The Girl From World’s End

The Girl From World’s End
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When tragedy strikes, there’s only one place she can go…A captivating debut from a born storyteller.When 8-year-old Mirren Gilchrist is orphaned after a tragic accident, she is sent to live with her estranged relatives deep in the Yorkshire Dales. She struggles to fit in, her town ways a mystery to the country children.One day, fleeing school – and the cane – she takes refuge from a fierce snowstorm in the ruins of a stone cottage. Legend has it that World's End is haunted but Mirren has finally found somewhere she can call home and her love affair with this magical place begins.It's the place she falls in love with Jack, the place she secretly hopes will one day become their very own. But the Second World War arrives and everything is thrown into turmoil. Jack returns from leave a changed man – violent and uncaring, a cruel streak shining though.Mirren struggles to cope with the transformed Jack and new motherhood. Then tragedy strikes and history looks set to repeat itself. Is heartache here to stay or can Mirren find solace and inspiration in the only place she has ever felt truly safe?

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The Girl From World’s End

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.


A division of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF

First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2007

Copyright © Leah Fleming 2007

Leah Fleming asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins ebooks

HarperCollinsPublishers has made every reasonable effort to ensure that any picture content and written content in this ebook has been included or removed in accordance with the contractual and technological constraints in operation at the time of publication

Source ISBN: 9781847560063

Ebook Edition © 2009 ISBN: 9780007334957 Version: 2018-06-19

In memory of Kathleen, who loved these hills.

…grief has no wings. She is the unwelcome lodger that squats on the hearthstone between us and the fire and will not be moved…

Arthur Quiller-Couch

Armistice Day Sermon, November 1927

West Riding of Yorkshire, 1926

A girl of about eight sat swinging her legs to and fro to keep them from going numb, watching the sky growing dark above. The weak December sun dipped behind the high moor and soon the cobbled streets would be crusted with frost. When was Father going to come out of the Green Man and take her home? The church clock had struck half-past four. Soon the mill hooter would buzz across the rooftops and the clatter of clogs would deafen the streets.

It had been a grand afternoon: one of the good days when Paddy Gilchrist woke up by himself, whistling and promising her a ride on a tram to Bradford to look in the shop windows and hear the Christmas brass bands. They had got as far as the park, where he’d pushed her on the swings and slides, but then they’d made a detour through the back streets of Scarperton.

‘I’ll not be a minute, Mirren. Time for my medicine–just a wee nip to keep me warm,’ he laughed, his dark eyes pleading as he saw the little blue ribbon on her coat lapel and the wince of disapproval on her face.

She was proud of that badge and the signed certificate from the Band of Hope that said not a drop of liquor would ever pass the lips of Miriam Ellen Gilchrist.

‘Don’t be long,’ she pleaded, trying not to pout as her lips trembled. ‘You promised me a ride up to town.’

‘Aye, I know, lassie, but you don’t begrudge yer dad a little comfort now, do you? You sit tight and I’ll buy you some sweeties when I’ve had my snifter.’

She had sat on this bench so many times, dreading that the father who went in standing would be the one who’d come out on all fours. The Green Man was that sort of pub.

Paddy and Mirren didn’t live alone. There was a master in their rooms: one who ruled over them night and day, whose presence lurked like a ghost in the corner of the compartments of the disused railway carriage that was now their home. He was a magician, full of piss and wind and wild schemes, who could turn her dad into John Barleycorn, the drunken sot who needed a guiding hand to round the corners on his way home, knocking folk off the pavement as he sang out of tune at the top of his voice. Sometimes she opened the latch and he fell through the door, stiff like a board.

John Barleycorn had stale breath and leaking pants. He stole her father’s hard-earned wage and the food from their table, shaming her before school pals playing in the street, who would look up and snigger as she and her demon-possessed father wound their way down the ginnels from the pub, Mirren staggering under the weight of him. She worshipped her father–he was tall, handsome and strong–but she hated John Barleycorn, the drinker who was so weak and silly.

Demon Drink was not like the pantomime devil with horns and a forked tale, all red and black, shouting from a stage, or the wily tempter from the pages of her Sunday school prize book, with forked tongue and goatee beard. He came and went for no reason.

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