Once in Holland, Julia makes herself invaluable to both Mijnheer and Mevrouw Van Heigen. For Mevrouw, this is due to Julia's excellent cooking ability and management skills. With Mijnheer Van Heigen, it is her ability to aid in his bulb business by writing letters communicating with buyers, etc., in other countries. Due to the Polkingtons having moved about a great deal during and immediately following Captain Polkington's short-lived military career, Julia picked up a number of languages which makes her very helpful to Van Heigen. The Van Heigens also have an adult son, Joost, who is a partner in the business and, as Julia discovers, is the one who actually produced and owns the blue daffodil bulbs. Joost is a quiet and somewhat shy young man who, though unworldly, still is very observant. Julia finds his respectful yet often startlingly accurate observations about her to be somewhat unsettling. She is also struggling with her conscience over her plan to get her hands on one of the bulbs, putting off doing anything to further this aim. The nearby Snieder family are friends of the Van Heigens; their daughter Denah has designs on Joost, and she regards Julia with suspicion, afraid that she will use her proximity to Joost to try to win him for herself. Julia has no such intention- her one interest is the bulb- but there are some indications that Joost may be developing feelings for her.
One day, after Julia has been in Holland for a while, she is shocked to have a run-in with Rawson-Clew who, for some strange reason, is staying in this remote corner of Holland. Their meeting is somewhat awkward, but it gives Rawson-Clew the opportunity to apologize for their first meeting, and Julia finds her original resentment of him fading. Rawson-Clew makes a visit to a specific house in the nearby village every evening, and Julia takes a regular evening walk. They start walking the distance to the village together every day, as they both like having another English person to converse with, and- after their initial awkwardness- enjoy each other's company. In all their conversations, R-C never tells Julia why he's in Holland, but Julia is an extremely observant person and figures it out on her own. The house which R-C goes to is owned by a famous German chemist who is known to have developed a new type of explosive. Julia deduces that Rawson-Clew is attempting to obtain this explosive for the British government, but doesn't ask him about it since he's never brought it up. They talk about every other topic under the sun, however, and form a friendship which is founded on intellectual debate and lively interest in each others' opinions.
Meanwhile at the Van Heigens, Julia has realized, bitterly, that she can't bring herself to take the blue daffodil bulb by any means. Since there's no reason for her to linger in Holland, Julia writes home to tell her family that she may soon be returning. She gets a letter in reply from her mother saying that they really can't afford to have her come home at present. The letter is worrying since, reading between the lines, Julia can see that the family in her absence is spending money they can ill afford, launching Cherie into society and trying to find her a wealthy and/or titled husband. Unable to go home, and not really wanting to stay in her present position, Julia feels frustrated and trapped.
At this fateful juncture, a local holiday occurs when everyone attends a fair in the village. Julia announces her intention to spend her day off hiking out to see the remote dunes. The Van Heigens think this an odd choice, but don't have a problem with it. What they don't know, however, is that Rawson-Clew is going to accompany her on the hike. Actually, they don't know anything about his existence, since Julia knows that their strict beliefs would cause them to be scandalized by her walking every evening with a man, let alone spending a whole day with him. Julia and Rawson-Clew have their holiday together, enjoying the remote landscape and each others' company. Over the course of the day, R-C reveals to Julia- still without revealing what his mission was- that he has failed, and will soon be leaving. Julia, mindful of her own failure, silently sympathizes with his discouragement. Engrossed in their conversation, they don't notice that the time has flown, and they are late starting back. Worse, a deep fog is rolling in off the water, and soon the two of them can't see where they're going. Realizing that they're going around in circles, Julia and R-C are forced to stop and wait for the fog to lift, which doesn't happen until early the next morning. They start back to the village, aware that this is going to end badly.
As they reenter the town, Julia and R-C are spotted by Denah, who gleefully runs off to tell the Van Heigens of Julia's "disgrace". Unwilling to allow Rawson-Clew to face the unpleasantness which is undoubtedly awaiting them, Julia attempts to convince him to let her return home by herself. R-C, however, has no intention of allowing her to face the consequences of their actions alone and insists on accompanying her. When they get to the Van Heigen's, no one is home, though after a moment's thought, Julia is able to guess where they must be. In an effort to again prevent R-C from having to put up with an embarrassing and offensive scene, she abruptly leaves without telling him to go to where she guesses the Van Heigens are. Left at the house with no knowledge of where Julia has gone, or when anyone will return, Rawson-Clew exasperatedly- and with some anger at Julia's determination to shield him- returns to the inn where he is staying. There, examining the situation from all angles, he concludes that the only honorable thing to do is marry Julia, though he has no desire to do so; their relationship has wholly been an intellectual one. He immediately writes a letter, proposing to her and has a messenger take it to the Van Heigen's house. In the meantime, quite the scene is occurring. Denah, who has brought her mother along, has made things sound as bad as she possibly could in an effort to discredit Julia, whom she regards as a rival. Mijnheer and Mevrouw are scandalized that she spent an entire day- and worse, night- with an unknown man (Julia stubbornly refuses to identify him). They dismiss her from her position for her actions, much to Denah's satisfaction. While she is packing, Julia receives the letter from Rawson-Clew containing his proposal. Although accepting is unthinkable, she is nonetheless glad that he made it, as it shows he is an honourable gentleman. She writes back to him, thanking him for the offer but turning him down, and tells him not to worry about her; she can take care of herself. Right before leaving, Julia receives another proposal of marriage, this time from Joost. He believes her account of what happened, and tells her that he loves her. Julia is dismayed: she likes and admires Joost, but can never love him, and is distraught to think that she has inadvertently caused him pain. In an attempt to lessen his regard for her, she confesses to him the reason she came to Holland: to take one of his blue daffodil bulbs because she needed money. Rather than focus on that, though, Joost says that she must have been in great need, and yet in the end could not bring herself to do a wrong thing. Despite his hurt at her refusal to marry him, as she is leaving by carriage Joost thrusts a package into Julia's hands. When she opens it, she finds one of the daffodil bulbs. After leaving, Julia posts her letter to Rawson-Clew who, upon receiving her refusal sets out for the Van Heigens', determined to convince Julia that there is no other option. He is shocked to discover that she has already gone, and attempts to find out what her plans were. Unfortunately for him, Julia did not confide in anyone, and even if she had, when he tells Mijnheer and Mevrouw Van Heigen that he was the man whom Julia was with, they aren't inclined to tell him anything. Rawson-Clew leaves in frustration and soon returns to England, planning to, once there, find out from the Pendletons where Julia is, and if she's alright.
Julia has not actually left Holland: rather, she has come up with a plan to do something for Rawson-Clew. This is not in payment of her father's debt, which she bitterly regrets not being able to get the money for, but rather as an act of gratitude for his friendship despite the differences in rank and social position between them. Having heard through local gossip some time before that the cook at the chemist's estate had quit- the chemist being notoriously bad-tempered and hard on staff- Julia gets herself hired by the housekeeper as a replacement. There, by patiently biding her time, she eventually hears the chemist talking to a colleague about the new explosive which he's developed. Unaware that Julia speaks German, he freely talks about it in front of her- between hurling insults and abuse at her over her cooking and service- and she manages to write down the chemical formula from memory and steal a sample of the explosive, replacing it with a similar looking powder. She then picks a fight with the housekeeper, getting herself fired. Then, with the sample and the formula carefully secreted away, she books passage on a ship and sails for England.
Well, the big family get-together is over for another year, and all 41 members of the clan have returned to their respective abodes. I got back to Nova Scotia on Monday night, tired, happy, and itchy. The one downside of the camp we were staying at was that the black fly population was unbelievably bad. Some of the kids looked like they had the chicken pox by the end of the long weekend. Most of the time we just hung out at the camp doing stuff onsite, but we did venture out and about a couple of times, once to visit a local farm where the kids got to pat a lot of the animals. Here's a picture of the goats:
We also headed out to a nearby church on Sunday morning; they had previously been given a heads-up that we were coming so that their nursery and children's program could be prepared for an onslaught of 24 extra kids. As I said, the rest of the time we stayed at the camp, playing games, hanging out and talking, and basically just enjoying spending time together. This is a picture from the soccer/baseball game:
The fellow kicking the ball is my newest brother-in-law, Daniel, who married one of my sisters in March. Actually, this sister was in charge of taking photos of the game, and for some reason it's hard to find one that doesn't have Daniel in it. Hmm. In any case, this was his first family vacation with us and he handled it very well, considering that he's gone from having no nieces and nephews to having 24, going on 25. He managed to endear himself to all the kids by wowing them with his performance in the annual talent show... several nephews immediately attempted to emulate his act, with somewhat disastrous results. Admittedly, it was pretty impressive: juggling while balancing atop a basketball. Other acts at the talent show included several musical numbers, such as a few nieces singing and dancing to "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" from Annie, and a nephew and niece performing a guitar & flute duet. A few toddlers also broke into spontaneous dance, unscheduled but hilarious. It was a true variety show, with another nephew demonstrating his ability to stand on his head, and a niece staging a (mercifully) short play which she had written for the occasion. All in all, a successful event. So, though I'm glad to be home, I'm also sorry the family getaway is over for another year. I've got lots of great memories from the weekend... as well as some very itchy black fly bites, unfortunately. Speaking of which, here's a Canadian song about black flies, though it's set in Ontario rather than New Brunswick.
"The great thing about fantasy is that you can drag dreams and longings and hopes and fears and strivings out of your subconscious and call them 'magic' or 'dragons' or 'faeries' and get to know them better. But then I write the stuff. Obviously I'm prejudiced." -Robin McKinley
I love great movie music, and loved playing it back in my band days. Now I mostly listen to it, and one artist that I enjoy listening to is Taylor Davis, a really talented violinist. She has a lot of videos on You Tube of her covers of movie themes and video game music. A fun feature of her videos is that she always dresses up in a costume from the film, show, or game the song she's playing is from. Since I'm currently reviewing the Star Wars movies (I'll have The Empire Strikes Back done soon, I promise), I'm going to include her Star Wars video, but she has a lot of good ones- I especially like her Les Miserables medley, and her LOTR covers. Definitely worth checking out if you like listening to movie music.
Well, I'm off to our annual family jamboree, which we're holding in New Brunswick this year, so I'm currently on my way to- or have crossed over- the border between our two provinces. When we were kids, my brothers and sisters and I when crossing this border would suck in a big breath, filling our lungs with Nova Scotian air and holding it as long as possible. I occasionally still find myself doing this without thinking... force of habit, I guess. We would also often sing the chorus of "Farewell To Nova Scotia"- after letting our breath out, of course.
"Farewell To Nova Scotia" is sort of the unofficial Nova Scotia anthem. No one really knows who wrote it; it was discovered around 1933 by Helen Creighton. Helen Creighton was a well-known folklorist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She traveled around collecting folk songs, myths and ghost stories from remote little communities all over the province. While on the Eastern Shore, she encountered a woman named Ann Greenough in the small community of Petpeswick, who taught her "Farewell To Nova Scotia". As she visited locations about the Eastern Shore, Helen heard a number of versions of the song, which was obviously well known and loved by the locals. Creighton published the song in one of her books, but it didn't achieve much notice outside the province until the 1960's when the CBC television show, Singalong Jubilee, which filmed in Halifax, used it as its theme song. I have a hometown affection for "Farewell" because I grew up on the Eastern Shore, and attended high school in Petpeswick. Though we don't know who actually wrote it, it's assumed that it was written during W.W.I, when so many were leaving home to sail away to war in a foreign land. This is especially evident in the verse which starts out: "The drums they do beat and the wars to alarm..." Strangely, though the subject matter is somber, the tune is pretty upbeat and definitely catchy. I'm going to post the song being performed by a local group, Sons of Maxwell:
The Good Comrade is the 1907 novel by Una Silberrad, who at the time was a fairly well-known British author of novels which were sometimes rather condescendingly referred to as "middlebrow". Considering what frequently passes for literature these days, I think that history will eventually be a little kinder to Miss Silberrad; in any case, here's an outline of the plot: At the start of The Good Comrade, the Polkington family has fallen on hard times... actually, that implies a sudden calamity; it would be more accurate to say that they gradually and steadily slid into penury. There are several reasons for this, most of them involving the nominal head of the family, Captain Polkington. A weak and ineffectual man with a taste for drinking and gambling- and a head for neither- he was a failure in the military and, having left it, an even bigger failure in civilian life. The situation isn't helped by his wife, who fancies herself a society hostess though the family is precariously teetering on the fine line between middle and upper class. The family, which includes three daughters, has managed to keep up at least the pretense of respectability by staying one step ahead of their creditors, making minimum payments on their bills, and sponging off wealthier relatives.
Despite the family's precarious financial status, they manage to conceal the state of their affairs for the most part. They have a parlour which contains all their good furniture, and into which all visitors are shown. The rooms that the family actually live in are cheaply and sparsely furnished. Likewise, while dainty, fashionable goodies are put out for visitors, family meals consist of plain and humble fare. Mrs. Polkington's aim is to manage to keep up appearances long enough for the girls to contract advantageous marriages. She succeeds with Violet, the eldest daughter, who has formed a respectable if not brilliant alliance with a young curate; they are engaged to be married. Mrs. Polkington harbours no such hope for Julia, her middle child. Julia is the plainest of the girls and- more troubling- the plainest speaking. She prefers to deal with reality, unpalatable as it may be, rather than share in the family habit of facades and self-deception. Mrs. P.'s youngest, prettiest (and favourite) daughter Cherie seems the most likely to land a wealthy husband to rescue the family finances, and she has pinned her hopes to this. One fateful night, Julia is keeping Johnny Gillat company as he waits for the return of Captain Polkington. Johnny is an old friend of her father's from the days when they were both better off financially. Although none too bright, he is a faithful friend, though the Captain does little to deserve such loyalty. Johnny is also very fond of Julia because she, unlike the rest of the family, will actually talk to him. When Captain Polkington arrives, he is inebriated and in despair. It turns out that, in possession of the cheque containing the family's income for the next three months, he had a few drinks and then thought it was a good idea to visit the racetrack. There, he proceeded to bet- and lose- the entire sum and having done so, borrowed more money from a young man- a Mister Rawson-Clew- and lost that as well.
This is a disaster for the Polkingtons for a number of reasons. One of these is that now the family has no money to pay their bills or live off of for the next three months, and they were barely scraping by even with their expected income. Also, with Violet's wedding coming up, there are extra expenses which now cannot be met. On top of this, Mister Rawson-Clew's uncle (also named Rawson-Clew) shows up at the house, under the impression that his nephew has been taken advantage of by a hardened fraudster. Of course, five minutes in the company of weak, cringing Capt. Polkington disabuses him of that notion. Julia walks in on this interview and, equal parts angry and ashamed, rashly promises that the money will all be repaid. Rawson-Clew, dismayed by how this meeting has turned out, takes his leave in a dignified manner and later writes a letter to Capt. Polkington, forgiving the debt. The captain is relieved by this, but Julia is even more angry and embarrassed, and privately vows that someday, somehow, she will repay the money her father owes. In the meantime, Julia has to come up with a way to keep the family from complete financial ruin; the rest of the family has no concept of saving money or living within their means. She convinces her mother that Violet must go live in Bath in the months before the wedding, as it is much cheaper there. She also arranges to have Cherie accompany a wealthy elderly relative to Europe as a companion. Johnny Gillat also comes to live with them, even his meager rent making a difference. Mrs. Polkington puts a positive spin on all this to her society friends- by lying to them. Violet is going to Bath to nurse an elderly relative back to health. Cherie is enjoying a tour of Europe, and Captain Polkington's old army buddy has come for an extended visit. Oh yes, and they've had to let the maid go... it's so hard to get good help these days. These measures have kept the Polkington's heads above water, just barely. But what keeps nagging at Julia's mind is the debt to Rawson-Clew. No amount of pinching pennies will produce the necessary funds to repay the money which her father borrowed.
At a social event, Julia meets a businessman who deals in flower bulbs. While answering her questions about his profession, he casually mentions that a bulb grower in Holland has produced some extremely rare bulbs: blue daffodils. He says that if the grower would sell them, he could get large amounts of money for them- even one would bring a small fortune. So far, however, the grower has refused to sell. When he tells her the grower's name-Van Heigen- Julia realizes that she met him once while he was in England. She reflects that the sale of one of these bulbs would give her enough money to pay back Rawson-Clew and immediately determines to get one. She writes to Mijnheer Van Heigen and manages to get herself appointed as a companion/ helper to his sick wife. Her family has no objection to her going to Holland; her mother is relieved to have one less mouth to feed. The only one sorry to see her go is Johnny Gillat who, unlike her family, turns up to see her off at the ship.
Hamlette over at Hamlette's Soliloquey has nominated me for the Liebster Award, which involves answering some questions and then posing some more. So, first off, here are my answers:
1. Are there any movies you like better than the books they were based on? 2. Have you ever liked a remake better than the original film? 3. What movie do you enjoy introducing other people to? 4. Do you identify strongly with any movie characters? 5. Do you have any favorite film score composers? 6. What's the oldest movie you've ever watched? 7. What's the newest movie you've watched? 8. Do you have any favorite movie-watching snacks? 9. Whose movie recommendations do you tend to trust? 10. What was the last movie you watched? 11. What's the next movie you plan to watch?
1. I recently watched Brooklyn and then afterwards read the novel, and I really preferred the film which is unusual for me. 2. Not often, but Homeward Bound is a better movie than The Incredible Journey. I also prefer His Girl Friday to The Front Page. 3. You Can't Take It With You,Laura, and I Know Where I'm Going! Oops... that's three, not one. 4. Um... not really. There are plenty of characters I love, but none that readily come to mind as being similar to me and/ or my experiences. 5. I have a fondness for Henry Mancini and John Williams, not just due to their excellent scores, but also because of the nostalgia factor- I played a lot of their stuff in the school band over the years. I also enjoy quite a few of James Horner's scores. Oh- and George Gershwin, of course. 6. I think 1927's Wings, but I'm not positive... I watch a lot of old movies. 7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 8. Nachos. Yum. 9. My sister, Rebecca. Although our movie tastes aren't identical, they overlap a lot, and she knows what I like so if she says I'll enjoy a movie, I generally will. 10. 1938's Robin Hood. 11. I'm planning on going to see Jungle Book as soon as I can free up an evening.
So I'm not going to nominate anyone specifically... I'm just going to list my questions, and people can answer them if they want. Here goes:
1. What is the very first movie you remember watching? 2. What decade do you think produced the best films? 3. What is your favourite animated feature? 4. Favourite Black and White movie? 5. Do you have a "guilty pleasure" film- one you know isn't actually very good, but you love anyway? 6. Who is your most admired leading man? 7. Leading lady? 8. What is your favourite song in a movie musical? 9. What movie bad guy/ gal do you love to hate? 10. What mystery film kept you guessing right until the end? 11. What book would you like to see made into a movie?