The story, Page 3, 11:,00, April 1934.
Outside, Mrs. Phillips, standing at her gate, drying her hands on her apron—today is every-one’s washday. Mrs. Hyde joins her, they stand and wonder, first a policeman now a doctor, what could be happening? They are soon joined by three or four more friends, all gathered around Ethel’s gate, with the same question, who could it be?
Iris, now tells me, the moment she was told to go to see Miss Slaughter, the head mistress—it wouldn’t be the first time. I always seemed to be the one who was picked out.
“This time she was almost kind to me, Deirdre was sitting next the Bernard and Chrissy, all looking as if we were in big trouble.
“Miss Payne, Bernard’s teacher, was standing next to us, she told us that there had been an accident, and we all needed to go home.
The two teachers couldn’t bring themselves to tell these four lovely young children, all looking so innocent, the truth, that even they could not believe.
“We all started walking home hand in hand, the two teacher were talking quietly, as we neared Mr Garrett’s shop, I heard Miss Payne say something that terrified me, I said to Deirdre, It’s Dad.
“We all started running as fast as we could, the teacher’s calling for us to stop.
“As we were near our house, we saw this big crowd of people, some of them were crying, they were holding their hands out to stop us falling.
The noise of children running helter-skelter down the road, was heard before they were seen.
Followed by Miss Slaughter, the head mistress and Miss Payne, trying to keep up.
Deirdre, Iris, Bernard and Chrissie, all holding hands to stop them selves stumbling, ran round the corner near Mrs Parker’s, calling for their Mum.
The friends, now more than ten, looked tearfully at each other, it must be Charlie.
Still just about holding hands, the children run through the outstretched arms of the neighbours,
all they want is their Mum.
As if to keep time with these events, St Peter’s rings eleven bells, It’s less than four hours since Ethel waved goodbye to Charlie.
The two teachers followed the children into the house, Miss Slaughter, a strict—some would say hard—woman, trying hard not cry, but never the less failing. The sight of six young children clamouring over their distraught mother is just too much for her.
Sgt Reynolds stood on the steps, he read out a short note.
“This morning our dear friend, Charlie.”
He paused for a moment, Mrs Salmon took the note and finished reading it.
“Mr Charles Luz Weguelin, from this address, passed away this morning, the cause of death is unknown.”
This was the moment Mrs Salmon knew what she had to do, she had seen it all before during the war, a family left without a father. Things had to be organised.
The family were without any money, their meagre savings were long gone—the reason Charlie cycled to work before he was well enough, after two weeks of ‘flu.
Without any further to-do, a jug of hot tea, some cake for the children, Mrs Mant, having a whip round, a few pennies here, soon a shilling or two.
The poor know how to look after poor.