Christmas at Brendenhall

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Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 12 Dec 2016, 16:39

(Author’s Note: Genealogy has always fascinated me, and I’ve recently been exploring my own family tree in more detail, and surprised to find some historical figures among my illustrious forbearers. Each of us has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc. If you go back twelve generations, which is about when my first immigrant ancestors left England for the New World, you arrive at 4,096, which is quite a substantial number – unsurprisingly, there are some folks who appear more than once. Biggles’ family tree would be no different. One afternoon recently, whilst working on my own family tree, a gentleman named Erastus Bigglesworth intruded and demanded that I pay him some attention, and he insisted he was no less interesting than his famous descendant. This story resulted. Thank you very much for reading. And a very Merry Christmas to all and sundry.)

:xmas:


The Christmas following the events in “Hits the Trail,” 1935, Brendenhall Manor, Buckinghamshire

Part 1

Biggles wiggled his toes in his socks, his feet perched upon a comfortably squashy ottoman in his uncle’s sitting room. A small pine tree in the corner was decorated haphazardly with handmade decorations, and a small but cheerful fire burned in the large stone fireplace. The discarded wrappings of the morning’s gifts lay about on the floor, and Jack Frost had skated upon the window panes.

Biggles leaned back into the overstuffed chair with a contented sigh, one hand around a glass of sherry. He took a sip, savoring its flavor. His eyes came to rest on a portrait over a bookcase to the left of the fireplace.

Ginger followed his gaze. “Who’s that?” he asked, idly curious.

“My great-great… well, someone from a long time ago,” Biggles told him, yawning rather disinterestedly.

“Ah,” said Dickpa from a neighboring chair. “That would be your great-great-grandfather Colonel Erastus Bigglesworth, who was one of the staff officers to General Cornwallis.”

“Who?” Ginger asked blankly.

“Cornwallis. He was the general who surrendered to the Americans during their War of Independence,” Dickpa explained. “He later became the Governor General of India. Old Erastus went with him, I believe, which started the long tradition of Bigglesworths serving in India in various capacities.”

“Have you got lots of famous generals and explorers and such in your family?” Ginger asked, intrigued.

“Probably,” Biggles told him. “Not like the Laceys, who are all lazy ne’er-do-wells,” he added, prodding a dozing Algy with his stockinged foot.

“Go away,” Algy murmured sleepily.

“See?” Biggles said, with a wink at Ginger.

“Hey! We’re related, remember?” Algy said sarcastically, sitting up from his cozy retreat in a chaise lounge near the fire and drawing his legs under him.

“How exactly are you related?” Ginger inquired.

“A number of different ways,” Algy grinned. “It’s complicated. There are charts involved.”

“That explains a lot,” Ginger teased. Algy threw a cushion at him.

“Every family has its oddballs,” Biggles replied. “Luckily, we have Algy, so we don’t have to look too far to find ours.”

Algy, having run out of things within reach to throw, stuck out his tongue.

Dickpa chuckled. “The Bigglesworth family tree is full of characters. What else would you expect, with the present company?”

Ginger looked interested. “Like who?” he asked.

“Well, there was Jedidiah Bigglesworth, who found religion, and went to the American colonies with Hooker in the seventeenth century.”

Hooker?” Ginger asked, with a snicker. “I think that means something else in America.”

“Shush,” Biggles chided, reaching over and swatting him gently on the back of his head.

Dickpa resumed, ignoring both of them. “There was Josiah Bigglesworth, who was slain at the Battle of the Boyne, and Solomon Bigglesworth, who was set adrift with Captain Bligh and managed to make it to Timor in appalling conditions. And my great-uncle, Henry Bigglesworth, who went to South America with an expedition, only to be killed in an argument over a goat,*” he said, ticking them off on his fingers. He paused and grinned before saying: “And no family history would be complete without mentioning my second cousin, once removed, one Euphegenia Bigglesworth, who disregarded her father’s wishes entirely and ran away to Paris to take up with an impoverished writer of bad poetry. She served as a cautionary tale for the rest of us youngsters at the time.”

Algy laughed. “Such scandal and intrigue,” he commented.

“Take a look at your own family tree for that,” Biggles retorted. “There’s more than enough to go round.”

“They didn’t have much else to do back then,” Algy replied lightly. “That’s why they all had seventeen children apiece.”

Biggles grinned. “There was an old legend, which I recall being told as a child, about a treasure hidden somewhere on this estate. Charles and I searched high and low for it, the summer before the Great War began, when we were here for our holidays, but all we got for our trouble were calloused hands and muddy feet.”

Dickpa smiled fondly. “You drove the groundskeeper mad, you know, digging holes hither, thither, and yon.”

“It was probably told to you in order to keep you occupied over your holidays,” Algy said cynically. “Who told you this tale, anyway?”

“I did,” said Dickpa, laughing at the expression on Algy’s face. “Now, it’s been a number of years, and I can’t recall the exact details, but it makes a good story, so listen carefully.”

TBC......

* This actually happened to one of my husband’s ancestors.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Fairblue » 12 Dec 2016, 16:56

Ooh, this is lovely, KK. Can't wait to hear the story.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Frecks » 12 Dec 2016, 17:02

This is a great idea KK. I am looking forward to reading the story.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 12 Dec 2016, 17:04

Frecks wrote:This is a great idea KK. I am looking forward to reading the story.


Thanks!

It's not a very long fic this year. I couldn't come with another Advent Calendar one in time, what with my Halloween story and all.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Frecks » 12 Dec 2016, 17:46

I wonder what Ginger's ancestors did? There would not be much interest in generations of miners and farm workers etc. Algy and Bertie could well have interesting ancestors though.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Kismet » 12 Dec 2016, 17:50

“Every family has its oddballs,” Biggles replied. “Luckily, we have Algy, so we don’t have to look too far to find ours.”


Loved this line, KK.

A lovely story so far. What happens next?
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby RAAF Spitfire Girl » 12 Dec 2016, 18:02

Great start, k_k :yay: I love how you've woven Biggles' ancestors into some of the more interesting events of history :lol: :lol: especially the goat in South America which, i'm sure, would make a most entertaining tale...
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Tracer » 13 Dec 2016, 10:28

This is super! Luckily there are some spare chairs for us to draw closer around the fire while we listen.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Fairblue » 13 Dec 2016, 13:48

Frecks wrote:I wonder what Ginger's ancestors did? There would not be much interest in generations of miners and farm workers etc. Algy and Bertie could well have interesting ancestors though.

Oh, I don't know, Frecks. I'm willing to bet a fair few of them either ended up on the gallows or were transported!
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 13 Dec 2016, 14:15

Fairblue wrote:
Frecks wrote:I wonder what Ginger's ancestors did? There would not be much interest in generations of miners and farm workers etc. Algy and Bertie could well have interesting ancestors though.

Oh, I don't know, Frecks. I'm willing to bet a fair few of them either ended up on the gallows or were transported!


Prisoners were sent to America prior to the Revolutionary War as well. At least one of mine came over that way.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 13 Dec 2016, 14:41

Part 2

They made themselves comfortable, and Dickpa began. “Once upon a time…” he started, and Biggles laughed. Dickpa shushed him with a gesture.

“One of our illustrious ancestors of old, quite possibly the same Erastus whose picture you were admiring, although it could also possibly have been his brother, having once rescued the son of a wealthy Maharajah from bandits on the Afghan frontier, was given a chest of jewels and other riches. He returned to England to retire comfortably, his good wife of many years at his side. In his old age, he became quite foolish and with his wealth attracted the interest of a young and beautiful Russian ballerina, who was touring the country at that time, and he gifted her with gems and costly fabrics. His wife, enraged, swore that she would never allow the rest of the treasure to be frittered away on loose women, and – allegedly – hid the remaining items somewhere. At any rate, they’ve never been found.”

“Really and truly?” Ginger asked, eyes wide.

“Presumably,” said Dickpa with a shrug. “My father told it to me, and he told me that his father had told it to him. He wasn’t one for fanciful nursery tales, so I always assumed it was true. My father told me he and his brothers – and one sister who resolutely refused to be left out – searched for it every chance they got, but never found anything. My elder brother – that is, Biggles’ father – and I turned the attics inside out as children, but never found anything more interesting than some moldy old tablecloths. Biggles and Charles dug up the gardens without success. So … who knows? You’re not likely to find it, all of the usual places having already been searched by generations of little Bigglesworths. We’re a very thorough family.”

“You don’t say,” Algy murmured sarcastically. Biggles threw the cushion back at him.

“How about a secret room?” Ginger asked brightly. “All old houses have them in the novels.”

“Could be,” said Dickpa. “Although this house isn’t that big. With the proceeds of some of my Incan artifacts, I modernized the rooms I use the most, but there are certainly parts of the house that are very old and unused. And there are the stables, though my brother and I went over them fairly well. You can have a look round in the morning, if you like. It’ll be easier in the daylight, anyway.”

And with that, the talk turned to other things, until they all went up to bed. Ginger fell asleep to dream of jewel-bedecked Maharajahs and beautiful Imperial Russian ballerinas.

TBC...
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Frecks » 13 Dec 2016, 15:35

Very nice KK. I love the idea of Ginger dreaming about Russian Ballerinas :lol: I wonder when coal was first mined in England. Was it when the Industrial Revolution came along or was coal used before that for furnaces and domestic fires? Whatever Ginger's ancestors did I do not think they would have strayed far from Smettleworth under their own steam.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 13 Dec 2016, 15:37

Frecks wrote:Very nice KK. I love the idea of Ginger dreaming about Russian Ballerinas :lol: I wonder when coal was first mined in England. Was it when the Industrial Revolution came along or was coal used before that for furnaces and domestic fires? Whatever Ginger's ancestors did I do not think they would have strayed far from Smettleworth under their own steam.


Here you go, Frecks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_coal_mining
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Frecks » 13 Dec 2016, 15:43

Thanks KK - that is very interesting. Ginger's family could have been miners for a few generations at least.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Kismet » 13 Dec 2016, 16:55

A lovely update. I like the thought of generations of small children being entertained by treasure hunting.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Tracer » 14 Dec 2016, 09:06

I bet the gardeners were suicidal every school holidays :lol:
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 14 Dec 2016, 14:15

Part 3

The following morning at breakfast, Ginger announced his intention of going exploring in the stables and asked if anybody wanted to come with him.

“Too cold,” Algy told him, his hands wrapped around his teacup. “But have fun.”

“Make sure you have a bath as soon as you get back in the house,” Dickpa told him seriously. “Goodness knows what’s out there. And be careful where you put your feet. It’s probably been twenty years since anybody went out there and some of the boards may be rotted through.”

Biggles frowned. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to go poking around in a rotted old barn that’s probably crawling with fleas. You might break your ankle or …”

“I’ll be careful,” Ginger interrupted. “I promise. I just want to have a look round. It won’t take long.”

Biggles sighed. “Dress warmly and be careful. We’ll come looking for you if you’re gone more than an hour.”

“Okay,” said Ginger brightly, finishing his tea in one gulp and hurrying to the hall to pull on his hat and coat.

Biggles regarded the door, still swinging on its hinges, long after Ginger had disappeared.

“Did I ever have that much energy?” he mused aloud.

“Yes,” said Dickpa flatly, and they all laughed.

**

With an ominous creak, Ginger pushed open a heavy wooden door. A shaft of sunlight poured in from a hole in the roof, and motes of dust danced in its path. A soft scurrying sound promised rats or mice in the straw. Ginger was disappointed to find the stables small and empty, save for a broken kitchen chair, a long-disused child’s rocking horse, and an old rusted pitchfork. A wooden ladder led to a hayloft, and Ginger climbed two rungs before the whole thing collapsed under his weight in a shower of splinters and dust. He landed on his backside on the ground with a grunt. Rising, he dusted himself off as best he could, and wandered around, poking into corners, but he found nothing of interest except for a couple broken pieces of carriage harnesses and a rusty horseshoe.

Fifteen minutes later, cold and frustrated, he was about to return to the house when he spied a duck pond not far away. It wasn’t cold enough for it to ice all the way across, but a thin film had formed at the edges and he wandered down toward it, idly curious. He picked up a stick and poked at the ice without any real purpose.

A sudden thought occurred to him and he hurried back to the house, banging into the kitchen with a great deal of noise that brought a shout of “Wipe your feet!” from Biggles, out of sight in the dining room. Complying with the order, he hastened into the dining room to find the others still enjoying the last of their breakfasts.

“Well?” Dickpa asked, mildly amused. “Find anything?”

“No,” said Ginger breathless in his excitement. “But…”

“That’s always the way of treasure hunting,” Biggles remarked sadly. “Go on. What great idea do you have?”

“Have you ever drained your pond?” Ginger asked Dickpa.

“No,” Dickpa said. “And I’m not likely to either. It would likely be a messy, expensive job, with nothing to show for it other than a muddy, smelly hole in the ground.”

Ginger looked disappointed.

“What makes you think it’s in the pond?” Algy asked.

“Mostly that everywhere else has been searched already,” Ginger replied. “I was thinking if I had something I didn’t want anybody to find, I would wrap it up and sink it in the pond.”

“It’s far too cold to go swimming for it today,” Biggles remarked lightly. “You can try diving for it next summer, if you’re still convinced there’s treasure under the water.”

“If you do,” Dickpa said, laughing. “You might find my Cousin Gertrude’s china doll.”

Biggles cocked an eyebrow. “How did that happen to wind up in the pond?”

Dickpa actually blushed. “Gertrude was being an insufferable brat, or at least, your father and I thought so. So we chucked her doll into the pond. To my credit, I did warn her I was going to do it, but she kept pestering us. At any rate, that was the excuse I gave my father – not that it worked.”

“How old were you?” Biggles inquired, amused.

“Seven. Your father was nine. We both got it in the neck. Your grandfather would’ve probably made us dive for it, but it was winter, a day not unlike today.”

Biggles laughed. “It’s hard to imagine my father as a rascally little boy. He always seemed so serious to me.”

“I imagine everyone feels that way about their parents,” Dickpa replied lightly. “That’s why everyone needs uncles – and aunts – to tell them the truth.” He turned to Ginger. “Go and take a bath, and change your clothes, so you don’t bring fleas in from the barn.”

Ginger looked disappointed. “Is that it? No more treasure hunting?”

“Don’t feel bad, laddie,” Biggles told him kindly. “Charles and I searched for a whole summer without finding anything.”

Dickpa grinned. “It’s a good excuse to come back. If you’re still convinced it’s in the pond, you can have a swim if you like, provided it’s warm enough. I’m sure Biggles doesn’t want you down with hypothermia.”

Ginger made a face. He was about to protest further, but Biggles shooed him out of the room and he headed upstairs to bathe and change his clothes.

Algy looked at Biggles and Dickpa suspiciously. “Tell me. Is there really a treasure?” he asked, once he was sure Ginger was safely out of earshot. “Do we need to go take a serious look at that pond next July, or is this a tall tale to keep youngsters occupied and out from under foot over the holidays?”

Dickpa smiled enigmatically and took a sip of tea. There was a long pause before he finally said “You know, Algy, Christmas is a time for believing.”

The End.

Merry Christmas Everyone.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Kismet » 14 Dec 2016, 14:36

This is fun. KK.

Algy looked at Biggles and Dickpa suspiciously. “Tell me. Is there really a treasure?” he asked, once he was sure Ginger was safely out of earshot. “Do we need to go take a serious look at that pond next July,


Can I look forward to a sequel? I like that Algy wants to go treasure hunting if there really is a treasure.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Frecks » 14 Dec 2016, 14:36

Very good KK.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 14 Dec 2016, 14:47

Thank you.

Algy is skeptical. He dug out that whole ship in South America and only got one Piece of Eight for his trouble.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Kismet » 14 Dec 2016, 15:32

kylie_koyote wrote:Thank you.

Algy is skeptical. He dug out that whole ship in South America and only got one Piece of Eight for his trouble.


But there was a pretty girl, so he didn't have to give himself up to the alligators.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Spitfire666 » 14 Dec 2016, 22:03

kylie_koyote wrote:Part 3
Biggles sighed. “Dress warmly and be careful. We’ll come looking for you if you’re gone more than an hour.”

“Okay,” said Ginger brightly, finishing his tea in one gulp and hurrying to the hall to pull on his hat and coat.

Biggles regarded the door, still swinging on its hinges, long after Ginger had disappeared.

“Did I ever have that much energy?” he mused aloud.

“Yes,” said Dickpa flatly, and they all laughed.

This is a delight, KK; just the thing to get us into the Christmas spirit :!: 8-)
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 14 Dec 2016, 22:04

I'm very glad you enjoyed it!

:thanks:

:xmas:
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Tracer » 15 Dec 2016, 10:51

It was a super read. But damn, I am interested about the contents of that pond :lol:
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby Frecks » 15 Dec 2016, 11:41

Hopefully KK will provide a follow up story in the summer.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby tiffinata » 18 Dec 2016, 02:20

A great read and I too found myself drawing my chair closer (to the computer rather than the fire) to listen in.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby HostileCacti » 13 Dec 2017, 09:35

As always I'm a bit ahem late.... :oops:

But that means that I got lots of glorious "catch up" reading to do!! :booky:

This is a wonderful detailed story and like all the others I want to know if they are going diving when summer comes.
Will they??? :?:

Algy seems keen....
There's a difference between a bad man and a good man gone wrong, answered Biggles coldly, as he turned back into the hut.
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby kylie_koyote » 13 Dec 2017, 12:25

HostileCacti wrote:As always I'm a bit ahem late.... :oops:

But that means that I got lots of glorious "catch up" reading to do!! :booky:

This is a wonderful detailed story and like all the others I want to know if they are going diving when summer comes.
Will they??? :?:

Algy seems keen....


Thank you! :hellochap:

I have asked them, but they have not been forthcoming - yet.
"For goodness sake stop that Yankee drawl, or you'll have us all doing it before you've finished."
"OK baby - sorry - I mean, righto."
"That's better."
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby HostileCacti » 13 Dec 2017, 14:40

kylie_koyote wrote:I have asked them, but they have not been forthcoming - yet.


I can understand that, they lead such busy lives - and it's winter :lol: :roll:

But a treasure that eluded generations of little Bigglesworths - could it be found by a Lacy?!! :chapdoh:
There's a difference between a bad man and a good man gone wrong, answered Biggles coldly, as he turned back into the hut.
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HostileCacti
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Re: Christmas at Brendenhall

Postby elderlyfemalerelativ » 24 Jan 2018, 17:29

Just got round to reading and enjoying it.
My gg grandfather was transported to Australia, for being a highwayman, amongst other things. I don't think he was the romantic sort with velvet coat, etc, just the sort who nicked anything he could lay his hands on. One of his daughters married an ax murderer in Sydney, I'm not sure if socially this was a step up or down.
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