Susan's Thursday morning note May 17, 2007 Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery Loyalty of Family Pet Dog
Good morning! I just typed that out of habit. I’m barely functioning at this point to tell you the truth! Thank you for coming in and giving us business for Mother’s Day gifts even though you had to deal with the construction mess. That meant more to me – that you showed your support when you could barely get to my store – than you’ll realize. It’s been fun the last few weeks to see how many of you are picking out literature and books/journals with meaningful quotes to give for your graduation gifts. Every year more and more books are being purchased for the graduates. I was sorting through my books in our basement this week and I just love how each book gives me a memory of a point in my life. I have some from high school, college, and each place I’ve lived. They give immediate flashbacks to me. If you still need some graduation gifts I highly recommend that you buy literature – a classic (Tolstoy, Dickens, Steinbeck, Jane Austin, etc.) – for there will be a time in the future that your graduate will reach for that book, and have the memory of this milestone in his/her life.
When I was going through my books I came across my “treasures” – my Anne of Green Gables series of eight little paperbacks. These books are the stories of Anne’s children growing up. The last book in the series is called Rilla of Ingleside – and I’d like to write for you this morning one of my absolutely favorite paragraphs of any book in my home. When I’m sick, or exhausted, or just want to be cheered – I grab this book. The setting is during WW1 and two of Anne’s boys are away at war. Rilla is the youngest daugher (high school age) and is involved in war efforts. Her kindred spirit, brother Walter, dies in this book, and her other brother, Jim, is missing in action near the end. The book is quite complex with emotions of a war period, the personal growth of a young girl having to face realities earlier than any of us would like. Well, the paragraph that I absolutely love is about their dog. Their dog belonged to Jim as a child, and is now crippled and old at the end of the book. For a few years the dog sat at the train station after Jim left for war, just laying there watching each train. Here is my paragraph – hope without the context of the rest of the book you’ll have a smile for your day and a memory of a pet from your past!
One spring day, when the daffodils were blowing on the Ingleside lawn, and the banks of the brook in Rainbow Valley were sweet with white and purple violets, the little, lazy afternoon accommodation train pulled into the Glen station. It was very seldom that passengers for the Glen came by that train, so nobody was there to meet it except the new station agent and a small black-and-yellow dog, who for four and a half long years had met every train that had steamed into Glen St. Mary. Thousands of trains had Dog Monday met and never had the boy he waited and watched for returned. Yet still Dog Monday watched on with eyes that never quite lost hope. Perhaps his dog-heart failed him at times; he was growing old and rheumatic; when he walked back to his kennel after each train had gone his gait was very sober now – he never trotted, but went slowly with a drooping head and a depressed tail that had quite lost its old saucy uplift. (Stu right now is rolling his eyes and just said, “You & your dog story!” – he’s had to see me cry over these paragraphs for 20 years now!) One passenger stepped off the train – a tall fellow in a faded lieutenant’s uniform, who walked with a barely perceptible limp. He had a bronzed face and there were some grey hairs in the ruddy curls that clustered around his forehead. The new station agent looked at him anxiously. He was used to seeing the khaki-clad figures come off the train, some met by a tumultuous crowd, others, who had sent no word of their coming, stepping off quietly like this one. But there was a certain distinction of bearing and features in this soldier that caught his attention and made him wonder a little more interestedly who he was. (Here’s the part that makes me cry every time!..you have to understand up to this point the book was a really sad one for an Anne of Green Gables series!) A black-and-yellow streak shot past the station agent. Dog Monday stiff? Dog Monday rheumatic? Dog Monday old? Never believe it. Dog Monday was a young pup, gone clean mad with rejuvenating joy. He flung himself against the tall soldier, with a bark that choked in his throat from sheer rapture. He flung himself on the ground and writhed in a frenzy of welcome. He tried to climb the soldier’s khaki legs and slipped down and grovelled in an ecstasy that seemed as it it must tear his little body to pieces. He licked his boots and when the lieutenant had, with laughter on his lips and tears in his eyes, succeeded in gathering the little creature up in his arms Dog Monday laid his head on the khaki shoulder and licked the sunburned neck, making queer sounds between barks and sobs.
Okay – I can’t take Stu rolling his eyes at me! Don’t you love that scene? So pathetic – I have tears in my eyes right now! The point I’m trying to get across is the power of books – they hit all of our different needs and emotions, they give us new ideas to think about during our days besides people and events. So – let’s all keep trying to find treasures – you never know when you’ll find a paragraph that will make you cry for the next 20 years!!! Now I’m awake & ready to say – Go take on your day! May you have a great week, and if you are involved in hard circumstances, may you have a peace that passes the understanding of others – for you are looking up where your help comes from. Susan
Work Cited: Montgomery, L. M. Rilla of Ingleside. New York: Bantam Books, 1993