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Day After Day: Ten

At last the day of the picnic arrives - a day for conversation and happiness.

Jean Day continues her romantic story which is set at the end of the Victorian era. To read earlier chapters please click on Day After Day in the menu on this page.

August 18th dawned bright and beautiful, a perfect day for a picnic. The Tree family had a long-established tradition of al fresco dining. Opening their garden to new visitors was not the least bit daunting.

Soon everyone was mingling and chatting on he lawn. There was food and drink in abundance.

May went up to Harold and John Day who were standing to one side. "How lovely to see you again,'' she said. Then, addressing John "Will you soon be off to Oxford?”

“Micklemas term starts late,'' he replied. "I won't be going there until the end of September. However my clerical training involves quite a lot of reading, so I will be quite busy.''

Muriel, somewhat annoyed that May had stolen a march on her, asked Harold “And when are you going to Camborne?''

“I start at the beginning of September,'' he replied. "We put in many more weeks than those Oxford toffs. I will go down the week before the term begins to find lodgings.”

“What sort of courses will you take take to qualify as a mining engineer?” asked Muriel.

“I took Latin, French, Arithmetic, Additional Mathematics, Euclid and Scripture Knowledge for my lower certificate and have just qualified for the higher certificate in French, Elementary Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Trigonometry, Statistics, Scripture Knowledge, and English essay.”

“I studied Greek and Latin at school,” said May "though I can't see that those will do me much good.''

“What sort of courses do you take to become a clergyman?” Muriel asked John.

“Well, this last year I had to write four papers,'' he said. "I chose to study Israel from the beginning of the Exile to 4 BC, The Gospels and Jesus, the development of the doctrine in the early church up to 451 A.D. and God, Christ and Salvation. Each paper had to be 10,000 words long, so it was almost like writing a book.''

“Which College are you at?” Muriel asked, genuinely interested.

“Hertford. It is located in Catte Street, directly opposite the main entrance of the Bodleian Library. The college was originally founded as Hart Hall in 1281 by Elias De Hertford. Some of our famous students include John Donne, the metaphysical poet, Thomas Hobbes, the political theorist and William Tyndale who first translated the Bible into English. We are great contenders in the annual college boat race. I hope you will be able to come and see that sometime.''

“Oh, I would love that,'' Muriel enthused. "Do you have special parties or festivals?”

“There is a ball at the end of each academic year. All the colleges are involved in May Day celebrations. The Magdalen College choir assemble on he river bridge to sing as dawn breaks. Lots of visitors come on that day. They go punting on the Isis.''

"I shall mark the event in my diary,'' said Muriel somewhat forwardly "and hope that you remember inviting me.''

“I would like to come too. Perhaps you can find a friend to pair me up with,” said May.

“I’m sure that could be arranged,'' said John, "I will of course write to tell you the details.''

Tentatively Harold asked the girls "Will you write to me?''

“Of course we will,” May assured him, taking it upon herself to also answer for Muriel. “I expect being so far away you won’t get home very often.”

“Probably not until Christmas, then again in the summer,” said Harold. “I will check to see if there are any social occasions to which I could invite you. I believe Cornwall is a very attractive county.''

At that point the host, Mr Tree, gathered everyone together for a group photograph. Muriel observed the process with the keenest attention, being interested in becoming a photographer.

“Come now, boys,” said Mr. Day. “It is time for us to be going home.''

So the Days gathered together, expressed their thanks, then departed.

Mr. Tree called Muriel to one side and informed her “I have heard from my uncle, James Arrowsmith. He has read your great grandmother’s poems. He thinks they are very fine, but not quite of that quality which is required for them to be published as a book. He suggests that you should try to get them published one by one in a lady’s magazine,, The Women’s Home Companion perhaps, or Harper’s Monthly Magazine. Another suggestion is that you could write to Arthur Quiller Couch at Oxford University. He brought out an anthology of poetry last year called the Oxford Book of English Verse. He might be able to offer some useful advice.''

Muriel was inevitably disappointed, but she maintained a brave face. She thanked Mr Tree. "I will follow your sauggestions,'' she said "and please do thank your uncle for taking time to read the poems.''

So May, Muriel and their families, after offering profuse thanks for a pleasant day, took their leave, with a promise of another picnic and get-towether, this time at Lansdowne Crescent.

May and Muriel were radient as they wended their way home.


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