ROI

WALTER BLYTHE Before this war is over, every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it. You, Mary, will feel it. Feel it to your heart's core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come, and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over; years, Mary. And in those years, millions of hearts will break. MARY VANCE Fancy now! HARVEY CRAWFORD Aren't you painting it rather strong, Walter? This war won't last for years; it'll be over in a month or two. England will just wipe Germany off the map in no time. WALTER BLYTHE Do you think a war for which Germany has been preparing for twenty years will be over in a few weeks? This isn't a paltry struggle in a Balkan corner, Harvey. It is a death grapple. Germany comes to conquer or to die. And do you know what will happen if she conquers? Canada will be a German colony. HARVEY CRAWFORD Well, I guess a few things will happen before that. The British navy would have to be licked for one; and for another, Miller here, now, and I, we'd raise a dust, wouldn't we, Miller? No Germans need apply for this old country, eh? MARY VANCE I declare, I think all you boys talk the craziest stuff. KENNETH FORD [to Rilla] Tired? RILLA BLYTHE Kenneth, you don't think this war will matter much to us in Canada, do you? KENNETH FORD Matter? Of course it will matter to the lucky fellows who will be able to take a hand. I won't, thanks to this confounded ankle. Rotten luck, I call it. RILLA BLYTHE I don't see why we should fight England's battles. She's quite able to fight them herself. KENNETH FORD That isn't the point. We are part of the British Empire. It's a family affair. We've got to stand by each other. The worst of it is, it will all be over before I can be of any use. RILLA BLYTHE Do you mean that you would really volunteer to go if it wasn't for your ankle? KENNETH FORD Sure I would. You see they'll go by the thousands. Jem'll be off, I'll bet a cent. Walter won't be strong enough yet, I suppose. And Jerry Meredith, he'll go! And I was worrying about being out of football this year! __5__ [Rilla is in Ingleside kitchen with Gertrude, when telephone rings. Jem answers it.] RILLA BLYTHE How wicked I was to wish that something dramatic would happen! Oh, if we could only have those dear, monotonous, pleasant days back again! I would never, never grumble again. JEM BLYTHE [to Doctor Blythe at the table in the adjoining dining room - Susan Baker, Nan, Di, Walter, Shirley and Anne Blythe are present] They are calling for volunteers in town, Father. Scores have joined up already. I'm going in tonight to enlist. ANNE BLYTHE Oh, Little Jem. Oh no, no- little Jem. JEM BLYTHE I must Mother. I'm right, am I not, Father? DOCTOR BLYTHE Yes, Jem, yes. If you feel that way, yes. JEM BLYTHE Then I must ring the manse. Jerry will want to go too. NAN BLYTHE [leaving the room at once - Di follows her.] Oh! JEM BLYTHE [on the telephone with Jerry] Alright, I thought you would. Yes tonight; the seven o'clock. Meet me at the station. So long. [Jem walks out of the dining room.] SUSAN BAKER Mrs. Dr. dear, I wish you could wake me up. Am I dreaming, or am I awake? Does that blessed boy realize what he is saying? Does he mean that he is going to enlist as a soldier? You do not mean to tell me that they want children like him! It is an outrage. Surely you and the doctor will not permit it. ANNE BLYTHE We can't stop him. Oh Gilbert! [Doctor Blythe takes Anne's hand gently. Walter leaves the dining room.] DOCTOR BLYTHE Would you have him stay, Anne, when the others are going, when he thinks it his duty? Would you have him so selfish and small-souled? ANNE BLYTHE No, no! But oh, our first-born son, he's only a lad, Gilbert. I'll try to be brave after a while. I can't be just now. It's all come so suddenly; give me time. [Anne and Doctor Blythe leave now. Susan cries.] RILLA BLYTHE Oh Susan, will he really go? SUSAN BLYTHE I am going to wash the dishes. That has to be done, even if everybody else has gone crazy. There now dearie, don't you cry. Jem will go most likely, but the war will be over long before he gets anywhere near it. Let us take a brace and not worry your poor mother. RILLA BLYTHE In the Enterprise today it was reported that Lord Kitchener says the war will last three years. SUSAN BAKER I am not acquainted with Lord Kitchener, but I dare say he makes mistakes as often as other people. Your father says it will be over in a few months and I have as much faith in his opinion as I have in Lord Anybody's. [IN PLACE OF RILLA's DIARY, SHE TALKS TO GERTRUDE IN RAINBOW VALLEY] RILLA BLYTHE Really Gertrude, Mother and Nan are brave and smiling and wonderful. Mother and Miss Cornelia are organizing a Red Cross; Mr. Meredith is rounding up men for a Patriotic Society. "He goes to do what I had done Had Douglas' daughter been his son." I'm sure now that if I were a boy, I would go too. But... mother's eyes never laugh now. GERTRUDE OLIVER Sometimes I cry, because I am afraid that Kitchener of Khartoum is right and the war will last for years and- no, I won't say it. RILLA BLYTHE The other day Nan said, "Nothing can ever be quite the same for any of us again." It made me feel quite rebellious. Why shouldn't things be the same again? That is, when everything is over and Jem and Jerry are back. We'll all be happy and jolly again and these days will seem just like a bad dream. GERTRUDE OLIVER Faith Meredith is wonderful. I think she and Jem are engaged now. She goes about with a shining light in her eyes, but her smiles are stiff and starched, just like your mother's Rilla. RILLA BLYTHE I wonder if I could be as brave as she is if I had a lover and he was going to the war. It is bad enough when it is your brother. GERTRUDE OLIVER Bruce Meredith cried all night, Mrs. Meredith says, when he heard Jem and Jerry were going. And he wanted to know if the "K. of K." his father talked about was the King of Kings. RILLA BLYTHE He is the dearest kiddy; I just love him, though I don't really care much for children. I don't like babies one bit, though when I say so people look at me as if I had said something perfectly shocking. Well, I don't, and I've got to be honest about it. I don't mind looking at a nice, clean baby if somebody else holds it, but I wouldn't touch it for anything and I don't feel a spark of interest in it. GERTRUDE OLIVER I feel the same. Babies bore me until they are old enough to talk. Then I like them, but still a good way off. Well, I must be going. [Gertrude leaves as the sun begins to set. Walter walks to Rilla.] WALTER BLYTHE Rilla-my-Rilla, what are you thinking of? RILLA BLYTHE Everything is so changed, Walter. Even you; you're changed. A week ago we were all so happy, and- and now I just can't find myself at all. I'm lost. WALTER BLYTHE I'm afraid our world has come to an end, Rilla. We've got to face that fact. RILLA BLYTHE It's so terrible to think of Jem. Sometimes I forget for a little while what it really means and feel excited and proud. And then it comes over me again like a cold wind. WALTER BLYTHE I envy Jem! RILLA BLYTHE Envy Jem! Oh Walter, you don't want to go too? WALTER BLYTHE No, no, I don't want to go. That's just the trouble, Rilla. I'm afraid to go. I'm a coward. RILLA BLYTHE You're not! Why, anybody would be afraid to go. You might be, why, you might be killed. WALTER BLYTHE I wouldn't mind that if it didn't hurt. I don't think I'm afraid of death itself, but the pain that might come before death. It wouldn't be so bad to die and have it over, but to keep on dying! Rilla, I've always been afraid of pain. You know that. I can't help it. I shudder when I think of the possibility of being mangled or, or blinded. Rilla, I cannot face that thought. To be blind, never to see the beauty of the world again: moonlight on Four Winds, the stars twinkling through the fir-trees, mist on the gulf. I ought to go, I ought to want to go, but I don't. I hate the thought of it, and I'm ashamed. RILLA BLYTHE But Walter, you couldn't go anyhow. You're not strong enough. WALTER BLYTHE I am. I've felt as fit as ever I did this last month. I'd pass any examination. I know it. Everybody thinks I'm not strong yet, and I'm skulking behind that belief. I should have been- a girl. RILLA BLYTHE Even if you were strong enough, you oughtn't to go. What would Mother do? She's breaking her heart over Jem. It would kill her to see you both go. WALTER BLYTHE Oh, I'm not going; don't worry. I tell you I'm afraid to go. Afraid. I don't mince the matter to myself. It's a relief to own up even to you, Rilla. I wouldn't confess it to anybody else; Nan and Di would despise me. War isn't a khaki uniform or a drill parade- everything I've read in old histories haunts me. It is not a nice thing to feel a coward. Don't you despise me, Rilla-my-Rilla? [Rilla hugs Walter.] RILLA BLYTHE No, I don't. Why, Walter, hundreds of people feel just as you do. You know what that verse of Shakespeare in the old Fifth Reader says: "the brave man is not he who feels no fear." WALTER BLYTHE No, but it is "he whose noble soul its fear subdues." I don't do that. We can't gloss it over, Rilla. I'm a coward. RILLA BLYTHE You're not. Think of how you fought Dan Reese long ago. WALTER BLYTHE One spurt of courage isn't enough for a lifetime. RILLA BLYTHE Walter, one time I heard father say that the trouble with you was a sensitive nature and a vivid imagination. You feel things before they really come, feel them all alone when there isn't anything to help you bear them to take away from them. It isn't anything to be ashamed of. When you and Jem got your hands burned when the grass was fired on the sand-hills two years ago, Jem made twice the fuss over the pain than you did. As for this forrid old war, there'll be plenty to go without you. It won't last long. WALTER BLYTHE I wish I could believe it. Well, it's supper-time Rilla. You'd better run. I don't want anything. RILLA BLYTHE Neither do I. I couldn't eat a mouthful. Let me stay here with you. It's such a comfort to talk thing over with someone. The rest all think that I'm too much of a baby to understand. [They walk back to the veranda.]Present: Dr. Blythe, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. and Mrs. John Meredith, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Douglas, and Cousin Sophia with Susan Baker. NORMAN DOUGLAS [shouting] I'd go myself if I was twenty years younger. I'd show the Kaiser a thing or two! Did I ever say there wasn't a hell? Of course there's a hell, dozens of hells, hundreds of hells, where the Kaiser and all his brood are bound for. ELLEN DOUGLAS I knew this war was coming. I saw it coming right along. I could have told all those stupid Englishmen what was ahead of them. I told you, John Meredith, years ago what the Kaiser was up to, but you wouldn't believe it. You said he would never plunge the world in war. Who was right about the Kaiser, John? You, or I? Tell me that. JOHN MEREDITH You were, I admit. ELLEN DOUGLAS [shaking head] It's too late to admit it now. DOCTOR BLYTHE Thank God, England's navy is ready. ELLEN DOUGLAS Amen to that! Bat-blind as most of them were, somebody had foresight enough to see to that. NORMAN DOUGLAS The British army will settle Germany. Just wait till it gets into line and the Kaiser will find that real war is a different thing from parading round Berlin with your moustaches cocked up. ELLEN DOUGLAS Britain hasn't got an army. You needn't glare at me, Norman. Glaring won't make soldiers out of timothy stalks. A hundred thousand men will just be a mouthful for Germany's millions. NORMAN DOUGLAS There'll be some tough chewing in the mouthful, I reckon. Germany'll break her teeth on it. Don't you tell me one Britisher isn't a match for ten foreigners. SUSAN BAKER I am told, that old Mr. Pryor does not believe in this war. I am told that he says England went into it just because she was jealous of Germany and that she did not really care in the least what happened to Belgium. NORMAN DOUGLAS I believe he's been talking some such rot. I haven't heard him. When I do, Whiskers-on-the-moon won't know what happened to him. That precious relative of mine, Kitty Alec, holds forth to the same effect, I understand. Not before me, though. Somehow, folks don't indulge in that kind of conversation in my presence. They've a kind of presentiment that it wouldn't be healthy for their complaint. COUSIN SOPHIA I am much afraid that this war has been sent as a punishment for our sins. The world is very evil; the times are waxing late. NORMAN DOUGLAS Parson here's got something of the same idea. Haven't you, Parson? That's why you preached t'other night on the text, "Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." I didn't agree with you; wanted to get up in the pew and shout out that there wasn't a word of sense in what you were saying, but Ellen, here, she held me down. I never have any fun sassing parsons, since I got married. JOHN MEREDITH Without shedding of blood, there is no anything. Everything, it seems to me, has to be purchased by self-sacrifice. Our race has marked every step of its painful ascent with blood. And now torrents of it must flow again. No, Mrs. Crawford, I don't think the war has been sent as a punishment for sin. I think it is the price humanity must pay for some blessing, some advance great enough to be worth the price. We may not live to see it, but our children's children will inherit the blessing. NORMAN DOUGLAS If Jerry is killed, will you feel so fine about it? Now never mind kicking me in the shins, Ellen. I want to see if Parson meant what he said or if it was just a pulpit frill. JOHN MEREDITH Whatever I felt, it could not alter my belief: my assurance that a country whose sons are ready to lay down their lives in her defence will win a new vision because of their sacrifice. NORMAN DOUGLAS You do mean it, Parson. I can always tell when people mean what they say. It's a gift that was born in me. Makes me a terror to most parsons, that! But I've never caught you yet, saying anything you didn't mean. I'm always hoping I will; that's what reconciles me to going to church. It'd be such a comfort to me, such a weapon to batter Ellen here with when she tries to civilize me. Well, I'm off over the road to see Ab. Crawford a minute. The gods be good to you all. SUSAN BAKER The old pagan! [Rilla and Walter walk inside the house] RILLA I wish they would talk of something besides the the war. __6__ [MRS. BLYTHE AND SUSAN BAKER Are packing up Jem’s belongings in his room, upstairs.] RILLA Mother, I want to do something. I’m only a girl-I can’t do anything to win the war-but I must do something to help at home. ANNE BLYTHE The cotton has come up for the sheets. You can help Nan and Di make them up. And, Rilla, don’t you think you could organize a Junior Red Cross among the young girls? I think the would like it better and do better work by themselves than if mixed up with the older people. RILLA But Mother, I’ve never done anything like that. ANNE BLYTHE We will all have to do a great many things in the months ahead of us that we have never done before, Rilla. RILLA Well, I’ll try, Mother, if you’ll tell me how to begin. I have been thinking it all over and I have decided that I must be as brave and heroic and unselfish as I can possibly be. RILLA [to Nan and Di, while hemming] I wonder who would be president? I cannot. The older girls wouldn’t like that. Irene Howard? No, somehow Irene isn’t quite as popular asåshe deserves to be. Marjorie Drew doesn’t have enough backbone. She will be too prone to agree with the last speaker. Betty Mead- calm, capable, tactful Betty- the very one! Una Meredith will be the treasurer. They might make me secretary. My minute book can be covered in white with a red cross on the cover. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some kind of uniform which we could all wear at the concerts we would have to get up to raise money? It would have to be simple, but it could be smart. DI BLYTHE You have basted the top hem of that sheet on one side and the bottom hem on the other. [Rilla starts to pick the stitches out.] [Mrs. Blythe and Susan upstairs] ANNE BLYTHE Susan, do you remember that first day Jem lifted up his little arms to me and called me mo'er, the very first word he ever tried to say? SUSAN BAKER You could not mention anything about that blessed baby that I do not and will not remember till my dying day. ANNE BLYTHE Susan, I keep thinking today of once when he cried for me in the night. He was just a few months old. Gilbert didn't want me to go to him; he said the child was just as well and warm and that it would be fostering bad habits in him. But I went and took him up; I can feel that tight clinging of his light arms round my neck yet. Susan, if I hadn't gone that night, twenty one years ago and taken my baby up when he cried for me, I couldn't face tomorrow morning. SUSAN BAKER I do not know how we are going to face it anyhow, Mrs. Dr. dear. But do not tell me that it will be the final farewell. He will be back on leave before he goes overseas, will he not? ANNE BLYTHE We hope so, but we are not very sure. I am making up my mind that he will not, so that there will be no disappointment to bear. Susan, I am determined that I will send my boy off tomorrow with a smile. He shall not carry away with him the remembrance of a weak mother who had not the courage to send when he had the courage to go. I hope none of us will cry. SUSAN BLYTHE I am not going to cry, Mrs. Dr. dear, and that you may tie to; but whether I manage to smile or not will be as Providence ordains and as the pit of my stomach feels. Have you room there for this fruit cake? And the short bread? And the mince pie? That blessed boy shall not starve, whether they have anything to eat in that Quebec place or not. Everything seems to be changing all at once, does it not? Even the old cat at the manse has passed away. And I should not have lamented, Mrs. Dr. dear, if that Hyde beast had died also. He has been Mr. Hyde most of the time since Jem came home in khaki, and that has a meaning I will maintain. I do not know what Monday will do when Jem is gone. The creaeture just goes about with a human look in his eyes that takes all the good out of me when I see it. Ellen West used to be always railling at the Kaiser and we thought her crazy, but now I see that there was a method in her madness. [Jem Blythe and Jerry Meredith are about to leave. The sky is overcast; the clouds are grey. A hundred people are gathered round to see them off. Rilla is trembling, Susan Baker is smiling, Faith Meredith smiles bravely. Dog Monday keeps close to Jem's legs until Jem has to board the train.] ROSEMARY MEREDITH I can't bear that dog's eyes. [Rilla ignores Kenneth as he enters the station area.] MARY VANCE That beast has more sense than most humans. Miller got a maggot in his head about going, but I soon talked him out of it. For once in our lives, Kitty Alec and I agree. It's a miracle that isn't likely to happen again. There's Ken, Rilla. KENNETH FORD [to Rilla] Doing the brave smiling sister stunt, I see. What a crowd for the Glen to muster! Well, I'm off home in a few days myself. RILLA BLYTHE Why? You have another month of vacation. KENNETH FORD Yes, båt I can't hang around Four Winds and enjoy myself when the world's on fire like this. It's little old Toronto for me, where I'll find some way of helping in spite of this bally ankle. I'm not looking at Jem and Jerry; it makes me too sick with envy. You girls are great: no crying, no grim endurance. The boys'll go off with a good taste in their mouths. I hope Persis and Mother will be as game when my turn comes. RILLA BLYTHE Oh, Kenneth, the war will be over before your turn come th. [lisping] [Ethel Reese taps his shoulder and he starts talking to her. She starts crying. Rilla walks away to hear others' conversations.] IRENE HOWARD There's certainly something about those uniforms. KATE DREW The Blythe family are taking it easy. NATHAN CRAWFORD Those young fools are just going for adventure. REV. ARNOLD It's a commercial war when all is said and done and not worth one drop of Canadian blood. [The train comes in. Anne Blythe holds Jem Blythe's hand. Dog Monday licks Jem's other hand. Jem kisses Faith. Kate Drew whoops loudly.] JEM BLYTHE [to Rilla] Goodbye Spider. [Jem Blythe and Jerry Meredith board with a few other boys. The train starts to leave. Anne and Nan Blythe smile still. Dog Monday howls. Rev. Arnold has to grab Dog Monday to keep him from running after the train.] SHIRLEY BLYTHE I guess we better go. C'mon Monday! Hmm, guess he made up his mind to wait there till Jem comes back. SUSAN [to Anne Blythe] Mrs. Dr. dear, I have made up my mind to be a heroine. I am not going to lament or whine or question the wisdom of the Almighty any more as I have been doing lately. Whining or shirking and blaming Providence do not get us anywhere. We have just got to grapple with whatever we have to do whether it is weeding the onion patch, or running the Government. I shall grapple. Those blessed boys have gone to war; and we woman, Mrs. Dr. dear, must tarry by the stuff and keep a stiff upper lip.


You are visitor #