To celebrate the coming of spring (and with apologies to readers presently languishing under a carpet of unseasonal snow) here’s a snippet from my historical short story Jack in the Green, set around May Day in the 1920s:
As Arthur exited the garage, a gaggle of young women dressed in simple, workaday fashion crossed his path. Two of them carried baskets laden with primroses, cowslips, and violets, and a third—Lily Ives, Arthur realised as they drew nearer—had her arms full of boughs of flowering hawthorn. He wondered that she didn’t prick herself. They looked at Arthur, and at the garage, and at one another. And then they burst into peals of laughter that echoed up and down the lane as Arthur walked stiffly back to the inn.
Arthur didn’t visit the tap room that evening. He remained in his room, listening to the sounds of conviviality that filtered up from below, and tried not to think of dark eyes, sturdy limbs and a roguish smile.
Did everyone in this unsettling place know everything about his business?
Stranded in a remote country village in 1920s England by his car breaking down, shy young Arthur finds himself drawn to the rough mechanic who comes to his aid, Bob Goodman. Forced to stay until the May Day holiday is over, Arthur makes the best of it, enjoying the village procession and fete.
But the villagers seem to know more about him than they should, and there’s a second, darker, May celebration that starts when the sun’s gone down. In the drunken revelry that follows, Arthur is whisked off in a wild dance by Goodman, who plays the part of Jack in the Green, the spirit of the greenwood.
Dancing turns to loving, but is everything what it seems? And is one night all Arthur can have?