Harrison's Way

Harrison's Way

by Mary Helen Farr

Paperback

$28.99
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Tuesday, September 25?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.

Overview

Harrison's Way by Mary Helen Farr

Despite the depression, the Richardson’s enjoy a rewarding life on the Tasmanian coast in Harrison’s Way a small, seaside community. Mary Richardson has to deal with the grief of her friend Lily’s death in childbirth, but looking into the newborn’s eyes, she dares to hope that little Rowie’s life will be happier. Love and romance bless Lily’s eldest daughter Kathryn’s life, when she meets Jim an itinerant worker. But her happiness is tainted when she becomes the first victim of a brutal predator. Mary’s daughter Frances also falls prey to these crimes. Can they find this man in time to spare the other young women in the community?

Thirty years later, and Frances and her husband live in Hillcrest View, the Richardson’s family home. It is here that a mother’s worst nightmare occurs – the unsolved disappearance of her child Steven. A series of bushfires that threaten Harrison’s Way makes the hot summer of 1964 even hotter. Are these the natural by-product of the hot Tasmanian summers – or is it an arsonist at work?

In the days of a new millennium, Frances now faces life in a nursing home as she battles the scourge of dementia. Susanne, her widowed daughter, has challenges of her own with a new beau, who may not be all he seems. Frances, despite her fleeting grip on reality, cannot let the past hurts go. What happened to her son?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452508955
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 02/12/2013
Pages: 420
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.93(d)

Read an Excerpt

Harrison's Way


By Mary Helen Farr

BALBOA PRESS

Copyright © 2013 Mary Helen Farr
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4525-0895-5


Chapter One

Clara wound her way back up the dusty track to her home, Hillcrest View. Her eyes were focussed on the dust that puffed up around her feet each time she took a step. She was barefoot having left her sandals behind, risking the wrath of her parents who were always warning her about the chance of cuts and snake bites. She ran that risk as she loved nothing more than the silky feel of bare feet on dirt. Her thin legs poked out like sticks from her faded green skirt and her yellow blouse and mouth were covered in crimson—blue stains.

She had been picking blackberries along the track, where they grew in abundance to form shady thickets of dusty leaves and thorns. Whole communities of rabbits lived in their depths, scooting and thumping their way around, away from the eyes of predators. Prickly bramble tentacles snaked out in all directions, even daring to encroach onto the track. Clara's father slashed them back every so often, but now in late summer, they were at their height of growth and production of sweet, ripe fruit.

She had been skipping from one side of the track to the other, following the biggest and juiciest berries, swinging her bucket from side to side. She was heading back now, as mum would be anxious to make the blackberry and apple pie they were promised for tea.

As she neared the house, the family dog appeared, after happily chasing anything that moved within the blackberry patch. "Scoot, you silly dog, where've you been?" Clara giggled. Scoot, a strange mix of terrier and who knew what, eyed her excitedly as he hurtled past, heading up the track. It was a hot afternoon, typical of this time of year. Clara took a breather, reluctant to get home, where she would immediately be given more tasks to do. This had been an enjoyable one, out in the fresh air and away from her annoying brother Peter. She turned and looked back over the vista of hills and sea.

Directly below her the dirt track wound its way down to the edge of the Township of Harrison's Way, which nestled itself between the cove and the hills behind it. It looked sleepy and warm in the sunshine. She could make out the straight line of Harrison Street, stretching from the pier to her left, and on to the edge of Town to her right. The pier was the longest she has ever seen. At its end, a fishing trawler was pulled in tight, as it wouldn't go out again until daybreak tomorrow. She could just make out the hustle and bustle of trade between buyers and fishermen. The fish caught in these Tasmanian waters matched the best in the world, Clara thought, mimicking her father's words.

In the middle of Town, she could spot the red roof of her school, a flash of brown river running at its back, towards the sands of the cove. To call it a river at this time of the year was a bit of a joke, it was more like a trickle with the odd water hole here and there. Fed from the hills at the back of the Town it could become a raging torrent in winter, but at the end of summer it was quiet and peaceful, allowing the local kids to enjoy many hours of play in its cool shallows. Clara hoped to go swimming there tomorrow with her big sister Frances.

She could spot the prominent bell tower of the Church of England rising above the other buildings. Her family attended the Church most Sundays. She could just make out the small room off the back where she went to Sunday school—but not for much longer. When she turned twelve in a few weeks time, she would sit in the Church proper, with her parents and Frances.

"Clara, Clara, where are you girl?" The sound of her mother's voice interrupted her daydreams. Turning, she walked quickly up the track and waved when she spied her mother, arms akimbo, waiting on the large front veranda.

"There you are, come on, I need those berries."

"Coming mum. Sorry, I managed to fill the bucket."

"Good job too, with the size of the pastry base waiting for them." Clara scrambled up the wide steps and handed her mum the bucket. "Lovely. Come on then. Wash your hands and for goodness sake will you get some shoes back on your feet! Not those dusty sandals mind. Go and find some others. Then come into the kitchen and help."

Clara followed her mum through the wide flyscreen door at the top of the steps. It screeched shut behind her, blocking out the hot sun's rays. It was cool here, and she stopped for a moment to put some clean shoes on, picked from the line of many owned by family members. The enclosed veranda circled most of the house, built this way to keep it cool in summer and protected from the wind and rain in winter. Half walls of wood palings met panels of fly-screen and the sloping iron roof was home to a million spider's webs and the occasional trailing creeper losing its way from outside. The front door was wide open today, encouraging any cooling breath of air to flow down the hallway and out the back door. Clara pattered past the hallstand which was overflowing with hats, scarves, umbrellas, and raincoats, all gathering dust over summer and ignored until absolutely necessary. Summer was the family's favourite season and summer clothes were worn until they couldn't maintain body warmth any longer.

The kitchen lay on the right hand side at the very end of the hallway. Here a window framed a view of the bush, then cliff edge, then a strip of ocean which changed colour as often as the sky did. Today it was azure with a whitish shimmer blurring the sea and skyline. Helping to wash up was made easy with this view and at night-time as the light from the window illuminated a square of lawn, Clara could sometimes spy a wallaby grazing on the periphery.

"Wash the berries Clara." her mum commanded as she entered the room. "Then place them over the apples and add the sugar—not too much mind." Her mum was standing at the scrubbed table, spreading the pie top out with a large rolling pin.

It was very hot in the kitchen, as the wood stove gently puffed its heat out. There was a delicious smell of baking meat coming from the oven and a pile of vegetables stood on top in pots slowly coming to the boil. The fire had been stoked up again, ready for the pie. Clara heard her tummy rumble, it was a long time since lunch. "Stop daydreaming Clara, and help," her mum chastised. "I swear you're only tuned in to us half the day. Then you can lay the table when I'm finished."

There was never a dull moment here. The hub of the household, the kitchen was a production line of food. In between meals the ironing cloth was spread over the table and Clara helped with the easier things like hankies and pillowslips. With four children and two adults in the family, washing mounted up daily and most everything demanded a press.

It was almost time for the family to sit down to tea. Clara busied herself with setting the table, remembering to place the condiments and the slices of bread in the middle. The tablecloth was fresh and on impulse, she ran outside and picked some roses. As she was placing them onto the table, she heard the back fly-screen door slam. "How's my pretty Clara doing?" her dad shouted, as he burst into the room. Larger than life, Frederick was slightly deaf, although he wouldn't admit it. Everything he said was amplified and at times it got on everyone's nerves. But today, Clara didn't care—to be called pretty was enough to forgive him anything. "Now then poppet, where's your mum then eh?"

"I'm here Fred," Mary said appearing from behind the pantry door. She bustled over to check the pie. "Mmm, nearly ready."

Clara could hear the sizzle of blackberry juices escaping the pastry edges. Oh my I'm hungry now. Where are the others? Hurry up wherever you are, I want to eat!

"Are we expecting Mark home tonight then?" Fred asked Mary. Their son worked as a builder's apprentice in St Helens, a large seaside port about twenty-five miles to the north of Harrison's Way. He boarded with Fred's brother, but came home most weekends with Mr. McCarthy, who also worked in St. Helens during the week.

Work was scarce. The world wide depression which began after the stock market crash in nineteen twenty-nine, had robbed many a local family of their savings and income. A person took a job wherever and whatever it was to make ends meet these days.

"Honestly don't know love. If he is, he'll be in late. We'll eat long before then, don't worry!" Fred had a reputation for enjoying his food and it showed in his portly frame which matched his hearty voice and laugh. "Clara, you'd best round up your sister and brother then. Go on now."

Clara shot out of the kitchen and through the back door. She expected to find Frances here, taking care of their brother Peter. Although Peter was seven, he was still called 'baby brother', a name he was baulking at now.

There they were, sitting in the shade of the large gum tree at the bottom of the garden. Last year, to practice his skills, Mark had built a seat from sawmill remnants, and then painted it a rather bright green with some discarded paint from work. A few cushions and an old blanket made it a most comfortable place to relax and read, or sew, or just daydream if there was ever time. "Tea's up you two," Clara shouted. "Come on, I'm starving."

"Alright Miss bossy boots," Frances retorted.

Peter laughed. "Bossy boots, bossy boots," he chanted, as he and Scoot ran past her and into the house.

Frances gathered her books and sandals then followed at a more leisurely pace. There were three years between the girls, making quite a difference between their maturity and behaviour. Whereas Frances was prim and proper in her demeanour, Clara was a dreamy scatter-brained child.

Peter reappeared at the kitchen door, pushing Scoot outside. "Come on will you? Let's eat!"

"For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful," their father prayed. "Right-ho, tuck in, and remember, there are lots of people doing it tough out there, so I want to see empty plates when you've finished."

"Yes dad," they chorused.

Amid the clatter of plates and the requests for this and that, Mary took a moment to relax. She looked around at her family and once again thanked the heavens for what they had. Australia had pulled in its belt like the rest of the world, in order to get through some hard times. This depression had been going on since the stock market crash in nineteen twenty-nine and here they were in nineteen thirty-seven! The daily papers wrote of terrible conditions in other countries like America and England. All seemed to be worse off than Australia, she noted.

She felt safe here, in this little backwater town in Tasmania, Australia's only island State. The population though small, pulled together and helped others out when needed. Her family was luckier than many others. Fred was the local School Teacher, so at least he had a job and an income and Mark had landed a decent apprenticeship with a secure career in front of him, provided he stuck to it. Frances was bright and loved to learn but Clara—ah her little dreamer! Still, she's young, Mary thought, plenty of time to improve. Her eyes rested on Peter's face, cute as a button with a mop of blond hair falling over one eye. Time for a haircut. Right, that's enough of the soppy stuff, she sighed, and got up to cut the pie.

* * *

At about eight o'clock that night Mark walked up the track. Scoot performed acrobatics around his ankles, delighted to welcome him home. It was still daylight, but the sun had gone down below the skyline. A gentle breeze had sprung up, and the family were enjoying the cool of the porch near the front door.

"Mark! Welcome home," Mary shouted, rising to welcome him in.

"Mum, dad, glad to be home." he said.

"Have you got me a present?" Peter asked.

Fred cuffed him behind his ear. "Don't be cheeky, your brother's barely in the door."

It was Mark's habit to bring Peter something from his work or a local shop each time he came home. He was slowly running out of cheap ideas though, so would soon have to explain the meaning of money to his little brother. "Nothing much baby brother." Mark said, sliding his haversac off his shoulders.

"Don't call me that!" Peter shouted, running at Mark's knees, arms flailing.

"Peter, behave or go to your room!" Fred boomed. "Here, sit down son." Mark pulled up a wicker chair and sank gratefully into its depths. Mary scuttled off to the kitchen to reheat some tea for her boy. "Tell me about your week then," Fred said. Mark would have preferred to just sit quietly for a while, but rallied around to fill his dad in on the goings on from St. Helens and the building trade.

Mary could hear them chatter as she took the prepared plate piled high with food out of the cooling stove, as the fire had now burned out. As she stood up, she spotted movement outside. Funny, she thought, everyone's out the front. She peered through the glass into the increasing gloom and saw something move again, down towards the scrub. Could be a wallaby, she speculated. "Fred," she called. "Come here." As her voice rose, so did the figure of a man, outlined against the dulling skyline. Mary shrieked and fell back against a kitchen chair. Fred tumbled through the doorway and Scoot shot around the side of the house to pursue his prey.

The man looked terrified as Scoot latched onto his ankle. Mary and Fred scrambled out of the back door and around to the kitchen window. "Scoot, stop that," Fred yelled. "Easy mate, stand still and I'll get him off. Scoot you buggar, let him go!" A swift kick up Scoot's backside saw him let go of the man, who was wild eyed and trembling. How could such a little dog make someone so frightened? Fred wondered. "Now then cobber, calm down and we'll sort this out."

"I wasn't doing any harm," the man said shakily. "I was trying to get to the lighthouse. Took a wrong turn on the track is all. Sorry missus, sir. I'll go now." He began to back off, but as soon as he moved, Scoot was in for the chase again. He stood stock still, looking more frightened than ever. "Get him away from me will you? I can't abide dogs."

What a to-do, Fred thought. "OK mate, give us a minute and I'll get him inside. Please, wait here with the wife. I'll come back and have a chat with you if you don't mind. See what we can do to help maybe." Fred was a bit suspicious of the man's story. The track he was referring to was a good distance away, winding along the cliff face. The man was within their boundary fence line too. So his story didn't quite add up.

The depression had created a community of swagmen—unemployed men, who travelled the State looking for work—their few belongings wrapped in a blanket, (a swag) that they threw across their shoulders when walking. These men would do anything for a quick shilling or two. They would also steal if they were desperate.

The family had had many swagmen pass their way over the past years. Where possible, they had helped them out with food or clothing. In return many a good man had chopped and stacked wood, mown the grass, and helped pick fruit. Mary was generous in her assistance too and word spread within the network of swagmen, that Hillcrest View was a good place to try their luck. But this man hadn't come to the back door like the others, so what was he up to?

When Fred returned, he invited the man to join him on the seat under the gum tree. Mary went inside to prepare him a plate of left-over's. "Now mate, what's the story and tell me the truth, you hear?" Fred stated.

"I was heading for the lighthouse like I said, Mister." The lighthouse was perched on the cliffs some distance away, at the end of a track to the left of their house. It wasn't manned, so swagmen used the store room at its base as a meeting place, and a place to sleep if nothing more comfortable was available.

No railway ran through this part of the State, and the nearest line ended at St Marys a good twenty miles away. Men had to walk from there, trawling the local farms and orchards for work. The fishing industry used many of them for the hard labour needed to work the boats, but some men lacked sea-legs. By the time they had walked the winding coast road, done the rounds and exhausted their options, they would hole up at the lighthouse for a couple of days rest, then move on.

"I haven't been this way before," the swagman continued. "Got lost coming up the trail. Saw the light and thought I'd investigate. When I saw your Missus in the kitchen, I ducked. Didn't want to scare her. I'm not that pretty a sight you know?" he laughed, conscious of his ragged and dirty appearance.

Fred relaxed a bit. The man's story was feasible, though on closer inspection he looked more like a lad. He held out his hand. "Fred Richardson. And you are?"

The man grinned and reached out to shake Fred's hand. "Jim Mathers, sir. From Derwent Bridge."

"Good God man, you're a long way from home." Derwent Bridge was a dot on the map, way over to the south of Tasmania in the heart of the wilderness. It was a stop over station on the Lyell Highway, which ran from Strahan to Hobart. "What are you doing in this neck of the woods?"

"No work there sir. Fishing and hunting are paying nothing at present. Everyone's doing woodcutting so no joy there. Got no family to help me out, so I had to move. I was only renting a hut of sorts. Couldn't pay the rent, so, here I am."

"What have you been doing for work then Jim?"

"This and that. I can cut timber with my eyes shut!" he chortled. "Just arrived here today, so thought I'd check out the local sawmill I've heard about."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Harrison's Way by Mary Helen Farr Copyright © 2013 by Mary Helen Farr. Excerpted by permission of BALBOA PRESS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Chapter 1....................3
Chapter 2....................13
Chapter 3....................17
Chapter 4....................21
Chapter 5....................25
Chapter 6....................29
Chapter 7....................33
Chapter 8....................39
Chapter 9....................43
Chapter 10....................47
Chapter 11....................51
Chapter 12....................57
Chapter 13....................67
Chapter 14....................73
Chapter 15....................75
Chapter 16....................79
Chapter 17....................83
Chapter 18....................91
Chapter 19....................101
Chapter 20....................105
Chapter 21....................113
Chapter 22....................115
Chapter 23....................117
Chapter 24....................119
Chapter 25....................125
Chapter 26....................129
Chapter 27....................135
CHAPTER 28....................143
CHAPTER 29....................151
CHAPTER 30....................155
Chapter 31....................161
Chapter 32....................167
Chapter 33....................175
Chapter 34....................179
Chapter 35....................183
Chapter 36....................187
Chapter 37....................191
Chapter 38....................197
Chapter 39....................201
Chapter 40....................205
Chapter 41....................211
Chapter 42....................217
Chapter 43....................221
Chapter 44....................231
Chapter 45....................237
Chapter 46....................243
Chapter 47....................251
Chapter 48....................253
Chapter 49....................261
Chapter 50....................267
Chapter 51....................277
Chapter 52....................281
Chapter 53....................289
Chapter 54....................293
Chapter 55....................297
Chapter 56....................303
Chapter 57....................307
Chapter 58....................313
Chapter 59....................319
Chapter 60....................327
Chapter 61....................333
Chapter 62....................341
Chapter 63....................347
Chapter 64....................353
Chapter 65....................359
Chapter 66....................365
Chapter 67....................373
Chapter 68....................381
Chapter 69....................389
Chapter 70....................397
Chapter 71....................405

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews