Black-eyed Devils

Black-eyed Devils by Catrin Collier Read Free Book Online

Book: Black-eyed Devils by Catrin Collier Read Free Book Online
Authors: Catrin Collier
hung a framed embroidered sampler her grandmother had made before she’d married.
    She set the candle down on the windowsill. Beside it was a toffee tin. It had been a Christmas present when she was five years old. She used it as a jewellery box.
    She opened it and lifted out her grandmother’s wedding and engagement ring. The simple gold band was worn and scratched. The engagement ring, ornamented by a small but real diamond, sparkled in the candle’s flickering light. She recalled the stories her grandmother used to tell her and her brothers about her grandfather.
    â€œ Simon came from England and was sent to my father’s house to look for lodgings. He knocked the door. Everyone in the Rhondda knows you knock once and walk in. But, he was English. He knocked a second time and stood on the step waiting for someone to open the door. When I opened it, I looked into his eyes and fell in love there and then. We were married six weeks later. Simon bought me the wedding ring with his savings and what was left of his first week’s wages after he paid my mother for his board and lodge. But the diamond ring came later when your father was born. Simon was so proud of his baby son .”
    Could it happen that way? Could a girl look at a man and fall in love that quickly? She pictured Tom Kelly, tall dark and handsome. Recalled the gleam in his eyes when he had looked at her. And knew that it could. Because it had happened to her.
    Restless, unable to think of anything other than Tom, Amy couldn’t sleep. She tossed and turned on her bed, wondering where Tom was and what he was doing.
    She heard her mother and father walk up the stairs some time after her. Listened to the soft murmur of their voices, as they undressed and the creak of the bedsprings as they climbed into bed. She was still wide awake after the town clock struck midnight. It chimed one o’clock before her brothers came home from the picket.
    As she listened to Jack’s whispered “shushes” she decided they made more noise when they were trying to be quiet, than they did during the day. Matthew’s laughter echoed down the passage from the kitchen. She heard Mark talking to the dogs in their run as he walked out of the back door and down to the “Ty Bach”, the little house in the garden that held the toilet.
    Her brothers walked up the stairs. Their boots thudded on the bare floorboards after they’d unlaced and dropped them. Their shirts and trousers swished through the air as they tossed them on to the chest of drawers. Given their muffled laughter and the noises they were making, it was amazing the twins didn’t wake.
    All three of them were snoring when she pulled open the curtains and looked through the window. The moon haloed by mist shone down from a star filled sky. Something rattled against the glass and she looked down. Unable to believe what she was seeing, she rubbed her eyes.
    Below her window, holding a palm full of small stones was Tom Kelly.

    Amy stared at Tom in disbelief. She didn’t move until he pointed to the front door. She shook her head and indicated herself and then the pavement. He nodded to show he’d understood. She pulled the curtain across her window and dived out of bed. Lifting her clothes from the iron footboard she began to dress. The more she hurried the more she fumbled with the fastenings.
    She pulled her bust shaper on inside out and decided there wasn’t time to turn it. She buttoned her blouse, only to discover she’d mismatched the buttons and had to begin all over again. She even managed to put two legs in one leg of her drawers. She rolled on her stockings, fastened them with her garters, tied on her petticoats, slipped on her skirt and picked up her boots. She turned the doorknob, eased the door open and held her breath.
    Her three older brothers were snoring in their bedroom. She took a deep breath and tiptoed along the landing. She was

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