Six
May, 1920

Spring came slow that year. Gradually, the wind grew less bitter, the sun grew warmer and the creatures, hiding from the cold of winter, came out again. The bees buzzed from flower to flower, little ants crawled along the windowsill in an unbroken black line, the rabbits - to annoyance of the farmers - hopped about in the fields and, unfortunately, the crops. The sky became blue for a period of time, and the general atmosphere in the village seemed to improve with the world around us.

I received a letter from Barbara Bardsley in early May. I read the letter out to John and Mr Garth over breakfast. Mr Garth looked over his newspaper at me, and John continued to chew on his toast.

Dear Catherine,

Much has changed since we visited you during Christmas. We have sent William to Repton, where his own father went. Owen will still stay at home with me. Samuel, I think you have heard, has also been made an MP in the House of Commons. Imagine that! Mr Samuel Bardsley, MP.

Also, I have been involved in the women's rights movement. I know that this sounds wild and violent, but things have changed for the suffragettes. No longer do we attack politicians, disrupt Parliament or go on hunger strikes. We are peaceful protesters, as Emmeline Pankhurst suggested. I know that you think that we have nothing left to fight for, now that women have been given a right to vote. But there is so much more! So much that I cannot possibly put it all down in this letter...

"A suffragette!" Mr Garth exclaimed. "I always thought she was a bit of a wild cat, but this..." He shook his head in disbelief went back to his newspaper. John and I exchanged smiles, and I put my letter down.

We went walking again, John and I. It was normal for a boy in the village to take his sweetheart "out walking". It was as though John was courting me. This time, we walked south. We were determined to explore the countryside around Saint Christopher's and have begun walking together every Saturday morning. I admired the beauty and greenery around us with little exclaims of, "Look at that!" or snatching up a small blossom to show John.

John said, "When I was in Belgium, there was no greenery. It was all burnt trees, burnt villages, mud and blood and smoke and gunpowder. I hope it's green in Belgium now. The people there suffered so much."

It came so quickly and suddenly that it took me a second to understand what he was talking about. Then it hit me that he was speaking of the war. It seemed so far away now. It has been almost one and a half years since he came home from the war.

My heart swelled of emotion for him.

"I love you," I said, going on tiptoes to kiss him. "My fair John."

"I love you," he replied, kissing me. "My lovely Cathy."

We returned home and found that Mr Garth was laughing. The newspaper was crumpled in his hand. There were tears rolling down his wrinkled cheeks. We waited patiently to see what the whole excitement was about. Finally, he handed us the newspaper and shouted, "A peaceful protester indeed!"

Puzzled, John and I smoothed out the newspaper and burst out laughing. There, on the second page, was a picture of a protest. There was evidence of violence - broken bottles, shredded paper. But what made us laugh was that in the picture, we saw spitfire Barbara Bardsley being led away by a policeman, Mr Garth's flamboyant hat planted proudly on her head.

The End


A/N: For those who found the story too short, let me apologise. Thank you to those who reviewed, and I hope that you enjoyed the story.

Inspirations: Marilyn Monroe's first marriage, various Siegfried Sassoon poems