Dead to Me

Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse Read Free Book Online

Book: Dead to Me by Lesley Pearse Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lesley Pearse
brought up in Hampstead.
    What would happen about school now? At present she went to a private girls’ school in Belsize Park; obviously, she wouldn’t be able to continue there. Even if the money could be found, the journey from Lewisham would be impossible.
    She wished she could talk to Ruby about all this, but in all likelihood she was on her way to wherever judges sent fourteen-year-olds caught in the act of burglary. Did they go to prison like grown-ups? Or was there some other place for girls like her?
    Father’s crime was in all the newspapers on the second day. Verity wasn’t told but Miss Parsons had a copy under her arm and she’d caught a glimpse of a photograph of her father and part of the headline. It said: ‘Twenty Thousand Pounds Embezzled’. She overheard Miss Parsons say to her mother that he couldn’t run for ever and the police wouldn’t give up until they’d found him.
    Lying in her bed, still terribly sore and unable to sit up, Verity pondered over that huge sum of money. Had it all gone? What had her father spent it on? To a girl who hadnever held more than a pound note in her hand it seemed inconceivable that so much money could ever be spent.
    She wondered too what the difference was between theft and embezzlement, and why her father hadn’t run away the moment he knew he was found out? Why did he come back to the house, if he knew his wife had been told what he’d done? He couldn’t have expected her to be sympathetic, surely? Or did he have some of the money tucked away here and needed to get it? Stranger still that he delayed his departure to beat his daughter! Was that pure spite, because she’d hinted that he’d done something bad to her at Christmas? Or just that he was so angry at being caught that he had to take it out on someone?
    Whatever was in his mind, whatever he’d come back here for, Verity felt very glad that Miss Parsons had hit him. She hoped the police would catch him quickly, she wouldn’t even care if they shot him. Though she didn’t think English policemen ever had guns.
    She worried too about Ruby. Where would she have been sent by the police? Would she think Verity didn’t care about her, as she hadn’t come looking for her? Or might she have seen the newspaper and realized her father was a swindler?
    In the seemingly endless days that followed, Verity’s injuries slowly healed. The first time she ventured hesitantly down the stairs and out into the garden, she was unable to imagine herself ever getting back to normal. But the sight of spring flowers opening up in the garden, the sun a little warmer, was always a hint that better times were coming, and it cheered her. The following day, shesat in a chair to read for a couple of hours. And on the day after, she dressed herself, even if it was only in a loose smock dress that wouldn’t rub anywhere. Each day from then on, she hurt a little less and when she finally was healed enough to have a bath, she knew she really was on the mend.
    During this time the police called again and again; it seemed they didn’t believe Archie Wood wouldn’t try to see his wife and daughter.
    ‘Do you really believe I would give him the time of day after what he’s done?’ Verity’s mother exclaimed indignantly to a policeman one day. ‘I’m waiting now to hear when I’ve got to give up my home and furniture. Our daughter is still recovering from a beating he gave her, and I’ve got nothing to live on. My neighbours give me pitying looks and all my friends have deserted me.’
    Verity didn’t actually think her mother had any real friends, just ladies she played bridge with. Not one of them had telephoned or called round to offer sympathy or help.
    But perhaps they knew they wouldn’t be welcomed or appreciated, because each time Verity had tried to comfort her mother she was so prickly and nasty she wished she hadn’t tried. But hearing her mother say she had nothing to live on – and aware that Miss Parsons was

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