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The War-Workers   By: (1890-1943)

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Author of "Zella Sees Herself"

William Heinemann




J. A. S.

A very small token of innumerable bonds of union

Author's Foreword

The "Midland Supply Depot" of The War Workers has no counterpart in real life, and the scenes and characters described are also purely imaginary.

E.M. Delafield


At the Hostel for Voluntary Workers, in Questerham, Miss Vivian, Director of the Midland Supply DepĂ´t, was under discussion that evening.

Half a dozen people, all of whom had been working for Miss Vivian ever since ten o'clock that morning, as they had worked the day before and would work again the next day, sat in the Hostel sitting room and talked about their work and about Miss Vivian.

No one ever talked anything but "shop," either in the office or at the Hostel.

"Didn't you think Miss Vivian looked awfully tired today?"

"No wonder, after Monday night. You know the train wasn't in till past ten o'clock. I think those troop trains tire her more than anything."

"She doesn't have to cut cake and bread and butter and sandwiches for two hours before the train gets in, though. I've got the usual blister today," said an anaemic looking girl of twenty, examining her forefinger.

There was a low scoffing laugh from her neighbour.

"Miss Vivian cutting bread and butter! She does quite enough without that, Henderson. She had the D.G.V.O. in there yesterday afternoon for ages. I thought he was never going. I stood outside her door for half an hour, I should think, absolutely hung up over the whole of my work, and I knew she was fearfully busy herself."

"It's all very well for you, Miss Delmege you're her secretary and work in her room, but we can't get at her unless we're sent for. I simply didn't know what to do about those surgical supplies for the Town Hospital this morning, and Miss Vivian never sent for me till past eleven o'clock. It simply wasted half my morning."

"She didn't have a minute; the telephone was going the whole time," said Miss Delmege quickly. "But yesterday, you know, when the D.G.V.O. wouldn't go, I thought she was going to be late at the station for that troop train, and things were fairly desperate, so what d'you suppose I did?"

"Dashed into her room and got your head snapped off?" some one suggested languidly. "I shall never forget one day last week when I didn't know which way to turn , we were so busy, and I went in without being sent for, and Miss Vivian "

"Oh yes, I remember," said Miss Delmege rapidly. She was a tall girl with eyeglasses and a superior manner. She did not remember Miss Marsh's irruption into her chief's sanctum with any particular clearness, but she was anxious to finish her own anecdote. "But as I was telling you," she hurried on, affecting to be unaware that Miss Marsh and her neighbour were exchanging glances, "when I saw that it was getting later every minute, and the D.G.V.O. seemed rooted to the spot, I simply went straight downstairs and rang up Miss Vivian on the telephone. Miss Cox was on telephone duty, and she was absolutely horrified. She said, 'You don't mean to say you're going to ring up Miss Vivian,' she said; and I said, 'Yes, I am. Yes, I am,' I said, and I did it. Miss Cox simply couldn't get over it."

Miss Delmege paused to laugh in solitary enjoyment of her story.

"'Who's there?' Miss Vivian said you know what she's like when she's in a hurry. 'It's Miss Delmege,' I said. 'I thought you might want to know that the train will be in at eight o'clock, Miss Vivian, and it's half past seven now.' She just said 'Thank you,' and rang off; but she must have told the D.G.V.O., because he came downstairs two minutes later. And she simply flung on her hat and dashed down into the car and to the station."

"And, after all, the train wasn't in till past ten, so she might just as well have stayed to put her hat on straight," said Miss Henderson boldly... Continue reading book >>

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