Going Home

Going Home by Valerie Wood Read Free Book Online

Book: Going Home by Valerie Wood Read Free Book Online
Authors: Valerie Wood
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Sagas
to be worried.’ But she still railed against what she thought of as the restraints of womanhood.
    ‘I’ll write when I’m returning, Papa,’ she said, kissing him goodbye at the station. ‘Just one or two weeks, that’s all. Aunt Anna will have had a sufficiency of my company by then.’
    She felt sooty, cold and crumpled when she left the train at York and on arriving at her relatives’ house was pleased to be shown to a pleasant room, which in daylight overlooked the Knavesmire. There was a bright fire burning and a brass kettle of hot water waiting, which Nancy poured into a bowl so that Amelia could wash and change before going down to supper.
    Aunt Anna and her husband Albert hadn’t any children of their own, but Anna made up for this deficiency by looking after everyone else she came into contact with, and she fussed over Amelia, making sure she had the best seat by the fire and a footstool for her feet, and a fire screen just by her so that the heat of the flames didn’t spoil her complexion.
    ‘I’m perfectly comfortable, Aunt, thank you,’ Amelia insisted as her aunt plumped up a cushion behind her. ‘Really I am.’
    ‘Do you follow the racing, Amelia?’ Albert boomed. ‘Lots of ladies do nowadays. Grand sport, you know.’
    Amelia smiled. Her uncle had chosen this house especially for its close proximity to the racecourse on the Knavesmire. ‘I have been to Beverley once or twice with some friends and their parents,’ she said.
    ‘Then you must come with us some time,’ he said, ‘though your aunt isn’t very keen.’
    ‘Phww,’ his wife snorted. ‘I have other things to do with my time; besides, the ladies who do go are only interested in what everyone is wearing. They’re not in the least interested in the horses!’
    ‘So, what is occupying you at the moment, Aunt? Have you taken up a cause?’
    ‘I have, and you may well be interested, my dear. We could do with someone like you. Young and unmarried with time on her hands.’
    Amelia raised her eyebrows. Aunt Anna was forthright to say the least, but it was a trait she admired, particularly in women. ‘Tell me about it,’ she invited. ‘Although of course I won’t be imposing my company on you for long, I must be home in time to prepare for Christmas.’
    They were interrupted by the sound of the supper bell but as they entered the dining room and took their places at the table which was set with fine silver and fragrant bowls of flowers, Anna discoursed on her latest petproject. The plight of the Irish immigrants in York.
    ‘You see, most of them came over to England years ago, when the railways began. There was no work in Ireland but plenty here in England. The Irish navvies came in their thousands and the women and children followed. Now, of course, there is no work for any of them, and in any case the inhabitants of this country resent them. They say there isn’t enough work for our own people, let alone the Irish.’
    She toyed with her soup, then pushed her dish away. ‘And of course they are perfectly right. But they can’t go back to their own country. There’s nothing for them there either.’
    Her husband grunted. ‘Lazy good-for-nothings most of ’em! All they seem to do is sing about how good it was in Ireland and how they wish they were back. They should go, that’s what I say!’
    Amelia ignored his remark and asked her aunt, ‘So how are you able to help them?’
    ‘Well, it’s the children really that I want to help. I would like to think that they have a chance even if their parents haven’t. So I’m trying to get them into school. The boys are most unwilling and don’t stay more than a day or two, and some of the children are Catholic and their mothers will only let them go to a Catholic school, if they will agree to them going at all.’
    She sighed and looked down at her platewhich had been served with cold beef and ham. ‘You see, Amelia, most of these people are so poor that they need the

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