Silent Illness (A Four Marys Story)

  • Silent Illness – Bunty (PSL): #439 (1997)B439_silent_illness
  • Artist: Jim Eldridge


A Four Marys story where Cotty catches a viral infection which causes her to lose her hearing. Her parents want to send her away to a special school to cope, but with the Marys support, Cotty convinces them that she can stay on at St. Elmos. The girls start to study sign language, Cotty learns to lip read, the school changes the tv to have subtitles and Creef makes sure to write things on the board. Mabel and Veronica are also eager to help out as they feel responsible as Veronica purposely sneezed on Cotty. They are unconvinced when the Marys tell them its completely unrelated. Even though the snobs are being friendly and trying to help, they end up causing more trouble for Cotty. Veronica tunes Cotty’s violin before a concert causing great embarrassment to Cotty, who can’t hear its out of tune. They also annoy Cotty to an extent, that she insists she can go meet the others on her own. This is bad luck as a fire drill goes off while she is on her own.


Of course Cotty’s parents arrive and are not happy; if it was a real fire Cotty could have been killed. So Cotty has to leave. The new girl that takes her place is Mary Smith, and though its not the same as old times, the girls do get along well with Smithy and they start their usual adventures, rescuing puppies and fundraising.  Just when things seem to be settling in Smithy’s father gets a job in Australia and she has to move. The Marys are disappointed and worried about who her replacement will be. They are surprised to find Cotty back. Turns out the deafness was just temporary. The snobs are dismissive of her taking advantage, so back to their old ways and everything is back to normal.


This is one of the many PSL books the Marys were featured in. There was about 15 of these PSL stories. This was also a book with a Four Marys symbol, that was used before but not regularly, the last 3 Four Marys PSL books all had this symbol.


Interestingly Cotty nearly leaves St. Elmos for a music academy in another story in the weekly issues. She is also replaced by a girl called Mary but she isn’t as nice as Smithy is in this story. In fact she becomes friends with the snobs. It could have been interesting to see one of the Marys replaced permanently, though shocking as well! Smithy doesn’t get much time for characterisation but appears to fit in well with the group


Cotty seems to pick up lip reading quickly which can’t  be that easy. Also  lip reading is made harder that phonemes can often be visually the same. Adjusting to a new disability would take more time than depicted in this story, but it is nice to see the effort the girls and the school make, to help with the adjustment. The snobs trying to be nice is amusing, they are even happy when Smithy joins up. It’s a story that concentrates a lot on the girls friendships, and even if the snobs make things difficult, there is no antagonist here. Strangely, even though it is Cotty that is having to adapt to her new life, the story is shown more from the other Marys perspective. There is the time where Cotty decides she has enough of Mabel and Veronica and goes to practice music on her own, but other than that it’s mainly the other girls  making the effort to ensure Cotty is settling back in and then getting used to Cotty being gone.  Of course, everything is back to the status quo by the end of the story.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.