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Rilla of Ingleside

XVII. The Weeks Wear By
Rilla read her first love letter in her Rainbow Valley fir-shadowed nook, and a girl's first
love letter, whatever blase, older people may think of it, is an event of tremendous
importance in the teens. After Kenneth's regiment had left Kingsport there came a
fortnight of dully-aching anxiety and when the congregation sang in Church on Sunday
evenings,
"Oh,
hear
us
when
we
cry
to
Thee
For those in peril on the sea,"
Rilla's voice always failed her; for with the words came a horribly vivid mind picture of a
submarined ship sinking beneath pitiless waves amid the struggles and cries of
drowning men. Then word came that Kenneth's regiment had arrived safely in England;
and now, at last, here was his letter. It began with something that made Rilla supremely
happy for the moment and ended with a paragraph that crimsoned her cheeks with the
wonder and thrill and delight of it. Between beginning and ending the letter was just
such a jolly, newsy epistle as Ken might have written to anyone; but for the sake of that
beginning and ending Rilla slept with the letter under her pillow for weeks, sometimes
waking in the night to slip her fingers under and just touch it, and looked with secret pity
on other girls whose sweethearts could never have written them anything half so
wonderful and exquisite. Kenneth was not the son of a famous novelist for nothing. He
"had a way" of expressing things in a few poignant, significant words that seemed to
suggest far more than they uttered, and never grew stale or flat or foolish with ever so
many scores of readings. Rilla went home from Rainbow Valley as if she flew rather
than walked.
But such moments of uplift were rare that autumn. To be sure, there was one day in
September when great news came of a big Allied victory in the west and Susan ran out
to hoist the flag--the first time she had hoisted it since the Russian line broke and the
last time she was to hoist it for many dismal moons.
"Likely the Big Push has begun at last, Mrs. Dr. dear," she exclaimed, "and we will soon
see the finish of the Huns. Our boys will be home by Christmas now. Hurrah!"
Susan was ashamed of herself for hurrahing the minute she had done it, and
apologized meekly for such an outburst of juvenility. "But indeed, Mrs. Dr. dear, this
good news has gone to my head after this awful summer of Russian slumps and
Gallipoli setbacks."
 
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