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Monthly Archives: March 2015

“Greater Love Hath No Man Than This” — Part 5 and Conclusion

Five years passed; England had entered the war; her men enlisted; a March offensive was being pushed along the front; several companies were sent out. The drive succeeded, but not a few English “Tommies” lay dying on the field when it was deserted by the victors. Two lay near each other, waiting for the dawn. One was grey-eyed and in the mist of early morning he seemed very pale. The other was blond and blue-eyed and white with pain. The only color to him was a gradually spreading red stain over his chest. They looked at each other and the grey eyed one spoke painfully.

Paul tries to comfort his dying friend in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).

Paul tries to comfort his dying friend in All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).

“Hello, fella,” the words shot out, “nice – day, isn’t it.”

“Yes,” said the other, as though his lungs would burst, — “lovely.”

“Oh, you too. I’m sorry; I didn’t know,” replied the other seeing the red stain. “I hope I — we — don’t — uh — go — before dawn. I should hate to – uh – go – without the sun.”

“Yes,” said the other, “so should I. It’s odd you know – like this, I mean. I was going to do so much while I lived – and here I am – dying in this –!” He coughed painfully and could not go on.

The grey-eyed one watched the bright-haired one sympathetically. Then:

“You know, if I live till the sun comes up I’ll be exactly 23 years old. It’s my birthday. Funny – dying on your birthday.”

The bright haired one controlled his coughing and looked with wonder at the other as he groped haltingly for words, “That’s funny. I’ll be 23, too, if I live. I was ….   I was born at dawn. I hope, “– a spasmodic cough — “I live to see….. the sun.”

A few minutes passed. Then:

“You know,” this from the grey-eyed one, “I seem to know you. What’s your name?”

“Charlie,” said the blue-eyed one between coughs.

“Guess I was wrong,” said the other, “I can’t know you. Mine’s Tommy.”

“H’dy’a do, Tommy,” said the bright haired one reaching out a blood-stained hand.

“Very well, thank you, “ said the grey-eyed one, taking it.

Silence then.

Statue honoring American Expeditionary Force in World War I

Statue honoring American Expeditionary Force in World War I.  Here an American doughboy shakes hands with a French soldier.  Read about WWI monuments like this one here.

“D’ya know, now, we’re dying,” gulped the bright-haired one.

“Yes,” said Tommy.

            An interval of a few minutes, then, “Man, look,” cried Tommy, “here comes the sun! Look at ‘er, man. Red as blood!”

“Yes, said Charlie, “red as blood.”

The bloody sun came up through the mist and cast long blue shadows as it looked at the two, lying side by side, even as they had lain twenty three years ago, side by side, the fair-haired and the dark, beneath the same sun. And as they lay, their faces seemed to become the same again, and their countenances were those that had been, and it might have been before, instead of this twenty three years later. And then the mist closed in upon them.

The End

To read earlier parts of this story written by Joan when she was 13 years old, click here for part one, here for part two, here for part three, and here for part four.

“Greater Love Hath No Man Than This” — Part 4

Then again in 1910, a youth lay desperately ill in a London hospital. A call went out for a blood donor and a blond student of eighteen presented himself. A transfusion was made, but when the hospital asked for the donor’s name he said, “Oh, forget about it.” And when they persisted he said, “Oh, just say “Charlie!” The youth, who was ill, recovered but when he asked for his savior’s name they could not tell him. He seemed awed, his grey eyes perplexed as he said, “Golly, he saved my life and I don’t even know his name.   I never even saw him.”

Was it imagination or did the red sun really smile more broadly as it observed his wondering face?

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To be continued….

To read earlier parts of this story written by Joan when she was 13 years old, click here for part one, here for part two, and here for part three.

“Greater Love Hath No Man Than This” — Part 3

Ten years later, in 1904, on the same beach the same sun looked down on a bright haired twelve-year-old struggling in the water off the almost deserted beach. Another boy, dark and grey-eyed, came down to the beach for a swim and, seeing the struggling boy, dove in to save a life. As he dragged the boy back to shore, a crowd gathered from seemingly nowhere and watched his progress eagerly. When he finally landed on the beach and pulled the boy ashore, a cheer arose from the throng.

The blond boy, who seemed rather dazed, stood up haltingly and addressed his rescuer. “Thanks a lot – I suppose I should’ve drowned if it weren’t for you. Guess I was out too long. Legs got weak, you know.”  The other boy nodded as if embarrassed and hurriedly disappeared through the crowd. The rescued boy looked after him and said huskily, “Gosh, he saved my life, and I don’t even know his name.”

3970061324_e7d99929f7_mTo be continued….

To read earlier parts of this story written by Joan when she was 13 years old, click here for part one and here for part two.

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