Ragamuffin Angel

Free Ragamuffin Angel by Rita Bradshaw

Book: Ragamuffin Angel by Rita Bradshaw Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rita Bradshaw
Tags: Fiction, Sagas
hand to her chest as she gulped at the air for some moments before saying more slowly, ‘I have to.’  
    ‘You’re not well, lass,’ said Peggy pleadingly, her eyes on her daughter’s ashen face. ‘It’s only bin three weeks since the – since you were took bad, an’ Doctor Turnbull said –’  
    ‘Doctor Turnbull said a lot of things,’ Sadie interrupted wearily, ‘but we’ve only enough food for today an’ the coal an’ logs are all gone. You know how things are, Mam. Don’t make it worse.’  
    ‘Well, leave the bairns with me then. Don’t drag them along.’  
    ‘I’m goin’ with Mam. Larry can stay here but I’m goin’.’  
    Connie’s voice had been fierce but now Sadie lifted her hand for her daughter to stop. ‘You know full well why I’m takin’ ’em, Mam.’  
    ‘Aye, I do an’ all, an’ no good ever come out of blackmail.’  
    ‘That remains to be seen, but they’re comin’.’  
    ‘Eee, I don’t understand you no more. You’re me own, but I don’t understand you. Your da must be turnin’ in his grave with the shame you’ve brought down on our heads. I told you at the beginnin’ they never leave their wedded wives, now didn’t I? But you knew best.’  
    ‘He would have left her,’ said Sadie dully.  
    Connie hated it when her mam and grandma fought like this and they were doing it all the time now, her grandma’s voice low and bitter and her mam’s sort of dead sounding. Connie looked at them both before she turned to Larry who was sitting on the hard-wood saddle and said softly, ‘Come on, I’ll get your coat on.’ He nodded at her, scrambling down at once, but he didn’t speak. He hardly ever spoke, and when he did it was in a baby gibberish of his own devising, even though he was well past his second birthday. But he sensed how things had changed in the last few weeks, she was sure of that, and she’d noticed that more and more it was her he came to when he was tired or he’d hurt himself. And her mam was so thin and peaky. Beautiful still, she assured herself quickly in the next moment, as though the thought had been a criticism. Her mam was still the most beautiful person in the whole wide world and always would be, but she did look poorly.  
    There had been a thaw over the last week, a gradual thaw which meant the severe flooding of the year before had not been repeated, but still the ground outside the cottage was a quagmire. Walking became easier once they reached the road but already her mam was as white as a sheet and making little gasping noises with each breath.  
    ‘Give Larry to me, Mam. I’ll piggyback him.’  
    Connie looked up at her mother as she spoke and when Sadie made no reply, but simply stopped and positioned the toddler on to Connie’s small thin back, her anxiety increased.  
    Connie’s legs were aching long before they reached St Bede’s Terrace off Mowbray Road, but although she had stopped a few times and humped Larry up further on her back – even persuading the reluctant toddler to walk a little way once or twice – she said not a word of complaint. She liked the look of St Bede’s Terrace. It was a tidy street, and it had front gardens too, not like near her school.  
    The thought of school brought Connie nipping at her bottom lip. She had found, much to her surprise, that she’d missed not going to school over the last three weeks. It wasn’t like when she was on holiday, not with the other children still going, and now Ethel Miller would be crowing she was in front of her with her reading and she wouldn’t be top of the class any more. Normally her mam went on and on about how she had to go to school and be educated, but since that night when her mam had got sick she hadn’t mentioned her going back.  
    The memory of that night with all its attendant horror was held fast in her mind, and however much she tried to think about something else she only had to shut her eyes to experience it all again.

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