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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 119, No. 1 (July, 1931)

Sangster, Margaret
Field of honor,   pp. 8-9 PDF (1.1 MB)


Page 8

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"You don't understand, ma,"
Nellie said. "They're namin'
the Legion Post after our Bill!"
by MARGARET SANGSTER
Up from nothing rose Nellie Clancy who in this story fights her
own battles so valiantly. Yet she was inspired by a war hero
who didn't happen to be a hero-but that, Nellie did not know
STORIES and plays run in cycles. Plots and counter-
plots go about in an unending circle. One year western
yarns, one year sophisticated society stuff, one year
high romance.
And this year war fiction, with its every sad and
humorous and disagreeable feature, is in high favor.
Twelve years ago-oh, then war was too close! People
who had lived its horrors didn't want to read about them!
But now that it is veiled in the mist of a decade, reading
about it can no longer make us actually ill. Men can
now talk with steady voices about the woods at Rouge
Bouquet, and they can grow very tender over memories
of the black-eyed barmaid who served tin ordinaire in a
certain little shop on the Rue St. Honor6. Men who once
learned to wear a row of wound stripes on their souls as
well as on their sleeves, would rather, this day', see a battle
picture than the latest Hollywood revue. Even the women
who still cherish tarnished gold stars no longer strive
to forget the poppies in the wheat fields of France.
The reawakening of war interest is, perhaps, my reason
for telling you this story. One of the reasons! It is a
war story that happened some time after the war's action
had ceased, and when the Armistice was a thing of the
past, but it is a war story, nevertheless. I will tell it with
Bill Clancy's rat face watching furtively from the
shadows, and with the untidiness of the Clancy cottage
before me. And I will tell it with the eyes of Nellie
Clancy--wide and wistful and just a shade blank-fol-
lowing my pen . . .
"0 UT," the ex-sergeant's voice held a note of violent
Sprotest. "but he was such a measly little skunk! It
don't seem right, somehow, to name an honest-to-Gawd
post, like ours, after him."
From around the table rose grunts of assent. Only
Buck Williams was firm.
"Well," he said aggressively, "well, what of it? He's
dead, ain't he? An' he's the only one of us that is dead!
ie gave his life, didn't hie- Gave it for his country!"
A voice rose, gently, from a corner of the room.
"Apple-sauce!" said the voice, and subsided.
The ex-sergeant laughed, and there was not too much
mirth in his laughter.
"Can it, Buck," he said. "He didn't set out to give his
life. We'd a taken our chances, anyone of us, any time.
Bill Clancy never took a chance. He was out where he'd
no business to be when the sniper got him. If he wasn't
drunk when he went beyond the lines-and I think, my-
self, that he was-he'd a had some explainin' to do if he'd
come back!"
Buck Williams was talking again.
"Anybody with sense," he said slowly, and painstak-
ingly, as one who has covered the same ground many
times, "anybody with sense would see that it's plumb
necessary to have a hero. We were all willin'-beaucoo
willin'-to be heroes. But we didn't any of us get a
chance at the hero stuff. A-course Bill Clancy wasn't
worth th' gun powder it took t' blow him off. We all
know what he done, and what he didn't do! But he's
dead, and if we've a mind to, we all can do some forget-
tin', an' keep our mouths shut. Th' fellers over at Fair-
view, they've named their post for a lil' runt that cap-
tured a machine gun an' got his ticket (loin' it. Boyers-
town has called their outfit for a guy that carried a dis-
patch to the comp'ny commander, an' died of wounds,
later. Boyerstown has got pretty fresh since they licked
our baseball team. And the Fairview Weekly has made
mention of th' number of decorations we didn't get.
They're sayin' we'll hafter be namin' our post for Wash-
in'ton or Lincoln-or Wilson. They're sayin' that we
ain't got no dead ones belongin' direct to us; dead ones
that's been buried."
He paused, significantly.
For a moment no one spoke. Every member of the
post knew that Buck had been speaking sincerely and
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