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Mrs. Kathleen Drover has returned to London from her house in the country in order to pick up some things from the house that she and her husband abandoned because of the bombing of London by the Germans during 1940-41. when she enters house, she sees all of the telltale stains and dust left when she and her family moved out. The house has some cracks because of the bombing, and she wants to check on it. As she is passing her hall table, she notices a letter addressed to her, considering that the caretaker did not know of her return and that her house is boarded up and all of her mail has been forwarded to the country address. But she picks up the letter and takes it upstairs to her bedroom to read it, just moments before rain begins to fall.
The letter’s author promises her that nothing has changed except for the time that has passed. He tells her that it is their anniversary and mentions a time for their meeting, of which she has no memory. Strangest of all, the letter is signed “K,” her own initial. When she checks the date on the letter and finds that it is for that day, she suddenly feels strangely apprehensive. She looks at herself in the mirror, noting how thin she has become from food rationing, and we are told that, despite a facial twitch and a worried mood, she always looks calm.
As the clock strikes six, she thinks back to twenty-five years earlier, in 1916, when her young soldier-lover said goodbye for the last time. She remembers his promise to be with her and the way he cruelly pressed her hand against his uniform breast buttons. She remembers the relief she felt when she could run in and tell her mother and sister that he was gone, the isolation she felt because of his promise, and, following his supposed death in World War I, the long years before anyone was again interested in her. She has the sense of being watched, a feeling that is reinforced when the letter-writer suggests that he saw her leaving London.
Mrs. Drover is becoming increasingly nervous. The house sounds hollow, and she wonders how the letter got in. The more she thinks about it, the more fearful she becomes. As she gets up and locks her bedroom door, she thinks about how she needs to get away from the house and this impending meeting. She decides to collect the things that she wants to take with her and to call a taxi, forgetting that the phone service has been disconnected.
She thinks about her soldier-lover again, remembering everything but his appearance, and realizes that she will not recognize him. She then unlocks her door and listens at the top of the stairs. She feels a draft, as if someone has left the basement through a door or a window.
The rain has finally stopped. She decides to carefully leave her house and rush to the local taxi stand. She hurries because she does not want to hear the clock strike seven, in case that is the hour for the mysterious meeting. The story ends when she arrives at the taxi stand and she notices that the taxi seems to be waiting for her. After entering the taxi, Mrs. Drover knocks on the glass behind the driver to get his attention. When their eyes meet, she screams and the driver speeds off, “accelerating without mercy.” This conclusion has been the focus of much speculation — some critics argue that the driver of the taxi is Mrs. Drover’s long-lost lover, while others claim that the episode of anxiety she experiences is due to the stress of the war.
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