HE WHO RIDES A TIGER

"HE WHO RIDES A TIGER" Chief petty office Peter Thompson the upstanding, charming gent hides a secret, he is an abuser of children. How long can he evade the law. one young girl, his daughter finds the courage to come forward to tell all after years of torment.. based on a true story. "A must read"

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15. 15

The men spoke slowly so that Edward could understand. They told him that the local church was about five hundred yards away.

Edward thanked them and then drove into the main village where they found a bed and breakfast. The lady of the house was called Amaline Barnet and was the wife of an Englishman called Charles. They had only one daughter Alayna.

Edward asked Charles about buying a farm.

Charles said he would help them find a farm as he knew a friend who was selling his ten-hectare working farm. Charles told them that he wanted £10.000 Francs for the property and they were leaving all the furniture, along with the animals, and poultry, the tractors and the carts. Charles told them that there was a three-bedroomed cottage and a large barn that could be converted into more rooms if they wanted to add bedrooms and let them out to holiday makers.

“Any chance of knocking them down in price?’

“I will ask them, how much you offering?’

“Tell him I’ll give them £4.000 cash.’

“May I ask how you made all your money?

“Property development Charles, the council were selling off housing cheaply after the war, so I got in there and bought them all up. I borrowed money up to my neck, but it was worth it in the end- I got a building team in to re-develop the houses and then sold them for a handsome profit.

“Very clever I must say.’

“How did you end up here in France working a bed and breakfast?

“I met Amaline when I was stationed near here during the war. I was a major in the marines you see.

I got wounded in Dieppe and I went back to work on my father’s farm when I was pensioned off. After the war, my brothers, who now run the farm in Devon gave me enough money to buy this small place here out of my share when my father died.

“Are you and your good lady married?

“No, we want to get married here, we thought it would be more romantic.’

“I see, well I can arrange that for you too, we get on well with the priest here. If you have ten minutes to spare you can meet father Andre and I’m sure he would be delighted to marry you both as he married us didn’t he dear.’

Amaline’s husband was executed by the Germans for hiding Jews in the barn.

That was where we met, as I was hiding in her attic at that time. My unit were on a mission to blow up a train heading to Paris with German troops that were shipping tanks and guns across the country. It was also loaded with ammunition. once we blew the train all hell let loose on us as we tried to make our way back to where we were stationed. We were pursued by a large German tank regiment across the country and I got separated from my men when we came under fire and I ended up here hiding in the attic.’

“I watched as they shot her husband but could do nothing. Alayna was only three years old at that time and she doesn’t remember her father.’

“I adopted her when Amaline and I got married after the war ended.’

Charles drove Edward and Elizabeth to the church where they met father Andre. He wore a simple brown robe tied with a rope belt and carried a wooden crucifix on some beads. His hair was tonsured and he wore sandals with no socks on his feet. When Charles saw him, he was in the garden tending to his crops. Growing flowers and vegetables was his other passion in life.

“Father, can I introduce Edward and Elizabeth from Portsmouth. They have come to France to live and they want to get married here.’ Charles left the young couple to discuss things as he went for a cigarette.

Father Andre welcomed them then asked how long they had known each other?

“About two years isn’t it Elizabeth?

“Yes, about that.’

“Ah true love, who could deny anyone the right to marry in the sight of God said the priest with a smile.

“Do you attend church and receive the eucharist?

“Yes, father said Elizabeth.’

“And you Edward do you attend your church?

“Not as often as I’d like to father.’

“Well you will have plenty opportunity to attend my church.’

“I look forward to it said Edward.

Now when were you planning to marry?

“Well,’ as soon as possible really father, as we plan to buy a farm nearby and we wouldn’t want people talking you know.’

“Yes, I can see your point.’

“Well next weekend is the soonest that I could marry you, you will of course have to come to church for rehearsals before then.’

“That would be fine father thank you.’

“Can we say Wednesday afternoon for rehearsal?

Yes, we can do that.’

Good, now I hope that you two are not cohabiting before then.’

“No father, said Elizabeth, we are staying at Charles guest house in separate rooms.’

“That is good, I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, so if you’ll excuse me I have a garden to cultivate.’ Father Andre picked up the garden hoe and began to riddle it between his plants as Edward and Elizabeth returned to where Charles was waiting for them.

Charles met them as they came out. “Will he do it?’

“Yes, next Saturday, we only have a week to prepare.

“You will need a suit and you my dear a wedding dress.

Where can we buy them?

Charles laughed then said in Paris maybe but not here, I will loan my suit and Amaline will loan you her wedding dress. She can adapt it to make it fit. You are about the same height and build that I was before Amaline’s cooking got the better of my waistline.

Thank you, I also need a ring, do you know anyone?

“Yes, there’s a Jew called Isaac Messner who survived Belson concentration camp who lives in the village. I will go and see him tomorrow he will make you both a fine ring.’

“You seem to know an awful lot of people Charles.’

“It’s a small community here Edward, everybody knows one another.’

“I suppose it comes in handy when you want anything done.’

“Yes, we have plumbers, electricians, builders, plasterers, you name it and it can be done. ’Mind you don’t expect them to be as quick as it is done in England. They live at a very relaxed pace here in France.

“I must go to the bank now and open an account?

“The bank is now closed Edward, it shuts at twelve o’clock each day and will open again first thing in the morning. I will show you where it is on the way back.

“What about food shops?’

“Well we grow most of what we need, milk and cheeses we make ourselves. Everything really, beer and wine is grown here locally and sold. Fish is caught and sold at the market and other people bring fruit and vegetables here to sell. We raise our own cattle and we slaughter and butcher them ourselves. I will show how to do that. I grow wheat to make flour and we mill it and sell it at the market too. It helps to buy animal feed and to pay the vets fee’s when the calves are born.’ We have a good supply of chicken and rabbits here. You too will have them if you get the farm, which I’m sure you will get. There is the bank over there said Charles pointing down the road, the market is just down from there on the right.’

Turning up a dirt track Charles pulled in outside of the farm. He got out then asked if they were both hungry.

Yes, we are said Edward who hadn’t eaten a thing since they boarded the ferry.

“Amaline has made a rabbit stew, we eat a lot of rabbit because the land is wick with the blighters. Every morning I go out with sally my dog and I shoot at least half a dozen and a couple of big hares. It does nothing to harm the population because they are prolific breeders.

Charles sat at the table as Amaline set down a large pot filled with stew. Then she brought out fresh baked braided bread and her own salted butter churned just that afternoon.

Charles opened a bottle of wine and filled up everyone’s glass.

Alayna came through and said hello, she was nearly six years old she could speak fluent English as well as French.

“To Edward and Elizabeth said Charles raising his glass, may they find much happiness here.’

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