Summer, 1914

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“Ah! There you are my boy!” The old gentleman smiles up from his table. “I hoped I would see you today.”

“Sir,” I reply. “How do you do this evening?”

“Splendid!” He claps his hands, gestures to the chair. “Won’t you join me for a glass of Sillery? It goes down well after such a hot afternoon.”

I  see no way out of it. He pours the sparkling yellow wine into a tall glass. “So tell me, young man. Are you a political animal?”

“Sir?”

“Do you hold opinions? A philosophy? Something about you that is more durable than your excellent manners and obvious wealth?”

His cold blue eyes pierce me. I realize now that he must know, must have seen us together. We have been careless. We cannot help ourselves. Her recklessness is an aphrodisiac for us both.

He expects an answer. A correct one.

I clear my throat.

What Pegman Saw

 

“IF I TRY TO FIND some useful phrase to sum up the time of my childhood and youth before the First World War, I hope I can put it most succinctly by calling it the Golden Age of Security.”
― Stefan ZweigThe World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European

The European summer of 1914 was marked by especially fine weather, day upon day of glorious sunshine and warm afternoons. The spas of Bohemia were a favorite destination for the noble and wealthy.

By winter, the world left behind its innocence as the Great War began, killing or wounding a quarter million young men in a matter of weeks. Soon enough, Bohemia itself would cease to exist.