In Love and War

In Love and War by Lily Baxter

Book: In Love and War by Lily Baxter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lily Baxter
‘I was dreading this evening, but I’m glad I came now.’
    â€˜Me too.’
    She was suddenly serious. ‘But I had promised to attend a party in the East End for the Belgian refugees. I feel very bad about letting them down, although I don’t suppose they’ll miss me.’
    â€˜It’s a worthy cause. How did you get involved?’
    â€˜I’m an interpreter.’
    â€˜I’m impressed. Do you speak French and Flemish?’
    â€˜My mother was French and it was my first language, but I don’t speak Flemish.’
    â€˜And you obviously enjoy your work.’
    â€˜Yes, I do, and I admire the people we try to help. They’re wonderfully resilient and brave, especially when you think that they’ve lost everything and had to leave loved ones behind.’
    â€˜Would you like to go to the party for your Belgian friends?’
    â€˜I would, awfully.’
    He stopped in the middle of the dance. ‘Then that’s what we’ll do. This overt hedonism doesn’t seem right in the face of what others are suffering at the moment.’
    â€˜You want to come with me?’
    â€˜I wouldn’t dream of letting you venture into the East End on your own at this time of night. Shall we go?’

Chapter Six
    THE CHURCH HALL was situated in a grimy East End back street. Elsie felt distinctly overdressed for the occasion as she stepped down from the hackney carriage. The rain had ceased but the wet cobblestones were slicked with faint pools of oily light from the gas lamps. The door opened and a woman emerged carrying a sleeping child in her arms. Elsie recognised her at once and stepped forward. ‘You’re leaving the party early, Jeanne,’ she said in French.
    The woman nodded and gave her a weary smile. ‘The little one is tired. I’m taking him back to the lodging house.’
    â€˜Is everything all right? Have you all you need?’ Elsie studied the woman’s face. She looked pale and drawn and there were dark shadows underlining her eyes. ‘Have you eaten today?’
    â€˜Yes. I have no complaints.’
    â€˜You look exhausted.’
    â€˜It’s hard with young children, but we will manage. God permitting we will be able to return home before too long.’
    â€˜Amen to that.’ Elsie patted her on the shoulder. ‘Get the little one home, and I’ll call on you soon. You must let me know if there is anything I can do to help.’
    â€˜Thank you.’ Jeanne cast a sideways glance at Guy and walked away.
    â€˜You’re doing a difficult job,’ he said, holding the door open for her. ‘But I suppose it has its rewards.’
    â€˜At least I’m doing something worthwhile, although I wish I could do more.’ Elsie entered the building and her nostrils were assailed by cigarette smoke, the hoppy aroma of beer and a curious mixture of hard-boiled eggs and pickled onions. One look at the table laid out with the food was enough to convince her that the volunteers had done their best, but it was hardly up to Frascati’s standards. They had not stopped to dine, although she had seen people eating delicious-looking food, which in itself seemed wrong when others were starving. She was hungry, but she did not want to take food from the mouths of people whose need was far greater than her own. The fare might be plain but it seemed to be going down well with the partygoers. The children in particular were digging into the rather stodgy-looking cake, and the sausage rolls were disappearing fast. The vicar came forward to welcome them. He eyed Guy curiously. ‘I see you’ve brought a friend, Elsie.’
    â€˜Mr Gifford was kind enough to escort me, Joe.’ She pulled her coat round her to hide Marianne’s expensive evening gown, even though it was hot and stuffy in the crowded hall. ‘We were at another Christmas party.’
    â€˜I understand, my dear. There’s no

Similar Books

License to Shop

Kelly McClymer

Flight of Dreams

Ariel Lawhon

The Charmer

Madeline Hunter

Thorne (Random Romance)

Charlotte McConaghy