"It is four years tonight since the dance at the lighthouse–four years of war.
It seems like three times four. I was fifteen then. I am nineteen now. _xpected that these past four years would be the most delightful years of m_ife and they have been years of war–years of fear and grief and worry–but _umbly hope, of a little growth in strength and character as well.
"Today I was going through the hall and I heard mother saying something t_ather about me. I didn't mean to listen–I couldn't help hearing her as I wen_long the hall and upstairs–so perhaps that is why I heard what listeners ar_aid never to hear–something good of myself. And because it was mother wh_aid it I'm going to write it here in my journal, for my comforting when day_f discouragement come upon me, in which I feel that I am vain and selfish an_eak and that there is no good thing in me.
"'Rilla has developed in a wonderful fashion these past four years. She use_o be such an irresponsible young creature. She has changed into a capable, womanly girl and she is such a comfort to me. Nan and Di have grown a littl_way from me–they have been so little at home–but Rilla has grown closer an_loser to me. We are _chums_. I don't see how I could have got through thes_errible years without her, Gilbert.'
"There, that is just what mother said–and I feel glad–and sorry–and proud–an_umble! It's beautiful to have my mother think that about me–but I don'_eserve it quite. I'm not as good and strong as all that. There are heaps o_imes when I have felt cross and impatient and woeful and despairing. It i_other and Susan who have been this family's backbone. But I have helped _ittle, I believe, and I am so glad and thankful.
"The war news has been good right along. The French and Americans are pushin_he Germans back and back and back. Sometimes I am afraid it is too good t_ast–after nearly four years of disasters one has a feeling that this constan_uccess is unbelievable. We don't rejoice noisily over it. Susan keeps th_lag up but we go softly. The price paid has been too high for jubilation. W_re just thankful that it has not been paid in vain.
"No word has come from Jem. We hope–because we dare not do anything else. Bu_here are hours when we _all_ feel–though we never say so–that such hoping i_oolishness. These hours come more and more frequently as the weeks go by. An_e may never _know_. That is the most terrible thought of all. I wonder ho_aith is bearing it. To judge from her letters she has never for a momen_iven up hope, but she must have had her dark hours of doubt like the rest o_s."
_20th August 1918_
"The Canadians have been in action again and Mr. Meredith had a cable toda_aying that Carl had been slightly wounded and is in the hospital. It did no_ay where the wound was, which is unusual, and we all feel worried.
"There is news of a fresh victory every day now."
_30th August 1918_
"The Merediths had a letter from Carl today. His wound was "only a sligh_ne"–but it was in his right eye and the sight is gone for ever!
"'One eye is enough to watch bugs with,' Carl writes cheerfully. And we kno_t might have been oh so much worse! If it had been both eyes! But I cried al_he afternoon after I saw Carl's letter. Those beautiful, fearless blue eye_f his!
"There is one comfort–he will not have to go back to the front. He is comin_ome as soon as he is out of the hospital–the first of our boys to return.
When will the others come?
"And there is one who will never come. At least we will not see him if h_oes. But, oh, I think he will be there–when our Canadian soldiers retur_here will be a shadow army with them–the army of the fallen. We will no_see_ them–but they will be there!"
_1st September 1918_
"Mother and I went into Charlottetown yesterday to see the moving picture,
'Hearts of the World.' I made an awful goose of myself–father will never sto_easing me about it for the rest of my life. But it all seemed so horribl_real_ –and I was so intensely interested that I forgot _everything_ but th_cenes I saw enacted before my eyes. And then, quite near the last came _erribly exciting one. The heroine was struggling with a horrible Germa_oldier who was trying to drag her away. I _knew_ she had a knife–I had see_er hide it, to have it in readiness–and I couldn't understand _why_ sh_idn't produce it and finish the brute. I thought _she must have forgotten it_ , and just at the tensest moment of the scene I lost my head altogether. _ust stood right up on my feet in that crowded house and shrieked at the to_f my voice– _'The knife is in your stocking–the knife is in your stocking!'_
"I created a sensation! The funny part was, that just as I said it, the gir_did_ snatch out the knife and stab the soldier with it!
"Everybody in the house laughed. I came to my senses and fell back in my seat, overcome with mortification. Mother was shaking with laughter. _I_ could hav_haken _her_. Why hadn't she pulled me down and choked me before I had mad_uch an idiot of myself. She protests that there wasn't time.
"Fortunately the house was dark, and I don't believe there was anybody ther_ho knew me. And I thought I was becoming sensible and self-controlled an_omanly! It is plain I have some distance to go yet before I attain tha_evoutly desired consummation."
_20th September 1918_
"In the east Bulgaria has asked for peace, and in the west the British hav_mashed the Hindenburg line; and right here in Glen St. Mary little Bruc_eredith has done something that I think wonderful–wonderful because of th_ove behind it. Mrs. Meredith was here tonight and told us about it–and mothe_nd I cried, and Susan got up and clattered the things about the stove.
"Bruce always loved Jem very devotedly, and the child has never forgotten hi_n all these years. He has been as faithful in his way as Dog Monday was i_is. We have always told him that Jem would come back. But it seems that h_as in Carter Flagg's store last night and he heard his Uncle Norman flatl_eclaring that Jem Blythe would never come back and that the Ingleside fol_ight as well give up hoping he would. Bruce went home and cried himself t_leep. This morning his mother saw him going out of the yard, with a ver_orrowful and determined look, carrying his pet kitten. She didn't think muc_ore about it until later on he came in, with the most tragic little face, an_old her, his little body shaking with sobs, that he had drowned Stripey.
"'Why did you do that?' Mrs. Meredith exclaimed.
"'To bring Jem back,' sobbed Bruce. 'I thought if I sacrificed Stripey Go_ould send Jem back. So I drownded him–and, oh mother, it was _awful_ hard–bu_urely God will send Jem back now, 'cause Stripey was the dearest thing I had.
I just told God I would give Him Stripey if He would send Jem back. And H_ill, won't He, mother?'
"Mrs. Meredith didn't know what to say to the poor child. She just could _not_ell him that perhaps his sacrifice wouldn't bring Jem back–that God didn'_ork that way. She told him that he mustn't expect it right away–that perhap_t would be quite a long time yet before Jem came back.
"But Bruce said, 'It oughtn't to take longer'n a week, mother. Oh, mother, Stripey was such a nice little cat. He purred so pretty. Don't you think Go_ought_ to like him enough to let us have Jem?"
"Mr. Meredith is worried about the effect on Bruce's faith in God, and Mrs.
Meredith is worried about the effect on Bruce himself if his hope isn'_ulfilled. And I feel as if I must cry every time I think of it. It was s_plendid–and sad–and beautiful. The dear devoted little fellow! He worshippe_hat kitten. And if it all goes for nothing–as so many sacrifices _seem_ to g_or nothing–he will be brokenhearted, for he isn't old enough to understan_hat God doesn't answer our prayers just as we hope–and doesn't make bargain_ith us when we yield something we love up to Him"
_24th September 1918_
"I have been kneeling at my window in the moonshine for a long time, jus_hanking God over and over again. The joy of last night and today has been s_reat that it seemed half pain–as if our hearts weren't big enough to hold it.
"Last night I was sitting here in my room at eleven o'clock writing a lette_o Shirley. Every one else was in bed, except father, who was out. I heard th_elephone ring and I ran out to the hall to answer it, before it should wake_other. It was long-distance calling, and when I answered it said 'This is th_elegraph Company's office in Charlottetown. There is an overseas cable fo_r. Blythe.'
"I thought of Shirley–my heart stood still–and then I heard him saying, 'It'_rom Holland.'
"The message was,
"'Just arrived. Escaped from Germany. Quite well. Writing. James Blythe.'
"I didn't faint or fall or scream. I didn't feel glad or surprised. I didn'_eel _anything_. I felt numb, just as I did when I heard Walter had enlisted.
I hung up the receiver and turned round. Mother was standing in her doorway.
She wore her old rose kimono, and her hair was hanging down her back in a lon_hick braid, and her eyes were shining. She looked just like a young girl.
"'There is word from Jem?' she said.
"How did she know? I hadn't said a word at the phone except 'Yes–yes–yes.' Sh_ays she doesn't know how she knew, but she _did_ know. She was awake and sh_eard the ring and she knew that there was word from Jem.
"'He's alive–he's well–he's in Holland,' I said.
"Mother came out into the hall and said, 'I must get your father on the 'phon_nd tell him. He is in the Upper Glen.'
"She was very calm and quiet–not a bit like I would have expected her to be.
But then I wasn't either. I went and woke up Gertrude and Susan and told them.
Susan said 'Thank God,' firstly, and secondly she said 'Did I not tell you Do_onday knew?' and thirdly, 'I'll go down and make a cup of tea'–and sh_talked down in her nightdress to make it. She did make it–and made mother an_ertrude drink it–but I went back to my room and shut my door and locked it, and I knelt by my window and cried–just as Gertrude did when her great new_ame.
"I think I know at last exactly what I shall feel like on the resurrectio_orning."
_4th October 1918_
"Today Jem's letter came. It has been in the house only six hours and it i_lmost read to pieces. The post-mistress told everybody in the Glen it ha_ome, and everybody came up to hear the news.
"Jem was badly wounded in the thigh–and he was picked up and taken to prison, so delirious with fever that he didn't know what was happening to him or wher_e was. It was weeks before he came to his senses and was able to write. The_e did write–but it never came. He wasn't treated at all badly at hi_amp–only the food was poor. He had nothing to eat but a little black brea_nd boiled turnips and now and then a little soup with black peas in it. An_e sat down every one of those days to three good square luxurious meals! H_rote us as often as he could but he was afraid we were not getting hi_etters because no reply came. As soon as he was strong enough he tried t_scape, but was caught and brought back; a month later he and a comrade mad_nother attempt and succeeded in reaching Holland.
"Jem can't come home right away. He isn't _quite_ so well as his cable said, for his wound has not healed properly and he has to go into a hospital i_ngland for further treatment. But he says he will be all right eventually, and we know he is safe and will be back home sometime, and oh, the differenc_t makes in _everything!_
"I had a letter from Jim Anderson today, too. He _has married an English girl_ , got his discharge, and is coming right home to Canada with his bride. _on't know whether to be glad or sorry. It will depend on what kind of a woma_he is. I had a second letter also of a somewhat mysterious tenor. It is fro_ Charlottetown lawyer, asking me to go in to see him at my earlies_onvenience in regard to a certain matter connected with the estate of the
'late Mrs. Matilda Pitman.'
"I read a notice of Mrs. Pitman's death–from heart failure–in the _Enterprise_ few weeks ago. I wonder if this summons has anything to do with Jims."
_5th October 1918_
"I went into town this morning and had an interview with Mrs. Pitman'_awyer–a little thin, wispy man, who spoke of his late client with such _rofound respect that it is evident that he as was much under her thumb a_obert and Amelia were. He drew up a new will for her a short time before he_eath. She was worth thirty thousand dollars, the bulk of which was left t_melia Chapley. But she left five thousand to me in trust for Jims. Th_nterest is to be used as I see fit for his education, and the principal is t_e paid over to him on his twentieth birthday. Certainly Jims was born lucky.
I saved him from slow extinction at the hands of Mrs. Conover–Mary Vance save_im from death by diptheritic croup–his star saved him when he fell off th_rain. And he tumbled not only into a clump of bracken, but right into thi_ice little legacy. Evidently, as Mrs. Matilda Pitman said, and as I hav_lways believed, he is no common child and he has no common destiny in stor_or him.
"At all events he is provided for, and in such a fashion that Jim Anderso_an't squander his inheritance if he wanted to. Now, if the new Englis_tepmother is only a good sort I shall feel quite easy about the future of m_ar-baby.
"I wonder what Robert and Amelia think of it. I fancy they will nail dow_heir windows when they leave home after this!"