The Golden Tup

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The Golden Tup:

 

Adreadful tale of a young couple’s paradise being cruelly taken from
them by latent evil.

Can evil be in a place and if so, how?

This tale opens with Verity, a farmer’s wife, recalling how a
young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their
new born baby. But how could such a nice young couple have done such
a dreadful thing?

Through a series of flashbacks we learn how
they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come
into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually
fallen apart – how, with references to Milton’s Paradise Lost, their
paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past,
but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what?
What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill
their baby?


Chapter 1.

Is this the end of this new glorious world?”

“I suppose it has been a good ten years,” commenced Verity,
meaning that it had been a good ten years since the police had
arrived that morning, arrested Constance and Matthew and had driven
them away without anyone in the valley knowing anything about it. So
it was with complete disbelief that some first learned of what had
happened when watching the news on TV that evening, and then of
course the story was round like wildfire. They had killed their own
baby!

The press and TV crews had arrived en-masse trying to get people to
say that “they’d had their suspicions all along,” “there was
always something strange about them” and so on and so forth, but
no-one had said anything against them, quite simply because no-one
had had any suspicions and there hadn’t been anything strange about
them. She was not some mad Medea, nor he a deranged Tantalus.
Everyone knew them as a nice young couple. Indeed, many thought that
the police were barking up the wrong tree and had arrested the wrong
people. It was a complete mystery to us all how such a lovely young
couple had done such a dreadful thing.

Verity, who I would guess was in her sixties, had an air about her of
being solid and dependable, someone you could rely on, which is
perhaps why she had got on so well with Constance, who was in many
ways a younger version of her. Indeed, their relationship had been an
almost mother and daughter one. Verity’s parents had been farmers and
she, in her turn, was a farmer’s wife. She was a quiet serious woman,
though when I say serious, I don’t mean serious in the sense of
lacking in fun. She was light hearted and liked a good joke as well
as any, but she was serious as in not inclined to idle talk and
rumour, though this did not stop her, like so many in the valley,
from wanting to know what everyone else was up to!

One in the group had asked about Constance and Matthew – what had
become of them, had anyone heard from them, or similar? – and because
Verity had known them better than anyone else, and probably because
sufficient time had elapsed so that she didn’t feel that she was
betraying their confidence, she decided to yield to pressure and tell
us what she knew of their story.

“Oh, where do I begin?” she said, a tad flustered. “Perhaps
when Constance and Matthew had that dreadful row in the pub at
Christmas time?

Actually it wasn’t Christmas time, was it? No, it was November, but
all the decorations were already up and we were all in a Christmas
mood.

Yes, it was the evening when we all went down to the new tearoom to
see a film. It was a cold frosty one – the evening that is, because
as you’ll remember, we never got to see the film! – and was already
minus 4 as we arrived. The sky was completely clear and the stars of
the Milky Way were sparkling right across it, from horizon to
horizon, millions and millions of stars, like twinkling diamonds
strewn on black velvet. It was an absolutely wonderful sight and made
you feel quite small standing there looking up at the vastness of it
all.

Oh! But that tearoom!”

We all knew what she meant, but for the benefit of Susan and Peter
who had only recently moved to the village, she went on to explain
that the village shop and Post Office had closed the previous year
and that we villagers had been trying to find an alternative –
another place to have both a shop and a Post Office – and how as a
result of this, though not as a solution to it, the old tearoom had
been modernised by a QANGO (Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental
Organisation) which knew next to nothing about doing this sort of
thing, didn’t give us either a shop or a Post Office which had been
the aim of the exercise, and disgracefully wasted a small fortune in
public money in the process. My words I hasten to add, not Verity’s,
although they could have been hers as Verity was not shy of giving
her opinion and calling a spade a spade!

Verity then went on to explain that the evening in question was meant
to be a sort of inauguration of this new tearoom. Whereas the
modernisation had run to affording a few square metres of expensive
bespoke solar panel, which was probably just about capable of
producing enough power to heat a kettle, a wood pellet burning stove
which, although we have the largest forest in the country sitting on
our doorstep, relied on foreign imported wood pellets to fire it, and
a system which used rain water to flush the toilets when we also have
the largest lake in the country also sitting on our doorstep, no-one
had thought of insulating or double glazing the building properly!

“Talk of odd priorities,” continued Verity, “but it was public
money they were spending, not their own! So that evening, because of
the lack of insulation and double glazing and because the brand new
wood pellet burning stove which had only been running a week or two
had already broken down, the place was like an ice box! Indeed, we
probably would have been warmer had we been sitting in a
refrigerator.

So still in our outdoor clothing – hats, gloves and scarves – and
gradually loosing feeling in our hands and feet, we waited while this
young slip of a lass from the aforementioned Quasi Autonomous
Non-Governmental Organisation tried to get the projector, or whatever
you call it – it was a new digital thing – to work. Why she hadn’t
learnt how to operate it before coming out to see us, I have no idea.
But then why anyone would modernise a building and install a new
heating system in it without insulating and double glazing it first,
I also have no idea! Perhaps both are products of the same mindset?

Eventually this girl had to give up, so we didn’t see our film, which
had been billed as the highlight of the evening, and instead had to
listen to that fellow from the council telling us all about all the
wonderful arts projects that were planned for the area, even though
no-one had asked for them, wanted them, or had any interest in them!

Oh dear!” she sighed, “A stove which didn’t work, in a building
which hadn’t been insulated, a projector which didn’t work, and the
promise of artwork which no-one wanted! Goodness me! How public money
was wasted in those days.

But I must get back to Constance and Matthew, mustn’t I?

Finally, thank goodness, as the cold was getting to everyone, the
evening was brought to a close. Some went home to warm up, but many
of us crossed over the road to the pub, The Woodcock, which had a
lovely, good old fashioned blazing log fire going and a bar room
which was lovely and warm!”

Verity smiled and, as if to emphasise her point, sent that wonderful
warm smile round the table before continuing,

“As you’ll all remember we had all warmed up nicely and were then
having a very pleasant evening – all-be-it that most of the
conversation was on the ludicrous short-comings of that tearoom! –
until suddenly Matthew put his hands on the table and leaned across,
and in a voice cracking with emotion almost shouted at Constance,

“You slut! After all we have been through. How could you?”

And this, only just after she’d had their baby!

I didn’t know what to make of it, and nor I expect did anyone else
present. All right, you never know what goes on in other people’s
marriages, but I just couldn’t believe ill of Constance, or of
Matthew for that matter. He was obviously desperately trying to
control himself. His whole body was shaking and anyone else would
have probably started throwing things about, or banging on the table
or worse, but he was such a nice gentle man, so this outburst was
just so unlike him.

He stood up, taking his hands off the table, his face red and
contorted with the effort of trying to hold back his rage and his
tears, looked at Constance in a manner which suggested that his heart
was going to break, and then turned and walked out of the pub gently
slamming the door behind him.

Just a few minutes earlier the bar had been buzzing with
conversation, but after this the room was absolutely silent. None
present could really believe what they had just heard and seen.
Constance had not even attempted to answer Matthew and had just sat
there stunned and white, before she broke the silence by quietly
bursting into tears. I held her in my arms as she sobbed her heart
out. Others came over to offer help, but what could anyone do? It was
pretty obvious from the outburst what Matthew had thought had
happened. However, women don’t usually go off and have affairs
immediately after having a baby, and as already said, I couldn’t
believe this of Constance either. Poor Constance, she seemed to be at
a total loss to comprehend the unfairness of Matthew’s outburst or to
know what to do. To me she appeared as hurt and guiltless as Matthew,
which made the incident both extremely sad, but also troubling, as
one could not help but be mystified with just what had gone wrong.”

Here Verity paused; partly I suspect at her recollection of the
sadness of the whole situation and also at the sense of uselessness
and impotence that she and all of us had felt, as none present knew
anything more than what had just been said, so how could any of us
have offered any form of assistance to Constance, well, to both of
them actually, though Matthew had already left?

When Verity recommenced her tale it was in a somewhat cool and
emotionless manner of someone stating what has to be stated,

“Although conversations started up again and the dart players
finished off their game, the atmosphere was spoilt and soon people
started drifting home. Constance dried her eyes and did her best to
put on a brave face. She was a strong young woman, both physically
and mentally, and so for her to break down in floods of tears was as
unexpected as it was for Matthew to loose his temper. She thanked me
and when I asked if she was going to be all right, nodded a “yes”
and we got up and went out to the car park together. There we found
her car, which Matthew had not taken, so I did wonder how he was
going to get home that night. She got in, gave me another brave-face
smile and then drove off.”

But Verity couldn’t hide her emotions for long,

“Oh, what a horrible way to end an evening! What a dreadful mess!”

“And the next thing I knew about this business was when Constance
rang me the following morning, again in tears.

“Matthew has left
me.””

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Author

Leslie W P Garland

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