Cow Hey 9 Advice from Fred
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I couldn't wait for Fred to come to tea on Sunday, and I asked Mrs. Allsop if I could make something special for it. She has been teaching me all her recipes, and she was a good cook. We decided that I should do an apple tart with custard.
When he finally arrived, he gave me a hug and said he would talk about it all with me later, but first he just wanted to relax and enjoy his tea. So we did just that, and he was full of compliments for my tart, which I was very pleased with myself.
Afterwards, with us all sitting in the front room, Fred began, "I have thought long and hard about what Dr. Frank Percevel, MRCS has said in his letter, and I have written back to him, Blanche. I told him that I was no longer your legal guardian, as the Allsops have now formally adopted you, and therefore it wasn't my decision to make as to whether he provided you with the information about Pa or not. I also said that I didn't think I could take the time off to go up to Prestwick to see him in person. However, I thanked him for his invitation, and for his very detailed letter."
"So I am not to know anything more then," I said in a strop. "If you don't go, he won't tell me so I will just never know. Don't you want to know if there are things that you could do to keep you getting like Pa was?"
"I'm not so very sure that I believe in his theory," said Fred. "Grandpa Hodkinson and Pa's brothers seemed perfectly okay. I can't speak for Harry, of course, but I think that I am sane and sensible, and don't see why I should spend my life worrying about whether something might or might not happen to me in the future. And the same is true for you. It would be so silly for you to ruin your life thinking that you were going to get a mental disorder when most likely you never will. I just don't see the point of taking the situation any further at all."
"But Fred, he probably knows why Pa went funny like that, and I, for one, would like to know if there was a cause behind it. Was it because Ma died - because it started happening soon after that? Or was it because he was drunk all the time? Or maybe he had a blow to the head that we don't know anything about and that was what caused it."
" I agree that it would be nice to know a bit more about the situation, but I have done all I can. If the Allsops want to take the matter further for you, then that is up to them. I am sorry, Blanche. I know you are disappointed in me, but I don't want either of us to let this situation with Pa's death become an obsession. Can't you just accept that Pa died, and we might never know why or how, but he is dead and we are alive, and must make the best of our lives."
"I know you mean well, Fred, "I said, "but I don't think I can leave it like that. I don't know what my next move will be, but I do feel like I need to know more and won't be able to move on until I do."
"Well, we are very different people and far be it for me to tell you what to do and what to think. So I can only say, if you take it further, good luck to you. And now I think I best be making my way down the road. I have a friend who has promised me a pint and I need to get there before he forgets about it and goes home."
So we said our goodbyes to Fred, and I gave him a hug to show that I wasn't upset with him. I almost wrote "mad at him" but stopped myself. Madness is what we are talking about - insanity - being a looney - and people use the word when they just mean upset or annoyed. So I am hoping that I won't become mad in any way, now or in the future.
After Fred left, I could tell that the Allsops were surprised that Fred had landed the situation in their laps to sort out. And I didn't really expect them to take on my real families' worries. They had enough of their own.
"We need time to think of all Fred said and mull it over," said Mr. Allsop. "Perhaps he is right and the whole thing should just be left alone and forgotten."
"That is fine for you to say, Mr. Allsop," I said, quite angry now, "but it is too important for me to just leave it alone," and I flounced out of the room and up to my bedroom where I slammed the door, and threw myself on the bed in a rage.
The next day the subject was not brought up at breakfast, although relations between me and the others was a bit strained. I went off to school as usual.
Later in the day, Mr. Steward, my teacher asked if he could see me for a minute or two after school. I had no idea why. I had not done anything wrong that I knew about, but I agreed, and told Florence to go on home without me.
After all the pupils had gone, Mr. Steward said, "Blanche. Something has come to my attention that worries me. I was in the library earlier today and Miss Hopkins asked me how you were doing on your special report. Of course, I had no idea what she was talking bout, now, did I? And then she went on to ask whether you had got any farther with you inquiries to Prestwich Asylum. I presume you know that lying is wrong. And you were lying when you told her that I had given you an assignment to do on this subject. Now, I have heard of course that your father was a patient at Prestwich, and if this is true, I can see why you might be interested in finding out more about it. But lying is never right, you must see that. And putting me in a situation like today, when I was put on the spot about a situation where someone put me in a corner - made me both uncomfortable and quite angry. Now are you going to tell me what this is about?"
"I am sorry, Mr. Steward. I didn't want anyone to know about my Pa and that hospital, and that is why I made up the lie. I didn't think anyone would ever find out. Miss Hopkins didn't have the book about it which is what I asked her for, and it was she who offered to write to Prestwich library and see if they had one, and it was them that provided the name of the Medical Director. And I wrote to him, and he has written back, but he won't tell me about what was wrong with my Pa, because I am too young. And my brother Fred won't do anything about it, and the Allsops don't want to do anything about it either." By this time I couldn't check my tears, and Mr. Steward looked most uncomfortable about this turn of events.
"Here, take this and blow your nose," he said, giving me his big white handkerchief.
"Tell me what was in the letter," he said, and so I did.
"I think your adopted parents find themselves in a very difficult position," he said. "They are legally responsible for you and rightly so. That is what adoption means - taking on the role that the parents would have held. But they are very far removed from the situation of what happened to your father, and perhaps they don't feel that they could or should do anything about it."
"Neither of them is any good at writing letters or even at reading," I said.
"No wonder they are worried then," he added. "They won't have the confidence to make your case."
"Could you do it for me?" I asked him.
"No, I certainly cannot and will not. But what I will do is offer my assistance to your adopted father in the matter of writing to them, if he so wishes my help, that is. It would be no good you doing it for him - as the Medical Director already knows of your interest, and would not take kindly with you harping on at him, when he has already given you his answer - that you are too young for him to communicate this information to directly. So that is what I can do to help - if they ask me. I certainly will not bring the matter up and if they wish to leave it alone, then you should honour their feelings in this regard as well. And now, young lady, you best get on home. Dry your tears, and do not let me hear of you lying again."
"No, Mr. Steward. And thank you for your offer. I will tell my adopted father what you said."
"But no pressure, mind you," he added as I put on my coat and went out the door.
Mrs Allsop was surprised at my being late coming home, but when I explained about Mr. Steward asking me to stay back, she understood.
"I don't know if William is up to the task," she said to me. "He is a very shy man, really, not used to putting himself forward. For him to go to the school master would be asking a great deal of him."
I think I understood what she was saying. If I was to ask him to do it, he would, but it would be very hard for him, and perhaps what I was thinking of was asking was too much.
"Perhaps I could go instead," she said, surprising me, for she is not one to put herself forward very much. "Yes, I could do it. When you next see your teacher, ask him when it would be convenient for me to see him regarding the matter. And let's not say anything to William about it. I don't want him to think I am taking away his place as head of the house. You do understand, don't you, Blanche?"
"Yes, I do. And I will ask Mr. Steward tomorrow.
After the severely cold weather of November, December and January (the coldest patch ever, I have been told) February suddenly turned much warmer, and walking to school was a real pleasure instead of a dreadful hardship. The river which had been frozen solid was now liquid again, and although we had enjoyed skating across it on our way home from school, it was nice to think that spring was on its way. Some were saying this warm weather was the highest recorded in February. So we went from the coldest to the warmest. I wonder what will come next.
At lunchtime, I had a quick word with Mr Steward. I told him that my adopted mother, Mrs. Allsop, was prepared to write on my behalf - only she was not very happy with her writing, and she wondered if he might be available sometime to help her write a letter. Also, him knowing us and the situation might make the medical examiner more likely to do what we wanted and give us the details about my Pa.
He agreed to help Mrs. Allsop, but thought a school day was of no use, so suggested Saturday late morning. I said that we often went shopping at that time, but that we could do our shopping in Compstall rather than at Lane Ends this Saturday. I was so pleased that he was able and willing to help.
Mrs. Allsop was pleased too, when I told her, but she was also very nervous. "You will come with me, won't you?"
"Yes, of course, I will. And it will be fun to do our grocery shop in Compstall. I have heard about the Tea Pot, but have never been inside."
"It is just a cooperative, like all the others - nothing fancy. It is silly giving it that name, and putting the teapot above the door. But I suppose it makes a bit of a novelty and people go to for that reason - to see why the teapot is there."
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She is determined to find out
She is determined to find out what she wants to know. At least she is surrounded by some good people who are prepared to help.
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So MrSteward isn't so bad
So MrSteward isn't so bad after all. Quite an undertaking. Fred is right about not getting overly worried though.
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She really has some very kind
She really has some very kind people around her.
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I liked Fred's comment 'and
I liked Fred's comment 'and we are alive, and must make the best of our lives'. The lying situation was handled rather nicely. She does seem quite mature for her age. Rhiannon
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