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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Tin Soldier - BOOK THREE _ THE BUGLE CALLS - Chapter XXVI. THE HOPE OF THE WORLD
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The Tin Soldier - BOOK THREE _ THE BUGLE CALLS - Chapter XXVI. THE HOPE OF THE WORLD Post by :spartan75 Category :Long Stories Author :Temple Bailey Date :April 2012 Read :1849

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The great spring drive of the Germans brought headlines to the papers which men and women in America read with dread, and scoffed at when they talked it over.

"They'll never get to Paris," were the words on their lips, but in their hearts they were asking, "Will they--?"

Easter came at the end of March, and Good Friday found Jean working very early in the morning on fawn-colored rabbits with yellow ears. She worked in her bedroom because it was warmed by a feeble wood fire, and Teddy came up to watch her.

"The yellow in their ears is the sun shining through," Jean told him. "We used to see them in the country on the path in front of the house, and the light from the west made their ears look like tiny electric bulbs."

Margaret-Mary entranced by one small bunny with a splash of white for a cotton tail, sang, "Pitty sing, pitty sing."

"They don't weally lay eggs, do they?" Teddy ventured.

"I wouldn't ask such questions if I were you, Teddy."

"Why not?"

"Because you might find out that they didn't lay eggs, and then you'd feel terribly disappointed."

"Well, isn't it better to know?"

Jean shook her head. "I'm not sure--it's nice to think that they do lay eggs--blue ones and red ones and those lovely purple ones, isn't it?"


"And if they don't lay them, who does?"

"Hens," said Teddy, rather unexpectedly, "and the rab-yits steal them."

"Who told you that?"

"Hodgson. And she says that she ties them up in rags and the colors come off on the eggs."

"Well, I wouldn't listen to Hodgson."

"Why not? I like to listen."

"Because she hasn't any imagination."

"What's 'magination?"

They were getting in very deep. Jean gave it up. "Ask your mother, Teddy."

So Teddy sought his unfailing source of information. "What's 'magination, Mother."

"It is seeing things, Teddy, with your mind instead of your eyes. When I tell you about the poor little children in France who haven't any food or any clothes except what the Red Cross gives them, you don't really see them with your eyes, but your mind sees them, and their cold little hands, and their sad little faces--"

"Yes." He considered that for a while, then swept on to the things over which his childish brain puzzled.

"Mother, if the Germans get to Paris what will happen?"

He saw the horror in her face.

"Do you hate the Germans, Mother?"

"My darling, don't ask me."

After he had gone downstairs, Margaret got out her prayer-book, and read the prayers for the day.

"Oh, merciful God, who hast made all men and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live, have mercy on all Jews, Turks, infidels and heretics, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of Thy word, and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to Thy flock, that they may be saved--"

She shut the book. No, she could not go on. She did not love her enemies. She was not in the least sure that she wanted the Germans to be saved!

On Easter morning, however, Teddy was instructed to pray for his enemies. "We mustn't have hate in our hearts."

"Why mustn't we, Mother?"

"Well, Father wouldn't want it. We hate the evil they do, but we must pray that they will be shown their wickedness and repent."

"If they re-pyent will they stop fighting?"

"My dearest, yes."

"How would they stop?"

Jean, who was ready for church and waiting, warned, "You'd better not try to give an answer to that, Margaret, there isn't any."

Teddy ignored her. "How would they stop, Mother?"

"Well, they'd just stop, dear--"

"Would they say they were sorry?"

_Would William of Prussia ever be sorry_?

"Can God stop it, Mother?"

Margaret wrenched her mind away from the picture which his words had painted for her, the Kaiser on his knees! _Miserere mei, Deus_--

With quick breath, "Yes, dear."

"Then why doesn't He stop it, Mother?"

_Why? Why? Why? Older voices were asking that question in agony_.

"He will do it in His own good time, dearest. Perhaps the world has a lesson to learn."

With Teddy walking ahead with nurse, Jean proclaimed to Margaret, "I shan't pray for them."

"I know how you feel."

"Shall you?"

"Yes," desperately, "I must."

"Why must you?"

"Because of--Win," Margaret said simply. In her widow's black, with her veil giving her height and dignity, she had never been more beautiful. "Because of Win, I must. There are wives in Germany who suffer as I suffer--who are not to blame. There are children, like my children, asking the same questions--. This drive has seemed to me like the slaughter of sheep, with a great Wolf behind them, a Wolf without mercy, sending them down to destruction, to--death--"

"And the Wolf--?"

Margaret raised her hand and let it drop, "God knows."

And now soldiers were being rushed overseas. Trains swept across the land loaded with men who gazed wistfully at the peaceful towns as they passed through, or chafed impotently when, imprisoned in day coaches, they were side-tracked outside of great cities.

And on the battle line those droves and droves of gray sheep were driven down and down--to death--by the Wolf.

The war was coming closer to America. A look of care settled on the faces of men and women who had, hitherto, taken things lightly. Fathers, who had been very sure that the war would end before their sons should go to France, faced the fact that the end was not in sight, and that the war would take its toll of the youth of America. Mothers, who had not been sure of anything, but had hidden their fears in their hearts, stopped reading the daily papers. Wives, who had looked upon the camp experiences of their husbands as a rather great adventure, knew now that there might be a greater adventure with a Dark Angel. The tram-sheds in great cities were crowded with anxious relatives who watched the troops go through, clutching at the hope of a last glimpse of a beloved face, a few precious moments in which to say farewell.

Yes, the war was coming near!

Derry wrote that he might go at any moment, but hoped for a short furlough. It was on this hope that Jean lived. She worked tirelessly, making the much-needed surgical dressings. When Emily tried to get her to rest, Jean would shake her head.

"Darling, I must. They are bringing the wounded over."

"But you mustn't get too tired."

"I want to be tired. So that I can sleep."

She was finding it hard to sleep. Often she rose and wrote in her memory book, which was becoming in a sense a diary because she confided to its pages the things she dared not say to Derry. Some day, perhaps, she might show him what she had written. But that would be when the war was over, and Derry had come back safe and sound. Until then she would have to smile in her letters, and she did not always feel like smiling!

But that was what Derry called them, "Smiling letters!"

"They smile up at me every morning, Jean."

So she wrote to him bravely, cheerfully, of her busy days, of how she missed him, of her love and longing, but not a word did she say of her world as it really was.

But there was no laughter in the things she said to the old memory book.

"I don't like big houses--not houses like this, with grinning porcelain Chinese gods at every turn of the hall, and gold dragons on the bed-posts. There are six of us here besides the servants, yet we are like dwarfs in a giant palace. Perhaps if we had the usual fires it wouldn't seem quite so forlorn. But the china in the cabinets is so cold--and the ceilings are so high--and the marble floors--.

"Perhaps if everyone were happy it would be different. But only Emily is happy. And I don't see how she can be. She is going to marry a Hun! Of course, he isn't really, and he'd be a darling dear if it weren't for his German name, and his German blood, and the German things he has in his house. But Emily says she loves his house, that it speaks to her of a different Germany--of the sweet old gay Germany that waltzed and sang and loved simple things. It seems so funny to think of Emily in love--she's so much older than people are usually when they are engaged and married.

"But Emily is the only happy one, except the children, and I sometimes think that even they have the shadow on them of the dreadful things that are happening. Margaret-Mary tries to knit, and tires her stubby little fingers with the big needles, and Teddy, poor chap, seems to feel that he must be the man of the family and take his father's place, and he is pathetically careful of his mother.

"I wonder if Margaret feels as I do about it all? She is so sweet and smiling--and yet I know how her heart weeps, and I know how she longs for her own house and her own hearth and her own husband--

"Oh, when my Derry comes back safe and sound--and he will come back safe, I shall say it over and over to myself until I make it true--when Derry comes back, we'll build a cottage, with windows that look out on trees and a garden--and there'll be cozy little rooms, and we'll take Polly Ann and Muffin--and live happy ever after--.

"I wonder how father stands it to be always with people who are sick? I never knew what it meant until now. The General is an old dear--but sometimes when I sit in that queer room of his with its lacquer and gold and see him in his gorgeous dressing gown, I feel afraid. It is rather dreadful to think that he was once young and strong like Derry, and that he will never be young and strong again.

"Oh, I want the war to end--I want Derry, and sunshine and well people. It seems a hundred years since I did anything just for the fun of doing it. It seems a million years since Daddy and I drove downtown together and drank chocolate sodas--

"But then nobody is drinking chocolate sodas--at least no one is doing it light-heartedly. You can't be light-hearted when the person you love best in the world is going to war. You can be brave, and you can make your lips laugh, but you can't make your heart laugh--you can't--you can't--.

"I talk a great deal to the women who come to Emily's Toy Shop. And I am finding out that some of those that seem fluffy-minded are really very much in earnest. There is one little blonde, who always wears white silk and chiffon, she looks as if she had just stepped from the stage. And at first I simply scorned her. I felt that she would be the kind to leave ravellings in her wipes, and things like that. But she doesn't leave a ravelling. She works slowly, but she does her work well--. But now and then her hands tremble and the tears fall; and the other day I went and sat down beside her and I found out that her husband is flying in France, and that her two brothers are at the front--. And one of them is among the missing; he may be a prisoner and he may be dead--. And she is trying to do her bit and be brave. And now I don't care if she does wear her earlocks outside of her veil and load her hands with diamonds--she's a dear---and a darling. But she's scared just as I am--and as Mary Connolly is, and as all the women are, though they don't show it--. I wonder if Joan of Arc was afraid--in her heart as the rest of us are? Perhaps she wasn't, because she was in the thick of it herself, and we aren't. Perhaps if we were where we could see it and have the excitement of it all, we should lose our fear.

"But when women tell me that the women have the worst of it--that they must sit at home and weep and wait, I don't believe it. We suffer--of course, and there's the thought of it all like a bad dream, and when we love our loved ones--it is heartbreak. But the men suffer, daily, in all the little things. The thirst and the vermin, and the cold and wet--and the noise--and the frightfulness. And they grow tired and hungry and homesick,--and death is on every side of them, and horror--. Some of the women who come to the shop sentimentalize a lot. One woman recited, 'Break, break, break--, the other day, and the rest of them cried into the gauze, _cried for themselves_, if you please; 'For men must work and women must weep.' And then my little blonde told them what she thought of them. Her name is 'Maisie,' wouldn't you know a girl like that would be called 'Maisie'?

"'If you think,' she said, 'that you suffer--what in God's name will you think before the war is over? It hasn't touched you. You won't know what suffering means until your men begin to come home. You talk about hardships; not one of you has gone hungry yet--and the men over there may be cut off at any moment from food supplies, and they are always at the mercy of the camp cooks, who may or may not give them things that they can eat. And they lie out under the stars with their wounds, and if any of you has a finger ache, you go to bed with hot water bottles and are coddled and cared for. But our boys,--there isn't anyone to coddle them--they have to stick it out. And we've got to stick it out--and not be sorry for ourselves. Oh, why should we be sorry for ourselves!' The tears were streaming down her cheeks when she finished, and a gray-haired woman who had wept with the others got up and came over to her. 'My dear,' she said, 'I shall never pity myself again. My two sons are over there, and I've been thinking how much I have given. But they have given their young lives, their futures--their bodies, to be broken--' And then standing right in the middle of the Toy Shop that mother prayed for her sons, and for the sons of other women, and for the husbands and lovers, and that the women might be brave.

"Oh, it was wonderful--as she stood there like a white-veiled prophetess, praying.

"Yet a year ago she would have died rather than pray in public. She is a conservative, aristocratic woman, the kind that doesn't wear rings or try to be picturesque--and she has always kept her feelings to herself, and said her prayers to herself--or in church, but never in all her life has she been so fine as she was the other day praying in the Toy Shop.

"Yet in a way I am sorry for myself. Not for me as I am to-day, but for the Jean of Yesterday, who thought that patriotism was remembering Bunker Hill!

"Of course in a way it is that--for Bunker Hill and Lexington and Valley Forge are a part of us because our grandfathers were there, and what they felt and did is a part of our feeling and doing.

"I have always thought of those old days as a sort of picture--the embattled farmers in their shirt-sleeves and with their hair blowing, and the Midnight Ride, and the lantern in the old North Church--and the Spirit of '76. And it was the same with the Civil War; there was always the vision of cavalry sweeping up and down slopes as they do in the movies, and of the bugles calling, and bands playing 'Marching through Georgia' or 'Dixie' as the case might be--and flags flying--isn't it glorious to think that the men in gray are singing to-day, 'The Star Spangled Banner' with the rest of us?

"But my thoughts never had anything to do with money, though I suppose people gave it then, as they are giving now. But you can't paint pictures of men and women making out checks, and children putting thrift stamps in little books, so I suppose that in future the heroes and heroines of the emptied pocket-books will go down unsung--.

"It isn't a bit picturesque to give until it hurts, but it helps a lot. I saw Sarah Bernhardt the other day in a wonderful little play where she's a French boy, who dies in the end--and she dies, exquisitely, with the flag of France in her arms--the faded, lovely flag--I shall never forget. The tears ran down my cheeks so that I couldn't see, but her voice, so faint and clear, still rings in my ears--

"If she had died clutching a Liberty Bond or wearing a Red Cross button, it would have seemed like burlesque. Yet there are men and women who are going without bread and butter to buy Liberty Bonds, and who are buying them not as a safe investment, as rich men buy, but because the boys need the money. And there ought to be poems written and statues erected to commemorate some of the sacrifices for the sake of the Red Cross.

"Yet I think that, in a way, we have not emphasized enough the picturesque quality of this war, not on this side. They do it in France--they worship their great flyers, their great generals, their crack regiments, everything has a personality, they are tender with their shattered cathedrals as if something human had been hurt, and the result is a quickening on the part of every individual, a flaming patriotism which as yet we have not felt. We don't worship anything, we don't all of us know the words of 'The Star Spangled Banner'; fancy a Frenchman not knowing the words of the 'Marseillaise' or an Englishman forgetting 'God Save the King.' We don't shout and sing enough, we don't cry enough, we don't feel enough--and that's all there is to it. If we were hot for the triumph of democracy, there would be no chance of victory for the Hun. Perhaps as the war comes nearer, we shall feel more, and every day it is coming nearer--"

It was very near, indeed. Thousands of those gray sheep were lying dead on the plains of Picardy--the Allies fought with their backs to the wall--Americans who had swaggered, secure in the prowess of Uncle Sam, swaggered no longer, and pondered on the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.

Slowly the nation waked to what was before it. In America now lay the hope of the world. The Wolf must be trapped, the sheep saved in spite of themselves, those poor sheep, driven blindly to slaughter.

The General was not quite sure that they were sheep, or that they were being driven. He held, rather, that they knew what they were about--and were not to be pitied.

Teddy, considering this gravely, went back to previous meditations, and asked if he prayed for his enemies.

"Bless my soul," said the old gentleman, "why should I?"

"Well, Mother says we must, and then some day they'll stop and say they are sorry--"

The General chuckled, "Your mother is optimistic."

"What's 'nopt'mistic?"

"It means always believing that nice things will happen."

"Don't you believe that nice things will happen?"


"Don't you believe that the war will stop?"

"Not until we've thrown the full force of our fighting men into it--at what a sacrifice."

"Can't God make it stop?"

"He can, but He won't, not if He's a God of justice," said this staunch old patriot, "until America has brought them to their knees--"

"Will they say they are sorry then?"

"It won't make very much difference what they say--"

But Teddy, having been brought up to understand the things which belong to an officer and a gentleman, had his own ideas on the subject. "Well, I should think they'd ought to say they were sorry--."

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BOOK THREE THE BUGLE CALLS - CHAPTER XXVII. MARCHING FEETThe end of April brought much rain; torrents swept down the smooth streets, and the beauty of the carefully kept flower beds in the parks was blurred by the wet.The General, limping from window to window, chafed. He wanted to get out, to go over the hills and far away; with the coming of the spring the wander-hunger gripped him, and with this restless mood upon him he stormed at Bronson."It's a dog's life.""Yes, sir," said Bronson, dutifully."It is dead lonesome, Bronson, and I can't keep Jean tied here all of


BOOK THREE THE BUGLE CALLS - CHAPTER XXV. WHITE VIOLETSBruce McKenzie's letter arriving in due time at the Toy Shop, found Emily very busy. There were many women to be instructed how to do things with gauze and muslin and cotton, so she tucked the letter in her apron pocket. But all day her mind went to it, as a feast to be deferred until the time came to enjoy it.In the afternoon Ulrich Stoelle arrived, bearing the inevitable tissue paper parcel."Do you know what day it is?" he asked."Thursday.""There are always Thursdays. But this is a special Thursday.""Is it?""And