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Good Old Anna   By: (1868-1947)

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Author of "The Chink in the Armour," "The Lodger," "The End of Her Honeymoon," etc., etc.






"And now," asked Miss Forsyth thoughtfully, "and now, my dear Mary, what, may I ask, are you going to do about your good old Anna?"

"Do about Anna?" repeated the other. "I don't quite understand what you mean."

In her heart Mrs. Otway thought she understood very well what her old friend, Miss Forsyth, meant by the question. For it was Wednesday, the 5th of August, 1914. England had just declared war on Germany, and Anna was Mrs. Otway's faithful, highly valued German servant.

Miss Forsyth was one of those rare people who always require an answer to a question, and who also (which is rarer still) seldom speak without having first thought out what they are about to say. It was this quality of mind, far more than the fact that she had been born, sixty years ago, in the Palace at Witanbury, which gave her the position she held in the society of the cathedral town.

But this time she herself went on speaking: "In your place I should think very seriously of sending Anna back to Germany." There was an unusual note of hesitation and of doubt in her voice. As a rule Miss Forsyth knew exactly what she thought about everything, and what she herself would be minded to do in any particular case.

But the other lady, incensed at what she considered uncalled for, even rather impertinent advice, replied sharply, "I shouldn't think of doing anything so unkind and so unjust! Why, because the powers of evil have conquered I mean by that the dreadful German military party should I behave unjustly to a faithful old German woman who has been with me let me see why, who has been with me exactly eighteen years? With the exception of a married niece with whom she went and stayed in Berlin three autumns ago, my poor old Anna hasn't a relation left in Germany. Her whole life is centred in me or perhaps I ought to say in Rose. She was the only nurse Rose ever had."

"And yet she has remained typically German," observed Miss Forsyth irrelevantly.

"Of course she has!" cried Mrs. Otway quickly. "And that is why we are both so much attached to her. Anna has all the virtues of the German woman; she is faithful, kindly, industrious, and thrifty."

"But, Mary, has it not occurred to you that you will find it very awkward sometimes?" Again without waiting for an answer, Miss Forsyth went on: "Our working people have long felt it very hard that there should be so many Germans in England, taking away their jobs."

"They have only themselves to thank for that," said Mrs. Otway, with more sharpness than was usual with an exceptionally kindly and amiable nature. "Germans are much more industrious than our people are, and they are content with less wages. Also you must forgive me if I say, dear Miss Forsyth, that I don't quite see what the jealousy of the average working man, or, for the matter of that, of the average mechanic, has to do with my good old Anna, especially at such a time as this."

"Don't you really?" Miss Forsyth looked curiously into the other's flushed and still fair, delicately tinted face. She had always thought Mary Otway a rather foolish, if also a lovable, generous hearted woman. But this was one of the few opinions Miss Forsyth always managed to keep to herself.

"I suppose you mean," said the other reluctantly, "that if I had not had Anna as a servant all these years I should have been compelled to have an Englishwoman?"

"Yes, Mary, that is exactly what I do mean! But of course I should never have spoken to you about the matter were it not for to day's news. My maid, Pusey, you know, spoke to me about it this morning, and said that if you should be thinking of parting with her if your good old Anna should be thinking, for instance, of going back to Germany she knew some one who she thought would suit you admirably... Continue reading book >>

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