Paradise Lane

Free Paradise Lane by Ruth Hamilton

Book: Paradise Lane by Ruth Hamilton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ruth Hamilton
Tags: Historical fiction, Saga
war. His hands twitched as he remembered all that sewing of Land Army uniforms, and he almost felt the old pain in his fingers. Strange times, those had been. A hundred German and Austrian Jews had watched the war, had flown the Union Jack at the end. Whenever he thought of his and Ruth’s families abroad, he closed his eyes in prayer. After two years, no word of any survivors had reached England.
    Ivy Crumpsall opened the door of number 1 Paradise Lane. She stepped into the street, held a finger to her lips.
    ‘How is he?’ asked Joseph.
    She shook her head. ‘Not long now.’
    ‘The books.’ He pushed them into her hand. ‘You will get them back, all of them. These were all I managed to carry.’
    She lifted her head. ‘You’re a good man, Joseph. I don’t know a right lot about your religion and your way of doing things, but I think we’ve the same God.’
    ‘There’s only one,’ he said softly. ‘Christians and Jews share Him. Keep your faith, Ivy.’
    ‘Aye.’
    Her eyes had begun to cloud with age, and rings were appearing round the irises. He saw the fear behind the calm exterior, felt so much sympathy that it almost cut through him. ‘May He be with you now, Ivy.’
    ‘I need Him, Joseph.’ She loved this man. Everyone who knew the Heilbergs felt affection for them. Unlike many in his trade, he cared about the folk who pledged with him, often went out of his way to visit a house before selling on an item that had outstayed its date.
    ‘Can we do anything for you? Ruth will come down if you wish.’
    ‘I know, lad. I’ll send for you if I need you.’
    He stepped back, cast an eye over the frontage of Derek Crumpsall’s house. ‘How many times did she come to my shop?’
    He had spoken no name, but she knew he referred to Lottie. ‘Just before the war were over, yon daft Yankee bought an outfit for our Sal. Red, it were, with a fur trim. Lottie marched it off quick smart to that shop of yours, never let our Sal go out in it. Peter Quinn looked after your shop while you were away, didn’t he?’
    Joseph nodded. ‘An honest man. I trust his soul is resting.’
    ‘Well, he took the outfit and gave Lottie money. Next news this other little lass is at chapel in our Sal’s coat. Eeh . . .’ She shook her head. ‘Lottie Kerrigan were bad through and through.’
    Joseph remembered Ruth’s words. ‘No-one is completely bad, Joseph. Everyone has a little of God in his heart.’
    ‘What about Hitler?’ he had asked his wife.
    ‘That was a sick man,’ she had replied.
    Had a whole country followed a maniac, then? Were all Germans blind and stupid? Ruth had even found an answer to that question. According to Ruth Heilberg, the Germany of 1930 had been desperate. In desperation, the people had followed the only star in its ascendency. As that particular star had not been David’s, the Reich had wiped out several million Jews. One question that had never been answered by Ruth was, ‘Why the Jews?’
    ‘Joseph?’
    ‘I beg pardon, Ivy. I was thinking.’
    ‘I asked did you want to see Derek.’
    He nodded. ‘Yes. I shall come and sit for a moment.’
    Joseph Heilberg took one of Derek’s books and sat by the bed of the dying man. He allowed the volume to fall open at random, read out a paragraph about African animals.
    ‘Bigger than the Indians,’ breathed Derek.
    ‘I beg your pardon?’
    ‘The elephants. Can’t be trained as easily. A rogue on his own can do a lot of damage.’
    Joseph smiled, took hold of Derek’s emaciated hand. ‘When I go to Africa, I shall not talk to a lone elephant. I shall talk only to elephants who have company.’
    Derek’s features stretched into a smile that made a death’s head of his face. ‘If you do ever go, bring some photos for our Sal.’
    ‘Ah, this I will do, Derek. I most certainly will.’
    Ivy went into the back garden, looked over the fence at her old friend Rosie Blunt. ‘Is our Sal all right, Rosie?’
    The small white head nodded.

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