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Tag: WWI

A Box of Tittle-Tattle

Tin Box1914. The date, printed on a tin box got our attention. One supposes it could be an error of some sort, the date being one-hundred years in the future, but given the odd goings on at Vauxhall last week and at the Marquess of Dansbury’s estate—blue lights and claims of travel to distant times—your Teatime Tattler staff believes the date is correct. Besides, it purports to hold tobacco from “Princess Mary’s Christmas Fund,” and who, pray tell, is Princess Mary?

What was inside, once we pried it open, however, was not tobacco. A folded sheet of paper, oddly yellowed, lay in it. When unfolded (carefully so as not to damage the brittle pages) the text turned out to be in French. Luckily, the Tattler staff was up to the task of translating.

Amiens, Christmas 1916

Dear Aunt Lumina,
The family sends greetings of the holy season along with our hope that those of you in Marseilles, far from the pounding of the guns, fare well and have plenty to eat.

We eke by here in Picardy, with fighting all around. In spite of it all the Christmas market went on in front of the Cathedral as it has in the past. If the booths held fewer goods, the cheer made up for it. The people of the city hold on to hope and (with a few exceptions) good morale.

Tin Box

Rosemarie Legrand

I regret to tell you that one exception is your niece by marriage Sabine Legrand. Even you must know she has ever been a bitter woman and the war has not softened her. I often thought the Good Lord chose to withhold the blessing of motherhood from her lest she inflict her misery on a child. Her jealousy of her poor sister in law Rosemarie—obvious for years—became a river of bile after the birth of little Marcel.

As you know Raoul Legrand died at the hands of the Germans last year, leaving Rosemarie in poverty and at the mercy of his sister. She was forced to move to her father’s cabin in the Floating Islands. Sabine would have us believe that that Rosemarie collaborated with German soldiers, selling her body for food and money. I could almost forgive a mother desperate to feed her son for doing something of that sort, but I find it difficult to believe Sabine. Bernard says Raoul made similar accusations in the taverns during his last leave. He told anyone who would listen that the German boy found dead among the Islands was Rosemarie’s lover. I don’t know what to believe.

Harry Wheatly, her Canadian soldier

Since the Christmas Market Sabine has taken up a different story. We all saw Rosemarie and Marcel walking about with a Canadian soldier who bought sweet cakes for the boy and his mother. Rosemarie certainly couldn’t afford them herself. Sabine tries to make this something dirty and scandalous. I refuse to listen to her.

The British, Canadian, and Australian troops stationed along the Somme have been kind in our dealings with them. One of them gave my Papa the enclosed box still half full of tobacco after commandeering use of his farm wagon to haul supplies. Papa as you know does not use tobacco. He asked me to send it on to Uncle Herbert.

Pray for us in Picardy, particularly for poor mothers such as Rosemarie Legrand struggling to survive long enough to see this war end. I hope she finds joy with her Canadian soldier, if only to spite Sabine. She deserves a crumb of happiness.

My love to the rest of the family,
Josephine

We at the Tattler hope so too.


 

 

About Never Too Late

Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t. Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday and More Anthology.
It’s Never Too Late to find love!

Click here for a list of retailers and to find out about each story.

Click here to climb into the Bluestocking Belle’s Time Machine and hop through time with the Bluestocking Belles.

Caroline Warfield’s contribution, “Roses in Picardy” takes place in 1916

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About the Author

 Caroline Warfield has been many things. Now retired to the urban wilds of Eastern Pennsylvania, she divides her time between writing and seeking adventures with her grandbuddy and the prince among men she married. Her new series sends the children of the heroes of her earlier books to seek their own happiness in the far-flung corners of the British Empire

 

Why Harry Went to War

Ottawa, September 1914

William Wheatly glared at his only son through a haze of smoke. He struggled to keep from covering his nose and mouth, assaulted by the stench of stale beer and unwashed bodies. During the interminable train ride from Calgary to the capital Will envisioned their confrontation, but he never imagined he would find him puking in a third rate tavern. He came to confront failing grades, not drunkenness.

He took two steps forward, rage washing through him. The whelp had no idea the sacrifices it took to send him to university. The whole family did without, made do, and reused just to pin their hopes on Harry, a slacker who obviously had more hair than sense.

“What the Hell do you think you are doing?” He roared at his son. The boy lifted his head, gave a wobbly smile and planted his face on the filthy table.

“Mr. Wheatly! Harry wasn’t expecting you.”

Will shot a furious glance at the speaker, a boy he vaguely remembered from Harry’s visit home the previous summer. “Obviously not,” he ground out through clenched teeth. “I can see why he’s failing at least.”

WWIThe boy—he thought his name was Brodie, but couldn’t remember clearly—sat up straight. “No sir! Harry is no drunkerd. At least it isn’t—I mean…”

“What exactly do you mean, Mr.—Brodie, is it?”

“Yes sir, Angus Brodie. Harry’s ever a good fellow. Don’t drink—well beyond the occasional pint, it’s just Miss Albright, you see.”

“Albright? Who the Hell is she?”

Brodie registered shock. “Everyone knows Elsbeth Albright!”

wwi“The chit in the papers? The one that is marrying the Governor General’s nephew? What does she have to do with my son?” Will demanded.

“Led him on. Harry thought—he may be a damned fool, but she flirted with him all winter and he believed—that is…”

A kind of peace came over Will. Better a fool over a woman than over a bottle of rum, he thought. Harry isn’t the first boy whose first love broke his heart. “Well, that’s over then,” he murmured.

‘Yes, Sir, though between us, I don’t think it ever really started except in Harry’s mind.

Will nodded. “Help me get him out of here Brodie, there’s a good man.”

“To his rooms, then?”

Will thought about that. If they took him to his rooms he’d have to leave him there. “No,” he said at last. “To the Chateau Laurier.”

Brodie’s eyes widened at that but he didn’t argue. He pulled Harry up with remarkable gentleness and put an arm around his shoulders.

###

wwiHarry awoke with a sick stomach and a head full of carpenters pounding hammers in his brain. Why did I wake at all? He wondered. A voice, calling his name, sounded far away. It was a man’s voice, not Elsbeth’s. At the thought of her he squeezed his eyes shut. He didn’t want to wake up ever again.

“Harry, damn it, wake up! It’s almost noon.”

There it was again. He opened one eye and then the other on the last sight he hoped to see. His father scowled down at him.

An hour, a bath, and two cups of coffee later he stared back at his father in sullen silence, He had stopped listening to the lecture an hour before.

“Don’t be a damned fool. A woman like that never planned to take you seriously. She used you to practice her games and snares.”

Harry surged to his feet. “You don’t know her,” he shouted. “It wasn’t her. It was that damned father of hers. Wants to cozy up to the Governor General. Thinks the rest of us are dirt under his feet. Elsbeth isn’t like him.” Harry wished he believed it a bit more strongly. He very much feared his father may be right.

“We didn’t send you here to chase women. How are you going to get into law school?”

“I don’t want to be lawyer!” Harry snapped.

“What do you plan to do with yourself? Be the best educated farmer in Saskatchewan?”
“I want to be a writer. You don’t need university for that. Elsbeth said—”
“Don’t mention that woman’s name to me again. Bad enough she’s queening it all over Ottawa.”

Harry turned on his heel.

“Where are you going?” his father demanded when he strode toward the door.

“I don’t know. Anywhere but here.”

###

wwiIt was long past dark when Harry returned, sober, safe, and unsmiling. Relief so strong he couldn’t even be angry flooded Will. Visions of Harry flinging himself into the Rideau locks had haunted him all afternoon.

“Harry, thank God. Where have you been?”

“I enlisted.” Harry raised his chin and glared at his father, daring him to criticize.

Ice froze Will’s heart. Canada had technically been at war since August when Britain entered the war, but little war frenzy had reached Saskatchewan. Here in the capital, however he had seen posters, and newspapers. He’d heard the beligerant language in the hotel lobby. “Enlisted,” he gasped, hoping he had misheard.

“Borden is calling for an expeditionary force to fight the Kaiser. I’m going to do my bit.” The boy’s chin rose a bit higher. “Don’t try to argue me out of it. I signed. There is no going back. We report to Valcartier for training in three weeks.”

Three weeks? Will’s heart sank. “You damned fool. If you’re determined to throw your life away over some chit who never was worth a Yankee dollar, go ahead. But before you go you better go home and say good-bye to your mother and grandmother.”

Harry turned green. “But I—”

“You owe them that much. It isn’t as if you have any university career to resurrect.”

Harry opened his mouth to object and closed it. His eyes held a world of sadness that cut his father to the quick. He nodded then. “I’ll go. But you can’t stop me. I’m going to fight.”

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About the Book

Never Too Late: Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday Anthology. It’s never too late for love!

Links to Various Retailers

About Roses in Picardy by Caroline Warfield

After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry is out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier.

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