The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Author:Kate Quinn
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Published: 2021-01-16T00:00:00+00:00

Mab laid the book aside, feeling stripped to the core. All the letters he’d written and never a word about any of this. But why would he? No one talked about their war when it was over. If the day ever came that Hitler was defeated and Bletchley Park closed for good, Mab suddenly knew down to her bones that she and everyone else wouldn’t need the Official Secrets Act to tell them to scorch it from their minds. They’d do it anyway. That was what Francis and his surviving friends had done after the last war; it was probably what the Roman and Chinese soldiers in his history books had done after their wars long ago.

In the top drawer of his desk, she found a packet of her letters. She leafed through them, every one clearly much handled, all the way back to the very first note she’d written him after they became engaged—just a few lines suggesting a date he could meet her family. Underneath her signature, he’d scribbled in pencil:

The girl with the hat!

A knock sounded, and Mab jumped out of her skin. Still holding the bunch of letters, she rose to answer.

“Mr. Gray telephoned, dearie. He won’t be able to get away at all tonight—possibly by tomorrow morning. He’s very sorry—some line of questioning he can’t get free of.”

Mab’s heart sank.

“Would you like some supper? Just mock duck and turnip-top salad, but no one goes away from my table hungry, even with a war on.”

Mab demurred politely, then shut the door and looked around the little room. It might not have looked like Francis, smelled like him, or carried the shape of him in its shadows, but at that moment she swore she could almost feel him breathing at her shoulder. Before she could lose the feeling, she sat down at his chair and helped herself to his pen and paper.

Dear Francis—sitting in your room without you in it fills me with questions. I know the direction you slant your hat when you cram it over your hair with one hand. I know you take your tea without sugar, even when sugar isn’t rationed. I know you have a ticklish spot at your waist, and I know the song you hum while shaving (“I’m Always Chasing Rainbows”). But sometimes I don’t feel I know you at all . . . and you seem to know me so well.

I wish I had known the boy I saw in the photograph on your desk, the one with a smile that nearly runs round the back of his head. I wish I knew who his friends were. I wish I knew why you called me “the girl in the hat.”

I wish you were here. —M

Darling Mab—I missed you by eight bloody minutes this morning. I ran all the way home, shamelessly shoving small children into ditches and old ladies into oncoming traffic. Your scent was still lingering when I wrenched the door open. I said a good many words then of which my landlady did not approve.


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