“You see she had personality—that hen: you couldn’t keep her down; she never went in when it rained, and she could cackle louder than any hen on the ground; and above all, she took things as they came. I always admired her. I liked the way she died, too. Of course I let her live as long as she could—she wouldn’t have been any good to eat, anyway, for she was all brains, and I never could bear to make soup out of a philosopher like what she was. Well, she was getting pretty stiff—I could see that; and sometimes she had to try two or three times before she could get on the roost. But this night she made it on the first try, and when I went to shut the door, she sat there all ruffled up. I reached out to feel her, she looked so humped-up, and the minute I touched her, she fell off the roost; and when I picked her up, she was dead! You see, she got herself balanced so she would stay on the roost, and then died—bluffed it out to the last, and died standing up! That’s what we should all try to do!” she concluded; “go down with a smile—I say—hustling and cheerful to the last!”
I commended her philosophy, but the other woman sat silent, and her knitting lay idle on her knee.
After all, the biggest thing in life is the mental attitude!
This was the third time a boy on a wheel
Had come to her gate
With the small yellow slip, with its few curt words,
To tell her the fate
Of the boys she had given to fight
For the right to be free!
I thought I must go as a neighbor and friend
And stand by her side;
At least I could tell her how sorry I was
That a brave man had died.
She sat in a chair when I entered the
With the thing in her hand,
And the look on her face had a light and a bloom
I could not understand.
Then she showed me the message and said,
With a sigh of respite,—
“My last boy is dead. I can sleep. I can sleep
Without dreaming to-night.”
When all the evidence is in—
When all the good—and all the sin—
Are catalogued—with reasons showing—
What great surprises will await
The small, the near-great and the great
Who thought they knew how things were going!
Stories crowd in upon me as I write. Let no one ever say that this is a dull world! It is anything but dull! It is a pitiful, heartbreaking world, full of injustice, misunderstandings, false standards, and selfishness, but it is never dull. Neither is it a lost world, for the darkest corners of it are illuminated here and there by heroic deeds and noble aspirations. Men who hilariously sold their vote and influence prior to 1914, who took every sharp turn within the law, and who shamelessly mocked at any ideals of citizenship, were among the first to put on the King’s uniform and march out to die.