War Orphans

War Orphans by Lizzie Lane

Book: War Orphans by Lizzie Lane Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lizzie Lane
to school. Today she had relented because tonight she would be leaving him alone. Tonight she was going out to dinner with the dashing young Frenchman. On the night before she had studied his name on the card he’d given her again and again, turning it over in her hand before going to bed. Pierre DeVere.
    Sally glanced at her father. His expression was as stoic as usual.
    ‘You’ve remembered I’m going out tonight?’
    There was silence for a time, the only sound the clicking of her heels and his heavier footsteps a beat or two behind.
    ‘Sally, I don’t think you should go—’
    Sally stopped so suddenly, he overtook her before coming to a standstill, turning and seeing the determination in her face.
    ‘Well, I am going, Father. I am going and there is nothing you can say that will make me change my mind. Now go back home. I’m here at school and I’m safe at school.’
    Although his hurt expression gave rise to a moment of guilt, she held back from saying anything soothing. She needed to remain firm. She had a life to lead and she couldn’t allow him to ruin it.
    ‘Now, please, Dad. I have to go.’
    She glanced at her watch, gave him a quick peck on the cheek, and went through the school gates.
    A host of children gathered round, wishing her good morning and showing her treasures they’d found in a field: a red autumn leaf, an abandoned bird’s nest, a fish in a jar taken from the Malago, a slow flowing stream close to St. John’s Lane.
    Seb found it hard to turn away from his daughter. The sight of Sally being in such great demand from the children gave him mixed feelings. He was proud of her but also jealous that she had the attention of others, even if they were her pupils. She was his baby and he could not easily let her go. Today was bad enough. Tonight she was going out with a man. He had no objection to the young man’s nationality, but hehad objections to any man who came between him and his daughter.
    Not wishing to return to an empty house, his footsteps led him down the cobbled path leading to the allotment. He stopped some distance away noting the bowed heads of dead flowers, raindrops dripping miserably from the withered leaves.
    The rain had grown stronger since earlier that morning though it still fell in a fine mist from a leaden sky. Everything looked grey. November had been wet and foggy so far. It wasn’t likely to get any better.
    Rain trickled from the brim of his hat, from his eyebrows and off the end of his nose. His scarf kept the water from getting inside his coat.
    Once at the allotment he surveyed the plot where flowers had once grown in riotous colour. The remains of dead blooms barely held their heads above the forest of weeds. If he followed the advice from the government, as clearly all his fellow allotment holders were doing, he would pull them all out and plant vegetables instead.
    The truth was he couldn’t bring himself to do it. When Grace was alive he’d come down here with a Thermos flask and sandwiches and enjoyed digging the earth, the dark loam crumbling between his fingers. If she wasn’t too busy around the house, Grace had come with him. What times they’d had , he thought to himself, and damn God for taking her!
    He pursed his lips as he took in the sad-looking allotment. The dead flowers could stay until he was ready. In the meantime he would go for a walk in the park. At one time he would have also called in at the Park House, the pub on the corner of Merioneth Street, not the larger Engineer’s Arms where factory workers gathered. The Park House was small and intimate, no more than a small room with a bar, darts and a shove ha’peny board. He hadn’t been in there since his wife’s death. Neither had he been to church. They’d used to go, the two of them, but he no longer attended. God was in disgrace because he’d taken Grace away from him.
    Head bent, his eyes watering, he turned away from the shed but something made him stop. Had he heard

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