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.’ Aled resumed his study of the docks.‘I’ve seen the captain, boss.’ Aled’s second ‘employee’, Aiden Collins, a Cuban-Irish Negro from Havana who was shorter and slighter than Freddie Leary, but somehow managed to look even more menacing, joined them.‘He’s arranged for one of the boats to be lowered at the stern of the ship before we dock.He said our papers might not pass muster with immigration.’‘They bloody well should, the money the boss paid for them and our passage,’ Freddie swore.‘We could have crossed the Atlantic in style on a cruise ship ten times over for what that captain charged.You want me to sort him for you, boss?’‘No, Freddie.I paid the going rate.A cruise ship would have wanted to see our passports and put our real names on the passenger list.’ Aled pulled his seaman’s cap down low over his face.He was dressed in a dark sweater and slacks like the other sailors on board, although he, Freddie and Aiden hadn’t done a stroke of work on the voyage.‘You told them to send our luggage on to the Windsor Hotel?’ Aled checked with Aiden.‘Yes, boss.’Aled watched dockers, women as well as men, unload potatoes from a low-lying, Irish-registered vessel on the quayside.They slung the sacks they’d filled on to their backs, staggered down the gang plank and dumped them on wooden pallets on the dockside.It brought back memories of the days he’d fought older and heavier boys for a few hours’ paid casual work after his mother had succumbed to her fatal illness.He could still recall the pain of the rope burns on his shoulders, knew how impossible it was to stand upright at the end of ten hours of back-breaking work – how it felt to be too tired to eat or even sleep.He’d believed the offer of a job on board ship with regular meals to be heaven-sent after his mother had died.Disillusionment had set in when he’d received his first whipping before the ship had even left Welsh waters.He’d come a long way in fifteen years but he had never forgotten the skinny, ragged urchin he’d been.Or the people who had turned their backs on him and his mother and allowed them both to starve, and her to die in squalor.He’d learned a lot in America: how to survive in a slum, how to rise from the bottom of the social pecking order to the top, how to make money – and use the power it bestowed.He’d also learned the value of fear and, most important of all, how to stay one step ahead of the law.If he hadn’t left America when he had, he, Freddie, and Aiden might well have ended up in Alcatraz.Fortunately for all three of them, he’d amassed enough money to pay their passage and settle anywhere in the world.Only one reason had drawn him back to Wales – revenge.Unlike fifteen years ago, he now had enough money to buy whatever he needed to destroy the people who had tried to destroy him – and succeeded in destroying his mother.* * *The crowds lining the pavements in Bute Street heard the carnival procession long before the first of the floats rounded the corner and came into view.Two palomino horses, their golden manes and tails braided with red and black ribbons, pulled an open cart.A broomstick-suspended banner above the driver’s seat spelled out ‘GOLDMAN’S BAKERY: THE MIDAS TOUCH’ in shimmering gold foil letters on a black background.‘As usual, our Edyth’s being over-optimistic.I’ve seen her shop’s accounts.’ Edyth’s brother, Harry Evans, slipped his arm around his wife Mary’s shoulders to protect her from the people who were jostling forward in hope of gaining a better view.‘The bakery is making money, isn’t it?’ Mary asked in concern.‘Edyth only bought it six months ago; it’s early days,’ Harry answered evasively.Like his parents, sisters and brother, Harry had assumed that Edyth would return to their parents’ house in Pontypridd when her husband had abandoned her in Cardiff’s Butetown after only a few weeks of married life.Instead, she had astounded them all by emptying her bank account of her childhood savings and negotiating an overdraft with a bank which had enabled her to buy the bakery in Bute Street.She had kept the name ‘Goldman’ because everyone in the area was familiar with it.And playing on the ‘Gold’ part of the name, she had taken down the canvas back and sides of her delivery cart and transformed it into a glittering tableau.Edyth, Moody, and Jamie were crammed side by side on the seat behind the horses.The boys were dressed in floor-length gold cloaks that matched Edyth’s frock, and all three wore foil crowns studded with wine-gum ‘jewels’ and gold make-up.Moody and Edyth were holding gold baskets and tossing paper cornets from them to the children lining the pavements.Behind them in the body of the cart, the Bute Street Blues Band, dressed in gold rayon suits, gold make-up, and shiny gold boaters, with the exception of Judy who was dressed in an identical frock to Edyth’s, were belting out a rousing rendition of ‘On the Sunny Side of the Street’.Judy’s voice rose, husky and true, above those of the children who marched on either side of the cart, dressed in green, their small faces framed by yellow crepe paper ‘sunflower’ petals.Mary’s brother David lifted Harry and Mary’s toddler daughter on to his shoulders, held her hands to steady her and stared mesmerised at Edyth.‘I hope that gold paint comes off easily,’ Mary observed practically.‘If it doesn’t they’ll all be looking odd for a while.’Harry glanced at David before waving to Edyth to attract her attention.‘Isn’t that the band that played at your sister’s wedding, Harry?’ Mary asked when the float drew alongside them.‘Yes, there’s Judy and Micah Holsten.’ Harry shouted a greeting, but his voice was lost in the music and the buzzing of a jazz band of young girls, led by two drum majorettes that followed the cart.‘Look, Ruthie darling, Auntie Edyth’s seen you.’ Harry caught his daughter’s hand.‘Sweets for the sweet.’ Edyth tossed half a dozen cornets towards her niece but all six were scooped up by young boys before either Harry or David could catch one.‘I’ll keep one for you, Ruth,’ Edyth called out as the cart passed.Harry cupped his hands around his mouth.‘See you in Loudoun Square, sis.’Edyth nodded to show him she’d understood.Micah leaned over the side of the cart and played a few bars of the saxophone just for Ruth, before the procession moved on.It wasn’t until the jazz band had been supplanted by another float that David realised Ruth was imitating the noise the ‘sunflowers’ had made by blowing into their paper ‘trumpets’.‘Bit noisier than the farm, isn’t it, Ruthie?’ he murmured absently, staring at Edyth’s back.The crowd shifted, clearing a space around them.Harry handed their six-month-old son to Mary, lifted his daughter from David’s shoulders and set her on his own.‘Sweeps.’ Ruth struggled to free her hands from her father’s but Harry kept a firm grip on both of them.‘If what they say about it being lucky to have a sweep cross your path is true, we’ll have more than our fair share of good fortune today, Ruth,’ said Mary with a smile.A coal cart pulled by a pair of black shire horses had been transformed into a Victorian chimney sweeps’ tableau.Small boys in ragged, coal-blackened trousers and shirts, holding flat-topped brushes and wearing top hats fashioned from black crepe paper and cardboard were clustered around a chimney, which, judging from its cracked and sorry state, had been scavenged from a scrap yard.Two lines of adolescent girls in grass skirts and flower-decked blouses danced alongside the cart, shaking home-made maracas made from tins filled with stones.‘That costume looks a bit draughty even for summer,’ Harry commented, when a gust of wind sent the strands dancing, revealing the bathing costumes the girls were wearing underneath [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]