Page 75 - Dawn Fraser, Writer Selections
ISSUE : Issue 45
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/6/1
place with the point of my bayonet trailing on the ground, the good professor became wery scornful. "Man! Man! What are you doing?" he groaned; "I have not the least idea," I replied. "No! No! I don't think you have, you'll be a soldier come twelve years," he answered. The unutterable scorn in his voice, the look of disgust and sneering ex? pression of his face, got my goat, and I said--yet wait, the truth, I said nothing aloud, I had been in the Guard Room before; but what I said under my breath would be enough to annihilate the Royal Guards, the Kings Awn and the poor professor com? bined. Man! Man! I echoed him while my heart cried out for permission to speak. Man! Man! poor fool? ish man of the clouded intelligence, do you think I want to be what you are, to be what you take pride in being? An expert stabber of human beings, a professional trained killer, the thought that I should ever become expert appalled me. Perhaps I was not in the habit of praying, at least not often enough, but I prayed then, prayed sincerely. Oh! Loving and Almighty God don't let me ever become what this man is trying to make of me: a trained killer, a professional destroyer of human bodies. I feel that I have enough to answer for but if I cultivated this barbarous talent a- gainst the protests of my conscience, I might in? deed despair of your mercy. Forgive this man, God, he knows no better, and help me, God, because I do know better and am here a victim of circumstances. What may not be wrong for him is certainly wrong for me because my conscience and every sense that you gave me rebels at it. That was my prayer and to this day it has been answered for, although I went overseas I was never compelled to take advan? tage of my meagre training at the school of Profes? sor English. Now let all the gentlemen of the Mili? tary Camps say, he is a yellow rat, he has no guts, he is scared, llet me tell you Oh Heroes with your pretty medals, I have been in just as tight cor? ners as you ever were, and it was not in a trench or in war time either, and I did not have to go to France to find these tight corners. Afraid to die? Oh no friends, not necessarily. Did you ever wish to die and could not? It is sometimes harder to live than to die. No, I can't forgive them, parson. Here on my dying bed. Them as calls me "the crazy widow" And say I am out of my head. Let it pass, what they calls me-- It's not the worst they have done; I'll always hold it ag'in them For killing my second son. With Harry, he was different, I know the boy was wild; Maybe I was most to blame. When he was a little child. Maybe I was over-kind And let him run too free; But they don't understand a mother-- He was always kind to me. 'Twas full of life the lad was. Roaming the night and day. Brave and happy and careless. Easily led astray. 'Twas bad companions spoiled him With cards and dice and drinks; It's a wonder when one gets started. How quickly a mortal sinks. Then the labor trouble started. The men were out on strike. Riots and pickets and scabbers-- You never saw the like. ' And my Harry was a leader. Working the night and day. With little hope of winning. Without a penny of pay. Desperate and starving the boy was. Times were terrible bad-- And though he shot a policeman, There was no real harm in the lad. Then the dark days of trouble The Widow in the Ward When he was taken to jail; No one to offer him counsel. No one to offer him bail. Except the lawyer the Crown appointed To take and plead his case-- He was the most ag'in him-- It was a clean disgrace. And black Judge James presiding. Him with the evil eye, 'Twas only what all expected-- The boy was sentenced to die. And one dark morning it happened • God! but it seemed hard-- They took my boy and hanged him Out in the court house yard. And, parson, I never murmured-- I was younger and stronger then-- And the law must be abided By the best and worst of men. And I still had little Thomas, He was my pride and joy; I prayed to God to help me To bring up my little boy. He seemed different from Harry, Pretty and gentle and mild. His rougher companions called him The "widow's angel child." And so he grew to manhood, Working hard each day. Coming home each week-end And bringing me home his pay; Trying to help his mother. But they wouldn't give him a chance; They killed him the same as Harry, As they told me, "Somewhere in France." What was the use of trying. And fretting about my son? They fattened him up and killed him Just like the other one. It was a common murder I'll say it my dying day- Very same policeman came for him That took poor Harry away. Conscripting the lad to make him fight. Such action I never saw; After I always told him To fight was ag'in the law. What was the use of trying? I wouldn't try any more- Making him do the very thing They hanged his brother for. Away to some camp they took him. Took him ag'in his will, Training and feeding him all the time. Getting him ready to kill. He had no trial like Harry, No, not as good a chance-- Just carried him off and killed him Over somewhere in France. They confessed it in the telegram And the letter they sent along-- Said they were sorry for it; Don't that show they were wrong? And they wanted to give me money To make up the wrong they done-- Forty dollars a month they said Was the price of my son. But I couldn't take money for him Now that the deed is done; And I'll never forgive them, parson, For killing my second son. r-'iii' Catering J Services I 1 for Any f J Function I I Large or i >J*' Yellow Cello Cafe Bakery''' Pizza Dell "' / 296-2303 '"' ?*?? 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