Two Sisters by Josephine Cox, Gilly Middleton
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 3.1 MB
The pretty Arnold sisters have grown up on their father’s farm and yearn for something more out of life than drudgery and toil.Ellen, loyal and honest, is her father’s favourite, but Georgina is impulsive and unreliable, and can’t please a father who has never shown her love.The big house, Grindle Hall, offers them both a chance of betterment, but while Ellen follows the steady path, Georgina takes a darker road and soon, her actions will have fateful consequences for them all. Only Ellen can help them, but will a sister’s love be enough?
ELLEN ARNOLD LAY back on the grass, one arm shielding her eyes from the intense brightness of the spring sky. She heard the calling of ewes to their lambs in the next field and then eventually the rustle of her sister’s skirt as Georgina sat down beside her.
‘You were a while closing that gate,’ Ellen said, not looking round. There was a long pause. ‘Gina?’
‘I got the rope all twisted …’
They were silent and still for a few minutes.
‘It’s lovely here … so peaceful,’ murmured Ellen.
‘If you like peaceful. Sometimes I reckon the countryside can be a bit quiet.’
‘I don’t mind quiet. It doesn’t have to be … I don’t know … small. Mr Beveridge can have quiet whenever he wants to as it’s his farm. Mr Stellion, at the Hall, goes all over the place on business but he’s always got that lovely garden to return to.’
‘Mm …’ Gina thought of Grindle Hall, the biggest house she’d ever seen. But it was still in the village of Little Grindle, still stuck out here on the Lancashire fells, where nothing ever happened.
‘Good of Mr Beveridge to give me the afternoon off,’ Ellen said.
‘Yes, wasn’t it?’ said Gina heavily. ‘Pity he was too mean to give me a little holiday as well.’
‘But you took it anyway.’ Ellen smiled. Her sister had the cheek of the devil sometimes.
‘’Course I did. I had summat I wanted to see to earlier. What’s he going to do about it, anyway?’
‘Well, he might give you the sack.’
Gina considered this. ‘He might but I bet he won’t. If Mr and Mrs B were going to sack me, they’d have done so long since.’
‘Probably. Still, such a lovely afternoon. I wish every day could be like today is right now,’ Ellen said. ‘No hens to see to …’
‘No water troughs to unblock …’
‘No smelly straw to clear out …’
‘No sheep to check on …’
‘Oh, I like the sheep,’ Ellen smiled, then laughed as a loud baa sounded from over the dry-stone wall. ‘The lambs are so bonny when they’re tiny.’
‘You’re daft, Nell – daft as they are,’ Gina said mildly, turning her face to follow an oddly shaped passing cloud. It looked … like a dancing figure with long, spiky limbs, strangely menacing in such a gloriously blue sky. Where had it sprung from? The sky had been cloudless when they’d reached the field gate. ‘I’ll ask you whether you like the sheep next winter when the snow’s coming in and Dad wants you to help get them down from the fell.’
‘Mebbe. Might not be helping on the farm then.’ Now was the time to tell Gina her news. If it all worked out, Gina would have to know anyway, and Ellen didn’t want to look as if she’d kept it from her sister. She’d put off telling her long enough. ‘Uncle Tom wants a new assistant – Young Lionel’s left to work somewhere the other side of Whalley with Old Lionel – and Uncle Tom’s asking Mr Stellion today if I could try out for it; see if it suits me.’
‘You lucky beggar! I think Uncle Tom could have mentioned it to me! That’s not fair. I could work at Grindle Hall. Why didn’t he ask me?’
‘Mebbe because I’m older,’ Ellen said diplomatically. She’d guessed this might be Gina’s reaction.
‘And I’d rather work with Uncle Tom than Dad any day.’