since I worked for Lady Candling," began Luke, accepting the tea Larry handed over to him. "When I left her employ I went into a factory where they made utility furniture. It was in great demand, after the war, with many losing their homes and furniture, and having to set up home again."
Everyone nodded in agreement, listening to Luke. "Well I started off by making the odd bit of special furniture for some customers as a favour really, and then it sort of took off from there, and I branched off to make specialized furniture for those who wanted it."
"You were good at carving the figures you made when living next door," said Pip.
Luke smiled. "I always loved making things from wood, and even now that I'm retired and my boys run the business, our furniture is always in constant demand."
"Where are you living now?" asked Daisy, wondering whether they knew of Luke's furniture business.
"Henley-on-Thames, but my business premises are in London. Brown's of London. Do you know it?"
"Oh yes," said Larry impressed. "Quite an exclusive store." The others nodded also impressed. Seems like the young fifteen year old Luke they'd know many years ago had done really well for himself.
Luke looked around at everyone with a smile. "A far cry from the tumble down cottage by the river I used to share with my step-father." The others had to agree. Luke had really made quite an exclusive business for himself and his family. "So, what about you all?" he asked, with a smile.
The others told Luke briefly what professions they'd done before retiring – their marriages – children and grandchildren.
"Commander," repeated Luke, quite impressed with Fatty's own achievements. "Seems a little impertinent to address you as Fatty now," he finished off with a smile.
"He'll always be Fatty to us," said Larry, looking around at the other Find-Outers who nodded.
"That reminds me," began Luke, "you all remember Miss Harmer, well, she's here somewhere. I was only speaking to her earlier. She was five years my senior so she must be eight-six now, and is looking very well for it." Looking around him he suddenly spotted her and pointed her out.
Eventually they caught up with Miss Harmer for a chat, and she remembered them all very well. She told them she was still fond of cats and had a couple of the Siamese breed herself, which she entered at various cat shows with her husband.
Towards the end of the afternoon, the Find-Outers were in for another surprise. An elderly lady, made herself known to them and she turned out to be Gladys, who worked as a maid at the Red House for Pip and Bets parents.
Bets worked out that Gladys would be eighty four years old, as she was nineteen when she worked for her parents. She was a spritely lady, with grey curly hair and held a walking stick. She was so pleased to meet up with everyone, especially Bets and Pip having worked at their home.
She told everyone that after she'd worked for the Hilton's, she worked as a maid for a solicitor and his family, and had fallen in love with their eldest son, who was going to follow in his father's footsteps to be a solicitor. Life had turned out so well for her, she told them, and she'd had two wonderful daughters and three grandchildren, which she proudly showed a photo to the Find-Outers.
"It's really brought the memories flooding back, having this re-union," said Daisy, handing the photo back to Gladys. "Life seems so hectic these days, everyone rushing here and there. Mobile phones attached to their ears. Youngsters showing no respect to their elders." Daisy shook her head, sadly. "If only we could turn back the clock."
Everyone agreed. "It's all part and parcel of the aging process," began Gladys. "Everything we've known has changed and not always for the better. I expect our parents used to feel exactly the same when we were younger. The life they'd known would have been changing. Still, it's been so nice to see Peterswood again," continued Gladys, changing the subject. "Parts of it have changed of course. A lot more vehicles on the road and the tumble down cottages by the river have gone."
The others nodded. But it was still the Peterswood they all loved thought Fatty, and that had to count for something.
They walked with Gladys to her car where her husband was waiting for her. "Will you be able to come to the dance tomorrow evening?" asked Fatty, opening the passenger door for her.
"Sadly not," said Gladys. "I only came for the day and so badly wanted to be at the reunion I'd read about."
After saying 'goodbye' to Gladys and her husband the Find-Outers walked back to their homes, after planning to meet up the following afternoon at the fair for its final day.
* * *
"Where's Paul," Bets asked Daisy, as they all met up outside the waxworks marquee.
"He's meeting me in an hour," returned Daisy, "He only got back a couple of hours ago."
"We had a call from Hilary this morning," said Fatty, "she's bringing Superintendent Jenks along to the gala for the afternoon, and he's staying with her overnight. She'll take him back to the home tomorrow morning."
"That's good," said Larry with a smile. "We may bump into them."
"I wouldn't have thought the Super could walk around for ages though," said Daisy, looking concerned.
"She's borrowed a wheel chair for him," said Bets.
"Well, speak of the devil," said Fatty, suddenly spotting Hilary, pushing the Superintendent in the 'borrowed' chair.
It was lovely to see the Superintendent and everyone chatted to him and asked how he was enjoying his 'escape' from the home for a while. Not wanting to be left out, Buster was jumping up happily at each one of them in turn.
He smiled. "It was good of Hilary to offer. I'm really enjoying looking around. We've already been to the village hall and looked at the photos, and the vehicles around the village square." He coughed quite badly after speaking, and everyone looked at him with some concern.
"That sounds bad," said Bets, looking at him and then over to Hilary.
"He's got a bit of bronchitis," she explained. "The doctor's going to call and see him again tomorrow at the home."
They looked around the attractions together chatting away, and finally took the Superintendent into the waxworks marquee. Daisy had to go and meet Paul by the village hall and said her goodbyes. The Superintendent loved the waxworks and spoke to Fatty, saying. "This brings back memories, Frederick. Last time there was a waxworks show here you solved the case of the 'Missing Necklace' for us, remember?"
"I certainly do, Sir," said Fatty, with a smile. "Many moons ago now, and much water has passed under the bridge, since then."
The Superintendent looked at Fatty with a small smile, and a light of sadness in his eyes, that Fatty didn't miss. Taking hold of the chair from Hilary, he said. "Come on Sir, I'm sure you'll enjoy a look at the river, where you enjoyed fishing."
"Lead on, Frederick," said the Superintendent, with a joyous note in his voice. Fatty told the others he'd meet them all a little later, by the waxworks marquee and after handing Buster over to Bets, walked away pushing the chair in which a very happy Superintendent Jenks sat.
* * *
It was like stepping back into the 1940's, as Fatty and Bets walked into the village hall for the gala dance. A band on stage was playing Glenn Miller's – 'In The Mood'- and everyone dancing in the centre of the hall was dressed of that era, and so was everyone sitting around at the tables that were dotted around the hall. Spotting Daisy waving to them, they made their way over to the group.
"Well, you look the part, Fatty," said Daisy, in admiration, "you too, Bets."
Fatty was dressed as planned as a home guard, and Bets was in the uniform of the land girls as was Daisy. Larry and Pip were dressed very grandly in the uniform of the Royal Air Force, and their wives were dressed as two housewives, in pretty 1940's dresses, out for an evening of relaxation. Paul was also dressed as a home guard, and Hilary's uniform was of the 1940's W.I.
"How's the Superintendent," Fatty asked Hilary, sitting at the table, and picking up the drink that was waiting his arrival.
"He's been coughing again, quite badly. I'm just wondering if he could have a chest infection. I'll mention it to the home when I take him back tomorrow."
"He's not on his own, is he?" said Bets, with a note of concern.
"Oh, no," said Hilary, firmly. "Lisa is staying with me for the week-end, and said she'd keep her eye on him."
"How is Lisa's leg now?" asked Larry. Lisa's last encounter with the Find-Outers had taken an unexpected turn for her, as she was shot in the leg, escaping from her captor's firm grip.
"A lot better. She has to use a stick, just for a bit of support, but she'll be back at work after the half-term break, she says, but she won't be able to join in with the physical training, just yet."
"Well, it all sounds very promising if the doctor is allowing her back to work," said Bets, pleased.
A loud applause came to their ears as everyone clapped at the finished tune. A few shouted encore, and someone yelled, 'play it again, Sam' which caused everyone to laugh. Much to everyone's delight the band played the tune again.
"Come on," said Fatty, pulling Bets to her feet. "I love the sound of Glenn Miller." Bets grinned at the others as Fatty whisked her onto the dance floor to join the other dancers in a jive.
"Come on, Hilary," said Larry, holding out his hand. "Let's see how good you are at the jive, it's about time Fatty and Bets had a bit of competition."
Hilary grinned good-naturedly, and was led onto the floor by Larry.
"Go on, Pip, you and Mary have a go," said Larry's wife, Helen. "I don't dance, but there's no reason why you shouldn't."
Pip and Mary followed the others onto the floor where everyone was giving a lively jive to the Glenn Miller sound.
The music kept coming and coming and the gala dance was a great success and enjoyed by everyone. As the evening came to a close, and they'd all said goodbye to Daisy and Paul, who'd just left, Hilary just about heard her mobile phone ringing in her bag, which she'd popped onto the table to hunt around for her house keys.
The others watched as her face turned to one of concern and they heard her ask. "Have you called the police?"
"What's wrong?" asked Fatty, interrupting her call, his eyes wide with concern.
"It's Uncle," she said in panic. "He's missing."
Fatty reached out his hand for Hilary to hand over her phone. He spoke urgently into the mouth piece. "What do you mean, Lisa, he's missing?"
Fatty listening intently as Lisa's urgent tones told him that she'd heard her car start up whilst she was reading in bed. With a rising panic thinking it'd been stolen, she looked out the window and was just in time to see it being driven slowly away. She went into Uncle David's room to see if he was okay before going to call the police and realized he wasn't in bed. She hunted all over the house and finally put two and two together realizing that it was Uncle David who'd driven the car away.
Fatty spoke firmly into the phone. "Don't worry, just stay put, I've got an idea where he'll end up."
Fatty handed the phone back to the eagerly awaiting Hilary, and turned to Pip. "Can you give me and Bets a lift to the river in your car?"
"Of course," said Pip, rising from his chair. "Let's go."
"I'm coming too," said Larry, just as worried as everyone else.
Fatty nodded. "Okay."
"Shall I come?" asked Hilary, looking at Fatty eagerly.
"No, you stay here, with Helen and Mary," came Fatty's firm answer. "We won't be long."
Hilary and the others watched in silence, as Fatty, Bets, Pip and Larry left the hall in rather a hurry.
* * *
"What makes you think the Superintendent will be making for the river?" Asked Bets, as Pip brought his car to a stop in the car park, which looked rather eerie in the darkness.
"Something I saw in his eyes today," said Fatty, turning to look at Bets, sitting in the rear of the car with Larry. "Have you got a torch in your car, Pip?"
"In the boot, I'll get it." Everyone got out off the car and after finding his torch, Pip handed it over to Fatty.
Fatty switched it on and flashed it around the area. Over by the hedge the beam picked up Lisa's car. "Wait here," said Fatty, before walking over to the car. He looked inside but it was empty, but the keys were still in the ignition, so Fatty took them out and locked up the car, before walking back to the others.
"Where do you think he'll be?" asked Pip, looking around as if he suddenly expected the Superintendent to suddenly appear.
"Follow me," said Fatty, as he took the lead from the car park and along the river over to where some lights were showing that the fair was being closed down, and the owners were getting ready for a journey home.
"I'm surprised that the Superintendent was even able to drive here," said Bets, shaking her head slightly.
"He's not senile, Bets, and remember he is police trained," returned Fatty, matter-of-factly. "He's just got himself confused, probably due to his chest illness, which could have turned into an infection."
They came upon the activity, but everyone was busy and didn't take any notice of the late night strollers. Fatty lead everyone over to the waxwork marquee, and found the entrance open. They all walked inside the dimly lit marquee, the owners – who weren't around – had clearly started to pack away as some of the wax figures were missing and some lay on the floor ready to be taken out. Superintendent Jenks was over in the far corner, looking at the standing figures. Everyone walked over to him and he turned on their approach.
"Frederick," he said, looking surprised at the way Fatty was dressed. "I thought you'd dressed up as Napolean. No wonder I couldn't find you. You've found the necklace I've heard?"
"Yes, Sir," said Fatty, softly. "It's all been taken care of. We can get you back home now."
Superintendent Jenks looked around him at the others, looking puzzled as to why they were there. "The gang has been caught then?"
Fatty nodded. "Yes Sir. The case is closed now. Another mystery solved."
The Superintendent nodded his head and wiped a hand across his brow.
"I think we should call an ambulance," Bets whispered to Fatty. She took hold of Superintendent Jenks arm. "Come and sit down." She and Larry guided him over to a chair, just as the owner was entering the marquee. Pip went over and quickly explained why they were there, and Fatty dialled for an ambulance.
Before long the sirens of the ambulance came to their ears, and Larry went out to meet them and show them where they were needed. It wasn't long before Superintendent Jenks was being transported on a chair over to the ambulance waiting in the car park. Once he was safely inside and the ambulance was on its way, Fatty phoned Hilary and told her that he would drive Lisa's car back to the village hall, where she could drive it back home, rather than order a taxi.
"I hope the Superintendent will be okay," said Pip. "He looked ill, poor chap and so confused."
"I think he has an infection," said Bets. "He was a little delirious. Once he's been checked over, they'll probably keep him in overnight and take him back to the home tomorrow."
Bets went with Fatty in Lisa's car which he drove back to the village hall. Hilary, Mary and Helen were waiting eagerly for them on the steps on the hall. Fatty quickly explained to Hilary that her uncle was now on his way to the hospital and that if she wanted to ring them they said that would be okay. Looking worried she thanked Fatty and the others, before saying goodnight and then drove away.
The others exchanged a few more words of concern about the Superintendent, before they all said 'goodnight' and made their way back home.
* * *
Just after midnight, Fatty and Bets were about to go up to bed, when the phone rang, stopping their tracks in the hallway. Bets looked at Fatty with wide startled eyes, hoping it wasn't bad news.
Fatty picked up the receiver saying a guarded, "Hello." Bets watched him closely as he listened to the caller on the other end. Then Fatty gave a relieved sigh, saying. "Well, that's good news anyway. Thanks for letting us know, Hilary. We'll pop along and see him tomorrow afternoon. Goodnight."
"What did she say?" asked Bets, wide eyed, leaning on the banister rail.
"The Super does have a chest infection and has gone on stronger anti-biotics intravenously. The doctor's are very pleased with him and say he's in good health for his age. They'll make sure he's feeling a lot better tomorrow before they have him moved back to the home."
"That's good news," said Bets, feeling relieved. "I'll be able to sleep soundly tonight without any worries."
Fatty nodded and smiled, calling to Buster as they made their way upstairs.
"It's been a lovely week-end," said Bets, moments later and smiling at Fatty, as he got into the bed besides her. "Have you enjoyed it?"
"Immensely my dear. The dance was one of the best evenings we've had in a long time."
Bets agreed. "It was just like being back in the 40's, wasn't it?"
"Halcyon days," he smiled at her, with a nod. "You can't knock 'em. We may not have had the things the youngsters have today, but we knew how to make the most of our childhood."
Bets smiled. "And all the lovely people we've met and spoken with of times gone by," said Bets, softly. "It brought back such happy memories, Fatty."
Fatty nodded with a smile, and put his arm around Bets. Happily she snuggled into him. "Hurry up and finish your memoirs, Fatty. I want to read all about our childhood mysteries continually and re-live those days over and over again."
Fatty grinned and kissed her forehead. "I'm just putting a few finishing touches to the manuscript and then Eunice's agent is taking it on for me."
"That's good," said Bets, with a smile, "then everyone can read about the Five-Find Outers and Dog, forever and ever."
Fatty nodded. "They certainly can, my dear. But we're the lucky ones, as all those mysteries are here, inside our memories," he touched his head, "and no one can take those away or re-live them like we can."
Bets nodded with a smile. How true that was. "And you my dear," he carried on to say, "will always be the love of my life, my 'little Bets'."
Bets looked at him and smiled. Fatty was the love of her life too and always had been from the moment she saw him. As long as she had Fatty she felt safe and sound and totally complete.
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