An incomplete excerpt:
-evil” ascending? At such a time who can remain inactive? Is this grand, old England nothing? Is our country’s honour nothing? Will it be nothing to be trodden under the iron heel, or crushed by the mailed fist of militarism with its war-cry “Might is right”?
Same evening, there’s a commotion at the door – somebody comes forward, a fine, tall figure, boyish yet. “Good-bye. I’m off to-night,” while sobbing and wailing are heard, and faces are white and strained.
“Don’t cry. Send him away bravely. I’m proud of him, as well as of my own boys. Who says England is played out: we’ve Wellingtons and Nelsons, Jacks and Tommies among us yet! Good-bye – God be with you. Remember we’re all proud of you, and won’t forget you for a minute.”
Such bright letters come from the boys. Edwin has saluted his King and Queen, and is proud of the fact. They are making men of our boys, and we hope to see them home safely – and whole – in God’s good time, after being tried, and not found wanting.
The mother writes a few weeks later, “Don’t remember whether I answered your letter or not. Have scarcely known what I have been doing of late,” but auntie knows she has done everything she ought, and never failed a jot, though duties may have been gone through mechanically.
Aren’t the mothers doing their part when giving their boys? When trying to meet extra expenses on less money? When working away at comforts for the boys who have given themselves? And the sisters, too, are they not working in every way they can? Who would work half-heartedly at a time like this? Half-measures have not made England what she is to-day. We- mothers and sisters, and aunts – will have no half-measures now. We’ll do our part whole-heartedly.
When the boys in training think of what has taken place on the Continent – the vindictiveness of it all, the bestiality, the looting, the desecration of sacred places in the name of the “good, old God,” the wanton cruelty to harmless youth and helpless old age, the abuse of the white flag, and other numberless acts of treachery – will they begrudge what they have given, regret the time when they could lounge at ease? Not a bit of it. They’ll welcome the hardships, meet everything that comes with brave faces, hearts undaunted, and the thrilling battle-cry, “Are we down-hearted? No!”
The shattered home might have been theirs in England. The cruelties might have been practised on their own sisters. That old woman tottering along the roadside with her bundle might have been the grandmother of one of them. The old man propped against the wall and shot in cold blood might have been some English grandfather. The baby, murdered by privation that even undying, self-less mother-love couldn’t prevent, hugged for days to a frantic mother’s breast, might have been some Tommy’s child.
Shall we not show what our “contemptible little army” is capable of? Has it not been shown every day since our Tommies set foot on the Continent? Will conscription be necessary to fill up the gaps made by the Victoria Crosses earned, but, alas, never to be conferred? Shall England be a replica of recent Belgium? Have the Belgians not proved themselves worthy of all we have done for them –”