Jessie’s mum and dad worked
in a pub. It was called ‘‘The Royal Pheasant’. It was in the country, on a
quiet lane, next to an old stone Norman-style church. The pub was several
hundred years old, and still had some of the original timbers across the
ceiling. They’d been painted glossy black. There were a dozen or so wooden
tables, also painted black, scattered about the room. Each was covered
with a black, white, and red checked plastic tablecloth. A roaring fire
blasted in the corner, keeping the customers warm and giving the pub a
Jessie and her parents
lived in the upstairs rooms over the pub. Sometimes Jessie helped her mum
wait on tables and other times helped her dad with the cooking, or
choosing meals for the week’s menu. Jessie liked that because there were
always leftovers and she got to eat them.
One morning Jessie’s dad
called her into his office in the back room. "Jessie, what do you
recommend we serve for specials this week?" he asked. The customers liked
Jessie and often called her over to their tables. She noticed what they
ate and what they didn’t.
"I think we should have
bubble and squeak for today’s special, bangers and mash for tomorrow, toad
in the hole for the next day, stovies…" she hesitated in thought, "and
then for Sunday’s special, we should have pheasant, grouse, and partridge,
with mint sauce, of course. Mr. Lamont, down the street, is going game
hunting. Ask him to catch you a few wild fowl. They are good in pies,"
"What a splendid idea,
lassie," her dad said. "What about for sweets?"
"My favorite? Let’s see,"
she said, licking her lips as she thought. "Let’s have brambles and ice
cream tonight, and then have rhubarb pie with clotted cream, toffee cake
with treacle syrup, hazelnut chocolate pie, and oatcakes with heather
honey on them."
"Brilliant," her father
said, writing down her suggestions. "I’ll need your help though. Would you
mind going out today and picking us a fresh supply of blackberries from
the bramble bush?"
"I’ll go after I help Mum
with the lemon curd," she assured him, then went to find her mum.
She was busy putting clean
dishes on all the tables. "It’s a lovely day, isn’t it Jessie? Do you
think we need the fire?"
"Yes, Mum. You know the
customers like it to be warm. They aren’t as used to our Scottish weather
as we are," she gently reminded her. "Did you need some help with the
lemon curd? Daddy asked me to go and pick some blackberries for supper
"Go right ahead, Jessie.
I’ll finish setting the tables and start on the lemon curd. Thanks for
your help," she said, hugging her daughter.
Jessie picked up a basket
and went outside. She turned and looked back when she got to the bottom of
the hill. ‘’The Royal Pheasant’ looked very quaint. A tall willow tree’s
branches hung over the top of it. Roses growing on trellises framed the
entrance. She loved living there. She headed towards the meadow, climbed
over the rickety wooden fence and walked to the bramble patch. Wildflowers
grew and blossomed all through the meadow. There were so many bees buzzing
about. The brambles were heavy with ripe blackberries. They were dark
purple and hung on the prickly branches. Jessie picked them and tossed
them into the basket. She only picked the ripest blackberries though.
After she’d filled the basket up, she headed back to the pub.
The first customers arrived
just as she walked through the back door into the kitchen. Her mum rushed
out to greet and welcome the man and his wife. She seated them and then
gave them each a menu to look at.
Jessie took the
blackberries to the sink and washed them off. She placed them in a large
glass bowl. She noticed some more customers entering. Soon the pub was
full of hungry people, all enjoying the warmth of the fireplace and the
good food. All day long they came. It was late at night before the last
customers left. Jessie’s mum and dad were tired. Jessie helped them clean
up. When she went into the kitchen, she noticed that there were no
blackberries left in the bowl.
Her father, wiping the
kitchen floor with a mop, stopped and said, "Jessie, your menu was a hit.
We had a lot of orders for bubble and squeak. Everyone loved it."
"It looks like they enjoyed
the blackberries and ice cream too," she said, holding up the empty bowl
As she lay in bed that
night, she heard the rain falling outside. Thankful to be somewhere warm,
she snuggled under the down blanket, cuddled her stuffed teddy bear and
fell asleep, tired, but content.