Beware of Beryl! [1978]

  • Beware of Beryl!–  Emma:  #32 (30 September 1978) – #43 (16 December 1978)
  • Reprinted –  Mandy: #933 (1 December 1984) – #944 (16 February 1985)
  • Artist: Carlos Freixas
  • Abridged version reprinted as ‘Mijn vriendin Agaath’ (My friend Agaath) –  Tina (1983)
  • Reprinted as ‘Bang voor Beryl!’ (Afraid of Beryl!) – Debbie Groot Mysterieboek 48 (1985)


On a stormy night a girl collapses in front of film star, Maria Moore’s house. Maria takes her in and the girl claims to have lost her memory, so Maria calls her Beryl due to the beryl stone on the pendant that she is wearing. The kindly Maria insists she can stay and they will help her, although her Aunt Hilda is immediately suspicious that “Beryl” may be a schemer trying to take advantage of Maria’s celebrity status. Maria trusts Beryl doesn’t know about her fame as she believes her memory loss story, but by the end of the first episode, the reader gets to see Beryl’s true thoughts and find that Aunt Hilda is right and Beryl is planning to use Maria to get fame and fortune.

While Maria believes she has found a true friend, Beryl must keep on her toes as Aunt Hilda is trying to prove she is a fraud. Hilda gets a psychiatrist, Dr Perlman, to come visit in the guise of helping Beryl recover her memory, but Beryl faints before she can be questioned, and at the doctor’s next visit she is prepared and puts on a great act. She also pretends to be shocked when she finds out Maria is a film star, but she still can’t fool Hilda. Beryl moves onto the next stage of her plan while visiting a film set with Maria. She stirs up trouble pretending one of the background actors said something nasty, and Maria insists Beryl replaces her in the scene.

When Maria takes Beryl on a trip it seems there may be trouble as the man renting out boats claims to know Beryl, but Beryl genuinely doesn’t recognize him and wonders if Aunt Hilda has set up a trap for her. It does seem Dave knows something about Beryl, as he claims to have met her while staying with his cousin in Brimlington, a place where Beryl stayed briefly but she keeps her cool and pretends that she wants to investigate this new clue to her past. Then she schemes to get rid of Dave by placing jewellery in his room, she convinces them not to press charges but Dave leaves. She was right Aunt Hilda was behind the scheme, trying to trip Beryl after she had found a bus ticket for Brimlington in Beryl’s belongings. Beryl not knowing how she knew that detail is a little nervous how Hilda found out some of her past but still keeps one step ahead of her.

Maria introduces Beryl to more film industry people at a party, Beryl is able to charm everyone, and when Maria gets ill she is able to take advantage and convince the film director to let her stand in as the shots aren’t close-ups. Aunt Hilda is still working on exposing Beryl, and now that she has the clue that she was in Brimlington, she has invited Dr. Perlman back to do some more questioning. Beryl is a bit unsettled by this when Dr Perlman asks her to say the first word that comes to mind when she hears family she replies “sister”. She plays up to Maria that she feels like there is something bad in her past and thats why trying to remember is upsetting her. Against Hilda’s wishes Maria tells Dr Perlman his services are no longer required. But Hilda won’t be deterred so easily and surprises the girls with a woman claiming to be Beryl’s mother. She is not her mother but Beryl can’t prove it unless she reveals she has her memories. Beryl runs away from the house and pretends to fall down the cliff path which causes her to regain her memories. She tells a sob story with some truth to it, that her parents died and she lives with her sister  Dilys (she is named Sharon in the reprint), but that Dilys doesn’t care for her and mistreats her.

Again Maria trusts Beryl’s version of events and at the same time Beryl is keeping Maria, away from other people on set so she only has her friendship to rely on. Hilda is still investigating she collaborates Beryl’s story that her parents died and she was sent to her sister, Dilys to live but there was trouble between the sisters. Hilda confesses that she’s checked up on Beryl’s story and assures her that she needn’t go back to her horrid sister. Beryl finally thinks she as fooled the older lady but Hilda is actually playing Beryl at her game, lulling her into false security so she can continue her investigation without Beryl knowing. Hilda goes to Dilys and finds she is not how Beryl depicted her and she sees Beryl’s room covered in Maria’s pictures. Beryl is shocked when her and Maria return home from a shopping trip only to be confronted by Hilda and Dilys. Dilys has Beryl’s scrapbook that shows all the information Beryl had collected on Maria. Maria is of course upset. While at first Beryl is mad a t Hilda for ruining her chance at fame, her guilty conscience does start appear that night, unable to sleep she takes a walk and finds that a fire has broken out in the house. She wakes the others but Maria’s door is locked and she does not answer the shouts. Beryl breaks into the room and rescues Maria putting her own life at risk. While Maria is not hurt, Beryl ends up badly burned. Beryl refuses visitors though weeks later as she recovers, Maria comes pretending to be a  hospital volunteer, Beryl’s eyes are still bandaged, she asks the volunteer to help her pen an apology letter to Maria. Then Maria reveals her identity and says she forgives Beryl.  Some months later when Beryl is fully recovered, she is pleased to be able to have a second chance with her friend and sister and is determined to make her own way win or lose.


It’s quite a dramatic opening with the rain-soaked mysterious girl making her way to a house in a storm, only to collapse at the doorstep. While Beryl’s true intentions could have been made ambiguous by the end of the first episode her motivations are revealed to the reader. The real tension from the story comes from Aunt Hilda and Beryl trying to outwit each other. Beryl is  presented as a manipulative and opportunistic character who is always one step of Hilda, she would certainly make a good actress as she fools a lot of people and is quick to adapt, thinking on her feet. Carlos Freixas is an artist who does well drawing such duplicitous characters (like such characters in Wendy’s Web and Sharon’s Secret Sister). He also does well capturing the dramatic scenery like the aforementioned opening panel and the fire in the concluding episode.

Aunt Hilda does make a formidable opponent for Beryl, she is ready to point out anything that doesn’t add up with Beryl’s story, she sets up people like Dave and the fake mother to try and catch her out and  investigates any potential clues that she gets about Beryl’s past. When finally Beryl is caught out, she thinks of Hilda as a battleaxe just trying to stop her ambitions, when Hilda tells her what she did was not to bring Beryl down but only to protect Maria, it must give Beryl something to think about, as that night is the first time we see her start to feel guilty about her actions.

While Beryl has spent her time keeping Maria isolated, and it is revealed she had an unhealthy obsession with her, it seems  their time spent together developed part of a true friendship. Of course after such betrayal only such a dramatic action, getting gravely burned in order to save Maria’s life earns Maria’s forgiveness. It is the start of Beryl’s redemption, and that she doesn’t even try to use this event to worm herself back into Maria’s good graces, instead it is Maria who seeks her out, this shows she has changed her ways.


3 thoughts on “Beware of Beryl! [1978]

  1. This story was reprinted twice in the Netherlands. The first time was as a serial that was edited down to 31 pages in Tina in 1983. It was then called ‘Mijn vriendin Agaath’ (My friend Agaath). The second time was the complete 36 page story in Debbie Groot Mysterieboek 48 in 1985 as ‘Bang voor Beryl!’ (Afraid of Beryl!).
    I have always liked this story.

  2. The reader doesn’t even have to look at the last panel of the first episode to know Beryl is trouble. The title, the first thing they would see, would tell them all they need to know!

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