Willie froze with the branch still held high in his hand. Sweat broke out from under his armpits and across his forehead. Now he was for it. He was bound to get a beating now. Tom came towards him, took the branch firmly from his hand and lifted it up. Willie automatically flung his arm across his face and gave a cry but the blow he was expecting never came. Tom had merely thrown the branch to the other end of the graveyard and the dog had gone scampering after it.
‘Yer can take yer arm down now, boy,’ he said quietly. ‘I think you and I ‘ad better go inside and sort a few things out. Come on,’ and with that he stepped aside for Willie to go in front of him along the path.
Willie walked shakily towards the cottage, his head lowered. Through blurred eyes he saw the tufts of grass spilling up between the small flat stones. The sweat trickled down the sides of his face and chest. His armpits stung savagely and a sharp pain stabbed at his stomach. He walked through the front door and stood in the hallway, feeling the perspiration turn cold and clammy. Tom walked into the front room and stood waiting for him to enter.
‘Don’t dither out there,’ he said, ‘come on in.’
Willie did so but his body felt as if it no longer belonged to him. It seemed to move of its own accord. Tom’s voice grew more distant. It reverberated as if it was being thrown back at him from the walls of a cave. He sat down on the stool feeling numb.
Tom picked up a poker and walked across to the fire. Now he was going the get it, he thought, and he clutched tightly onto the seat of the stool. Tom looked down at him.
‘About Sammy,’ he heard him say. He watched him poke the fire and then he didn’t hear any more. He knew that Tom was speaking to him but he couldn’t take his eyes off the poker. It sent the hot coke tumbling in all directions. He saw Tom’s brown wrinkled hand lift it out of the fire. The tip was red, almost white in places. He was certain that he was going to be branded with it. The room seemed to swim and he heard both his and Tom’s voice echoing. He watched the tip of the poker spin and come closer to him and then the floor came towards him and it went dark. He felt two large hands grip him from behind and push his head between his knees until the carpet came into focus and he heard himself gasping.
Tom opened the front window and lifted him through it.
‘Breathe in deep,’ Willie heard him say. ‘Take in a good sniff.’
He took in a gulp of air. ‘I’ll be sick,’ he mumbled.
‘That’s right, go on, I’m ‘olding you. Take in a good sniff. Let yer throat open.’
Willie drank in some more air. A wave of nausea swept through him and he vomited.
‘Go on,’ he heard Tom say,’ breathe in some more,’ and he was sick again and again until there was no more left inside him and he hung limply in Tom’s arms.
Tom wiped his mouth and face with the scarf. The pain in Willie’s stomach had gone but he felt drained like a rag doll. Tom lifted him back into the cottage and placed him in his armchair. His small body sank comfortably into the old soft expanse of chair. His feet barely reached the edge of the seat. Tom tucked a blanket round him, drew up a chair by the fire and watched Willie fall asleep.
Find evidence in the text to suggest Willie is feeling scared. Why do you think this?
How do you think Willie feels about Mr Tom and why?
Write a diary entry showing Willie’s feelings.