Octavia's War

Octavia's War by Beryl Kingston Page B

Book: Octavia's War by Beryl Kingston Read Free Book Online
Authors: Beryl Kingston
breakfast?’
    â€˜Porridge would be nice.’
    â€˜Porridge it shall be,’ Emmeline promised and turned her head towards the bedroom door, listening. ‘There’s the phone ringing. I shall have to go and attend to it. You’ll be all right, won’t you?’
    He smiled at her concern. ‘Perfectly,’ he said.
    Emmeline went puffing down the stairs as fast as she could. The call would be from one or other of her daughters and she was eager for news of her grandchildren, who’d all been evacuated the previous day too.
    It was Dora, sounding very calm and collected. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘He arrived safely. I had a card from him this morning.’
    â€˜Dear little man,’ Emmeline said. ‘What does he say?’
    Dora read the card. ‘He’s in a village called Bracknell, wherever that is – and he’s staying with a nice lady called Mrs – what is it? – Weather – that can’t be right – and he’s with Martin and Bob Cavendish. So you don’t need to worry about him.’
    Emmeline went on worrying. It was all very well for Dora to say what a big boy he was and how grown up he was getting, but he was only eight when all was said and done, poor little mite, and eight’s no age to be sent off to the country without your mother. ‘Did he say anything else?’
    â€˜No. It was only a postcard. I have got another bit of news for you though. I’m going to join the ARP. They want people to drive their ambulances. It was in the paper this morning.’
    â€˜But you’ve got a job,’ Emmeline protested. She worked for an estate agent just down the road from her flat.
    â€˜This is extra,’ Dora said firmly. ‘When there are air raids. It won’t stop me working. Anyway, I don’t reckon there’ll be much work for me to do now. I mean who’s going to buy a property in Balham? It might be bombed. Nobody’ll move to London with a war on. They’re all moving out.’
    â€˜Don’t talk like that,’ Emmeline said. It made her flesh creep. Bad enough to have to think they might be bombed, without actually saying it.
    â€˜That’s the way we’ve got to talk now, Ma,’ Dora said. ‘It’s no good pretending. We’re in it now. We’ve got to face things.Anyway, must rush. The pips are going. I’ll phone you tonight and let you know how I get on.’
    Emmeline put the telephone back on its hook, feeling stricken. Her world was being turned upside down for the second time in her life and she couldn’t bear it. Her nice comfortable order was wrecked and now look where they all were. Poor little David all on his own out in the country somewhere, her dear Dotty Dora driving an ambulance – and just think how dangerous that’s going to be if they start bombing – no Tavy to talk to, and her dear, dear Johnnie flying his Spitfire with all those dreadful bombers in the air. Sighing, she stomped off to the kitchen to cook the porridge.
    It was just thickening nicely when the phone rang again. She took it off the gas and set it aside so that it didn’t burn and went off to see who it was this time.
    It was Edie and she sounded upset and unsure of herself.
    â€˜Mum? Is that you?’
    â€˜Yes,’ Emmeline said. ‘Where are you?’
    â€˜I’m in the phone box at the end of the road.’
    â€˜What road?’
    â€˜My road. Where I live.’
    â€˜Didn’t you go then? Have they put it off?’
    â€˜Oh no. Nothing like that. The girls went. They’re in Guildford. I got a postcard this morning. I stayed here with Joanie.’
    â€˜I thought you were all going together.’
    â€˜Yes – well – we were,’ Edie said, and then there was a long pause before she went on. ‘Arthur’s being sent to France, he got the letter yesterday, and I couldn’t very well go off and leave him

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