Kin by Lesley Crewe Read Free Book Online

Book: Kin by Lesley Crewe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lesley Crewe
Tags: Fiction, General, Sagas, Family Life, Contemporary Women
Miss Coombs was back in the classroom, her face flushed and her manner agitated. She stormed to her desk and sat down. “Hughie Beaton, read your homework.”
    Hughie got up carefully and read his assignment as fast as he could. Miss Coombs didn’t seem to notice.
    There was still an hour of school left. Annie wasn’t sure she’d be able to sit through it, but she didn’t want to call attention to herself and risk detention. She wanted to get out of the classroom as soon as the bell rang and run to the principal’s office and be there for Lila.
    It was agonizingly slow, but finally the bell rang and the students were dismissed. Annie ignored Miss Coombs and hurried out. She walked as fast as she could to the office, expecting to see Lila sitting in the chair by the principal’s door, but she wasn’t there. Was she still in the principal’s office? That would be very bad.
    As Annie looked around, unsure what to do, the principal’s door opened and she walked out with papers in her hand, intent on getting somewhere fast.
    â€œExcuse me. May I see Lila?”
    The principal looked down at Annie. “Lila?”
    â€œShe got in trouble but she didn’t mean it and I’m here to walk home with her.”
    â€œLila Phillips? I haven’t seen her all day.”
    â€œBut where is she?”
    â€œI don’t know. Are you sure you have your facts right?”
    Annie didn’t wait to give her an answer. She ran down the hall and grabbed her jacket and boots. As soon as she opened the door to go outside, a rush of feathery snow came in the door too. The ground was completely white and snow filled the air.
    â€œDavy! Davy!” She leapt off the bottom step into the schoolyard and ran over to where David usually waited for her in bad weather. That was one of his jobs, to make sure Annie got home safely in the winter months.
    He turned around as she ran up to him.
    â€œLila’s not here!”
    â€œWhat do you mean?”
    â€œShe got in trouble and I thought she went to the office, but the principal didn’t see Lila all day.”
    â€œShe probably went home.”
    â€œBut she doesn’t have her coat or boots.”
    â€œLet’s go.”
    The siblings ran as fast as they could. As they neared their house, David shouted he’d check with Mom and she should check with Mrs. Butts. Annie ran up to their door and knocked. When nothing happened, she knocked louder with no result. In desperation Annie turned the doorknob, but it was locked. She pounded on the door.
    â€œJust a minute!” Mrs. Butts finally stood there looking like she’d just woken up.
    â€œIs Lila here?”
    â€œOf course Lila’s not here. She’s in school. You should know that.”
    Annie turned around and ran down the stairs, just as David and Mom came out of the house, Mom with her coat thrown over her shoulders. “She’s not here! Is she over at Mrs. Butts’s?”
    Mom looked panicked. “Where could she be?”
    â€œWait, I know where she is!” Annie started to run through the field and the other two followed her. “Lila! Lila!” She got up to the rock pile and went behind it. There was Lila, curled up in a ball and shaking, her dress and sweater covered with snow.
    â€œOh my god!” Mom ran to her and covered her with the coat. “It’s all right. I’ve got you.” She picked Lila up in her arms and ran back to the house with her, Annie and David at her heels. When they got into the house, Mom started to shout orders. “Annie, get some blankets and wool socks. David, fill up a warm water bottle and there’s tea on the stove. Put a few spoonfuls of milk and honey in it.”
    Annie raced up the stairs and tore the quilts off her bed and opened her sock drawer. Down she ran and found her mother in the parlour with Lila’s shivering little body against her. Lila’s

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