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Four Days The Story of a War Marriage   By: (1890-1961)

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The Story of a War Marriage



With Frontispiece by Richard Culter

Boston Little, Brown, and Company Copyright, 1917, Published, September, 1917 All rights reserved

[Illustration: "If you hear I'm missing, there is still a good chance."]



With savage pity Marjorie regarded a sobbing girl whose face was distorted, and whose palsied hands were trying to straighten her veil and push back stray wisps of hair. Marjorie thought: "What a fool she is to cry like that! Her nose is red; she's a sight. I can control myself. I can control myself."

An elderly man with an austere face, standing beside Marjorie, started to light a cigarette. His hands trembled violently and the match flickered and went out.

Marjorie's heart was beating so fast that it made her feel sick.

A locomotive shrieked, adding its voice to the roar of traffic at Victoria Station. There came the pounding hiss of escaping steam. The crowd pressed close to the rails and peered down the foggy platform. A train had stopped, and the engine was panting close to the gate rail. A few men in khaki were alighting from compartments. In a moment there was a stamping of many feet, and above the roar and confusion in the station rose the eager voices of multitudes of boys talking, shouting, calling to each other.

Marjorie saw Leonard before he saw her. He was walking with three men joking, laughing absent mindedly, while his eyes searched for a face in the crowd. She waited a moment, hidden, suffocated with anticipation, her heart turning over and over, until he said a nonchalant good bye to his companions, who were pounced upon by eager relatives. Then she crept up behind and put both her hands about his wrist.

"Hello, Len."

Joy leaped to his eyes.


Impossible to say another word. For seconds they became one of the speechless couples, standing dumbly in the great dingy station, unnoticed and unnoticing.

"Where's the carriage?" said Leonard, looking blindly about him.

"Outside, of course, Len."

A crooked man in black livery, with a cockade in his hat, who had been standing reverently in the background, waddled forward, touching his hat.

"Well, Burns, how are you? Glad to see you."

"Very well, sir, and thank you, sir. 'Appy, most 'appy to see you back, sir. Pardon, sir, this way." His old face twitched and his eyes devoured the young lieutenant.

A footman was standing at the horses' heads, but the big bays, champing their bits, and scattering foam, crouched away from the tall young soldier when he put out a careless, intimate hand and patted their snorting noses. He swaggered a little, for all of a sudden he longed to put his head on their arching necks and cry.

"You've got the old pair out; I thought they had gone to grass," he said in his most matter of fact tone to the pink faced footman, who was hardly more than a child.

"Well, sir, the others were taken by the Government. Madam gave them all away except Starlight and Ginger Girl. There is only me and Burns and another boy under military age in the stables now, sir."

Inside the carriage Leonard and Marjorie were suddenly overawed by a strange, delicious shyness. They looked at each other gravely, like two children at a party, dumb, exquisitely thrilled. It was ten months ago that they had said a half tearful, half laughing good bye to each other on the windy, sunny pier at Hoboken. They had been in love two months, and engaged two weeks. Leonard was sailing for England to keep a rowing engagement, but he was to return to America in a month. They were to have an early autumn wedding. Marjorie chose her wedding dress and was busy with her trousseau. She had invited her brides maids. It was to be a brilliant, conventional affair flowers, music, countless young people dancing under festoons and colored lights. In August the war broke out. Leonard had been in training and at the front from the first. Marjorie crossed the precarious ocean, to be in England for his first leave... Continue reading book >>

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