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The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter #07 - The Tale of Oat Cake Crag by Susan Wittig Albert

The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter #07 - The Tale of Oat Cake Crag by Susan Wittig Albert

Author:Susan Wittig Albert [Albert, Susan Wittig]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Mystery
Publisher: PENGUIN group
Published: 2010-07-26T22:00:00+00:00


12

Miss Potter Investigates: At Belle Green

Beatrix didn’t linger to discuss these shocking possibilities with Lucy Skead. She did take a moment to open the letter from Warne, and was happy to find the overdue cheque enclosed. She didn’t open the other, though. She was anxious to get on with what she had decided to do. So she walked on up the hill to Belle Green, where Mathilda Crook, wearing a white apron over her gray dress and a smudge of flour on her cheek, opened the door and invited her into the kitchen.

“I’m jus’ doin’ a little bread-bakin’, Miss Potter, so if tha dustn’t mind, tha cans’t sit at t’ table wi’ a cup of tea whilst I finish kneadin’.” She poured the tea, then attacked the mound of white dough, turning it deftly and pummeling it once again. “It’s me mum’s soda bread recipe, which she always baked plain. But I like to put in a few dried herbs from the garden. Needs no risin’, which makes it quick.”

“I’ve always enjoyed your bread, Mrs. Crook,” Beatrix said with a smile, adding, “I’ve told my mother how very good it is.”

Now, it was true that Mrs. Crook’s soda bread with herbs was very good, although Beatrix had not thought to mention it to her mother, who would not in any case have been impressed. Mrs. Potter had never baked a loaf of bread in her life—or cooked a meal, for that matter. Cooking and baking were best left to the cook one hired for that purpose. I hope you’ll forgive Beatrix’s little fib, for it didn’t hurt anyone and certainly pleased Mathilda Crook to no end, which was exactly Beatrix’s intent, of course.

“Hast thi, then?” Mathilda beamed. “Well, now, that’s nice, Miss Potter. And how are they? Thi mum and dad, that is.” She turned and pummeled and pummeled and turned (but gently, for soda bread does not require a great deal of kneading), then shaped the dough into a large round loaf.

“As well as can be expected, for their ages, thank you,” Beatrix replied. “I’ll let them know you’ve inquired.”

Mathilda was by now mightily pleased. Mr. and Mrs. Potter had rented a summer house not far from the village some years ago, and had brought their servants, their horses, their coach, and their coachman. Their well-staffed holidays were still spoken of with something like awe in the village. She felt deeply complimented at the thought that she would be mentioned to them.

“Well, if it isn’t Miss Potter!” exclaimed Rascal, dancing through the door. He had slept in that morning in his bed in the pantry, worn out with the excitement of Mr. Baum’s accident the night before. “So good to see you!”

“Good morning, Rascal.” Beatrix leaned over to pet the little dog. “Oh, by the way, Mrs. Crook, I wonder if you might be willing to do some mending for me.” She put her parcel on the table and opened it. “My favorite tablecloth needs darning, and I’ve always admired your almost invisible work.



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