July 1914 and the world heads for the bloodiest war in history. Conflict between nations will be worldwide and loss of life counted in millions.

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image of The Brittle Land

I intend placing a few extracts to The Brittle Land on my blog. Though these will be in chronological order, they will not be consecutive order. In other words, some chapters will be left out so as to not spoil the storyline as the Brittle Saga Trilogy continues from Book One, The Brittle Sea.

The Brittle Sea – 1911 to 1914: New York & Alaska – Published June 2020
The Brittle Land – 1914 to 1939 France, USA & UK – Publishing Dec 2020
The Brittle Sky – 1939 to 1966 Europe, Canada (air training) Europe Florida space race – Publishing May 2021

July 1914 – In Times of War

Peter was nursed back to full health by an adoring Sophia, much to the chagrin of her mother. Her father, on the other hand, was more practical. His daughter was of an age to wed and in so doing would relieve the family of a mouth to feed. Franz worked with his father on the farm and paid his meagre way. Sophia didn’t and was therefore a burden. A burden he loved dearly, but nonetheless a burden.

But ever the practical man, he realised that Peter had no way of supporting Sophia in his current state, or indeed in his itinerant life when fully fit. So he proposed a practical solution.

“It’s rough ground and I’ve never been able to clear it on my own. But with the three of us working on it as and when, it will be enough for a home and enough space to grow crops. And we will all be together and can help each other out, as needs be.”

Peter listened respectfully and he could tell Sophia’s father was sincere. He was tempted at the thought of marrying Sophia, settling down and having his own family. But equally he wanted to go to America. To see the new world and, with god’s help, find his sister. For the first time in his life, Peter was torn and didn’t know what to do.

It was late July and the summer sun was hot on Peter’s back as he struggled to give Jacob Radner an answer. He opened his mouth several times as thoughts passed through his head, but no solution came to mind. “I think…” was all he managed when the two men heard the clip-clopping of a horse moving rapidly up the farm track. The postmaster’s buggy came into view and it was travelling at a speed the poor horse had not experienced in many a year.

“Ferdy! You’ll kill that poor horse if you’re not careful,” Jacob called out as the postmaster pulled up in front of the two men.

“It’s war!” Ferdy shouted.

“War? What do you mean, war? Who is at war, Ferdy?”

The fat postmaster climbed down from his buggy, placed the reigns under a heavy stone nearby and waddled over to Peter and Jacob.

“The Austrians, with Serbia. I received a telegram this morning. Germany is mobilising.” Ferdy turned his attention pointedly at Peter. “Who will you fight for, Russian?”

Peter rankled at the postmaster’s slur. “I’m not a Russian. Why does nobody ever listen when I say I’m from Ukraine.”

“Russia. Ukraine. Same thing,” the postmaster said indifferently.

Peter stood up and pulled himself to his full height and bent down, placing his face directly in front of the postmaster. “Ukraine. Understand?”

The postmaster nodded, making a mental note never to bring the subject matter up again.

“I think what Ferdy means is part of Ukraine is dominated by Russia and part is dominated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.”

Peter looked at Jacob in a new light. “You know this? You understand about such things.”

Jacob simply nodded.

Ferdy smiled. “He may act like a dumb farmer, but he’s really a teacher.”

“Ex-teacher. I gave it up when I realised I couldn’t teach stupid children like you, Ferdy.”

The two men laughed out loud and Peter realised that there was more to Jacob Radner than meets the eye.

“So, what of this war?” Peter asked.

“It will be over in no time. Germany will side with Austria and Serbia will capitulate. It’s happened before. Nothing to it, just a silly little argument.” Ferdy smiled at the two men as Peter sat back down on the rock.

“I wonder,” was all Jacob Radner said as he looked up into the clear blue sky.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2020

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