The carnage in Europe got worse and worse. In March 1917 the Tsar was overthrown. In November 1917 the Communist Bolsheviki displaced President Kerensky's government, and the Communists immediately surrendered to the Germans.
From then on we were in for it. The German veterans from the Eastern Front were moving by whole divisions to the Western Front at a time when we had landed only a few of our troops in France. The Allies were in bad trouble.
I did not know it. Certainly my children did not. I suspect that they reckoned their father was equal to at least to German divisions.
In May 1918 I was able to tell my husband that we had ‘rung the cash register' on his last weekend at home; I was two weeks overdue. Yes, I know that with many women this is not a sure sign - but it is with Maureen. I felt so euphoric about it that I avoided reading the newspapers and just enjoyed being me.
Brian went into Manhattan and telephoned me from there, for privacy. ‘Is this Myrtle, the Fertile Turtle? '
I answered, not so loud, Claude; you'll wake my husband. No, I won't be fertile again for another eight months. '
‘Congratulations! I'll plan on coming home for Christmas; you won't need me sooner than that' http://o-authoring.ru
‘Now you listen to me, Roscoe; I'm not taking the veil, I'm merely having a baby. And I do have other offers. '
‘From Sergeant Bronson, perhaps? '
I caught my breath and did not answer. Presently Brian said, ‘What's the matter, love? Children where they can overhear you? '
‘No, sir. I've taken the phone into our bedroom and there is no one else upstairs. Beloved, that man is as stubborn as my father. I have invited him here, Father has invited him here, and Carol invites him at least once a week. He thanks us. .. and then says that he doesn't know when he'll be granted any leave. He's admitted that he is off duty alternate weekends but he says that the actual time on pass is not enough to go that far from camp. '
‘That's almost true. Since he doesn't have a car. Since he left his car with Ira. Or with Brian Junior. '
‘Pish and tosh. The Weston boy is home every other weekend and he's only a private. I think I'm a woman scorned.
‘Nick Weston picks up his son in Junction City and you know why. But don't fret, Mabel; the money's on the table. I saw Carol's favourite soldier just today. '
I reswallowed my heart. ‘Yes, Briney? '
‘I find that I agree with Carol. And with mon beau-père. I already knew that Bronson is as fine a sergeant instructor as we have; I've checked his efficiency marks each week. As for Sergeant Bronson himself, he puts me in mind of Ira. As Ira must have looked at that age. '
‘Sergeant Bronson and I look like twins. '
‘So you do but on you it looks better. '
‘Oh, fiddle! You have always said that I look my best with a pillow over my face. '
‘I say that to keep you from becoming too conceited, beautiful. You are gorgeous and everybody knows it, and you look like Sergeant Bronson in spite of it. But he is most like Ira in his personality and in his gung-ho attitude. I fully understand your wish to trip him and beat him to the rug. If you still feel that way. Do you? '
I took a deep breath and sighed it out. ‘I do, sir. If our daughter Carol doesn't crowd me out and beat me to it. '
‘No, no! By seniority, please; this is wartime. Make her wait her rum. '
‘Don't tell Carol it's okay unless you mean it, dear man because she means it. '
‘Well, somebody's going to do it to Carol. .. and I think a lot better of Bronson than I do of that pimply young snot who broke in our Nancy. Don't you? '
‘Oh, heavens, yes! But the matter is academic; I have given up all hope of getting Sergeant Bronson to enter this house. Until the War is over, at least. '
‘I told you not to fret. A little bird whispered in my ear that Bronson will soon receive a midweek pass. '
‘Oh, Brian! ' (I knew what a midweek pass meant: orders overseas. )
‘Ira was right; Bronson is eager to go Over There, so I put him on the list, a special requisition from Pershing's staff for sergeant instructors. Another little bird let me know that my own request was being acted on favourably. So I expect to be home about the same time. But - Listen closely. I think I can arrange it so that you will have a twenty-four-hour clear shot at him. Can you bring him down in that length of time'? '
‘Oh, goodness, Briney! '
‘Can-you, or can't you? I've known you to manage it in an hour with just a horse and buggy to work with; today you have at your disposal a guest bedroom with its own bath. What does it take? Cleopatra's barge? '
‘Brian, Father supplied that horse and buggy knowing what was up and actively co-operating. But this time he considers it his bounden duty to stand over me with a shotgun. Except that it is a loaded thirty-eight and he would not hesitate to use it. '
‘Can't have that; General Pershing wouldn't like it good sergeant instructors are scarce. So I had better brief Ira on the operation plan before I hang up which I must soon; I am running out of nickels and dimes. Is Ira there? '
‘I'll get him. '
Sergeant Theodore did get that midweek pass, from just after Retreat on Monday to eight o'clock muster Thursday morning - and at last he did come to Kansas City. At that time the picture shows always included a comedy - John Bunty, Fatty Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin, or the Keystone Kops. That week I managed to outdo both Fatty Arbuckle and the Keystone Kops in always stepping into a bucket or falling over my feet.
To begin with, that difficult man, Sergeant Theodore, did not show up at our house until late Tuesday afternoon. .. when Brian had told me that Sergeant Theodore's pass should cause him to arrive at our house by mid-morning at the latest.
‘Where have you been? What took you so long? ' No, I did not say anything of the sort. I may have felt like saying it. .. but I had learned the relative merits of honey and vinegar back when I was still a virgin - a long time ago indeed. Instead I took his hand, kissed his cheek, and said in my warmest voice, ‘Sergeant Theodore. .. it is so good to have you home. '