Millicent meets Mr Farnsworth.

Telegram: dated 4th January 1935.
To acting Principal: Mr Farnsworth.
Arriving day early…stop…10.20 am train…stop…

The train had come to a slow crawl. Millicent could see the tiny platform from her window as the train rounded a bend. The driver sounded the whistle and the train came to a halt.

Millicent had pondered for over a year whether to remain teaching at the prestigious Canterbury College for girls or to throw caution to the wind and pick up her long skirts and move to the country side. Too late now she thought as she stood on the train’s step and took in her surroundings.

A gentleman was approaching from one direction and the train’s guard from the other.

‘Miss Morrow. Miss Millicent Morrow? How do you do? I’m Mr Farnsworth. How was your trip? You are lucky I received your telegram in time, so I could meet your train as I had to cancel plans to get down to Melbourne to watch a footy match’
‘Oh! Mr Farnsworth I do apologise but I took it upon myself to come up a day early so I have a day to settle in before I begin my post’.
The guard and Mr Farnsworth dutifully disappeared onto the train to attend to Millicent’s hand luggage.

Millicent sat patiently on the bench seat of the dray as Mr Farnsworth loaded the seven large suit cases onto the dray’s tray. Millicent thought she heard him say damn lucky I borrowed Ern’s Dray.

They set off in the heat and the dust, Millicent, Mr Farnsworth and what seemed like, the MCG’s final crowd in blowflies.
I’ll take you directly to the Holmes’s place. It will take us a good hour or two. Hang on tightly over the rivulets’.
‘Rivulets?’ Millicent gasped.
‘Yeah, we only have a couple to get across’
‘Oh my!’ Millicent’s knuckles whitened as she took hold for fear of dear life.

The two horses trotted along, past open paddocks and cows and sheep.
‘I’m sure you’ll be very comfortable at Sally and Jimmy’s place’. Farnsworth said as he placed the reins under his leg and began to pack his pipe.
He continued to chat, ‘Sally is on the school council and heads the local Country Woman’s Association. Their boy, Watson, attends the school. I did hear years ago that Sally wanted to name the boy Sherlock but Jimmy wouldn’t have a bar of it.’
Millicent could feel the sun burning her face, she wasn’t used to such heat and the dust and the pipe tobacco smoke combined together with the heat was making her feel light headed and nauseous. ‘How much further, Mr Farnsworth?’
‘See that rise’ he said pointing up ahead. ‘Just a mile or two over that and we’ll be there.’

Millicent was becoming tired, sore and frustrated. She thought a mile or two is neither here nor there. In town people don’t’ say something is a mile or two up the road because no one would ever find where or what they were looking for! She was too tired to voice her opinion and remained silent for the rest of the trip.

Farnsworth turned the dray off the dirt road onto a dusty track.
‘Miss Morrow, we’ve arrived’
A relieved Millicent could see further up the track a small white weatherboard house and a boy of about nine running around a woman who was waving.
Farnsworth pulled up the dray beside the gate.
‘Welcome, welcome, welcome, Miss Morrow’ Sally Holmes said wiping her hands on her starched white apron. Watson stand still for goodness sake’.
Farnsworth tied the reins to a post, ‘Good afternoon Mrs Holmes is Jimmy about? He ruffled Watson’s hair ‘Hope you have that homework ready for Monday’.
‘Of course Mr Farnsworth’ Watson replied as he skipped beside Farnsworth who was graciously helping Millicent to descend from the dray.
‘Do you still think Miss Morrow has a beautiful bum Mr Farnsworth?’
Millicent froze on the step her hand in Farnsworth’s. She looked down directly into his eyes. The blood ran away from her face and then rose up increasing her heart rate till she almost felt faint.
Sally’s jaw dropped open. The silence was like the lull before the storm.
‘Gait, Watson’ said Farnsworth slowly.
‘Yeah I know we have a new gate. That’s not what I mean. I mean what you said in class yesterday Mr Farnsworth. You know. You remember. You got Micky Masters to walk like a sheila, pretending to be Miss Morrow. You gave him some books to put on his head’
Sally screamed ‘Enough Watson’
‘But Mum, I’m not fibbing Mr Farnsworth said Miss Morrow has a delightful derry something’.

…we now leave Millicent suspended in mid air, clasping Farnsworth’s hand. Watson continues to skip kicking up the dust proclaiming he doesn’t fib cause Mr Farnsworth said it’s wrong to. How will Farnsworth get out of this?

…and in another world Millicent Morrow’s Sunday turned out to be one of the best she’s had in yonks. She is so honoured and flattered to have been introduced by such a worthy scribe as Ian Derrick.

Millicent meets Mr Farnsworth.

MillicentMorrow

Melbourne, Australia

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Artist's Description

This piece is in response to ‘Introducing Millicent’ by Ian Derrick.

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