Home > Uncategorized > Hugh Walpole: It would indeed be a disheartening sight….

Hugh Walpole: It would indeed be a disheartening sight….


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Hugh Walpole: Selections on war


Hugh Walpole
From Jeremy

“How old are you, Jeremy dear?” she asked him.

“Eight,” he answered, wriggling.

“What a nice age! And one day you’ll go to school?”

“In September.”

“And what will you be when you’re a man?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll be a soldier, perhaps.”

“Oh, I’m sure you wouldn’t like to be a soldier and kill people.”

“Yes, I would. There’s lots of people I’d like to kill.”

Mrs. Le Page drew her skirts back a little.

“How horrible! I’m sure your mother wouldn’t like to hear that.”

But Mr. Cole had caught the last words of the dialogue and interrupted with:

“But what could be finer, Mrs. Le Page, than the defence of one’s country? Would you have our young lads grow up faint-hearted and fail their Motherland when she calls? What can be finer, I say, than to die for Queen and country? Would not every mother have her son shed his blood for liberty and freedom?… No, Jeremy, not another. You’ve had quite enough. It would indeed be a disheartening sight if we elders were to watch our sons and grandchildren turning their swords into ploughshares -”

He was interrupted by a shrill cry from Mrs. Le Page:

“Charlotte, darling, do hold your sunshade up. All the left side of your face is exposed. That’s better, dear. I beg your pardon, Mr. Cole.”

But Mr. Cole was offended.

“I hope no son of mine will ever show himself a faint heart,” he concluded severely.

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