Dream A Little Dream
Rose Cottage was a hive of activity. Daisy Croucher was doing her best to chivvy her brood of children along, but they were too excited by the mystery package left on the doorstep to take any notice of their mother. The children clamoured for someone to open the parcel, but Daisy hushed them, telling them that the parcel was for David and they should mind their own business. At the mention of his name, a handsome young man appeared in the busy kitchen, an unpleasant, lazy smirk on his tanned face. He reached out for the parcel on the table, a look of curiosity in his dark eyes. He looked to his mother for an explanation, but she just shrugged and continued ladling porridge into bowls.
David unfolded the note, a satisfied look on his face as he read it. It appeared he had a secret admirer. He wasn’t surprised; half the girls in the village were in love with him and he knew that any one of them would fall at his feet if he wanted them to. He enjoyed the power of the chase, especially with some of the sillier girls. It was so easy to tell them what they wanted to hear. How he enjoyed seeing their faces when he grew bored and moved on to the next girl. Of course, there had been that unpleasant business a couple of years ago, but no one had truly blamed him for it. After all, he was the vicar’s son.
“Hang this up and dream of me,” the note said.
He ripped the delicate tissue paper to pieces, ignoring his mother’s protests to be careful with the paper so that she could save it, and held up the object he found within. It was exquisitely made; a complicated web-like structure with several bunches of long glittering thread dangling from the edge of the centre ring. He had no idea what it was until his mother explained it was a dream catcher, designed to hang above your bed and only allow the sweetest dreams to enter your head.
He threw it down on the table with contempt. What did he want with something so foolish? He could imagine one of the stupid village girls sitting by the fire as she made it, prattling on in a high-pitched voice, growing giddy thinking about David. His top lip curled up in a malicious sneer. He looked at the dream catcher, its strands all tangled up, and noticed fine red thread woven in to it. He examined it closely and wondered if the red strands could be hair. There was a very pretty but very dull girl who worked as a seamstress in the village. She had beautiful auburn hair. Perhaps it was her, he thought, pulling on his boots and leaving for work. It was the silly kind of thing she might do, he muttered to himself. Still, she would prove to be a pleasant enough diversion until something else cropped up. He resolved to send her a little note inviting her on a walk to listen to the nightingales.
When David returned home after a hard day pretending to work at the carpenter’s workshop where he was an apprentice, he saw that his mother had driven a nail into the beam above his bed and the dream catcher was dangling down. He was too tired to argue and after a simple supper of stew and dumplings he fell into bed.
The next day, Daisy Croucher was busy herding her children out of the door and off to school when David stumbled into the kitchen. He looked terrible. His usually glowing face was pale and ashen, his eyes sunken. He refused any breakfast, forcefully pushing the bowl of porridge away from him as though it contained poison. His mother scolded him for wasting food, but he groaned and moaned and complained of feeling sick. He said that he’d felt quite unwell in the night and was far too tired for work, but Daisy shooed him out of the house and sent him off to the carpenter.
Market day arrived a few days later and Eloise felt compelled to attend. She noticed a few sympathetic smiles in her direction and one or two villagers placed what they thought was a comforting hand on her arm. She tried to feel grateful that Suzie was remembered, but she couldn’t help the bitterness within her soul. They all know who was responsible, she thought, yet not one of them helped me.
Eloise drifted around the various stalls, buying a few necessary items here and there. Deep in conversation at the knife sharpener’s stall stood Daisy Croucher and a woman that Eloise did not recognise. She noticed that Daisy looked worried. Edging nearer she caught the essence of the discussion.
“He’s been so ill. I’ve never seen him in such a state. He isn’t sleeping properly and when he does drift off to sleep he wakes up screaming and crying. He won’t eat and hardly has the energy to get to work. I’m afraid that he’ll lose his job if it carries on any longer. And his father is at his wits end, praying all hours of the day, but nothing is helping. Oh, I just don’t know what to do,” Daisy wailed, breaking off into a flood of tears.
Eloise walked away, a smile playing across her face. Everything was going to plan. He wouldn’t last much longer…..