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HOME > Classical Novels > Rilla of Ingleside > CHAPTER XXIX "WOUNDED AND MISSING"
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CHAPTER XXIX "WOUNDED AND MISSING"
 "Battered but Not Broken" was the headline in Monday's paper, and Susan repeated it over and over to herself as she went about her work. The gap caused by the St. Quentin disaster had been patched up in time, but the Allied1 line was being pushed relentlessly2 back from the territory they had purchased in 1917 with half a million lives. On Wednesday the headline was "British and French Check Germans"; but still the retreat went on. Back—and back—and back! Where would it end? Would the line break again—this time disastrously3?  
On Saturday the headline was "Even Berlin Admits Offensive Checked," and for the first time in that terrible week the Ingleside folk dared to draw a long breath.
 
"Well, we have got one week over—now for the next," said Susan staunchly.
 
"I feel like a prisoner on the rack when they stopped turning it," Miss Oliver said to Rilla, as they went to church on Easter morning. "But I am not off the rack. The torture may begin again at any time."
 
"I doubted God last Sunday," said Rilla, "but I don't doubt him today. Evil cannot win. Spirit is on our side and it is bound to outlast4 flesh."
 
Nevertheless her faith was often tried in the dark spring that followed. Armageddon was not, as they had hoped, a matter of a few days. It stretched out into weeks and months. Again and again Hindenburg struck his savage5, sudden blows, with alarming, though futile6 success. Again and again the military critics declared the situation extremely perilous7. Again and again Cousin Sophia agreed with the military critics.
 
"If the Allies go back three miles more the war is lost," she wailed8.
 
"Is the British navy anchored in those three miles?" demanded Susan scornfully.
 
"It is the opinion of a man who knows all about it," said Cousin Sophia solemnly.
 
"There is no such person," retorted Susan. "As for the military critics, they do not know one blessed thing about it, any more than you or I. They have been mistaken times out of number. Why do you always look on the dark side, Sophia Crawford?"
 
"Because there ain't any bright side, Susan Baker9."
 
"Oh, is there not? It is the twentieth of April, and Hindy is not in Paris yet, although he said he would be there by April first. Is that not a bright spot at least?"
 
"It is my opinion that the Germans will be in Paris before very long and more than that, Susan Baker, they will be in Canada."
 
"Not in this part of it. The Huns shall never set foot in Prince Edward Island as long as I can handle a pitchfork," declared Susan, looking, and feeling quite equal to routing the entire German army single-handed. "No, Sophia Crawford, to tell you the plain truth I am sick and tired of your gloomy predictions. I do not deny that some mistakes have been made. The Germans would never have got back Passchendaele if the Canadians had been left there; and it was bad business trusting to those Portuguese10 at the Lys River. But that is no reason why you or anyone should go about proclaiming the war is lost. I do not want to quarrel with you, least of all at such a time as this, but our morale11 must be kept up, and I am going to speak my mind out plainly and tell you that if you cannot keep from such croaking12 your room is better than your company."
 
Cousin Sophia marched home in high dudgeon to digest her affront13, and did not reappear in Susan's kitchen for many weeks. Perhaps it was just as well, for they were hard weeks, when the Germans continued to strike, now here, now there, and seemingly vital points fell to them at every blow. And one day in early May, when wind and sunshine frolicked in Rainbow Valley and the maple14 grove
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