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Join date: 15 jun 2022


‘Oh.’ She stared at him; then again she said, ‘I’m deeply sorry.’

He made no reply but turned from her and she had to stop herself from going to him for she imagined he was about to cry, and if she were to see him cry . . . She turned hastily and went out

Alone now he stood staring down at the desk as if he had never seen it before, as if he were surprised to find it there; then going behind it, he sat down and, drawing a handkerchief from his pocket, wiped it quickly round his face before blowing his nose. He had said he’d be better at work. He’d never be better anywhere, anytime, but being here was better than remaining in the kitchen. He’d go mad if he had to listen to any more talk of Janie. Since Saturday night they had talked about her, wailed about her, cried about her, and he too had cried and wailed, but inside. To them it was as if she were lying in the coffin in the corner of the room. They had drunk their beer and had their tots of whisky as if they were holding a wake. They had sat up all night, the Learys and her da and grannie, and his own father and Ruth and Jimmy . . . and her. Nellie had come and her husband with her. And that had been another thing that had nearly driven him mad, when Nellie announced through her tears that she was pregnant at last, and her, his big slob of a slavering mother, had cried, ‘That’s God’s way. That’s God’s way, when He shuts one door He opens another.’ Another day among them and he would have gone out of his mind.

There was only one good thing that had come out of it, he and Jimmy were back where they were before. Nothing had been said but Jimmy hadn’t left his side since Saturday, not even during the night, the longest night of his life. All Saturday night he had sat by his side up in the loft, and last night too, and it was he who had said early this morning, ‘Let’s get back away home, eh?’ It was odd that Jimmy should think of the boatyard as home rather than the place in which he had been brought up. But Janie had made it home.

He thought with shame and guilt of how he had begun to compare it with Charlotte Kean’s place. God, he wouldn’t swop it for a palace decked with diamonds at this moment if Janie was in it.


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