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The Blue Summer House

The photograph showed her mother standing on the slipway outside of the boathouse wearing only a pair of rowing shorts

In the background holding a pair of large wooden oars was her father smiling broadly at the camera

Peter was next to her mother toasting her with a glass of red wine

 

Oh why did they not use white white wine

Gate thought as she walked swiftly towards the ornamental bridge

She had decided to keep the photograph under lock and key in her lacquered Japanese box

 

Gate left the house silently and waked across the dew damp lawn towards the blue summer house. It’s door had not locked for years and she let herself into the main room

It smelt vaguely of her mother’s perfume

Two glasses of whiskey has been left carelessly on the low table and it was then that Gate noticed that Peter had also left his jacket which was hanging from a hook

Both of the jacket pockets were stuffed full of paper and Gate curious as to their content pulled the sheets free

On examination she could see that they were written in both Italian and German

She did not speak or read Italian but spoke and read German well having spent six months in the country the previous year

She began to read what she soon found out to be an account of the murder of two gypsies in a town not far from the city of Frankfurt

Although shocked and sickened at the description of the atrocity she read the account fully

She also found a number of letters from a man known only as Franz in which he described the measures being taken to intimidate the Jews in Germany

She imagined that the Italian documents followed the same pattern

Gate felt for Peter’s wallet and found it in his inside pocket

It contained fifteen pounds and list of meetings that were scheduled to be held at various locations

Peter had ticked six that were to be held in the Home Counties

It was as she was putting the wallet and its contents back that a small photograph dropped out

 

Tuppence Gate and Little Kate lay in the blue summerhouse watching the waves of wheat in the distant fields break against the idle trees

Their languid occupation was interrupted by a shout from the main house

Dinner was ready

 

I wonder how many of you care to dream about my sweet sweet Celandine 

Oh shut up Kate that is such a sad song and you know that poor Celandine drowned in this very lake  

 

And for an instant everything was orange

The trees opposite her bedroom were orange

A passing bird had adopted the colour as had the hills in the distance

Everything was orange

It was a magical moment on an otherwise dull day

Wrote Tuppence in her diary that evening

She hid it under her pillow so that her sisters would not discover it

 

Do you know that the word kiosk comes from the Turkish and means a summer house?

How did you know that?

I found it in my book of Byron’s poems

 

A moth that has been resting on one of the beams looked down at the sisters

It had learnt its first word of Turkish

 

Gate was wearing her mother’s rowing shorts and the singlet she had worn when she won her Olympic Silver medal

Her mother never spoke of her triumph as if she was ashamed of it

Both Tuppance and Gate rowed but they knew that they would never achieve the standard required to represent their country

She could see Peter walking along the shoes of the lake towards her

She knew that as she was dressed in her mother’s rowing kit that he would question her intention

 

An event called Picnic in the Park was held by the National Trust at Chatterick House between the 29th of June and the 1st of July 2015

The members had hoped for the success of the event and that the weather would be fair

They need not to have worried

 

Why are you wearing your mother’s rowing kit?

Often do

Peter looked at the lake at the thinning Celandine mists

Did you remove some papers from my jacket that I left in the summer house?

Yes

Did you read them?

Only the German ones I do not read Italian

Are you aware of their sensitivity?

Yes

Where are they now?

In the lake

You threw them in the lake?

Yes

Did you find the photograph also?

I did

Your mother and I have been lovers for a number of years now

What about father?

He is aware of the situation and approves

I do not believe you

He has his lovers also

Gate did not reply at once she knew that her parents tended to be away for periods of time but they never seemed to be away at the same time

She had caught her father talking to Kitty in her bath which all seemed quite innocent at the time but now seemed a little more suspicious

Was Kitty my father’s lover?

Amongst others

Does my mother have any more lovers apart from you?

Not that I am aware of  

What did you do my wallet and the money?

I buried your wallet over there by the summer house

And the money?

I gave the money to the Polar Bears who were passing at the time

 

At that exact moment many miles away off of the northern shores of Canada a Polar Bear and his family were sailing towards to the wastelands on the iceberg that they had just purchased

 

Are you angry with me?

No not at all

I thought you would be were the papers important?

You have a sharp brain Agatha you know they were

I am sorry but I was so angry with you after seeing mummy’s photograph

Do you know what is happening in the world today?

Sort of

It is only because of brave people such as your mother and father that the world will be saved from the Bolsheviks and the filthy Jews

Is that why father visits Germany so often?

Yes there are wonderful things happening in Germany and Italy right now

But what about the gypsies that were murdered?

They are sub-human mongrel a sub species created by centuries of inbreeding just like the niggers in Africa

But they were murdered

To have a new world order they there will need to be casualties do you ever watch the creatures around this lake not all of them survive only the strong survive and that is why year after year this lake and the grounds around Chatterick remain the same

If this was altered then the balance would be upset and the conqueror worm would rule

It would be chaos

So you are saying that this is the order of things?

In as way yes nature has had the answer for centuries

But intelligent man is always hindered

His drive has always been halted by the sub species the Bolsheviks the niggers the filthy Jews and the like

Our Empire at this very moment is under threat

It could vanish in a generation

You would not like it if our monarchy was overthrown would you?

Well that is what happened in Russia they shot their royal family in cold blood

If we do not act then people like you and your sisters will be next you will be raped and murdered by the savages

Chatterick will cease to exist and important families such as yours will be consigned to history

Gate began to feel frightened and wished that she was swimming with Celandine in the lake

Why is happening now?

Why was Herr Hitler not born in Russia at the same time as Lenin they are open questions

Are you going to tell my father?

No

Why I destroyed your important papers and gave your money to the Polar Bears

You know the answer Agatha

Because of my mother

Yes you are so like your mother

 

Are you going to tell my father?

Yes

You know that I have to as the papers you destroyed were very important the money can be replaced but the papers cannot be so easily replaced

Then go ahead

They will be very disappointed in you

They already are

 

The sisters lazed on the cushions in the summer house the gramophone was playing in the background

Little Kate suddenly walked over to the pile of records in their brown paper covers and began sorting them out looking at each composer in turn

Byrd, Beethoven, Monteverdi and there is one called Victoria just like our cook

His name was Tomas Luis De Victoria and he was a Spanish composer

How did you know that?

I just knew it

You know everything Gate

Tuppence often says that is true  

 

The legend of Celandine had existed since the 1870s when a visitor to the great house drowned in a tragic boating accident on the lake

She had persuaded her cousin to take her out even though her parents forbade such an adventure

The rowboat which had not been fit for its purpose overturned and both cousins were cast into the deep waters

Tragically possibly due to weight of her clothing Celandine disappeared under the surface and was drowned

The lake was drained but no trace of her body was found

But she was buried by the gamekeeper who found her some three weeks and for reasons best known to himself buried her near the large oak tree at the southern end of the lake

He took this secret to the grave

In 1964 when the drainage system was being replaced a skeleton was found near to the lake but it was not Celandine but a Royalist who was murdered at the house during the Civil War

The following year the sisters gave the house to the National Trust only retaining the lodge and a few outbuildings

Iit was during the building of a new visitors centre in 2010 that Celandine’s remains were finally uncovered

She was given a Christian burial at the chapel on the estate

Each of the sisters attended her rest and visited their mothers grave

 

It was notiedfrom that day forward that the Celandine mists never re-appeared low over the lake even on the most acceptable of days

 

The Turkish speaking moths were a great attraction at Chatterick House no-one knew why they spoke the language

This was a mystery even to the sisters

 

Gate had never been particularly religious especially after her mother died in an air raid in 1941

It was only when her father died in 1955 that she learned the truth about her mother’s death which had been reported in The Times as being the result of a direct hit on a hotel in Bayswater where she had been staying

His papers revealed that she had died with Peter whose death had not been reported

The lovers had been together in the Bayswater hotel when the German bomb landed

She saw the irony

Her mother had been buried on the estate but her father also revealed that whereabouts of Peter’s last resting place

The Jewish Cemetery in Mile End

He was a one of the filthy Jews that he so hated

She thought God must have a sense of humour and therefore must exist

Her sisters were not aware of why God had entered Gate’s life and believed it was because their mother had died young during the war

Only Gate knew the truth

 

On the 1st of July 2015 the United Kingdom experienced very high temperatures as hot air had been drawn up from Africa

Gate was standing on the slipway in front of the boathouse looking at the photograph that she had stolen nearly eighty years previously

A young man approached her

Do you know the way to the Jazz Stage?

I am afraid I do not

I was due to meet my friends there but have become hopelessly lost

It is a very large estate

Do you know if well?

I used to live here in the great house

Really

Yes my father owned the house and the surrounding area I spent a majority of my childhood here

It must have been idyllic

For the most part yes but all good things end

Gate handed the young man the photograph

The woman was my mother she was an Olympic medallist before the last war

I can see the resemblance

You are too kind young man I am ninety three whereas my mother was in her mid-thirties when that was taken

What was her name?

Eleanor

She looked quite bronzed

The summers then always seemed to be hot just like today

Were you named after your mother?

No my name is Agatha although everyone calls me Gate

My name is Michael, Michael Fallon

It has been very nice to meet you Mr Fallon do enjoy the Picnic in the Park my house deserves you and the young people

The young man smiled and handed the photograph back to Gate

As he took the path leading away from the boathouse he was greeted by a rather tall girl in a lime dress

They hugged and eventually vanished into the trees

The lake was calm as it has been for many years

Gate did not expect to see a mist

She looked towards the site of the blue summer house which had been demolished by the National Trust as it had become unsafe

She thought she heard music playing from its site but it was the music from the festival in the grounds nearer to the house

Gate walked past the summerhouse towards the gatekeeper’s lodge where she met both her sisters who had been waiting in the shade as the heat had been so fierce

The house has changed but not by much

I think the National Trust is boing a wonderful job

It is a pity that the blue summer house had to go

We had such happy times there

Everything dies

Even we will at some stage

Not too soon I hope as days like this are so precious