Archive | January, 2016

Catherine of Liverpool Part Two (extract)

29 Jan

liverpool landingThe new girl arrived a week after Molly’s announcement . She was small with a mass of black curls and her name was Vera. Apart from the startling cloud of hair which framed her anxious countenance Vera was remarkable for her silence.
‘She’s never spoke a word Colleen’. Catherine confided to her friend one sunny Sunday morning, as they strolled from Church Street to the workhouse, where they hoped to get word of Billy and Alfie, with whom neither had had contact since Bill’s return after the sinking of The Coral. As Captain Featherstone had perished in the tragedy, Billy no longer had his sponsorship, nor the freedom to come and go as he used to.
A flock of seagulls soared across the sky, their familiar call heralding that all was well with the world above ground at least . The girls were wearing two of Molly’s bonnets for the morning, adorned with daisies and pink roses. ‘Such pretty pictures!’ Molly gushed. She liked her hats to be worn around the town.
‘You were the same Catherine, so you were. Remember how Bernie and I worried about you? You never spoke a word, true enough. It was Alfie in the choir brought you round, so it was, after Bernie and meself had it out with that ould goat of a matron.’
As they approached the workhouse their mood darkened. ‘It’s no place to be on a day like today, so it’s not.’ Colleen shuddered as they entered the shadow of the monstrous edifice. ‘It’s no place to be on any day.’ Catherine retorted linking arms with her friend and pulling her close.
Passing the gate to the little yard, which had been their meeting place after Bernie and Colleen left her behind in the workhouse, Catherine recalled her despair and loneliness as she faced life without them. Had it not been for Rosy she would surely have reached the depths of dejection. The thought of Rosy brightened her mood somewhat and she wondered how her friend was faring.
They had reached the gothic gate which formed the main entrance, around which lingered would be inmates, possibly enjoying their last moments of freedom before being signed in by the man behind the desk.
‘It’s the girlies!’ crowed a voice they both knew well. ‘Catherine and Colleen, look at you now in yer flowery ‘ats. Are yer missin’ us girlies? Want to come back? ‘ the woman cackled with benign pleasure, limping towards them with a wide toothless grin.
‘Gertie!’ Cried Catherine genuinely happy to see one of the few sources of warmth beyond the gate.
‘’ave yer come ter visit? Im just on me way in.’ Gertie informed them, as if inviting them for tea and cake in some salubrious pile somewhere far away from Brownlow Hill.
‘Ach sure Gertie darlin’, we’re after looking for Billy and Alfie, Cathy’s brothers.
‘so yous ‘aven’t ‘eard? Gertie’s sagging features darkened and Catherine’s heart skipped a beat. ‘Heard what Gert?’
Gertie was a drama queen and enjoyed being the bearer of tidings whether good or bad. ‘They’ve went.’ She said, peering steadily at Catherine with her cloudy eyes.’

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