Mary Russell’s War (twenty-four): London at War

12 January 1915

My determination to demonstrate maturity is tried hourly. My aunt has an incredible talent for getting under my guard, or perhaps it’s more a matter of finding a sensitive spot with her prodding finger.

Maybe if she did not resemble Mother…

I gather my patience to me and keep repeating myself: firmly, with a commitment to reason, and without screaming at her. Which is what I want to do, and what I am doing inside. My eyeballs seem to bulge in their sockets, sometimes, with the effort of keeping my fury inside.

The best approach seems to be icy firmness. No, I repeat: we shall not open the London house, for I will not be staying in London. No, I will not hire servants here, for I will be moving to the house in Sussex. Yes, I understand it is inconvenient to all. No, I am not asking you to move there with me, I am fifteen years old and can manage with the assistance of local help. The same local help that has helped my family for years.

In truth, were it not for my aunt, I might consider staying in London. The war is so immediate here, the streets awash in uniformed men, and a sense of… purpose, I suppose, is everywhere. It feels wrong for a fit young person to turn her back on need. Surely there is something they would let me do, even if less exciting than driving an ambulance on the Front?

But realistically, I know that will not happen. I am too young. Instead, I will find some kind of training that I might do. Of course, from the talk around me it sounds unlikely that the War will continue past the spring, but I keep calling to mind the look on Father’s face when he told me that the War would be long. It is impossible to believe that the terrible carnage across the Channel will not burn itself out before a second summer begins, and yet…

In case he was right, I will prepare for service, whatever and whenever that may be. And if he was wrong—well, so much the better: who would wish the War to be prolonged? And after all, no skill is wasted, ultimately.

So: to Sussex I shall go, eventually, with or (preferably!) without my aunt. I shall continue my education, I shall devote myself to skills ordinary and arcane, I shall be patient and mature. And I shall prevail.

*  *  *

The rest of Mary Russell’s War can be found here.


  1. Carina on January 12, 2015 at 7:06 am

    ….and what a fulfillmentmshe got of that last paragraphs! Education, skills ordinary and arcane -and she prevailed to give us readers of her journals, wartime änd later chronicles great pleasure!

  2. Carolyn on January 12, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I have probably said this before but – what a terrific series! It’s brilliant! Thank you.

  3. ann on January 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    i am so enjoying these… thank you! blessings!

  4. The Bold Flying Officer on January 12, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    What is so good about these episodes is that they are “vignettes”. There must be a fuller account to cover the missing narrative between episodes. I expect you’re on the case Laurie? I tip my hat to your skill as a storyteller and your competence as a wordsmith.

  5. The Bold Flying Officer on January 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    PS – I should have said “delightful vignettes”.

  6. Debbie Taylor on January 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    One of my favorite installments yet!

  7. Laraine on January 12, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    I’m so enjoying these glimpses of Russell as she navigates the space between childhood and independence, between loss and growing command of her own destiny. Thanks, Laurie.

  8. Merrily Taylor on January 13, 2015 at 7:12 am

    That’s right, Russell – go to Sussex. This is one case where that strong will of yours is being guided by Fate!

  9. Virginia on January 18, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    For the first time, I feel the tiniest bit of sympathy for Mary’s aunt. Ordinary fifteen-year-old girls can be trying enough (I was one and I have one), but imagine having Mary Russell appear on your doorstep!

Leave a Comment