Charlie Peaceful Quotes in Private Peaceful
A swallow swoops over our heads all through the prayers, all through the hymns, flitting from window to window, from the belfry to the altar, looking for some way out. And I know for certain it is Father trying to escape. I know it because he told us more than once that in his next life he’d like to be a bird, so he could fly free wherever he wanted.
Big Jimmy gets it first, and he keeps crying out: “Ow, sir! Ow, sir! Ow, sir!” But when it’s Charlie’s turn, all we hear are the whacks, and then the silences in between. I am so proud of him for that. I have the bravest brother in the world.
“He wouldn’t do that, Moll. It’s just a threat,” Charlie said. “He can’t do it. He just can’t.”
“He would,” Molly replied, “and he can. You know he can. And when the Colonel gets it into his head to do something, and he’s in the mood to do it, he will. Look what he did to Bertha. He means it, Charlie.”
I feel a surge of triumph welling inside me, not because we have won, but because I have stood with the others. I have not run.
“Y’aint a coward, are you?”
No, old woman, I am not. I am not.
“The whole court martial took less than an hour, Tommo. That’s all they gave me. An hour for a man’s life. Not a lot, is it? And do you know what the brigadier said, Tommo? He said I was a worthless man. Worthless. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, Tommo, but none of them ever upset me, except that one. I didn’t show it, mind. I wouldn’t have given them the satisfaction.”
It is the moment. I have to do it now. It is my last chance. I tell him about how Father had died, about how it had happened, what I had done, how I should have told him years ago, but had never dared to. He smiles. “I always knew that, Tommo. So did Mother. You’d talk in your sleep. Always having nightmares, always keeping me awake about it, you were. All nonsense. Not your fault. It was the tree that killed Father, Tommo, not you.”
They tell me he walked out with a smile on his face as if he were going for an early-morning stroll. They tell me that he refused the hood, and that they thought he was singing when he died.