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Rilla of Ingleside

XIV. The Valley Of Decision
Susan kept the flag flying at Ingleside all the next day, in honour of Italy's declaration of
war.
"And not before it was time, Mrs. Dr. dear, considering the way things have begun to go
on the Russian front. Say what you will, those Russians are kittle cattle, the grand duke
Nicholas to the contrary notwithstanding. It is a fortunate thing for Italy that she has
come in on the right side, but whether it is as fortunate for the Allies I will not predict
until I know more about Italians than I do now. However, she will give that old reprobate
of a Francis Joseph something to think about. A pretty Emperor indeed--with one foot in
the grave and yet plotting wholesale murder"--and Susan thumped and kneaded her
bread with as much vicious energy as she could have expended in punching Francis
Joseph himself if he had been so unlucky as to fall into her clutches.
Walter had gone to town on the early train, and Nan offered to look after Jims for the
day and so set Rilla free. Rilla was wildly busy all day, helping to decorate the Glen hall
and seeing to a hundred last things. The evening was beautiful, in spite of the fact that
Mr. Pryor was reported to have said that he "hoped it would rain pitch forks points
down," and to have wantonly kicked Miranda's dog as he said it. Rilla, rushing home
from the hall, dressed hurriedly. Everything had gone surprisingly well at the last; Irene
was even then downstairs practising her songs with Miss Oliver; Rilla was excited and
happy, forgetful even of the Western front for the moment. It gave her a sense of
achievement and victory to have brought her efforts of weeks to such a successful
conclusion. She knew that there had not lacked people who thought and hinted that
Rilla Blythe had not the tact or patience to engineer a concert programme. She had
shown them! Little snatches of song bubbled up from her lips as she dressed. She
thought she was looking very well. Excitement brought a faint, becoming pink into her
round creamy cheeks, quite drowning out her few freckles, and her hair gleamed with
red-brown lustre. Should she wear crab-apple blossoms in it, or her little fillet of pearls?
After some agonised wavering she decided on the crab-apple blossoms and tucked the
white waxen cluster behind her left ear. Now for a final look at her feet. Yes, both
slippers were on. She gave the sleeping Jims a kiss--what a dear little warm, rosy, satin
face he had--and hurried down the hill to the hall. Already it was filling--soon it was
crowded. Her concert was going to be a brilliant success.
The first three numbers were successfully over. Rilla was in the little dressing-room
behind the platform, looking out on the moonlit harbour and rehearsing her own
recitations. She was alone, the rest of the performers being in the larger room on the
 
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