Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

Carrie's War by Nina Bawden

Author:Nina Bawden [Bawden, Nina]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780141909417
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 2013-03-21T04:00:00+00:00

Chapter Eight

Carrie said to Hepzibah, ‘Mr Evans hates the Americans. Auntie Lou was going to see her friend yesterday but he wouldn’t let her because once when she went, she and this friend went to a dance with some American soldiers. I don’t see why he feels like that, do you? I mean it’s a good thing the Americans have come, isn’t it? To help us fight Hitler?’

Hepzibah was ironing. She and Carrie were alone in the kitchen. As there was no electricity at Druid’s Bottom, Hepzibah used two flat irons, heating them in turn on the fire. When one cooled she picked up the other and spat to test it. She did this now and the spit sizzled on the iron. She said, ‘The Americans are better off than we are, that’s why. Mr Evans can’t abide that, people being well off and throwing their money about.’

‘Mr Evans is mean,’ Carrie said. Poor Auntie Lou, she had cried! The tears had run down her face as she stood at the sink, washing up after tea. Thinking about it made Carrie feel chokey inside, and helpless, and angry. She said, ‘Mrs Gotobed says he’s a mean, cold, hard man.’

‘He’s had a cold, hard life and it’s made him cold and hard,’ Hepzibah said. She was ironing one of Mister Johnny’s shirts and a warm, starchy smell filled the kitchen. ‘He saw his dad die down the pit and he couldn’t save him. He came up and swore he’d never go down again, it was no life for an animal! And he stuck to that. He got a job at the grocer’s shop, dogs-body work, sweeping up and delivering, but he saved every penny he could till he had enough to put down, with a loan from the Bank, to buy the place up. His wife was no help to him, she was a poor, sickly creature, and he had his young sister to care for beside his own boy. Mrs Gotobed would have taken the girl, but he wouldn’t allow it. The Gotobeds led a bad life to his strict way of thinking, gambling and travelling and pleasuring themselves, and he said Louisa should be brought up in the fear of the Lord.’

‘Poor Auntie Lou,’ Carrie said.

‘Who’s to say? I don’t know she’d have been better off here. Rich people’s charity can be a cold business.’ Hepzibah sounded as if she knew about this. She folded the shirt she was ironing and pressed the collar flat. Then smiled at Carrie. ‘Whatever the rights and wrongs of that matter, Mr Evans has had a hard, lonely fight and it’s made him bitter against those who haven’t. It’s what he’s got against Mrs Gotobed, when you come down to it. Her life’s been too easy.’

Carrie said, ‘Auntie Lou said he was angry with her because she married the mine-owner’s son. She says they were bad owners and it was their fault his dad died.’

‘That was part, perhaps,’ Hepzibah said. ‘But it was


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