Maurice visits Ursula at her office. She has no idea what he could possibly be there for, until he tells her that Teddy’s plane had gone down in Berlin a few nights ago. He is officially “missing in action,” but a fellow pilot saw that the plane went down in flames, and no one bailed out. Ursula protests the entire time Maurice is telling her this, refusing to believe that Teddy could be dead.
The news of Teddy’s disappearance and death in the war hits Ursula like a ton of bricks because she had been so close to Teddy, and he had always shown ardent support for her in ways that many of her other family members—including Maurice—had not.
Ursula feels like she’s going to faint, and her assistant promptly brings her a glass of water and a chair. Maurice says that Sylvie took the news very hard as well. She is shocked that he almost sounds “bemused by [her] grief. He had never cared for Teddy the way they all did.” On his way out, he pats her on the shoulder and says he’ll see her at Fox Corner.
Maurice’s flippant attitude becomes one of the reasons that Ursula gets so depressed; unlike Teddy, he does not give her the support and comfort that she needs in the moment of being informed of Teddy’s death. It is clear that this is true of Sylvie, too, as Sylvie is led to suicide (and it is implied that it is because of Teddy’s death).
The family gathers at Fox Corner, but there is no body for a funeral. Teddy’s status has since changed from “missing in action” to “missing, presumed dead.” Nancy is there as well, and she tells Ursula that she will always love Teddy. She also says that she cannot cry because her tears wouldn’t do justice to his loss. Ursula, by contrast, has wept continuously for days, and had to be comforted like a child by Crighton and Miss Woolf. Now she feels nothing.
Ursula’s despair mirrors the depth of her love for Teddy, and Atkinson again reveals the disaster that war can wreak on families, marriages, and futures, in a way that echoes Ursula’s own early deaths. War is a senseless way of taking away the future possibilities that these lost soldiers might have had.
Nancy asks Ursula to find out if there’s even a chance Teddy could still be alive, so Izzie and Ursula seek out the pilot who saw Teddy’s plane go down, Roy Holt. Roy confirms that the whole crew died—that the plane was completely ablaze in the air, and that Teddy turned and looked at him. Roy then returns Lucky to Ursula—he says that the boys can’t bear to see him hanging around, waiting for Teddy to come back.
This scene is as close as Atkinson comes to describing a battlefield in World War II, reminding readers that for all of the violence that Ursula has seen, there is much, much more to be found on the actual frontlines that soldiers like her brother are experiencing.
On the car ride home, Ursula thinks that she might kill herself, but that she can’t bring herself to leave the dog. On VE day, Sylvie takes an overdose of sleeping pills and lays down on Teddy’s childhood bed. In the will she left, Sylvie had divided the remainder of her and Hugh’s money amongst her children equally, but had left Fox Corner to Pamela.
Sylvie proves another war casualty, prompted by the heart-wrenching loss of her son. In her will, she again proves her relative coldness towards (most of) her children, including Ursula, as she has no problem demonstrating her favoritism toward Pamela.
Maurice is livid at Sylvie’s will. Jimmy is indifferent, and Ursula is somewhat upset but is glad that Pamela is the one keeping the house. The contents of the house are to be divided, but Jimmy wants nothing and Maurice basically loots the house. Ursula only wants Sylvie’s little carriage clock and to be welcome at the house. Pamela assures her that she always is.
Ursula confirms her need for the love and support of her family by ensuring that she always has a place in her childhood home—and, in effect, in her older sister’s life.