Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Great War, Volume 2, Chapter 6-2

[I thought I'd hit Publish on this last Sunday when I put up the installment on the Great War site, but apparently not. Here it is now. Next installment is due on Sunday.]

Sorry to miss posting last weekend. Travels continue. I post this section from California, where I'm out helping my mom for a couple days. We're all looking forward to things calming down in March after this eventful February.

But here's the next installment, back with Philomene in occupied France.

Village of Chateau Ducloux, France. August 7th, 1915. The next morning was calmer for Philomene. She gave the girls breakfast and turned them out into the garden to play. Pascal slept late, and when at last he came down he was more her quiet son of a year ago than the sullen young man who had returned to her from harvest duty the day before.

She cut him a large piece of bread and spread it generously with butter.

“Would you like coffee?”

Even with Grandpere’s black market activities, coffee was far more a luxury now than it had been before the war. The beans had to come from Africa, South America, or from the Pacific. All those sea lanes were firmly under the control of the British Navy, and it was their policy that no cargo ships, even under the flags of neutral nations, could sail to Germany and its occupied territories. Thus even in the Fournier family coffee remained a treat reserved for the most important occasions and even then only for adults. But Pascal was only just back from nearly two weeks with the labor detail. Surely that was a special occasion.

“They made us pots of ersatz coffee each morning during the harvest,” Pascal explained, after swallowing down the over-large mouthful of bread and butter that had blocked his speech. “The older boys said it was made from scorched grain. It was hot, so we drank it, but it was so bitter.”

“This is real coffee your grandfather bought. I can put cream in it for you if it’s still too bitter.”

“Yes please.”

Pascal sat taking large bites of his bread and watched her fill the coffee pot. He was all hers and all little boy. And then a knock sounded at the door.

For a moment neither moved. A knock no longer had the harmless function that it had before, or rather, the function was the same, but the range of reasons a visitor might come to the door had expanded to include many that were as uncomfortable to think on as they were impossible to ignore. Nor could they simply wait for the maid to answer it.

Philomene went to the door and opened it.

[continue reading]


Christine said...

Just FYI, the "continue reading" link for this post is broken. Also, when you go to the site 6-2 isn't showing up on the Volume 2 page; you have to go to 6-1 and click the arrow button to get to it.

Loving the story though!! I was really looking forward to this installment, as I'm a sucker for people adopting random babies they find, and I was not disappointed :)

Darwin said...


Fixed on both counts. Thank you. It's really gratifying to know that I've still got someone following along even after all the delays this volume has suffered.

Christine said...

You're welcome :) You've had me hooked ever since I binge-read everything years ago, so I'll definitely be sticking around for the rest of the story no matter how long it takes!