Next to Love 3 (Chapters 3 – 5)


Oh my! I didn’t expect Babe’s journey to become such a nightmare. She had been warned against trusting taxi drivers and men in general. Then when a young soldier starts to make conversation and become a bit too clingy, she starts to distrust him and tries to get away from him. So when they stop at some station for the next train, she thinks that if she locks herself in the ladies and lets the train leave, he won’t risk missing it and she will finally get rid of him. However, that backfires and she finds herself in the worst possible situation. The soldier keeps knocking at the ladies’ door, urging her to leave, but Babe remains inside. When she hears the train leave, followed by silence, she decides to leave the toilet. What she doesn’t expect  – and neither did I – is for the officer to be there, and before she knows what is happening, the horrible man starts calling her names and attacks and rapes her.

After the horrible event, Babe is broken and terribly lonely. Yet, she has the temperance to go to the local doctor to have some tests for venereal diseases. The physician treats her horribly when she has to admit that she has had intercourse, and he has no qualms in insulting her. I felt so sorry for Babe, and even though I think she should have told somebody about the rape, we have to understand that back then a woman was nothing, and her word would have been questioned. The doctor runs the tests, and they all come negative. So in that sense Babe is relieved and can now marry Claude. If she had contacted a disease from the rapist, she wouldn’t have been able to get married. I think Babe should have told Claude about what had happened, and I think he would have supported and helped her.

After they get married, Babe remains closer to him, staying in boarding houses as Claude is stationed in different bases. Millie also goes to find Peter, but she doesn’t have any problems on the journey and even boasts about how kindly people treated her. Then Millie and Babe go together to the doctor, and while Millie is excited about her new pregnancy, Babe is horrified because she can’t know if her baby is Claude’s. It could well be her rapist’s, so when she has a miscarriage, she is utterly relieved. Poor Babe.

Then the three men are sent abroad, and chapter 5 is composed of the letters that these three men send their wives. Peter is proud when Millie has their son Jack, and he has plans to continue his education and learn art properly; Charlie misses Grace and Amy terribly, and she feels privileged as Grace writes to him dozens of letters, so he is the envy of his unit; and Claude, missing Babe as much, longs for the war to be over and return to her soon.

The D-day happens, and the three women stop receiving their men’s letters, so they are worried something has happened to them. In his last letter Claude mentioned that mail could be slow as the channels for the distribution of post will probably be disrupted. So that is what these three women tell themselves, but they can’t help but worry.

The next chapter marks the date from the prologue in which a telegram came through, informing that one of our men has been killed. We know that it isn’t Claude, and the man who Babe sends to deliver the telegram goes where Millie and Grace are, so that means that it is either Charlie or Peter. Whoever has died, I will feel sad for them. What terrible times to live in!!!

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