The story, page 2, 10:45 am, April 1934.

The story, Page 2. 10:45 am, April 1934.

Rosy sees Sgt Reynolds at the front door looking very serious. She hears a car door slam. Dr Dudley Ward is at the garden gate.

Rosy looks again at the tea leaves she has been reading in her cup—it’s always bad luck for someone—but she hopes today, it’s not this house.

She knows though, a policeman and a doctor calling at the same time can only mean one thing, an accident.

Ethel, not knowing what is unfolding at the front door, smiles as she thinks it is Charlie coming home for his sandwiches, she picks up the youngest child, looking a bit confused, why is Charlie at the front door, when he always uses the back door.

She opens the door, looking at the two sad faced men, Dr Ward, the family doctor; She knows him very well, he has delivered all of her six children—apart from Alan, a difficult birth performed in Woking

She thinks. ’Why are they here instead of Charlie.’ They look at each other for what seems an age.

Dr Ward takes the child from her and they step in-doors, still without a word.

Rosy stands up for Ethel to take her seat, young Donald climbs onto his mother’s lap, it’s as if he senses something is wrong.

The doctor takes Ethel’s hand, stumbling, trying to find the words that must be said.

Ethel is the first to speak.

“It’s Bernard, isn’t it? I should have kept at home, he was a bit pale, but he insisted he wanted to go to school, what have I done Rosy, what have I done?”

The Doctor, quickly now needing to put her mind at rest, at least about her children, said.

“Ethel, all your children are safely at school, but I have some very bad news for you.”

She looks at him, trying to make sense of his words and at the same time not wanting to know.

The Doctor takes some pills from his bag, knowing that there is no medicine that will dull the pain of what he is about to tell young woman, just thirty-five and with six children all born within the last twelve years.

He said with a tremor in his voice.

“Ethel there’s been an accident.”

Rosy, for once with nothing to say, and tears falling from her cheeks, fearing what he will say next.

He is finding it hard to say the words but finally blurts them out.

“Ethel, your Charlie is dead.”

Sgt Reynolds, hardened to to hearing the saddest of stories, finds this just too much bear, he lifts baby Alan and walks into the scullery, with smoke and steam drifting across the room from the copper.

The Doctor carried on.

“Charlie would have not suffered; it would have so sudden.”

Meanwhile another drama was unfolding at Stepgates, the older children have been told simply that there has been an accident, nothing more.


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