Let me tell you a bit about that lot over at Hay Booth. Folks round here usually call them The Holgates as they all look that much alike even I’ve to squint to tell one from the other. Christopher and Isobel have four bairns – three strapping lads and one lass. Nick’s the eldest, then there’s Eddie, Will and Gracie. They’ve all got their mum’s curly black hair and mass of freckles, which is fine for the boys but doesn’t sit well on the wench. Gracie’s not a patch on our Ali. Never will be.
I don’t have much to do with the lads. Issy does her damnedest to keep them away from Malkin Tower as she’s worried they might turn out like our Jim. Nick must be close to twenty-or-so now, and being the tallest everyone calls him the Big Holgate. He helps his dad out in the pasture most of the time and has the makings of a grand shepherd, which is just as well as he’ll likely inherit the farm one of these days. He’s a serious lad, thoughtful and steady – but different to Eddie as chalk from cheese – which is odd being that there’s only a year between them.
Eddie’s the one that lands up in bother. You’ll find him on a treebranch or in a scrap with one o’ the local lads – and mischief should be his nickname, instead of Holly. When someone says that Holgate lad he’s the first one you think of because he’s always mixed up in summat or other. He’s the best looking of the clan and has already got quite an eye for the lassies, or so I’ve been told.
Next comes Will, the one we’re all pinning our hopes to complete his apprenticeship as a cooper in Lancaster. He’s known as T’other Holgate. Will’s got a rare talent with wood and he’s dead good at mending our Great Wheel whenever one of the spokes gets stuck or broke. I think he’s the most like Isobel, though I don’t know if he’s got half her ambition or business head. I’ll warrant they’ll just have to wait and see.
And then there’s Gracie. Most folk don’t realize she’s my granddaughter as she’s not a bit like Ali or Jenny. It’s a good job she can spin and dye wool as her chances in wedlock are slim, and she’s none o’ my cunning. Shame is, she tries so hard. Ali teases her all the time, and because they’re best mates the foolish wench takes no notice o’ what’s being said. I’ve given up trying to teach her aught. I think there’s too much of Issy’s church teachings got through and the lass can’t bring herself to do what needs doing.
Perhaps because she’s going to Confirmation instruction our Gracie’s not been named in the witch hunts. But I half expect she might join us here in the castle afore we’re done. I wonder if she knows where Jenny is?
Well ta for visiting and here’s your reward: Wear brown for good health and a happy hearth!