The story begins when Mrs. Drover arrives at her house, which has been not been occupied for some time. She has plans to "look for several things she [wants] to take away." Mrs. Drover and her family had left their London home to live in relative safety in the country. They had done this to escape the London Blitz.
Blitz was short for Blitzkrieg, which meant "lightning war" in German. Blitzkrieg was an attack strategy of bombing raids. Nazi planes flew over London and other major British citizens. These planes dropped bombs, causing enormous amounts of destruction. Mrs. Drover notes this when she observes the "damage of war" in her neighborhood.
During the Blitz, British citizens of cities had to evacuate to bomb shelters or London Underground stations in order to escape death or injury. People who could not easily access such shelters were issued Morrison shelters, which were steel tables that they could hide underneath.
There were periods of time when London was bombed every single night. This caused fear and anxiety for citizens. Many people found it difficult to endure the constant fear of bombings. Some people sent their children to live with host families in the country. Others moved themselves and their entire families to the country, which was the case with Mrs. Drover. These people locked their houses up or appointed a caretaker, as the Drover family did.