Catherine’s Brooch – A Short Story

Catherine’s Brooch by May Shepherd

The young man’s voice sounded nice on the phone when he rang to make an appointment to view the cottage the following day. She felt sad at the thought of selling her Grandma’s cottage. It had been in the family forever, but she was the last surviving relative and as her job kept her in London, there appeared to be no other option.

She had spent many happy days at the cottage visiting her Grandma in the summer holidays when she was young, spending her time playing on the beach with the local children, or just listening to the sound of the sea on warm summer nights. She still had friends in the area and she planned to phone her friend Judy later, and invite her over in order to catch up on all the gossip. She would make an apple pie for their tea she decided, and she wandered outside with a basket to collect the apples from the ancient tree in the garden.

Autumn was fast approaching and the apples had started to fall from tree.

She bent down to gather some of the apples which were lying on the ground, and as she straightened up an apple slipped out of her hands and rolled down the garden and on to a newly dug vegetable patch. Sighing she went to retrieve it.

Bending down to pick up the apple something lying on the ground caught her eye and she picked it up and examined it. It was caked in dirt and looked as if it had been in the ground for a very long time. Rubbing the soil from her find she saw that what she held in her hand a brooch of some kind. Intrigued she took it into the cottage and cleaned it up. It was an intricate piece, made of some kind of metal which was woven into knots in a pretty design. Pleased with it she put it on one side to show to Judy when she came later.

“I think this could be Anglo Saxon.” said Judy as she examined the brooch. “Years ago an Anglo Saxon settlement was found near here. Where the church is now. Lots of small artefacts have been found around this area over the years.

“If only the brooch could talk.” mused Catherine “But why would it turn up now after all these years?”

“Perhaps the time is right now, and it was waiting to be found.” Judy replied enigmatically. “I must lend you my book on the village history. One of the stories is of the time when the village was taken by the Vikings, and it makes grim reading.”

Catherine shuddered. “You’re creeping me out” she said.

That night Catherine studied the brooch again turning it over in her hands. She liked it, and wished she knew more about it’s history. She laid the brooch on her bedside table and soon settled into a deep sleep.

She dreamed of the land on which her grandma’s cottage now stood. Many different kinds of dwellings had been erected on that spot, stretching way back into time, but then her dream lingered on an age when the dwelling was no more than a wooden hut with a roof made of straw thatch.

***

The year was 997AD and the autumn day was sunny with a sharp cold wind.

All the people in the village had turned out for a wedding feast. A boar was roasting on the spit and last years cider was being drunk in vast quantities. The air was full of merriment and there was much dancing and singing. Standing in the middle of the throng was a young girl, Catherine, and her new husband Edmund.

Edmund bent forward and pinned a brooch on to Catherine’s shawl as he whispered in her ear, his undying love for her.

The revellers were unaware of the danger which was creeping across the meadow from the long boats which had silently shored up on the beach below. The Danes were about to plunder their small Devonshire village.

Suddenly mayhem broke out, and the fighting was fierce and short, as the men of the village were unprepared for invasion, and suffered in consequence. Many lives were lost that day. Most of the village men lay blooded on the ground, while the others were rounded up and taken as slaves.

The women ran away to hide as best they could, but to the victor goes the spoils.

Catherine stood terrified as a large helmeted warrior stood before her. She tried to run, but she was grabbed by strong arms. Her shawl was torn from her, and her precious brooch flew into the air and sank into the ground under the feet of the Viking, as he carried his screaming prize into her bridal hut.

***

The young woman tossed in her sleep and tears ran down her face as in her dreams she recalled her past.

Waking with a heavy head and an even heavier heart she peered in the mirror and was horrified to see the dark rings under her eyes. She was putting the kettle on to make coffee when she heard the doorbell ring. She quickly threw on some clothes and ran a brush through her hair.

Who could this be so early. Ouch! It was 10 a.m.

“Please don’t let it be my house buyer.” she thought.

She opened the door, and a young man stood there shame faced.

“I’m sorry to be so early, but I just couldn’t wait to come and see the cottage. I’ll… come …back…later if ……” His voice trailed away and he stood there gazing at the young woman.

Catherine stared back at him, hardly believing what she saw. She was looking at the man in her dream: her beloved Edmund stood before her again, only this time he was dressed in jeans and sweater, and not the rough woven clothing of former times.

Catherine’s smile lit up her face.

“Please come in, I have something to show you” she said.

She moved inside the cottage and picked up the brooch.

The young man bent forward towards her, as he had done on their wedding day over a thousand years before, and with trembling hands he took the brooch from her.

“I know you.” he whispered.

The End