“How could you even think such a thing?” Gertrude asked. But she was not really cross with Mum. “I know right from wrong. I would never do that to you or Marcus.”
Marcus stood up then and went and wrapped his arms around his sister. Tears were running down his cheeks. “I’m so relieved, Gertrude. I just didn’t know what to do.”
Mum stood up then and encircled both her children in her arms. The three of them hugged each other.
“I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, Marcus. I’ve always taught you right from wrong and then, when you tried to tell me something unpleasant, I refused to believe you.”
Marcus smiled and wiped his eyes. He felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
“I’ll have to phone the police and tell them everything I know,” Gertrude said sadly. “I can’t allow Jonathan to get away with this.” She took out her cellphone and started dialling.
Later that same night Jonathan was arrested at his home. The driver of the getaway car was also arrested. She was a woman. She had once worked for a bank, but had been fired after a large amount of money had gone missing. She and Jonathan had robbed numerous banks together.
He had also told that woman he was going to marry her, just as he had told Gertrude. Jonathan was a chancer, smooth talking and charming. He had told many lies and fooled lots of people.
After testifying against Jonathan, Gertrude came home for a while. The hotel where she worked had given her a few weeks off. Everybody was very impressed with the way she had handled everything. Mum fussed over her and made her all her favourite foods. Gertrude was quiet though. Sometimes she looked terribly sad.
One evening when she was sitting propped up in bed, reading a novel, Marcus knocked on her door and came inside. Gertrude smiled at him, but Marcus realised the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“I’m sorry, sis,” he said and sat down on the chair beside her bed.
“There is nothing for you to be sorry about, Marcus,” she said sternly to him. “I’m very proud of you. You did the right thing. I’ll be okay.”
Slowly Marcus nodded his head. “Did you love Jonathan very much?”
“Yes,” she said softly. “That is the hardest past. I would have done anything for him. Well – except rob a bank,” she tried to joke. “But life must go on, Marcus. Soon I’ll return to my job in the city.”
Marcus nodded his head. “You’re very brave, Gertrude.”
“Thank you, brother. Now I have a bone to pick with you. When I was helping Mum clean out the hall cupboard I noticed your soccer ball hidden in there. Why haven’t you been using it?”
“I…” Marcus didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to tell Gertrude that he thought the ball had been bought with stolen money.
“I bought that ball with my own hard earned money,” Gertrude said, as if reading his thoughts. “Why don’t you go and fetch it and I’ll come outside and kick the ball around with you. There’s this guy I know at the hotel who’s just as crazy as you are about soccer. When I get back to the city I can show him I can play soccer just as well as any man.”
“You’re on, sis!” Marcus shouted happily, jumping up and running from the room to fetch his soccer ball.
* * *
Tell us what you think: What will happen next in Gertrude’s life?