In a Class of Their Own

In a Class of Their Own by Millie Gray Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: In a Class of Their Own by Millie Gray Read Free Book Online
Authors: Millie Gray
child’s number being called out, a message will also tell you how she is progressing.”
    “Are you saying I won’t be allowed to see her?” Rachel croaked.
    “Yes. I’m sorry, but there is no visiting unless a child’s life is in imminent danger.”
    Sister was about to end the conversation but, seeing Rachel’s obvious distress, she added, “You see, my dear, visiting is so upsetting for the children. It has them crying for home. Much better for them to get quickly used to the hospital routine. Then they settle down and recovery is much quicker.”
    Rachel stared long and hard at Sister. How could this woman – who had never given birth, never nourished a child at her breast – possibly know that to take a child away from its mother was the cruellest thing that anyone could do? A child who is ill needs its mother, Rachel argued to herself. Needs to be reassured. Not left alone and frightened in a hospital ward tended by strangers. Rachel knew all this because her own mother had been taken from her. She could vividly recall the clinical setting of the Poorhouse Orphanage where she had spent the first four years of her life. That Poorhouse where it was useless to cry for attention because no one had time to give you any.
    Lost in these memories Rachel hadn’t noticed the nurse had left the room with Alice. Once it dawned on her, she made to run and snatch Alice back. Sister instantly barred the way and looked directly into Rachel’s eyes. The warning stare told Rachel what she didn’t want to admit – that Alice was very ill and needed the expert medical attention that Rachel now knew she couldn’t possibly provide.
    When Rachel arrived home she wheeled the soaking wet empty pram into the stairwell. Her hand lingered on the handle and scalding tears sprang to her eyes before she took the front door key from her pocket. Once inside, she became aware that Carrie, Sam and Hannah were all waiting up for her. Immediately they clamoured to know what had happened and in graphic detail she told them everything – even those memories of the Poorhouse that had stayed with her while she trudged home. These confidences frightened Hannah and terrified Carrie.
    Carrie had been sitting hunched up in the corner for half an hour or more with an open library book on her knees. In all that time she hadn’t turned a single page or noticed that the book was upside down. She’d been thinking how frightened, really terrified, she had been every day since Alice was admitted to hospital. For three weeks now she’d been haunted by the threat of having to face the loss of Alice. She knew that would be even worse than the loss of her Daddy had been. What would she do if someone told her that Alice had … ? No! She would never say that word. To say that might make it happen. Especially now that she knew, because her pal Bernie had told her, that deaths always happened in threes in the same street. Why, she wondered, did old Mrs Baird and Jimmy Burns have to die right now? Carrie nodded to herself and gave a slight smile as she thought: maybe Bernie was wrong and maybe Captain Hyde would count even although he had lived in the private houses across the street. And if he did count that would be the three which would mean that Alice, her darling Alice, would be safe.
    “Carrie,” said Hannah, brusquely breaking into Carrie’s thoughts. “Mam’s trying to tell us something important and you’re not listening.”
    “Did you say something, Hannah?” Carrie muttered absently, letting her book clatter to the floor.
    Hannah shook her head in exasperation. “You can go on now, Mam. She’s stopped daydreaming.”
    “About time too,” said Rachel emphatically. “Now you all know I haven’t been at work since the week before Alice went into hospital?”
    “Aye, because you had a right bad dose of the flu,” said Sam.
    Rachel eyed each of the children in turn. She knew that they knew it was more than flu that had been

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