The letter from Fauquier arrived on her fifth day at home. The Group Captain explained that Kit had flown one of sixteen Lancasters that took part in a daylight attack on the submarine pens in Hamburg. Objectively, Georgina understood that this target had been worth the loss of seven men. After all, the submarine war was still raging unabated and unaffected by the Allied advances on the Continent. Fanatical U-boat captains sought with renewed frenzy to strike back at the advancing Allies by targeting merchant ships, like the one Mrs Witherspoon’s sons had served aboard. Scores of lives were lost every day at sea. Logically, Georgina recognised the legitimacy of the target, yet in her heart she resented the sacrifice of a Lancaster and its crew to destroy submarine pens when the imminent end of the war would put an end to their ravages anyway.
Fauquier’s letter continued with the news that the raid had been extremely successful, but the squadron had encountered Me 262s over the target. Most of these were engaged by the fighter escort, which lost two fighters. His letter continued: “Unfortunately, in the debrief several crews reported seeing one of the German jets make a pass at Moran’s aircraft. No one reported seeing either an explosion or an aircraft out of control. Thus, while we can be certain that Moran’s Lancaster received damage which prevented its return to base, there is every reason to hope that Flight Lieutenant Moran and his crew were able to abandon the aircraft successfully before it crashed. In these circumstances, I would encourage you not to despair. Try to remain patient until we receive word from the Red Cross. I shall, of course, be in touch as soon as I have any further information on the fate of Flight Lieutenant Moran or any member of his crew. Please accept my deepest sympathy in these uncertain and trying times. Sincerely, J. Fauquier, CO 617 Squadron.”
A shock went through Georgina. Maybe Kit wasn’t dead. It was true her father’s visions had never been wrong before. Yet his vision only clearly indicated that Kit had been injured, in trouble and in pain, but maybe not dead. The explosion and the blackout might simply have been loss of consciousness. She sought her father out and showed him the letter. He read it attentively and then handed it back to her. Their eyes met.
“He might have survived the crash, Daddy,” Georgina pointed out hopefully.
Edwin looked very old when he answered her, “Yes, he might have, but it would have to have been a miracle.” He closed his eyes as he spoke, clearly replaying the vision again in his mind.
“Don’t you believe in miracles any longer, Daddy? You used to tell Gerald and I that we should never stop believing in them.”
He drew a deep breath and met her eyes. A chill went through her. There was not a trace of benevolent indulgence, not a hint of joyous faith. “Believing in miracles is pious, expecting them is presumptuous.”
Georgina turned away and went out to the stables. She went into Hester’s stall, put her arms around the mare’s neck and cried. She sank down in the clean sawdust and curled up in a ball to weep. Hester nuzzled her with her soft muzzle and blew in her face. In her grief, Georgina imagined Hester was a zebra, a mother zebra separated from her foal, and abruptly she knew that it didn’t matter what her father said, she wanted to hope a little longer.
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