The Widow’s Testament
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.