Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
Ruth suddenly sat up very straight and began to watch, an unfamiliar awe upon her. This must be the first draft men just going away! Of course! Why had she not thought of it at once. She had read about their going and heard people mention it the last week, but it had not entered much into her thoughts. She had not realized that it would be a ceremony of public interest like this. She had no friends whom it would touch. The young men of her circle had all taken warning in plenty of time and found themselves a commission somewhere, two of them having settled up matters but a few days before. She had thought of these draft men, when she had thought of them at all, only when she saw mention of them in the newspapers, and then as a lot of workingmen or farmers’ boys who were reluctant to leave their homes and had to be forced into patriotism in this way. It had not occurred to her that there were many honorable young men who would take this way of putting themselves at the disposal of their country in her time of need, without attempting to feather a nice little nest for themselves. Now she watched them seriously and found to her astonishment that she knew many of them. There were three college fellows in the front ranks whom she had met. She had danced with them and been taken out to supper by them, and had a calling acquaintance with their sisters. The sister of one stood on the sidewalk now in the common crowd, quite near to the runabout, and seemed to have forgotten that anybody was by. Her face was drenched with tears and her lips were quivering. Behind her was a gray-haired woman with a skewey blouse and a faded dark blue serge skirt too long for the prevailing fashion. The tears were trickling down her cheeks also; and an old man with a crutch, and a little round-eyed girl, seemed to belong to the party. The old man’s lips were set and he was looking at the boys with his heart in his eyes.
Ruth shrank back not to intrude upon such open sorrow, and glanced at the line again as they straggled down the road to the platform; fifty serious, grave-eyed young men with determined mien and sorrow in the very droop of their shoulders. One could see how they hated all this publicity and display, this tense moment of farewell in the eyes of the town; and yet how tender they felt toward those dear ones who had gathered thus to do them honor as they went away to do their part in the great world-struggle for liberty.
As she looked closer the girl saw they were not mature men as at first glance they had seemed, but most of them mere boys. There was the boy that mowed the Macdonald lawn, and the yellow-haired grocery boy. There was the gas man and the nice young plumber who fixed the leak in the water pipes the other day, and the clerk from the post office, and the cashier from the bank! What made them look so old at first sight? Why, it was as if sorrow and responsibility had suddenly been put upon them like a garment that morning for a uniform, and they walked in the shadow of the great sadness that had come upon the world. She understood that perhaps even up to the very day before, they had most of them been merry, careless boys; but now they were men, made so in a night by the horrible sin that had brought about this thing called War.
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||276 KB|