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CHAPTER XXVIII BLACK SUNDAY
 In March of the year of grace 1918 there was one week into which must have crowded more of searing human agony than any seven days had ever held before in the history of the world. And in that week there was one day when all humanity seemed nailed to the cross; on that day the whole planet must have been agroan with universal convulsion; everywhere the hearts of men were failing them for fear.  
It dawned calmly and coldly and greyly at Ingleside. Mrs. Blythe and Rilla and Miss Oliver made ready for church in a suspense1 tempered by hope and confidence. The doctor was away, having been summoned during the wee sma's to the Marwood household in Upper Glen, where a little war-bride was fighting gallantly2 on her own battleground to give life, not death, to the world. Susan announced that she meant to stay home that morning—a rare decision for Susan.
 
"But I would rather not go to church this morning, Mrs. Dr. dear," she explained. "If Whiskers-on-the-moon were there and I saw him looking holy and pleased, as he always looks when he thinks the Huns are winning, I fear I would lose my patience and my sense of decorum and hurl3 a Bible or hymn-book at him, thereby4 disgracing myself and the sacred edifice5. No, Mrs. Dr. dear, I shall stay home from church till the tide turns and pray hard here."
 
"I think I might as well stay home, too, for all the good church will do me today," Miss Oliver said to Rilla, as they walked down the hard-frozen red road to the church. "I can think of nothing but the question, 'Does the line still hold?'"
 
"Next Sunday will be Easter," said Rilla. "Will it herald6 death or life to our cause?"
 
Mr. Meredith preached that morning from the text, "He that endureth to the end shall be saved," and hope and confidence rang through his inspiring sentences. Rilla, looking up at the memorial tablet on the wall above their pew, "sacred to the memory of Walter Cuthbert Blythe," felt herself lifted out of her dread7 and filled anew with courage. Walter could not have laid down his life for naught8. His had been the gift of prophetic vision and he had foreseen victory. She would cling to that belief—the line would hold.
 
In this renewed mood she walked home from church almost gaily9. The others, too, were hopeful, and all went smiling into Ingleside. There was no one in the living-room, save Jims, who had fallen asleep on the sofa, and Doc, who sat "hushed in grim repose10" on the hearth-rug, looking very Hydeish indeed. No one was in the dining-room either—and, stranger still, no dinner was on the table, which was not even set. Where was Susan?
 
"Can she have taken ill?" exclaimed Mrs. Blythe anxiously. "I thought it strange that she did not want to go to church this morning."
 
The kitchen door opened and Susan appeared on the threshold with such a ghastly face that Mrs. Blythe cried out in sudden panic.
 
"Susan, what is it?"
 
"The British line is broken and the German shells are falling on Paris," said Susan dully.
 
The three women stared at each other, stricken.
 
"It's not true—it's not," gasped11 Rilla.
 
"The thing would be—ridiculous," said Gertrude Oliver—and then she laughed horribly.
 
"Susan, who told you this—when did the news come?" asked Mrs. Blythe.
 
"I got it over the long-distance phone from Charlottetown half an hour ago," said Susan. "The news came to town late last night. It was Dr. Holland phoned it out and he said it was only too true. Since then I have done nothing, Mrs. Dr. dear. I am very sorry dinner is not ready. It is the first time I have been so remiss12. If you will be patient I will soon have something for you to eat. But I am afraid I let the potatoes burn."
 
"Dinner! Nobody wants any dinner, Susan," said Mrs. Blythe wildly. "Oh, this thing is unbelievable—it must be a nightmare."
 
"Paris is lost—France is lost—the war is lost," gasped Rilla, amid the utter ruins of hope and confidence and belief.
 
"Oh God—Oh God," moaned Gertrude Oliver, walking about the room and wringing13 her hands, "Oh—God!"
 
Nothing else—no other words—nothing but that age old plea—the old, old cry of supreme14 agony and appeal, from the human heart whose every human staff has failed it.
 
"Is God dead?" asked a startled little voice from the doorway15 of the living-room. Jims stood there, flushed from sleep, his big brown eyes filled with dread, "Oh Willa—oh, Willa, is God dead?"
 
Miss Oliver stopped walking and exclaimi............
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