Not sure what was going on, Mary closed the window and pulled the curtains shut. She was overwhelmed with sadness and guilt as she walked to the door. Bad memories caught Mary’s shaking hands on the door. A peal of sweat began to appear around the face. The widow, a beautiful woman of 35 years old with blonde hair arranged in a knot, panted heavily, imagining the worst.
My God, what’s wrong with me? Am I imagining things out of the world? Mary thought as she struggled with the knob, trying to open it. She pled to God for guidance while looking up to the ceiling. But it never appeared. Mary returned to the sofa and broke into tears. After ten to fifteen minutes she composed herself after sitting down. Mary came to the door when voices came from downstairs. She was rather curious and wanted to check out.
The passing of Mary’s husband, Alfred, at the Marne battle left the Hopkins family with a great loss. Two teenaged sons, Peter and Henry and one ten-year-old daughter, Kathleen, helped their mother deal with the tragedy themselves. Despite the loss of their father and husband, the family avoided poverty through investments made by Alfred who worked as a vice president of a bank. When the Great War began on 4 August 1914, Alfred decided to join the Army to fight for King and Country. Two years later, he lost his life due to shrapnel hitting him on the head, causing him to fell to the ground.
Thinking about the tragic events caused Mary to grieve more. After a while, she descended down the stairs, humming a popular wartime tune, Keeping the Home Fires Burning. The front hall was welcomed with numerous bouquets scattered across the room. Mary stood in the center, contemplating the tranquility. Mr. Johnston, the butler came out of the backstairs door, carrying a note on a salver. He bowed to his mistress.
“Good morning, ma’am,” Mr. Johnston said. “I have a message from your brother. He’s at the War Ministry and will be home shortly. Anything else I can do for you?”
Mary shook her head and took the message on the salver. She scanned it briefly and returned it to the salver. Mary knew that Peter, her younger brother was working at the War Ministry as a counselor to the Minister of War. He lost his wife, Angela of fifteen years to the dreadful Spanish flu in September 1918. They had two children, one 18-year-old son attending Oxford and an 8-year-old girl staying at home with a governess. The house had 5 children in all and both Mary and Peter had to master the responsibility of raising them. Mary sighed and looked at her black dress, still six inches from the floor, representing the new style of late 1918.
“No, thank you, Johnston,” Mary replied.
“Very well, ma’am. May I leave now?” the butler asked.
“Of course, you may go. Thank you very much.”
The butler bowed and took the cue. Mary marched to the sitting room to reflect on the strange events outside 152 Eaton Place, her and Peter’s home. She took one of the magazines from a small table and went to a sofa. Mary leaned back, flapping through the pages of Women’s Weekly for an article to read. The clock above the fireplace showed 11:00 a.m.
“Johnston, the war is over! Can you get the servants downstairs to the front door?” Peter’s voice echoed in the front hall. Mary’s head jerked from the magazine, causing her to be surprised.
Mary put the magazine away and rose to open the door. She saw a deliriously happy Peter hug Cook, Paula and Katie, the two housemaids. Mary was both embarrassed and shocked at the spontaneous sight. She tiptoed behind Peter, causing the housemaids to curtsey fast before their disapproving mistress. Johnston was rather restrained in controlling his happiness at the happy news. He stood near the backstairs door.
“Sorry about your brother hugging us. Have you heard the news?” Katie asked nervously.
“The war’s over, ma’am. Aren’t you happy for all of us?”
Mary looked at the happy servants in shell shock and felt light-headed. Peter sensed that his older sister was near fainting and crossed to help her from fainting. Mary collapsed before Peter, bursting into tears.
“My God, Is it true that the war is over?” Mary sobbed as she held Peter’s arms.
“Yes, sister. We’re at peace at last. Do get up and we’ll have champagne to toast to Peace. Johnston, would you get a bottle of champagne and two goblets for Mrs. Hopkins and me in the library?”
“Very well, sir,” Johnston said, bowing to the siblings. He went backstairs, the other servants following him. With the household staff gone, Peter and Mary looked at each other.
The siblings walked to the library next door and entered it. The library has a small table, few chairs and three high bookcases on the right and left walls. They contained many books from many centuries and few paperbook books. In the center there was a French window with doors leading to the balcony.
Mary and Peter walked to the table and embraced each other. Mary looked up from the hug and looked at Peter.
“Wow, we’re lucky that we survived the Great War and the Spanish flu,” Mary replied as she held her brother tightly. “As for your wife, we’ll remember her from time to time, right?”
Peter sadly nodded and released Mary from the embrace. He walked to the window and opened the doors and looked at the crowds gathering in the square. Mary joined her grieving brother on the balcony. She looked at the happy atmosphere, feeling relieved.
Mary could not believe her eyes. The War was over now! She left Peter and walked to the bookcase with her beloved Alfred’s portrait on the fourth shelf. He was in his official uniform of the Weltshire Regiment. She smiled at the portrait, sobbing.
“Thank God the horrible war is OVER! Your children and I will have pece at last. I wish you’d be here to celebrate to celebrate the special occasion with us, my dear. But you’re in Heaven with God. I hope you’re proud of our accomplishments,” Mary said as she swiped away her tears. “There you go.”
Mary touched the picture with tender love. She returned to the balcony and looked at the happy crowds. Mary touched Peter’s arm.
“Are you okay?” Mary asked gently.
“I’m fine, thank you. God, I can’t believe that we men have to return to the jobs and the women to being housewives again. What about you, my sister?”
Mary shrugged at the question.
“I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll join a voluntary organization at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children or something like that. I must occupy myself to help my children and myself. It’s hard these days, you know.”
Peter nodded and turned to observe the happy scene. Mary mouthed “Excuse me” to him and walked inside. She sighed as she took her family Bible out of the right bookcase and put it on a nearby table.
Trying to find something to help her understand the mystery of Peace, Mary fumbled through the pages to find a suitable scripture that deals with Peace. <---I have a hard time with the sentence as I have to type the rest of the 12 pages. I am a little naive at writing a novel, you see.