Liverpool Daisy

Liverpool Daisy by Helen Forrester Read Free Book Online

Book: Liverpool Daisy by Helen Forrester Read Free Book Online
Authors: Helen Forrester
however, was feeling far from well and was still in bed. Looking white and exhausted, she lay curled up on a lumpy mattress in the back, ground floor room which was home to George, Joey and herself.
    “I had a bad night, luv,” she explained, “Thinking of your dear mother an’ all. Your mam was always proper kind to me — I’ll never forget her, God rest her.”
    Daisy felt a lump beginning to rise in her own throat. She fought it down. She must not cry before Nellie; Nellie was sick enough without being reminded of death. Her chest heaved as she considered that she might lose Nellie, as well as her mother. She made the suffering woman a cup of tea and said she would ask Agnes to accompany her. Agnes, however, felt that the Public Assistance visitor might call at any time and that she had better be at home, in case he got the idea from her absence that she was working.
    “He’s worse’n a dose of salts, that man,” she told Daisy. “Always wants to know where the kids are, even in school time. Always sayin’ ‘Where’s Joe’ as if labourin’ jobs were two a penny and he must be bringing home thousands a pounds. Fair demarmalises you, it does.”
    Daisy sighed and agreed. “I’ll ask Mary Foley what lives round the corner if she’ll come,” she said. “Only I always kept meself to meself, and I don’t like asking the neighbours.”
    “What about Meg? Or Nellie?”
    “I’m not speaking to Meg at the moment,” replied Daisy primly. “And our Nellie’s not well at all.” She leaned towards her sister, and added in a whisper, “I got the intuitions something awful about Nell.”
    Agnes looked startled. “Ee, don’t say that,” she implored.
    A tear welled up in Daisy’s eye. She sniffed. “Well, I just hope I’m wrong.”
    “T.B.?” inquired Agnes, her voice hardly audible as she asked the dread question.
    Daisy nodded, her expression lugubrious. The sisters looked at each other in silent horror.
    “God have mercy on us,” quavered Agnes, flinging her arms heavenward. “Poor dear.”
    They enjoyed a little weep together, and then Daisy walked homeward, calling at Mary Foley’s house on the way.
    Mary Foley was out. Great Aunt Devlin was too old to make such a long journey.
    Daisy stood tapping a nervous foot on the pavement outside her own front door. Dare she go alone? Dare she not go?
    Finally she decided that the dangers of penetrating the centre of Liverpool were less than the danger of losing the goodwill of the Welfare lady, who had so painstakingly collected sixpence a week from her for years to save up for new teeth.
    Apart from five shillings put by for the redecorating of her late mother’s room, Daisy still had three shillings left from the burial insurance money, so she decided to take a tram down toLime Street Station and another one out again to the Dental Hospital. She reckoned she would be safer on the tram.
    Nellie had accompanied her when she went to have the impression taken for her teeth and they had walked, the appointment having been made for the day before Daisy drew her allotment from her husband’s shipping company, a day on which she was always penniless. Michael’s allotment was eighteen shillings a week and this, added to her mother’s old age pension of ten shillings, had made the two women a shilling or two better off than if they had been dependent upon the Public Assistance Committee. Still, it was not very much.
    Now as she sat demurely in the tram, hands folded neatly in her lap, as it trundled through the streets, bell pinging impatiently to make carters move their wagons off the lines, it dawned on her that her mother’s pension would have ceased with her death; yet she would be faced with the same need to pay the rent, the same need for a coal fire and oil for the lamp; but she would have only eighteen shillings with which to do it all.
    She was aghast. Under her warm shawl her body felt cold, and she trembled. All the small treats that made life

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