HE WHO RIDES A TIGER

"HE WHO RIDES A TIGER" Chief petty office Peter Thompson the upstanding, charming gent hides a secret, he is an abuser of children. How long can he evade the law. one young girl, his daughter finds the courage to come forward to tell all after years of torment.. based on a true story. "A must read"

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19. 19

Walking back up towards the train station Rose found a bench to sit down on.

Rose’s feet we aching and so were Deborah Jane’s, placing the shopping bags down they sat for ten minutes just watching the world go by as people hurried along the streets. Some went into the train station whilst others were coming out. Some were smoking, others bought a newspaper from a boy sitting outside. There were some shady characters, down and outs who begged for money, the thieves, who preyed on the rich the prowled the streets watching, waiting for a chance to pounce on some unsuspecting person. Rose picked up her shopping and then made her way back to the house. They had spent over two hours in the town and when Rose opened the door with the key Janet had given her. She picked up the post from the mat then placed it onto the table.

“Time for a drink I think Deborah Jane, would you like some orange squash?

“Yes, please Rose, I’m thirsty.

 Rose ran the cold water tap then found a glass and filled it near three quarters full then added the juice.

“Here you are Deborah Jane, come and sit at the table now and be careful that you do not spill your juice. Once you are finished can you go and play whilst I tidy up before your mother comes home. Rose sat with a cup of tea that she’d made. Thinking how she’d got away from Belfast and the horrible life there. He father was an IRA member and her brother too. Rose did not like violence even though she’d fought with boys when she was at school, she’s witnessed it in her own household every day with her mother as her father ruled the home with a rod of iron. The constant arguments that ensued there cumulated into violence.

Rose swore as soon as she was old enough she would leave Ireland and never return. From the age of eleven Rose used to babysit for her neighbour as her mother and father frequented Gillie’s bar on Falstaff Road. She left home at the age of 13 to work in Glenburn Manor, called the (The Big House) for Mr and Mrs Connors in Dunmurry after leaving Dundonald high school in 1913.

It was there that she started her working life as a maid. The work was hard and the hours long. Mrs O’Leary a forty- three -year old woman was in charge of all the maids, and cooks below stairs. Mr Donald O’Connell was the butler. He was really nice to Rose with her being the youngest member working there. He had a bit of a soft spot for Rose because he had no daughters of his own. Rose earned two shillings and tuppence a week most of which had to be sent home. She shared a room with an older girl called Christine Smith and after working there for two years they became very good friends. They would often talk very quietly in their room at night with the candle burning. Mrs O’Leary would have scolded them if she had found out that they were burning the midnight oil. Rose taught Christine how to read and write because she had had very little in the way of schooling. There was thirteen of them in her family and she was kept off school to do chores at home. Reading was the only indulgence they had. Mr Connor’s son Patrick had seen her reading one of the books in the library one morning.

“So, you can read, said the handsome young man in a pair of riding jodhpurs and brown leather boots which she cleaned and polished along with everyone else’s. Patrick 19 years of age stood six feet tall, his dark hair in curls came down just past his neck line. He was slim and wore a white shirt with a waist coat.

“Yes sir, I’m sorry sir, I’ll put it back.’

“What’s your name girl he asked in a soft voice. He was well spoken and you could tell by his presence that he was educated.

“Rose, Rose Sullivan sir.’

“Well Rose Sullivan since you like to read so much you may borrow a book from this library any time you wish.

Thank you, sir, you’re so kind. “Have you read all of these books sir?

“Yes, I reckon I have, some more than once.’

“They just sit gathering dust now, so I would rather let someone put them to good use.’

“Thank you, sir I am honoured indeed.

The young master nodded then strolled down the stairs. He put on his coat and then his top hat. His black horse was waiting for him outside brought by Maynard the groom. He was a scruffy looking man with a spotty face and rotten teeth; most of which had either fallen out or had been pulled out by Davis the blacksmith with a pair of plyers.

Rose watched from the upstairs window as the young master got up onto the horse and rode off through the gates and across the open fields. Oh, how she longed to be able to ride a horse, and to feel the wind in her hair as she galloped ever faster and faster. She imagined herself stopping and sitting under an old oak tree with the sound of a nearby river gently flowing and the sunshine in her face. Just to while away the hours reading her favourite book until the sun decided to go down and all the birds had flown away.

“You girl, what are you doing? Mrs O’Leary broke the silence.

“I, I was just cleaning the library Mrs O’Leary.’

“Well get on with it, we haven’t got all day.’

“Yes, Mrs O’Leary. Rose took the feather duster after replacing the book and began to dust the bookshelves.

Each night she would read selected poems by William Wordsworth and Oscar Wilde to Christine.

“It must be wonderful to be able to write like that said Christine.’

“One day you will, now copy that poem out it will help you with your writing.

Christine sat at the small table using a fountain pen and ink she began to copy the poem “True Knowledge.’

Everything seemed to be going well for Rose until the outbreak of the First World War.  The young master went away to fight for king and country and when he returned he was a changed man. The horrors he had witnessed on the battlefield had left him scarred inside. His father and mother had to get the doctor to come and see him. Doctor William Selby suggested that he go to a sanitorium to convalesce, but his mother would hear nothing of it and it was Rose who was sent to look after him. Patrick had locked himself away in his own little world. Rose took him his food where he sat looking out of the window every day.  For months Rose took his food and drinks up to his room where he sat just staring. the eyes looking but not seeing.

Rose placed the tray with some tea and sandwiches onto the table. She was about to leave when Patrick turned to her. “Read to me Rose.’ He uttered. Patrick hadn’t spoken a word to anyone since his return from Flanders fields.

Yes sir, said Rose who was now eighteen years old. Her long brown hair was pinned up and she wore her black uniform and a white pinafore.

Rose picked out a selection of poems by Oscar Wilde She opened the page and began to read “In the Forest.’

Out of the mid-woods twilight

Into the meadows dawn

Ivory limbed and brown eyed

Flashes my fawn

He skips through the copses singing

And his shadow dances along

And I know not which I should follow

Shadow or song

Oh, hunter snare me his shadow

Oh, nightingale catch me his strain

Else moonstruck with music and madness

I track him in vain.

 

“How did you know that I liked Oscar Wilde?

“I have heard you reciting his poetry many times.’

“So, you listened behind my closed door.’

Yes sir, I know I shouldn’t have but the words were so beautiful I had to listen.

“Have you read William Wordsworth?

“Yes, I like poetry sir, I’ve read nearly all of your books of poetry.’

“Have you memorised them Rose?

“Yes, I have sir.’

“Then you must come tomorrow and read me another.’

“Will there be anything else sir?

“No, that will be all for now.’

Rose excused herself and went about her daily chores.

Each day after that, Rose read the young master a poem. Their conversations became more relaxed and they talked openly. Rose knew her place and never stepped over the line.

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