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Barbara Vine

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

Viking 1998
Jacket design unknown

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Not a word to my girls, he had said on the way home from the hospital. My girls, as if they weren't also hers. She was used to it, he always said that, and in a way they were more his. I'm not hearing this, she said. 'You're going to have major surgery and your grown-up children aren't to be told.' 'Major surgery,' he said. 'You sound like StafFNurse Samantha in a hospital sitcom. I won't have Sarah and Hope worried. I won't give them a day of hell while they await the result.' You flatter yourself, she thought, but that was just spite. He didn't. They would have a day of hell, they would have anguish, while she had a little mild trepidation. He made her promise. It wasn't difficult. She wouldn't have cared for the task of telling them. The girls came down as usual. In the summer they came down every weekend and in the winter too unless the roads were impassable. They had forgotten the Romneys were coming to lunch and Hope made a face, what her father called a square mouth, a snarl, pushing her head forward and curling back her lips.

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