Wishes and Tears
Copyright Â© 1999 Dee Williams
The right of Dee Williams to be identified as the Author of
the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted,
in any form or by any means without the prior written
permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated
in any form of binding or cover other than that in which
it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2009
All characters in this publication are fictitious
and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.
eISBN : 978 0 7553 7302 4
This Ebook produced by Jouve Digitalisation des Informations
Table of Contents
Dee Williams was born and brought up in Rotherhithe in East London where her father worked as a stevedore in Surrey Docks. Dee left school at fourteen, met her husband at sixteen and was married at twenty. After living abroad for some years, Dee and her husband moved to Hampshire, close to the rest of her family. She is the author of eight hugely popular sagas set in Rotherhithe.
This is a completely fictitious story.
I would like to thank Pat Holland of the Blue Anchor Library in Southwark Park for putting me in touch with Stephen Humphrey, whom I also wish to thank for his help and the information he kindly gave me. And John Louder for help with my research.
I would like to share ten per cent of my royalties from
this book between Breakthrough and Breast Cancer Care,
to help them in a small way with their care and dedication
in finding a cure for this dreadful disease.
Donations for Breakthrough and Breast Cancer Care will
always be gratefully received.
Breast Cancer Care
210 King's Road
London SW6 4NZ
Telephone: 0171 384 2984 (administration and donations)
Fax: 0171 384 3387
E-mail: [email protected]
Breast Cancer Care helpline: 0500 245345
(10am - 5pm Monday to Friday)
I would like to dedicate this book to the many women
who have come through breast cancer. This gives so many
I would also like to remember the forty women who died
yesterday, the forty women who will die today and the
forty women who will die tomorrow from breast cancer.
This is to remember a good friend, Ruby Jagger, and her
daughter, Jean Bentley.
And the many others over the years, especially my dear
daughter, Julie. Every day we love and miss you.
Janet fell to her knees and, bending her head slightly, squeezed her brown eyes tightly shut. She sighed silently as her father, the Reverend Peter Slaterâs, loud commanding voice echoed round the village church. What was she going to do? She was only sixteen. Her father was telling his congregation about good and evil but it was going over her head. She prayed, but knew that in his eyes she had sinned. The usual sound of shuffling when the congregation stood to sing brought her back. It was her favourite hymn, but the last thing she felt at the moment was âbright and beautiful'.
She could feel her rnother's presence beside her, smell the sweet scent of her lavender water. She always wore lavender water on a Sunday, but today the heady smell induced a wave of nausea in Janet. She knew her mother was smiling. Irene Slater was always smiling. She was a pillar of strength in this village, attending to everyone's needs from births to funerals. Stowford was a small village in Sussex where everybody knew everybody else's business. Generations of local families had grown up here. All Janet's grandparents were buried in this churchyard.
At the end of the service everyone made their way out of the church and into the warm autumn sunshine. They stood in small groups for the habitual Sunday morning chat. Janet could only nod politely to the ladies. She was frightened to open her mouth in case she was sick, as she had been when she'd got up that morning. She wanted to go home. She had to tell her parents soon. She couldn't keep this secret to herself much longer. She brushed a strand of her dark hair from her face and pushed it under her hat. The cream straw framing her pretty face complemented her pink silk duster coat perfectly.
Mrs Scott, the local WI chairwoman, came up to Janet and her mother. âLovely day,' she said.
Mrs Slater nodded. âYes, it is. How is Mr Scott these days? We don't see him at church.'
âHe's keeping well enough, but he does feel a little embarrassed when he keeps coughing and disturbing people.'
âI understand. And how is Mark?'
âNot very happy. I don't think he likes taking orders.'
Janet wanted to smile. Mark Scott certainly wouldn't like taking orders. He had been a real mummy's boy when they were at school together. Perhaps being conscripted into the army might do him some good. But she felt sorry for his father, who had been injured in the war.
âWill Mark get leave soon?' asked Janet's mother.
âI hope so. We do miss him about the house.' Mrs Scott glanced at Janet. âYou're very quiet today, dear.'
The Reverend's wife smiled. âI think she's coming down with something; been poorly all week, haven't you, dear?' She smiled gently at her daughter.
âCould be this warm weather. All young girls have funny moments. I expect it will soon pass.' Mrs Scott progressed along the line to shake the Reverend's hand.
Janet flinched. She knew that what was wrong with her wasn't going to soon pass.
Slowly everyone moved on and the Slater family made their way home to the vicarage.
âI thought that was a good service this morning, my dear. Did it come over well?' asked the Reverend as they sat at the dining-room table.
Every Sunday Janet had to listen to the same conversation. If only she had a brother or sister she could talk to, someone to confide in. Even her friends in the village didn't like to come here; they always seemed on edge and had to mind their Ps and Qs.
How would her parents react to her news? She knew her father would be angry. He had always been aloof and unapproachable even though he was a Christian and should, she thought, be forgiving. In many ways Janet and her mother had always been distant too, never confiding and talking together. She had envied other children when their mothers had laughed and played silly games with them, and as a child she was rarely cuddled. She knew they loved her in their own way, but felt perhaps, somehow they couldn't let their barriers down and show their feelings. Irene Slater was seen by all in the village as a kind and well-meaning vicar's wife. Maybe she would be kind and well meaning to her daughter? After all, till now Janet had been happy enough at homeâthere was bound to be a storm, but surely in the end they'd stand by her. They couldn't throw her out, could they? She had to tell them soon.
Janet sat wishing the ground would swallow her up as she watched Mrs Price, who helped her mother, bringing in their lunch.
âI'll be off now,' she said, placing the last dish on the table.
âThank you, Mrs Price,' said the Reverend.
Suddenly Janet could stand it no longer and the smell of the food sent her rushing to the bathroom.
When she had stopped being sick she sat on the floor reflecting on how she had got herself into this mess.
Aunt Rose, Janet's mother's sister, had written and asked her if she would like to go to London to see the Coronation. Princess Elizabeth was going to be crowned Queen of England; it was going to be the start of a new Elizabethan age. After all the austerity of the war years the whole country intended to celebrate. Janet was so excited. She loved London but knew only her aunt there, and she didn't get to visit her very often. Last time Janet had seen Aunt Rose was at Uncle Alf's funeral. Now poor Rose had only Derek at home, Janet's cousin, four years older than she.
June 2 was a day Janet would never forget. She and Aunt Rose had spent the day standing in the Mall, part of the crowd that had shouted and sung as the procession of royal carriages moved past. Everyone was in a happy mood despite the rain, so that even the street cleaners got a cheer.
That evening there were parties all over Britain. The rain had stopped and pianos were brought out into the streets. Even though things were still hard to get, tables groaned under the food and drink. Earlier, barrels of beer had been set upon trestles to allow the beer to settle until everyone was ready to start celebrating in their own way.
Derek and Janet went to a street party round the corner from Aunt Rose's house. There was a piano in the road being played by a young man whose name Janet found out was Sam. She was hypnotized by his good looks. As his fingers ran over the keys she felt dizzy just looking at him. She leant on the piano like she'd seen women in films do. If only she smoked she could have looked at him through an atmospheric grey haze. She was pleased she wasn't wearing her ankle socks. Sam was everything a girl could wish for; tall, dark and the most handsome man Janet had ever seen. She thought her heart would leap from her body when he winked at her. She was immediately in love with him. When someone offered her a port and lemon, she almost said she didn't drink but she wanted to look grown up and sophisticated in Sam's eyes, and it did taste rather nice.
As evening slipped into the night she knew she wouldn't leave Sam's side. She was intoxicated with Sam as well as the drink. When Derek came and told her he was going on to another party and did she want to go with him, she shook her head. She was in love and it was just like in the pictures - a tall, dark-haired, good-looking man was sweeping her off her feet. She had even imagined herself married to him, waiting at their front door for him to come home from work every evening ...
âJanet? Janet, are you all right?' Her mother was knocking on the bathroom door.
âJust coming.' She quickly wiped her mouth and glanced at herself in the mirror. She looked terrible. She had to tell them today.
âJanet, at last,' said her father when she walked into the dining room. âI'm waiting to say grace, and our lunch is getting cold.'
âI'm sorry.' She sat down and stared at her plate.
After the prayers her mother offered her the tureen of potatoes. Janet shook her head.
âI don't know what's the matter with you lately. You seem to be in another world.'
Janet took a deep breath. âI'm having a baby.'
The tureen fell to the ground with a loud crash. The roast potatoes scattered and rolled all over the floor.
Her father spluttered and choked.
Her mother's face turned deathly white. âWhat did you just say?'
Janet almost wanted to laugh. It had been so easy. Just four words. Four little words that were going to turn all their lives upside down.