And this.

Nov. 11th, 2013 10:42 am
marnanightingale: (Default)
[personal profile] marnanightingale
Early in September word came that the Canadians had been shifted to the Somme front and anxiety grew tenser and deeper. For the first time Mrs. Blythe's spirit failed her a little, and as the days of suspense wore on the doctor began to look gravely at her, and veto this or that special effort in Red Cross work.

"Oh, let me work—let me work, Gilbert," she entreated feverishly. "While I'm working I don't think so much. If I'm idle I imagine everything—rest is only torture for me. My two boys are on the frightful Somme front—and Shirley pores day and night over aviation literature and says nothing. But I see the purpose growing in his eyes. No, I cannot rest—don't ask it of me, Gilbert."

But the doctor was inexorable.

"I can't let you kill yourself, Anne-girl," he said. "When the boys come back I want a mother here to welcome them. Why, you're getting transparent. It won't do—ask Susan there if it will do."

"Oh, if Susan and you are both banded together against me!" said Anne helplessly.

One day the glorious news came that the Canadians had taken Courcelette and Martenpuich, with many prisoners and guns. Susan ran up the flag and said it was plain to be seen that Haig knew what soldiers to pick for a hard job. The others dared not feel exultant. Who knew what price had been paid?

Rilla woke that morning when the dawn was beginning to break and went to her window to look out, her thick creamy eyelids heavy with sleep. Just at dawn the world looks as it never looks at any other time. The air was cold with dew and the orchard and grove and Rainbow Valley were full of mystery and wonder. Over the eastern hill were golden deeps and silvery-pink shallows. There was no wind, and Rilla heard distinctly a dog howling in a melancholy way down in the direction of the station. Was it Dog Monday? And if it were, why was he howling like that? Rilla shivered; the sound had something boding and grievous in it. She remembered that Miss Oliver said once, when they were coming home in the darkness and heard a dog howl, "When a dog cries like that the Angel of Death is passing." Rilla listened with a curdling fear at her heart. It was Dog Monday—she felt sure of it. Whose dirge was he howling—to whose spirit was he sending that anguished greeting and farewell?

Rilla went back to bed but she could not sleep. All day she watched and waited in a dread of which she did not speak to anyone. She went down to see Dog Monday and the station-master said, "That dog of yours howled from midnight to sunrise something weird. I dunno what got into him. I got up once and went out and hollered at him but he paid no 'tention to me. He was sitting all alone in the moonlight out there at the end of the platform, and every few minutes the poor lonely little beggar'd lift his nose and howl as if his heart was breaking. He never did it afore—always slept in his kennel real quiet and canny from train to train. But he sure had something on his mind last night."

Dog Monday was lying in his kennel. He wagged his tail and licked Rilla's hand. But he would not touch the food she brought for him.

"I'm afraid he's sick," she said anxiously. She hated to go away and leave him. But no bad news came that day—nor the next—nor the next. Rilla's fear lifted. Dog Monday howled no more and resumed his routine of train meeting and watching. When five days had passed the Ingleside people began to feel that they might be cheerful again. Rilla dashed about the kitchen helping Susan with the breakfast and singing so sweetly and clearly that Cousin Sophia across the road heard her and croaked out to Mrs. Albert,

"'Sing before eating, cry before sleeping,' I've always heard."

But Rilla Blythe shed no tears before the nightfall. When her father, his face grey and drawn and old, came to her that afternoon and told her that Walter had been killed in action at Courcelette she crumpled up in a pitiful little heap of merciful unconsciousness in his arms. Nor did she waken to her pain for many hours.

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth. where there are comment count unavailable comments. Comment here or there as you prefer.

Date: 2013-11-11 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It must be about forty years since I last read that passage...

Date: 2013-11-12 02:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was discussing Rilla of Ingleside with the historian who organised the Peace exhibit at the War museum, and included a copy of it, and we concluded that it is probably one of the great Canadian novels of the Great War, only nobody notices because it's "a girl's book."

Date: 2013-11-11 10:05 pm (UTC)
ext_5457: (poppy)
From: [identity profile]
I haven't read that in ages. Remember crying the first time I did read it, sometime in my teens.

Date: 2013-11-12 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I still do, especially in the last ten years.

Date: 2013-11-12 04:26 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (books)
From: [identity profile]
I've never read the book. (I'm a guy.) And I almost cried reading this piece just now.

Date: 2013-11-12 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I think I have to read the rest of those books now, having missed them as a kid...

Date: 2013-11-12 11:24 am (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (paws)
From: [identity profile]
I re-read all of Montgomery recently (there was some kind of deal to get it on the Kindle) and as usual cried over this. Though in fact I always cry most near the end when Little Dog Monday's vigil is ended.

Date: 2013-11-12 02:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love and hate Rilla of Ingleside in equal measure, but that passage has always been one I don't dare read outside the house.

Date: 2013-11-12 03:37 pm (UTC)
ext_22860: Dr Who in a t-shirt reading 'trust me, I'm a Doctor' (widget)
From: [identity profile]
I love and hate it too. And remember how astonished I was to be hit with it when I'd just been reading Windy Willows and Ingleside (pretty sure I didn't come across Rainbow Valley until afterwards).

Date: 2013-11-12 06:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh my yes. Perhaps I should post that next year...


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