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A Remarkable Holiday

 

Do we have to go and stay with Aunt Matilda daddy? Cant we go with you and mum to Amsterdam?” queried the little girl while stuffing a ham sandwich into her mouth. “No honey, it’s a business trip and mum is going there only to help me,” replied her father.

Mr. and Mrs. Brown had to go to Amsterdam for a fortnight on some official work. Luckily it was the summer holidays, so the children were going to stay with Aunt Matilda at her sea side bungalow in the near by town. She stayed there alone. She was the widowed sister of Jim Brown and was around fifty five years of age. The children loved her very much and went to visit her whenever possible.

“C’mon Daisy, finish your tea quickly otherwise we’ll be late,” her father admonished her. “Coming daddy,” Daisy said and ran out to the car. Mrs. Brown was upstairs finishing her packing. She called out to her other two children to hurry up. Samantha the eldest daughter came out of her room carrying her hand bag in her hand. “I’m ready mummy. I’ll go and check what Clara is doing.” Jim came up and helped his wife close the two bags. ‘Darling, I hope you have kept my camera in the luggage. I’m surely going to find time to do some photography in Amsterdam.” “Don’t worry dear, I have kept it safely. Come, let’s lock up the rooms.” At last, everyone was inside the car .Joseph the driver was taking them to the airport to drop Mr. and Mrs. Brown and was then proceeding to Aunt Matilda’s where he would remain with the children. George and his wife June were staying on at the Brown’s home ‘Silver Petals’ to look after everything but their daughter Sally was going with the children to look after them.

“Bye George, bye June, see you soon”, shouted the girls and the car moved onwards heading for the airport. On the way Crystal, the girls’ mum kept reminding Sally when to give medicines to Clara for the allergies. At last they reached the airport and Crystal hugged her daughters’ good bye. “Don’t worry mummy, we’ll be fine,” said Samantha. “Just come back soon.” “Bye darlings. Don’t give any trouble to Aunt Matilda,” said Jim kissing his three daughters. So on went the car with Joseph and Sally entertaining the children with small talk to distract them.

They passed a small village on their way where a group of children waved them goodbye. The sea side town of Roseville was another hour away. Sally took out a hamper and gave the girls a glass of lemonade each with some cheese and egg sandwiches. Joseph and Sally had a few sandwiches too and then the car purred along towards Roseville. The children grew excited when the sweet little town was visible. The car reached ‘Sunflower Cottage’ and Daisy jumped down from the car and rang the bell. The door was opened by Betsy, Aunt Matilda’s maid cum companion. She was a large fat woman with a cheery face and big brown eyes. Her hair was short and curly and she wore a bright red apron around her ample waist. She hugged each of the girls and ushered them inside the cottage. They entered the sitting room and sat on the huge multicolored sofas. Joseph and Sally got out the baggage from the car and took them inside. The children were to share the guest room next to their Aunt’s bedroom on the first floor. “Aunty has gone shopping with Mrs. Baxter from next door. She will be coming back in about an hour. Why don’t you go up to your room and freshen up, I’ll get tea ready. Since it is so pleasant, you can have it in the garden,” said Betsy helping Joseph and Sally with the luggage. “Ok Betsy,” yelled the children running up the stairs two at a time.

While the girls were having tea and talking to Betsy’s daughter Nonie, (who stayed there and helped her mother after school) Aunt Matilda arrived with Mrs. Baxter. “Hello aunty! Hello Mrs. Baxter!” the girls said coming forward to meet them. “Hello sweethearts, how are you all? It is so nice to see you all,” said the two friends. Betsy served tea presently and Mrs. Baxter returned home after that. Later on the girls went for a walk to the beach accompanied by Nonie. The evening was spent catching up on the latest gossip with Aunty. The girls watched TV for a while. The evening meal was served earlier than usual because the children were a bit tired. They ate minestrone soup, dinner, rolls chicken pie and caramel custard. When the children reached their room for the night, their belongings were already unpacked by Betsy and kept in cupboards. The room was quite big with a four poster bed in the middle. The walls were painted light blue and the upholstery and curtains were a bright shade of pink. The attached bathroom had crimson tiles and a sweet little shower cubicle.

“Why have you picked up my nightgown Clara?” said Samantha taking her camel colored nightgown from her sister’s hands. “Oh! Sorry I thought it was mine. Where is mine by the way? Dear Daisy you are sitting on it.” At last the children had changed and were in bed with a book each when Sally brought them their night cap of hot milk. Daisy held Sally’s hand, “Sally, please will you tell me a story?” “Of course I will,” said Sally and sat by her bedside holding her hand. She began a fairy tale and by the time it reached half Daisy was asleep. “Goodnight Samantha. Go to sleep Clara,” said Sally taking the book from her hand. “Let me read just a little more,” said Clara. “No Missy you will be too tired in the morning. You must get your beauty sleep.” “Ok goodnight Sal.” Samantha switched on the night light and soon the girls were sleeping soundly.

Samantha was 15 years old, had black hair and eyes and was tall and slim. Her eyes matched her father’s; both Clara and Daisy were blondes with blue eyes like their mother. Daisy was chubby and still a bit short for her age. She had just completed her eleventh birthday. Clara was thirteen and rather lazy. She had a dimple on her left cheek. Samantha was in the tenth grade; Clara was studying in class eight and Daisy in the sixth grade. All three girls were learning to play the piano. Samantha was quite an expert at table tennis, swimming and ballet. Clara was always lost in books and could sing very well. Daisy was good at painting. The girls got up when Sally came and pulled the curtains. “Come on kiddies’ time to get up.” All of them got ready in about a quarter of an hour and reached the front covered verandah, called the Patio, just before eight thirty. Aunt Matilda was waiting for them for breakfast, sipping a cup of hot strong aromatic tea. The table was laid out with hot buttered scones, marmalade, honey, fruits and orange juice. Betsy had made cheese toast especially for the three girls. After breakfast, Joseph brought the car round and Aunty took the girls and Nonie to Church. Every Sunday, Aunt Matilda went to Church. She introduced many of the local acquaintances to the girls and a few of them invited the girls to their place.

  The girls returned and played basket ball with Nonie for about an hour. Lunch was eaten in the dining room. Betsy had made Russian salad, mutton chops and bread pudding. In the afternoon the girls took a short nap. Early evening saw them at the beach building sand castles. Nonie had brought her red plastic ball with her and all of them played with it. In the evening Mrs. Baxter had called them over for dinner.

The girls bathed and dressed and by seven were ready to go. Daisy wore a pink frock, Clara a blue and pink skirt with a pink silk top and Samantha wore a black skirt and a silver top. She looked very pretty and was admired greatly by Danny Baxter and his two friends who were staying with him, Mickey and Sam. Danny was the son of Mrs. Baxter’s sister. The chicken roast and vegetable a la kiev made by Velvet, Mrs. Baxter’s cook was mouth watering and the lemon soufflé was superb. The girls were asked to play the piano which they did and were really appreciated. The next day the girls decided to go for a picnic to the beach. Everyone gathered in the kitchen to decide what the picnic hamper would contain. After a long discussion, Betsy settled for ginger beer, egg and tomato sandwiches, a fruit and nut cake, chocolate chip cookies and a tin of baked beans in tomato sauce. The girls got ready and were waiting for Joseph to take them to the beach. Aunt Matilda had invited her old cronies for tea and snacks. Nonie arrived with the beach ball, a hoola hoop and a skipping rope. All the four girls were wearing swim suits under their bright summer dresses. The day was spent playing games, swimming and collecting rare shells. The evening saw tired children going to bed after a hot bath and a light dinner. Aunty was already tucked into bed with a good book when the girls went in to bid her goodnight.

On Wednesday, Aunt Matilda told the girls she would be taking them out for lunch and shopping. Joseph drove the car throughout the town while aunty pointed the main attractions of Roseville. The morning passed in sight. At one, the children entered the lovely old cosy Chinese restaurant called ‘The Chinese Inn’ and settled down with pre lunch soft drinks. Lunch consisted of chicken fried rice, American chop suey, vegetable Manchurian, sweet and sour prawns, mixed chow mein and spring rolls. After lunch they walked over to the nearby park where Joseph spread out an old bedcover on the grass and everyone lay down for a short nap and rest. By four they reached the biggest department store in town called ‘All You Want’. Aunt Matilda bought a dress each for all the three girls and one for Nonie too. Samantha had chosen a peach and candy colored skirt blouse set with a belt and hat to go with it. Clara had eyes for a bright pink dress with silver buttons and a cute little silver pink purse to match it. Little Daisy was having problems deciding a dress for herself, so she asked Samantha to help her choose. A Remarkable Holiday continued

Contributing Story Teller:  Amita enjoys writing stories and poems. She has strong editing and translation skills.  amita17149@hotmail.com

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