What Pegman Saw – Swallows and Amazons

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Coniston Water, which is in the Lake District of England.

WPS - Swallows and Amazons 180623

Coniston Water, Lake District, England © Google Maps

Swallows and Amazons

Only six years ago!

It was a day just like today when the four of them set off up the hill. The weather forecast was set fair. The early morning sun sharply delineated every rock, every leaf, woke pastel shades of sage and lilac from the rocky crest.

How clearly I can see them! John at the front carrying map and compass and wearing his ‘responsible’ face; Susan with a rucksack containing their provisions – ‘pemmican’ sandwiches and lemonade, I think; Titty, looking to Susan for her example; and little Roger with his make-believe cutlass.

And now we’re at war.

Susan has just become a VAD.

Titty is still at school, but spends her spare time sending comforts to the troops.

Roger, thank God, is too young to fight; I pray this war will be over soon.

I look down. The telegram from the Royal Navy is blurred by my tears.

22 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – Swallows and Amazons

  1. This is so sad, so moving. That little tribe of children from Swallows and Amazons thrown into the horrors of WWI. A wonderful idea, to see them march off on another trek, their childhoods intact, then snap to wartime, with that sense of innocent adventure being stripped, even from the youngest children. And what of poor John? That telegram makes me fear the worst. Wonderful writing, Penny

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dear Lynn
      Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. You’re right about John. He followed his father into the navy, and is missing in action, presumed drowned. To reference Swallows and Amazons again, he was no duffer, but he drowned anyway. (Just in case you don’t remember, their father gave permission for them to sail the lake and camp on Wildcat Island with a telegram which said “Better drowned than duffers. If not duffers, won’t drown.”)
      Thanks once more for your encouragement, Lynn
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! What an Edwardian sentiment that is – ‘better drowned than duffers’! I didn’t remember that. Your sad tale was made all the more chilling by using familiar characters. Great idea.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear James
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      I don’t think you missed anything; I don’t think there’s any specific connection with WW1.
      Coniston immediately made me think Swallows and Amazons (my generations Harry Potter!) and I found myself thinking about the (fictional) children’s mother. And then I thought about the children growing up, and the world they might inhabit…
      To be honest, I didn’t even check whether the timing fitted with WW1; but I felt that didn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter whether the reader knows anything of Swallows and Amazons, because the story stands on its own, I think.
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The War changed everyone’s simple and comfortable life to something ugly and complex. A lot of fathers and brothers were lost in the RN. So tragic. The contrasts of your story really bring out the cost of the war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear EagleAye
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully.
      War is always costly. What wars are our nations involved in? And how can we stop them?
      It’s not really a complex issue at all. Peace is men refusing to fight, and working to persuade others to do likewise.
      Sorry! This is the political issue I carry a soap-box for!
      I really appreciate your comments on my story – thank you!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not familiar with the Swallows and Amazons mentioned in the comments, but I thought the story worked perfectly fine on its own without prior knowledge. You painted such a poignant memory of better times, the children innocent still in an innocent age, looking back from a tragic vantage point: very touching!

    Like

  4. Very nice tableau with the children so full of purpose. Love the phrase “woke pastel shades of sage and lilac from the rocky crest.” Love John’s responsible face and the irony of him being the one first taken. And youre right: without the least knowledge of the book series, i still found it powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Alicia
      Thank you for reading and for your very kind comments. The story was born out of my passionate hatred of war, and I expect that’s why it comes across powerfully. I’m delighted you think it’s one of my best; I was fairly pleased with it myself!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 2 people

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