The Clippie Girls

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Authors: Margaret Dickinson
Tags: Fiction, General, Romance, Historical, Sagas, 20th Century
anyway, but he needn’t have gone yet. He could’ve waited. I mean, it’s not like last time, is it? Folks aren’t going round handing out white feathers, are they? At least, not yet.’
    ‘What service have they joined? The navy, like their brother?’
    “No. Walter’s going in the army and Bertie’s signed up to go into the RAF. He wants to be a fighter pilot.’
    ‘Oh, well now,’ Grace said, trying to lighten the woman’s misery. ‘If the Bradshaw boys have got all three services covered, the war’ll soon be over.’
    But poor Letty was not in the mood for levity and Grace’s weak attempt at humour fell flat.
    ‘They came home at Christmas. We all had a lovely time.’
    ‘We heard,’ Grace murmured.
    ‘Oh dear, did we disturb you?’
    ‘Of course not. It was grand to hear you all having fun. Besides, we had visitors and were making quite a bit of noise ourselves.’ Grace would never have admitted it, but she had thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Day. She hesitated and then asked, ‘Was that when they told you?’
    Letty shook her head. ‘No, it might have been better if they had, in a way. They let us all have a good Christmas and then dropped their bombshell. But it took all the pleasure out of it, you know.’
    Grace nodded sympathetically. ‘I can understand that. But they meant well, Letty. They didn’t want to spoil the festivities. I’d say that was thoughtful of them.’
    Letty sighed. ‘I suppose you’re right, but it was just – sort of – going from one extreme to the other.’
    They talked for a while, Grace trying to instil in the distressed woman some pride in her sons’ actions. After Letty had left, Grace sat in her chair deep in thought. In the Great War, she had thought that volunteers were fools and she hadn’t hesitated to say so. She’d believed that though everyone should do their duty for their country, they should at least wait until they were called up. But now she wondered if she’d been wrong. No one nowadays could be ignorant or naive about what might happen. The newspapers and wireless left no doubt as to the dangers ahead. This war was going to be so much closer to home. Their country was under threat. It was not going to be fought in some far-off land. Not this time.
    And for the first time in her life, Grace couldn’t help feeling a sneaking admiration for these brave young men, who were prepared to defend their freedom from a tyrannical oppressor.
    ‘As if we haven’t got enough to contend with,’ Grace grumbled. ‘What with all the rationing and now this. We won’t even be able to get to the shops, ne’er mind queuing.’
    Rationing of certain foodstuffs – butter, sugar and bacon – had started at the beginning of January and now, towards the end of the month, the weather had worsened and storms swept across the country. Four feet of snow fell and the city’s transport system was badly affected.
    ‘Do we even have to go into work?’ Rose asked.
    Peggy shrugged. ‘I expect we’ll have to report for duty – if we can get there, that is.’
    Rose pulled a face. ‘I don’t fancy getting wet wading through piles of snow, just to be told the trams aren’t running.’
    As they all finished eating their evening meal, Mary stood up. ‘Right, Peggy, it’s you and me on washing-up duties.’
    ‘It’s Myrtle’s turn by rights,’ Grace put in.
    ‘She’s got her homework to finish off for tomorrow morning,’ Mary said.
    Myrtle hid her smile and picked up her satchel from the floor as Rose began to clear a space for her. ‘It’ll be icy in our bedroom. We can’t afford the coal to light a fire up there. You’d better do it down here tonight.’
    ‘Does she have to?’ Grace asked. ‘I want to listen to the wireless tonight. You know I like to hear the news, especially on a Sunday when we don’t have a newspaper.’ The square wireless had been moved to stand on a small table beside Grace’s fireside chair. It was she who operated it and

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