Ha'Penny Schemes (Ivy Rose Series Book 4)By: Gemma Jackson
To Jewel Gore – my first rabid fan, now a friend – who berates me, loudly, if I allow something to happen to Ivy that she doesn’t like.
To my daughter Astrid – thanks for the constant supply of life-giving tea and for sweeping around me as I escape into another world. I’d be buried in dust and dog hair but for you.
To my readers who have taken the time to share their enjoyment of my books with the world – thank you.
To Poolbeg Press – I thank you for allowing me to fulfil my dream of being a published author. Paula Campbell and Gaye Shortland – two ladies who work hard to make my books the best that they can be – I’ve learned so much from you both.
To my parents Rose and Paddy Jackson – both gone now but never forgotten. They were true Dubs – no matter how tough the going got they smiled and shared what little they had. I never told them how fortunate I was to be their daughter.
“Ivy . . .”
“Shhh, go back to sleep.”
She hated to move away from her husband Jem’s warm flesh but needs must when the devil drives. She had things to do. She crept almost silently from the warm nest of the bed. She pulled the old army greatcoat from the foot of the bed, wrapping it around her shivering body with speed. She needed no light in the dark room. She grabbed her boots and left the room, closing the door at her back.
The bedroom was one of two large rooms that opened directly onto the long wide kitchen. Ivy had set the other room up as her workroom. The still-glowing embers in the black range nestled into the chimney breast gave enough light to guide her around her kitchen.
In moves that were automatic, she took the long, knotted strip of newspaper she’d prepared the night before from on top of her kindling box which was kept close to the range. She removed the glass domes from the wall-mounted gas lamps. “These domes could do with a wash,” she whispered before turning to light the paper from the embers in the range.
Over the years, Ivy had developed the habit of talking aloud to herself – and sometimes to her dead father – when alone in her rooms. Having a husband now hadn’t broken her of the habit.
She swiftly turned the knob on the nearest lamp to release the gas. The blue flame hissed and danced when she touched the flaming paper to the gas. She repeated the action with the second lamp before dropping the burning paper into the range.
“My kingdom for a pot of tea!”
She felt the familiar frisson of joy shiver down her spine while she filled her small metal teapot directly from her kitchen tap. No more standing in line at the outdoor community tap for her. No more hauling buckets of water until your arms ached and your fingers bent. The novelty of indoor plumbing was delightful.
She lit one of the four gas rings on her new freestanding stove and put the battered pot onto the ring with a satisfied sigh. Would she ever take the touches of luxury Jem had brought into her life for granted?
I’m glad Emmy isn’t here this morning, she thought while raking the still glowing fire in the range. When their adopted ‘niece’ stayed over, Ivy was afraid to move around the kitchen. It didn’t take much to wake the little girl. She shovelled the hot ash from the grate into a tin biscuit box. She’d save the ash for Jem to use in their back garden. She dropped kindling made from broken boxes and fresh nuggets of coal onto the glowing embers.
“You little beauty!” Ivy jumped to tend to the spitting teapot on her stove.
She still couldn’t believe the speed the gas boiled up the water for her tea. It was a blessing on a cold dark morning. She removed the metal lid and poured tea leaves into the bubbling water. Then she turned off the gas and set the teapot on top of the warm range, leaving the tea to brew.
Without removing her coat, she began to dress. She’d left her clothes draped over two kitchen chairs pulled close to the range overnight. Sitting on one of the chairs, she wiped her hand briskly over the soles of her bare feet before pulling long knitted stockings up her legs. She pulled the boys’ tweed trousers, which she’d taken to wearing to keep the cold wind from freezing her nether regions, up her slim legs. She pushed her feet into her well-worn boys’ work boots.
“I’ll have me first cup of tea before going any further.”
She washed her hands and face in cold water before taking the metal milk jug from the cold cupboard and putting it on the oilcloth-covered kitchen table. Then she selected a matching cup and saucer from the freestanding cupboard.
With her first cup of tea inside her, she dropped the heavy coat onto a kitchen chair pulled close to the table. Shivering, she pulled a man’s long-sleeved vest over her head and down her body. A long black skirt came next, over the tweed trousers. A youth’s linen work shirt and a heavy knit jumper completed the outfit. She pushed the two chairs back under the kitchen table and poured another cup of tea.