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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

John and Marie

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Part 24 - Madame Leads Low

Michael Johnson


"But Georges," said Dominique, dismayed, "How do I do that?"

The General considered a minute.

"It isn't going to be easy. You will have to go to her. Take Drouin and a Staff car - it will be better than arriving in your own car with chauffeur, and the fact that the village is in the Canadian military zone is a good excuse. As to what you are to say, I can't tell you that. It will be up to you to read Marie, and respond in whatever way will touch her."

And so it was that a week later Dominique found herself knocking at the door of the house of Marie's cousins. She felt very vulnerable. Drouin had driven off, promising to return within the hour.

It was Marie who answered the door.

Dominique screwed up her courage.

"Mademoiselle Drollet? May I come in?

Marie's back straightened at the sight of Dominique, but she bade Dominique come into the sitting room.

"Mademoiselle Drollet - Marie? I've come to apologize."

"Yes?" replied Marie.

"I should have introduced myself back at the hospital. And I should have thanked you for helping me nurse the General. I am Madame Johnson - well, Veuve Johnson to be correct. The General tells me that you are the Marie that Jean wrote to tell me he would marry. But I understand that you have dismissed him. Would you tell me why? Do you not love him anymore? Or do you feel that his family would not approve?

Marie stammered her reasons, ending with "And of course you and the General would not want a farm girl for a daughter-in-law."

Dominique looked at her. "Georges has had nothing but good things to say about you. He says you love Jean very much, and I know he loves you. And above all other things, I want Jean to be happy."

"Marie, let me tell you a story. Years ago there was a young girl. She was attractive, but had little money, and truth be told not a whole lot of intelligence. But because she was attractive, she had many admirers. There was one she liked better than the others. He was a young army officer, just starting his career. But he was due to be posted to Algeria, and this girl did not want to leave France, so she did not encourage him. And the night before he left it seemed there was something he wanted to say, but it was left unsaid because he received no encouragement. Shortly after, the girl met a wealthy lawyer who was visiting France, married him, and went to live in Canada. They had one son - that was all. He was good to her in his own way, but he was not the right man."

"As you will have guessed, Marie, that girl was me. I spent over twenty years in a foreign country. Years that I could have spent with a man I truly loved. But God was good. Edward died, and the young officer, now a General had not married. And I found him again, but gravely wounded. I was selfish back then, and I fear I've never quite lost it. I should have payed more attention to you, whether or not I knew you were my son's fiancee."

"Marie, please do not make the same mistake that I did. If you love Jean, as I believe you do, please let him know. You might not be as fortunate as I was."

Marie threw herself into Dominique's arms, and burst into tears. Dominique held her and cried as well.

"I love him!" cried Marie. "It's just this war, and my father, and maman. I can't stand the waiting, the fear that I will lose another dear one."

"You must be brave, as I must be. This war will not last forever, but we must finish it. And then there will be time to rebuild, to marry. Please, let John know that you love him. It will give him something to help him through to the end."

"Can't you do that for me, Madame?" asked Marie. "I'm too ashamed of my behaviour."

"No. my dear. It must come from you. Otherwise it will just be 'Maman interfering again' and John won't trust it."

Edited by Michael Johnson
Mixed up my characters


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