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The Whistling Mother   By: (1866-1959)

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[Illustration: YOUR BOY, IF HE IS THE RIGHT KIND OF A BOY, HAS WORK TO DO THROUGH A LONG LIFE NOTHING WILL HAPPEN TO HIM "A MAN IS IMMORTAL TILL HIS WORK IS DONE" THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE, AS TO ALL OTHERS, BUT THIS IS STILL THE RULE]

THE WHISTLING MOTHER

BY

GRACE S. RICHMOND

[Illustration: musical notation.]

I have the greatest mother on earth. I can't call her a "little mother," for she's five feet six inches tall, and weighs just exactly what she ought to according to the table of weights. If she were a trifle less active she might put on too much flesh, but she'll never keep still long enough for that. I always enjoy having her along on any kind of an outing, for she's game for just anything, and awfully good company, too. In fact, she seems more like a vigorous girl than anything I can compare her with. And I think her sons are mighty lucky chaps especially just now that the war game's on.

Yes, that's a picture of Mother; neat little holder for it, isn't it? Yes, I know; she does look interesting, doesn't she? She's an awfully good shot, and drives her own car, and rides like a Cossack, and does a lot of other things not to mention making home well what it is. I suppose I'm rather braggy about her, but I tell you I feel that way just now, and I'm going to tell you why.... She's pretty, too, don't you think so? I thought you would.

The thing that started me off was Hoofy Gilbert coming across the dorm hall with a letter in his hand. We called him Hoofy because he hated walking so, and always drove his big yellow roadster from one class to another, even if it was only a thousand feet straight across the campus to the next lecture. Well, Hoofy came in that day it was just before the Easter vacation looking as if he were down and out for fair. It turned out he'd written home about enlisting, and he'd got back a letter from his mother, all sobs. He didn't know what to do about it. You see the fellows were all writing home, and trying to break it gently that when they got there they'd have to put it up to the family to say "Go, and God bless you!" But it was looking pretty dubious for some of my special friends. Their mothers were all right, an awfully nice sort, of course, but when it came to telling Bob and Sam and Hector to enlist they just simply couldn't do it.

Hoofy said he'd got to enlist, in spite of his mother. He knew it was his duty, but he'd rather be shot than go home and go through the farewells. He knew his mother would be sick in bed about it, and she'd cling round his neck and cry on his shoulder, and he'd have to loosen her arms and go off leaving her feeling like that. And his father would look grave and tell him not to mind, that his mother wasn't well, and that she couldn't help it and Hoofy really didn't think she could, being made that way. Just the same, he dreaded going home to say good bye dreaded it so much he felt like flunking it and wiring he couldn't come.

I told him he mustn't do that that his mother would never forgive him, and that he'd have to put on a stiff upper lip and go through with it. And Hoofy owned that that was the thing he was really afraid of that his upper lip wouldn't keep stiff but would wobble, in spite of him. And of course a breakdown on his own part would be the worst possible thing that could happen to him. No potential soldier wants to feel his upper lip unreliable, no matter what happens. It's likely to make him flinch in a critical moment, when flinching won't do.

I was looking up at a picture of Mother on the wall over my desk as I advised him to go home, and he asked me suddenly what my mother wrote back when I told her. I hated to tell him, but he pushed me about it, so I finally got out her letter and read him the last paragraph but one. Of course the last one I wouldn't have read to anybody.

"It's all right, Son, and we're proud as Punch of you, that you want to be not only in America's ' First Hundred Thousand ,' but in her ' First Ten Thousand ... Continue reading book >>




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