So here is the rest of my review of this book! Previous part can be found here.
CHAPTER SIX – A PONY RESCUE IN THE NIGHT
The next arrival is a pony called Flash – who pulls the greengrocer’s cart (this is remarked on as being old-fashioned by his nephew who uses a van for his store). Francis rescues Flash from his stable, having woken up in the night to notice a fire near Green Hedges. It seems a little out of the ordinary for him but he leaps out of bed and goes out into the night to see what’s happening and ends up bringing the pony back.
The nephew doesn’t want the pony at the moment, he’s of no use to him, and there’s no stable to keep him in so he asks if Flash can board at Green Hedges. Daddy says absolutely no way – it will be too much work for Mother – but Granny insists she will do all the work. She even gives up her afternoon rest to do so.
Interestingly, it is mentioned that they go up to Daddy’s bedroom, implying it’s upstairs. I can’t see how it can be as it’s also said that he can’t get out of bed without help.
CHAPTER SEVEN – PDSA AND OTHER ABBREVIATIONS
Flash has a wound on his leg from scraping it in the rescue, and it’s too far to the nearest vet. It would cost too much to have the vet on a house call too. Luckily there is an Animal Van visiting near by and they take Flash there. Here there is a bit more exposition as Blyton explains about the PDSA (the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a charity that is still going today), their TOs (technical officers), the animal van aka the caravan dispensary and their van doctors.
The children all think this is wonderful, especially when the doctor fixes up several small animals and then Flash, and are motivated to become Busy Bees – a club of children who are encouraged to learn about taking the best care of their pets but also fundraise for the PDSA and spread its message. Enid Blyton was a supporter of the PSDA and she encouraged her readers to become Busy Bees through her magazine. She also wrote for the Busy Bees newsletter.
The SADP… no I mean the PASD. No I don’t mean that either. Clare what do I mean? – Sam
Sid (the greengrocer’s nephew) decides his way of paying back the Marshalls is to do some gardening for them, and Dan helps out too.
CHAPTER EIGHT – MORE SECRETS
Now that Flash is better the children start offering rides to others for a penny. More animals arrive (mostly from the new flats) including a rabbit and a guinea-pig (the family thought they’d be allowed a hutch on their balcony…) and Sam gets very bossy. I can only assume the Busy Bees have well educated him as he suddenly is an expert on what sort of food rabbits and guinea-pigs need and the size of hutch as well.
Granny adds pigeons to the mix, when a chap moving into the new houses by the flats realises he can’t keep them there. She has him fix up the old pigeon house in secret and hides them away at the bottom of the garden. I’m not sure why it has to be a secret – Mother and Daddy have happily accepted all the other animals. Clearly she doesn’t learn though as of course it gets found out.
Daddy’s room is confirmed as being upstairs here, which still makes no sense. He cannot get washed and dressed without help, cannot get out of bed alone and relies on his wheelchair to get around. How can he get up and down stairs? I’m not sure Stannah Stairlifts were common in the 1950s.
CHAPTER NINE – A MORE UNUSUAL REQUEST
A man called Bill stops by about an Alsatian called Duke. He doesn’t live in the new flats or houses, but his house borders the new ones. The dog is not popular with the neighbours – it is suggested it is partially sour grapes as they are jealous they cannot keep animals. It is then explained that the dog isn’t even Bills, he belongs to his boss. Bill is the chauffeur and is minding the dog on a temporary basis. Give we see later there is a big house beyond Bill’s gatehouse, and a butler at least, you wonder why the dog couldn’t stay there… instead he is kept on a short leash in Bill’s garden, where the local kids taunt him and throw stones. There are tales of Duke escaping and having bitten a few children and the postman as well.
Green Hedges agrees to keep Duke and he is put in Rex’s old run (Rex is now allowed in the house) but on a long lead tied to a wire so he has more freedom. The local kids manage to find Duke still and chuck stones again and he escapes.
Francis has another late-night escapade hunting for Duke, finding him in the summer-house at his master’s home. His master is Sir Giles, an eminent surgeon. He seems to love Duke, but as the dog seems quite feral and won’t let anyone near him he is fairly quick to insist the dog must be shot. Francis does a Philip Mannering though and frees Duke from the tangled wires around his legs, returning him to his more friendly self.
CHAPTER TEN – EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER
Sir Giles is grateful and lets Francis stay the night, at breakfast he blurts everything out from Daddy’s injury to Mother’s struggles to manage the home and their financial woes.
Of course, we can all see where this is going, can’t we? A world renowned surgeon… Daddy with an old war wound… And yes, Sir Giles thinks there is something that can be done and whisks Daddy away to a distant hospital with the assurance he will almost certainly be able to hobble about after.
Questions are raised though, about Bill. He seems a decent enough person but his care of Duke perhaps left a lot to be desired, and he isn’t really trusted with him after this. I’m not sure what to make of it. He never deliberately abused Duke, and I think he tried his best to ensure he was safe. Oh and it turns out that the stories about Duke biting people were all lies.
Interestingly Mother seems far worse with Daddy away. Perhaps it’s worry and loneliness but she becomes thinner and paler. You’d expect her to be a little better really, as the burden of caring for an invalid has been lifted.
I have noticed one horrific error in the chapter though – Or do you mean are they all like me too look at? Cringe.
CHAPTER ELEVEN – SURPRISE VISITORS
An awful lot happens in this chapter – pretty much everything is finally resolved in the space of a dozen pages.
An old friend of Granny’s visits – she recalls Green Meadows in its heyday and, as a huge coincidence, is looking for somewhere to start an animal shelter. Her mother had died recently and left her money to do this.
They leave after a nice afternoon tea and it is Francis that comes up with the idea – sell Green Meadows to the friend! It’s just what she needs, and they can convert the stables into the perfect little house that mother can easily manage. That way Granny doesn’t truly have to leave Green Meadows.
Surprisingly this is jumped on almost immediately and put into action. The friend is contacted, the stables are converted (though goodness knows what this new animal sanctuary will do with any ponies or horses that come their way – but I assume Flash went back to his owner before the work was done) and all is well when Daddy comes home.
Daddy has had a miracle happen, and he strides in at the new garden gate and even picks up Clare his back is so well now – though it did take several months. I can’t help but wonder what Sir Giles did for him!
And there you have it, Mother got her nice little house (even if Sam is lumped with a tiny box-room bedroom), Daddy can walk again and Granny didn’t have to leave Green Meadows really. It is a slight shame all this occurs in the final chapter so we don’t get to really see them enjoy the new set up – or see the more professional animal sanctuary up and running.