Oca 15

Lady Pixie’s War Ch. 12: Light

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That magical, peaceful Christmas was an oasis of light in what seemed to be the gathering gloom. Mid-winter is a bad time to reflect on life at the best of times; these were the worst of times.

A week after the New Year began, I put to rest much of my own past as I attended the funeral of my father. I knew my Mama too well to imagine there would be some grave-side reconciliation.

Cranmer’s sonorous words from the Book of Common Prayer brought so much home to me, and as Father Patten enunciated them, I felt a shiver run through me:

“Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.

In the midst of life we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased?”

The War had brought that home to us all. How many of us would survive it? I prayed for Jack and for de Gaulle and for all who fought for our freedom. I stood at the graveside and wondered how one could feel so little when one was supposed to feel so much.

At the wake afterwards, my young nephew, the new earl, came up to me.

“Auntie Pixie, I am sorry that circumstances have meant we have not met, and even sorrier that it should be this event which ends that. Can I have a word with you?”

Tall, like Flora and her husband, Bertram, young James looked older than his seventeen years. He accompanied me out into the old walled garden.

“Auntie, as I have not reached my majority, I cannot do all that I want, not yet. I want to go to the front and fight for our country, and I want to tell you that you will always now be welcome at Ravenswood. Granny is, shall we say, old-fashioned. I have heard so much about you, and have read about your work, and I just want to say that I hope I shall get a chance to make things up to you. Don’t be hard on Mama, you know she has always wanted to be good for Granny and Grandpa.”

To my astonishment, James hugged me.

Astonishment? No one in my birth family hugged, ever, not ever, not for a moment. So to be embraced by my tall nephew not only took me by surprise, it brought tears to my eyes. I was saved from embarrassment by the arrival of my sister, Flora, who was smiling.

“I see you have met James, Pixie? You must come and meet his brother, Peter, who is with Bertie.”

And with that, a whole ocean of hurt was crossed.

Bertie was one of those hail fellows well-met who have traditionally filled the House of Lords. The fourth baron March, as he was formally known, was as rich as Croesus, thanks to the coal deposits found on his Yorkshire estates. He loved his wife and sons, and offered me a warm welcome. I could see where James got his attitude from.

At the end of the afternoon, Bertie came up to me as I was talking with Father Patten:

“Pixie, I am taking James back to Harrow, I was wondering whether it would suit you if he came with you to The Hall for the week-end? I will send a car to take him to school if that’s agreeable to you. Flo and I can then take young Peter home.”

And there it was again. Of course I agreed. The past was swept away. Well, at least as far as Flora and her family were concerned. I said a formal farewell to my Mama, who was equally formal back. Some things did not change. It was the last, but one time, I saw her.

Beccy noticed that I seemed more cheerful when I returned and commented that it was an odd thing given where I had been. The appearance of James allowed me to explain, and that ensured a warm welcome for him. I noticed him eyeing Jenny, and her returning the looks. I suppose young men can be interested in babies, but as I told Beccy, I somehow doubted that explained James’ interest in Jenny. It says something for him that when the car came to take him to Harrow, we all missed him. He became a regular visitor.

No sooner had we reached Twelfth Night than I had to leave my little Eden for the wider world.

St John tells us that the darkness cannot extinguish the light, and the winter of 1940 1941 was pretty dark. But Archbishop Temple and others among our fellowship had been thinking for some time about how we could try to make a better world when all of this was over. Archie had asked me what we’d do if we lost, to which I said that I wasn’t intending to plan for a future I would not be part of. I was determined still. If we lost, I would mersin escort not live to see it.

It was with that aim of building a better world that we gathered at Malvern in Worcestershire in early January for three days. I was a little start-struck, as among those speaking was my favourite poet, T.S. Eliot, and for me one of the highlights was sitting next to him and the novelist, Dorothy S Sayers, over dinner on the second night.

There were many who, like Archie, believed that nothing much could be done about poverty and unemployment, but Temple, myself, and the others held that we had to build a better world, we could not offer this generation what ours had been offered, namely a land fit for heroes in the sense that you had to be a hero to live in it. Quite apart from anything else, if nothing was done to improve things, what was to stop another world war coming soon after this one was over?

For three days we listened, we debated, and we argued. Temple’s “Christianity and the social order”, published in 1942, became a best-seller, and the conference helped pave the way for our modern welfare state. Of all the things to which I have contributed, this is one of those of which I am most proud. In many ways it was a macrocosmic vision of what we were doing in microcosm at The Hall.

As Temple wrote, “we are all God’s children,” which means we take an interest in the welfare of others, in praying for others we show that love in one direction – toward God, and in helping them we show that love in the other direction, towards others. Even as I write this, I see that the old spirit of individualism is once more at work in the land. Well, perhaps we went too far in one direction, but I fear where this emphasis on the individual may lead. “Devil take the hindmost,” is part of any social Darwinian notion of the survival of the fittest.

The Conference was the light I needed in that dark time.

De Gaulle and his Free French were making little headway. Cut off now from the heart of the Foreign Office now Archie had been sacked, I did my best to mediate between a Churchill who was clearly disappointed with his investment, and a de Gaulle who expected everything and gave whatever he though suitable. As Archie said, I’d have made a good diplomat. As I said back, I made a good nanny to two overgrown boys.

With the spring came more light. James, who was now spending most weekends with us, asked if he could have his birthday party at The Hall. Of course, I agreed, but that meant that Mama would not come. I had thought that might decide it for James, but it didn’t.

“Auntie Pixie, I feel more at home here than at home, if Granny won’t come, that, I am afraid, is her problem.”

We discussed what he intended to do next. He could have requested a deferral of military service on a whole host of grounds, but that was not James. He was determined to serve once he reached eighteen. As a keen member of the Officer Training Corps at Harrow, he was pretty ready for service, and it was agreed that the week after his birthday he would present himself at Aldershot for final training.

Thus it was in his uniform as Second Lieutenant Lord March, that James celebrated his birthday in the gardens of The Hall. Light and Life were there in abundance, despite the rationing.

Away from Ravenswood and Mama, Flora seemed to blossom again, and her husband, Bertie, came up to me at the reception to say how nice it was that we were reconciled.

“It was never my wish, Bertie, and I know Flo was simply being a good girl for Mama.”

“You are a good sort, Pixie, and I hear only nice things about you from other peers.”

He looked at me carefully.

“You know you are the brains of the outfit, don’t you?”

I felt myself blush, I was never comfortable with compliments, but thanked him kindly.

“And thanks for giving James a second home. After this is over, we’ll try moving your Mama to the Dower House and give James some scope at Ravenswood. By the way, who’s the rather scrummy filly he’s chatting up?”

I had noticed that on his weekends with us, James often took the opportunity to talk with Jenny. Nothing untoward, of course; but it pleased me. And looking over, I saw Bertie was right, he and Jenny were in animated conversation.

I explained who Jenny was. There were two ways a Papa was likely to respond to that, and Bertie went where I had imagined he might.

“Well, if the young fella wants to mersin escort bayan sow a few wild oats, he should. Poor bugger will be off to the war soon. I just thank God that Peter is too young to get caught up in this madness.”

The mask, bless him, had fallen, and my heart reached out to him in his anxiety for his son and heir.

“James is a fine young man, Bertie, you and Flo should be proud of him. And yes, Jenny would be a fine tutor!”

“You know, sister-in-law, you’re a surprise a minute. As a good church-going sort, I’d have thought you’d be censorious, but then I remembered you gave the young lady a home here.”

He looked at me.

“If they were all like you, I think I could start going to church again!”

I felt myself blushing, and was rather pleased when Maja came to ask whether I wanted her to break into the wine reserve.

“Oh why not?” I said. “Tomorrow may be too late.”

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the occasion, or maybe I was just feeling that way, but as the evening passed into night, I found myself playing footsie with Beccy.

As the perfect hostess, I had, of course, made sure that everyone had all they wanted, but by eleven o’clock, I thought I might just have earned a little “me” time – and Beccy, in her low-cut gown, was in fine form.

“Do you think that James will like his present from Jenny?” She asked, smiling wickedly.

“Which is?” I asked – the penny dropping. “You don’t mean?”

“She told me she is going to make a man of him!”

“You mean?”

“I do mean.”

She gave me that “take me to bed look” she had perfected so well across the time we had been lovers.

I rubbed my foot against hers, our nylons creating that special frisson. I looked at her.

“My room, now?”

“Thought you’d never ask, Mama!”

“Oh,” I replied, fixing her with a firm gaze, “who said anything about ‘asking’?”

“Oh Mama, my knickers suddenly need attending to?”

“Well, my Squirty Beccy, shall we go attend to them?”

She smiled and reached for my hand.

“Yes Mama, let’s.”

Even though she was, herself, now a Mama, I was still her “Mama”. It seemed as though the warmth of my feelings for her supplied some deep, atavistic want within her soul.

Leaving Maja and the maids to clear up, I took my lover upstairs to my room. I noticed Maja smiling; she knew.

But, I reflected as we went upstairs, what no one from outside could know was the depth of the tie between Beccy and myself. And then it hit me, this was, in all but name, a marriage.

We had passed through those tempests of early love, where lust burns strong and fierce enough, it seems, to devour your very self, and where what you want is her, her in all her beauty, all her glory, all her magnificence, and to spend every night in passion with her. That is not to say those things remained not; they did. It is to say though that added to them was that I wanted her in all her manifestations: her sadness as well as her joy; her tears as well as her laughter; her bad times as well as her good times. The existential darkness out there was no weapon against her luminescence in my soul. Did I want her? Yes, Did I just want sex with her? No.

In fact, I reflected, as I helped her out of her dress, and she reciprocated, it had been some time since we had the leisure to make love.

She looked good from any angle, but gazing on her naked back in the moonlight, I felt a shiver go through to my core. I knelt, I kissed her backside, which made her whimper.

“Oh Mama, I love it when you touch me there, is that bad of me?”

“No babygirl, you are Mama’s good girl.”

“Thank you, Mama!”

I guided her to the bed, where she knelt, allowing me full access to her sex.

Slowly I kissed and fingered her, my hands stroking her bottom, kneading it. I licked down between her cheeks, something I knew she loved. The taboo nature of it appealed to her. Then I slipped a hand under her, cupping her pussy, pushing two fingers gently but firmly between her lips; she was warm, wet, and inviting.

“Turn over, darling.”

She turned, her blonde bush matted and fragrant. Placing her legs across my shoulders, I told her:

“Play with those gorgeous tits, I am going to devour you!”

“Yes Mama, oh yes, yes!”

Those affirmations got louder and shriller once I got to work.

Parting her lips, I let my broad tongue just lap, ever so slowly, upwards until, escort mersin as it reached her clit, I pulled it down fast, insinuating it between her long lips, and teasing the walls of her juicy sex, which made her push her hands to my head, wanting me deeper. My nose rubbed her clit, which made her groan; she was so wet and needy.

“Oh, fuck, Mama, what you do to me!”

No one could fault Beccy when it came to positive reinforcement.

As her tight dark hole was within reach, I slid my tongue down to tease it, which would not only make her wetter, but would allow my finger to gain access – after, of course, teasing her.

She whimpered, gripping the seat.

“Oh Mama, so naughty!”

So naughty that she loved it, of course.

Teasing her most private place, I slid my tongue along the flesh between her lips and her inner thigh, which I knew drove her wild, waiting, and waiting for that inevitable moment when my tongue reached her clit and began to flick it. As I reached that point, I pressed my thumb firmly into her well-lubricated dark hole, which elicited a great moan.

“Nooooo, oh Mama, fuck, fuck!”

I felt her relax, and then squeeze, and slid three fingers between her swollen lips, opening her up, as I licked her clit. I clenched my hand, which put pressure on both her holes at the same time. She pushed herself onto my hand and tongue.

“Need it Mama, can I have cummies?”

“Yes, as you have been such a good girl!”

And at that, she demonstrated why I called her Squirty Beccy, and I spent some delicious moments cleaning her up.

“Oh Mama! You are so good to me!”

“That, my precious, is not hard as you are such a good girl.”

That proved the prelude to a blissful night’s sleep.

Breakfast was interesting, not least as some people had distinct hangovers. But the prize for the person whom most resembled the cat who had all the cream, was, I told Beccy, to be shared between James and Jenny. Bertie seemed almost as delighted as his heir. Men, they can be such delightfully simple creatures.

And then, then he was gone, with our love and best wishes and hopes and fears. I felt for Beccy and for Jenny with their “men” as we called Jack and James, away and in danger.

Life at the Hall settled down again as spring turned into summer. The May blossom was heavy that year.

I would go down to town once a week to keep up with de Gaulle and with events in Whitehall. Our main preoccupation was with Syria, where the General wanted to undertake military operations which the Foreign Office were not keen on. The tensions between them continued to make demands on my diplomatic skills. Jack was kept fully occupied, whilst James was posted to Crete.

Given the latter, it was with some horror that we learned on the evening of 21 May that the previous day, the Germans had begun an invasion of the Island. Flora phoned in high anxiety to ask if I could use my “contacts” to find out more, but the fact was no one knew anything. Yet again the Nazi’s had taken us by surprise.

For the next couple of weeks we watched and waited, hoping against hope. We heard that some of our forces had been evacuated by the Navy, but when we finally got news, it was not good. James and his men were not among those who escaped. He was officially logged as “missing in action.”

Poor Flora was beside herself, and Bertie proved his worth by being a tower of strength for her. But there was no hiding their anxiety. Poor Jenny was also in floods of tears.

So, it seemed as though the coming of the light had been a false dawn. Then, just as we got back from church on Sunday, 21 June 1941, I received a phone call from Jack.

“Pixie, that you?”

I confirmed it.

“The Germans have invaded Russia!”

And with that, everything changed. It never once occurred to me that the Germans could win. Russia had defeated Napoleon, not because her armies were better, but because the task of conquering her was beyond him; so too, I was confident, would it be for that louse, Hitler.

The Poles, Anna, Maja, and the others had mixed feelings. Given what the Soviets had done to their country in alliance with Hitler, they felt that it “served the bastards right.” But, like the rest of us, they thought that Winston was right when he, as an old-time anti-Communist, took the view that “if Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a friendly reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.” Finally we had an ally.

Two days later Jack rang again.

“I have news of James. We know he is alive; we got a message from the Cretan resistance. He is with them in the mountains.”

And with that news, we did, indeed, sing a Te Deum!

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