Betty walked on through the village, the several layers of varnish on the soles of her terribly sensible shoes clicking on the cobbles. As she passed the war memorial to Little Hope’s glorious dead of the Great War she gave her customary glance at her poor dear cousin Fred Daley’s name, the little black lead letters a bit weathered and slightly warped nowadays by the passing of time. The ‘F’ in Fred had dropped off sometime in the last year or so leading to poor old Fred being commemorated as Red Daley, which - Reg said - made him sound like a Labour Party periodical.
From the war memorial it was a five minute walk to the end of the village and the little house just before the crossroads which Betty shared with her brother. Built sometime between Waterloo and the accession of Victoria, the house had once served as a toll booth and had, for many years, provided Betty’s father and grandfather with a comfortable living in that they were able to legally fleece anyone needing to enter or leave Little Hope from what was ambitiously known as ‘the west end’. The road which ran through the village and out to the crossroads was a Roman one and rumour had it that not even Julius Caesar had escaped the attentions of a first century Brewster who had shot out of his cave there and succeeded in relieving the laurelled one of a few dinari when he expressed his wish to pass through and conquer the north.