Mary Russell’s War (eighteen): the empty home

1 December 1914

Last week, O irony, was Thanksgiving. Yesterday, I returned home for the first time. Dr Ginsberg went with me, and I admit that I was grateful for her company in the car that drove me through the city streets and up the hill. I was braced for the emptiness of the house, for cold air and darkness—and so I was shocked when the kitchen door came open before my hand and warmth washed down across my face.

Our cook, Mah, had been to see me every few days, but invariably wearing Western style clothing and shoes that threatened to trip her at every incautious step. Here, she was in her usual trousers and tunic, and when she put her arms around me…

It was difficult.

A while later, I went upstairs with Dr Ginsberg. The bedrooms look very strange, with no flowers, cleaned to the walls, the beds stripped. Lifeless.

I was there not to stay, but to see the place. Next week I will come back and we will pack my possessions to leave here, perhaps forever.

Before then, perhaps I ought to have a conversation with Dr Ginsberg about how adults go about negotiating. It is a skill I imagine I am going to need, unless I am to find myself trapped in an impossible situation. BRITISH MERCHANT SHIPS IN FEAR OF RAIDERS, say today’s headlines. How much more must passenger liners to Britain feel in danger of attack?

Because I am going to Boston, to my grandparents, but I am not going to remain there. I am not.

*  *

The earlier episodes of Russell’s War are collected here.


  1. Merrily Taylor on December 1, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Poor Russell – her grief comes across (understated, but very real, as is so common with her) – but also her fierce intelligence and determination. Even bereft and in shock, she is trying to take control of her circumstances.
    This series of journal entries has been such a a rich addition to Kanon –

  2. Diotima Mantineia on December 1, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I am so enjoying these posts about Mary’s war. Thank you for them. Now I may have to go back and start reading the whole series again while I wait for Dreaming Spies, because I have a new outlook on the young Mary.

  3. Chuck Haberlein on December 4, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I agree with Diotima Matineia. Have already started rereading the Beekeeper’s Apprentice, as well as reading (for the first times) the short tales set in 1915-17. I sure hope that the “Mary’s War” journal entries continue beyond April 1915, as I’m sure that lots of interesting things happened that didn’t get mentioned in the main narratives.

  4. Constance on December 8, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I have tried to space out my reading (and listening) to the Mary Russel books but am at my last one. I am grateful to see these short entries from Mary! They will make the wait until the new book less trying, but how of I go back and read all of them? I love the interaction between Mary and Sherlock and long for more of that as their marriage matures.

  5. Kari M on December 8, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Did I miss entry 17? It doesn’t show.
    I am loving these entries so much. Mary is my literary hero, from the day I met her in BKA many years ago now. “Watching” her grow, heal, love. Thank you for sharing the journals!

  6. Laurie King on December 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Kari, yes it’s here, just didn’t get tagged correctly, thanks for catching that for me:

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