I had one of those stupid impulses I am prone to, which is why my wife hates it when I go to auctions. I often come home shamefaced with some junk that only ends up either back at the auction at a loss (plus 17% commission plus VAT) or at a charity shop.

This time it was a small trunk, described by the auctioneer as an intriguing piece of Edwardiana. It contained a jumble of trash which, to my romantically inquisitive eye, had all the lure of an Aladdin’s cave.

Obedient as always to herself’s imperious, ‘Open it in the garage, not in here!’ I did just that. It was rubbish, except for one item, a silk-bound diary with a locked strap. I rummaged in the trunk and, glory be, I found the key.

Inside the cover, in beautiful script, was written ‘Abigail Farringdon – my diary’

It was a page-per-day volume, but until I got to October it was just a mundane procession of platitudes like ‘Visited Grandmama’ or ‘Walked Rufus in the rain.’

22nd October was the first full page.

Dreadful, awful news. I got the dreaded telegram. Oswald has been killed in action. It does not say where, although I know it must be either in France or Flanders. I loved the phrase in his last letter ‘I cannot give our location, but the place has a famous Mademoiselle’, which got past the censors, strangely, as it was obviously a reference to Armentières. I have put that letter with the others which I shall always cherish. This afternoon I went into the garden in the Autumn rain. Oswald’s precious roses, which I have tended for four years with the love I have for Oswald, are, like me and like my Darling, devoid of life. For me life is over.

I flipped through the remaining pages, then I found more gold dust in the bottom of the trunk. A shoe box, containing, I believe, all Oswald’s letters.

I shall not read them until I have exhausted all possible enquiries to trace the descendants of poor war-widow Abigail Farringdon.

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Preston Randall
Preston Randall(@preston-randall)
21 days ago

I enjoyed this a great deal, Allan. May I ask if this was an actual event that occurred to you? It certainly rings true.

Preston Randall
Preston Randall(@preston-randall)
Reply to  Allan Neil
21 days ago

I’m surprised, but in the best possible way. The references to the Battle of Passchendaele are also of special significance to us here in Canada, as you probably know.

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
21 days ago

A sweet sad tale, Allan. Curious to know if it is based on real events.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
20 days ago

You describe your characters so well through their actions and dialogue, Allan, that I feel I actually know them! I refer, of course, to your protagonist and his wife. As for Abigail, how can we not feel her pain? And you leave us desperate to know what Oswald’s letters will reveal. Such a story deserves to be continued, which I hope you will. This is one of my favourites of yours. Great writing.

Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
19 days ago

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to trace the family and deliver the letters? I can only imagine how they would feel. A beautiful, thought-provoking story which I’m sure echoes many real scenarios from WW1 and other wars. Well done, Allan.
PS – I’m sure the ‘wife’ in your story would be moved and right beside the protagonist at the next auction  😉 

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
17 days ago

Hello, Allan. I really enjoyed these bittersweet tales. You perfectly portrayed every scene and emotion in your story. I wish your protagonist will find all the descendants of Abigail Farringdon so he can continue reading Abigail Farringdon’s diary. I am excited to read part 2. Well done.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Allan Neil
17 days ago

You’re always welcome, Allan.

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