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A Short Story by

Bronwyn Houldsworth

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SPRING HAS SPRUNG © Bronwyn Houldsworth 2017

Published by Bronwyn Houldsworth and Ocean Reeve Publishing



When Laetitia Sullivan and Beryl Runimede, two ‘ladies of a certain age’, relinquished their administration of the Grevilton municipal library it proved quite a wrench, not the least because they were both stickybeaks of the first order.

In the library, they’d had their fingers on the pulse of all that was happening in the town. Now, restricted mostly to home by arthritis (Laetitia) and a gammy leg (Beryl), they spent a great deal of their time in what Laetitia referred to as ‘the drawing room’, and Beryl, ‘the lounge’, with its magnificent view of the town’s central park. Here they could observe the comings and goings of Grevilton’s citizens. It wasn’t the same as being in the thick of things in the library, but it proved a tolerable substitute.

Late one afternoon, Beryl looked up from her knitting (a cardigan in a rather alarming combination of cerise and jonquil yellow). ‘Have you noticed that young man, Laetitia, he’s been standing there for quite some time?’

Laetitia, absorbed in the latest Ian Rankin crime novel, peered distractedly through her bifocals. On the other side of their picket fence was a shabbily dressed young man, holding a fox terrier and looking about him in a rather suspicious manner. ‘Distinctly furtive,’ pronounced Laetitia.

‘Looks like he might be casing the joint.’

Laetitia shuddered. Beryl’s utterances could sometimes be rather indelicate. Nevertheless, her observation was probably correct. The young man was definitely skulking.

His rear to them now, he peered back along the park’s main path from behind a large camellia bush.

‘Look,’ hissed Beryl, ‘he’s checking to make sure there’s no one watching him!’

The young man shifted position slightly, and surreptitiously glanced at their house. As one, Laetitia and Beryl sprang back in their arm chairs. ‘Do you think he saw us?’ Beryl asked tremulously.

‘Of course not,’ replied Laetitia, sounding a lot more confident than she felt. ‘Don’t worry, my dear, the minute he jumps our fence, I’ll call the police.’

‘But they take so long to arrive. Remember when Mrs Wilton was robbed? They took over an hour to turn up.’

‘Yes, but the robbers had been long gone when she returned home to find the place ransacked. If we ring the emergency number, the police will arrive in time to catch him in flagrante delicto.’

Beryl sniffed. Laetitia was showing off again. She loved to flaunt her superior education. Why couldn’t she simply say ‘red-handed’ like anyone else?

The young man peered along the path again. ‘Look at him, Laetitia, he’s definitely up to no good!’

‘And I agree with you, my dear, but we’ll just have to wait until he does something more questionable.’

Beryl sighed. ‘But it’s obvious already what he’s up to. Look at him!’

Laetitia looked. Yes, he was definitely acting very shiftily, and he was a scruffy individual. Though the dog looked well cared for. Of course, he might have stolen the animal.

The young man was so unkempt. Spiky black hair, faded t-shirt, a pair of those silly long shorts that young people seemed to favour these days, and scuffed brown loafers on his feet. Hardly a youth from this neighbourhood! And yet…

Lots of young people these days were unkempt. All right, most of them looked that way. Standards had slipped. It was all too sadly apparent.

But that didn’t excuse what the young man was doing. Now he was dodging back and forth between the rows of camellia bushes, the dog held firmly in his arms. Just what was the dog for? Weren’t fox terriers considered ratters? Why would he bring it along on a burglary? To sniff out money? To create a diversion?

Laetitia shook her head. She needed to get a grip on reality. So far they had no real proof that the fellow was a potential burglar. ‘Let’s just be prepared, my dear. We can only continue watching, and move at the first sign of trouble.’

The young man clipped a lead on the fox terrier’s collar and lowered him to the ground. Now he was brushing his hands through his hair, making it even spikier. Just what was he up to?

A young blonde woman hove into view, a King Charles spaniel skipping about her feet.

Suddenly the young man and the dog bounded out from behind the bushes and onto the path.

Through the window, Laetitia and Beryl heard his exclamation of surprise. ‘Hello, Angela, I didn’t know you walked your dog here, too!’

Angela looked as pleased as the young man. ‘Hi, Dylan, that’s a lovely looking dog you’ve got there. Care to walk along with Boris and me?’

As the young couple ambled off, their dogs frisking along beside them, Laetitia and Beryl exchanged sheepish looks.

Laetitia spoke first. ‘Well, my dear, it seems we were wrong. It’s spring, and in spring a young man’s fancy…’

Beryl’s eyes twinkled. ‘And we should both know by now that you mustn’t judge a book by its cover.’



Bronwyn Houldsworth










I hope you enjoy these eight stories. They are all romances, with the exception of the dramatic In the Southern Wild which, nonetheless, has an upbeat ending.

Spring Has Sprung was a finalist in a national short story competition.

Falling Stars and Love Never Dies are fantasy. One day I hope to publish the medieval fantasy novel that is languishing in a bottom drawer.

Threading Pearls uses as its background some of the experiences of my maternal grandmother, who migrated to Australia from Argentina, as did my grandfather.

I’m a great believer in using family history as a springboard for my stories. It is amazing what you can find when you research your ancestors!

The last story, There’s None So Blind, appeared in the Romance Writers of Australia 2009 short story anthology, and was inspired by a court case in the late 18th century. It involved an ancestor. I discovered a detailed contemporary account of the proceedings in a legal book store in San Francisco. I’ve since undertaken a lot more research on this ancestor. Now there’s a novel of 111,000 words inspired by his story. It’s entitled “The Heart Has Its Reasons”.

“Bronwyn Houldsworth – Author”.

Historical romance novel


available soon at www.bronwynhouldsworth.com

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