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27. CHAPTER XXVII
A LETTER from Raymie Wutherspoon, in France, said that he had been sent to the front, been slightly wounded, been made a captain. From Vida's pride Carol sought to draw a stimulant to rouse her from depression.
Miles had sold his dairy. He had several thousand dollars. To Carol he said good-by with a mumbled word, a harsh hand-shake, "Going to buy a farm in northern Alberta--far off from folks as I can get." He turned sharply away, but he did not walk with his former spring. His shoulders seemed old.
It was said that before he went he cursed the town. There was talk of arresting him, of riding him on a rail. It was rumored that at the station old Champ Perry rebuked him, "You better not come back here. We've got respect for your dead, but we haven't got any for a blasphemer and a traitor that won't do anything for his country and only bought one Liberty Bond."
Some of the people who had been at the station declared that Miles made some dreadful seditious retort: something about loving German workmen more than American bankers; but others asserted that he couldn't find one word with which to answer the veteran; that he merely sneaked up on the platform of the train. He must have felt guilty, everybody agreed, for as the train left town, a farmer saw him standing in the vestibule and looking out.
His house--with the addition which he had built four months ago--was very near the track on which his train passed.
When Carol went there, for the last time, she found Olaf's chariot with its red spool wheels standing in the sunny corner beside the stable. She wondered if a quick eye could have noticed it from a train.
That day and that week she went reluctantly to Red Cross work; she stitched and packed silently, while Vida read the war bulletins. And she said nothing at all when Kennicott commented, "From what Champ says, I guess Bjornstam was a bad egg, after all. In spite of Bea, don't know but what the citizens' committee ought to have forced him to be patriotic-- let on like they could send him to jail if he didn't volunteer and come through for bonds and the Y. M. C. A. They've worked that stunt fine with all these German farmers."
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