Davis' Short Stories Vol. 1
A Charmed Life
She loved him so, that when he went away to a little war in which his country was
interested she could not understand, nor quite forgive.
As the correspondent of a newspaper, Chesterton had looked on at other wars; when the
yellow races met, when the infidel Turk spanked the Christian Greek; and one he had
watched from inside a British square, where he was greatly alarmed lest he should be
trampled upon by terrified camels. This had happened before he and she had met. After
they met, she told him that what chances he had chosen to take before he came into her
life fell outside of her jurisdiction. But now that his life belonged to her, this talk of his
standing up to be shot at was wicked. It was worse than wicked; it was absurd.
When the Maine sank in Havana harbor and the word "war" was appearing hourly in
hysterical extras, Miss Armitage explained her position.
"You mustn't think," she said, "that I am one of those silly girls who would beg you not
to go to war."
At the moment of speaking her cheek happened to be resting against his, and his arm was
about her, so he humbly bent his head and kissed her, and whispered very proudly and
softly, "No, dearest."
At which she withdrew from him frowning.
"No! I'm not a bit like those girls," she proclaimed. "I merely tell you YOU CAN'T GO!
My gracious!" she cried, helplessly. She knew the words fell short of expressing her
distress, but her education had not supplied her with exclamations of greater violence.
"My goodness!" she cried. "How can you frighten me so? It's not like you," she
reproached him. "You are so unselfish, so noble. You are always thinking of other
people. How can you talk of going to war--to be killed--to me? And now, now that you
have made me love you so?"
The hands, that when she talked seemed to him like swallows darting and flashing in the
sunlight, clutched his sleeve. The fingers, that he would rather kiss than the lips of any
other woman that ever lived, clung to his arm. Their clasp reminded him of that of a
drowning child he had once lifted from the surf.
"If you should die," whispered Miss Armitage. "What would I do. What would I do!"
"But my dearest," cried the young man. "My dearest ONE! I've GOT to go. It's our own
war. Everybody else will go," he pleaded. "Every man you know, and they're going to
fight, too. I'm going only to look on. That's bad enough, isn't it, without sitting at home?
You should be sorry I'm not going to fight."