Mrs Radford invited Kit in to have a cup of tea before he continued on his way, but he said he mustn’t be late “for school.” He and Georgina kissed only fleetingly at the door of the house before he drove off for the final stage of training.
It was hard to see him go after this monumental week. Georgina felt depressed as soon as the door shut, but she looked forward to sharing developments with Philippa. She felt certain the sophisticated WAAF officer would both approve of what she’d done and have advice for her. She turned back to Mrs Radford, “What shift is Philippa working this week? Will she be back soon?”
“I’m so sorry, Georgina, but Philippa has been posted to the Middle East. It was very sudden, but a great honour, I gather. She is joining Air Marshal Park’s staff in Cairo.” How like Philippa, Georgina thought enviously. “She left a letter for you. It’s on your dresser in the attic,” Mrs Radford added.
Georgina thanked her and went upstairs. The attic seemed empty, impersonal and much too big without Philippa’s presence. Georgina supposed she would soon have a new roommate. Most probably Fiona, in fact, since Fiona was taking her old place at Kirkby Grange. Georgina didn’t mind that. If nothing else they knew each other’s habits already, but it wouldn’t be the same as with Philippa. She’d liked and learned so much from the WAAF — not to mention that it would be a bit awkward explaining to Fiona about Kit. Georgina resolved not to worry about that until tomorrow and turned to Philippa’s letter instead.
Dropping down on the soft, bouncy bed, Georgina began to read:
The only thing I regret about this sudden transfer is that I will not see you before I go. (I do hope we will meet again after the war, however!) This transfer is a wonderful opportunity and one I been dreaming about for ages. It seems almost like a wink from heaven, since, as you know, I was shattered by Yves’ death and want nothing more to do with Sir Howard. My existence had become nearly unbearable, and I was not performing well on duty. It was only a matter of time before I made some terrible mistake —maybe one that cost lives.
I couldn’t risk that. I had to get away, and I said as much to a friend of mine in the Ministry. He looked into things and discovered there was an opening on Air Marshal Park’s staff in Cairo. A few words were said in the right ears and — bingo! — I had orders for Cairo.
I can’t tell you how excited I am. Cairo has a splendid reputation as warm, exotic, and civilised, while Air Marshal Park is a dream CO. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about serving under him.
But, to be honest, I would have gone anywhere as long as it was too far away for Sir Howard to follow me and there was nothing to remind me of Yves. Going to Cairo is like being reborn. It is an opportunity to start life all over again with a clean slate. It is a chance to see the world not as the dreary, dreadful place it has been these last five years, but as something fresh and new and exciting.
Since I won’t be needing winter things in Cairo, I’ve left a drawer full of jumpers and cardigans that you can keep. I also left the rabbit-fur mittens you loved so much, and my woollen scarf. All I ask is that you remember me when you wear them!
I’ll write as soon as I’ve arrived and give you the correct address for writing back. Letters will probably take forever, but I’d hate to lose touch altogether. I enjoyed sharing a room with you and wish you all the best for the future. Just don’t let any RAF officer — least of all one still flying ops — steal your heart again! Women’s hearts are too fragile for what the RAF does to them.
All for now. I’ll write to you with my impressions of Cairo as soon as I have some!
Georgina folded the letter together and put it back in its envelope. She set it on the dresser and looked down at the ring Kit had given her. Conscious of Kit’s limited financial resources, she had selected a far more modest ring than Don had given her. Rather than a large, flashy diamond, it was a simple gold band with three diamond chips embedded in a row. Georgina liked the fact that in addition to being affordable, the diamonds could be hidden altogether just by twisting it on her finger until they faced her palm. When she did that the ring looked like a simple wedding band.
Georgina’s father had once told her that in the Early Middle Ages the Church recognised marriage as the commitment of two people to love one another exclusively unto death. There had been no need for the sacrament or for witnesses, much less registry and celebration. “It was the act of commitment before God alone that made a marriage,” he explained.
Georgina turned the ring inwards now, closed her hand into a fist, and whispered, “I am already married to you, Christopher Moran. And you to me.”
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