The Armistice seems to make Sylvie even more despondent than the war, as she says that the peace won’t bring back all of the poor boys that have been lost. The kids are more cheerful: they have the day off of school and are eager to play with the daughters of their new neighbors, Major Shawcross and Mrs. Shawcross. They have five daughters, which excites Pamela, Ursula, and Teddy, as there are no other girls their age in the neighborhood.
Sylvie’s reaction to the war is the first acknowledgement by the family of the scale of its destruction, and her depression foreshadows her later decision to commit suicide following the end of World War II, unable to cope with her son’s death.
The kids return that day as Mrs. Glover, Bridget, and Sylvie are toasting the peace—though none of them are in a particularly jubilant mood. Hugh and Izzie are still at the Front, and Sylvie won’t believe that Hugh is safe until he walks through the door. George Glover is being “rehabilitated” in a home in the Cotswolds; Mrs. Glover won’t say anything about him other than that he is no longer really George.
The crisis of war does highlight the value of family and the strength of the love that family members bear each other during these times: Sylvie thinks singularly of Hugh (in contrast to her straying thoughts prior to the war), while Mrs. Glover’s love for her son allows him to remain alive.
Bridget and Clarence leave to go to London to take part in the victory celebrations. They invite Mrs. Glover, who declines due to the influenza epidemic. Later that night, Ursula is woken by Bridget’s return, and she wakes Pamela. Downstairs, Bridget and Clarence regale them with tales of the festivities, including an appearance of the King and all of the bells of London ringing out. Sylvie appears in the kitchen and makes cocoa for all of them, listening late into the night until they all turn in for bed.
What begins as a scene of jubilation at the armistice quickly turns into tragedy when Bridget and Ursula fall ill. Ursula tries in several other lives to avert her interactions with Bridget—first by avoiding Bridget upon her return, and, when that fails, by attempting to preemptively divert Bridget from attending the celebrations at all.
The next morning, Ursula is burning hot and aching all over; Bridget is also sick. Ursula’s breathing is harsh and raspy, and she spits out the beef tea that Sylvie tries to feed her. Pamela stays with Ursula and reads to her. Dr. Fellowes is called, but Ursula’s condition only worsens, until she cannot open her eyes or breathe. Darkness falls.
Ursula’s deaths, particularly in these early chapters, demonstrate the power of fate and chance. Before Ursula learns any better, she is subject to a series of accidental deaths. It is only after she has experienced her mistakes once that she attempts to make choices that will avert her death a second time.