Read Dolphin Child Online

Authors: James Carmody

Tags: #adventure, #cornwall, #childrens book, #dolphin, #the girl who, #dolphin adventure, #dolphin child, #the girl who dreamt of dolphins, #dolphin story, #james carmody

Dolphin Child

BOOK: Dolphin Child
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DOLPHIN CHILD

___________________________

By James Carmody

 

Originally published in ebook format in 2013.

 

Copyright © 2013 James Carmody

 

The right of James Carmody to be identified as the author of
this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78
of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988

 

Smashwords Edition

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This
ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you
would like to share this book with another person, please purchase
an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book
and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only,
then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the
hard work of this author.

 

 

For Margreet

 

 

 

Chapter One

Lucy Parr sat perched on a large boulder. She rested her
elbows on her knees with her feet half immersed in the rocky pool
below. She was wearing a black wet-suit, cut off at her elbows and
knees. The exposed skin of her lower arms and legs was pink with
cold from where she had been in the sea. Her dark hair dripped
water down her back. The sun was still low in the sky and the light
that dappled the water half dazzled her. She squinted as she stared
back out to sea, scanning the horizon.

Lucy felt a pleasant sense of tiredness as she rested on the
rock. Only twenty minutes before she had been swimming in the sea,
free amongst the swirls and eddies of the cold waves that beat
rhythmically at the base of the cliffs. She knew the waters well
and was quite aware of the dangers that they held. The tidal
currents could pull an unsuspecting swimmer out to sea before they
knew it. Even a strong swimmer like Lucy was no match for the
treacherous seas around this part of the coast. She shouldn’t
really be there, but Lucy had got up early and slipped out before
her aunt Bethany had a chance to stop her. The sea exerted an
irresistible pull on her and she could not keep away. Bethany knew
that was part of who Lucy was and that although the seas were
dangerous her niece would be safe. She knew that Lucy would not be
swimming alone.

Twenty metres behind her, half way up the cliff path, a boy
crouched behind another rock, looking down upon her. He didn’t want
to be seen and peered out around the rock cautiously. He’d been
watching her for some while as she swum with confident powerful
strokes through the sea, diving and dipping in the sea like a seal,
close by and further out. He’d seen who she had been swimming with
too.

The boy was thin, a year or two younger than Lucy, with curly
hair, and a narrow face. He looked smaller than other children of
his own age. He was wearing a baggy tee-shirt and jeans and
shivered slightly in the early morning breeze. The girl in the
wetsuit had climbed back out of the sea some minutes before and was
sitting still, as though she were rooted to the rock that she was
sitting on. The boy was cramped behind the boulder and thought it
safe enough to stretch out his legs, but doing so he accidentally
kicked a pebble that skittered down the steep path to the shore.
Lucy glanced up and the boy rapidly pulled in his legs so that she
would not see him. Lucy sensed that someone was looking down at her
and felt the hairs on the back of her neck prickle uncomfortably.
She turned and stood up, taking a step or two towards the path that
led up the cliff from the cove. The boy glanced nervously round the
boulder and saw the girl coming towards him. He turned and ran away
up the path.

Lucy watched the slight figure run off. The slope was steep
and he was soon out of breath. As the boy slowed, Lucy had a clear
sight of him as he turned the bend and disappeared. ‘Just a kid’
she thought. She sighed. It would have been nice to have someone to
talk to.

There was an overhanging ledge of rock in one corner of the
beach where Lucy had left her normal clothes. If the small cove was
empty, she could change out of her wet-suit in seclusion without
being overlooked. She peeled the wetsuit off and quickly dried
herself with a large towel. Once dressed, she stuffed all her
things into her rucksack and hoisted it onto her back. She walked
over the pebbles towards the steep path that led out of Old Man’s
cove. Her legs felt heavy with tiredness and her feet sank into the
pebbles as she walked. Small waves broke rhythmically on the pebble
shoreline. The tide was coming in and had obscured the thin
crescent of sand that was exposed when the tide was out. The smell
of salt and seaweed on the air was particularly strong.

Lucy glanced back towards the sea again. Could she see them?
No, no they were gone. Once or twice as she clambered up the steep
path out of the cove Lucy had to hang on to clumps of grass to help
pull herself up. She wasn’t surprised the boy had exhausted himself
trying to run up the path. She wondered who he was. They were a
couple of miles out of Merwater. Maybe he was staying in one of the
holiday cottages, she thought.

Once she cleared the top of the cliff, the path came out into
an open field. Sometimes there were sheep grazing but there were
none there today. In the early morning light the rabbits would
emerge from their burrows under the hawthorn bushes and graze on
the dew covered stems of grass. She could see their neat droppings
on the grassy mound where they liked to sit. Lucy glanced back out
at the sea. It was so great to be here in Cornwall. She wished she
could stay here forever.

Lucy climbed over the stile to the road and pulled the old
bike that Mary at the farmhouse had lent her out of the ditch where
she had hidden it. It was all downhill from here and Lucy was happy
to free-wheel gently down the lane. She clattered over the cattle
grid into the farmyard, got off and propped the bike up. Bethany’s
studio was a converted outbuilding. Its iron-framed windows looked
south down the valley and let in plenty of light all day. Lucy
pushed open the door of the studio and walked in. Although it was
still early, Bethany was already at work at her painting. She had a
brush in hand and was standing back from it, regarding her work
critically. A short bald man was staring out of the picture with a
distant, almost angry expression on his face, while a group of
sheep clustered around him, breathing steamily in the cold early
morning air. Lucy thought the painting was a bit weird, but Bethany
explained that she wanted to catch the faces of ordinary local
people and didn’t want to romanticise their lives.


Hey Kiddo.’ Bethany turned and smiled at Lucy. ‘Or should I
say early bird. I was still snoring when you got up.’


Yes you were!’ laughed Lucy.


Oi, cheeky! You must be famished. I held off from breakfast
till you got back. How does fried egg on toast sound?’


Sounds pretty good to me’ replied Lucy, ‘Make it two.’
Bethany’s studio was divided into the work area, where Bethany did
her painting, a kitchen area and a raised platform with a bed and
sofa where Bethany could relax in the evening. Lucy slept on a camp
bed at the foot of Bethany’s own when she stayed there.

They went through to the kitchen and Lucy sat down at the
table. Bethany put on the kettle, dropped bread into the toaster
and put the frying pan on the hob.


I’m guessing you took another early morning dip in the sea,
Kiddo?’ Bethany asked, regarding Lucy from under her fringe of
curly blond hair.


You know me’ Lucy replied smiling, ‘Gotta take a swim in the
morning.’


Ordinary people just have a shower you know. I still worry
about you every time you go out. You know how dangerous those
waters are. Goodness knows what your Dad would say if he knew what
you were up to.’

Lucy knew the best tactic when Bethany started worrying again
was not to say much in response and hope that she’d start talking
about something else instead. She propped her head in her hands and
stared dreamily out of the window. A sheep stood in the field
ruminatively staring back at her. She glanced at
Bethany.

Sometimes when she looked at Bethany, it felt as though Mum
was looking back at her. Bethany was the younger sister by some six
years and although their hair was completely different Bethany
still had Mum’s eyes and smile, sparkling with life. There was
something about them both that was very similar. She still felt the
pang of pain at the thought that she would never see Mum again. The
feeling never seemed to get any better. She wondered how Dad felt.
Maybe that was why he didn’t get on with Bethany. Perhaps she just
reminded him of Mum too much.

He didn’t talk about Mum so much now, but Lucy wished that he
did. She loved it when he told her about how they had met and what
they used to do before Lucy had been born. Bethany said that people
cope with grief in different ways. Dad just seemed to shut himself
up in his work though.

It was the summer holidays now and he would be coming down to
join them in a couple of weeks. She wondered how he felt back home
all alone in the house. It’d be nice if he could have come down to
Cornwall already, but on the other hand he’d give her much less
freedom than Bethany did and she certainly wouldn’t be able to go
for early morning swims in the sea alone. Bethany let her do pretty
much whatever she wanted. Sometimes Lucy wondered why.


So tomorrow if you get up at the crack of dawn and want to go
swimming in the sea, wake me up and I’ll come too’ continued
Bethany, sliding a fried egg from the pan onto a plate. ‘I love
seeing you swim with them you know, and I can do some sketching as
well while I keep an eye on you. I’ve got an idea for a picture I
want to work on.’


They’re not always there when I swim in the sea. It’s great
when they are, but I don’t always know.’


Of course, but I don’t even want you in the sea if
you-know-who is not there to keep you safe’ replied
Bethany.


I know, I know’ said Lucy patiently. Bethany handed her a
plate with fried egg on toast.

 

After breakfast Lucy went outside and wandered around the
farmyard while Bethany continued to work on her painting. Her aunt
had announced that they needed to go into Merwater to run a few
errands later that morning and Lucy kicked her heels until they
were ready to set off. Lucy saw Mary emerging from the farmhouse
and walk briskly across the yard. Lucy’s idea of a farmer’s wife
had been of a motherly lady baking endless loaves of bread and
cakes in the kitchen. In fact Mary’s husband worked in an office in
Truro and she ran the farm pretty much single-handedly. She wore
jeans and wellies and always seemed to be on the go.


Hi there Lucy, you want to come and look at the Jerseys with
me on the top field?’


Yeah, why not?’ replied Lucy. They strode companionably up to
the top field a quarter of a mile away. ‘What do you need to check
them for anyway?’ asked Lucy.


Cows need more looking after than you might think’ replied
Mary. ‘I want to check on the grazing in the pasture and look at
the state of their trough. I might move them to the next field if
the grass is getting low. They need milking twice a day, three
hundred and sixty five days a year, Christmas and birthdays
included. You don’t get any lie-ins when you farm
cattle.’


So which one’s called Daisy?’ joked Lucy as they walked along.
Mary shot her an amused glance and smiled back.


Oh I’ve got nicknames for a few of them, but you’re not really
supposed to get close to them you know, or it’s too hard when you
have to send them off to market.’


Do you get lots of money for them when you sell them?’ Lucy
asked.


Hmm, not as much as I’d like’ replied Mary. ‘There wouldn’t be
much money in the pot if we lived by farming alone. Why do you
think my Darren works for the council in Truro? We’d go broke
otherwise. No, it’s not easy, but there’s something about it which
hooks you in. I can’t imagine myself behind a desk somewhere, can
you?’ Lucy smiled and shook her head.

Lucy wandered around the field as Mary tended to the cows.
They were big animals and she wasn’t really used to them. She kept
her distance and tried to avoid walking in any cow-pats. Somewhere
above them a light aircraft droned lazily. A song thrush burbled
out its song from the hedgerow. When Mary was done with the cows,
they started to walk back down the hill to the
farmhouse.

BOOK: Dolphin Child
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