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Join date: Jun 13, 2022


‘Get your shawl on and go after him.’ Ruth pointed to where the shawl was lying across the foot of Lizzies bed which was inset in the alcove. But Lizzie shook her head, saying, ‘He wants no company, something about him said he wants no company.’ She moved her head slowly now as she stared back at Ruth. ‘God knows, this has hit everyone of us but in some strange way him most of all. It’s strange, it is that. Did you see his face, the look on it? It was as if he himself was facing death. Me heart’s breakin’ at this minute over me own, yet there’s room for sorrow in me for that lad. Poor John George.’

Janie sat by the bed and gazed down on the face that she had always thought was the best looking of any lad in the town and she wondered if it would ever go back into shape again. Oh, she hoped it would, for, being Rory, he’d hate to be marked for life. And she couldn’t stand the thought either of him being disfigured; but as long as he was alive that’s all that really mattered. And he was alive, and fighting to keep alive

He had opened his eyes once and looked at her and she thought that he had recognized her, but she wasn’t sure. His lips were moving continuously but all he kept saying was ‘Pity. Pity.’ There must be something on his mind that was making him think it was a pity, and she thought too that it was the greatest of pities that he had ever gone gaming because she had no doubt but that he had been followed from wherever he had played, and been robbed, and by somebody in the know; likely one of them he had played against. But as Jimmy said last night, they mustn’t breathe a word of it because if it got to Mr Kean’s ears that would be the finish of his rent collecting. You couldn’t be a gambler and a rent collector . . . And then there was this business of John George.

Eeh! she was glad to the heart that Rory didn’t know about that because that would really have been the finish of him. Of all the fools on this earth John George was the biggest. She couldn’t really believe it, and if the master hadn’t told her himself she wouldn’t have, but the master’s partner dealt with Mr Kean’s business. Odd, but she hadn’t known that afore. But still, she asked herself, why should she? Anyway, he had pricked his ears up when he heard that one of Mr Kean’s men had swindled him because, as he said, he knew that her intended worked for Mr Kean.

Rory’s head moved slightly on the pillow, his eyelids flickered, and she bent over him and said softly, ‘Rory, it’s Janie. How you feelin’, Rory?’

‘Pity,’ he said. ‘Pity.’

The tears welled up in her eyes and rolled down her cheeks and she whispered, ‘Oh, Rory, come back from wherever you are.’ Then she said softly, ‘I’ve got to go now, I’ve got to get back, but I’ll come again the night. The mistress says I can take an hour off in the afternoon and evening. It’s good of her.’ She spoke as if he could understand her, then she stood up, whispering softly, ‘Bye-bye, dear. Bye-bye.’

Five minutes later she was turning off the main road and into Westoe when she saw the two dark- clothed figures of Ruth and Lizzie approaching. She ran towards them, and immediately they asked together, ‘You’ve been?’

‘Aye, yes.’

‘Any change?’



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