Read A man who cried Online

Authors: Yelena Kopylova

A man who cried

BOOK: A man who cried
7.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
A man who cried



Kate Hannigan The Fifteen Streets Colour Blind Maggie Rowan Roonej

The Menagerie Slinky jane Fanny McBride Fenwick Houses The Garment The Blind Miller

Hannah Massey The Long Corridor The Unbaited Trap Katie Mulholland

The Round Tower The Nice Bloke The Glass Virgin The Invitation The Dwelling Place Feathers

in the Fire Pure as the Lily The Malien Streak The Malien Girl The Malien Litter The Invisible

Cord The Gambling Man The Tide of Life The Girl The Cinder Path


A Grand Man The Lord and Mary Ann The Devil and Mary Ann Love and Mary Ann


Life and Mary Ann Marriage and Mary Ann Mary Ann’s Angels Bill and Mary Ann


Matty Doolin Joe and the Gladiator The Nipper Blue Baccy

Our John Willie

Mrs Flannagan’s Trumpet

Go Tell It To Mrs Golightly

Our Kate



The Man Who Cried



BIBLiniwrnnr PHHI innr ne r>ATr OAIMT i nr


C}>3 r*fciO jUXlW

William Heinemann Ltd

15 Queen Street, London WiX 8BE





First published 1979 © Catherine Cookson 1979 Reprinted 1979

SEN 434 14268 9

Printed and bound in Great Britain by

Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press) Ltd

Bungay, Suffolk



The Journey 1931
The Miracle
The First Incident 1938
The Second Incident 1941
The Payment



The man who cried


I stood and watched the man who cried,

His face awash, his mouth wide,

His head beating against the tree,

His shoulders heaving like hills set free

From the body of the earth;

And I felt his anguish take birth in my

And there I knew it would abide

And eat into my days

And guide my ways

And be the judge of my mortal sins.

My father’s tears were a key

Which opened the world to me,

Its ecstasy, and its misery.








The journey 1951

”If you go to that funeral you won’t live long to dwell on your sorrow, I promise you that. They

haven’t got wind as to the man yet, but by God! they will do if you show your face at that

funeral. And when those men of Hastings Old Town finish with you, you won’t have much face

left to speak of, I know that.”

Across the small space of the cottage kitchen, Abel Mason stared at his wife. The tanned skin of

his face looked taut as if it had been set in glue ; the wide, thin lips lay one on top of the other, not pressed tight, just resting together as if under the influence of gentle sleep. It was only the

eyes that showed any sign of awareness and their expression made up in full for the immobility

of the face. But what that expression was it was hard to define, no one emotion could describe it,

for in the brown depths of his eyes burnt not only loathing, but the contradictory emotion of pity.

It was this last that came through to his wife, and it now brought her screaming, ”You dirty,

whoring sod you!” and on the last word she picked up a jug of milk from the table and threw it at


The contact of the jug against his forehead and the milk spraying over his mop of fair hair, down

his face, and under the collarless shirt on to his chest, brought him springing forward, his fist

upraised, only to bring it down on to the corner of the table with a bang as a falsetto voice cried

from the corner of the room, ”Dad! Oh Dad!”

His fist still tight on the table, he bent his body over it, and the milk that dropped on to it now

was tinted pink.

It was some seconds before he straightened his back; but with his head still bent he made for the

stairs at the far end of the room which rose steeply, almost like a ladder, to the floor above.

His wife watched him until his legs disappeared from view;


then, her face working as if with a tic, she went into the scullery and returned with a dish-cloth,

and with great wide sweeps of her arm she dragged the cloth from one end of the wooden table to

the other. When she came to the corner where the milk was stained with blood she went at it

madly as if by obliterating the stain she would wipe out the source from where it came.

Thrusting her hand towards her seven-year-old son, she ordered, ”Pick those bits up!” and the

boy, after a moment’s hesitation, bent down and gathered up the pieces of broken crockery, and

as he left the room with them and went through the scullery towards the back door, his mother

came behind him and her fingers prodded his shoulder giving emphasis to each word as she said,

”If he thinks he’s gettin’ out of this house the day he’s got another think comin’ to him.” Then

gripping the boy’s collar and swinging him round towards her, she bent down until her face was

on a level with his and, her eyes like circles of grey steel, she glared at him as she said, ”Look,

boy; you tell me what you know ’cos if you don’t I’ll make it worse for him. He’s got you on his

side, he’s turned you agen me, but afore you’re much older you’ll know which side your bread’s

buttered. Where did he meet her ? Tell me that. Tell me!” She now shook him and when the

pieces of broken jug fell from his hands her own hand came out and caught him in a resounding

slap across the ear; and now she cried at him, ”Tell him I hit you again. Aye, go on, when he

comes down, tell him I hit you again.”

As he ran for the door, his hand pressed tight over his ear, he moaned aloud because of the pain

which was like a needle going through the centre of his head into the back of his nose and down

into his throat, making it impossible for him to swallow.

Outside he ran through the hens that were scratching in the yard and round by the little pond

where the two families of ducks were busy washing themselves, and so down to the copse that

led on into the woods. Here, sitting on the ground, he rocked himself as he held his head.

When the pain subsided he leant back against the bole of a sapling and he muttered half aloud,

”I’m glad me dad didn’t see her do it,” and there was that element of pity for her in his thinking


His dad had warned her if she just once again boxed his ears he would do the same to her, and he

had. It was the first time he had

lifted his hand to her, and he had knocked her flying into the corner where she had lain holding

her head very like he himself did every time she hit him, which was always after there had been

a row.

Inside he felt sad. The feeling went to such a depth that he imagined it must encompass the whole

world, his known world where it stretched from Rye, which lay along the coast to the left beyond

Winchelsea, to the right to Fairlight and the coves and glens, right to Hastings.

It was to the coves and the glens that his mind turned now and he doubted if his father would

ever take him that way again.

When had he first taken him into Fairlight Glen ? Oh, it was a long, long time ago. Had he been

four or five ? He didn’t know, only that it was a long time ago. But he could remember the day

distinctly when he first met Mrs Alice in Ecclesbourne Glen.

He always thought of her as Mrs Alice, not Mrs Lovina, because his father called her Alice. Of

course, he couldn’t, and so he called her Mrs Alice. She used to laugh when he said Mrs Alice.

She had a lovely laugh ; it made you smile, then spread your mouth and laugh with her.

It was on a Sunday his father first spoke to her. There were lots of other people walking about the

glen that day because it was fine and the sun was warm. People were picnicking and children

were jumping among the rocks leading to the sea. His father had told him to take his shoes and

socks off and to go and play with the other children. And he had done so. But every now and

again he had stopped and looked up towards where his father sat on a dry rock talking to ... the

lady. Yet he had known from the first that she wasn’t a real lady, not like the ones who lived in

Winchelsea, particularly the one who had a long drive to her house and for whom his father had

worked since coming back from the war. . . . Well, not really the war. . . . There was a pocket of

his mind that held something shameful concerning his father and the war.

No, Mrs Alice wasn’t a lady, in fact she was like his mother in that she talked like her, using the

same words, except that her voice wasn’t harsh and bawling. When was it he had begun to wish

that Mrs Alice was his mother ? That was a long, long time ago too, weeks, months.

The following Sunday, too, they had gone to the glen, even though the weather had changed and

there was drizzly rain. And


Mrs Alice was there. But on that day they all three sat under the cliffs and his father broke a bar

of Fry’s chocolate, and they all had a piece; he had always associated Fry’s chocolate with the

glen after that.

It was winter before he again accompanied his father to the glen. On that particular day his

mother had demanded to know where his father was going and when he said, ”For a walk,” she

had wanted to know why he had taken to going alone and not taking him along. On that day his

father had said, ”Get your coat on; wrap up well.”

They had been gone from the house more than five minutes when his father whispered, ”Don’t

look back, your mother’s behind. Don’t look back.” And on that day his father took a different

direction and they came out on the road that led to Fairlight church, where his father, having

hoisted him up on top of a high wall, had himself leant against the wall and lit a cigarette, which

he puffed at slowly, not looking to right or left. They seemed to have stayed there for an eternity, until quite suddenly his father lifted him from the wall, saying, ”Come on,” and he had run him

through fields, over stiles and, for some distance, right along the cliff top.

When at last, panting and puffing, they came to the glen it was raining heavily and a wind was

blowing. But there was Mrs Alice waiting in the shelter of some trees, and before they reached

her his father let go of his hand and ran towards her, then put his arms about her. It seemed on

that day his father forgot all about him.

After a while his father had taken his hand again and the three of them walked on, up through the

trees to a jutting rock, and his father, pushing him round into the shelter of one side, said, ”Sit

there a minute, Dickie, just a minute. I’ll . . . I’ll be around the corner here.”

What was a minute ? Was it a short time or a long time ? He had felt very alone, quite lost sitting

there waiting a minute. He became frightened thinking his father had gone off and left him as he

often threatened to do to his mother when there were rows in the house, and so he had run out of

the shelter and into the wind and as he rounded the rock he stopped suddenly. His father was

kneeling on the ground; and Mrs Alice was kneeling too; and his father was holding Mrs Alice’s

face between his hands and he was saying


to her, ”Don’t say that. Don’t say that. You’re the best thing that’s happened to me in my life.

You’re the only good thing I’ve ever known. Look; bring Florrie, and I’ll bring Dickie, and we’ll

go off away from this cursed place, because for all its beauty the whole area has always been a

cursed place to me. Will you? Will you, Alice?”

He watched Mrs Alice stare into his father’s face and he was always to remember the tone of her

voice as she said, ”Oh, Abel! Abel! if only I could. ... Oh, Abel, if only I could.”

”But you can,” his father said; ”you’ve only got to make up your mind. Just walk out.”

”You don’t know Florrie. She’s twelve, and all she thinks about, all she talks about, is her dad.

And he, well, as he said, if I ever left him or brought shame on him in any way he would do for

me. If it took him his lifetime, he’d do for me.”

”That’s just talk, big talk. Sailors always come out with the same jargon. We could be across the

country before he gets home. And then I’ve been thinking, there’s Canada. The . . . the world is

open to us, Alice. . . . Oh, Alice, say you will. We’ve both had enough of hell to deserve a

glimpse of heaven. Say you will. . . . Say you will.”

”The boy !” She had turned her head to the side, and his father put out his hand and beckoned

him forward, and he never moved from his knees when he put his arm around his shoulders and

said, ”The boy’s for us. He’s been through it too, he’s been made older than his years. His life’s a misery. He’s Tom between the two of us, but yet he’s for me, aren’t you?” His father pressed him

BOOK: A man who cried
7.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable
Casualties by Elizabeth Marro
Heartbreaker Hanson by Melanie Marks
The Summons by John Grisham
The Wolf King by Alice Borchardt
Mindbridge by Joe Haldeman