Last Updated on April 19, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 268
Mrs. Kathleen Drover
The story centers on the perceptions and actions of Mrs. Kathleen Drover. When she finds a letter addressed to her in her abandoned London home, she thinks back to her former nameless soldier-lover during World War I. She is keenly aware of her surroundings: the atmosphere, the weather, and particularly, a sense of strangeness. The letter lying on the table compels her to imagine the various possibilities for how the letter got there in the first place.
Because of the overwhelming sense of the strangeness of her situation, Mrs. Drover rushes upstairs to check herself in the mirror: her “most normal expression was one of controlled worry, but of assent. . . . [She] had . . . an intermittent muscular flicker to the left of her mouth, but . . . she could always sustain a manner that was at once energetic and calm.” To her family, Mrs. Drover is a picture of stability and dependability. The letter unnerves her, however, and she begins to pack things in a “rapid, fumbling-decisive way.” Although it is unclear whether she is haunted by the vengeful ghost of her soldier-lover or is neurotic, she completely breaks down at the end of the story.
Although we see the soldier-lover only through Kathleen Drover’s memories, he is a significant character. He treats her thoughtlessly, pushing her hand painfully onto his uniform breast buttons when she reaches to touch him and making her a promise that “I shall be with you . . . sooner or later. You won’t forget that. You need do nothing but wait.” He is reported “missing, presumed killed” in action in World War I.