Join date: Jun 10, 2022


‘You wouldn’t, Janie?’ The question was almost eager, and she answered, ‘No, I wouldn’t, John George, because your heart’s in the right place. An’ that’s something to be proud of’

They walked on some way in silence now before she said quietly, ‘I hope you don’t mind me askin’, but the lass you’re gone on, why don’t you bring her up to the kitchen?’

He didn’t answer immediately but took her arm and led her across the road and up the street towards the beginning of Westoe and the select section of the town, where the big houses were bordered by their white railings and the roads were broad enough to take two carriages passing, and he said now, ‘I wish I could, oh I wish I could ’cos she’s nice, Janie, and bonny. Not as bonny as you, but she’s bonny. And she’s had a life of it. Aye, one hell of a life. And still has. Her da’s got religion on the brain I think. Her mother’s bedridden, and, you know, they spend Sunday praying round her bed, taking turns. The only time she’s allowed out is on a Saturday afternoon when she’s sent to Gateshead to visit an aunt who’s dying and who seems to have a bit of money. Her da wants to make sure of who she’s leaving it to and as he can’t go up himself and the other two lasses are in jobs—there was a brother, Leonard, but he ran off to sea, and good luck to him I say—Anyway, Maggie is allowed to go to Gateshead on a Saturday afternoon. That’s how I met her first, on one of me Saturday train jaunts.’

‘You go on a train to Gateshead every Saturday? I didn’t know that. Eeh! on a train . . .’

‘Well’—he laughed self-consciously—’not every Saturday, only when funds allow. And then not to Gateshead, but Newcastle. I take the train up half-way, say to Pelaw, and walk the rest. I love Newcastle. Aw, lad, if I had the money I’d live there; I wouldn’t mind rent collecting around Newcastle.’



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