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 Post subject: "Echoes of the War" - JM Barrie
PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:41 pm 
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Master
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:13 am
Posts: 1687
Location: Wisconsin
Religion: Roman Catholic
I was in Lake Geneva, WI this past weekend and found alittle book store. On a shelf I saw an old book with JM Barrie's name on it. I only know of Peter Pan from him... this was a book of 4 short stories. The book is a first edition 1918. Four short stories but they're actually written like plays. Between the dialogue bits there's narration that reads like just like a scene is being set up for a play... but the narrator admonishes the actors who have no idea that they're being admonished ('so, as you have slipped in, you can sit there, Mrs. Haggerty; but keep quiet'), so it adds a funny dimension to the story.

The first one (The Old Lady Shows her Medals) is set during WWI and 4 charwomen (cleaning ladies) are talking fondly of their sons that are off in different battles. Each one is trying to best the other with how important of a unit her son is involved with. The main character (Mrs. Dowey) is winning the competition with tales of her 6'2 son who is with the illustrious "Black Watch, 5th Battalion" and who writes her every week addressing her as "Dearest Mother"... the other 3 women begrudgingly concede defeat.

A reverend then enters the story with great news that he has just met Mrs Dowey's son in town... the son being on leave from the war. He has brought the son to reunite with the mother.... the only problem is that the mother is lying and the son is not hers. She just happened across his name in a newspaper and started writing to him under the guise of someone important.

So Mrs Dowey is quite nonplussed to her that the reverend has brought the 'son'.

Quote:
Mr. Willings: showing how the thing was done, with the help of a chair, 'I put my hand on his shoulder as it might be thus. "Kenneth Dowey", I said, "I know your mother."'

Mrs. Dowey: wetting her lips, 'What did he say to that?'


Which is a hilarious response given that moments earlier she was just raving about his accomplishments and devotion to her.
But, you quickly feel some pity for what she did... a pity that doesn't immediately stick to the 'son'.

Fun, light read.

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For who we are and what we'll be/ I'll sing your praise eternally/ the miles we've shared I'd trade but few/ they're the ones that kept me away from you.


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 Post subject: Re: "Echoes of the War" - JM Barrie
PostPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2020 10:31 pm 
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Master
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:13 am
Posts: 1687
Location: Wisconsin
Religion: Roman Catholic
The last of the four plays/stories is "A Well Remembered Voice"...
It's touching but also fills you with a bit of despair and a hint of dread.

A mother and father have lost their son in the war (WWI). His name is Dick.
The mother, Dick's ladyfriend whom he intended on marrying (Laura), and two other fellows are doing a séance to contact Dick. They get some broken messages from somewhere via the mom acting as the medium. 2 other gents are at the table, involved with the séance. Weird.

The father is sitting in the background, not participating in the séance but in the same room. He's a disbeliever in this form of occult communication... but he's being very considerate about it. The 4 eventually leave the room. The father is left alone and then the deceased son comes and pays him a visit. But, supposedly he wasn't cajoled by the seance... as a matter of fact, he didn't even know it was going on. Towards the end of the visit (and the story) the father asks if the son will visit again. The son seems agitated and says that he would like to and intends on... but that 'they' keep changing the password. The father asks what the password was this time and the son gives a phrase (Love Bade me Welcome) that was actually the message that the mother had received during the seance. But the son is adamant that he knew nothing of the seance. The father looks at the table which had "taken on a sinister aspect".... the son disappears and the story ends.

Doing some background reading I guess these types of séances were somewhat popular.... parents and loved ones trying to reach out to those who died during the war.

_________________
For who we are and what we'll be/ I'll sing your praise eternally/ the miles we've shared I'd trade but few/ they're the ones that kept me away from you.


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