This is the final chapter of Annies story. It differs from a previous posting as it has been edited and a bibliography attached. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Annie Canning-Skram-Lennon as much as I have enjoyed writing the stories about her.
FOR THE LOVE OF ANNIE
Phew…what was that stink!
Looking around, Fred couldn’t see anything to cause the smell. Then looking at his boots, he saw they were covered in the foul smelling, turd coloured clay from the gravesite.
Pulling the trap to the side of the Lockwood-road, the hot tears burnt his cheeks. He felt the bile rise in his throat. Leaning over the side of the trap, he spewed until his belly was empty. In his mourning black, he was sweating heavily. It was unseasonably hot for July. He sat, still and lost in thought.
Old man Skram was at the funeral, her children weren’t. Margarethe was in Melbourne with her husband and Will was on the farm at Benjeroop. They had lives of their own. They never sought her out, although she never gave up hope.
He’d done the right thing burying his beloved Annie under her proper married name, Skram. It was the same with the paperwork, he had made sure all the information was on there. He’d wanted her buried with their baby girl, Letitia, but Skram wouldn’t allow it. So she was buried nearby as close as he could get her. He grinned, it helped to have a brother- in-law who was an undertaker. Sawyer saw to it that everything was done right. Annie deserved a good send off. She’d earned it. Thank God, Sawyer organised it, he was still too shaken to even think straight.
She’d only been sick such a short time and now she was gone. She was so alive, and she loved to dance and laugh. Married and dead in the same year.
Annie me love, I’ve never regretted a minute of it. We’d some good times. I still expect you to come round the corner of the yard, flapping your pinny at the chooks and telling me to get down off the cart and get me lazy backside inside, that there’s another barrel that needs tapping.
Whist away with you Fred Lennon, you lazy bugger leaving me to do all the work as usual. God Annie, you were so beautiful, black hair, blue eyes and beautiful skin. A typical Irish girl, and with a temper to boot. I don’t know how I am going to manage without you.
Fred realised he must have spoken aloud as the horse was restless. They had waited for her children to marry. They’d shared a good life together, near on twenty years. Everyone knew they weren’t man and wife afore the service. Never the less they’d come to their wedding and celebrated. Four months later, they had come to bury her.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, he reached for the water bag on the side of the trap, and lifting the damp canvas to his lips and took a long, deep swallow. Then pulling a white kerchief from his pocket, he wet it with the cool water and mopped his face. He stuck his boots over the side of the wheel and poured some of his precious water over them trying to remove the clay. He realised he was still crying, today was the first time he had cried since his Annie had passed.
Putting the water bag back on the hook, he wiped his face. Balling the kerchief he threw it under the seat and picking up the reins slapped them against the horse’s rump. If he didn’t hurry he’d be late, No one had gone past him on the road, but they may have taken the other track . Either way, they’d not be far behind. Flicking the reins, the horse broke into a trot in a hurry to get back to his stable.
Driving the trap into the empty yard behind the Queens Head, the horse came to a halt outside the stable door. Fred sat, the reins limp in his hands, struggling to compose himself. The drive from the cemetery had taken well over an hour. No time to think, the horse needed wiping down and the trap put away and he was needed inside. Little Ben appeared as if by magic and started to unbuckle the harness.
‘Mister Fred, there be people in the front parlour waiting fer you. You best change them boots before you go inside or Miss Annie will have at ya,’ realising what he’d said he clapped his hand over his mouth.
‘Mister Fred, I’m sorry I meant…’ His voice trailed off and he busied himself moving the horse out of the trap harness.
Walking over to the boy Fred put his hand on his shoulder, ‘It’s alright Ben, I know. I miss her too. I’ll change me boots in the tack room. Clean ’em for me later will you.’
‘Righto Mr Fred, they be looking like new when I finish with ‘em.’
In the tack room, Fred removed his mourning coat and hung it on the hook. His brown jacket, the one she’d bought as a wedding present, all the way from Melbourne, was hanging where she left it. He picked it up, smelling her perfume on the fabric, he put it on and changed his boots.
At the kitchen door, he could hear the women’s voices, he could smell the bread baking and the meat roasting. The heat hit him in the face as he opened the door.
‘Mr Fred, where’ve you bin?’ Ginny came running to him, she grabbed him by the arm. ‘The bar and the front parlour are packed tight, they’re there awaiting for you.’
The hotel was bursting at the seams. Everyone had come to pay their respects to Annie. He saw Skram’s pale face in the crowd, they had both loved and lost her.
Fred rang the bell over the bar.
He turned to face his friends, ‘Thank you all for coming and the tables are set up outside. But before we go out to eat, please, raise your glasses to Annie. The best wife and friend a man could have. To Annie.’
Their voices rang out, strong and clear, ‘To Annie.’
(word count 1000 words)
A Canning 1854 Series: VPRS 7666; Series Title: Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (British Ports) [Microfiche Copy of VPRS 947] viewed 26 September 2015
Marriage Certificate Canning /Skram VPRO 2618/1866
Birth Certificate M Skram VBDM Index 19421/1867
Birth Certificate W Skram VBDM Index 25923/1870
Birth Certificate L Skram VBDM Index 12415/1873
Death Certificate L Skram VBDM Index 14909/1875
Marriage Certificate M Skram/Hardiman VBDM Index 2717/1887
Marriage certificate A Canning/Lennon VBDM Index 3819/1896
Death Certificate A Canning/Lennon/Skram VBDM Index 8638/1896
Marriage Certificate W Skram /Kelly VBDM Index 1718/1898
1880 ‘COURT OF INSOLVENCY.’, Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), 10 September, p. 3, viewed 28 January, 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88637778
1883 ‘CITY POLICE COURT.’, Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), 22 May, p. 3, viewed 28 January, 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88516160
1889 ‘FIRE AT LOCKWOOD.’, Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), 20 February, p. 3, viewed 28 January, 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88583465
1892 ‘BENDIGO DISTRICT ANNUAL LICENSING COURT.’,Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), 15 December, p. 3, viewed 28 January, 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88607233
1892 ‘LICENSING COURT.’, Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), 13 September, p. 3, viewed 28 January, 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88603876
Death Certificate F Lennon VBDM Index 1692/1898
Death certificate J Skram VBDM Index 9119/1903
Morse, L 2016 For the love of Annie (Blog) justmecreativewriter. http://justmecreativewiter.wordpress.com/?s=for+the+love+of+annie, accessed 28 Jan 2016
Remembrance Parks Burial records Skram A & L accessed 26 December 2015 http://rpcv.com.au/deceased-search/?sn=Skram&gn=&yod=