“Father would want us to carry on, Philomena. You know he would.” I rolled up my sleeves as I spoke, adjusting the black armband. We had no money for full mourning outfits.
“You are a cold-hearted fish – shame on you!”
“The field will not plough itself. Father and Jem are – gone. We have to survive on our own now.”
We faced each other, hands on hips, both insistent that we were right. Stubborn as Father, I thought.
Major whickered impatiently in the background. He wanted to work too, and the brassware and buckles jangled as he strained his harness against the weight of the plough. I pictured Jem rubbing Major’s nose softly on the day he and Father left. It had been a lifetime ago, or so it seemed.
“Philomena! Louisa! Please read this, for I cannot!”
We both turned, our impasse forgotten. Mother was running across the field, hair falling loose from its pins, skirts held high above the mud. She waved a piece of paper, shining white against the grey sky.
‘REFUSED PASSAGE <STOP> TITANIC TICKETS SOLD TWICE <STOP> BOTH ARE SAFE <STOP> RETURNING ON SOUTHAMPTON TRAIN SOONEST <STOP> LOVE TO ALL FATHER <STOP>’