The spring of 1914 gave way to a rather eventful summer. In June, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife were shot in Sarajevo, Bosnia by a Serbian causing Austria to declare war on Serbia and Germany and Russia to rush to the aid of their respective allies. There was talk of war in Rouen because France was an ally of Russia. But Catharine did not pay much attention to this. The summer for her passed as it usually did, with garden parties and dances, and picnics.
On August 3rd, she went to have tea with her mother. Tea was set up on a terrace in the garden under a giant chestnut tree. A pristine white tablecloth was placed on a table laden with delicious looking coconut rocks, fruit cake, madeira cake, toast and butter, and potato scones.
“Catharine, would you please pass the butter?” Baronne d’Aubrey asked her daughter.
Catharine passed the butter to the mother. A young footman named Andre brought in the evening paper and brought it over to the Baronne.
“Monsieur has just returned from town,” he told her, “He’s out walking in the garden.”
“Thank you, Andre.”
The Baronne took the paper and looked at the front page. Catharine jumped up from the table when she heard her mother gasp.
“Maman, Maman, what is it?”She shouted.
The church bells in Rouen were all ringing and Mimi could hear them when she went into the garden to look for her father. She found him in a field of sunflowers on the outskirts of their property.
“Papa,” she called.
She ran over to him and stood by his side while he absent mindedly stroked her hair.
“Why are the bells ringing?” she asked.
When it was not a holiday, the church bells only rang when something terrible happened.
“We’re at war with Germany,” he told her.
He kissed her on the forehead and looked off into the distance.