Rilla of Ingleside HTML version

XII. In The Days Of Langemarck
"How can spring come and be beautiful in such a horror," wrote Rilla in her diary. "When
the sun shines and the fluffy yellow catkins are coming out on the willow-trees down by
the brook, and the garden is beginning to be beautiful I can't realize that such dreadful
things are happening in Flanders. But they are!
"This past week has been terrible for us all, since the news came of the fighting around
Ypres and the battles of Langemarck and St. Julien. Our Canadian boys have done
splendidly--General French says they 'saved the situation,' when the Germans had all
but broken through. But I can't feel pride or exultation or anything but a gnawing anxiety
over Jem and Jerry and Mr. Grant. The casualty lists are coming out in the papers every
day--oh, there are so many of them. I can't bear to read them for fear I'd find Jem's
name--for there have been cases where people have seen their boys' names in the
casualty lists before the official telegram came. As for the telephone, for a day or two I
just refused to answer it, because I thought I could not endure the horrible moment that
came between saying 'Hello' and hearing the response. That moment seemed a
hundred years long, for I was always dreading to hear 'There is a telegram for Dr.
Blythe.' Then, when I had shirked for a while, I was ashamed of leaving it all for mother
or Susan, and now I make myself go. But it never gets any easier. Gertrude teaches
school and reads compositions and sets examination papers just as she always has
done, but I know her thoughts are over in Flanders all the time. Her eyes haunt me.
"And Kenneth is in khaki now, too. He has got a lieutenant's commission and expects to
go overseas in midsummer, so he wrote me. There wasn't much else in the letter--he
seemed to be thinking of nothing but going overseas. I shall not see him again before
he goes--perhaps I will never see him again. Sometimes I ask myself if that evening at
Four Winds was all a dream. It might as well be--it seems as if it happened in another
life lived years ago--and everybody has forgotten it but me.
"Walter and Nan and Di came home last night from Redmond. When Walter stepped off
the train Dog Monday rushed to meet him, frantic with joy. I suppose he thought Jem
would be there, too. After the first moment, he paid no attention to Walter and his pats,
but just stood there, wagging his tail nervously and looking past Walter at the other
people coming out, with eyes that made me choke up, for I couldn't help thinking that,
for all we knew, Monday might never see Jem come off that train again. Then, when all
the people were out, Monday looked up at Walter, gave his hand a little lick as if to say,
'I know it isn't your fault he didn't come--excuse me for feeling disappointed,' and then
he trotted back to his shed, with that funny little sidelong waggle of his that always