Queen of the Mersey 4

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Things don’t turn out as happy as it was expected in Wales.

After Christmas Jimmy doesn’t return with Queenie and his siblings as he is to start a job. Queenie continues working at the school, but she misses Laura and Liverpool. In the summer when they go back for a while, Laura and Vera think that the children can stay but when the air raids get worse and worse, they are sent back to Wales.

Gwen doesn’t welcome Queenie and the girls as she expected. There is something odd going on, and Queenie discovers that it is Mrs Merton’s son, Carl, who is visiting. Gwen tells Queenie to keep away from him and not to let the girls near him. As the days pass, Queenie thinks that Gwen is making a mountain out of a molehill as nothing shows that Carl is anything but a normal boy. Yet, the last night where he is in the house, something terrible happens. He sneaks into Queenie’s room and rapes her.

After that episode, Queenie is clearly upset, snapping and irritable, which is so unlike her. The events of that night are blurred as at some point she fainted, and she even thinks all that was a dream. However, she wants to tell someone, but she feels afraid of telling Gwen, and when she gets to see Laura, there is no opportunity. Then there are a couple of days when there is thick fog. Mrs Merton has an accident; a motorist runs her over and leaves her in the road. The following day she has to stay in bed. After school it takes Queenie and the girls longer to walk home, and as Hester and Mary go to the shed to play, Queenie drops by the house to let Gwen know they are safe home. To her horror she discovers that Carl is home to see his mother. Then she goes to find the girls, and there on the stairs to the shed there is Carl. The man comes to her with the same intentions, but then his expression changes and she finds herself collapsing as he tumbles upon her.

The next thing she knows Queenie wakes up in a hospital. She is told that she suffered a concussion when Carl fell on top of her. To her shock Queenie discovers that Carl is dead, and when Gwen talks to her, the woman tells her that she was pregnant but she miscarriaged after the fall. Gwen has guessed that Carl raped her as it is not the first time it happened. She tells her that a young girl in town claimed that Carl had raped her, but Mrs Merton hired a lawyer that got him out. The same happened once again in Manchester. That is the reason why she was so scared for Queenie and the girls. Gwen says that she cleaned her when she realised what was happening, and nobody knows about it, and she intends to keep quiet about it, which Queenie thanks her for.

During her stay at the hospital she gets a nice surprise. The doctor tells her that the reason her arm was twisted is that it had been broken but not fixed, but now it is possible to mend the bone. So for the first time in years Queenie gets the full use of her arm. After the incident Vera and Laura don’t want Queenie and the girls to remain in Wales, which will be linked to the death of Carl. Besides, the girls don’t know about his death; they think he simply fell down the stairs. So this time Queenie and the girls are sent to Southport where they stay at a woman’s bed and breakfast. The woman is quite stingy with food and heating.

The day Queenie returns from a visit to her doctor, and when she starts talking to the girls, she discovers something shocking. The day she was raped, Hester was awake and saw everything. Then she told Mary, who were horrified. Then when Carl fell down the stairs, the girls confessed to having been in the shed upstairs, and when they saw the man was cornering Queenie, they each got hold of one leg and made him fall. So in reality it was these two six-year-old girls who killed Carl, and Queenie reflects that were they to know Carl was dead, it would cause them terrible damage.

Queenie finds a job in a department store, and shortly afterwards she and the girls return to their homes as the air raids have stopped. Queenie goes to the shop every day by train; she loves her job, and as she looks at herself in the mirror, she hardly recognises her. She has changed so much from the mousy girl who her mother used to insult and demean. I really love Queenie. I am curious to know if she will fall in love at some point and how her life will pan out. I wonder if her mother will return and cause problems for her. And what about Laura and Roddy? Will he return safely home? Now Laura likes going to balls with a friend of hers. She has guilt pangs for enjoying herself while her husband is at war, but she is a young woman, and time and distance make us see those absent as shadows rather than real people. Will this happen to this young couple? They were too young when they pair up, but I hope that they will keep faithful and true to each other.

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