Meet the Stewards: The Main Characters in the WW1 Trilogy

Angel of Mercy by Melina Druga

Meet the Stewards: The Main Characters in the WW1 Trilogy

The Stewards are the main characters in my WW1 Trilogy comprised of Angel of Mercy (released in 2019), Those Left Behind (released in 2020) and Adjustment Year (launching April 2021).

Here are the 10 members of the Steward family:

Benjamin

“Your mother and I must learn to accept that most of our children are grown and, from time to time, will do things we don’t like.  You’ll find out for yourself someday.”

Benjamin Steward is the father of Hettie, the trilogy’s main character.  He appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in Those Left Behind.

Benjamin was born in Barrie, but his family moved to Hamilton during his youth.  Only Benjamin returned to Barrie when he took the position of headmaster at Armstrong Academy.

He is an intellectual who believes in equal rights for woman as well as Canada’s right to make international political decisions on its own.  He is a staunch Liberal and a pacifist.

Like his wife, Lucretia, he does not understand Hettie and Freddie’s motivations, but learns to accept them and their right to make their own decisions.

Lucretia

“Hettie is angry with me, and Freddie refuses to write.  They—” Lucretia rubbed her temple and wanted to say she was heartbroken, that she missed her children and wanted to hold them in her arms, but she couldn’t bring herself to admit this aloud.  Instead she said, “They were a challenge from the start.”

Lucretia Goodwin Steward is the mother of Hettie, the trilogy’s main character.  She appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in the second novel, Those Left Behind.

Lucretia is a former educator.  She is the eldest daughter in her family and is very much accustomed to getting her way.  Unlike many women of her era, she is not frightened to express her opinions, whether others want to hear them or not.

During the war, she does not understand Hettie and Freddie’s motivations, but she does love her children and wishes they would return home.

She is lifelong friends with Amelia Bartlette.  She has numerous siblings including Frank, Oscar, Rebecca, Sadie and Steven.

Ida

“I wish someone would have listened to me.  I warned and warned and warned until I was out of breath.  My intuition told me something was wrong.  Had someone listened, Uncle Oscar may well have been saved. “

Born in 1886, Ida is the eldest Steward sibling.  She is the older sister of Hettie, the trilogy’s main character.  She appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in the second novel, Those Left Behind.

Ida has a love of fashion and always imitates the latest styles.  By 1919, she has cut her hair short and has raised her hemline.

She is the mother of Beatrice, Agnes and Cordelia and purposefully is avoiding having anymore children.  Her husband, James Morris, works for a bank.  Their marriage is a good one, until 1916 when James suffers from a dental ailment.  His resulting cocaine addiction puts a strain on their marriage, and Ida faces humiliation, even if it is self imposed.

Walter

Walter blinked with each clomp.  Finally, he turned to his sister. “I’m sorry for what I said, Hettie.  I was wrong.  I’m sorry.”

Walter is Hettie’s older brother.  He was born in 1888, and appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in the second novel, Those Left Behind.

He is, perhaps, a younger version of his father, always wanting to be in control when the Steward parents are not around.  He does make a blunder, however, with Hettie in 1914 that he regrets.

Mechanically inclined, Walter loves cars and is the manager of a garage.

He is married to Dorothea and they have one son, Oliver.

There is nothing Walter would not do for family, including helping Tommy evade the law.

Mabel

“I’m sorry.  I don’t know what’s the matter.”  Why am I apologizing to him? she thought and wrinkled her nose.  What?  For ruining his dinner?

Mabel is Hettie’s older sister.  She was born in 1890, and appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in the second novel, Those Left Behind.

She is close to Hettie but believes Hettie is better at everything compared to her.

Mabel marries Gardner Hill, who is controlling and loves his work more than his wife.  She secretly yearns for a divorce.

She is the mother of two boys, Charles and William, with one on the way in 1919.

Henrietta “Hettie”

“I can’t believe what happened in the past few hours,” Hettie said in a voice that waivered as she spoke.  “Moreover, I feel so ashamed for running when he … died.  I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

Henrietta Claire Steward, known as Hettie to family and close friends, is the main character in Angel of Mercy, a minor character in Those Left Behind, and the main character in Adjustment Year.   She was born in May 1892.

Hettie is what, in her youth, was called an “independently minded female.”  She is a graduate of a Toronto nursing school.  The program was three years, and she needed to be a high school graduate to apply.  This means she is highly educated compared to the majority of her peers.

Hettie was inspired to be become a nursing sister after witnessing a nurse take care of a close family friend after he was severely injured.

She doesn’t understand why a woman can’t have both a profession and a spouse.  Men can, after all.  In 1914, she decides to sacrifice her career to marry Geoffrey, her childhood sweetheart.  Even though she loves him, she loves her career.  When the Great War begins, she jumps at the chance to go back to nursing.  She thinks it will be temporary – the war will be over by Christmas, everyone says so – but temporary ends up being four years.

Hettie’s experiences in Europe are the plot of Angel of Mercy.  We visit her again in 1919 when she has returned back to Canada and is adjusting to post-war life.

Frederick “Freddie”

“Let me tell you a little story,” he said, “it might ease your mind a bit.  After you left for the nursing service, I was the one who was worried.  There were weeks when communication was slow, and we had no idea where you were or if you were safe.  Then the lists of the dead grew longer in the newspapers, Victor enlisted and Geoffrey was killed, and I couldn’t stand by and do nothing any longer.  Of course, I had Father’s words in my mind and because of our upbringing I knew I shouldn’t be, couldn’t be a soldier, but I could do something.”

Frederick Steward, known as Freddie to family and close friends, is a reoccurring character in Angel of Mercy, a minor character in Those Left Behind, and a reoccurring character in Adjustment Year.   He was born in Nov. 11, 1893.

Freddie is Hettie’s closest sibling, both in age and emotionally.  As children, they were both best friends and adversaries, getting into trouble as the family rebels.

As an adult, Freddie becomes a constable with the local police force, a position that, he says, taught him to be suspicious of people.

Freddie has a reputation as a ladies man, but this is nothing compared to loyalty to his sister.  He will do anything for her, because, as he says, her happiness is paramount to his own.

Thomas “Tommy”

“Try!  I don’t care about the mess.  Do it here.  Cut it out!  Save our child.  Save our only child.  Please.  Please, take it.”

Thomas, “Tommy” Steward is Hettie’s younger brother.  He was born in 1896, and appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in the second novel, Those Left Behind.

The most sensitive and creative of the Steward children, Tommy struggles to be viewed as an adult.  He marries Maeve Bartlette, but like Hettie’s marriage to Geoffrey Bartlette, their marriage is doomed to be short.

He works as a draughtsman in an architect’s office and is bound for university after the war’s end.

Alice

Alice threw up her arms, which sent her pen flying.  It dripped ink from its nib as it did somersaults through the air and landed somewhere behind her.  “The circumstances.  The circumstances!”

Alice is Hettie’s younger sister.  She was born in 1898, and appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in the second novel, Those Left Behind.

Alice is a younger version of Lucretia, making her a challenging teenager.  She loves to egg on her siblings and other family members, often getting on their nerves.  She is a bit self centered, but does love her family.

She marries Cedric Viens, an attorney, in 1918.

Adelaide

“I know, Father, but I, I, didn’t know how you would react.  I thought since Hettie went away because of her profession that you might not want me to have one.”

Adelaide is Hettie’s youngest sister.  She was born in 1900, and appears in all three books in the trilogy, most prominently in the second novel, Those Left Behind.

The youngest Steward child, she is studious and seeks to have a career.  She grows up throughout the trilogy and goes away to the same normal school Lucretia attended in 1918.

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Updated: 28 October 2020
Melina Druga
Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.
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