Extract from the Chapter Sarah the Thief
The following Saturday, the day was fine, and the boys decided to look at the winter pond to see how it had survived being iced up for so long. It had reduced in size and by Easter, it would have dried up for the summer. They discovered that it was full of frog spawn, and they knew that if the pond dried up, all the little tadpoles would die. So, I suggested to them to get a bucket, and some jam jars, and to collect all the spawn and place it in the pond near the Derries. The Derries was a marshy fen close to the bog, and each year it teamed with wetland wildlife. It would be a haven for this doomed frogspawn. Tom and Packy busied themselves gathering up the slippery jelly into jars, and then into the bucket. I told them to make sure every piece of jelly was to be accounted for. I tugged Joe’s sleeve and beckoned him to come with me out of earshot of his two younger brothers. I told him about my conversation with Meg, and her position on the matter, and how it might help Dad in his recovery.
I decided to tell him then about Dad’s plan to take us back to Scotland. Joe was horrified when he heard this.
‘What!’ he exclaimed.
‘Keep quiet, will you? I don’t want the others to know.’
‘Why are you telling me then? I don’t want to go to Scotland…’
‘Stop! I don’t want to talk about that now, but I’ll kill you if you tell the other boys.’
‘Why are you telling me all this?’
‘Because Dad will not get better unless the body is found!’
‘He’s doing fine!’
‘Yeah, he’s getting better on the outside, but not on the inside. If she is recovered, at least he will know that she rests in peace, and that she is with God.’
‘Mam is with God, isn’t she?’ asked Joe.
‘Of course, she is, but if she is missing, he doesn’t know whether she is alive or dead. If she is alive, he will be wondering if she is well, and wondering why she never comes home. If she is dead, at least he’ll know that she died because of her illness.’
Joe hesitated for a moment, reflecting on what I had said. Between being told about Scotland, and me bringing the whole subject of Mam’s disappearance back again, he was confused. He turned one of the buckets we had, upside down and sat on it. With that Packy came running to me, followed by Tom.
‘Is Joe alright?’ he asked.
‘He’s fine,’ I replied.
‘Why is he sitting like that on the bucket?’
‘Have you gathered up all those tadpoles yet?’ I asked changing the subject.
‘Yeah, we nearly have them all.’
‘I’ll tell you what, will you take the last few out and get Tom to go with you. I have something private to talk to Joe about. It’s adult stuff.’
‘You’re not an adult yet……
‘Packy will you do what you’re told,’ I said rather crossly. ‘I said we will follow you in a few minutes.’
‘All right then,’ he said, and went back to the pond to join Tom, grumbling something under his breath.
Joe looked up and stared at me for a moment. I didn’t know what he was going to say.
‘What do you want me to do?’ he asked.
‘I want you to help me get the key from Pat’s house and move the body at night.’
‘I don’t want to do all that again, not ever. No way Sarah! I had nightmares for a long time after that night.’
‘Well if Dr Sullivan decides that Dad is not able to take care of us, he will take the three of you away from me, and I might never see you again.’
‘I don’t want to do it Sarah. Please!’
‘Well, you are, whether you like it or not. I can’t do it on my own. I don’t want to put the younger boys through it all again.’
‘So, poor old muggins here has to do it.’
‘You are older Joe. You are thirteen now, you are not a child anymore.’
‘Please don’t ask me to do this, Sarah. I don’t want to do it really.’
‘Well if you don’t I’ll do it myself, without your help.’
‘What’s all this about Scotland again?’
‘I’m not telling you because you won’t help me.’
‘You mean you will do it?
‘What choice do I have, you will keep at me till I agree, and I don’t want to go to Scotland.’