The Best Of Both Worlds – Episode 55

“Daddy, are you there? Oh, we’ve been cut off again!” Thea whirled round to her husband, leaving the telephone receiver swinging from its cord. “If only I could get through – Daddy might be able to find out something.”

“We could try sending another telegram, but it’s no use, Thea.” Witney’s voice was tight with worry and exhaustion. He’d hardly slept since news of the disaster had reached England. “By the time we hear back, everything could have changed.”

His face was pale and pinched with anxiety, and he looked into her eyes.

“I must go to America and look for them.”

“Oh, no, please don’t go, Bert!” But she knew he was right, and she felt herself crumple inside.

“I must get passage booked,” he said, “for the day after tomorrow, if possible.”

“But must it be so soon? We might hear back by telegram any moment now, and the telephone lines will probably clear. I’ll keep trying!”

But as she spoke, she knew it would be in vain.

He gathered her into his arms and for a long moment they simply clung together in silence. A shaft of spring sunshine shone through the tall windows and Thea felt the warmth on her back. Her memories filtered back to that hot day in St Louis, when she’d first met Bert. It had all been such a lark, driving along the Marathon course in the motor car that Daddy had bought her for the duration of the Fair and Olympic Games, cheering on the flagging competitors.

She’d seen a tall, rather ungainly runner falter, then collapse on the track in the baking sun, and she’d screeched to a halt and rushed to his side. She’d leaned down and he’d opened his pale eyes, gazing up at her in wonderment. Then he’d spoken, in a cut-glass accent that she’d never heard in her life.

“Oh, heavens . . . rather a spot of bother . . . forgive me,” and her heart had turned over.

But in the weeks and months that followed, she realised it hadn’t just been the cultivated English voice that had captured her heart. How charming he was! And he knew so much, had read so many books. Now she knew for certain that, although he might not have appeared to be a man of iron, her dear Bertie knew his own mind.

At last they drew apart and he looked desperately into her eyes.

“My parents and sister may be lying under a mountain of rubble. Thea, will I ever see them again? And that poor girl, Emily. Her family must be out of their minds with worry!”

She touched his cheek as tears pricked her eyes.

“How long will you be gone? What if something should happen to you?” Her voice was barely a whisper. “I need you,” she stammered, her mind darting as she tried to choose her words. Then a shy smile trembled over her lips.

“You see, Bert, I’m going to have a baby.”


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