Audrey Austin

Audrey Austin
Proud to be a small town indie author

Monday, March 31, 2014

Welcome featured author for April, 2014 - Stephen Crabbe, from Bridgetown, Western Australia



An excerpt


 Song of Australia


Stephen Crabbe




Available from Amazon as either e-book or paperback.



The story is set in South Australia during the First World War


It was only twenty minutes after leaving Miss Hale that Elsie walked into the school with Neddy’s hand quite happily in hers. They approached Miss Black and Neddy promised he would come to school next day. Elsie led him homeward.

A few people standing outside the post office ceased their chatter to glare at them as they passed. ‘Germans shouldn’t be wandering around the town at will,’ one said to another loud enough for Elsie to hear. ‘Especially in the company of a cabbage-head!’

A woman took the cue. ‘Torrens Island’s the place for them!’

Elsie held Neddy’s hand tighter and quickened her pace until his mother, with a grateful smile at her, ushered him into her house.

How the boy had agreed to go to school next day and sing some songs with her, and how she would be his tutor, and how she would then use these songs to help him learn to read, and how very important this was according to Miss Hale—all of this she wanted her mother to understand. But the fury that descended on her as she entered the house would not let her begin to speak of these things. To her mother, the fact she had come home an hour after school dismissal was all that mattered.

The grip on her arm was savage. ‘You wander off to satisfy your own selfish whims while I sit here watching the clock, not knowing where you are or what you’re doing … The older you get the more irresponsible you become!’

‘I was talking to Neddy Hawkins!  He ran off from school again and I … ’

Her mother gasped, horror all over her face for several seconds.  She slammed her hand on the table. Plates and cutlery rattled. ‘You were with that Hawkins woman’s little brat? You have no shame, girl! Get into your room and stay there!’

No point persevering with an explanation. She pursed her lips and strode away. It had been like this all her life.

Mother’s fierce resentment now had an excuse to explode. Elsie winced as the voice struck from behind.

‘The way you’re going, girl, you’ll fall as low as that woman!’

Later that night Elsie’s father, face sad and shoulders drooping, came to tell her she was to be confined to her room except to go to school. ‘I’m very sorry. I’ll persuade your mother to relent eventually, but while she’s this angry it’s best not to make her worse. I don’t want to put too much of a strain on her heart …’ His voice petered out and, with a shrug, he left the room.

The restriction on her movement was bad enough, but not being able to play the piano was utter exile. Elsie endured the next three days, downcast one moment and angry the next. In the bleakest moments it was as though a huge dark mouth was trying to gulp her down. It was not a new experience, and she knew her escape was through music. She sat with hands arched on the dressing table and heard Schumann’s Traumerei emerge from her fingers as they played an invisible keyboard. Like a ladder of sound it allowed her to claw her way back to the light.

Elsie remembered the day seven years earlier when her hands first touched a piano. That moment followed a fierce storm of argument in the house. Mother’s hands squeezed her tiny arms.  Father told her to let go. ‘She must be allowed to develop the talent she was born with! I’m taking her, Elisabeth.’ Somehow he managed to get Elsie out of the house and take her down the street to Mrs Pascoe.

She could not recall a time when Mother encouraged her to leave the house. Sweeping, dusting, washing, helping in the kitchen—the household jobs never ended. Her two brothers, on the other hand, were given a free rein to play sport, visit their mates and roam the town whenever they were not in school. Elsie’s school friends gave up inviting her to their birthday parties. Her mother’s eyes even watched from the gate as she walked to Mrs Pascoe’s house once a week, to see that she went nowhere else. And at the time the lesson was due to finish those same eyes would be watching again to ensure she came straight home.

Again and again over the years that big dark mouth threatened. Her chest would tighten. It was hard to breathe. Yet that piano, as unmoving and dependable as a boulder amid the swirl of hopelessness, was always there waiting for her fingers to grab hold. Her music was her lifeline.

"Song of Australia"
available from Amazon as either e-book or paperback.stephencrabbe

Bridgetown, Western Australia

Stephen Crabbe was born in Adelaide, South Australia, just after the Second World War. His ancestors were among the earliest colonists.
His twin passions from the earliest years were music and language in all its forms. He studied classical pianoforte from the age of five until his late teens. He read widely in English and loved to explore all other languages.
Eventually Stephen took up education as a profession, which took him into both public and private schools in several different roles. Eventually he chose to be a music educator, a vocation he follows still.
Writing was always a compulsion for Stephen, but in later years it drew more attention. Screen productions used his scripts and many of his articles were published online and in print. The main focus of his writing now is fiction, especially of the historical kind.
He lives in the rural south-west of Australia.

Stephen Crabbe, Author


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