Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers by Catrin Collier Read Free Book Online

Book: Winners and Losers by Catrin Collier Read Free Book Online
Authors: Catrin Collier
shared with his brothers, and howled. Ashamed of herself for losing her temper, Megan struggled to hold back her·own tears. Daisy and Sam had fought one another from cradle days and it disturbed her more to see Sam slip his arm around his sister’s thin shoulders in an attempt to comfort her, than the times she’d caught him pinching and kicking her when he’d assumed no one was watching them.
    The front door opened and Sali called out, ‘Hello, anyone in?’
    Weak with relief, Megan left the children and ran down the stairs. ‘You’ve heard?’
    â€˜Your uncle told Lloyd. I came to see if you needed help with packing. Harry’s in bed, but Victor’s offered to sit with him until I get back. He would like to see you. So, if I can take over here -’
    The kitchen door opened and Megan’s father joined them in the passage. ‘I heard voices.’
    Sali held out her hand. ‘Hello, you must be Mr Williams, Megan’s father. I’m Sali Jones, one of Megan’s neighbours.’
    â€˜Not popish, are you?’ he demanded.
    Although Victor had discussed Megan’s father’s opposition to their engagement with her, Sali was taken aback by his directness –and hostility to Catholicism. ‘No, Mr Williams.’
    â€˜Baptist?’
    â€˜My parents brought me up in the Methodist faith.’ Sali omitted to mention that the only church that she had set foot in during the last year had been the Catholic Saints Gabriel and Raphael when Joey and Victor had invited her to attend Christmas Eve midnight mass with them.
    â€˜So you’re not popish,’ he reiterated, as if he hadn’t quite believed her.
    â€˜No, Mr Williams.’
    â€˜Your husband?’
    â€˜I am a widow.’ She blushed, as she always did, whenever she denied the existence of Owen Bull, the man her uncle had forced her to marry, who had raped and abused her before she had escaped him, and was now awaiting execution in prison for murder.
    â€˜I would like to go out and see about a job,’ Megan interrupted before her father could interrogate Sali any further.
    â€˜You go. I’ll put Daisy and Sam to bed and see to everything here.’ Sali couldn’t imagine what kind of a job Megan was applying for at that hour, but the fact that she had something in mind looked hopeful for her – and Victor.
    â€˜I’ve packed their things and laid out their clothes for the morning. But Daisy’s terribly upset.’
    â€˜I’ll tell them a story. That will take their mind off tomorrow.’ Sali lifted Megan’s cloak and hat from the pegs and handed them to her. ‘Is there anything else you’d like me to do?’
    Megan shook her head. ‘We won’t be long.’
    Ianto Williams, who hadn’t removed his stained and creased jacket since he’d entered the house, pulled his cap from his pocket and followed Megan out through the front door.
    Ianto didn’t offer Megan his arm as they walked up the dark street and joined the gas-lit thoroughfare that led down the hill into the town centre. A fine drizzle needled the glow in front of the lamps and Megan lifted the hood on her cloak to save her hat. Despite the rain, the air was thick with the smoke and smuts that spewed out of the chimneys. Coal didn’t burn clean, but tarred wood was worse and she recalled the colliery railings that had been ripped up by the rioters.
    â€˜Where’s this lodging house?’ Ianto enquired brusquely.
    â€˜Bottom of the street on the left.’
    As they walked, the sound of voices raised in anger reached them. Megan began to run down the hill, past the lodging house into Dunraven Street, ignoring the shouts of her father behind her. A crowd of men, boys and women, a few nursing babies in shawls wrapped Welsh fashion around both mother and child, faced a solid wedge of constables and mounted police who were blocking the main

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