Poor pussy, she will never steal the milk again!
Goldens, along Braintree Road,
where the children made friends
LIKE children everywhere Ruth was not above using a bit of guile to get attention.
Ruth: About a quarter of a mile from our house, and just within view, was a rather pretty old house (Goldens) which belonged to the Savills and they used to let it. Some very charming people called Bullman took it one year - an old widowed mother and two middle-aged daughters.
We found that they loved children, and always made us very welcome and before long we discovered that they had a certain jar of balm (witch hazel) which they would fetch out and apply with a bandage to our cuts and
scratches. Mother was a bit scathing about this, as she had brought us up to take very little notice of such things, and thought it would make us soft and fussy! But we really did revel in being made a bit of a fuss of, so continued to take our cut fingers down to them to doctor! They had lots of things up in the loft and used to show us curios and produce games for us to play, so we really enjoyed their friendship.
Animals played a big part in Ruth’s childhood though they often brought as much sadness as they did joy.
Ruth: Life at Wethersfield was interspersed with many close contacts with animals and birds, both domesticated and in the wild. We soon lost the white cat we'd brought with us from Weymouth - as our neighbour found it stealing from his kitchen, so shot it.
One morning I opened the back door to find a strange little creature there. The back of it was obviously kitten, but the front was a milk jug - pussy's head well stuck into it, so she couldn't see where she was going.
Realising at once that the kitten couldn’t get out of the jug (as I couldn't pull it off its head) I banged the jug on the stones. Alas, instead of breaking the jug off it merely broke the bottom off the jug. So now puss could see through a tunnel. Without waiting for me to set her free she rushed off into the shrubbery and over the fence and away. I doubt if she ever stole our milk again!
Mother and Dad decided to buy a goat, also to keep hens, and later ducks as well. The goat had kids which we adored and for most of the time in those early years we used no milk but goats’ milk.
Both Mother and Dad mastered the art of milking the goats and as we had three lush meadows of hay, there wasn't much difficulty in keeping them fed, though they had to be kept inside in the winter, and then mangle worzels were brought for them.
I think the twin kids, Dinah and Donah, must have been the first young ones we had and they were surprisingly like Jacob and Esau, in that Dinah was a smooth sleek creature, but Donah was rough of coat and rough of manners too. But I loved Donah and thoroughly enjoyed her antics.
But my father didn't know how much I loved Donah - and one day as we were at dinner, he had to slip out to see a man, who (with a horse and cart) wanted to see him about something. This didn't surprise me as it was the sort of thing that happened sometimes, but when the clop clop of the horse and the crunch of the wheels on the gravel told us the man was going, I looked out of the window as they passed it, and there, on the cart, stood my beloved Donah.
"Dad is selling her to that man”, mother told me and when he returned to finish his dinner, I was in floods of tears. Dad was terribly upset that this had upset me. "My dear I didn't know you were so fond of her" and comforted me as best he could but grownups can do things in all innocence which are shattering tragedies to a child.
Children and goats
Rossiter children, friends, with
goats Dinah and Donah
In another instance, he was picking up the rubbish for the fire with a pitchfork and suddenly I saw, impaled on a prong, my long-lost and mourned-for Teddy Bear (Growler by name). With a shriek of joy I exclaimed “There's Growler", but he was too quick for me and the rotted, damp and insect-chewed little creature was already being cremated! Oh how I grieved for that beloved toy!"
Click on pictures to enlarge
next...the happiest years