I found this delightful book in Bellaghy's one and only charity shop. It was published in 1953 so is the same vintage as me. Martha adores it and I read it to her at least two times every day she is here. Both Martha and Evie love stories and love being read to. And I love to read to them. I also enjoy telling them stories that are not written down.
Madeline's Rescue features a dog, later named Genevieve, who kept her head and rescued Madeline when she fell in to the River Seine. I told the girls a true story about a man who kept his head when Aunt Katy fell in to the River Braid.
So girls... are you sitting comfortably? This is a true story that happened a long time ago when Mummy and Aunt Katy and Aunt Hannah were only girls. Hannah was the youngest, She was about the same age as you Martha. Katy was about 8 or 9 years old and your Mummy was 12 or 13. Bert had a yellow car that we called the Yellow Submarine and we'd often jump in to it and go somewhere nice for a walk. One of our favourite places to go was Currel's Avenue just outside Ballymena. We'd take Danny (he was our dog back then) and we'd walk beside the river. There was a swing there. It wasn't a proper swing like the one in the garden. It was just a piece of stick on a rope. You'd stand on the bank and get the stick between your legs and go swinging over the river. It was very exciting and a bit dangerous. Bert went first and he was very good at it. Then it was your Mummy and she was good at it too. Then it was Katy's turn. Katy was lighter than Bert and Zoe and she bounced around when she swung over the river. The next thing she bounced off and went splash! into the water. Down she went under the water! Then her head appeared. Down she went again! I could see Bert starting to kick his boots off and throw off his coat. Aunt Hannah, who was very young, started to scream and she ran off in a panic. I could see that Bert was going to get Katy out so I ran after Hannah who was racing away and not seeming to care where she ran or what she ran in to! She thought that her sister was going to die. I knew that Katy was going to be OK because Bert was keeping his head. By the time I caught Hannah and soothed her and brought her back Katy was safe. Zoe said that Danny the dog had jumped into the river too. He liked swimming and he thought that if everyone was going to be splashing about in the river he should too! Poor Katy was soaking wet so all of us shared out our clothes so she could go home in dry things. Bert just drove us home even though he was drenched. He didn't mind because he was very happy that he had kept his head and been a hero. When we got home Katy had a warm bath and Bert got dry clothes and a nice hot cup of tea and everyone was very happy.
Did you like that story?
Yes. Tell it again.
So I did.