Before returning to the war, what had Mrs. Drover's fiance promised her?

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In the short story, "The Demon Lover," by Elizabeth Bowen, Kathleen, the protagonist, finds herself questioning the promise her fiancee made twenty-five years earlier. The promise is that "I shall be with you . . . sooner or later. You won’t forget that. You need do nothing but wait.”

However, in the interim, Kathleen has married and has a family who lives in the country. She has returned to the London house to pick up some belongings when she finds a mysterious letter presumably from her fiancee who had died in the first war. The eerie letter suggests that she will meet her fiancee, K., at the appointed time on the date of their anniversary. This is the same date she has appeared at the empty London house.

The ending of the story suggests that somehow her dead fiancee has returned, and he drives Kathleen away, screaming, in the taxi. It appears he has fulfilled the promise to be with her "sooner or later."

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This story is built around the "sinister troth" and "unnatural promise" that Mrs. Drover makes all those years ago with her then fiance before he goes to war and, to all intents and purposes, dies, leaving her free to carry on with her life and marry again. However, many years later, significantly during the next world war, Mrs. Drover then receives a mysterious letter recalling her to this flashback and a promise that they made together. The flashback gives us more detail as the man says to the younger Mrs. Drover that:

"I will be with you," he said, "sooner or later. You won't forget that. You need do nothing but wait."

The ghostly fiance thus promises that at some point in the future he will come back and the will be reunited, which of course happens at the end of this chilling story.

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