The Eyes Have It.
by Harry Downey
Fancy caps and cream trousers. Where does he think hes playing? Lords? The watching man clearly didnt like what he could see on the field before him and voiced his opinions to the dogs dozing at his feet. Theyre rubbish. Jonty there couldnt hit the wicket if it was as big as one of his barn doors. And young Stephens given eight byes away while Ive been watching.
Nowhere near as good as his dad.. After another disapproving grunt and a final glance at the scoreboard he left, His dogs followed instantly on his one word command.
It was a subdued saloon bar in the "Black Swan" that evening. The Everington team had gone after the handshakes and customary pleasantries with the inevitable barb in the tail. Sorry, Skip, just wasnt your day. Well see you again in August when you come to our place. Thats when a lot of our lads will be away on holiday with the wife and kids. At least then youll have a game with our second string and youngsters. Just about your standard these days, Im afraid. You used to have a good chap here at Elmsford and you could do with him again. You certainly miss him.
No, John, you wouldnt know the full story. When it all happened you werent here. The chap were all talking about is Isaac Pennington. He lives at the top end of the village in a cottage way past the church.
Youll see him around, but never without his dogs. There used to be three of em, and then he lost his favourite, Jessie, just over a year since. Bad business. He reversed his old Morris Minor over the dog, badly injured it and when he got it to the vet there was nothing he could do. The dog died in the surgery in the vets arms as it happened. Peter over there is our local vet and hell tell you what a strange affair it was. Naturally enough youd expect a man to be upset when his favourite dog goes like that, but Peter says it was a lot worse than you would expect. Isaac would not accept that the dog was dying, and even after Peter had pronounced it dead he wouldnt have it. He took the dog away and said hed nurse her back to health again. He was convinced the dog would recover and he wouldnt replace her. Not that he could do it just like that anyway. The dog Jessie looked like a normal black and white collie, but she had one brown and one blue eye. Apparently it happens but its not common. She also had a peculiar sort of birth mark on her head that meant you could recognise her anywhere.
Isaac became a different man after that. He seemed to cut himself off from the village, and more or less became a recluse. You still see him around sometimes, just with his two other dogs he said he would never replace Jessie but he acts as if she is still alive. He never married so being on his own didnt help. I suppose anyone with a twisted sense of humour would say he was barking mad.
Where he fits into the cricket thing is that he was far and away the best player here, and for miles around. Bigger clubs did their damnedest to prise him away but he was always loyal to his home village and wouldnt play anywhere else except for us here in Elmsford. After he dropped out the team went to pieces. Wed lost our best bat, our best bowler and a safe slip catcher. And it wasnt just that, but Isaac had a mind like a computer when it came to spotting a weakness in one of the other teams players. Yes, we really miss him.
Of course, weve all tried to get him back. Most of the lads have asked him to come and help us out but - no joy, Im afraid. As a newcomer, John, he might listen to you when he wouldnt to any of us. Give it a try and youll make a lot of friends if you can change his mind. He still keeps an eye on us but only from a distance and never watches a full game.
Have a go if you want to, but I dont think theres anything anyone can do.
Arnold, hello. This is John McCarthy. This Isaac chap you told me about. Well, I met him this morning. I took Bunty out for a walk to have a look round our new home no, Bunty isnt my wife, Lord no shes my dog. A one year old labrador, not much more than a puppy really, and she needs a lot of exercising. As you probably know, when dog owners meet they usually have a chat and allow their dogs to have a look at and a smell of each other as they do. Well, Bunty didnt bother much with the other two a Jack Russell and big sort of dog that was definitely a bit of a mixture a real Heinz 57 dog but she and his collie seemed to like each other. As it answered to your description I simply asked how Jessie was these days and it seemed to please Isaac a lot when I asked. Yes, thats right, three dogs, The collie had the peculiar eyes youd mentioned too. And a birthmarky thing on its head too. No, Im not trying to explain it but thats how it was.
I think it was my interest in Jess that did it but he started off about the cricket. He wanted to know what the chances were of a game and I told him that wasnt up to me but why didnt he come to the net practice tonight and have a word with you. Hes going to do just that so I should make sure youre there for him. Good news, eh? See you later down there then. Cheers.
If the village still had a Squire, Sir Joseph Parks would have been it. President of the Elmsford Cricket Club for years and its keenest supporter and regular benefactor, at the end of the season he decided to mark the startling revival in the teams fortunes by creating a new Knock-out Cup open to all village teams within a fifteen miles radius. When, a year later, Sir Joseph presented the trophy to its first ever winning team, its players had unanimously chosen their captain for the occasion. Isaac Pennington was a proud man as he shook hands with Sir Joseph and held up the silver Jessie Trophy for his teammates to see. What everyone else except Isaac had known about in advance was that a black and white collie with eyes that didnt match and a mark on its head had been awarded a special medal too. Sir Joseph hung the medal round the dogs neck to applause all round the pubs packed Function Room. Most men try not to cry in public but Isaac Pennington wasnt like most men.
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