Better? I left a few of the filters in where I thought they were doing something.
It was six o’clock on an August morning when an old war hero hobbled up to the front door as Anni was sitting in the kitchen eating a boiled egg from a porcelain egg cup and drinking a cup of the bitter chicory that nowadays stood in for coffee. The room was dappled with early morning sunlight streaming in through the trees and reflecting in the cupboard windows. Anni was listening to a bird and trying to decide what kind of warbler it was when its song was drowned out by the sharp trilling of the bell, a signal that traveled from the front door of the big house down a cable in the hall to the kitchen, where a series of clappers mounted on the side wall vibrated with alarm. She stood up from the table. Her mother was coming down from upstairs, where she had been putting an inexperienced young housemaid through her paces. There was murmuring in the hallway that passed into the parlor. A few minutes later, the front door opened again, and the old soldier took his leave in low tones, his single boot crunching on the gravel as he retreated down the path.
Anni’s mother closed the door and stood in the hallway with a field post dangling from her hand. Her back was to Anni, her shoulders slumped. Slowly, Anni walked over and took the letter from her. Slowly, she opened it and glanced at the official type, the heading from a command post in the East, and the string of code that directed the message back to the army base in Stolp. It declared her father a defender of the Reich and announced that he had fallen in a panzer operation near Kursk. For his bravery, he was to be awarded a third and posthumous Iron Cross.