Wednesday 26 June 2019

The Treadwells

Members of the Treadwell family have appeared in a few of my books; namely The Kissing Ring, Tied Up in Tinsel, Christmas Eve, and  Counterpoint Questions. They are a hob family who act as gatekeepers for the castle bridge/terrace gateway which links the courtlands with a courtyard in Sydney.  They've been doing this job for over a century, and share their time between the terrace house and their various homes over there.

In the 1980s, several family members were around, but only one is referred to in particular; Mistress Treadwell, from whom Mal and LeeLee Grene obtained a courting cake as a gift for their cousin Ryl and her intended, Tom. The Treadwells at that point are well known in the fay community, not only as gate-keepers, but also because several of them have a troll manifest.

Three decades later, the incumbent keeper is Mistress Joan Treadwell, a hob maid in late middle age. She is married to a distant cousin, allowing her to retain the family name and also to reinforce the troll manifestation. Mistress Joan is probably not the same person Mal and LeeLee knew. She has an odd sense of humour and uses a gargoyle door knocker. She and her husband are the only permanent incumbents of the terrace because she lets two floors of the building to selected guests, including Sarah Fleming and Chas Dark and their son George. When Sarah marries Ajay Kahn, Chas and George still take the holiday let. At that time Mistress Joan and her husband are over there with their daughter, who has just had a baby.

A year or so later, Mistress Joan is back at her post when Eve Adeste comes through the gateway on Christmas Eve. She's in fine form, complete with green skin and tusks, because she feels especially trollie. As she tells Eve, her daughter Steffi has had a baby boy, trollie born, a matter of great pleasure and pride to Joan.

In The Pixie Grip, set in the 1950s and 1960s, the keeper was Mistress Dara Treadwell, a young woman of twenty-one. Dara is blonde and pretty, with a bouffant hairstyle, tight slacks and a sweater. She's a kind young woman, who smells of pancakes. She facilitates Peter Grene's romance with Gentian Hillyard, allowing them to take one of the top rooms of the terrace for a while. Dara has been to university and is well-versed in life both sides of the gateway. She sometimes goes to the Pear Tree. She's practical and philosophical by nature. As she tells Peter Grene, sacrifices have to be made. She'd quite like to go travelling with her university friends, but she feels an obligation to the gateway.  She also feels an obligation to her bloodline, and is promised to her second cousin Arthur, as he is the male closest in age to her who also satisfies the bloodline requirement of no more than two from eight. Arthur is almost sixteen, and has always regarded Dara as his girl. He's another reason Dara won't go away for an extended period. As she says, she won't leave Arthur to fret and she also can't take him along as if he was a pet cat.  It's 1962, after all. Dara expected to leave any courting until Arthur was eighteen, but he has other ideas, so she agrees to a kissing ring commitment when he's sixteen.

Peter Grene is a bit troubled by this until he meets Arthur Treadwell who is a self-possessed young giant delighted to be shot of his school uniform and already training as a vintner.  Having known Dara all his life, Arthur is completely comfortable with her troll morph, although he doesn't have it himself. 

By 2019, Dara and Arthur would be in their seventies, possibly living at their vineyard over there. Dara undoubtedly got to travel, leaving the terrace and the gate to Joan and her man.


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