Authors: Beryl Matthews
Tags: #General Fiction
Table of Contents
BATTLES LOST AND WON
DIAMONDS IN THE DUST
A FLIGHT OF GOLDEN WINGS
THE FORGOTTEN FAMILY
HOLD ON TO YOUR DREAMS
A NEW DAY
THE OPEN DOOR
A TIME OF PEACE
THE UNCERTAIN YEARS
WINGS OF THE MORNING
This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
First world edition published 2012
in Great Britain and in the USA by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9–15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
Copyright © 2012 by Beryl Matthews.
All rights reserved.
The moral right of the author has been asserted.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A new day.
1. Brothers and sisters–Fiction. 2. Orphans–Fiction.
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-290-0 (Epub)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8182-3 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-84751-436-3 (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
‘I didn’t know what to do!’ Jack Foster’s head was bowed, looking at the papers he was clutching tightly in his hands, and when his head came up, his cut lip and bruised eye made Hanna wince. ‘I don’t want to leave you, but if I stay I could do something terrible to that man.’
Stooping down she gripped her young brother’s arms. ‘I’ll be all right, Jack. You’re fifteen now and old enough to make your own decisions. You must think of yourself and leave. I’ll do anything to support you, so tell me again what you’ve planned.’
Hope flared in his dark brown eyes. ‘Well, Talbot’s gone out and won’t be back until this afternoon, so when his wife sent me on an errand I jumped on a bus and went to the docks. You know how I like to watch the ships coming and going. I saw this notice pinned on the gates advertising for crew in a hurry. They are sailing tomorrow and were short handed. I didn’t even think about it, I just walked into the office and volunteered. I told them I was eighteen, and they believed me when I said I didn’t have a birth certificate because I was an orphan. They said they needed a deck apprentice and I could have the job. I agreed to join the ship, and I signed the papers there and then. I know I should have talked it over with you first, but I was desperate, and it’s something I always wanted to do. I had to make my mind up in a hurry or I would have missed the chance.’ He gazed at her anxiously. ‘Are you angry with me, Hanna?’
‘Of course not.’ She smiled although her heart was aching. ‘You have to get away from that man, and you’re doing the right thing. And I guess from those papers you are mangling in your hands that they’re the ones you signed.’
‘Er . . . yes.’ He held them out to her. ‘You keep these safe for me, Hanna. I don’t want that brute to find them.’
She took them from him and popped them in her bag. This was so sudden and it was going to be painful to see him sail away, but it had to be done – for his sake. She had only been eight when their parents had died in a train accident. With no other family to take them in they had been put in the orphanage. Jack had been terrified, and she had looked after her five-year-old brother, refusing to let them be separated. No one had wanted to take the two of them so they had remained in the orphanage, but as the years slipped by it worried her in case she had deprived Jack of finding a real home and a family to love him. Then a year ago a couple had wanted Jack, and after discussing it with him, he had decided to go with them. What a mistake that had been! The man had only wanted a strong lad to help him with his greengrocer’s business. Jack was worked from dawn to dusk and thrashed often. Now the Talbots were talking about legally adopting him and he had to get away. All of her efforts, letters to those in authority and complaints had been ignored. She had seriously considered them running away together, but where would they go? They had no friends, nowhere to go and no money. They would have ended up on the streets, and that was far too dangerous. There had to be another way, but she just hadn’t been able to find one. Now her young brother had settled that question.
Jack still looked worried. ‘I’m leaving you with an awful mess to clear up. When I’ve gone that brute will come looking for me. He’ll hurt you, Hanna.’
‘No, he won’t, because I won’t be here. I’ve only stayed at the orphanage to be near you, but I’m just a skivvy, doing all the rotten jobs. I’ll get myself a job and save hard so I can make a home for the both of us. When you sail back into port there will be somewhere for you to come back to.’
‘Oh, it would be lovely to have a place of our own, and if anyone can do it, you can,’ he told her confidently, more relaxed now he had his sister’s support. ‘And I’ll save some of my pay to help.’
‘Don’t you worry about that. When you go to other countries you’ll want to have fun. You enjoy yourself. Promise?’
‘All right.’ He smiled as much as his sore lip would allow. ‘What kind of a job are you going to get?’
‘I’ll have to go into service first. That will give me food and a roof over my head. In fact, I’ve already been offered something. A group of people came to look round the orphanage last week and one of them said she needed to employ a girl to help with her children. She asked if I would consider taking the job, but I wasn’t sure, and she gave me a couple of weeks to think it over.’
‘You must take it!’ Jack was on his feet, brimming with excitement. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘It would have meant moving away, and you know I wouldn’t go too far from you when you need help so much. They live in Kensington.’ She shook her head sadly. ‘I feel so guilty about not trying to persuade you to refuse the Talbots, but I felt you were now old enough to make your own decisions. I’m so sorry, Jack.’
‘Hanna, you haven’t got anything to be sorry about. I made up my own mind, and it was the wrong thing to do, we can see that now, and I know how hard you’ve worked to try and get me away from them. You’ve always put me first, and I love you for that, but it’s time you got out of here. You’re good at looking after kids. That’s why this place hasn’t let you go although you’re eighteen now. Go and see this lady today and tell her you’ll take the job. Please! If I know you’re away from here I won’t worry quite so much.’
‘I’ll go this afternoon. What time do you have to be at the ship tomorrow?’
‘I’ve got to be there by six o’clock in the morning, so I’ll have to creep out around four o’clock, while he’s getting the van ready to go to market. I’ve been told that if we can get to the main road by four thirty there’s a lorry coming around that time who picks up any who need to get to the docks early.’
‘We must make sure we catch that then, Jack. I’ll wait for you at the end of the road then, but don’t pack a bag. Put your clothes on in layers and shove anything else into your pockets. But you must only walk out of that house with the things you went there with, and then he won’t be able to accuse you of stealing. It would be easy to make a mistake, so be careful, Jack.’
‘I won’t even take a pair of socks they gave me. Don’t worry; I don’t want anything from them. I’ll be very careful.’
‘We’ll go to the docks together and I’ll stay there until your ship is safely at sea. If anyone comes and tries to stop you then I’ll fight them off!’ They grinned at each other as she hid her tears, determined to stay bright and positive. This was a big decision for him and he needed her support.
‘Thanks.’ He clasped her hand, his eyes shining with love and amusement. ‘I know no one will get near me with you there on guard. But seriously, Hanna, I’ll only be able to go with an easy mind if I know you’re leaving that place as well. Promise me you’ll go and see about that job today.’
‘I promise.’ She managed a smile. ‘Now, you had better get back before Mr Talbot gets suspicious.’
She watched him hurry away, so proud of him. He had grown into a fine boy, tall, strong and courageous. He was determined to make a better life for himself, and she must do the same.
She spent the next two hours at the beck and call of everyone, as it had been for years, but not for much longer. Once Jack had sailed away then she would have to get away from here, so she was determined to make this her last day in this place. The realization that she would soon be leaving the orphanage filled her with excitement, happy not only for herself but for her brother as well. They were finally going to take charge of their own lives. The address of the lady she was going to see was in her pocket and she touched it, making sure it was still safe. She would go there this afternoon in her free time.
The house was nearly as big as the orphanage, but there the similarity ended. The orphanage had a grim neglected look about it, but this was beautiful! Oh, she hoped Mrs Harcourt still needed a nanny. What if she had found someone else already? Suppose she wasn’t at home?
Pushing the doubts aside she hurried up the long driveway, her heart beating uncomfortably. So much depended on this job. She wanted Jack to be able to leave knowing she was settled in a good post. As soon as she reached the front door she knocked firmly, composing herself. She must look calm and competent.
The door opened almost immediately by a maid in a pristine uniform. ‘Mrs Harcourt asked me to call,’ she said quickly. ‘My name is Hanna Foster.’
‘Come in, Miss Foster. I’ll tell Mrs Harcourt you’re here.’ The maid gave her a friendly smile and ushered her into a small side room. ‘Wait here, please.’
There had been many disappointments and heartaches in Hanna’s life so she had learnt not to take things for granted. It had made her strong and able to bend like a willow in a storm. If this position was no longer available then Mrs Harcourt might be able to tell her of another one. She would ask.
The maid was soon back, still smiling. ‘This way please. Good luck,’ she whispered as she opened a door for Hanna.
Smiling her thanks she stepped into a lovely sitting room, the beauty of it nearly taking her breath away. This was how she had always imagined a family home would be like. The decor was in pale apricot, giving a glowing warmth to the room, tidy, but not too tidy. Daily newspapers were thrown on to a small side table, books on one of the chairs, and a toy train sticking out from behind the long window curtains. So one of the children was a boy.
‘Thank you for coming, Miss Foster.’
She turned her attention to Mrs Harcourt, returning the lady’s smile. She spoke clearly. ‘You told me you needed a nanny, Mrs Harcourt, and if the position is still available I would like to be considered.’
‘I do still need a nanny.’ She gave a wry smile. ‘I have interviewed many girls, but did not feel that any could cope with my boys, until I saw you handling all those children with such ease and kindness. Sit down and we will have tea while we talk.’
Surprised at being offered tea, Hanna sat in the nearest chair, sinking into its comfort. In these lovely surroundings she was very aware that her clothes were shabby, but they were clean and well pressed.
Mrs Harcourt rang a bell and ordered refreshments, then turned her full attention to Hanna. ‘We talked a little when we met, but I had the impression that you didn’t like to say too much. Am I right?’