Meanwhile at Stepgates.

Meanwhile another drama was unfolding in Miss Slaughter’s office, the school’s headmistress. Deirdre and the other three children are sitting wondering why they have been brought there. All they know is that they need to return 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.

 Miss Payne, Bernard’s teacher, helps them to put their coats on and they all leave the school walking home hand in hand, the two teachers are just behind and are talking quietly. Deirdre listens, trying to catch any word that they are saying.

 As they passed Mr. Garrett’s shop, Miss Payne said something that terrified Deirdre, it was all that she needed to hear, she had felt all morning that something bad was happening.

“It’s Dad”, she screams. The children break away and started running as fast as they could, the younger ones not knowing why they were running away from the teacher’s, who are calling for them to stop.

The noise of children running helter-skelter down the road, is heard before they are seen. Followed by Miss Slaughter, the head mistress and Miss Payne, trying to keep up.

As they turn the corner near Mrs. Parker’s house they see the crowd of people, some of them are crying, they are holding their hands out to stop the children from falling.

Deirdre, and Iris, now sobbing their hearts out, push through the crowd and up the steps with Bernard and Chrissie—still not knowing what has happened—just behind. 

The friends, now more than ten, look tearfully at each other, it must be their Dad, Charlie.

As if to keep time with these events, St Peter’s rings eleven bells, It’s less than four hours since Ethel wiped the mist from the window and waved goodbye to her darling husband.

The two teachers followed the children into the house, Miss Slaughter, a strict—some would say hard—woman, was 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. How could she have told these children they would never see their father again.

Sgt. Reynolds goes to the front door, standing on the steps, he reads out a short note.

“This morning our dear friend, Charlie”.

He paused for a moment, Mrs. Salmon takes the note from his trembling hand and finishes reading it. 

“Mr Charles Luz Weguelin, from this address, passed away this morning, the cause of death is unknown”.

A low murmur and then sobbing from the stunned crowd, they thought it would be this, but hope is a straw always worth clinging to. Without any further ado, the washing was hung out to dry, a jug of hot tea, some biscuits for the children.

 Mrs. Mant, from further up the road, had a whip round, a few pennies here, soon a shilling. The poor know how to look after poor. 

First Sgt Reynolds and then the Doctor left, having made sure the family were being looked after by a neighbour, Mrs. Phillips was a St John’s Ambulance Nurse—together with another neighbour also called Phillips and of course Mrs Salmon, they are busy doing what they could. The crowd slowly walked away , there would many sleepless homes tonight.

Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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