Thursday, July 27, 2006

Perfect Retribution

Lucy Maud Montgomery's "Rilla of Ingleside" takes place during World War I. I learned more about that war by reading this book than I ever learned in school.. Those of you who loved "Anne of Green Gables" do know that there are several books in that series, and that Montgomery takes Anne clear up to old age? Well, you know now. Go to the library this instant!
In this book, Anne and Gilbert watch helplessly as their sons join the military and leave Canada to fight in Europe. The Kaiser is completely villified by all the adults throughout the book, of couse, because how could he NOT be, but it is this statement by an innocent little child that really got to me.
"Do you know, Mrs. Blythe"­ Bruce dropped to a "whispery" tone, edging a little nearer to Anne, ­"what I would like to do to the Kaiser if I could?"

"What would you like to do, laddie?"

"Norman Reese said in school to-day that he would like to tie the Kaiser to a tree and set cross dogs to worrying him," said Bruce gravely. "And Emily Flagg said she would like to put him in a cage and poke sharp things into him. And they all said things like that. But Mrs. Blythe"­ Bruce took a little square paw out of his pocket and put it earnestly on Anne's knee. ­"I would like to turn the Kaiser into a good man, ­a very good man, ­all at once if I could. That is what I would do. Don't you think, Mrs. Blythe, that would be the very worstest punishment of all?"

"Bless the child," said Susan, "how do you make out that would be any kind of a punishment for that wicked fiend?"

"Don't you see," said Bruce, looking levelly at Susan, out of his blackly blue eyes, "if he was turned into a good man he would understand how dreadful the things he has done are, and he would feel so terrible about it that he would be more unhappy and miserable than he could ever be in any other way. He would feel just awful­ and he would go on feeling like that forever. Yes,"­ Bruce clenched his hands and nodded his head emphatically, "yes, I would make the Kaiser a good man­, that is what I would do­; it would serve him 'zackly right."
It's too bad we can't do this with Andrea Yates.
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