This week, the first of two stories comes from World War One Short Stories and is “Red Tape” by May Sinclair. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.
This is was a well-timed short story (approximately 10 pages) as I’m also reading the very-not-so-short-story “The Road to 1914: The War That Ended Peace” by Margaret MacMillan which talks about the events leading up to the declaration of World War I. This story covers the same time period so this worked out well to have a different, more personal perspective to those events, even if it was fictional.
“Red Tape” tells of United Charities employees Mr. Starkey and Miss Delacheroy, who have worked closely together for 10 years. They’ve grown close as employees and friends even sharing Sunday teas together. The story starts with their history and the Britain’s ultimatum of Germany which Germany obviously rejected. Mr. Starkey announces he must go to the front and Miss Delacheroy announces that she, of course, must do the same. If he goes, she too must go. Miss Delacheroy is trying to time it so she goes exactly at the same time as Mr. Starkey is trying very hard to delay her going at all. What follows next is all the delays they each encounter trying to get to the front as quickly as they can but in the end, neither goes owing to “‘the system’ and ‘red tape'” (p. 11).
At first I thought this was a love story but it turns out they are just very comfortable as friends and extremely loyal and protective of each other. So in a way, it is a love story (just not a romantic one per se) of two great and dear friends. And some times, that’s an even better love story.
Ironically, the introduction to the story notes the author, May Sinclair “cut through the red tape that ties up the heroes of this story and worked for the Red Cross’s ambulance corps in Belgium” during World War I.