Key Themes: fiction, war, mental breakdown, family
One for Sorry, Two for Joy is set in the early 1900s and tells of the struggle between the members of the Ford family. Reuben Ford fights in the First World War 1914-1918 and is reported missing in action on the Western front in France. This story explains how this devastating news affects his wife Ruth, who has a mental breakdown, and their son Joe and Ruth’s parents.
About the Author
Dorothy Mitchell lives in Evesham. She has previously published another novel called The Willerby Grange Secret, two poetry books and two children's stories, drawing on her experiences in life in writing in a similar vein to Catherine Cookson and Maeve Binchy. Dorothy is currently working on her next novel which is entitled Abigail Beaumont.
Ruth Jennings was awakened by the sound of the blacksmith’s hammer as it made contact with the anvil. Each blow ringing like a bell. She gave a contented sigh, jumped out of bed, and walked over to the bedroom window, there he was, Bill Jobson, doing what he always did. Six days a week would find Bill either shoeing one of Jim Flint’s horses, or mending a wrought iron gate or two. Perhaps, on a Sunday afternoon, he could be found in his smithy drinking from his cider mug, liked his cider did old Bill. Mind you, he reckoned that St. Peters Church was a must on a Sunday morning, his loud baritone voice shaking the rafters of the old church.
“Does me good to talk to him upstairs, puts me right for the week ahead.” Jim tells anyone who cares to listen. Ruth had listened and smiled, she liked Bill Jobson.
The man had doffed his cap to her more than once, she wasn’t interested, he was a nice enough man, but the thought of him touching her made the girl shudder.
Ruth watched as the blacksmith lifted the cartwheel he’d just been working on, the girl thought his arms resembled tree trunks and his hands, well, they reminded her of the meat pasties her Granny made. Would she miss this place when she and Reuben wed and moved into Magpies Roost? The answer was yes, but as her new home when she married Reuben Ford, was situated the other side of the Bill Jobson’s Smithy, then she supposed it wouldn’t be so bad. She would still hear the magpie’s wheezing, chittering squawk early on a summers morning as they also, were awakened by the blacksmiths hammering.
The village of Applebee was in the North Riding of Yorkshire, about one and a half miles from Hull. A pretty hamlet with a scattering of dwellings, two churches, one school, three sprawling farms, and a doctor by the name of Samuel De Witt. Ruth liked him, he had been kind to her mum during the illness, accepting in kind, a few eggs or an apple pie in exchange for treatment administered.
Fortunately, Kate Jennings, Ruth’s mother, seemed quite fit again and busy preparing for the big day; she was looking forward to the May wedding,
Ruth, however, was a little concerned about her mum, she never said much, but the girl knew about the pain her mother tried to cover up. Her heart wasn’t as strong as she made out, Ruth had watched as Kate struggled to breathe on many occasions.
“A nice time to get wed Lass.” She’d said to Ruth, “Eighteen’s a bit young, but Reuben Ford is a good Lad, and you won’t be far away.”
Ruth was fond of her Mam, and she would miss living in this cottage, but she comforted herself with the thought that her new home was only be two doors away, she could pop in every day and make sure her Mam and Dad were alright.
The 20th of May 1903 arrived. Ruth awoke to a bright morning, she stretched, and yawned, and as she lay looking up at the ceiling, a shadow came across her face. She was happy, of course she was, in a few hours she would be Mrs Ruth Ford, but this little cottage had been her home since she was baby.
Ruth hadn’t been the only child to Kate and Eli Jennings, there had been another girl but Ruby had died of consumption at the age of three. This had almost broken her parents, Ruth could only vaguely remember the tragedy, her being about five at the time, but she remembered the wooden box, and the crying.
“Come on Ruth, time to get up love.” Her mother called up the stairs. Ruth pushed the rough blankets back, and almost reluctantly left the comfy flock mattress, she was happy however that the feather pillows her mother had made for her, would be going with her to Magpie’s Roost, her new home.
Ruth poured a jug of water into the wash bowl removed her night-shirt, and began to wash, being careful not to wet the strips of rag that her mother had laboriously tied into her thick dark hair. Ruth didn’t care for this much, feeling the bits of cloth tended to pinch her neck, but she had to admit, that the ringlets were rather fetching, especially when tied up with pink ribbon.
“Breakfast’s on the table Lass, Martha laid you a nice brown egg this morning, special.” Her dad was sitting at the old, well-scrubbed table. Ruth walked in to the kitchen. She went over to her father and planted a kiss on his cheek.
Eli gave his daughter that lovely toothless smile, he gazed appraisingly at her, and thought how much like her mam she had become, same dark hair, slim figure and the dark blue eyes that set off that elfish face. Not so elfish now in her mother’s case, but then, Kate was older and the suffering was still evident in her careworn features.
Ruth sat down and looked at the brown egg, she couldn’t eat it. “Sorry Mam, I can’t, my tummy is too churned up.” She said. Kate sighed, “You can’t get married on an empty stomach love, now come on, try a bit of bread and butter.” Her Dad spoke up now with one of his choice comments, “You don’t want to be farting in church cos you’ve got an empty belly my girl, now please do as your Mam says, and have a bite to eat.” Ruth chuckled at her Dads comment, took a small portion of bread, nibbled at it and excused herself. How she would miss these moments. This was her wedding day and she would be moving into Magpies Roost later this evening. It would be the first night with her new husband, Reuben Ford…. Ruth felt a shiver run through her body.
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 17 June, 2010.