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Matthew And

His Companion

Lauren Sibree

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing

Highly Commended

If one was to walk past 63 Cogdon St Pittsborough, at around 6

o’clock, without fail one could spot Matthew Taylor. His strange

evening ritual had become something of the small town’s circular

gossip. In the cool, blue crispness of the early evening, Matthew’s

bright yellow, rectangular window beamed in cosy happiness,

unaware of the town’s judgemental stare. Every night with religious

punctuality, he sat on his maroon couch opposite his unusual

companion, engaged in storytelling. Sometimes, on warmer nights, if

the window was open wide enough, snippets of the tale were caught

by eager young ears at the window and churned through the town’s

rumour mill. These tiny excerpts, rashly slapped together like an

easy-bake cake, came together to form the infamous story. The story

of Matthew and his companion. In order to ensure this story and its

accuracies do not die with the current generation, I have decided to

include it this journal. So follows, ‘Matthew and The Straw Hat’.

About twenty years ago, that makes it 1920, when Pittsborough was a more

quaint, respected country town, the Villors moved into The Grange. The Grange

was a sublime country residence on the outskirts of Pittsborough, set on 480 acres

of prime pasture land, with small forestation areas and a modest number of

running creeks. This small mansion was something of a Tudor beauty, with

intricate pale daffodil coloured lattice work climbing three stories high, hugged by

mysteriously dark green ivy vines. The day the Villors arrived, the shutters were

flung open by a cohort of no less than fifteen maids, and the family was helped

from the carriage by a brigade of footmen. First came Mr and Mrs. Villor (who

remain mostly unmentioned ) followed by their daughter, Meredith, who poses

centrally to this story.

Not an hour after their arrival, the town’s milliner, Matthew Taylor, hoping

to make a good spot of business promptly appeared at The Grange. Now, keep in

mind Matthew was a country born lad, fairly simple-minded, but a handsome

gentleman none-the-less. With the maids busily fixing the rooms, who else should

open the door but Meredith herself. The anaemic beauty wrenched the door open

in a flurry, her pale blonde ringlets swinging anxiously, falling about her narrow

shoulders in terrific disarray. Upon seeing her visitor, her neat pink mouth

formed a sweet little sideways smile, and her cheekbones dimpled in pleasure.

‘Good Afternoon Ma’am,’ Matthew breathed in surprise.

‘Good afternoon,’ she chimed back.

‘I’d like to offer you a selection of hats. All half price for you today, milady.’

‘Call me Meredith.’

And so the conversation continued, with little to do with hats. The animated