‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Three

Chapter Four: Colebridge Market

This is my favourite sort of chapter, in which nothing very exciting happens (people do the weekly shopping and have haircuts) but we discover lots of interesting things about the characters.

Firstly, we learn the children only have one living grandparent, Mrs Marlow’s mother, who is glamorous and Parisian and gives unsatisfactory girly presents instead of the cold hard cash that the twins would prefer. Grandmother stayed in Paris all through the war, which suggests she either got trapped there (and is pretty tough to have survived the occupation) or was a Nazi collaborator. Also, Mrs Marlow has a sister called Molly. Captain Marlow’s parents were killed when he was a teenager and he spent a lot of time at Trennels.

Secondly, the Marlows have been at Trennels for a thousand years, “four hundred years before the Merricks” (ha, take that, Patrick!). Rowan also explains to Nicola that their father is going to give up his Navy career to farm at Trennels, because “it wouldn’t be proper” to have non-Marlows there (and probably because he likes the idea of strutting about being the local squire). Nicola is horrified that he’s giving up the chance to be First Sea Lord. In fact, at one stage, Giles even offered to give up the Navy instead of his father (I bet he did it fully expecting everyone to reject the idea outright, which they did). But the current farm manager is on the verge of retirement, so someone needs to take over. Also there are lots of debts – not because the farm is unprofitable, but because Jon was hopeless with money – hence the need to sell the London house. Mind you, this is the sort of ‘poverty’ in which they have a huge house, plenty of land they could let if they wanted, two vehicles, a pony and enough money to pay school fees for six children at expensive boarding schools.

Like Nicola, I’d thought Rowan would want to live in the country, but Rowan thinks the whole thing is “putrid”. Karen is happy because she gets her own bedroom, Ginty, Ann and Peter prefer the country to London, and poor Mrs Marlow is making the best of it, even though she thinks it would be more sensible to get a tenant farmer for Trennels. Nicola suggests Karen run the farm because “she’s only going to Oxford” and could just as well go to an agricultural college. Hmm, not quite the same thing, Nicola!

Rowan also says Karen would be hopeless at running anything, just as she was hopeless at being Head Girl, which is news to Nicola. It’s true that it can come as a revelation to children that their older relatives are not necessarily good at whatever they do. Mind you, what is a Head Girl meant to do? At my schools (I went to a lot of them), school captains ran assemblies and occasionally represented the school at official functions, but what happens at boarding school? Are Head Girls meant to be some sort of assistant to the headmistress or an unpaid, untrained school counsellor? Rowan thinks Karen will “end up a good conscientious Civil Servant. Or somebody’s wife. She’d make quite a good wife.” Meanwhile, Nicola thinks Rowan or Ann would be good at running Trennels, but of course, they’re still at school and “Rowan wanted to be a games mistress and Ann wanted to be a nurse.” I like that the book presents girls as having actual career ambitions, even if we know that there are limitations to what they can do (Karen, for example, would have to resign from her Civil Service job if she got married).

Then Peter says he’d like to learn to run the farm, except he acknowledges that he’s too young at the moment. Besides, when he’s eighteen he’d have to go off to do National Service. He does think he could do it after National Service. This seems a good plan to me, given that Peter hasn’t much interest in or aptitude for the Navy. Rowan points out that Giles will inherit the farm from their father, but as Giles is unlikely to “chuck the Service to farm”, then Peter could be his bailiff and Nicola his housekeeper.

Anyway, Rowan and Nicola do the shopping in Colebridge, the nearest town, where Rowan picks up a pamphlet about the upcoming district show and Nicola buys The Boke of Falconerie, 1598 for sixpence from a market stall. Maybe it will provide some ammunition for her campaign to be allowed to keep Regina at school (or end up being immensely rare and valuable, thereby saving Trennels from foreclosure). Also, Nicola accidentally gets her hair cut very short (“the way you’re all going on, anyone’d think I’d had it dyed and permed like a–a teen-ager”) and Lawrie gets upset they are no longer identical so she shears off her own hair. Lawrie is being extremely childish in this chapter, even by Lawrie-standards.

Finally, Peter has inherited a shot-gun from Jon. As this is Peter, I foresee disaster. The question is whether he will a) shoot himself in the foot, b) shoot someone else, hopefully in a non-lethal manner, or c) kill someone’s beloved pet. Run, Fluff, hide!

Next, Chapter Five: Jael is Entered and Peter Gate-crashes

14 thoughts on “‘Falconer’s Lure’, Part Three”

  1. This is my favourite sort of chapter too.
    Someone, somewhere, on Trennels, who’d known AF slightly, said that she herself had once said that she thought Mrs Marlow’s mother had been a collaborator. There’s also a snippet of fanfic about it somewhere on AO3 – just as there’s fanfic about Lawrie’s abandoned hatstand, and every other Marlows related idea you can imagine!
    Poor Peter – being a Marlow, he is of course automatically expected to know how to use a shotgun, even though they’ve only just moved to the country. Nobody ever thinks any of them ever need to be taught anything, just as later, they’ll all be expected to ride brilliantly, and feel ashamed if they can’t.

    1. If Grandmother was a collaborator, she wouldn’t have been the only English person in Paris cosying up to the Nazis. Look at P. G. Wodehouse. That’s assuming she is English (she gave her daughters English names, but perhaps their father was English).

      Fanfic about Laurie/hallstand! I’m still avoiding Marlows fanfic due to possible spoilers.

      I think Peter has had some shooting lessons from his father, because he used them to shoot and kill the Nazi in Marlows and the Traitor. But maybe shooting a pistol at a large, unmoving Nazi is easier than using a shotgun on fast rabbits.

      1. Might Peter have had shooting lessons at Dartmouth? Mme Orly married a Frenchman for her second husband; the first was called Maunsell.

        1. I just looked up Marlows and the Traitor and found this, when Peter finds Foley’s revolver:

          “He picked it up gingerly. He knew how to use one, more or less, for his father had shown him, but he wasn’t too keen on them all the same. He set the safety-catch and then broke it, to make certain it was loaded, and found all six chambers were full.”

          Then later, when he’s pointing it at the Nazi:

          Don’t pull the trigger, Daddy had said, you’ll jerk it off the target if you do; just squeeze it gently.”

          But maybe they also have lessons at school?

          Thanks for the Mme Orly information (she hasn’t been named yet, but I assume this is Mrs M’s mother). So, she appears later in the series?

          1. Jon was having it overhauled at the gunsmiths for him – possibly he was also going to teach him how to use it? Naturally Peter doesn’t worry about that.

  2. I think we take it as canon that Mme Orly was a collaborator (or perhaps M. Orly was?).

    Yes, what a good idea to let Peter play with a gun given that he’s just SHOT A MAN DEAD last holidays. Perhaps they think shooting at helpless animals is a good way to process the trauma?

    What am I saying, as if anyone would think for a moment that a Marlow might be traumatised by anything as trivial as killing a Nazi…

    1. Yes, Peter only KILLED SOMEONE, nothing to get excited about – or as Captain M would say, ‘About time he got over it!’ Although Peter himself doesn’t seem very bothered. He was giggling to himself when Jon asked if he could keep the test plane details a secret from enemy agents.

  3. Yes, you’re right, and this comes up more explicitly later in the series when it becomes clear that Peter has more or less repressed the memory, or at least compartmentalised it so firmly that he had virtually forgotten all about it — healthy!

  4. Yes, I realise that Peter has been shown how to use a pistol. I wasn’t referring so much to the load and point aspects of using a gun, (although shotguns are different from pistols, and rabbits are rarely six foot tall and two foot wide, nor do they stand directly in front of you assuming you won’t pull the trigger) but the etiquette / field safety etc of using a gun around the farm.

  5. It’s belatedly occurred to me that in TMATT we learned that Commander Marlow’s ship was torpedoed during the War. Perhaps he himself is repressing/ trying to forget rather a lot himself, hence the lack of sympathy for the children.

    1. Yes, that’s a good point about his own traumatic past. And he was orphaned as a teenager, so presumably had to be independent and self-sufficient from a young age. And he’s grown up in a Mustn’t Grumble culture. I still don’t like his behaviour, though!

  6. I’ve never realised before that he was orphaned as a boy. I guess that might explain how he can afford a house in London and eight children at boarding school.

      1. If she did, I don’t think it is mentioned anywhere.
        Actually, I’m developing sympathy for Captain Marlow on this read through. I’ve never really considered how it might be for a career naval officer to be suddenly saddled with a country estate deep in debt, even if he was desperate to belong there as an orphaned boy.

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