A Campney Carol – a Lincolnshire Christmas Ghost Story.
Updated: Jan 31, 2022
On the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds in deepest darkest Lincolnshire is a little known village called Campney Hollow. It is a pleasant village comprising a pub, the Cherry Tree, a church and a small village shop surrounded by a rag tag collection of houses and farms that by and large have been occupied by the same local families for many years. An exception to this rule was Grange Farm, down Campney Lane.
Grange Farm was occupied by the Simpson family, they had bought this 400 acre farm on the edge of the village twenty years ago. As far as the locals were concerned they fitted in well despite being from some posh farming county in middle England where the barns had doors. Local legend held that the barns in Campney Hollow had no doors as a result of a 500 year old curse, but reality was that farmers in this area had been far too tight to waste money on doors for their barns! Indeed the Simpson family quickly drew attention to themselves by adding a door to their barns and thus defying the local curse. The Simpsons had two sons Charles and Harry. As they grew up their acceptance into the community was increased as Charles married a local girl. Indeed there was much celebration as it brought new blood into the village. Many of the local children had webbed feet and whilst this was considered an advantage when you fell into a drain the recent occurance of six toes had caused alarm to many a new mother. Charles’s marriage cemented the Simpsons family place in the local community, where you usually had to live 50 years before being regarded as a local. Charles , did not, however, follow into the family farm, preferring a career in computers. This was a great advantage as by the turn of the millennium Charles had been successful in campaigning to bring the first telephone lines to Campney Hollow allowing him to use a computer whilst the rest of the village enjoyed Alexander Graham Bell’s greatest invention for the first time. It was deemed the greatest event since electricity first came to the village in the 1970’s, shortly followed by power cuts as the industrial turmoil of the era hit the country.
Unlike his brother Harry followed on in the family farm, married a foreign girl from the nearby market town of Horncastle, settled down and had a young family of his own. Young Harry was a happy farmer (a rare breed) and thoroughly enjoyed his chosen life running the family farm under the watchful eye of his parents. Seasons changed, harvest came, followed by winter. The farm had its routine. By December, Harry would have all the fields sown, sugar beet lifted and would trim the hedges down the lane before enjoying a short season of shooting over the Christmas period into January. Harry was happy, content and nothing bothered him. Well, almost nothing.
Every December Harry would trim the hedges down Campney Lane. And every winter he would break the trimmer as it hit the rusty old metal of an old grey Ferguson tractor that was dumped deep into the hedge.
It was a beautiful, cold, sunny December morning. It was the 22nd of December and Harry had just started trimming the hedges down Campney Lane when the ear-splitting sound of metal against metal was heard and the job was brought to a standstill. “Dam, blast and bother”, he said and jumped out of the cab to view the damage. Once again, like every previous year, the trimmer had been broken by the old grey Ferguson tractor that lurked deep in the hedge. “This is the last time you do this to me!” he shouted futilely at the inanimate Fergy. He jumped back into his shiny green John Deere went back to the yard, detached the trimmer and came back to the hedge towing a flatbed trailer and carrying a strong chain.
Harry clambered into the hedge, cursing and moaning as thorns stuck into him and hooked the chain onto the old grey Fergy. At least there was some grey paint left amongst the rust. Eventually, after much effort he pulled the Fergy onto the flatbed and drove it off towards Don Boswell’s on the far side of the village.
Don Boswell was the local scrap dealer. He had a graveyard of old tractors, combines and cars that had accumulated over the last forty years. Don called himself a gypsy. In all aspects he looked like a gypsy with gold knuckle duster rings, a ruddy complexion and sparkling blue eyes that had lured many a local girl. Don had a love of horses. He had a large caravan that he towed behind a large American 4x4 which he took to Appleby Fair. The truth however is that Don Boswell was born Don Smith, the son of the local farrier, and he changed his name to Boswell at the age of 12 (without any legal documentation) after reading DH Lawrence’s The Virgin and the Gypsy, on the grounds it would increase his chances with the local girls. With his looks, this was probably not needed as he lost his virginity at the age of 14 after changing the flat tyre of a very grateful, passing housewife of 32 years age.
Harry arrived in Don’s scrap yard to be greeted by a snarling Alsatian dog that pulled at the full extent of its chain. Don stepped out of his office. Don’s office comprised an old armoured military mobile command post that had been purchased from an army surplus store. The wall of this building still had a map of Helmund Province over which had been pinned a Hubbards Seeds calendar surrounded by pictures of semi-naked ladies. As Don stepped out of his office he bellowed at the dog, “Shaaat Ap!” The dog immediately lay down and became silent.
“Don. What will you give me for this bastard?” asked Harry.
Don said nothing and walked around the trailer with his head cocked to one side. He looked at Harry, smiled, showing his grill of gold caps. Then resumed to walking around the trailer with his head cocked to one side like a blackbird waiting to pick a worm out of the grass.
After five minutes of this Harry could stand no more and broke the silence, “How about one hundred and fifty quid?”
Don smiled, held his head back and laughed. “Its not your tractor!”
“What the hell do you mean? “ retorted Harry.
“Its not your tractor. It belonged to Teddy Redman. He drove it into the hedge the day before he died.”
Harry was getting annoyed at this, “Its out of my bloody hedge, its broken the trimmer every bloody year, Teddy Redman bloody died before we arrived in the village. My hedge. My tractor. Now do you want the bloody thing or not?”
“All right, keep your hair on Harry. I was only teasing. I’ll give you a hundred for it.” With that Don spat on his hand and held it out. Reluctantly Harry accepted the offer and shook his hand feeling the warm spit squelch between them to settle the deal.
Harry off-loaded the Fergy and drove back through the village. It was nearing lunch time, so Harry parked his tractor at the Cherry Tree pub and called in for a pie and a pint, after washing his hands, of course.
As Harry entered the pub he smelt the familiar smell of Ogden’s Nut Flake being smoked by Albert and Fred Burgess, Harry’s elderly near neighbours. There they sat puffing away at their pipes as they each drank a pint of mild. Now, smoking inside a pub was illegal in most of the country, but everyone in Campney Hollow realised this only applied to cigarettes and foreigners, and thus Albert and Fred’s small vice was tolerated. Last summer, Peter, the landlord at The Cherry Tree had a spot of bother when a passing tourist complained about the smoke. Peter had tried to explain to her that as Campney Hollow was twenty years behind the rest of the country it would be a few more years before the smoking ban was enforced. She was not amused, left her half-finished drink without paying, and complained to the local constabulary as soon as she found a mobile phone signal (which was near the Belmont transmitter several miles away!). A couple of weeks after the complaint a policeman from Horncastle drove into the village, called in at The Cherry Tree pub and after three pints of Batemans XXB explained to Peter that he should put a no smoking sign up in his pub. Peter explained that it would not be a problem as he was having the chimney swept the following day, and all was well.
Anyway, Harry entered the pub, ordered his pie and a pint. Whilst pulling the pint Peter said, “You’ve got rid of it then.”
“I take it you mean the tractor?” asked Harry.
“Yup”, replied Peter.
“Bloody hell, news travels fast around here. Was it the jungle drums that told you? Or the smoke signals?” he said with a smile nodding towards Albert and Fred as they puffed on their pipes. “Would you boys like a top up?” he called across to them.
“Don’t mind if you do”, replied Albert and Fred in unison like the creepy twins from that Stephen King film. Peter smiled and drew them two more pints of mild. “Come and join us boy”, said Albert, shortly followed by Fred overlapping, “Yes, my boy, come and join us.” Harry sat down next to them with his pint.
Albert smiled, “Thanks for the drink,boy. We saw you struggling to move that old Fergy.”
Harry smiling back, “You didn’t feel like giving me a helping hand?”
“No, no, no, no, no. Its not your tractor. Its Teddy Redman’s tractor.”
“Don’t you start,”said Harry, “I’ve already had this from Don. I tell you what I told him. Its my hedge and its my tractor. Besides, Teddy died before we came to the village. He owned our farm before the previous owner did.”
“Thats right”, said Albert, his brother nodding. “Teddy drove that tractor into the hedge the day before he died.”
“Why did he do that?” asked Harry.
“Well, boy,” replied Albert, “its like this. Teddy was a bachelor who got fed up to the back teeth with being pestered by his sister and her kids who hoped to inherit his farm. So, what he did, he sold the farm to his old school friend about three months before he died with the condition that he could live in it for the rest of his days, which he knew would not be long. When he drove the tractor into the hedge he told me it was the last thing he owned and he didn’t want any scrounger getting their hands on his hard earned money.”
“But what happened to the money?” asked Harry.
“Well Teddy left everything he had to his sister. But everything was nothing as two days before he died he took all his money out of his bank account and it disappeared.” Fred nodded at his brother’s words and echoed “... it disappeared.”
“What do you think happened to it?” asked Harry.
This time Fred spoke up, “ I reckon he bunt it all up. After Albert pulled him out the hedge he went back home and had a bloody great bonfire. Burnt all his furniture bar his bed which he was found dead in the next day. God bless him.”
Albert then said, “How much did Don give you for the Fergy?”
“A hundred quid,” replied Harry.
“He saw you coming.” Said Albert. Have you seen how much the pay for those clapped out old tractors at the sales? I bet its worth triple that.”
“I’m just glad to be shot of it”, replied Harry.
“I bet you are. But, you will regret parting with it. By my word you will.”
Harry smiled finished his pie and pint and bid his farewell to the two brothers and Peter the landlord. Harry then spent the remaining hours of daylight repairing the trimmer.
When Harry got home he was greeted by his two sons Albert (aged 5) and Michael (aged 6) who both shouted at him in excited pre-Christmas voices, “Daddy, Daddy, you got rid of the old tractor in the hedge that makes you swear!”
Taken aback, Harry said to his wife Geraldine, “How did they know about that?”
“Oh you know what the jungle drums are like in The Hollow”, replied Geraldine.
“I’d better not have an affair then,” retorted Harry.
“No you better not”, said Geraldine picking up the largest of the sharp knives out of the knife block.
Harry swallowed, it may be a joke, but like every man he felt that fear of castration, even in joke.
The evening went well with the usual evening routine with excited children being read seasonal bedtime stories before heading to the land of nod, followed some time later by two tired parents.
When Harry and Geraldine went to bed they both fell to sleep almost instantly as the wind blew leaves against the bedroom window pane and the temperature dropped. As Harry dropped off to sleep he could hear the distant knocking of the exhaust from an old tractor. He thought nothing of it as he drifted into slumber.
Around mid-night Harry stirred. With his eyes still shut he swore he could smell the distinctive old smell of Player’s Navy Cut cigarettes. Harry remembered this smell from his childhood as his grandfather smoked them. Harry was fascinated by the box with the sailor. All of a sudden he realised he should not be smelling cigarettes and sat bolt up-right. As he opened his eyes he saw sat at the foot of the bed with his back towards him an old man, wearing a raggy trench coat and a flat cap cigarette smoke rising gently above his head. Harry could not believe this. He turned and looked at his wife. She was fast asleep. Harry prodded her hard, to which she responded without waking a muttered “Piss off, I’m tired”, rolled over, snorted, and immediately returned to a deep slumber.
Harry coughed. There was no response from the intruder at the foot of the bed. He then said, rather meekly, “Excuse me,but,” he paused, “What the hell are you doing in my bedroom?”
The old man stood up and turned to face Harry. The stranger was about five feet ten inches tall with a slight stoop. He had a craggy, weatherworn face with a faint smile and a cigarette lodged in one corner of his mouth.
His hands were stuffed in the pockets of his coat. His trousers were scruffy with binder twine holding them up around his waist. On his shoulder was a long chain that stretched to the bedroom door. As he turned this chain clunked slightly on the floor.
“I could say the same to you, boy,” said the stranger, with the cigarette nodding up and down in the corner of his mouth as he spoke.
Harry pinched himself and then said, “ You are my imagination. You must be. The beer at the Cherry Tree must have been off. Or was it the pie. They tasted ok. Perhaps you are that bit of stilton cheese I pinched out of the pantry. They say cheese makes you dream. Or has Geraldine put too much sherry in the mince pies?”
The old man took his hand out of his right pocket, grabbed the chain on his shoulder, and stepped alongside the bed closer to Harry. He pulled on his cigarette, withdrew it from his mouth and blew smoke into Harry’s face. “I am no dream,boy. I am no bad ale, or mouldy pie, or cheese. I am real. I am Ted, and I’ve got a bone to pick with you boy.”
Harry could not believe his eyes, “You mean, you are telling me you are Teddy Redman who used to own this farm?”
“I am boy, and I’ve got a bone to pick with you. You moved my tractor. Put it back.”
“What ?” said Harry.
Ted put his nose next to Harry’s, “PUT IT BACK.”
“But I sold it.”
Ted stepped back a pace slightly startled and said, “Do you reckon to sell what’s not your’n.”
Harry was now annoyed, “Hold your horses Ted. Lets make this clear. You are long dead. The farm is mine, the hedge is mine, and that bloody tractor was mine.”
Ted rattled his chain, “Are you stupid boy? See this chain. It will be yours to drag about if you don’t return that tractor to MY farm. Now you be a good boy and take heed. I’ll be back tomorrow to check its back.” With that a cool breeze blew through the room and Ted vanished.
Harry jumped out of bed, ran downstairs, and checked the doors were locked. He then checked on the boys and returned to bed. Was it a dream?
The next morning Harry Simpson awoke a little bleary eyed. It was the 23rd of December. With the trimmer repaired and that bloody tractor removed he could finish the hedges today well before Christmas and a well earned break. He thought it prudent not to mention the previous night for fear of ridicule. However, the memory of Teddy’s intrusion was clear.
At lunch time he headed into the Cherry Tree Pub for lunch. On the way there he was stopped by the postman in his van. “Hello, posty,” said Harry, “you’re a new face.”
The spotty youth at the wheel of the van barely looked old enough to drive. “Excuse me sir, could you tell me where these addresses are? There are no numbers in Campney Hollow. Look here, “ he showed Harry the letters, “this one is The Hawthorns, this one The Chestnuts, and this one The Sycamores.”
Harry smiled, it was clear this was a temporary, non-local postman. Harry explained to him that various houses in the village were named after the trees in their front gardens. Hence the names, The Chestnuts had three Chestnut trees in its front, The Sycamores three sycamore trees, The Hawthornes a hawthorn hedge. Even the Cherry Tree Pub had a cherry tree in front of the pub. The young postman having no idea what one tree looked like from another, relied on Harry’s directions to complete his round. Harry smiled and entered the pub.
As on the previous day Albert and Fred were smoking by the fire and nodded a greeting to him as Peter served him his pie and pint.
“Tell me Peter, do you remember what Ted looked like?”
“That’s a bit of an odd question Harry. I don’t remember him too well. You’re best to ask the old boys by the fire. I take it you’re buying them a drink?” Albert and Fred smiled and held up their empty glasses as they puffed on their pipes.
Harry complied, bought them a pint a piece and after some small talk about the weather and grain prices asked the question, “ I don’t suppose you remember what Ted looked like?”
Albert smiled, “Why do you ask boy? Has he paid you a visit?” Fred laughed.
“No, of course not”, Harry lied. “Its just that I’ve found some old photos and wondered if he was in them?”
“Oh,” said Albert, “Well I remember exactly what he looked like the day before he died. He had a craggy face. That raggy old trenchcoat. His trousers were always tied up with binder twine and he always had a fag on. Are you sure he hasn’t paid you a visit to ask for his tractor back?”
“Of course not,” retorted Harry. “Any way, I’ve got work to do.” Harry stood up hurriedly made his farewells and got back to work.
This evening was similar to the last with the boys even more excited as Christmas approached. The family all got to bed early in anticipation of a busy day for tomorrow was the 24th.
As midnight approached Harry was awoken by footsteps entering the room dragging a chain. As before he could smell Players Navy Cut cigarettes, an ancient cigarette smell. Harry opened his eyes and there at the foot of the bed, smoking was the same old farmer boy. Same as the previous night his wife was in deep sleep snoring like a lovable baby pig.
“Not you again,” Harry said indignantly.
Ted replied, “Don’t be out with me boy. You ain’t returned my tractor yet!”
Harry frowned. Got out of bed and stood next to Ted. Ted was a good six inches shorter than Harry. He smelt of diesel, and cattle, and cigarettes, and sweat. Harry could not help but notice the chain slung over his shoulder that dragged upon the floor, all the way out of door, “You’ve got the chain, you can drag your bloody tractor back yourself.”
Ted smiled, he drew on his cigarette and blew a cloud of ghostly grey smoke into Harry’s face. “You’ve noticed my chain then.”
“Of course, you woke me up dragging the bloody thing across the floor,” Harry retorted.
“Well aren’t you curious about how I made it?”
“No!” replied Harry, “Now piss off and leave me in peace.”
Ted laughed, “let me show you how I made this chain first.”
“Do I have a choice? I suppose this is the point where you push open the windows and fly me to your miserly past like Bob Marley?” retorted Harry.
“Its Jacob Marley. Who the hell is Bob Marley? Anyway, I can’t fly any better than your overfed pheasants. Now lets go downstairs and watch that television of yours.” Ted made for the door dragging his chain behind him as it looped back down the stairs into the lounge.
Harry followed, watching Ted as he got to the lounge and slumped down in Harry’s favourite threadbare chair. “Its a good chair this is boy. Better than my old one.”
Harry sat on the sofa, pinching himself to check he was still awake. He was.
“Switch it on boy,” said Ted.
Harry picked up the remote, “Which channel?”
“There’s only one”, replied Ted.
Harry pressed one, the 32inch flat screen TV burst into life with a black and white picture of Ted ploughing the field down the lane, looking much as he did today.
“Good picture, boy. That’s me you see, a few weeks before I died. A right miserable bastard. Now you watch and you will see more. The picture changed. A young farm boy was feeding horses, he must have been about 8 years old, a young blond haired girl was walking behind him, “Will you play with me?”
“I am too busy to play. I’ve got work to do.”
The girl look disappointed, but skipped off.
“That’s me boy, I loved working with them horses.”
The picture changed, Ted would be about 17 in these shots. It was harvest and he was sweating and filthy as he stood stripped to the waste on a threshing set. A pretty young blond haired girl had a tin and a corked glass bottle containing a dark liquid. She looked admiringly at the young man before her. The noise from the traction engine and the thresher was deafening. She stepped as close as she could without being in the dusty cloud of the thresher and shouted, “ I’ve brought your dinner, and some cold tea.” He ignored her. She stepped around into his line of sight, into the dust and held the bottle and the tin up. Ted was busy, he waved and pointed to the back of the engine and carried on working. The girl paused, watching Ted as the sweat ran down the small of his back leaving a trail through the dirt on his back. She smiled, obediently placed the tin and bottle where indicated and walked away.
“That you again?” Harry said. Ted nodded.”Who, is she?”
“Bethany,” replied Ted shortly.
“She liked you,” Harry said.
“Perhaps she did”, said Ted, “but I was too busy....” he stopped as the picture changed. It was the village church with Bethany about 23, looking beautiful in a simple white bridal gown. She was standing by the gate with a tall young man in an RAF uniform as the gay entourage threw rice at the happy couple. As this was happening Ted drove by on an orange Allis Chalmers tractor. Bethany and the young RAF man wave at him, but Ted does not notice as he drives by.
Harry looked at Ted. He thought he saw a tear form in the corner of his eye. The screen turned black as the TV switched itself off. Ted turned to Harry and stared at him. He looked stern. Harry felt uncomfortable. “Now I’ll tell you how I forged this bloody chain,” Ted flicked the chain so its coils rattled along the floor.
“I made this chain myself. Each time I worked an acre of land I forged one more link. Each time I lifted a bushel of wheat or a sack of tates I formed one more link. I never cared for anything but the land and I became its slave.”
“So what’s that got to do with me?” asked Harry.
“You bloody fool. You don’t realise it, but you’re starting to form a chain of your own. Look!” Ted pointed at Harry’s feet. To his horror Harry saw a chain tied to his left angle, it was heavy, but only about two yards long.
“Now, listen to me boy. I came here to help you before its too late. Now be a good boy AND FETCH MY BLOODY TRACTOR BACK!” Ted roared fiercely and rattled his chain and disappeared in a cloud of grey cigarette-like smoke.
Too tired, Harry slumped on the sofa and entered a deep sleep.
Harry awoke in the morning really early whilst it was still dark. He got washed, dressed, ate a piece of dry toast whilst drinking a cup of tea and thinking about the night before. He checked in his wallet. It contained £80. “Not enough,” he thought. Harry forgot about the the fact it was Christmas Eve and he had been too busy to buy his wife a present. Instead he was resolving to get back Ted’s old tractor. Hearing his wife starting to stir he shouted up the stairs, “Geraldine, I’m nipping into town early and I will be back. I want to get an early start.” Without waiting for a response he stepped out the door, slamming it behind him. Harry stepped into the yard, got his land rover and hitched the flatbed trailer to it. He then drove to the nearest cash machine in Horncastle and withdrew £500 before returning to Don Boswell’s scrapyard.
Harry pulled up in the scrap yard and Don’s dog ran up snarling to the full extent of its chain. The dog snarled and barked. It was only 7.30. Don flung open his door and came into the yard. His shirt was unbuttoned and his tanned belly poked over the top of his thick belt. He had a bacon sandwich in one hand that he threw at the dog. The dog snapped it up whole and promptly sat down and went quiet.
“What the blood hell have you come here at this time of the morning,” snarled Don.
“Excuse, me, but I want that Fergy back,” stammered Harry meekly.
“You, what?” bellowed Don.
Harry became braver and said, “I want that Fergy back.”
Don could not believe his ears. He cocked his head to one side, thought for a moment, and then roared with laughter.
Harry went silent, not knowing what to say.
Don smiled, a twinkle in his eye, “It’ll cost yer.”
Harry swallowed hard. “How much?”
“Five hundred quid.”
“Three hundred,” snapped Harry.
“Four fifty,” replied Don just as quickly.
“Three hundred and fifty,” replied Harry. “They make three hundred in the sales.”
Don turned his back on Harry and started to walk back to the house, calling back, “Four hundred and fifty or nowt.”
Harry paused, Don was nearly at his door. “Ok! Four hundred and fifty.”
Don turned around slowly with a big gold capped smile, “Cash of course.”
“Of course,” replied Harry as he held the cash up for Don to see. He walked over to Don and handed him the money.
“Now where is it?”
Don smiled,” Its around the corner behind that old Foden lorry. I’ll show you. “ Don walked around the corner and there was the old Fergy sat there with its two back wheels removed and laying on the ground before it. “Its all there. Its just that I started to take it apart. I’ll leave you to it. A pleasure doing business.” Don wandered off back indoors chuckling quietly to himself.
Harry cursed under his breath as he struggled to chock up the old tractor and put back its wheels before winching it onto the trailer. The whole process took him two hours. He then got into his land rover and drove back through the village to his own farm. As he drove through he could see Albert and Fred Burgess pointing at him and laughing as he drove by. “Curses, I’ll be the laughing stock of the village.”
Back at his yard he reversed the trailer out of site into the shed and unhitched it leaving the tractor on it.
He got back to the house about 12 to be greeted by a very angry Geraldine, “Where the hell have you been. You know I’ve got a list of jobs to do and I have got to go into Horncastle to collect the meat and buy veg and a hundred and one other things. Here, “ she handed him a note with a scribbled list of jobs, “do these and look after the boys.” Geraldine stalked off annoyed at her husband’s thoughtlessness.
By the time Geraldine was back it was 4pm. Harry redeemed himself, by helping her unload the car; getting her a cup of tea and running her a bath with her favourite cinnamon bath bomb.
Refreshed Geraldine wrapped herself in her thick robe and came downstairs and snuggled up by the fire as she watched Harry and the children play. She smiled at this idyllic scene, “You know Harry,”Harry turned to look at her and smiled his cheeky boy smile,” you don’t do enough of that.”
“What?” asked Harry
“Play. You don’t play enough.They’re only young once.”
Harry smiled, “I’d rather play with you.” He jumped up and gave Geraldine a great big kiss and a hug.
Geraldine recoiled, “Ugh! You’re filthy and you smell of diesel. Have a bath.”
Harry tried to kiss her again, “Bath!” she retorted, dodging his kiss and pointing to the stairs. Harry complied.
Harry got out of the bath, they had tea. Then the children were prepared for bed and stories. Harry recited “’Twas the night before Christmas.” The evening ended with two tired and excited children tucked up in bed shortly followed by equally tired parents.
At mid-night Harry awoke with a start. A chain was dropped at the foot of his bed. Harry sat bolt upright to see Ted once again. “Not you again.”
Ted smiled, “Don’t worry boy. This is the last time you will see me. I see you got my tractor back. You paid too much though. It only cost me fortyfive quid!”
Harry frowned, “ You’ve only come back to take the mick.”
Ted continued to smile, “Well you’re wrong there. I came back to tell you to look in the toolbox.” Immediately Ted said this he started to fade.
“What did you say?”asked Harry.
“Look in the toolbox,” and with that Ted faded away.
Harry immediately fell asleep.
Next morning two excited children bounced into the bedroom wakening Harry and Geraldine by bouncing on them, “He’s been! He’s been! Santas been!” With them they pulled two sack loaded with presents which they quickly opened under a torrent of torn paper and excited shouts and giggles. Presents opened Geraldine turned to Harry and said, “We’d better get up. Got veg to prep and turkey to stuff before your parents arrive. I don’t suppose you got me a present?” Geraldine asked hopefully.
Harry went red, “Well sorry darling, but I’ll get you something in the sales.”
Geraldine smiled thinly, “Ok dear”, she gave him a quick peck on the cheek trying to hide her disappointment as she thought Harry left early yesterday to get a present. Geraldine got dressed and went down to the kitchen. Harry followed, but seeing Geraldine busy and the children parked in front of the TV with their toys he nipped outside to the shed.
Inside the shed on the trailer sat the tractor.
“Look in the toolbox,” a distant voice echoed from the tractor.
Harry went over to the side of the Fergy where the toolbox was. It was locked with a rusty old lock on the lasp. Harry searched the shed and came back with a lump hammer and a cold chisel. One strike and the lock flew off. Harry reached inside, there was a thick, sealed, waxed envelope. Harry picked it up and ran back indoors.
Getting back to the house his parents had arrived.
“Hello Mum, hello Dad, Merry Christmas.”
They smiled. “Your brother and his mob will be over soon. “said Harry’s father, “Now what’s this I hear about you pulling that old Fergy out of the hedge; selling it to Don; and then buying it back again. You’re the joke of the village” he chuckled.
Geraldine froze mid way through peeling a carrot. She turned with fury on her face, “ You mean you cleared off early yesterday, went into town, DID NOT buy me a Christmas present yet again and bought back that bloody tractor!” Geraldine was so angry she was almost in tears.
Harry was horrified. He had never seen her this angry. The room went silent. Then Harry remembered he had the thick waxed envelope in his hand. Shaking slightly he held the envelope out to Geraldine, and stammered, “T-t-take it its yours.”
Geraldine looked confused, took the envelope and stared at it.
Harry’s Mum piped up, “You two sit down. I’ll finish the veg and get us all a coffee. “
Geraldine sat down at the kitchen table joined by Harry whilst his father climbed onto the floor to get the children to show him their presents.
Harry quickly gabbled the whole story of the tractor, Ted’s ghost, the chains and the tool box with the envelope. Geraldine sat there open mouthed hardly able to believe a word of it.”We had better open this then.” Geraldine picked a knife off the table and broke the seal of the waxed envelope and pulled out its contents. She could hardly believe her eyes. Neatly stuffed inside the envelope were four hundred white five pound notes total face value of £2000! Yet more was discovered in the corner of the envelope, wrapped in tissue, was a beautiful gold necklace that held a large two carat drop shaped diamond. As Geraldine tried on this most unexpected of presents (for both her and Harry) neither of them noticed the feint writing on the tissue:
“To Bethany, with love.”