Kate Hannigan's Girl: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

Catherine Cookson was one of the world's most beloved writers. Her books have sold millions of copies, and her characters and their stories have captured the imagination of readers around the globe. She passed away in 1998, but luckily for her fans, Cookson left behind several unpublished works, including the magnificent Kate Hannigan's Girl -- her 100th book, the powerful companion to her first novel, Kate Hannigan.
Set in the English countryside in the early twentieth ...
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Kate Hannigan's Girl: A Novel

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Overview

Catherine Cookson was one of the world's most beloved writers. Her books have sold millions of copies, and her characters and their stories have captured the imagination of readers around the globe. She passed away in 1998, but luckily for her fans, Cookson left behind several unpublished works, including the magnificent Kate Hannigan's Girl -- her 100th book, the powerful companion to her first novel, Kate Hannigan.
Set in the English countryside in the early twentieth century, Kate Hannigan's Girl is the story of Kate's eldest daughter, the lovely, free-spirited Annie Hannigan. Blessed with silver-blond braids and a lighthearted disposition, Annie enjoys a life her mother never had. She is surrounded by material comforts and a loving family, protected from the poverty and shame her mother endured in the slums. But as Cookson fans have come to expect, no good life can go unmarred by heartache.
Annie grows into a beautiful young woman, and soon she draws the interest of both friends and neighbors. She falls in love with Terence Macbane, the elusive boy next door. But there are those who would keep them apart: Her childhood friend Brian Stannard is determined to have her for himself, and her more worldly rival, Cathleen Davidson, harbors a bitter jealousy that will prove dangerous to all. Tormented by unrequited love, the revelation of her own illegitimacy, and the demands of her deep-seated faith, Annie discovers that sometimes love is not enough -- she must fight for what she wants.
Kate Hannigan's Girl is vintage Cookson. With its larger themes of early twentieth-century romantic love and class conflict, this novel showcases Catherine Cookson at the height of her storytelling powers, and it is sure to satisfy devoted readers everywhere.
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
In her hundredth book, bestselling author Cookson returns to turn-of-the-century England, bringing back one of her most popular and beloved characters, the tenacious Kate Hannigan. The novel follows the life of Annie (Kate's illegitimate daughter with the kindly doctor Rodney Prince) as she struggles to cope with her parents' unconventional relationship. Not unlike her mother, Annie finds herself caught between love and society's expectations when she falls for Terence, her poor but Oxford-educated neighbor. Annie's nemesis, Cathleen Davidson, further complicates matters when she vows to destroy the relationship, which she considers inappropriate. The author, who died in 1998, was honored in 1993 with the title Dame Cookson by the British Empire for her literary achievements. In her last book, she chooses to gloss over issues of class and gender in historic England, focusing instead on Annie's struggle to balance love and familial pressures. The prose is sentimental and the characters are often predictable, but the story is entertaining; Cookson's fans will enjoy the author's lush language, especially in her descriptions of the lovely Northumberland countryside.
—Bret Anthony Johnston

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cookson's 100th book, posthumously published, rounds off her oeuvre, but is more memorable for its landmark status than its content. Set in England's Northumberland countryside in the early 20th century, it takes up the story line from a previous book featuring Kate Hannigan and Kate's illegitimate daughter, Annie. Though Kate is now married to the wealthy and kind Dr. Rodney Prince, neither Kate nor Annie has forgotten their humble origins. Teenage Annie, in particular, is stung by accusations that her mother wasn't married when Annie was born. Then Terence Macbane, a slightly older local boy, returns home from Oxford. Ashamed of his own wrong-side-of-the-tracks upbringing, he finds himself strongly attracted to Annie despite her dubious past. But interference in the form of racy and determined Cathleen, Annie's perpetual rival, threatens to tear them apart. Will Annie be able to find the strength to overcome Cathleen? As a heroine, Annie's a bit too tearily immature, her musings more pathetic than sympathetic. Much more fun is bad-girl Cathleen, whose role as spoiler adds some spice to the treacle. Musings on Catholicism as solace embellish the tale, and lashings of melodrama heighten the suspense, although it tends to be of the "all's well that ends well" variety. Cookson wrote better, and more satisfying, novels. It would be a shame if she were remembered for such piffle. Agent, Sheila Land Associates. (Feb. 13) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743217217
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/20/2001
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 204,472
  • File size: 372 KB

Meet the Author

Catherine Cookson lived in Northumberland, England, the setting of many of her international bestsellers. Born in Tyne Dock, she was the illegitimate daughter of an impoverished woman, Kate, whom she was raised to believe was her older sister. She began to work in the civil service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married a local grammar school master.
Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer, in 1968 her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award, her readership quickly spread worldwide, and her many bestselling novels established her as one of the most popular contemporary authors. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998, having completed 104 works.
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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

Annie stood gripping her bicycle and staring wide-eyed at the tall, auburn-haired boy leaning nonchalantly across his saddle.

'What did Cathleen Davidson tell you?' she asked.

'Well, if I tell you you'll jump down my throat.'

'No I won't.' Without taking her eyes from his she flicked her head from side to side, throwing the long silvery plaits over her shoulders.

'Your hair's marvellous,' he said.

'What did Cathleen say about me?' Annie asked again, a nervous tremor passing over her face.

'Well, if I tell you, will you promise to go with me?'

'Go with you? Oh, I can't.' Annie stared at him, aghast. 'You're nearly sixteen. And...and there's Cathleen.'

'Oh, very well.' He shrugged his shoulders and ran his hand through his wavy hair.

'Yes I will. All right, then, Brian.' The words came with a rush.

'Well...' His eyes moving over her face, from the fringe above the wide green eyes to the large, curving mouth, Brian was savouring the effect of his coming words: 'Well, she said your mother and stepfather aren't really married.'

'What!' This was new; she hadn't expected to hear this.

'That's what she said.'

'Oh, the wicked thing. They are married; I was there when they were married. It was the day after New Year's Day, nearly four months ago.'

'Were you really there?'

'Yes, I was!' she said with emphasis.

'Well, don't get so mad, you asked me to tell you. She said it wasn't a real marriage because you are Catholics, and it was in a registry office, and the priest said that in the sight of God and all Catholics they are living in sin. That's what she said.'

'0h, she's wicked...wicked, wicked! They are married. What else did she say?' Annie demanded, her eyes wide.

'She said...Oh, it doesn't matter.'

'It does! It does! What did she say?' There was the urgency of self-torture in her voice; she knew quite well what Cathleen had said, but she must hear it aloud.

'Well, it doesn't matter two hoots to me, you know, but she said you hadn't got a da either. She said Kate -- your mother -- had never been married.'

Annie had never ridden so hard in her life, and when she reached the gate to the wood the perspiration was running down her face. When Brian had attempted to ride with her she had pushed him so hard that he saved himself from falling only by dismounting, and she had pedalled away like a wild thing.

Inside the gate and out of sight of the road, she flung her cycle on to the grass and ran, stumbling and crying, along the path through the wood...Oh, Cathleen Davidson, you wicked, wicked thing! Oh, how could you tell Brian! That's why some of the girls in the convent school had cut her. And everybody would know now. The nuns would know...Sister Ann...Sister Ann would know. Oh, Cathleen Davidson, I hate you! I don't care if it is a sin, I do hate her. And Mam is married, she is!...Why does Rodney like Cathleen? He can't like her, she's so wicked. Oh. if only Mam and Rodney had been married in a Catholic church, if only Mam would become a Catholic again! Oh, sweet Lady, make her a Catholic again and be married in the Catholic Church so they'll not be able to say that about her.

All the agony she had so recently experienced returned; the feeling of knowing she was a girl without a father weighed on her once more. For years she had prayed she would have a da like Rodney, and now, by marrying Kate, he was her da; but somehow, it would seem, it didn't alter the fact that she was still a girl without a real father. Nobody round here knew that Kate hadn't been married before. But four miles away, in Jarrow, they knew. Here was another world, a world of lovely houses and beautiful furniture, of grand meals and new clothes and...the convent. And now it was spoilt.

She started to run blindly on again, crying as she went: 'Oh, Cathleen Davidson, I wish you were dead. I do, I do. I don't care if it is a sin...Eeh! yes I do. Well, she's wicked and she's spoilt everything.'

Ever since Rodney married Kate, Cathleen had been horrible. She said Annie had taken her uncle away from her. But Rodney wasn't Cathleen's uncle, he was merely her father's friend. Perhaps she had done this latest injury because her father had told Rodney not to buy her any more expensive presents; he said she was being spoilt and had come to look upon them as her right. Annie had pricked up her cars when she heard Kate and Rodney discussing this: she had felt glad and sorry at the same time, for Cathleen's brother, Michael Davidson, would have to come under the same ban, and Michael was nice.

For the moment she wished she were back in Jarrow, in the fifteen streets, among the dreariness and poverty she had grown up in and knew so well; it didn't seem to matter so much there who your father was. You lived so close to your next-door neighbours that you could hear the words of their fighting and laughter through the walls, and you could keep no secrets; yet out here, in these extensive grounds where you couldn't even see your nearest neighbour's house, it seemed imperative to bury the stigma of your birth. Up to four months ago she had known this area only as the place where the swanks lived, but now Shields seemed far removed, and Jarrow...oh, Jarrow was another world away. Yet at this moment she longed to be back in those familiar surroundings.

She went stumbling on, sniffing, blinded by her tears. Dazedly she felt she must find some place to hide and have her cry out, for she mustn't go into the house like this; Mam would ask too many questions.

Leaving the path, she zigzagged through the trees at the back of the house. If she went deep enough into the wood she would skirt the place Rodney was having cleared so that he might build his clinic for sick children: Mr Macbane might be there, and she was afraid of Mr Macbane. He helped around the grounds in his spare time and lived in the cottage by the woods, cycling past the house every morning on his way to the pit. Rodney liked Mr Macbane; he said he was a character, though he could well understand how sharp a thorn he had been in the previous owner's side. But Annie felt she would never like him.

Her jumbled thinking and mental pain seemed suddenly to be transferred to the physical as she felt her legs wrenched from beneath her, and a voice yelled, 'Look out there!' She was thrown into the air, and she turned a somersault before hitting the ground.

When she opened her eyes the trees were swimming all about her, and as they steadied she found herself looking up into the angry face of a young man.

'I...I fell, she murmured.

'You should look where you're going,' he said sharply. 'Running like a mad thing!' Then, more gently, he asked, 'Are you hurt?'

'No; I don't think so.' She got up slowly and brushed the dry leaves from her clothes. 'I tripped over something.'

He made no answer, but turned from her and busied himself tightening a rope which was strung from an iron stake in the ground to a tree some distance away. Feeling a little sick and dizzy, Annie stood watching him and wondering whether he noticed she had been crying and that her face was all wet. She supposed he hadn't. She hadn't seen him before, but she knew who he was. He was Mr Macbane's son whom Kate and Rodney had been talking about last night; they didn't know Mr Macbane had a son until he had said, 'Me lad's comin' home. Can you set him on with me, part-time, clearing the wood?' The Macbanes seemed to be forever working: Mr Macbane worked at the pit and between times cleared the wood, and still made time to tend a vegetable garden -- there were no flowers in the Macbanes' garden -- and Mrs Macbane went out each day to work in the village. And now this mysterious son had been pressed into work too.

She noticed he was very thin and that when he bent down his lank, black hair drooped over his forehead, and that although his face was thin his head was large...

Before her startled eyes, she saw it swelling until it blotted out the sky. The next she knew was that his hand was on the back of her head, which was being pressed between her knees.

'Take a deep breath,' he said, pulling her up straight again.

She tried, but found it impossible.

'Here, here,' he exclaimed; 'pull yourself together!'

Ohl he's snappy, just like his father, she thought. Then she fell down, down into the earth, to the sound of his voice pleading, 'Great Scott! Don't pass out; pull yourself together!'

As she came round she realized she was being carried. She blinked slowly at the face close to her own, and when she felt his arms sag she became panicky, thinking: He's too thin, he can't carry me.

He hitched her closer up against him, and she closed her eyes as the blackness threatened to engulf her again.

They were out of the wood now and crossing the little wooden bridge over the stream. She knew this, for faintly she heard the loose plank go plop, plop! She wanted to be sick, and wondered if she should ask him to stop so that she could be sick over the side of the bridge.

She didn't remember passing through the orchard, or through the belt of firs, but she knew they had reached the greenhouses below the cypress hedge which bordered the side lawn when she heard Steve's startled exclamation, God! What's happened?'

With relief she felt his big arms go round her and his broad chest pillow her head. She liked Steve: he was big and safe, and he let her sit next to him in the car and put her hands on the steering wheel and pretend she was driving it. She was borne swiftly and smoothly to the house.

There was a clamour of voices about her. Summy was saying, 'Is she killed? Oh, the bairn!' Summy was nice; she made lovely cream sponges with icing and nuts on the top...There was Rodney's voice, crying, 'What on earth's happened?' Oh, her beloved Rodney's voice! That was a nice word, 'beloved'. She had only learnt it in the past few months...beloved, darling, dearest, all lovely words; the house seemed full of them. Rodney was always calling, 'Where are you, darling?' and Kate would answer, 'Here, dearest.' Those were Kate's hands on her now, moving swiftly, tenderly over her. The comfort of being near Mam -- she was putting one of Annie's lovely nighties on her. Now Rodney was saying, 'Don't worry, darling, it's just slight concussion.' She wondered vaguely what concussion was, but whatever it was Rodney would cure it, for he was a doctor.

The bed was warm and soft; she seemed to be adrift in it. Vaguely she was conscious of Kate and Rodney looking down on her. They would be standing close together and his good arm would be around her. He had two arms, but one of them wasn't much good since he had been wounded in France in 1917. It was the same with his legs: he had two of them, but one wasn't much good either. In fact, there wasn't any foot on that one. The first time she had seen the leg without the foot she had felt ill. One day she ran into their bedroom, and there was Kate helping to strap on the stiff boot to the leg that seemed to end in a post above the ankle. She had run out without speaking, and it was a long time before she could look at the trouser leg and forget what it hid.

Rodney's voice came to her, saying, 'I think I'll phone Peter. There's nothing wrong, but I'd like him to have a look at her anyway.'

For a moment, the name of Cathleen's father brought back with a painful leap the reason for her running, but she was suddenly too tired even to hate Cathleen. As she sank away, she was wishing vaguely that Rodney had never lived with the Davidsons for a year after he came back from the war, for then Cathleen wouldn't have such a claim on him.

How long had she been asleep? Annie didn't know, but it was night when she awoke. She opened her eyes slowly, to see Kate sitting by the shaded bedside lamp. Her face was half turned away and her eyes were downcast; she was reading. Still feeling too tired to speak, Annie lay watching her. Kate was wearing her rose-coloured dressing-gown which seemed to draw lights from her burnished brown hair. The skin of her cheek looked warm and creamy. Even in worn-out and threadbare clothes Kate had always appeared beautiful to Annie, but now, in the clothes that Rodney showered on her, she had taken on a beauty that Annie would never have believed possible. At times, Annie found herself watching Kate as if she were a new person, for the clothes gave her an air that was unfamiliar. She had need of Kate's arms about her, and to hear her voice and to see the kindness in her eyes, to be convinced that the wonderful clothes had made no difference. Years ago, when Kate worked at the Tolmaches' house, they had bought her a new set of clothes every Christmas. But they weren't like the clothes she wore now. These made her look...well...oh, she didn't know the word for that look, and anyway she still felt too tired to bother.

To the side of her, the door opened softly, and she closed her eyes: she didn't want to talk, or to be given anything to drink; all she wanted was to go to sleep again.

Rodney said, 'Come on, my love, you're not sitting here any longer. She's perfectly all right; she'll sleep until morning.'

Kate's answer vaguely puzzled Annie. She said, 'I've keyed myself up all day to tell her, and now this had to happen.'

Annie heard the merest whisper of a kiss, and smiled faintly to herself. It was no embarrassment to her to know that Mam and Rodney were kissing; rather, she experienced a feeling of joy for Kate, for she still remembered the long, long years after Kate had to leave the Tolmaches' to go home to look after her mother, who was sick, when her days were filled with work and washing and living in dread of her terrible father. The thought of her grandfather, although safely dead these two years and more, still had the power to make Annie shiver.

She was on the very border of sleep when further whispered words of Rodney's dragged her back, filling her with sharp envy and resentment. She listened, her body becoming stiff.

Main's words no longer puzzled her, but they were like arrows piercing her mind: Main was going to have a baby. They were wondering if Annie would like it, how she would take the news. Rodney was saying, 'Once she knows, she'll love it. It's better to tell her sooner than later.' Would she love it? How could she love it? For it would have a father: it would have Rodney for a real father. Oh, why hadn't Kate married Rodney years ago, before she was born, then all these years she wouldn't have dreaded with that sickening shame the words 'Annie Hannigan's got no da!'

On the fifth day of being in bed Annie felt quite well enough to be up, but Rodney's orders were that she was to stay there for a week. For the first two days it had been nice to lie still in a strange, untroubled state of mind, while Cathleen seemed no more real than a witch in a fairy story. As for the knowledge of the coming baby, strange even to herself was the fact that from the very morning after she had learnt of its existence, she liked the idea. But gradually the pain caused by Cathleen's treachery returned. Maybe it was not so poignant, but it was still a pain. And it stabbed anew when Kate, who was sitting by the window, said quietly, 'Who were you running away from, dear, when you fell? We found your bicycle just inside the wood gate.'

Annie answered haltingly, 'I wasn't running away from anyone, Main.'

'But you had been crying such a lot. Your face was so swollen.'

Annie lay watching, through the bed rails, the fire dancing merrily. She still watched it when Kate came and sat on the bed and took her hand. 'Was it Brian Stannard?'

'No. No, not really.'

'Then who was it? Cathleen? Was it Cathleen Davidson? Did she say something to you?'

Annie stared at her. 'How do you know, Mam? Why do you ask?'

Kate smiled quietly down on her. 'Because Cathleen doesn't like either you or me, my dear. I've been waiting for some time for something like this to happen.'

Annie felt her body sink inches into the bed with a feeling of relief. It was like being in the deep end of the pool and knowing there was a good swimmer beside you.

'What did she say? Tell me, dear, and you won't feel it half so much. Was it something about me?'

Main made things so easy; she seemed to simplify everything. Annie no longer felt alone against Cathleen, but she could tell her mother only part of what Cathleen had said. 'Cathleen...she told someone that you...well, she said you and Rodney aren't really married, because you weren't married in a Catholic church.'

It was evident to Annie that, like her, Kate had expected to hear something different, because for a moment she simply stared in surprise. Then she asked, 'Was that all?'

It wasn't all. But Annie could never put into words anything touching on the subject that, in her mind, took the form of a triangle, with Kate at one point, a man without a face at a second, and a formless thing labelled 'Shame' at the third.

This triangle had come into being on a Christmas Eve morning years ago when, realising she hadn't a father, she had decided to give herself one and picked on the doctor to fill this position.

She had told her best friend, Rosie Mullen, and Rosie had told Cissy Luck, and Cissy Luck had told her mother, and Mrs Luck had baited Kate in the street...That was a terrible Christmas Eve! No, she could never speak of this thing to Kate.

Kate was saying, 'You see, dear, Cathleen is very fond of Rodney, and she blames us for taking him away from her. So you must try and take no notice of the things she says, because it would upset Rodney if he thought there was bad feeling between you. You understand?'

'Yes, Mam.'

'After all, it is we who have Rodney, isn't it?'

'Oh yes, yes!' Annie snuggled down in the bed. Yes, they had Rodney. He was theirs now and for ever; he wasn't just 'the doctor' any more, he belonged to them. Kate was Mrs Prince, no matter what Cathleen said. Oh, if only she was called Annie Prince instead of Annie Hannigan! But she would always be Annie Hannigan, nothing could alter that. Yet when she married her name would be altered, wouldn't it? Yes, of course, when she was married. How soon could she get married, and who would she marry? Oh no, not Brian; she didn't even want to be his girl, even if she had promised...

'There then, said Kate, bending and kissing her; 'let nothing worry you. just think of the nice long Easter holiday you have. And remember, Cathleen will be leaving the convent for the art school one of these days, and then you won't be troubled with her. And when she and her family come later, treat her as if nothing has happened, will you?'

'Yes, Main.'

'And we'll say nothing to Rodney about this, will we? I mean, not being married in the Catholic Church; it would only upset him.'

Kate went out of the room, but did not immediately go downstairs. In her own room across the landing, she stood by the window, biting her lip...That little cat! To say such a thing! She had thought Annie was about to tell her that Cathleen was taunting her with not having a father; it was I just the kind of thing she would do. But to say she and Rodney were not married because the ceremony was not performed in a Catholic church was preposterous. Wasn't all the strife this subject aroused finished with yet?

She could hear again the old arguments, and Peggy Davidson saying, 'But Rodney, you can't ask Kate to be married in a registry office, she's a Catholic.'

She had tried to explain her changed views to both Peggy and Peter.

'But you don't attend any other church, do you?' Peggy said.

'No.'

'Well, then, you are still a Catholic. You know you're still a Catholic at heart, Kate, you know you are!'

No amount of talking had convinced Peggy that Kate was not still a Catholic at heart; that was the very spot where she was not a Catholic. But in her happiness Kate had allowed herself to be persuaded, and a dispensation was asked of the bishop for, Rodney not being a Catholic, this had to be granted before a mixed marriage could be solemnised in church.

It was not until she saw the revolt in Rodney, when he realised that the part required of him by the dispensation was the signing away of the spiritual liberty of any children of the marriage, that Kate knew she could not ask this of him; nor did she want it for herself. So they were married in a registry office.

Father Bailey fought to the last to make her see reason, as he put it. And he told her he was frankly amazed that she could be so unrelenting in her attitude towards the Church, yet quite willing to promise him she would do nothing to prevent Annie from remaining a Catholic. When she agreed with Annie's desire to attend the convent her decision made him scratch his head in bewilderment.

Kate had said, 'It may be the wrong religion for me, but I think it's the right one for Annie; we are not all made alike, father: we are individuals. She is happy in it, I never was; she loves the pageantry and the feeling of one large family, I never did. From an early age I rebelled against it. I cannot distribute my love or affection. I have found it must be all on one thing or person, or nothing. I must go direct to the source, so to speak, for I have found that intermediaries create a sense of frustration in me. And the Church is so full of intermediaries. But Annie seems to draw comfort and peace from them, and I'll never do anything, I promise you, to shatter that feeling. Although I sent her to a Protestant school when she was young, I never interfered with her going to church, and now she's set her heart on going to the convent I'll do nothing against it.'

Looking back on that conversation with Father Bailey, Kate felt the old sense of foreboding returning. Why was one not allowed to work out one's own salvation? Life had been hard enough, God knew, without having to fight the old battles over again. If she had chosen the wrong way, then she alone would suffer for it, for in making her choice she had not influenced Annie.

As she went downstairs she heard three hoots of a car horn from outside, and unconsciously she straightened her back and gave a lift to her chin. Mrs Summers was already at the front door, and the first person Kate saw was Cathleen. She had run up the path ahead of her mother and Michael.

Giving Kate a long stare that could have been insolent, she said, 'Hello. Where's Uncle Rodney?'

Before Kate could reply Cathleen ran past her on her way to the study. And as Kate went down the path to meet Peggy Davidson, she realised it would take a lot of self-control to prevent Cathleen from seeing just how much she annoyed her.

Copyright © 2000 by The Trustees of the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trusts

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter One

Annie stood gripping her bicycle and staring wide-eyed at the tall, auburn-haired boy leaning nonchalantly across his saddle.

'What did Cathleen Davidson tell you?' she asked.

'Well, if I tell you you'll jump down my throat.'

'No I won't.' Without taking her eyes from his she flicked her head from side to side, throwing the long silvery plaits over her shoulders.

'Your hair's marvellous,' he said.

'What did Cathleen say about me?' Annie asked again, a nervous tremor passing over her face.

'Well, if I tell you, will you promise to go with me?'

'Go with you? Oh, I can't.' Annie stared at him, aghast. 'You're nearly sixteen. And...and there's Cathleen.'

'Oh, very well.' He shrugged his shoulders and ran his hand through his wavy hair.

'Yes I will. All right, then, Brian.' The words came with a rush.

'Well...' His eyes moving over her face, from the fringe above the wide green eyes to the large, curving mouth, Brian was savouring the effect of his coming words: 'Well, she said your mother and stepfather aren't really married.'

'What!' This was new; she hadn't expected to hear this.

'That's what she said.'

'Oh, the wicked thing. They are married; I was there when they were married. It was the day after New Year's Day, nearly four months ago.'

'Were you really there?'

'Yes, I was!' she said with emphasis.

'Well, don't get so mad, you asked me to tell you. She said it wasn't a real marriage because you are Catholics, and it was in a registry office, and the priest said that in the sight of God and all Catholics they are living in sin. That's what she said.'

'0h, she's wicked...wicked, wicked! They are married. What else did she say?' Annie demanded, her eyes wide.

'She said...Oh, it doesn't matter.'

'It does! It does! What did she say?' There was the urgency of self-torture in her voice; she knew quite well what Cathleen had said, but she must hear it aloud.

'Well, it doesn't matter two hoots to me, you know, but she said you hadn't got a da either. She said Kate -- your mother -- had never been married.'

Annie had never ridden so hard in her life, and when she reached the gate to the wood the perspiration was running down her face. When Brian had attempted to ride with her she had pushed him so hard that he saved himself from falling only by dismounting, and she had pedalled away like a wild thing.

Inside the gate and out of sight of the road, she flung her cycle on to the grass and ran, stumbling and crying, along the path through the wood...Oh, Cathleen Davidson, you wicked, wicked thing! Oh, how could you tell Brian! That's why some of the girls in the convent school had cut her. And everybody would know now. The nuns would know...Sister Ann...Sister Ann would know. Oh, Cathleen Davidson, I hate you! I don't care if it is a sin, I do hate her. And Mam is married, she is!...Why does Rodney like Cathleen? He can't like her, she's so wicked. Oh. if only Mam and Rodney had been married in a Catholic church, if only Mam would become a Catholic again! Oh, sweet Lady, make her a Catholic again and be married in the Catholic Church so they'll not be able to say that about her.

All the agony she had so recently experienced returned; the feeling of knowing she was a girl without a father weighed on her once more. For years she had prayed she would have a da like Rodney, and now, by marrying Kate, he was her da; but somehow, it would seem, it didn't alter the fact that she was still a girl without a real father. Nobody round here knew that Kate hadn't been married before. But four miles away, in Jarrow, they knew. Here was another world, a world of lovely houses and beautiful furniture, of grand meals and new clothes and...the convent. And now it was spoilt.

She started to run blindly on again, crying as she went: 'Oh, Cathleen Davidson, I wish you were dead. I do, I do. I don't care if it is a sin...Eeh! yes I do. Well, she's wicked and she's spoilt everything.'

Ever since Rodney married Kate, Cathleen had been horrible. She said Annie had taken her uncle away from her. But Rodney wasn't Cathleen's uncle, he was merely her father's friend. Perhaps she had done this latest injury because her father had told Rodney not to buy her any more expensive presents; he said she was being spoilt and had come to look upon them as her right. Annie had pricked up her cars when she heard Kate and Rodney discussing this: she had felt glad and sorry at the same time, for Cathleen's brother, Michael Davidson, would have to come under the same ban, and Michael was nice.

For the moment she wished she were back in Jarrow, in the fifteen streets, among the dreariness and poverty she had grown up in and knew so well; it didn't seem to matter so much there who your father was. You lived so close to your next-door neighbours that you could hear the words of their fighting and laughter through the walls, and you could keep no secrets; yet out here, in these extensive grounds where you couldn't even see your nearest neighbour's house, it seemed imperative to bury the stigma of your birth. Up to four months ago she had known this area only as the place where the swanks lived, but now Shields seemed far removed, and Jarrow...oh, Jarrow was another world away. Yet at this moment she longed to be back in those familiar surroundings.

She went stumbling on, sniffing, blinded by her tears. Dazedly she felt she must find some place to hide and have her cry out, for she mustn't go into the house like this; Mam would ask too many questions.

Leaving the path, she zigzagged through the trees at the back of the house. If she went deep enough into the wood she would skirt the place Rodney was having cleared so that he might build his clinic for sick children: Mr Macbane might be there, and she was afraid of Mr Macbane. He helped around the grounds in his spare time and lived in the cottage by the woods, cycling past the house every morning on his way to the pit. Rodney liked Mr Macbane; he said he was a character, though he could well understand how sharp a thorn he had been in the previous owner's side. But Annie felt she would never like him.

Her jumbled thinking and mental pain seemed suddenly to be transferred to the physical as she felt her legs wrenched from beneath her, and a voice yelled, 'Look out there!' She was thrown into the air, and she turned a somersault before hitting the ground.

When she opened her eyes the trees were swimming all about her, and as they steadied she found herself looking up into the angry face of a young man.

'I...I fell, she murmured.

'You should look where you're going,' he said sharply. 'Running like a mad thing!' Then, more gently, he asked, 'Are you hurt?'

'No; I don't think so.' She got up slowly and brushed the dry leaves from her clothes. 'I tripped over something.'

He made no answer, but turned from her and busied himself tightening a rope which was strung from an iron stake in the ground to a tree some distance away. Feeling a little sick and dizzy, Annie stood watching him and wondering whether he noticed she had been crying and that her face was all wet. She supposed he hadn't. She hadn't seen him before, but she knew who he was. He was Mr Macbane's son whom Kate and Rodney had been talking about last night; they didn't know Mr Macbane had a son until he had said, 'Me lad's comin' home. Can you set him on with me, part-time, clearing the wood?' The Macbanes seemed to be forever working: Mr Macbane worked at the pit and between times cleared the wood, and still made time to tend a vegetable garden -- there were no flowers in the Macbanes' garden -- and Mrs Macbane went out each day to work in the village. And now this mysterious son had been pressed into work too.

She noticed he was very thin and that when he bent down his lank, black hair drooped over his forehead, and that although his face was thin his head was large...

Before her startled eyes, she saw it swelling until it blotted out the sky. The next she knew was that his hand was on the back of her head, which was being pressed between her knees.

'Take a deep breath,' he said, pulling her up straight again.

She tried, but found it impossible.

'Here, here,' he exclaimed; 'pull yourself together!'

Ohl he's snappy, just like his father, she thought. Then she fell down, down into the earth, to the sound of his voice pleading, 'Great Scott! Don't pass out; pull yourself together!'

As she came round she realized she was being carried. She blinked slowly at the face close to her own, and when she felt his arms sag she became panicky, thinking: He's too thin, he can't carry me.

He hitched her closer up against him, and she closed her eyes as the blackness threatened to engulf her again.

They were out of the wood now and crossing the little wooden bridge over the stream. She knew this, for faintly she heard the loose plank go plop, plop! She wanted to be sick, and wondered if she should ask him to stop so that she could be sick over the side of the bridge.

She didn't remember passing through the orchard, or through the belt of firs, but she knew they had reached the greenhouses below the cypress hedge which bordered the side lawn when she heard Steve's startled exclamation, God! What's happened?'

With relief she felt his big arms go round her and his broad chest pillow her head. She liked Steve: he was big and safe, and he let her sit next to him in the car and put her hands on the steering wheel and pretend she was driving it. She was borne swiftly and smoothly to the house.

There was a clamour of voices about her. Summy was saying, 'Is she killed? Oh, the bairn!' Summy was nice; she made lovely cream sponges with icing and nuts on the top...There was Rodney's voice, crying, 'What on earth's happened?' Oh, her beloved Rodney's voice! That was a nice word, 'beloved'. She had only learnt it in the past few months...beloved, darling, dearest, all lovely words; the house seemed full of them. Rodney was always calling, 'Where are you, darling?' and Kate would answer, 'Here, dearest.' Those were Kate's hands on her now, moving swiftly, tenderly over her. The comfort of being near Mam -- she was putting one of Annie's lovely nighties on her. Now Rodney was saying, 'Don't worry, darling, it's just slight concussion.' She wondered vaguely what concussion was, but whatever it was Rodney would cure it, for he was a doctor.

The bed was warm and soft; she seemed to be adrift in it. Vaguely she was conscious of Kate and Rodney looking down on her. They would be standing close together and his good arm would be around her. He had two arms, but one of them wasn't much good since he had been wounded in France in 1917. It was the same with his legs: he had two of them, but one wasn't much good either. In fact, there wasn't any foot on that one. The first time she had seen the leg without the foot she had felt ill. One day she ran into their bedroom, and there was Kate helping to strap on the stiff boot to the leg that seemed to end in a post above the ankle. She had run out without speaking, and it was a long time before she could look at the trouser leg and forget what it hid.

Rodney's voice came to her, saying, 'I think I'll phone Peter. There's nothing wrong, but I'd like him to have a look at her anyway.'

For a moment, the name of Cathleen's father brought back with a painful leap the reason for her running, but she was suddenly too tired even to hate Cathleen. As she sank away, she was wishing vaguely that Rodney had never lived with the Davidsons for a year after he came back from the war, for then Cathleen wouldn't have such a claim on him.

How long had she been asleep? Annie didn't know, but it was night when she awoke. She opened her eyes slowly, to see Kate sitting by the shaded bedside lamp. Her face was half turned away and her eyes were downcast; she was reading. Still feeling too tired to speak, Annie lay watching her. Kate was wearing her rose-coloured dressing-gown which seemed to draw lights from her burnished brown hair. The skin of her cheek looked warm and creamy. Even in worn-out and threadbare clothes Kate had always appeared beautiful to Annie, but now, in the clothes that Rodney showered on her, she had taken on a beauty that Annie would never have believed possible. At times, Annie found herself watching Kate as if she were a new person, for the clothes gave her an air that was unfamiliar. She had need of Kate's arms about her, and to hear her voice and to see the kindness in her eyes, to be convinced that the wonderful clothes had made no difference. Years ago, when Kate worked at the Tolmaches' house, they had bought her a new set of clothes every Christmas. But they weren't like the clothes she wore now. These made her look...well...oh, she didn't know the word for that look, and anyway she still felt too tired to bother.

To the side of her, the door opened softly, and she closed her eyes: she didn't want to talk, or to be given anything to drink; all she wanted was to go to sleep again.

Rodney said, 'Come on, my love, you're not sitting here any longer. She's perfectly all right; she'll sleep until morning.'

Kate's answer vaguely puzzled Annie. She said, 'I've keyed myself up all day to tell her, and now this had to happen.'

Annie heard the merest whisper of a kiss, and smiled faintly to herself. It was no embarrassment to her to know that Mam and Rodney were kissing; rather, she experienced a feeling of joy for Kate, for she still remembered the long, long years after Kate had to leave the Tolmaches' to go home to look after her mother, who was sick, when her days were filled with work and washing and living in dread of her terrible father. The thought of her grandfather, although safely dead these two years and more, still had the power to make Annie shiver.

She was on the very border of sleep when further whispered words of Rodney's dragged her back, filling her with sharp envy and resentment. She listened, her body becoming stiff.

Main's words no longer puzzled her, but they were like arrows piercing her mind: Main was going to have a baby. They were wondering if Annie would like it, how she would take the news. Rodney was saying, 'Once she knows, she'll love it. It's better to tell her sooner than later.' Would she love it? How could she love it? For it would have a father: it would have Rodney for a real father. Oh, why hadn't Kate married Rodney years ago, before she was born, then all these years she wouldn't have dreaded with that sickening shame the words 'Annie Hannigan's got no da!'

On the fifth day of being in bed Annie felt quite well enough to be up, but Rodney's orders were that she was to stay there for a week. For the first two days it had been nice to lie still in a strange, untroubled state of mind, while Cathleen seemed no more real than a witch in a fairy story. As for the knowledge of the coming baby, strange even to herself was the fact that from the very morning after she had learnt of its existence, she liked the idea. But gradually the pain caused by Cathleen's treachery returned. Maybe it was not so poignant, but it was still a pain. And it stabbed anew when Kate, who was sitting by the window, said quietly, 'Who were you running away from, dear, when you fell? We found your bicycle just inside the wood gate.'

Annie answered haltingly, 'I wasn't running away from anyone, Main.'

'But you had been crying such a lot. Your face was so swollen.'

Annie lay watching, through the bed rails, the fire dancing merrily. She still watched it when Kate came and sat on the bed and took her hand. 'Was it Brian Stannard?'

'No. No, not really.'

'Then who was it? Cathleen? Was it Cathleen Davidson? Did she say something to you?'

Annie stared at her. 'How do you know, Mam? Why do you ask?'

Kate smiled quietly down on her. 'Because Cathleen doesn't like either you or me, my dear. I've been waiting for some time for something like this to happen.'

Annie felt her body sink inches into the bed with a feeling of relief. It was like being in the deep end of the pool and knowing there was a good swimmer beside you.

'What did she say? Tell me, dear, and you won't feel it half so much. Was it something about me?'

Main made things so easy; she seemed to simplify everything. Annie no longer felt alone against Cathleen, but she could tell her mother only part of what Cathleen had said. 'Cathleen...she told someone that you...well, she said you and Rodney aren't really married, because you weren't married in a Catholic church.'

It was evident to Annie that, like her, Kate had expected to hear something different, because for a moment she simply stared in surprise. Then she asked, 'Was that all?'

It wasn't all. But Annie could never put into words anything touching on the subject that, in her mind, took the form of a triangle, with Kate at one point, a man without a face at a second, and a formless thing labelled 'Shame' at the third.

This triangle had come into being on a Christmas Eve morning years ago when, realising she hadn't a father, she had decided to give herself one and picked on the doctor to fill this position.

She had told her best friend, Rosie Mullen, and Rosie had told Cissy Luck, and Cissy Luck had told her mother, and Mrs Luck had baited Kate in the street...That was a terrible Christmas Eve! No, she could never speak of this thing to Kate.

Kate was saying, 'You see, dear, Cathleen is very fond of Rodney, and she blames us for taking him away from her. So you must try and take no notice of the things she says, because it would upset Rodney if he thought there was bad feeling between you. You understand?'

'Yes, Mam.'

'After all, it is we who have Rodney, isn't it?'

'Oh yes, yes!' Annie snuggled down in the bed. Yes, they had Rodney. He was theirs now and for ever; he wasn't just 'the doctor' any more, he belonged to them. Kate was Mrs Prince, no matter what Cathleen said. Oh, if only she was called Annie Prince instead of Annie Hannigan! But she would always be Annie Hannigan, nothing could alter that. Yet when she married her name would be altered, wouldn't it? Yes, of course, when she was married. How soon could she get married, and who would she marry? Oh no, not Brian; she didn't even want to be his girl, even if she had promised...

'There then, said Kate, bending and kissing her; 'let nothing worry you. just think of the nice long Easter holiday you have. And remember, Cathleen will be leaving the convent for the art school one of these days, and then you won't be troubled with her. And when she and her family come later, treat her as if nothing has happened, will you?'

'Yes, Main.'

'And we'll say nothing to Rodney about this, will we? I mean, not being married in the Catholic Church; it would only upset him.'

Kate went out of the room, but did not immediately go downstairs. In her own room across the landing, she stood by the window, biting her lip...That little cat! To say such a thing! She had thought Annie was about to tell her that Cathleen was taunting her with not having a father; it was I just the kind of thing she would do. But to say she and Rodney were not married because the ceremony was not performed in a Catholic church was preposterous. Wasn't all the strife this subject aroused finished with yet?

She could hear again the old arguments, and Peggy Davidson saying, 'But Rodney, you can't ask Kate to be married in a registry office, she's a Catholic.'

She had tried to explain her changed views to both Peggy and Peter.

'But you don't attend any other church, do you?' Peggy said.

'No.'

'Well, then, you are still a Catholic. You know you're still a Catholic at heart, Kate, you know you are!'

No amount of talking had convinced Peggy that Kate was not still a Catholic at heart; that was the very spot where she was not a Catholic. But in her happiness Kate had allowed herself to be persuaded, and a dispensation was asked of the bishop for, Rodney not being a Catholic, this had to be granted before a mixed marriage could be solemnised in church.

It was not until she saw the revolt in Rodney, when he realised that the part required of him by the dispensation was the signing away of the spiritual liberty of any children of the marriage, that Kate knew she could not ask this of him; nor did she want it for herself. So they were married in a registry office.

Father Bailey fought to the last to make her see reason, as he put it. And he told her he was frankly amazed that she could be so unrelenting in her attitude towards the Church, yet quite willing to promise him she would do nothing to prevent Annie from remaining a Catholic. When she agreed with Annie's desire to attend the convent her decision made him scratch his head in bewilderment.

Kate had said, 'It may be the wrong religion for me, but I think it's the right one for Annie; we are not all made alike, father: we are individuals. She is happy in it, I never was; she loves the pageantry and the feeling of one large family, I never did. From an early age I rebelled against it. I cannot distribute my love or affection. I have found it must be all on one thing or person, or nothing. I must go direct to the source, so to speak, for I have found that intermediaries create a sense of frustration in me. And the Church is so full of intermediaries. But Annie seems to draw comfort and peace from them, and I'll never do anything, I promise you, to shatter that feeling. Although I sent her to a Protestant school when she was young, I never interfered with her going to church, and now she's set her heart on going to the convent I'll do nothing against it.'

Looking back on that conversation with Father Bailey, Kate felt the old sense of foreboding returning. Why was one not allowed to work out one's own salvation? Life had been hard enough, God knew, without having to fight the old battles over again. If she had chosen the wrong way, then she alone would suffer for it, for in making her choice she had not influenced Annie.

As she went downstairs she heard three hoots of a car horn from outside, and unconsciously she straightened her back and gave a lift to her chin. Mrs Summers was already at the front door, and the first person Kate saw was Cathleen. She had run up the path ahead of her mother and Michael.

Giving Kate a long stare that could have been insolent, she said, 'Hello. Where's Uncle Rodney?'

Before Kate could reply Cathleen ran past her on her way to the study. And as Kate went down the path to meet Peggy Davidson, she realised it would take a lot of self-control to prevent Cathleen from seeing just how much she annoyed her.

Copyright © 2000 by The Trustees of the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trusts

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 28, 2013

    In a way I wanted Kate Hannigan to simply end where it ended. Al

    In a way I wanted Kate Hannigan to simply end where it ended. Altho I did enjoy the sequel I still feel the same way.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Solid period piece

    In the early twentieth century in the English countryside, Annie Hannigan knows regardless of what happens in her life, she will never forget her impoverish early childhood. Her mother Kate, now married and respectable, was not so when Annie was illegitimately born in the worst of the slums. <P>Life is materially better due mostly because of Kate¿s caring spouse. When Terence Macbane begins to court Annie, she feels that life cannot get better. However, in her new Eden lies a snake, her bitterest rival Cathleen Davidson, who will do anything to keep the loving duo apart and seems to be succeeding. Only Annie can save her budding relationship if she is willing to fight for it. <P> Incredible as it seems, KATE HANNIGAN¿S GIRL is the hundredth novel by the late great Catherine Cookson. The story line provides insight into a bygone era, but not as deep or thorourghly as some of the wonderful Ms. Cookson¿s previous books. Though entertaining to the author¿s fans and those readers who relish a period piece, anyone new to this great writer should visit the library where bookshelves are dedicated to her fabulous creations for a better taste of Ms. Cookson¿s early twentieth century novels. <P>Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 2, 2013

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    Posted January 7, 2011

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