Sarah Ann Green Collins

Sarah Ann Green Collins
with her son Henry Hone circa 1916

SARAH ANN GREEN COLLINS...Evans...Hone...Barnes...Breen b.1862 d.1935

A thrice married Englishwoman immigrates to Canada with her 4 surviving children and marries a widowed Ottawa Valley farmer with two children of his own.

This is my paternal grandmother's story RE-IMAGINED lovingly by me.

To post I have to ask you read from #1 and thence backwards to the top of the page.

Hope there isn't Word protocol stuck between the lines now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


New Grimsbury Warkworth April 1875
April 18, 1875 Dearest Diary,
The spring sun is streaming through our leaded glass windows making diamonds of red and gold on the pale walls of my bedroom. Mopey Mary has finally gone downstairs and I can write without her sighing and whinging about writing and reading being a waste of time and I can write.
I hope next week Saturday we’ll have good weather as my best sister Annie’s getting married.
I can hear laughter from the yard and I clamber onto the windowseat to spy on the merriment. I scrunch up close to the farthest east side of the window and I can just see into our yard. Annie and our char Ellen are carrying a large wooden washtub. The sloshing water causes them to crash into the apple tree. They stop in their labours and lean against the tree for support. I can hear their exaggerated laughter. Annie calls out, 'Just a few miles more miles Mr Livingstone' and they surge forward again. They gain the stoop steps and heave the washtub onto the top one. This motion shoves the water forward again and more spills down the side of the washtub and onto the steps, the soap making a frothy pattern. Now Annie cries out,'The falls! I've discovered Victoria Falls. They both laugh again.
I see Ellen coming from the house again. This time she's carrying a large pail of water. When she reaches Annie's station she manoeuvres around her and slaps the pail down beside the washtub. Now they engage in a kind of laundry dance with a threesome of Annie, Ellen and a dripping soapy tablecloth as their partner.
First they wrestle it out of the foamy water, each taking an end and twisting in opposite directions until they can twist no more. The dance continues with Annie and Ellen each twisting in the opposing direction again until sudsy froth releases on the ground. It's winter in April.
It's Mother's finest linen and Annie wants to use it for the family table at the wedding dinner. Annie plunges the sodden cloth into the pail of clear water loosening it as she goes. Out from the water it comes and the laundry dance starts again, rinsing and wringing until the tablecloth is free of suds.
'Well done Miss,' says Ellen glad to have Annie's help. Now they each take an end and walk with it stretched out between them and lay it, smoothing out the creases on a clean patch of grass.
'Sun'll bleach out stains and when it's got a bit of damp left I'll heat the flatiron and press the beejeebers out of it. It'll look luvely for t' weddin' dinner,' says Ellen.
For one minute I see Annie smiling at Ellen and then I see Annie as if in slow motion look towards the flower garden, throw up her hands to her mouth and run towards the house.
Oh dear, the kitchen door has just slammed and I can hear Annie sobbing. What can have happened?
I will finish this later.
I just get to the kitchen when Annie throws herself into my arms.
“The daffodils are finished. My wedding procession is ruined. There won’t be a single daffodil to carry next week. I don’t care if I ever get married.”
This is not like my sweet sister. For a moment I think she’s turned into Mary. Then I see a great glowing tear run down her flushed cheek and I hug her closer.
“Sarah what am I to do?”
I walk through the garden in my mind.
“I know just the thing. Tulips. Romantic too. Two lips.”
“Sarah you know just the things to say to make good from bad but the tulips are already opening.”
“I was chasing Puss away from a baby sparrow and saw the tulips on the shady north side of the garden. They haven’t even opened yet. They’re yellow aren’t they? “
“Yes and they will look lovely with your blue dress. I have decided I cannot get married without you beside me.”
“But Annie you’ve already asked your best friend to stand with you.”
“I know and I know you’re too young to sign but I know you can carry my train and be in the procession. You already have your blue silk that makes your eyes shine. Wear that and I’ll carry the yellow tulips and all will be wonderful.”
“Mary will be jealous.”
“I’ve asked her to do a poetry reading at the dinner and she is consumed with rehearsing it so she’ll be fine. It’s Mrs. Barrett’s ‘How do I love thee?’. It was Mother’s favourite. Having it read will be like having part of Mother with us.”
“Do you really think Mary will be fine? She can be devious. Just when you think she’s happy…” and I pull my dress sleeve up to show Annie a yellowing bruise.
“I’m thinking only good thoughts for my day Sarah and I want you to do so as well. Please do this for me. Don’t speak harshly of Mary. It does upset me so. Our dear Mother has been on my mind all month long. How she would have enjoyed the planning and the baking and all that goes with a wedding.”
I myself am not so sure. Mother could sometimes be happy but I have such a strong memory of her long face. I feel a little quiver run up my back. ‘Someone is walking on your grave’, Gran Collins would say.
“Yes of course Annie. I won’t spoil your wedding day with my worries.”
“Don’t even say ‘worries’ please,” Annie says and stamps her foot. I jump in mock fear and we both fall over on the settee laughing.
We hear Mary comes in the kitchen. She looks through the pass through at us sprawled on the settee as if we have two heads. She’s been waiting for the paste to dry on our one silver tureen so that she could buff it to a soft shine. She is at least helping with the preparations. She is being so helpful that it makes me wary. Who will she pounce on next?
Mary picks up the tureen and turns it around slowly in her hands. Without looking up she says,
“I saw Mrs. Garrett limping away from the Post Office. She says when her bones act up it’s going to rain for a month.”
April 18,1875 Dearest Diary,
That Mary. She knows how to upset Annie. On the very morning while Rev. Ruston was publishing the banns of marriage for the third consecutive Sunday and with Annie and Walter sitting right in Christ Church in the same pew, Mary managed a loud coughing fit. Mary was so loud that Father asked Mary, with that voice you never want to hear Father using, to leave the church and wait for him in the lychgate.
I’m glad Father didn’t tell me to go there. I would have to have misbehaved. I always walk through the lychgate as fast as I can. That’s where they used to lay the shrouded corpses when they weren't buried in a coffin.
I shouldn’t be thinking such thoughts just before Annie’s wedding so I promise that’s the last one.
I’m so excited. I’m going to be carrying Annie’s train in the procession. I’ll wear my blue frock and I think Annie will have her best friend and matron of honour, also named Annie, put my hair up. It’s my first time ever with my hair up. All the family will see that I am not just ‘little Sarah’ anymore.
Annie has chosen a simple white gown much like the one Queen Victoria wore when she married her beloved Albert. It has a frothy veil that will let her glorious copper curls shine through. I heard Mary chant at the dressmakers, ‘Married in white, you'll have chosen all right. Married in grey, you'll go far away. Married in black, you'll wish yourself back. Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you'll always be true. Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl. Married in green, ashamed to be seen, Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow. Married in brown, you’ll live out of town. Married in pink, your spirits will sink.’
I wonder if she’d have been so quick to sing out if Annie had chosen green. If Annie had chosen brown I would have wanted to wear black because without my sweet sister Annie near me I’d want to die. Just one more bad thought. Though Annie asked me not to speak harshly of Mary I can still tell you dearest Diary. When Annie was so upset about the daffodils I saw a familiar look in Mary’s eyes. It’s the look she gets when she’s planning mischief. I didn’t tell Annie but I’ll be watching Mary just in case.
Yours in hope,
Sarah A. G. Collins .

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