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Rilla of Ingleside

X. The Troubles Of Rilla
October passed out and the dreary days of November and December dragged by. The
world shook with the thunder of contending armies; Antwerp fell --Turkey declared war--
gallant little Serbia gathered herself together and struck a deadly blow at her oppressor;
and in quiet, hill-girdled Glen St. Mary, thousands of miles away, hearts beat with hope
and fear over the varying dispatches from day to day.
"A few months ago," said Miss Oliver, "we thought and talked in terms of Glen St. Mary.
Now, we think and talk in terms of military tactics and diplomatic intrigue."
There was just one great event every day--the coming of the mail. Even Susan admitted
that from the time the mail-courier's buggy rumbled over the little bridge between the
station and the village until the papers were brought home and read, she could not work
properly.
"I must take up my knitting then and knit hard till the papers come, Mrs. Dr. dear.
Knitting is something you can do, even when your heart is going like a trip-hammer and
the pit of your stomach feels all gone and your thoughts are catawampus. Then when I
see the headlines, be they good or be they bad, I calm down and am able to go about
my business again. It is an unfortunate thing that the mail comes in just when our dinner
rush is on, and I think the Government could arrange things better. But the drive on
Calais has failed, as I felt perfectly sure it would, and the Kaiser will not eat his
Christmas dinner in London this year. Do you know, Mrs. Dr. dear,"--Susan's voice
lowered as a token that she was going to impart a very shocking piece of information,--"I
have been told on good authority--or else you may be sure I would not be repeating it
when it concerns a minster--that the Rev. Mr. Arnold goes to Charlottetown every week
and takes a Turkish bath for his rheumatism. The idea of him doing that when we are at
war with Turkey? One of his own deacons has always insisted that Mr. Arnold's
theology was not sound and I am beginning to believe that there is some reason to fear
it. Well, I must bestir myself this afternoon and get little Jem's Christmas cake packed
up for him. He will enjoy it, if the blessed boy is not drowned in mud before that time."
Jem was in camp on Salisbury Plain and was writing gay, cheery letters home in spite of
the mud. Walter was at Redmond and his letters to Rilla were anything but cheerful.
She never opened one without a dread tugging at her heart that it would tell her he had
enlisted. His unhappiness made her unhappy. She wanted to put her arm round him
and comfort him, as she had done that day in Rainbow Valley. She hated everybody
who was responsible for Walter's unhappiness.
 
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