|The Monday morning post clattered through the letterbox and landed with a thud on the mat in the hall, and I wiped my hands on my apron and went to fetch it. Usually there were two or three business ones for Dr Frank, and the odd one for Miss Phoebe from young Reg Entwistle or that Italian lass who was a singer in London. Today, however, there was only one piece of mail, a card of some kind, addressed to both of them. |
‘Who’s sending us cards?’ Dr Frank mused, when I brought it into the dining room and handed it to him.
‘Open it and see, idiot,’ said Mr Edmund, helping himself to more porridge. Dr Frank scowled at him, then opened it and whistled.
‘It’s a wedding invitation for Phoebe and Debby and I, from Hargreaves and Mrs Langley!’
‘At last!’ said Miss Phoebe, looking pleased. ‘She said in her letter to me a couple of weeks ago that he’d managed to get an office job in Birmingham, and that they would be getting married as soon as they could manage it. When is it?’
‘Saturday 24th November, at one o’clock at St Mark’s in Birmingham,’ Dr Frank read out. ‘I shall have to try and cadge the day off out of Jem, but I’ll be lucky to get it given it’s only been a month since I had my proper leave.’
‘Take it out of the masses of hours they owe you from the war,’ Mr Edmund said idly, reaching for the toast rack. Dr Frank slapped his hand away and took the last piece himself.
‘It’s not a lot of notice,’ Miss Phoebe said, frowning.
‘Just enough to read the banns, probably,’ Dr Frank said, swallowing the last piece of toast practically whole. I glared at him and he at once put on a humble expression.
‘I know,’ Miss Phoebe said. ‘And I haven’t a stitch to wear to a formal occasion like a wedding, and precious little coupons left to buy anything, either.’ She sighed heavily.
‘Who are the couple in question, anyway?’ Mr Edmund asked.
‘Two of my ex-patients,’ Dr Frank replied. Mr Edmund smirked.
‘I had nothing to do with it!’ Dr Frank said defensively. ‘Well, apart from being the reason they happened to be at the San at the same time, of course,’ he added.
‘Didn’t Meg tell you who Mrs Langley was in her letters?’ Miss Phoebe asked. ‘She knows her more or less as well as we do, she often came with Debby and I when we went to visit her at the San. If we’ve been invited to the wedding, Meg is almost sure to have been, too, and that could by extension mean you, as her escort.’
Mr Edmund raised his eyebrows. ‘And you think you haven’t got a stitch to wear? Have you seen my wardrobe – or should I say lack of? I’ve only got one proper suit apart from the demob one, and even that looks a bit tatty now.’
‘Give it to me, I’ll see what I can do with it,’ ordered Miss Phoebe. ‘Give me your best one as well, Frank, I don’t doubt it’s also going to need my attention with the cavalier way you treat your clothes. What about you, Debby? Have you got something to wear for it?’ She looked at me enquiringly as Dr Frank made a face at her and Mr Edmund smirked.
‘I’ve got a couple of options, Miss Phoebe, that’s all right,’ I said, thinking over my own wardrobe. ‘I’ll pick something out and make sure it’s decent.’
After I had cleared the breakfast things away and washed up, I went upstairs to my bedroom, opened my wardrobe and considered my dresses carefully. There was that nice one in mauve I’d got for the Artie Clough concert last year, that hadn’t seen much wear, and I had a hat and scarf to match it. Or should I go with the pale green that needed a bit of work done but would be a bit warmer for a late November event? Or the old pearl grey that was past its best but that I had never quite persuaded myself to part with because it was just so me?
I was standing in front of the mirror holding each dress up to myself in turn when I heard a man’s heavy tread coming up the stairs, and Mr Edmund appeared on the landing.
‘Hallo, Debby, what are you doing?’ he asked, peering in through the open bedroom door with interest.
‘Choosing what dress to wear for this wedding, Mr Edmund,’ I replied. ‘What d’you think?’
Mr Edmund stood back and considered the dresses carefully as I held them out. ‘I like the purple one best, I think. It reminds me of heather, and I always associate heather with the Yorkshire moors, which in turn reminds me of you.’
I laughed. ‘Really?’
‘Oh yes, to me you absolutely epitomise Yorkshire,’ Mr Edmund said. ‘The no-nonsense salt of the earth.’
‘God’s own county,’ I corrected him, and he laughed.
‘That too. I really enjoyed our little jaunt up there last month. I even enjoyed my clash with the Sodger, she was everything you promised and more!’
‘What, did you bump into her at some point?’ I asked in surprise. ‘Apart from that morning she went off about Mary Adams and nearly got run over by the bus, I mean.’
Mr Edmund grinned. ‘Yes, Meg and I met her one evening when we were out for a stroll. She took a bit of an exception to Meg’s neckline.’
I could easily believe that. The Sodger was the sort who was outraged at the popularity of brassieres over corsets, never mind the sort of low-cut blouses Meg liked strolling about in.
‘You sent her packing?’ I asked.
‘Oh yes,’ Mr Edmund said silkily. ‘She really is vile, isn’t she? She was awfully rude about Frank, too.’
I laughed. ‘She would be. I reckon she hates him even more than she hates me, and that takes some doing.’
‘Why does she hate him so much?’ Mr Edmund asked in surprise. ‘Surely they can’t have met more than a couple of times?’
‘No, but he proved her wrong about Miss Phoebe,’ I said. ‘He made her rheumatism better and married her, two things the Sodger was always saying Miss Phoebe would never be. Then when we went up to Garnham last year and they met for the first time he just walked all over her in that nice polite way he’s got.’
Mr Edmund grinned again. ‘I can just imagine it. Yes, I suppose when you put it like that she would have a particular reason to dislike him. Especially when everyone else there thinks he’s wonderful!’
‘‘Tis true he’s not bad though,’ I said, and he laughed.
‘Yes, for my cousin he’s not bad indeed.’