Rilla of Ingleside
XV. Until The Day Break
"The Germans have recaptured Premysl," said Susan despairingly, looking up from her
newspaper, "and now I suppose we will have to begin calling it by that uncivilised name
again. Cousin Sophia was in when the mail came and when she heard the news she
hove a sigh up from the depths of her stomach, Mrs. Dr. dear, and said, 'Ah yes, and
they will get Petrograd next I have no doubt.' I said to her, 'My knowledge of geography
is not so profound as I wish it was but I have an idea that it is quite a walk from Premysl
to Petrograd.' Cousin Sophia sighed again and said, 'The Grand Duke Nicholas is not
the man I took him to be.' 'Do not let him know that,' said I. 'It might hurt his feelings and
he has likely enough to worry him as it is. But you cannot cheer Cousin Sophia up, no
matter how sarcastic you are, Mrs. Dr. dear. She sighed for the third time and groaned
out, 'But the Russians are retreating fast,' and I said, 'Well, what of it? They have plenty
of room for retreating, have they not?' But all the same, Mrs. Dr. dear, though I would
never admit it to Cousin Sophia, I do not like the situation on the eastern front."
Nobody else liked it either; but all summer the Russian retreat went on --a long-drawn-
"I wonder if I shall ever again be able to await the coming of the mail with feelings of
composure--never to speak of pleasure," said Gertrude Oliver. "The thought that haunts
me night and day is--will the Germans smash Russia completely and then hurl their
eastern army, flushed with victory, against the western front?"
"They will not, Miss Oliver dear," said Susan, assuming the role of prophetess.
"In the first place, the Almighty will not allow it, in the second, Grand Duke Nicholas,
though he may have been a disappointment to us in some respects, knows how to run
away decently and in order, and that is a very useful knowledge when Germans are
chasing you. Norman Douglas declares he is just luring them on and killing ten of them
to one he loses. But I am of the opinion he cannot help himself and is just doing the best
he can under the circumstances, the same as the rest of us. So do not go so far afield
to borrow trouble, Miss Oliver dear, when there is plenty of it already camping on our
Walter had gone to Kingsport the first of June. Nan, Di and Faith had gone also to do
Red Cross work in their vacation. In mid-July Walter came home for a week's leave
before going overseas. Rilla had lived through the days of his absence on the hope of
that week, and now that it had come she drank every minute of it thirstily, hating even
the hours she had to spend in sleep, they seemed such a waste of precious moments.