A Conversation for A Place to Call Home

Chapter 29

Post 1

Array

Danielle

One day in August, Danielle led Jeannot into the living room of the Poincarré’s house, where there was a radio. Pastor André and Isobel were already sitting there and, once Danielle and Jeannot joined them, there was a definite feeling that something important was happening. Only Jeannot seemed unconcerned, sitting on the carpet and stroking the cat. Together they heard the news everyone had been waiting for. France had been liberated. Everyone cheered and hugged each other. André hurried out of the house and went knocking on every door in the village, while Isobel and Danielle found as many glasses and bottles of wine as they could. Before long, people appeared from the houses in the village and outlying farms and gathered in front of the church. André called together as many bell ringers as could be found in a hurry to set the bells ringing. The bottles of wine were opened, glasses were filled and an impromptu celebration broke out in front of the church.
“Let's celebrate now and then pray and work for a better future,”said André.
His wife nodded and raised her glass. “A better future.”
In the evening, they held a service in the church, in which André praised God for their delivery from danger and suffering. Everyone attended, including Danielle and Jeannot. Although Danielle had stayed uncertain in her attitude to the Christian religion, none of these differences seemed to matter. Most of the villagers knew she had arrived as a refugee, but had accepted her into their community. The service was followed a celebratory meal, for which Danielle and Isobel prepared a stew with rabbit, followed by a pie, with the remaining butter and flour and plums from the village trees.
The next day, Danielle took Jeannot on a walk a little way further up the hill. From here, they looked down on the fields and the distant river. The wheat had been harvested, leaving the fields a pale gold colour, but the vines were still heavy with fruit.
“We need to go home, Jeannot,”
He looked up at her. “Shall I see Papa?”
Danielle sighed. “Maybe. I hope so.” She had told him about his father and showed him the photographs she’d carefully kept, but she couldn’t promise a reunion.

The next day, Danielle and Jeannot left, having said a fond farewell to Isobel. Pastor André, being one of the few people in the area with a car and some fuel, drove Danielle and Jeannot to Montaubon. Danielle remembered the long and difficult walk they had on the way out and was grateful for the help. However, when they reached the station and looked at the noticeboard, it had been covered with a message, scrawled on a piece of paper, that services had been suspended. She found a man in a railway cap, who said there was no chance of trains, because the railway lines had been damaged by sabotage or fighting.
Danielle left the station, with her hand firmly clasping Jeannot’s, and looked for buses. She was worried about the difficulty of persuading Jeannot to walk far and he was heavy to carry any distance. In the end, she found a queue of people waiting for the bus to Megére. Most of them were women, some carrying bundles and many with children. They waited for hours, and Danielle resorted to sitting on the pavement, sharing some bread, fruit and water Isobel Poincarré had given her. Jeannot was increasingly fretful. In the end, it was nightfall by the time they reached Megére.

Danielle walked towards the children’s home, holding Jeannot's hand firmly, though that meant stopping frequently. It was a mild summer evening and the river was very calm. There were signs of war everywhere, in the number of boarded up shops, and people sitting on benches with their belongings beside them. Danielle was concerned that she might find the children's house deserted and ransacked.
However, as she rounded the corner, she saw a couple going in through the door. She followed and found Charlotte welcoming the strangers. Charlotte's hair had gone grey and her face had thinned, but she was still hurrying from one task to the next.
On seeing Danielle, Charlotte gave a cry of joy and embraced her. When she released Danielle, she took a step back and regarded her. “I'm so pleased to see you looking well. And Jeannot has grown so. How are you ?”
“We’re well. The Poincarrés were so kind, I couldn't thank them enough, but I need to go home. I’m worried about Michel. I've no idea what's happened to him.”
Charlotte’s face became grave. “I understand that. Some of our staff didn't make it, I'm afraid.”
She explained the house had reopened to receive children who had nowhere to go. “I think our work will still be needed, but we’ll be trying to reunite families and looking after orphans.”
Because the house was half empty, Charlotte let Danielle stay in an attic room overnight. When she left in the morning, to travel on to Caillac, she said a warm farewell to Charlotte.
“If you want to come back, I’d be glad to have you here,” Charlotte said.
“I don’t want to meet Guillaume again.”
Charlotte shook her head. “Don’t worry. The resistance shot him. He’d been selling information to the Germans.”
There were no trains travelling north to Caillac and it was almost impossible to find any road transport. In the end, Danielle and Jeannot walked. Sometimes Jeannot walked for a way, but at other times Danielle carried him. She had learnt to crouch down and help him onto her shoulders. In that position, he was easier to carry. They saw whole families on the move: old people and children, some people pushing carts loaded with luggage, some in lorries or cars. Danielle looked at the people they met on the way, hoping that she might meet her father. Sometimes she saw an old man who reminded her of him, but she was always mistaken. Sometimes Danielle and Jeannot travelled with a group and heard other peoples' stories. Everyone had suffered loss and privation. Some nights they were fortunate and found lodgings but, on others they slept in barns or under bridges.


Chapter 29

Post 2

Caiman raptor elk - Escaping the Array

Preparing for the finale. I hope they will be reunited.


Chapter 29

Post 3

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Post Editor

smiley - applause What an anxious time - there were notice boards everywhere at the end of that war. A couple of million DPs (displaced persons).


Chapter 29

Post 4

paulh, the apocalypse is coming, it's just late

Michel is already at his brother's home. If Danielle does there, she will find him. Unless things changed and I missed the changes. smiley - blush


Chapter 29

Post 5

Fwr

smiley - applause


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