There wasn’t a cloud in the sky when the Easter service started in a church adorned with daffodils and lilies and full almost to the last seat. The sunlight shone through the stained glass and the organ music swelled to the rafters. As they sang the familiar Easter hymns, Kit was transported back to his childhood, singing together with his mother around the piano, teaching the hymns to the village children and then singing them in round and back and forth. They developed a different, African rhythm in the dusty heat, but they never lost their magic. Yet when he looked sidelong at Georgina in her pale blue gloves and hat, it was as though he’d always been here. He could picture his mother standing on Georgina’s other side, his father beside her, and two children, a boy and a girl — rather like the ones giggling in the pew opposite.
When the time came for the sermon, everyone sat and waited attentively with an air of eager anticipation. The Reverend Reddings’ parishioners evidently expected good sermons. With good reason. Just two days ago on Good Friday, Redding’s skill had impressed Kit when he had made — and let — the congregation weep. They had grieved together, and it had cleared the air. Today Reddings spoke of resurrection, renaissance, life and rebirth. He talked of rebuilding upon the ruins of an ethically eviscerated world. He talked of “eradicating the vestiges of the dark, satanic world of fascism” and “restoring the moral fibre” of society, but also of putting an end to the “the tyranny of class and racial privilege.” He spoke of the need to liberate the underprivileged from “economic oppression and religious bigotry.” Finally, he echoed the words of the Easter hymn, saying that “the strife is o’er, the battle won, the song of triumph has begun.” He concluded with: “That triumphal song must not be one of gloating and complacency, but rather a song to inspire us to new accomplishments.” To the strains of the named hymn, they filed out of the church into a bright English spring day.
Adrian and Fiona slipped out through the side exit to go to York, but Kit, Georgina and her mother shuffled out of the main door after the rest of the congregation. Since most people at once started drifting towards the hall for tea and buns, Amanda and Georgina felt obliged to go and help serve. Kit was left alone with Edwin.
“Did you like the sermon?” Edwin asked eagerly, hungry for a little well-earned praise.
“It was brilliant,” Kit assured him, harvesting a look of glowing pride from Edwin, before adding with a laugh, “I just hope it wasn’t a jinx.”
“A jinx? Whatever do you mean by that?” Edwin asked baffled.
Kit shrugged and tried to sound light-hearted. “Oh, you know, an April Fool’s joke or the like. Or maybe it’s just bomber crew superstitiousness, but it seems as though it might be a bit premature to start the song of triumph before Germany has surrendered. The strife isn’t over quite yet. At least, not for Adrian and me. We have to report back for duty next Wednesday.”
Edwin suddenly felt sick in his stomach.
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