Genre: FICTION/Crime Detective Mystery
Author: Julius Falconer
Brenda and Darren first met one morning at the very start of the holidays. Brenda was idly leaning out of her bedroom window in her night-dress, admiring the fresh sun as it rose ever higher into a blue sky, when her eye was attracted by movement in the garden. Focussing, she spied a well-built man with his back to her, cutting roses, exhibiting not at all the shape or stance of old Martin. Curiosity obliged her to keep staring as the man worked his way very slowly down the short row of roses, still with his back to her, cutting the branches down to the lowest bud and discarding the detritus on the path behind him. At the end of the row, he straightened up, slipped his secateurs into the pocket of his jacket and turned to survey the path. The white of Brenda’s night-clothes caught his eye, and he looked up at her window. She ducked out of sight,embarrassed to be the object of scrutiny while still in her night-wear, but not before she had glimpsed the clean, clear-cut face of a young man not much older than herself. She dressed for breakfast with half her mind on the fleeting vision of this new member of the household, a mild interest aroused to offset the tedium of yet another day at Scarthingwell, and after her solitary meal, her uncle having as usual buried himself in his study, she sauntered into the garden to make the gardener’s further acquaintance. Seeing no reason not to introduce herself instead of waiting for a chance meeting, which could probably only awkwardly and with delay be engineered, she made her way round the house until she saw him raking over a bed in the vegetable plot.
‘Hello,’ she said, ‘I’m Brenda. Who are you?’ She did not offer a hand.
‘Oh, hello,’ he answered, straightening up and turning to face her. ‘Darren – at your service,’ he added with an inclination of his head. (The reader should note that Darren’s aitches, like those of his fellow-Yorkshiremen, were rarely in place but are included here for good form’s sake. The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for other Tykisms.)
‘You’re obviously the new gardener. I didn’t even know old Martin had left.’
‘Well, yes, he did, as you see,’ Darren agreed. ‘Retired. Hung his boots up. Turned his last sod. He did well, though, didn’t he: must a’ been near eighty, I reckon. So you’re still at school, I s’pose?’