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HOME > Classical Novels > Rilla of Ingleside > CHAPTER XXII LITTLE DOG MONDAY KNOWS
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 "It is two years tonight since the dance at the light, when Jack1 Elliott brought us news of the war. Do you remember, Miss Oliver?"  
Cousin Sophia answered for Miss Oliver. "Oh, indeed, Rilla, I remember that evening only too well, and you a-prancing down here to show off your party clothes. Didn't I warn you that we could not tell what was before us? Little did you think that night what was before you."
"Little did any of us think that," said Susan sharply, "not being gifted with the power of prophecy. It does not require any great foresight2, Sophia Crawford, to tell a body that she will have some trouble before her life is over. I could do as much myself."
"We all thought the war would be over in a few months then," said Rilla wistfully. "When I look back it seems so ridiculous that we ever could have supposed it."
"And now, two years later, it is no nearer the end than it was then," said Miss Oliver gloomily.
Susan clicked her knitting-needles briskly.
"Now, Miss Oliver, dear, you know that is not a reasonable remark. You know we are just two years nearer the end, whenever the end is appointed to be."
"Albert read in a Montreal paper today that a war expert gives it as his opinion that it will last five years more," was Cousin Sophia's cheerful contribution.
"It can't," cried Rilla; then she added with a sigh, "Two years ago we would have said 'It can't last two years.' But five more years of this!"
"If Rumania comes in, as I have strong hopes now of her doing, you will see the end in five months instead of five years," said Susan.
"I've no faith in furriners," sighed Cousin Sophia.
"The French are foreigners," retorted Susan, "and look at Verdun. And think of all the Somme victories this blessed summer. The Big Push is on and the Russians are still going well. Why, General Haig says that the German officers he has captured admit that they have lost the war."
"You can't believe a word the Germans say," protested Cousin Sophia. "There is no sense in believing a thing just because you'd like to believe it, Susan Baker3. The British have lost millions of men at the Somme and how far have they got? Look facts in the face, Susan Baker, look facts in the face."
"They are wearing the Germans out and so long as that happens it does not matter whether it is done a few miles east or a few miles west. I am not," admitted Susan in tremendous humility4, "I am not a military expert, Sophia Crawford, but even I can see that, and so could you if you were not determined5 to take a gloomy view of everything. The Huns have not got all the cleverness in the world. Have you not heard the story of Alistair MacCallum's son Roderick, from the Upper Glen? He is a prisoner in Germany and his mother got a letter from him last week. He wrote that he was being very kindly6 treated and that all the prisoners had plenty of food and so on, till you would have supposed everything was lovely. But when he signed his name, right in between Roderick and MacCallum, he wrote two Gaelic words that meant 'all lies' and the German censor7 did not understand Gaelic and thought it was all part of Roddy's name. So he let it pass, never dreaming how he was diddled. Well, I am going to leave the war to Haig for the rest of the day and make a frosting for my chocolate cake. And when it is made I shall put it on the top shelf. The last one I made I left it on the lower shelf and little Kitchener sneaked8 in and clawed all the icing off and ate it. We had company for tea that night and when I went to get my cake what a sight did I behold9!"
"Has that pore orphan's father never been heerd from yet?" asked Cousin Sophia.
"Yes, I had a letter from him in July," said Rilla. "He said that when he got word of his wife's death and of my taking the baby—Mr. Meredith wrote him, you know—he wrote right away, but as he never got any answer he had begun to think his letter must have been lost."
"It took him two years to begin to think it," said Susan scornfully. "Some people think very slow. Jim Anderson has not got a scratch, for all he has been two years in the trenches10. A fool for luck, as the old proverb says."
"He wrote very nicely about Jims and said he'd like to see him," said Rilla. "So I wrote and told him all about the wee man, and sent him snapshots. Jims will be two years old next week and he is a perfect duck."
"You didn't used to be very fond of babies," said Cousin Sophia.
"I'm not a bit fonder of babies in the abstract than ever I was," said Rilla, frankly11. "But I do love Jims, and I'm afraid I wasn't really half as glad as I should have been when Jim Anderson's letter proved that he was safe and sound."
"You wasn't hoping the man would be killed!" cried Cousin Sophia in horrified12 accents.
"No—no—no! I just hoped he would go on forgetting about Jims, Mrs. Crawford."
"And then your pa would have the expense of raising him," said Cousin Sophia reprovingly. "You young creeturs are terrible thoughtless."
Jims himself ran in at this juncture13, so rosy14 and curly and kissable, that he extorted15 a qualified16 compliment even from Cousin Sophia.
"He's a reel healthy-looking child now, though mebbee his colour is a mite17 too high—sorter consumptive looking, as you might say. I never thought you'd raise him when I saw him the day after you brung him home. I reely did not think it was in you and I told Albert's wife so when I got home. Albert's wife says, says she, 'There's more in Rilla Blythe than you'd think for, Aunt Sophia.' Them was her very words. 'More in Rilla Blythe than you'd think for.' Albert's wife always had a good opinion of you."
Cousin Sophia sighed, as if to imply that Albert's wife stood alone in this against the world. But Cousin Sophia really did not mean that. She was quite fond of Rilla in her own melancholy18 way; but young creeturs had to be kept down. If they were not kept down society would be demoralized.
"Do you remember your walk home from the light two years ago tonight?" whispered Gertrude Oliver to Rilla, teasingly.
"I should think I do," smiled Rilla; and then her smile grew dreamy and absent; she was remembering something else—that hour with Kenneth on the sandshore. Where would Ken19 be tonight? And Jem and Jerry and Walter and all the other boys who had danced and moonlighted on the old Four Winds Point that evening of mirth and laughter—their last joyous20 unclouded evening. In the filthy21 trenches of the Somme front, with the roar of the guns and the groans22 of stricken men for the music of Ned Burr's violin, and the flash of star shells for the silver sparkles on the old blue gulf
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