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´╗┐Title: Ailsa Paige
Author: Chambers, Robert W. (Robert William), 1865-1933
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ailsa Paige" ***

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AILSA PAIGE

A NOVEL


BY

ROBERT W. CHAMBERS



  "It is at best but a mixture of a little good
  with much evil and a little pleasure with much
  pain; the beautiful is linked with the revolting,
  the trivial with the solemn, bathos with
  pathos, the commonplace with the sublime."



ILLUSTRATED


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK AND LONDON
1910



COPTRIGHT, 1910, BY

ROBERT W. CHAMBERS


Copyright, 1910, by The Curtis Publishing Company


Published August, 1910



TO THE CONQUERORS
WHO WON IMMORTAL VICTORY

"Arm yourselves and be Valiant Men, and see that ye rise up
in readiness against the Dawn, that ye may do Battle with These
that are Assembled against us. . . .

"For it is better to die in Battle than live to behold the
Calamities of our own People. . . ."

"Lord, we took not the Land into Possession by our own Swords;
neither was it our own Hands that helped us; but Thy Hand was
a Buckler; and Thy right Arm a Shield, and the Light of Thy
Countenance hath conquered forever."



 AND TO THE VANQUISHED
 WHO WON IMMORTALITY

 "We are the fallen, who, with helpless faces
   Low in the dust, in stiffening ruin lay,
 Felt the hoofs beat, and heard the rattling traces
   As o'er us drove the chariots of the fray.

 "We are the fallen, who by ramparts gory,
   Awaiting death, heard the far shouts begin,
 And with our last glance glimpsed the victor's glory
   For which we died, but dying might not win.

 "We were but men.  Always our eyes were holden,
   We could not read the dark that walled us round,
 Nor deem our futile plans with Thine enfolden--
   We fought, not knowing God was on the ground.

 "Aye, grant our ears to bear the foolish praising
   Of men--old voices of our lost home-land,
 Or else, the gateways of this dim world, raising,
   Give us our swords again, and hold Thy hand."

       --W. H. WOODS.



PREFACE

Among the fifty-eight regiments of Zouaves and the seven regiments
of Lancers enlisted in the service of the United States between
1861 and 1865 it will be useless for the reader to look for any
record of the 3d Zouaves or of the 8th Lancers.  The red breeches
and red fezzes of the Zouaves clothed many a dead man on Southern
battle-fields; the scarlet swallow-tailed pennon of the Lancers
fluttered from many a lance-tip beyond the Potomac; the histories
of these sixty-five regiments are known.  But no history of the
3d Zouaves or of the 8th Lancers has ever been written save in this
narrative; and historians and veterans would seek in vain for any
records of these two regiments--regiments which might have been,
but never were.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"'It is there, in you--all that I believed'"

"What an insolently reckless head it was!"

"'I won it fairly, and I'm going to stake it all on one last bet'"

"'Is Ormond your name?'"

"'_Must_ you go so soon?  So soon?'"

"He dismounted and clutched the senseless carbineer"

"She dropped on her knees at his bedside and hid her face
on his hands"

"'Phillip--Phillip--my lover, my country, my God--worshipped
and adored of men!'"



AILSA PAIGE

CHAPTER I

The butler made an instinctive movement to detain him, but he flung
him aside and entered the drawing-room, the servant recovering his
equilibrium and following on a run.  Light from great crystal
chandeliers dazzled him for a moment; the butler again confronted
him but hesitated under the wicked glare from his eyes.  Then
through the brilliant vista, the young fellow caught a glimpse of a
dining-room, a table where silver and crystal glimmered, and a
great gray man just lowering a glass of wine from his lips to gaze
at him with quiet curiosity.

The next moment he traversed the carpeted interval between them and
halted at the table's damask edge, gazing intently across at the
solitary diner, who sat leaning back in an arm-chair, heavy right
hand still resting on the stem of a claret glass, a cigar suspended
between the fingers of his left hand.

"Are you Colonel Arran?"

"I am," replied the man at the table coolly.  "Who the devil are
you?"

"By God," replied the other with an insolent laugh, "that's what I
came here to find out!"


The man at the table laid both hands on the edge of the cloth and
partly rose from his chair, then fell back solidly, in silence, but
his intent gaze never left the other's bloodless face.

"Send away your servants, Colonel Arran!" said the young man in a
voice now labouring under restraint.  "We'll settle this matter
now."

The other made as though to speak twice; then, with an effort, he
motioned to the butler.

What he meant by the gesture perhaps he himself scarcely realised
at the moment.

The butler instantly signalled to Pim, the servant behind Colonel
Arran's chair, and started forward with a furtive glance at his
master; and the young man turned disdainfully to confront him.

"Will you retire peaceably, sir?"

"No, but you will retire permanently if you touch me.  Be very
careful."

Colonel Arran leaned forward, hands still gripping the table's edge:

"Larraway!"

"Sir?"

"You may go."

The small gray eyes in the pock-pitted face stole toward young
Berkley, then were cautiously lowered.

"Very well, sir," he said.

"Close the drawing-room doors.  No--this way.  Go out through the
pantry.  And take Pim with you."

"Very well, sir."

"And, Larraway!"

"Sir?"

"When I want you I'll ring.  Until then I don't want anybody or
anything.  Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"That is all."

"Thank you, sir."

The great mahogany folding doors slid smoothly together, closing
out the brilliant drawing-room; the door of the butler's pantry
clicked.

Colonel Arran slowly wheeled in his place and surveyed his unbidden
guest:

"Well, sir," he said, "continue."

"I haven't yet begun."

"You are mistaken, Berkley; you have made a very significant
beginning.  I was told that you are this kind of a young man."

"I _am_ this kind of a young man.  What else have you been told?"

Colonel Arran inspected him through partly closed and heavy eyes;
"I am further informed," he said, that at twenty-four you have
already managed to attain bankruptcy."

"Perfectly correct.  What other items have you collected concerning
me?"

"You can retrace your own peregrinations if you care to.  I believe
they follow a vicious circle bisecting the semi-fashionable world,
and the--other.  Shall we say that the expression, unenviable
notoriety, summarises the reputation you have acquired?"

"Exactly," he said; "both kinds of vice, Colonel Arran--respectable
and disreputable."

"Oh!  And am I correct in concluding that, at this hour, you stand
there a financially ruined man--at twenty-four years of age----"

"I do stand here; but I'm going to sit down."

He did so, dropped both elbows on the cloth, and balancing his chin
on the knuckles of his clasped hands, examined the older man with
insolent, unchanging gaze.

"Go on," he said coolly, "what else do you conclude me to be?"

"What else is there to say to you, Berkley?  You have evidently
seen my attorneys."

"I have; the fat shyster and the bow-legged one." He reached over,
poured himself a glass of brandy from a decanter, then, with an
unpleasant laugh, set it aside untasted.

"I beg your pardon.  I've had a hard day of it.  I'm not myself,"
he said with an insolent shrug of excuse.  "At eleven o'clock this
morning Illinois Central had fallen three more points, and I had no
further interest in the market.  Then one of your brokers--" He
leaned farther forward on the table and stared brightly at the
older man, showing an edge of even teeth, under the receding upper
lip:

"How long have your people been watching me?"

"Long enough to give me what information I required."

"Then you really _have_ had me watched?"

"I have chosen to keep in touch with your--career, Berkley."

Berkley's upper lip again twitched unpleasantly; but, when at
length he spoke, he spoke more calmly than before and his mobile
features were in pallid repose.

"One of your brokers--Cone--stopped me.  I was too confused to
understand what he wanted of me.  I went with him to your
attorneys--"  Like lightning the snarl twitched his mouth again; he
made as though to rise, and controlled himself in the act.

"Where are the originals of those letters?" he managed to say at
last.

"In this house."

"Am I to have them?"

"I think so."

"So do I," said the young man with a ghastly smile.  "I'm quite
sure of it."

Colonel Arran regarded him in surprise.

"There is no occasion for violence in this house, Berkley."

"Where are the letters?"

"Have you any doubts concerning what my attorneys have told you?
The originals are at your immediate disposal if you wish."

Then Berkley struck the table fiercely, and stood up, as claret
splashed and trembling crystal rang.

"That's all I want of _you_!" he said.  "Do you understand what
you've done?  You've killed the last shred of self-respect in me!
Do you think I'd take anything at _your_ hands?  I never cared for
anybody in the world except my mother.  If what your lawyers tell
me is true--"  His voice choked; he stood swaying a moment, face
covered by his hands,

"Berkley!"

The young man's hands fell; he faced the other, who had risen to
his heavy six-foot height, confronting him across the table.

"Berkley, whatever claim you have on me--and I'm ignoring the
chance that you have none----"

"By God, I tell you I have none!  I want none!  What you have done
to her you have done to me!  What you and your conscience and your
cruelty and your attorneys did to her twenty-four years ago, you
have done this day to me!  As surely as you outlawed her, so have
you outlawed me to-day.  That is what I now am, an outlaw!"

"It was insulted civilisation that punished, not I, Berkley----"

"It was you! You took your shrinking pound of flesh.  I know your
sort.  Hell is full of them singing psalms!"

Colonel Arran sat silently stern a moment.  Then the congested
muscles, habituated to control, relaxed again.  He said, under
perfect self-command:

"You'd better know the truth.  It is too late now to discuss whose
fault it was that the trouble arose between your mother and me.  We
lived together only a few weeks.  She was in love with her cousin;
she didn't realise it until she'd married me.  I have nothing more
to say on that score; she tried to be faithful, I believe she was;
but he was a scoundrel.  And she ended by thinking me one.

"Even before I married her I was made painfully aware that our
dispositions and temperaments were not entirely compatible.  I
think," he added grimly, "that in the letters read to you this
afternoon she used the expression, 'ice and fire,' in referring to
herself and me."

Berkley only looked at him.

"There is now nothing to be gained in reviewing that unhappy
affair," continued the other.  "Your mother's family are headlong,
impulsive, fiery, unstable, emotional.  There was a last shameful
and degrading scene.  I offered her a separation; but she was
unwisely persuaded to sue for divorce."

Colonel Arran bent his head and touched his long gray moustache
with bony fingers.

"The proceeding was farcical; the decree a fraud.  I warned her;
but she snapped her fingers at me and married her cousin the next
day. . . .  And then I did my duty by civilisation."

Still Berkley never stirred.  The older man looked down at the
wine-soiled cloth, traced the outline of the crimson stain with
unsteady finger.  Then, lifting his head:

"I had that infamous decree set aside," he said grimly.  "It was a
matter of duty and of conscience, and I did it without
remorse. . . .  They were on what they supposed to be a wedding trip.
But I had warned her."  He shrugged his massive shoulders.  "If they
were not over-particular they were probably happy.  Then he broke
his neck hunting--before you were born."

"Was he my father?"

"I am taking the chance that he was not."

"You had reason to believe----"

"I thought so.  But--your mother remained silent.  And her answer
to my letters was to have you christened under the name you bear
to-day, Philip Ormond Berkley.  And then, to force matters, I made
her status clear to her.  Maybe--I don't know--but my punishment of
her may have driven her to a hatred of me--a desperation that
accepted everything--even _you_!"

Berkley lifted a countenance from which every vestige of colour had
fled.

"Why did you tell me this?"

"Because I believe that there is every chance--that you may be
legally entitled to my name.  Since I have known who you are, I--I
_have_ had you watched.  I have hesitated--a long while.   My
brokers have watched you for a year, now; my attorneys for much
longer.  To-day you stand in need of me, if ever you have stood in
need of anybody.  I take the chance that you have that claim on me;
I offer to receive you, provide for you.  That is all, Berkley.
Now you know everything."

"Who else--knows?"

"Knows what?"

"Knows what you did to my mother?"

"Some people among the families immediately concerned," replied
Colonel Arran coolly.

"Who are they?"

"Your mother's relatives, the Paiges, the Berkleys--my family, the
Arrans, the Lents----"

"What Lents?" interrupted the young man looking up sharply.

"They live in Brooklyn.  There's a brother and a sister, orphans;
and an uncle.  Captain Josiah Lent."

"Oh. . . .  Who else?"

"A Mrs. Craig who lives in Brooklyn.  She was Celia Paige, your
mother's maid of honour."

"Who else?"

"A sister-in-law of Mrs. Craig, formerly my ward.  She is now a
widow, a Mrs. Paige, living on London Terrace.  She, however, has
no knowledge of the matter in question; nor have the Lents, nor any
one in the Craig family except Mrs. Craig."

"Who else?"

"Nobody."

"I see. . . .  And, as I understand it, you are now stepping
forward to offer me--on the chance of--of----"

"I offer you a place in this house as my son.  I offer to deal with
you as a father--accepting that belief and every responsibility,
and every duty, and every sacrifice that such a belief entails,"

For a long time the young fellow stood there without stirring,
pallid, his dark, expressionless eyes, fixed on space.  And after a
while he spoke.

"Colonel Arran, I had rather than all the happiness on earth, that
you had left me the memory of my mother.  You have chosen not to do
so.  And now, do you think I am likely to exchange what she and I
really are, for anything more respectable that you believe you can
offer?

"How, under God, you could have punished her as you did--how you
could have reconciled your conscience to the invocation of a brutal
law which rehabilitated you at the expense of the woman who had
been your wife--how you could have done this in the name of duty
and of conscience, I can not comprehend.

"I do not believe that one drop of your blood runs in my veins."

He bent forward, laying his hands flat on the cloth, then gripping
it fiercely in clenched fists:

"All I want of you is what was my mother's.  I bear the name she
gave me; it pleased her to bestow it; it is good enough for me to
wear.  If it be hers only, or if it was also my father's, I do not
know; but that name, legitimate or otherwise, is not for exchange!
I will keep it, Colonel Arran.  I am what I am."

He hesitated, rigid, clenching and unclenching his hands--then drew
a deep, agonised breath:

"I suppose you have meant to be just to me, I wish you might have
dealt more mercifully with my mother.  As for what you have done to
me--well--if she was illegally my mother, I had rather be her
illegitimate son than the son of any woman who ever lived within
the law.  Now may I have her letters?"

"Is that your decision, Berkley?"

"It is.  I want only her letters from you--and any little
keepsakes--relics--if there be any----"

"I offer to recognise you as my son."

"I decline--believing that you mean to be just--and perhaps
kind--God knows what you do mean by disinterring the dead for a son
to look back upon----"

"Could I have offered you what I offer, otherwise?"

"Man!  Man!  _You_ have nothing to offer _me_!  Your silence was
the only kindness you could have done me!  You have killed
something in me.  I don't know what, yet--but I think it was the
best part of me."

"Berkley, do you suppose that I have entered upon this matter
lightly?"

Berkley laughed, showing his teeth.  "No.  It was your damned
conscience; and I suppose you couldn't strangle it.  I am sorry you
couldn't.  Sometimes a strangled conscience makes men kinder."

Colonel Arran rang.  A dark flush had overspread his forehead; he
turned to the butler.

"Bring me the despatch box which stands on: my study table."

Berkley, hands behind his back, was pacing the dining-room carpet.

"Would you accept a glass of wine?" asked Colonel Arran in a low
voice.

Berkley wheeled on him with a terrible smile.

"Shall a man drink wine with the slayer of souls?" Then, pallid
face horribly distorted, he stretched out a shaking arm.  "Not that
you ever could succeed in getting near enough to murder _hers_!
But you've killed mine.  I know now what died in me.  It was that!
. . .  And I know now, as I stand here excommunicated by you from
all who have been born within the law, that there is not left alive
in me one ideal, one noble impulse, one spiritual conviction.  I am
what your righteousness has made me--a man without hope; a man with
nothing alive in him except the physical brute. . . .  Better not
arouse that."

"You do not know what you are saying, Berkley"--Colonel Arran
choked; turned gray; then a spasm twitched his features and he
grasped the arms of his chair, staring at Berkley with burning eyes.

Neither spoke again until Larraway entered, carrying an inlaid box.

"Thank you, Larraway.  You need not wait."

"Thank _you_, sir."

When they were again alone Colonel Arran unlocked and opened the
box, and, behind the raised lid, remained invisibly busy for some
little time, apparently sorting and re-sorting the hidden contents.
He was so very long about it that Berkley stirred at last in his
chair; and at the same moment the older man seemed to arrive at an
abrupt decision, for he closed the lid and laid two packages on the
cloth between them.

"Are these mine?" asked Berkley.

"They are mine," corrected the other quietly, "but I choose to
yield them to you."

"Thank you," said Berkley.  There was a hint of ferocity in his
voice.  He took the letters, turned around to look for his hat,
found it, and straightened up with a long, deep intake of breath.

"I think there is nothing more to be said between us, Colonel
Arran?"

"That lies with you."

Berkley passed a steady hand across his eyes.  "Then, sir, there
remain the ceremonies of my leave taking--" he stepped closer,
level-eyed--"and my very bitter hatred."

There was a pause.  Colonel Arran waited a moment, then struck the
bell:

"Larraway, Mr. Berkley has decided to go."

"Yes, sir."

"You will accompany Mr. Berkley to the door."

"Yes, sir."

"And hand to Mr. Berkley the outer key of this house."

"Yes, sir."

"And in case Mr. Berkley ever again desires to enter this house, he
is to be admitted, and his orders are to be obeyed by every servant
in it."

"Yes, sir."

Colonel Arran rose trembling.  He and Berkley looked at each other;
then both bowed; and the butler ushered out the younger man.

"Pardon--the latch-key, sir."

Berkley took it, examined it, handed it back.

"Return it to Colonel Arran with Mr. Berkley's
undying--compliments," he said, and went blindly out into the April
night, but his senses were swimming as though he were drunk.


Behind him the door of the house of Arran clanged.

Larraway stood stealthily peering through the side-lights; then
tiptoed toward the hallway and entered the dining-room with velvet
tread.

"Port or brandy, sir?" he whispered at Colonel Arran's elbow.

The Colonel shook his head.

"Nothing more.  Take that box to my study."

Later, seated at his study table before the open box, he heard
Larraway knock; and he quietly laid away the miniature of Berkley's
mother which had been lying in his steady palm for hours.

"Well?"

"Pardon.  Mr. Berkley's key, with Mr. Berkley's compliments, sir."
And he laid it upon the table by the box.

"Thank you.  That will be all."

"Thank _you_, sir.  Good night, sir."

"Good night."

The Colonel picked up the evening paper and opened it mechanically:

"By telegraph!" he read, "War inevitable.  Postscript!  Fort
Sumter!  It is now certain that the Government has decided to
reinforce Major Andersen's command at all hazards----"

The lines in the _Evening Post_ blurred under his eyes; he passed
one broad, bony hand across them, straightened his shoulders, and,
setting the unlighted cigar firmly between his teeth, composed
himself to read.  But after a few minutes he had read enough.  He
dropped deeper into his arm-chair, groping for the miniature of
Berkley's mother.


As for Berkley, he was at last alone with his letters and his
keepsakes, in the lodgings which he inhabited--and now would
inhabit no more.  The letters lay still unopened before him on his
writing table; he stood looking at the miniatures and photographs,
all portraits of his mother, from girlhood onward.

One by one he took them up, examined them--touched them to his
lips, laid each away.  The letters he also laid away unopened; he
could not bear to read them now.

The French clock in his bedroom struck eight.  He closed and locked
his desk, stood looking at it blankly for a moment; then he squared
his shoulders.  An envelope lay open on the desk beside him.

"Oh--yes," he said aloud, but scarcely heard his own voice.

The envelope enclosed an invitation from one, Camilla Lent, to a
theatre party for that evening, and a dance afterward.

He had a vague idea that he had accepted.

The play was "The Seven Sisters" at Laura, Keene's Theatre.  The
dance was somewhere--probably at Delmonico's.  If he were going, it
was time he was afoot.

His eyes wandered from one familiar object to another; he moved
restlessly, and began to roam through the richly furnished rooms.
But to Berkley nothing in the world seemed familiar any longer; and
the strangeness of it, and the solitude were stupefying him.

When he became tired trying to think, he made the tour again in a
stupid sort of way, then rang for his servant, Burgess, and started
mechanically about his dressing.

Nothing any longer seemed real, not even pain.

He rang for Burgess again, but the fellow did not appear.  So he
dressed without aid.  And at last he was ready; and went out, drunk
with fatigue and the reaction from pain.

He did not afterward remember how he came to the theatre.
Presently he found himself in a lower tier box, talking to a Mrs.
Paige who, curiously, miraculously, resembled the girlish portraits
of his mother--or he imagined so--until he noticed that her hair
was yellow and her eyes blue.  And he laughed crazily to himself,
inwardly convulsed; and then his own voice sounded again, low,
humorous, caressingly modulated; and he listened to it, amused that
he was able to speak at all.

"And so you are the wonderful Ailsa Paige," he heard himself
repeating.  "Camilla wrote me that I must beware of my peace of
mind the moment I first set eyes on you----"

"Camilla Lent is supremely silly, Mr. Berkley----"

"Camilla is a sibyl.  This night my peace of mind departed for
ever."

"May I offer you a little of mine?"

"I may ask more than that of you?"

"You mean a dance?"

"More than one."

"How many?"

"All of them.  How many will you give me?"

"One.  Please look at the stage.  Isn't Laura Keene bewitching?"

"Your voice is."

"Such nonsense.  Besides, I'd rather hear what Laura Keene is
saying than listen to you."

"Do you mean it?"

"Incredible as it may sound, Mr. Berkley, I really do."

He dropped back in the box.  Camilla laid her painted fan across
his arm.

"Isn't Ailsa Paige the most enchanting creature you ever saw?  I
told you so!  _Isn't_ she?"

"Except one.  I was looking at some pictures of her a half an hour
ago."

"She must be very beautiful," sighed Camilla.

"She was."

"Oh. . . . Is she dead?"

"Murdered."

Camilla looked at the stage in horrified silence.  Later she
touched him again on the arm, timidly.

"Are you not well, Mr. Berkley?"

"Perfectly.  Why?"

"You are so pale.  Do look at Ailsa Paige.  I am completely
enamoured of her.  Did you ever see such a lovely creature in all
your life?  And she is very young but very wise.  She knows useful
and charitable things--like nursing the sick, and dressing
injuries, and her own hats.  And she actually served a whole year
in the horrible city hospital!  Wasn't it brave of her!"

Berkley swayed forward to look at Ailsa Paige.  He began to be
tormented again by the feverish idea that she resembled the girl
pictures of his mother.  Nor could he rid himself of the fantastic
impression.  In the growing unreality of it all, in the distorted
outlines of a world gone topsy-turvy, amid the deadly blurr of
things material and mental, Ailsa Paige's face alone remained
strangely clear.  And, scarcely knowing what he was saying, he
leaned forward to her shoulder again.

"There was only one other like you," he said.  Mrs. Paige turned
slowly and looked at him, but the quiet rebuke in her eyes remained
unuttered.

"Be more genuine with me," she said gently.  "I am worth it, Mr.
Berkley."

Then, suddenly there seemed to run a pale flash through his brain,

"Yes," he said in an altered voice, "you are worth it. . . .  Don't
drive me away from you just yet."

"Drive you away?" in soft concern.  "I did not mean----"

"You will, some day.  But don't do it to-night." Then the quick,
feverish smile broke out.

"Do you need a servant?  I'm out of a place.  I can either cook,
clean silver, open the door, wash sidewalks, or wait on the table;
so you see I have every qualification."

Smilingly perplexed, she let her eyes rest on his pallid face for a
moment, then turned toward the stage again.

The "Seven Sisters" pursued its spectacular course; Ione Burke,
Polly Marshall, and Mrs. Vining were in the cast; tableau succeeded
tableau; "I wish I were in Dixie," was sung, and the popular
burlesque ended in the celebrated scene, "The Birth of the
Butterfly in the Bower of Ferns," with the entire company kissing
their finger-tips to a vociferous and satiated audience.

Then it was supper at Delmonico's, and a dance--and at last the
waltz promised him by Ailsa Paige.

Through the fixed unreality of things he saw her clearly, standing,
awaiting him, saw her sensitive face as she quietly laid her hand
on his--saw it suddenly alter as the light contact startled both.

Flushed, she looked up at him like a hurt child, conscious yet only
of the surprise.

Dazed, he stared back.  Neither spoke; his arm encircled her; both
seemed aware of that; then only of the swaying rhythm of the dance,
and of joined hands, and her waist imprisoned.  Only the fragrance
of her hair seemed real to him; and the long lashes resting on
curved cheeks, and the youth of her yielding to his embrace.

Neither spoke when it had ended.  She turned aside and stood
motionless a moment, resting against the stair rail as though to
steady herself.  Her small head was lowered.

He managed to say: "You will give me the next?"

"No."

"Then the next----"

"No," she said, not moving.

A young fellow came up eagerly, cocksure of her, but she shook her
head--and shook her head to all--and Berkley remained standing
beside her.  And at last her reluctant head turned slowly, and,
slowly, her gaze searched his.

"Shall we rest?" he said.

"Yes.  I am--tired."

Her dainty avalanche of skirts filled the stairs as she settled
there in silence; he at her feet, turned sideways so that he could
look up into the brooding, absent eyes.

And over them again--over the small space just then allotted them
in the world--was settling once more the intangible, indefinable
spell awakened by their first light contact.  Through its silence
hurried their pulses; through its significance her dazed young eyes
looked out into a haze where nothing stirred except a phantom
heart, beating, beating the reveille.  And the spell lay heavy on
them both.

"I shall bear your image always.  You know it."

She seemed scarcely to have heard him.

"There is no reason in what I say.  I know it.  Yet--I am destined
never to forget you."

She made no sign.

"Ailsa Paige," he said mechanically.

And after a long while, slowly, she looked down at him where he sat
at her feet, his dark eyes fixed on space.



CHAPTER II

All the morning she had been busy in the Craig's backyard garden,
clipping, training, loosening the earth around lilac, honeysuckle,
and Rose of Sharon.  The little German florist on the corner had
sent in two loads of richly fertilised soil and a barrel of forest
mould.  These she sweetened with lime, mixed in her small pan, and
applied judiciously to the peach-tree by the grape-arbour, to the
thickets of pearl-gray iris, to the beloved roses, prairie climber,
Baltimore bell, and General Jacqueminot.  A neighbour's cat,
war-scarred and bold, traversing the fences in search of single
combat, halted to watch her; an early bee, with no blossoms yet to
rummage, passed and repassed, buzzing distractedly.

The Craig's next-door neighbour, Camilla Lent, came out on her back
veranda and looked down with a sleepy nod of recognition and
good-morning, stretching her pretty arms luxuriously in the
sunshine.

"You look very sweet down there, Ailsa, in your pink gingham apron
and garden gloves."

"And you look very sweet up there, Camilla, in your muslin frock
and satin skin!  And every time you yawn you resemble a plump,
white magnolia bud opening just enough to show the pink inside!"

"It's mean to call me plump!" returned Camilla reproachfully.
"Anyway, anybody would yawn with the Captain keeping the entire
household awake all night.  I vow, I haven't slept one wink since
that wretched news from Charleston.  He thinks he's a battery of
horse artillery now; that's the very latest development; and I shed
tears and the chandeliers shed prisms every time he manoeuvres."

"The dear old thing," said Mrs. Paige, smiling as she moved among
the shrubs.  For a full minute her sensitive lips remained tenderly
curved as she stood considering the agricultural problems before
her.  Then she settled down again, naively--like a child on its
haunches--and continued to mix nourishment for the roses.

Camilla, lounging sideways on her own veranda window sill, rested
her head against the frame, alternately blinking down at the pretty
widow through sleepy eyes, and patting her lips to control the
persistent yawns that tormented her.

"I had a horrid dream, too," she said, "about the 'Seven Sisters.'
I was _Pluto_ to your _Diavoline_, and Philip Berkley was a phantom
that grinned at everybody and rattled the bones; and I waked in a
dreadful fright to hear uncle's spurred boots overhead, and that
horrid noisy old sabre of his banging the best furniture.

"Then this morning just before sunrise he came into my bedroom,
hair and moustache on end, and in full uniform, and attempted to
read the Declaration of Independence to me--or maybe it was the
Constitution--I don't remember--but I began to cry, and that always
sends him off."

Ailsa's quick laugh and the tenderness of her expression were her
only comments upon the doings of Josiah Lent, lately captain,
United States dragoons.

Camilla yawned again, rose, and, arranging her spreading white
skirts, seated herself on her veranda steps in full sunshine.

"We did have a nice party, didn't we, Ailsa?" she said, leaning a
little sideways so that she could see over the fence and down into
the Craig's backyard garden.

"I had such a good time," responded Ailsa, looking up radiantly.

"So did I.  Billy Cortlandt is the most divine dancer.  Isn't
Evelyn Estcourt pretty?"

"She is growing up to be very beautiful some day.  Stephen paid her
a great deal of attention.  Did you notice it?"

"Really?  I didn't notice it," replied Camilla without enthusiasm.
"But," she added, "I _did_ notice you and Phil Berkley on the
stairs.  It didn't take you long, did it?"

Ailsa's colour rose a trifle.

"We exchanged scarcely a dozen words," she observed sedately.

Camilla laughed.

"It didn't take you long," she repeated, "either of you.  It was
the swiftest case of fascination that I ever saw."

"You are absurd, Camilla."

"But _isn't_ he perfectly fascinating?  I think he is the most
romantic-looking creature I ever saw.  However," she added, folding
her slender hands in resignation, "there is nothing else to him.
He's accustomed to being adored; there's no heart left in him.  I
think it's dead."

Mrs. Paige stood looking up at her, trowel hanging loosely in her
gloved hand.

"Did anything--kill it?" she asked carelessly.

"I don't think it ever lived very long.  Anyway there is something
missing in the man; something blank in him.  A girl's time is
wasted in wondering what is going on behind those adorable eyes of
his.  Because there is nothing going on--it's all on the
surface--the charm, the man's engaging ways and manners--all
surface. . . .  I thought I'd better tell you, Ailsa."

"There was no necessity," said Ailsa calmly.  "We scarcely
exchanged a dozen words."

As she spoke she became aware of a shape behind the veranda
windows, a man's upright figure passing and repassing.  And now, at
the open window, it suddenly emerged into full sunlight, a spare,
sinewy, active gentleman of fifty, hair and moustache thickly
white, a deep seam furrowing his forehead from the left ear to the
roots of the hair above the right temple.

The most engaging of smiles parted the young widow's lips.

"Good morning, Captain Lent," she cried gaily.  "You have neglected
me dreadfully of late."

The Captain came to a rigid salute.

"April eleventh, eighteen-sixty-one!" he said with clean-cut
precision.  "Good morning, Mrs. Paige!  How does your garden blow?
Blow--blow ye wintry winds!  Ahem!  How have the roses
wintered--the rose of yesterday?"

"Oh, I don't know, sir.  I am afraid my sister's roses have not
wintered very well.  I'm really a little worried about them."

"_I_ am worried about nothing in Heaven, on Earth, or in Hell,"
said the Captain briskly.  "God's will is doing night and day, Mrs.
Paige.  Has your brother-in-law gone to business?"

"Oh, yes.  He and Stephen went at eight this morning."

"Is your sister-in-law well.  God bless her!" shouted the Captain.

"Uncle, you _mustn't_ shout," remonstrated Camilla gently.

"I'm only exercising my voice,"--and to Ailsa:

"I neglect nothing, mental, physical, spiritual, that may be of the
slightest advantage to my country in the hour when every
respiration, every pulse beat, every waking thought shall belong to
the Government which I again shall have the honour of serving."

He bowed stiffly from the waist, to Ailsa, to his niece, turned
right about, and marched off into the house, his white moustache
bristling, his hair on end.

"Oh, dear," sighed Camilla patiently, "isn't it disheartening?"

"He is a dear," said Ailsa.  "I adore him."

"Yes--if he'd only sleep at night.  I am very selfish I suppose to
complain; he is so happy and so interested these days--only--I am
wondering--if there ever _should_ be a war--would it break his poor
old heart if he couldn't go?  They'll never let him, you know."

Ailsa looked up, troubled:

"You mean--_because_!" she said in a low voice.

"Well _I_ don't consider him anything more than delightfully
eccentric."

"Neither do I.  But all this is worrying me ill.  His heart is so
entirely wrapped up in it; he writes a letter to Washington every
day, and nobody ever replies.  Ailsa, it almost terrifies me to
think what might happen--and he be left out!"

"Nothing will happen.  The world is too civilised, dear."

"But the papers talk about nothing else!  And uncle takes every
paper in New York and Brooklyn, and he wants to have the editor of
the _Herald_ arrested, and he is very anxious to hang the entire
staff of the _Daily News_.  It's all well enough to stand there
laughing, but I believe there'll be a war, and then my troubles
will begin!"

Ailsa, down on her knees again, dabbled thoughtfully in the soil,
exploring the masses of matted spider-wort for new shoots.

Camilla looked on, resignedly, her fingers playing with the
loosened masses of her glossy black hair.  Each was following in
silence the idle drift of thought which led Camilla back to her
birthday party.

"Twenty!" she said still more resignedly--"four years younger than
you are, Ailsa Paige!  Oh dear--and here I am, absolutely
unmarried.  That is not a very maidenly thought, I suppose, is it
Ailsa?"

"You always were a romantic child," observed Ailsa, digging
vigorously in the track of a vanishing May beetle.  But when she
disinterred him her heart failed her and she let him scramble away.

"There!  He'll probably chew up everything," she said.  "What a
sentimental goose I am!"

"The first trace of real sentiment I ever saw you display," began
Camilla reflectively, "was the night of my party."

Ailsa dug with energy.  "_That_ is absurd!  And not even funny."

"You _were_ sentimental!"

"I--well there is no use in answering you," concluded Ailsa.

"No, there isn't.  I've seen women look at men, and men look back
again--the way _he_ did!"

"Dear, please don't say such things!"

"I'm going to say 'em," insisted Camilla with malicious
satisfaction.  "You've jeered at me because I'm tender-hearted
about men.  Now my chance has come!"

Ailsa began patiently: "There were scarcely a dozen words
spoken----"

Camilla, delighted, shook her dark curls.

"You've said that before," she laughed.  "Oh, you pretty minx!--you
and your dozen words!"

Ailsa Paige arose in wrath and stretched out a warning arm among
her leafless roses; but Camilla placed both hands on the fence top
and leaned swiftly down from the veranda steps,

"Forgive me, dear," she said penitently.  "I was only trying to
torment you.  Kiss me and make up.  I know you too well to believe
that you could care for a man of that kind."

Ailsa's face was very serious, but she lifted herself on tiptoe and
they exchanged an amicable salute across the fence.

After a moment she said: "What did you mean by 'a man of _that_
kind'?"

Camilla's shrug was expressive.  "There are stories about him."

Ailsa looked thoughtfully into space.  "Well you won't say such
things to me again, about any man--will you, dear?"

"You never minded them before.  You used to laugh."

"But this time," said Ailsa Paige, "it is not the least bit funny.
We scarcely exchanged----"

She checked herself, flushing with annoyance.  Camilla, leaning on
the garden fence, had suddenly buried her face in both arms.  In
feminine plumpness, when young, there is usually something left of
the schoolgirl giggler.

The pretty girl below remained disdainfully indifferent.  She dug,
she clipped, she explored, inhaling, with little thrills, the faint
mounting odour of forest loam and sappy stems.

"I really must go back to New York and start my own garden," she
said, not noticing Camilla's mischief.  "London Terrace will be
green in another week."

"How long do you stay with the Craigs, Ailsa?"

"Until the workmen finish painting my house and installing the new
plumbing.  Colonel Arran is good enough to look after it."

Camilla, her light head always ringing with gossip, watched Ailsa
curiously.

"It's odd," she observed, "that Colonel Arran and the Craigs never
exchange civilities."

"Mrs. Craig doesn't like him," said Ailsa simply.

"You do, don't you?"

"Naturally.  He was my guardian."

"My uncle likes him.  To me he has a hard face."

"He has a sad face," said Ailsa Paige.



CHAPTER III

Ailsa and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Craig, had been unusually
reticent over their embroidery that early afternoon, seated
together in the front room, which was now flooded with sunshine--an
attractive, intimate room, restful and pretty in spite of the
unlovely Victorian walnut furniture.

Through a sunny passageway they could look into Ailsa's
bedroom--formerly the children's nursery--where her maid sat sewing.

Outside the open windows, seen between breezy curtains, new buds
already clothed the great twisted ropes of pendant wistaria with a
silvery-green down.

The street was quiet under its leafless double row of trees, maple,
ailanthus, and catalpa; the old man who trudged his rounds
regularly every week was passing now with his muffled shout:

  Any old hats
  Old coats
  Old boots!
  _Any_ old mats
  Old suits,
  Old flutes! Ca-ash!

And, leaning near to the sill, Ailsa saw him shuffling along,
green-baize bag bulging, a pyramid of stove-pipe hats crammed down
over his ears.

At intervals from somewhere in the neighbourhood sounded the
pleasant bell of the scissors grinder, and the not unmusical call
of "Glass put in!"  But it was really very tranquil there in the
sunshine of Fort Greene Place, stiller even for the fluted call of
an oriole aloft in the silver maple in front of the stoop.

He was a shy bird even though there were no imported sparrows to
drive this lovely native from the trees of a sleepy city; and he
sat very still in the top branches, clad in his gorgeous livery of
orange and black, and scarcely stirred save to slant his head and
peer doubtfully at last year's cocoons, which clung to the bark
like shreds of frosted cotton.

Very far away, from somewhere in the harbour, a deep sound jarred
the silence.  Ailsa raised her head, needle suspended, listened for
a moment, then resumed her embroidery with an unconscious sigh.

Her sister-in-law glanced sideways at her.

"I was thinking of Major Anderson, Celia," she said absently.

"So was I, dear.  And of those who must answer for his gove'nment's
madness,--God fo'give them."

There was no more said about the Major or his government.  After a
few moments Ailsa leaned back dreamily, her gaze wandering around
the sunny walls of the room.  In Ailsa Paige's eyes there was
always a gentle caress for homely things.  Just now they caressed
the pictures of "Night" and "Morning," hanging there in their round
gilt frames; the window boxes where hyacinths blossomed; the
English ivy festooned to frame the window beside her
sister-in-law's writing-desk; the melancholy engraving over the
fireplace--"The Motherless Bairn"--a commonplace picture which
harrowed her, but which nobody thought of discarding in a day when
even the commonplace was uncommon.

She smiled in amused reminiscence of the secret tears she had wept
over absurd things--of the funerals held for birds found dead--of
the "Three Grains of Corn" poem which, when a child, elicited from
her howls of anguish.

Little golden flashes of recollection lighted the idle path as her
thoughts wandered along hazy ways which led back to her own nursery
days; and she rested there, in memory, dreaming through the
stillness of the afternoon.

She missed the rattle and noise of New York.  It was a little too
tranquil in Fort Greene Place; yet, when she listened intently,
through the city's old-fashioned hush, very far away the voices of
the great seaport were always audible--a ceaseless harmony of river
whistles, ferry-boats signalling on the East River, ferry-boats on
the North River, perhaps some mellow, resonant blast from the bay,
where an ocean liner was heading for the Narrows.  Always the
street's stillness held that singing murmur, vibrant with deep
undertones from dock and river and the outer sea.

Strange spicy odours, too, sometimes floated inland from the sugar
wharves, miles away under the Heights, to mingle with the scent of
lilac and iris in quiet, sunny backyards where whitewashed fences
reflected the mid-day glare, and cats dozed in strategical
positions on grape trellis and tin roofs of extensions, prepared
for war or peace, as are all cats always, at all times.


"Celia!"

Celia Craig looked up tranquilly.

"Has anybody darned Paige's stockings?"

"No, she hasn't, Honey-bell.  Paige and Marye must keep their
stockings da'ned.  I never could do anything fo' myse'f, and I
won't have my daughters brought up he'pless."

Ailsa glanced humorously across at her sister-in-law.

"You sweet thing," she said, "you can do anything, and you know it!"

"But I don't like to do anything any mo' than I did befo' I had
to," laughed Celia Craig; and suddenly checked her mirth, listening
with her pretty close-set ears.

"That is the do'-bell," she remarked, "and I am not dressed."

"It's almost too early for anybody to call," said Ailsa tranquilly.

But she was wrong, and when, a moment later, the servant came to
announce Mr. Berkley, Ailsa regarded her sister-in-law in pink
consternation.

"I did _not_ ask him," she said.  "We scarcely exchanged a dozen
words.  He merely said he'd like to call--on you--and now he's done
it, Celia!"

Mrs. Craig calmly instructed the servant to say that they were at
home, and the servant withdrew.

"Do you approve his coming--this way--without anybody inviting
him?" asked Ailsa uneasily.

"Of co'se, Honey-bell.  He is a Berkley.  He should have paid his
respects to us long ago."

"It was for him to mention the relationship when I met him.  He did
not speak of it, Celia."

"No, it was fo' you to speak of it first," said Celia Craig gently.
"But you did not know that."

"Why?"

"There are reasons, Honey-bud."

"What reasons?"

"They are not yo' business, dear," said her sister-in-law quietly.

Ailsa had already risen to examine herself in the mirror.  Now she
looked back over her shoulder and down into Celia's pretty
eyes--eyes as unspoiled as her own.

In Celia Craig remained that gracious and confident faith in
kinship which her Northern marriage had neither extinguished nor
chilled.  The young man who waited below was a Berkley, a kinsman.
Name and quality were keys to her hospitality.  There was also
another key which this man possessed, and it fitted a little locked
compartment in Celia Craig's heart.  But Ailsa had no knowledge of
this.  And now Mrs. Craig was considering the advisability of
telling her--not all, perhaps,--but something of how matters stood
between the House of Craig and the House of Berkley.  But not how
matters stood with the House of Arran.

"Honey-bud," she said, "you must be ve'y polite to this young man."

"I expect to be.  Only I don't quite understand why he came so
unceremoniously----"

"It would have been ruder to neglect us, little Puritan!  I want to
see Connie Berkley's boy.  I'm glad he came."

Celia Craig, once Celia Marye Ormond Paige, stood watching her
taller sister-in-law twisting up her hair and winding the thick
braid around the crown of her head _a la coronal_.  Little wonder
that these two were so often mistaken for own sisters--the matron
not quite as tall as the young widow, but as slender, and fair, and
cast in the same girlish mould.

Both inherited from their Ormond ancestry slightly arched and
dainty noses and brows, delicate hands and feet, and the same
splendid dull-gold hair--features apparently characteristic of the
line, all the women of which had been toasts of a hundred years
ago, before Harry Lee hunted men and the Shadow of the Swamp Fox
flitted through the cypress to a great king's undoing.

Ailsa laid a pink bow against her hair and glanced at her
sister-in-law for approval.

"I declare.  Honey-bud, you are all rose colour to-day," said Celia
Craig, smiling; and, on impulse, unpinned the pink-and-white cameo
from her own throat and fastened it to Ailsa's breast.

"I reckon I'll slip on a gay gown myse'f," she added mischievously.
"I certainly am becoming ve'y tired of leaving the field to my
sister-in-law, and my schoolgirl daughters."

"Does anybody ever look at us after you come into a room?" asked
Ailsa, laughing; and, turning impulsively, she pressed Celia's
pretty hands flat together and kissed them.  "You darling," she
said.  An unaccountable sense of expectancy--almost of exhilaration
was taking possession of her.  She looked into the mirror and stood
content with what she saw reflected there.

"How much of a relation is he, Celia?" balancing the rosy bow with
a little cluster of pink hyacinth on the other side.

Celia Craig, forefinger crooked across her lips, considered aloud.

"_His_ mother was bo'n Constance Berkley; _her_ mother was bo'n
Betty Ormond; _her_ mother was bo'n Felicity Paige; _her_
mother----"

"Oh please!  I don't care to know any more!" protested Ailsa,
drawing her sister-in-law before the mirror; and, standing behind
her, rested her soft, round chin on her shoulder, regarding the two
reflected faces.

"That," observed the pretty Southern matron, "is conside'd ve'y bad
luck.  When I was a young girl I once peeped into the glass over my
ole mammy's shoulder, and she said I'd sho'ly be punished befo' the
year was done."

"And were you?"

"I don't exactly remember," said Mrs. Craig demurely, "but I think
I first met my husband the ve'y next day."

They both laughed softly, looking at each other in the mirror.

So, in her gown of rosy muslin, bouffant and billowy, a pink flower
in her hair, and Celia's pink-and-white cameo at her whiter throat
Ailsa Paige descended the carpeted stairs and came into the mellow
dimness of the front parlour, where there was much rosewood, and a
French carpet, and glinting prisms on the chandeliers,--and a young
man, standing, dark against a bar of sunshine in which golden motes
swam.

"How do you do," she said, offering her narrow hand, and: "Mrs.
Craig is dressing to receive you. . . .  It is warm for April, I
think.  How amiable of you to come all the way over from New York.
Mr. Craig and his son Stephen are at business, my cousins, Paige
and Marye, are at school.  Won't you sit down?"

She had backed away a little distance from him, looking at him
under brows bent slightly inward, and thinking that she had made no
mistake in her memory of this man.  Certainly his features were
altogether too regular, his head and body too perfectly moulded
into that dark and graceful symmetry which she had hitherto vaguely
associated with things purely and mythologically Olympian.

Upright against the doorway, she suddenly recollected with a blush
that she was staring like a schoolgirl, and sat down.  And he drew
up a chair before her and seated himself; and then under the
billowy rose crinoline she set her pretty feet close together,
folded her hands, and looked at him with a smiling composure which
she no longer really felt.

"The weather," she repeated, "is unusually warm.  Do you think that
Major Anderson will hold out at Sumter?  Do you think the fleet is
going to relieve him?  Dear me," she sighed, "where will it all
end, Mr. Berkley?"

"In war," he said, also smiling; but neither of them believed it,
or, at the moment, cared.  There were other matters
impending--since their first encounter.

"I have thought about you a good deal since Camilla's theatre
party," he said pleasantly.

"Have you?"  She scarcely knew what else to say--and regretted
saying anything.

"Indeed I have.  I dare not believe you have wasted as much as one
thought on the man you danced with once--and refused ever after."

She felt, suddenly, a sense of uneasiness in being near him.

"Of course I have remembered you, Mr.  Berkley," she said with
composure.  "Few men dance as well.  It has been an agreeable
memory to me."

"But you would not dance with me again."

"I--there were--you seemed perfectly contented to sit out--the
rest--with me."

He considered the carpet attentively.  Then looking up with quick,
engaging smile:

"I want to ask you something.  May I?"

She did not answer.  As it had been from the first time she had
ever seen him, so it was now with her; a confused sense of the
necessity for caution in dealing with a man who had inspired in her
such an unaccountable inclination to listen to what he chose to say.

"What is it you wish to ask?" she inquired pleasantly.

"It is this: are you _really_ surprised that I came?  Are you, in
your heart?"

"Did I appear to be very much agitated?  Or my heart, either, Mr.
Berkley?" she asked with a careless laugh, conscious now of her
quickening pulses.  Outwardly calm, inwardly Irresolute, she faced
him with a quiet smile of confidence.

"Then you were not surprised that I came?" he insisted.

"You did not wait to be asked.  That surprised me a little."

"I did wait.  But you didn't ask me."

"That seems to have made no difference to you," she retorted,
laughing.

"It made this difference.  I seized upon the only excuse I had and
came to pay my respects as a kinsman.  Do you know that I am a
relation?"

"That is a very pretty compliment to us all, I think."

"It is you who are kind in accepting me."

"As a relative, I am very glad to----"

"I came," he said, "to see _you_.  And you know it."

"But you _couldn't_ do that, uninvited! I had not asked you."

"But--it's done," he said.

She sat very still, considering him.  Within her, subtle currents
seemed to be contending once more, disturbing her equanimity.  She
said, sweetly:

"I am not as offended as I ought to be.  But I do not see why you
should disregard convention with me."

"I didn't mean it that way," he said, leaning forward.  "I couldn't
stand not seeing you.  That was all.  Convention is a pitiful
thing--sometimes--"  He hesitated, then fell to studying the carpet.

She looked at him, silent in her uncertainty.  His expression was
grave, almost absent-minded.  And again her troubled eyes rested on
the disturbing symmetry of feature and figure in all the
unconscious grace of repose; and in his immobility there seemed
something even of nobility about him which she had not before
noticed.

She stole another glance at him.  He remained very still, leaning
forward, apparently quite oblivious of her.  Then he came to
himself with a quick smile, which she recognised as characteristic
of all that disturbed her about this man--a smile in which there
was humour, a little malice and self-sufficiency and--many, many
things she did not try to analyse.

"Don't you really want an unreliable servant?" he asked.

His perverse humour perplexed her, but she smiled.

"Don't you remember that I once asked you if you needed an
able-bodied man?" he insisted.

She nodded.

"Well, I'm that man."

She assented, smiling conventionally, not at all understanding.  He
laughed, too, thoroughly enjoying something.

"It isn't really very funny," he said, "Ask your brother-in-law.  I
had an interview with him before I came here.  And I think there's
a chance that he may give me a desk and a small salary in his
office."

"How absurd!" she said.

"It is rather absurd.  I'm so absolutely useless.  It's only
because of the relationship that Mr. Craig is doing this."

She said uneasily: "You are not really serious, are you?"

"Grimly serious."

"About a--a desk and a salary--in my brother-in-law's office?"

"Unless you'll hire me as a useful man.  Otherwise, I hope for a
big desk and a small salary.  I went to Mr. Craig this morning, and
the minute I saw him I knew he was fine enough to be your
brother-in-law.  And I said, 'I am Philip Ormond Berkley; how do
you do!' And he said, 'How do you do!'  And I said, 'I'm a
relation,' and he said, 'I believe so.'  And I said, 'I was
educated at Harvard and in Leipsic; I am full of useless
accomplishments, harmless erudition, and insolvent amiability, and
I am otherwise perfectly worthless.  Can you give me a position?'"

"And he said: 'What else is the matter?'  And I said, 'The stock
market.'  And that is how it remains, I am to call on him
to-morrow."

She said in consternation: "Forgive me.  I did not think you meant
it.  I did not know that you were--were----"

"Ruined!" he nodded laughingly.  "I am, practically.  I have a
little left--badly invested--which I'm trying to get at.  Otherwise
matters are gay enough."

She said wonderingly: "Had this happened when--I saw you that first
time?"

"It had just happened.  I looked the part, didn't I?"

"No.  _How_ could you be so--interesting and--and be--what you
were--knowing this all the while?"

"I went to that party absolutely stunned.  I saw you in a corner of
the box--I had just been hearing about you--and--I don't know now
what I said to you.  Afterward"--he glanced at her--"the world was
spinning, Mrs.  Paige.  You only remained real--"  His face altered
subtly.  "And when I touched you----"

"I gave you a waltz, I believe," she said, striving to speak
naturally; but her pulses had begun to stir again; the same
inexplicable sense of exhilaration and insecurity was creeping over
her.

With a movement partly nervous she turned toward the door, but
there sounded no rustle of her sister's skirts from the stairs, and
her reluctant eyes slowly reverted to him, then fell in silence,
out of which she presently strove to extract them both with some
casual commonplace.

He said in a low voice, almost to himself:

"I want you to think well of me."

She gathered all her composure, steadied her senses to choose a
reply, and made a blunder:

"Do you really care what I think?" she asked lightly, and bit her
lip too late.

"Do you believe I care about anything else in the world--now?"

She went on bravely, blindly:

"And do _you_ expect me to believe in--in such an exaggerated and
romantic expression to a staid and matter-of-fact widow whom you
never saw more than once in your life?"

"You _do_ believe it."

Confused, scarcely knowing what she was saying, she still attempted
to make light of his words, holding her own against herself for the
moment, making even some headway.  And all the while she was aware
of mounting emotion--a swift inexplicable charm falling over them
both.

He had become silent again, and she was saying she knew not
what--fortifying her common-sense with gay inconsequences, when he
looked up straight into her eyes.

"I have distressed you.  I should not have spoken as I did."

"No, you should not----"

"Have I offended you?"

"I--don't know."

Matters were running too swiftly for her; she strove to remain
cool, collected, but confusion was steadily threatening her, and
neither resentment nor indifference appeared as allies.

"Mrs. Paige, can you account for--that night?  The moment I touched
you----"

She half rose, sank back into her seat, her startled eyes meeting
his.

"I--don't know what you mean."

"Yes--you know."

Flushed, voices unsteady, they no longer recognised themselves.

"You have never seen me but once," she said.  "You cannot
believe----"

"I have not known a moment's peace since I first saw you."

She caught her breath.  "It is your business worries that torment
you----"

"It is desire to be near you."

"I don't think you had better say such a thing----"

"I know I had better not.  But it is said, and it is true.  I'm not
trying to explain it to you or to myself.  It's just true.  There
has not been one moment, since I saw you, which has been free from
memory of you----"

"Please----"

"I scarcely know what I am saying--but it's true!"  He checked
himself.  "I'm losing my head now, which isn't like me!" He choked
and stood up; she could not move; every nerve in her had become
tense with emotions so bewildering that mind and body remained
fettered.

He was walking to and fro, silent and white under his self-control.
She, seated, gazed at him as though stunned, but every pulse was
riotously unsteady.

"I suppose you think me crazy," he said hoarsely, "but I've not
known a moment's peace of mind since that night--not one!  I
_couldn't_ keep away any longer.  I can't even hold my tongue now,
though I suppose it's ruining me every time I move it.  It's a
crazy thing to come here and say what I'm saying."

He went over and sat down again, and bent his dark gaze on the
floor.  Then:

"Can you forgive what I have done to you?"

She tried to answer, and only made a sign of faint assent.  She no
longer comprehended herself or the emotions menacing her.  A
curious tranquillity quieted her at moments--intervals in which she
seemed to sit apart watching the development of another woman,
listening to her own speech, patient with her own silences.  There
was a droop to her shoulders now; his own were sagging as he leaned
slightly forward in his chair, arms resting on his knees, while
around them the magic ebbed, eddied, ebbed; and lassitude succeeded
tension; and she stirred, looked up at him with eyes that seemed
dazed at first, then widened slowly into waking; and he saw in them
the first clear dawn of alarm.  Suddenly she flushed and sprang to
her feet, the bright colour surging to her hair.

"Don't!" he said.  "Don't reason! There will be nothing left of me
if you do--or of, these moments.  You will hate them--and me, if
you reason.  Don't think--until we see each other again!"

She dropped her eyes slowly, and slowly shook her head.

"You ask too much," she said.  "You should not have said that."
All the glamour was fading.  Her senses were seeking their balance
after the incredible storm that had whirled them into chaos.

Fear stirred sharply, then consternation--flashes of panic pierced
her with darts of shame, as though she had been in physical contact
with this man.

All her outraged soul leaped to arms, quivering now under the
reaction; the man's mere presence was becoming unendurable; the
room stifled her.  She turned, scarce knowing what she was doing;
and at the same moment her sister-in-law entered.

Berkley, already on his feet, turned short: and when she offered
him a hand as slim and white as Ailsa's, he glanced inquiringly at
the latter, not at all certain who this charming woman might be.

"Mrs. Craig," said Ailsa.

"I don't believe it," he said.  "You haven't grown-up children!"

"Don't you really believe it, Mr. Berkley?  Or is it just the
flattering Irish in you that natters us poor women to our
destruction?"

He had sense and wit enough to pay her a quick and really graceful
compliment; to which she responded, still laughing:

"Oh, it is the Ormond in you! I am truly ve'y glad you came.  You
are Constance Berkley's son--Connie Berkley!  The sweetest girl
that ever lived."

There was a silence.  Then Mrs. Craig said gently:

"I was her maid of honour, Mr. Berkley."

Ailsa raised her eyes to his altered face, startled at the change
in it.  He looked at her absently, then his gaze reverted to Ailsa
Paige.

"I loved her dearly," said Mrs. Craig, dropping a light, impulsive
hand on his.  "I want her son to know it."

Her eyes were soft and compassionate; her hand still lingered
lightly on his, and she let it rest so.

"Mrs. Craig," he said, "_you_ are the most real person I have known
in many years among the phantoms.  I thought your sister-in-law
was.  But you are still more real."

"Am I?" she laid her other hand over his, considering him
earnestly.  Ailsa looking on, astonished, noticed a singular
radiance on his face--the pale transfiguration from some quick
inward illumination.

Then Celia Craig's voice sounded almost caressingly:

"I think you should have come to see us long ago." A pause.  "You
are as welcome in this house as your mother would be if she were
living.  I love and honour her memory."

"I have honoured little else in the world," he said.  They looked
at one another for a moment; then her quick smile broke out.  "I
have an album.  There are some Paiges, Ormonds, and Berkleys in
it----"

Ailsa came forward slowly.

"Shall I look for it, Celia?"

"No, Honey-bell."  She turned lightly and went into the back
parlour, smiling mysteriously to herself, her vast, pale-blue
crinoline rustling against the furniture.

"My sister-in-law," said Ailsa, after an interval of silent
constraint, "is very Southern.  Any sort of kinship means a great
deal to her.  I, of course, am Northern, and regard such matters as
unimportant."

"It is very gracious of Mrs. Craig to remember it," he said.  "I
know nothing finer than confidence in one's own kin."

She flushed angrily.  "I have not that confidence--in kinsman."

For a moment their eyes met.  Hers were hard as purple steel.

"Is that final?"

"Yes."

The muscles in his cheeks grew tense, then into his eyes came that
reckless glimmer which in the beginning she had distrusted--a gay,
irresponsible radiance which seemed to mock at all things worthy.

He said: "No, it is not final.  I shall come back to you."

She answered him in an even, passionless voice:

"A moment ago I was uncertain; now I know you.  You are what they
say you are.  I never wish to see you again."

Celia Craig came back with the album.  Berkley sprang to relieve
her of the big book and a box full of silhouettes, miniatures, and
daguerreotypes.  They placed the family depository upon the table
and then bent over it together.

Ailsa remained standing by the window, looking steadily at nothing,
a burning sensation in both cheeks.

At intervals, through the intensity of her silence, she heard
Celia's fresh, sweet laughter, and Berkley's humorous and engaging
voice.  She glanced sideways at the back of his dark curly head
where it bent beside Celia's over the album.  What an insolently
reckless head it was!  She thought that she had never before seen
the back of any man's head so significant of character--or the want
of it.  And the same quality--or the lack of it--now seemed to her
to pervade his supple body, his well-set shoulders, his voice,
every movement, every feature--something everywhere about him that
warned and troubled.

[Illustration: "What an insolently reckless head it was!"]

Suddenly the blood burnt her cheeks with a perfectly
incomprehensible desire to see his face again.  She heard her
sister-in-law saying:

"We Paiges and Berkleys are kin to the Ormonds and the Earls of
Ossory.  The Estcourts, the Paiges, the Craigs, the Lents, the
Berkleys, intermarried a hundred years ago. . . .  My grandmother
knew yours, but the North is very strange in such matters. . . .
Why did you never before come?"

He said: "It's one of those things a man is always expecting to do,
and is always astonished that he hasn't done.  Am I unpardonable?"

"I did not mean it in that way."

He turned his dark, comely head and looked at her as they bent
together above the album.

"I know you didn't.  My answer was not frank.  The reason I never
came to you before was that--I did not know I would be welcomed."

Their voices dropped.  Ailsa standing by the window, watching the
orioles in the maple, could no longer distinguish what they were
saying.

He said: "You were bridesmaid to my mother.  You are the Celia
Paige of her letters."

"She is always Connie Berkley to me.  I loved no woman better.  I
love her still."

"I found that out yesterday.  That is why I dared come.  I found,
among the English letters, one from you to her, written--_after_."

"I wrote her again and again.  She never replied.  Thank God, she
knew I loved her to the last."

He rested on the tabletop and stood leaning over and looking down.

"Dear Mr. Berkley," she murmured gently.

He straightened himself, passed a hesitating hand across his
forehead, ruffling the short curly hair.  Then his preoccupied gaze
wandered.  Ailsa turned toward him at the same moment, and
instantly a flicker of malice transformed the nobility of his set
features:

"It seems," he said, "that you and I are irrevocably related in all
kinds of delightful ways, Mrs. Paige.  Your sister-in-law very
charmingly admits it, graciously overlooks and pardons my many
delinquencies, and has asked me to come again.  Will you ask me,
too?"

Ailsa merely looked at him.

Mrs. Craig said, laughing: "I knew you were all Ormond and entirely
Irish as soon as I came in the do'--befo' I became aware of your
racial fluency.  I speak fo' my husband and myse'f when I say,
please remember that our do' is ve'y wide open to our own kin--and
that you are of them----"

"Oh, I'm all sorts of things beside--"  He paused for a
second--"Cousin Celia," he added so lightly that the grace with
which he said it covered the impudence, and she laughed in
semi-critical approval and turned to Ailsa, whose smile in response
was chilly--chillier still when Berkley did what few men have done
convincingly since powdered hair and knee-breeches became
unfashionable--bent to salute Celia Craig's fingertips.  Then he
turned to her and took his leave of her in a conventional manner
entirely worthy of the name his mother bore,--and her mother before
her, and many a handsome man and many a beautiful woman back to
times when a great duke stood unjustly attainted, and the Ormonds
served their king with steel sword and golden ewer; and served him
faithfully and well.


Camilla Lent called a little later.  Ailsa was in the backyard
garden, a trowel in her hand, industriously loosening the earth
around the prairie roses.

"Camilla," she said, looking up from where she was kneeling among
the shrubs, "what was it you said this morning about Mr. Berkley
being some unpleasant kind of man?"

"How funny," laughed Camilla.  "You asked me that twice before."

"Did I?  I forgot," said Mrs. Paige with a shrug; and, bending over
again, became exceedingly busy with her trowel until the fire in
her cheeks had cooled.

"Every woman that ever saw him becomes infatuated with Phil
Berkley," said Camilla cheerfully.  "I was.  You will be.  And the
worst of it is he's simply not worth it."

"I--thought not."

"Why did you think not?"

"I don't know why."

"He _can_ be fascinating," said Camilla reflectively, "but he
doesn't always trouble himself to be."

"Doesn't he?" said Ailsa with a strange sense of relief.

Camilla hesitated, lowered her voice.

"They say he is fast," she whispered.  Ailsa, on her knees, turned
and looked up.

"Whatever that means," added Camilla, shuddering.  "But all the
same, every girl who sees him begins to adore him immediately until
her parents make her stop."

"How silly," said Ailsa in a leisurely level voice.  But her heart
was beating furiously, and she turned to her roses with a blind
energy that threatened them root and runner.

"How did you happen to think of him at all?" continued Camilla
mischievously.

"He called on--Mrs. Craig this afternoon."

"I didn't know she knew him."

"They are related--distantly--I believe----"

"Oh," exclaimed Camilla.  "I'm terribly sorry I spoke that way
about him, dear----"

"_I_ don't care what you say about him," returned Ailsa Paige
fiercely, emptying some grains of sand out of one of her gloves;
resolutely emptying her mind, too, of Philip Berkley.

"Dear," she added gaily to Camilla, "come in and we'll have tea and
gossip, English fashion.  And I'll tell you about my new duties at
the Home for Destitute Children--every morning from ten to twelve,
my dear, in their horrid old infirmary--the poor little
darlings!--and I would be there all day if I wasn't a selfish,
indolent, pleasure-loving creature without an ounce of womanly
feeling--Yes I am!  I must be, to go about to galleries and dances
and Philharmonics when there are motherless children in that
infirmary, as sick for lack of love as for the hundred and one
ailments distressing their tender little bodies."

But over their tea and marmalade and toast she became less
communicative; and once or twice the conversation betrayed an
unexpected tendency to drift toward Berkley.

"I haven't the slightest curiosity concerning him, dear," said
Ailsa, attempting corroboration in a yawn--which indiscretion she
was unable to accomplish.

"Well," remarked Camilla, "the chances are that you've seen the
last of him if you showed it too plainly.  Men don't come back when
a girl doesn't wish them to.  Do they?"

After Camilla had gone, Ailsa roamed about the parlours, apparently
renewing her acquaintance with the familiar decorations.
Sometimes she stood at windows, looking thoughtfully into the empty
street; sometimes she sat in corners, critically surveying empty
space.

Yes, the chances were that he would scarcely care to come back.  A
man of that kind did not belong in her sister-in-law's house,
anyway, nor in her own--a man who could appeal to a woman for a
favourable opinion of himself, asking her to suspend her reason,
stifle logic, stultify her own intelligence, and trust to a
sentimental impulse that he deserved the toleration and
consideration which he asked for. . . .  It was certainly well for
her that he should not return. . . .  It would be better for her to
lay the entire matter before her sister-in-law--that was what she
would do immediately!

She sprang to her feet and ran lightly up-stairs; but, fast as she
fled, thought outran her slender flying feet, and she came at last
very leisurely into Celia's room, a subdued, demure opportunist,
apparently with nothing on her mind and conscience,

"If I may have the carriage at ten, Celia, I'll begin on the
Destitute Children to-morrow. . . .  Poor babies! . . .  If they
only had once a week as wholesome food as is wasted in this city
every day by Irish servants . . .  which reminds me--I suppose you
will have to invite your new kinsman to dine with you."

"There is loads of time for that, Honey-bud," said her
sister-in-law, glancing up absently from the note she was writing.

"I was merely wondering whether it was necessary at all," observed
Ailsa Paige, without interest.

But Celia had begun to write again.  "I'll ask him," she said in
her softly preoccupied voice, "Saturday, I think."

"Oh, but I'm invited to the Cortlandt's," began Ailsa, and caught
her under lip in her teeth.  Then she turned and walked noiselessly
into her bedroom, and sat down on the bed and looked at the wall.



CHAPTER IV

It was almost mid-April; and still the silvery-green tassels on the
wistaria showed no hint of the blue petals folded within; but the
maples' leafless symmetry was already veined with fire.  Faint
perfume from Long Island woodlands, wandering puffs of wind from
salt meadows freshened the city streets; St. Felix Street boasted a
lilac bush in leaf; Oxford Street was gay with hyacinths and a
winter-battered butterfly; and in Fort Greene Place the grassy
door-yards were exquisite with crocus bloom.  Peace, good-will, and
spring on earth; but in men's souls a silence as of winter.

To Northland folk the unclosing buds of April brought no awakening;
lethargy fettered all, arresting vigour, sapping desire.  An
immense inertia chained progress in its tracks, while overhead the
gray storm-wrack fled away,--misty, monstrous, gale-driven before
the coming hurricane.

Still, for the Northland, there remained now little of the keener
suspense since those first fiery outbursts in the South; but all
through the winter the dull pain throbbed in silence as star after
star dropped from the old galaxy and fell flashing into the new.

And it was a time of apathy, acquiescence, stupefied incredulity; a
time of dull faith in destiny, duller resignation.

The printed news was read day after day by a people who understood
nothing, neither the cautious arming nor the bold disarming, nor
the silent fall of fortified places, nor the swift dismantling of
tall ships--nor did they comprehend the ceaseless tremors of a land
slowly crumbling under the subtle pressure--nor that at last the
vast disintegration of the matrix would disclose the forming
crystal of another nation cradled there, glittering, naming under
the splendour of the Southern skies.

A palsied Old Year had gone out.  The mindless old man--he who had
been President--went with it.  A New Year had come in, and on its
infant heels shambled a tall, gaunt shape that seated itself by the
White House windows and looked out into the murk of things with
eyes that no man understood.

And now the soft sun of April spun a spell upon the Northland folk;
for they had eyes but they saw not; ears had they, but they heard
not; neither spoke they through the mouth.

To them only one figure seemed real, looming above the vast and
motionless mirage where a continent stood watching the parapets of
a sea-girt fort off Charleston.

But the nation looked too long; the mirage closed in; fort, sea,
the flag itself, became unreal; the lone figure on the parapet
turned to a phantom.  God's will was doing.  Who dared doubt?


"There seems to be no doubt in the South," observed Ailsa Paige to
her brother-in-law one fragrant evening after dinner where, in the
dusk, the family had gathered on the stoop after the custom of a
simpler era.

Along the dim street long lines of front stoops blossomed with the
light spring gowns of women and young girls, pale, dainty clusters
in the dusk set with darker figures, where sparks from cigars
glowed and waned in the darkness.

Windows were open, here and there a gas jet in a globe flickered
inside a room, but the street was dusky and tranquil as a country
lane, and unilluminated save where at far intervals lamp-posts
stood in a circle of pale light, around which a few moths hovered.

"The rebels," repeated Ailsa, "appear to have no doubts, honest or
otherwise.  They've sent seven thousand troops to the Charleston
fortifications--the paper says."

Stephen Craig heard his cousin speak but made no response.  He was
smoking openly and in sight of his entire family the cigar which
had, heretofore, been consumed surreptitiously.  His mother sat
close to his shoulder, rallying him like a tormenting schoolgirl,
and, at intervals, turning to look back at her husband who stood on
the steps beside her, a little amused, a little proud, a little
inclined to be critical of this tall son of his who yesterday had
been a boy.

The younger daughters of the house, Paige and Marye, strolled past,
bareheaded, arms linked, in company with Camilla and Jimmy Lent.

"O dad!" called out Paige softly, "Jim says that Major Anderson is
to be reinforced at once.  There was a bulletin this evening."

"I am very glad to hear it, sweetheart," said her father, smiling
through his eye-glasses.

Stephen bent forward across his mother's shoulder.  "Is that true,
father?"

"Camilla's brother has probably been reading the _Tribune's_
evening bulletin.  The _Herald_ bulletin says that the Cabinet has
ordered the evacuation of Fort Sumter; the _Times_ says Major
Anderson is to be reinforced; the _World_ says that he abandoned
the fort last night; and they all say he has been summoned to
surrender.  Take your choice, Steve," he added wearily.  "There is
only one wire working from the South, and the rebels control that."

"Are you tired, Curt?" asked his wife, looking around and up at him.

He seated himself and readjusted his eye-glasses.

"No, dear--only of this nightmare we are living in"--he stopped
abruptly.  Politics had been avoided between them.  There was a
short silence; he felt his wife's hand touch his in the
darkness--sign of a tender respect for his perplexity, but not for
his political views.

"Forgive me, dear, for using the word 'rebel,'" he said, smiling
and straightening his shoulders.  "Where have you and Ailsa been
to-day?  Did you go to New York?"

"Yes.  We saw the Academy, and, oh, Curt! there are some very
striking landscapes--two by Gifford; and the cutest portrait of a
girl by Wiyam Hunt.  And your friend Bierstadt has a Western
scene--all fireworks! and, dear, Eastman Johnson was there--and
Kensett sent such a cunning little landscape.  We lunched at
Taylor's."  She lowered her voice to a whisper.  "Ailsa did look
too cute fo' words.  I declare she is the most engaging little
minx.  Eve'y man sta'ed at her.  I _wish_ she would marry again and
be happy.  _She_ doesn't know what a happy love affair can be--poor
baby."

"Do you?" asked her husband.

"Are you beginning to co't me again, Curt?"

"Have I ever ceased?--you little Rebel!"

"No," she said under her breath.

"By the way, Celia," he said smiling, "that young man--cousin of
yours--Berkley, turned up promptly to-day.  I gave him a room in
the office."

"That was certainly ve'y frien'ly of you, Curt!" she responded
warmly.  "You _will_ be patient with him, won't you?"

"I've had to be already.  I gave him a commission to collect some
rents and he came back fifty dollars short, calmly explaining that
one of our lodgers looked poor and he hated to ask for the rent."

"O Curt--the boy is ve'y sweet and wa'm-hearted.  Were you cross
with him?"

"Not very.  I imparted a few plain truths--very pleasantly, Celia.
He knew better; there's a sort of an impish streak in him--also an
inclination for the pleasant by-ways of life. . . .  He had better
let drink alone, too, if he expects to remain in my office.  I told
him that."

"Does he--the foolish baby!"

"Oh, probably not very much.  I don't know; he's likable, but--he
hasn't inspired me with any overwhelming respect and confidence.
His record is not exactly savoury.  But he's your protege, and I'll
stand him as long as you can."

"Thank you, Curt.  We must be gentle to him.  I shall ask him to
dinner and we can give a May dance perhaps--something informal and
pretty--What is the matter, Curt?"

"Nothing, dear. . . .  Only I wouldn't plan anything just yet--I
mean for the present--not for a few days, anyway----"

He shrugged, removed his glasses, polished them on his
handkerchief, and sat holding them, his short-sighted eyes lost in
reverie.

His wife endured it to the limit of patience:

"Curt," she began in a lower voice, "you and I gen'ally avoid
certain matters, dear--but--ev'ything is sure to come right in the
end--isn't it?  The No'th is going to be sensible."

"In the--end," he admitted quietly.  And between them the ocean
sprang into view again.

"I wonder--" She stopped, and an inexplicable uneasiness stirred in
her breast.  She looked around at her son, her left hand fell
protectingly upon his shoulder, her right, groping, touched her
husband's sleeve.

"I am--well cared for--in the world," she sighed happily to
herself.  "It shall not come nigh me."

Stephen was saying to Ailsa:

"There's a piece of up-town property that came into the office
to-day which seems to me significant of the future.  It would be a
good investment for you, Cousin Ailsa.  Some day Fifth Avenue will
be built up solidly with brown-stone mansions as far as the Central
Park.  It is all going to be wonderfully attractive when they
finish it."

Ailsa mused for a moment.  Then:

"I walked down this street to Fort Greene this afternoon," she
began, "and the little rocky park was so sweet and fragrant with
dogwood and Forsythia and new buds everywhere.  And I looked out
over the rivers and the bay and over the two cities and, Steve,
somehow--I don't know why--I found my eyes filling with tears.  I
don't know why, Steve----"

"Feminine sentiment," observed her cousin, smoking.

Mrs. Craig's fingers became restless on her husband's sleeve; she
spoke at moments in soft, wistful tones, watching her younger
daughters and their friends grouped under the trees in the dusk.
And all the time, whatever it was that had brought a new unease
into her breast was still there, latent.  She had no name to give
it, no reason, no excuse; it was too shadowy to bear analysis, too
impalpable to be defined, yet it remained there; she was perfectly
conscious of it, as she held her husband's sleeve the tighter.

"Curt, is business so plaguey poor because of all these politics?"

"My business is not very flourishing.  Many men feel the
uncertainty; not everybody, dear."

"When this--_matter_--is settled, everything will be easier for
you, won't it?  You look so white and tired, dear."

Stephen overheard her.

"The _matter_, as you call it, won't be settled without a row,
mother--if you mean the rebellion."

"Such a wise boy with his new cigar," she smiled through a sudden
resurgence of uneasiness.

The boy said calmly: "Mother, you don't understand; and all the
rest of the South is like you."

"Does anybody understand, Steve?" asked his father, slightly
ironical.

"Some people understand there's going to be a big fight," said the
boy.

"Oh.  Do you?"

"Yes," he said, with the conviction of youth.  "And I'm wondering
who's going to be in it."

"The militia, of course," observed Ailsa scornfully.  "Camilla is
forever sewing buttons on Jimmy's dress uniform.  He wears them off
dancing."

Mr. Craig said, unsmiling: "We are not a military nation, Steve; we
are not only non-military but we are unmilitary--if you know what
that means."

"We once managed to catch Cornwallis," suggested his son, still
proudly smoking.

"I wonder how we did it?" mused his father.

"They were another race--those catchers of Cornwallis--those
fellows in, blue-and-buff and powdered hair."

"You and Celia are their grandchildren," observed Ailsa, "and you
are a West Point graduate."

Her brother-in-law looked at her with a strange sort of humour in
his handsome, near-sighted eyes:

"Yes, too blind to serve the country that educated me.  And now
it's too late; the desire is gone; I have no inclination to fight,
Ailsa.  Drums always annoyed me.  I don't particularly like a gun.
I don't care for a fuss.  I don't wish to be a soldier."

Ailsa said: "I rather like the noise of drums.  I think I'd
like--war."

"Molly Pitcher!  Molly Pitcher!  Of what are you babbling,"
whispered Celia, laughing down the flashes of pain that ran through
her heart.  "Wars are ended in our Western World.  Didn't you know
it, grandchild of Vikings?  There are to be no more Lake
Champlains, only debates--_n'est ce pas_, Curt?--very grand debates
between gentlemen of the South and gentlemen of the North in
Congress assembled----"

"_Two_ congresses assembled," said Ailsa calmly, "and the debates
will be at long range----"

"By magnetic telegraph if you wish, Honey-bell," conceded Celia
hastily.  "Oh, we must _not_ begin disputin' about matters that
nobody can possibly he'p.  It will all come right; you know it
will, don't you, Curt?"

"Yes, I know it, somehow."

Silence, fragrance, and darkness, through which rang the distant
laugh of a young girl.  And, very, very far away sounds arose in
the city, dull, indistinct, lost for moments at a time, then
audible again, and always the same sounds, the same monotony, and
distant persistence.

"I do believe they're calling an extra," said Ailsa, lifting her
head to listen.

Celia listened, too.

"Children shouting at play," she said.

"They _are_ calling an extra, Celia!"

"No, little Cassandra, it's only boys skylarking."

For a while they remained listening and silent.  The voices still
persisted, but they sounded so distant that the light laughter from
their neighbour's stoop drowned the echoes.

Later, Jimmy Lent drifted into the family circle.

"They say that there's an extra out about Fort Sumter," he said.
"Do you think he's given up, Mr. Craig?"

"If there's an extra out the fort is probably safe enough, Jim,"
said the elder man carelessly.  He rose and went toward the group
of girls and youths under the trees.

"Come, children," he said to his two daughters; and was patient
amid indignant protests which preceded the youthful interchange of
reluctant good-nights.

When he returned to the stoop Ailsa had gone indoors with her
cousin.  His wife rose to greet him as though he had been away on a
long journey, and then, passing her arms around her schoolgirl
daughters, and nodding a mischievous dismissal to Jimmy Lent,
walked slowly into the house.  Bolts were shot, keys turned; from
the lighted front parlour came the notes of the sweet-toned square
piano, and Ailsa's voice:

  --"Dear are her charms to me,
  Dearest her constancy,
    Aileen aroon--"

"Never mind any more of that silly song!" exclaimed Celia,
imprisoning Ailsa's arms from behind.

  "Youth must with time decay,
    Aileen aroon,
  Beauty must fade away,
    Aileen aroon--"

"Don't, dear! please----"

But Ailsa sang on obstinately:

  "Castles are sacked in war,
  Chieftains are scattered far,
  Truth is a fixed star,
    Aileen aroon."

And, glancing back over her shoulder, caught her breath quickly.

"Celia! What _is_ the matter, dear?"

"Nothing.  I don't like such songs--just now----"

"What songs?"

"I don't know, Ailsa; songs about war and castles.  Little things
plague me. . . .  There's been altogether too much talk about
war--it gets into ev'ything, somehow.  I can't seem to he'p it,
somehow----"

"Why, Celia!  _You_ are not worrying?"

"Not fo' myse'f, Honey-bud.  Somehow, to-night--I don't know--and
Curt seemed a little anxious."

She laughed with an effort; her natural gaiety returned to buoy her
above this indefinable undercurrent of unrest.

Paige and Marye came in from the glass extension where their father
was pacing to and fro, smoking his bedtime cigar, and their mother
began her invariable running comment concerning the day's events,
rallying her children, tenderly tormenting them with their
shortcomings--undarned stockings, lessons imperfectly learned,
little household tasks neglected--she was always aware of and ready
at bedtime to point out every sin of omission.

"As fo' you, Paige, you are certainly a ve'y rare kind of
Honey-bird, and I reckon Mr. Ba'num will sho'ly catch you some day
fo' his museum.  Who ever heard of a shif'less Yankee girl except
you and Marye?"

"O mother, how _can_ we mend _everything_ we tear?  It's heartless
to ask us!"

"You don't have to try to mend _ev'y_thing.  Fo' example, there's
Jimmy Lent's heart----"

A quick outbreak of laughter swept them--all except Paige, who
flushed furiously over her first school-girl affair.

"That poor Jimmy child came to me about it," continued their
mother, "and asked me if I would let you be engaiged to him; and I
said, 'Certainly, if Paige wants to be, Jimmy.  I was engaiged
myse'f fo' times befo' I was fo'teen----'"

Another gale of laughter drowned her words, and she sat there
dimpled, mischievous, naively looking around, yet in her careful
soul shrewdly pursuing her wise policy of airing all sentimental
matters in the family circle--letting in fresh air and sunshine on
what so often takes root and flourishes rather morbidly at sixteen.

"It's perfectly absurd," observed Ailsa, "at your age, Paige----"

"Mother was married at sixteen!  Weren't you, dearest?"

"I certainly was; but _I_ am a bad rebel and _you_ are good little
Yankees; and good little Yankees wait till they're twenty odd befo'
they do anything ve'y ridiculous."

"We expect to wait," said Paige, with a dignified glance at her
sister.

"You've four years to wait, then," laughed Marye.

"What's the use of being courted if you have to wait four years?"

"And you've three years to wait, silly," retorted Paige.  "But I
don't care; I'd rather wait.  It isn't very long, now.  Ailsa, why
don't you marry again?"

Ailsa's lip curled her comment upon the suggestion.  She sat under
the crystal chandelier reading a Southern newspaper which had been
sent recently to Celia.  Presently her agreeable voice sounded in
appreciative recitation of what she was reading.

  "Hath not the morning dawned with added light?
    And shall not evening call another star
  Out of the infinite regions of the night
    To mark this day in Heaven?  At last we are
  A nation among nations; and the world
    Shall soon behold in many a distant port
      Another flag unfurled!"
"Listen, Celia," she said, "this is really beautiful:

A tint of pink fire touched Mrs. Craig's cheeks, but she said
nothing.  And Ailsa went on, breathing out the opening beauty of
Timrod's "Ethnogenesis":

  "Now come what may, whose favour need we court?
  And, under God, whose thunder need we fear?"

She stopped short, considering the printed page.  Then, doubtfully:

  "And what if, mad with wrongs themselves have wrought,
  In their own treachery caught,
  By their own fears made bold,
  And leagued with him of old
  Who long since, in the limits of the North,
  Set up his evil throne, and warred with God--
  What if, both mad and blinded in their rage
  Our foes should fling us down the mortal gauge,
  And with a hostile horde profane our sod!"

The girl reddened, sat breathing a little faster, eyes on the page;
then:

  "Nor would we shun the battleground!
  . . . The winds in our defence
  Shall seem to blow; to us the hills shall lend
    Their firmness and their calm,
  And in our stiffened sinews we shall blend
    The strength of pine and palm!
  Call up the clashing elements around
  And test the right and wrong!
  On one side creeds that dare to preach
  What Christ and Paul refused to teach----"

"Oh!" she broke off with a sharp intake of breath; "Do they believe
such things of us in the South, Celia?"

The pink fire deepened in Celia Craig's cheeks; her lips unclosed,
tightened, as though a quick retort had been quickly reconsidered.
She meditated.  Then: "Honey-bell," she said tranquilly, "if we are
bitter, try to remember that we are a nation in pain."

"A _nation_!"

"Dear, we have always been that--only the No'th has just found it
out.  Charleston is telling her now.  God give that our cannon need
not repeat it."

"But, Celia, the cannon _can't_!  The same flag belongs to us both."

"Not when it flies over Sumter, Honey-bird." There came a subtle
ringing sound in Celia Craig's voice; she leaned forward, taking
the newspaper from Ailsa's idle fingers:

"Try to be fair," she said in unsteady tones.  "God knows I am not
trying to teach you secession, but suppose the guns on Governor's
Island were suddenly swung round and pointed at this street?  Would
you care ve'y much what flag happened to be flying over Castle
William?  Listen to another warning from this stainless poet of the
South."  She opened the newspaper feverishly, glanced quickly down
the columns, and holding it high under the chandelier, read in a
hushed but distinct voice, picking out a verse here and there at
random:

  "Calm as that second summer which precedes
    The first fall of the snow,
  In the broad sunlight of heroic deeds
    A city bides her foe.

  "As yet, behind high ramparts stem and proud
    Where bolted thunders sleep,
  Dark Sumter like a battlemented cloud
    Towers o'er the solemn deep.

  "But still along the dim Atlantic's line
    The only hostile smoke
  Creeps like a harmless mist above the brine
    From some frail floating oak.

  "And still through streets re-echoing with trade
    Walk grave and thoughtful men
  Whose hands may one day wield the patriot's blade
    As lightly as the pen.

  "And maidens, with such eyes as would grow dim
    Over a wounded hound
  Seem each one to have caught the strength of him
    Whose sword-knot she hath hound.

  "Thus, girt without and garrisoned at home,
    Day patient following day,
  Old Charleston looks from roof and spire and dome
    Across her tranquil bay.

  "Shall the spring dawn, and she, still clad in steel,
    And with an unscathed brow,
  Watch o'er a sea unvexed by hostile keel
    As fair and free as now?

  "We know not.  In the Temples of the Fates
    God has inscribed her doom;
  And, all untroubled in her faith she waits
    Her triumph or her tomb!"

The hushed charm of their mother's voice fascinated the children.
Troubled, uncertain, Ailsa rose, took a few irresolute steps toward
the extension where her brother-in-law still paced to and fro in
the darkness, the tip of his cigar aglow.  Then she turned suddenly.

"_Can't_ you understand, Ailsa?" asked her sister-in-law wistfully.

"Celia--dearest," she stammered, "I simply can't understand. . . .
I thought the nation was greater than all----"

"The State is greater, dear.  Good men will realise that when they
see a sovereign people standing all alone for human truth and
justice--standing with book and sword under God's favour, as
sturdily as ever Israel stood in battle fo' the right!--I don't
mean to be disloyal to my husband in saying this befo' my children.
But you ask me, and I must tell the truth if I answer at all."

Slender, upright, transfigured with a flushed and girlish beauty
wholly strange to them, she moved restlessly back and forth across
the room, a slim, lovely, militant figure all aglow with
inspiration, all aquiver with emotion too long and loyally
suppressed.

Paige and Marye, astonished, watched her without a word.  Ailsa
stood with one hand resting on the mantel, a trifle pale but also
silent, her startled eyes following this new incarnation wearing
the familiar shape of Celia Craig.

"Ailsa!"

"Yes, dear."

"Can you think evil of a people who po' out their hearts in prayer
and praise?  Do traitors importune fo' blessings?"

She turned nervously to the piano and struck a ringing chord,
another--and dropped to the chair, head bowed on her slim childish
neck.  Presently there stole through the silence a tremulous voice
intoning the "Libera Nos," with its strange refrain:

"_A furore Normanorum Libera nos, O Domme_!" Then, head raised, the
gas-light flashing on her dull-gold hair, her voice poured forth
all that was swelling and swelling up in her bruised and stifled
heart:

  "God of our fathers!  King of Kings!
    Lord of the earth and sea!
  With hearts repentant and sincere
    We turn in need to thee."

She saw neither her children nor her husband nor Ailsa now, where
they gathered silently beside her.  And she sang on:

  "In the name of God!  Amen!
    Stand for our Southern rights;
  On our side.  Southern men,
    The God of Battles fights!
  Fling the invader far--
    Hurl back his work of woe--
  His voice is the voice of a brother,
    But his hands are the hands of a foe.
  By the blood which cries to Heaven.
    Crimson upon our sod
  Stand, Southrons, fight and conquer
    In the Name of the Living God!"

Like receding battle echoes the chords, clashing distantly, died
away.

If she heard her husband turn, enter the hallway, and unbolt the
door, she made no sign.  Ailsa, beside her, stooped and passed one
arm around her.

"You--are not crying, are you, Celia, darling?" she whispered.

Her sister-in-law, lashes wet, rose with decision.

"I think that I have made a goose of myse'f to-night.  Marye, will
you say to your father that it is after eleven o'clock, and that I
am waiting to be well scolded and sent to bed?"

"Father went out a few moments ago," said Paige in an awed voice.
"I heard him unbolt the front door."

Ailsa turned and walked swiftly out into the hallway; the front
door swung wide; Mr. Craig stood on the steps wearing his hat.  He
looked around as she touched his arm.

"Oh, is it you, Ailsa?"  There was a moment's indecision.  Through
it, once more, far away in the city The Voices became audible
again, distant, vague, incessant.

"I thought--if it is actually an extra--" he began carelessly and
hesitated; and she said:

"Let me go with you.  Wait.  I'll speak to Celia."

"Say to her that I'll be gone only a moment."

When Ailsa returned she slipped her arm through his and they
descended the steps and walked toward Fulton Avenue.  The Voices
were still distant; a few people, passing swiftly through the dusk,
preceded them.  Far down the vista of the lighted avenue dark
figures crossed and recrossed the street, silhouetted against the
gas-lights; some were running.  A man called out something as they
passed him.  Suddenly, right ahead in the darkness, they
encountered people gathered before the boarded fence of a vacant
lot, a silent crowd shouldering, pushing, surging back and forth,
swarming far out along the dimly lighted avenue.

"There's a bulletin posted there," whispered Ailsa.  "Could you
lift me in your arms?"

Her brother-in-law stooped, clasped her knees, and lifted her high
up above the sea of heads.  Kerosene torches flickered beyond,
flanking a poster on which was printed in big black letters:

  "WASHINGTON, April 13, 1861, 6 A.M.
  "At half-past four o'clock this morning fire was
  opened on Fort Sumter by the rebel batteries in the
  harbour.  Major Anderson is replying with his
  barbette guns."

  "8 A.M.
  "A private despatch to the N. Y. Herald says that
  the batteries on Mount Pleasant have opened on
  Sumter.  Major Anderson has brought into action two tiers
  of guns trained on Fort Moultrie and the Iron Battery."

  "3 P.M.
  "The fire at this hour is very heavy.  Nineteen
  batteries are bombarding Sumter.  The fort replies
  briskly.  The excitement in Charleston is intense."

  "LATER.
  "Heavy rain storm.  Firing resumed this evening.
  The mortar batteries throw a shell into the fort every
  twenty minutes.  The fort replies at intervals."

  "LATEST.
  "The fort is still replying.  Major Anderson has
  signalled the fleet outside."

All this she read aloud, one hand resting on Craig's shoulder as he
held her aloft above the throng.  Men crowding around and striving
to see, paused, with up-turned faces, listening to the emotionless
young voice.  There was no shouting, no sound save the trample and
shuffle of feet; scarcely a voice raised, scarcely an exclamation.

As Craig lowered her to the pavement, a man making his way out said
to them:

"Well, I guess that ends it."

Somebody replied quietly: "I guess that _begins_ it."

Farther down the avenue toward the City Hall where the new marble
court house was being built, a red glare quivered incessantly
against the darkness; distant hoarse rumours penetrated the night
air, accented every moment by the sharper clamour of voices calling
the _Herald's_ extras.

"Curt?"

"Yes, dear."

"If he surrenders----"

"It makes no difference what he does now, child."

"I know it. . . .  They've dishonoured the flag.  This is war,
isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Will it be a long war?"

"I think not."

"Who will go?"

"I don't know. . . .  Soldiers."

"I didn't suppose we had enough.  Where are we going to get more?"

"The people--" he said absently--"everybody, I suppose.  How do I
know, child?"

"Just ordinary people?"

"Just ordinary people," he responded quietly.  A few minutes later
as they entered their own street he said:

"I suppose I had better tell my wife about this to-night.  I don't
know--it will be in the morning papers; but I think I had better
break it to her to-night."

"She will have to know--sometime--of course----"

Halting at the foot of the stoop he turned and peered through his
glasses at his sister-in-law.

"I don't want Stephen to start any nonsense about going."

"Going where?" she asked innocently.

He hesitated: "I don't want to hear any talk from him about
enlisting.  That is what I mean.  Your influence counts with him
more deeply than you know.  Remember that."

"Steve--_enlist_!" she repeated blankly.

She could not yet comprehend what all this had to do with people
she personally knew--with her own kin.

"He must not enlist, of course," she said curtly.  "There are
plenty of soldiers--there will be plenty, of course.  I----"

Something silenced her, something within her sealed her lips.  She
stood in silence while Craig fitted his night-key, then entered the
house with him.  Gas burned low in the hall globes; when he turned
it off a fainter light from above guided them.

"Celia, is that you?" she called gently,

"Hush; go to bed, Honey-bell.  Everybody is asleep.  How pale you
are, Curt--dearest--dearest----"

The rear room was Ailsa's; she walked into it and dropped down on
the bed in the darkness.  The door between the rooms closed: she
sat perfectly still, her eyes were wide open, staring in front of
her.

Queer little luminous shapes danced through obscurity like the
names from the kerosene torches around the bulletin; her ears still
vibrated with the hoarse alarm of the voices; through her brain
sounded her brother-in-law's words about Steve, repeated
incessantly, stupidly.

Presently she began to undress by sense of touch.  The gas in the
bathroom was lighted; she completed her ablutions, turned it off,
and felt her way back to the bed.

Lying there she became aware of sounds from the front room.  Celia
was still awake; she distinguished her voice in quick, frightened
exclamation; then the low murmur continued for a while, then
silence fell.

She raised herself on one elbow; the crack of light under the door
was gone; there was no sound, no movement in the house except the
measured tick of the hall clock outside,
tic-toc!--tic-toc!--tic-toc!

And she had been lying there a long, long while, eyes open, before
she realised that the rhythm of the hall clock was but a repetition
of a name which did not concern her in any manner:

"Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!"


How it had crept into her consciousness she could not understand;
she lay still, listening, but the tic-toc seemed to fit the
syllables of his name; and when, annoyed, she made a half
disdainful mental attempt to substitute other syllables, it proved
too much of an effort, and back into its sober, swinging rhythm
slipped the old clock's tic-toe, in wearisome, meaningless
repetition:

"Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!"

She was awakened by a rapping at her door and her cousin's
imperative voice:

"I want to talk to you; are you in bed?"

She drew the coverlet to her chin and called out:

"Come in, Steve!"

He came, tremendously excited, clutching the _Herald_ in one hand.

"I've had enough of this rebel newspaper!" he said fiercely.  "I
don't want it in the house again, ever.  Father says that the
marine news makes it worth taking, but----"

"What on earth are you trying to say, Steve?"

"I'm trying to tell you that we're at war!  War, Ailsa!  Do you
understand?  Father and I've had a fight already----"

"What?"

"They're still firing on Sumter, I tell you, and if the fort
doesn't hold out do you think I'm going to sit around the house
like a pussy cat?  Do you think I'm going to business every day as
though nothing was happening to the country I'm living in?  I tell
you now--you and mother and father--that I'm not built that way----"

Ailsa rose in bed, snatched the paper from his grasp, and leaning
on one arm gazed down at the flaring head-lines:

  THE WAR BEGUN

  Very Exciting News from Charleston

  Bombardment of Fort Sumter Commenced

  Terrible Fire from the Secessionists' Batteries

  Brilliant Defence of Maj. Anderson

  Reckless Bravery of the Confederate States Troops.

And, scanning it to the end, cried out:

"He hasn't hauled down his flag!  What are you so excited about?"

"I--I'm excited, of course!  He can't possibly hold out with only
eighty men and nothing to feed them on.  Something's got to be
done!" he added, walking up and down the room.  "I've made fun of
the militia--like everybody else--but Jimmy Lent is getting ready,
and I'm doing nothing!  Do you hear what I'm saying, Ailsa?"

She looked up from the newspaper, sitting there cross-legged under
the coverlet.

"I hear you, Steve.  I don't know what you mean by 'something's got
to be done.'  Major Anderson is doing what he can--bless him!"

"That's all right, but the thing isn't going to stop there."

"Stop where?"

"At Sumter.  They'll begin firing on Fortress Monroe and
Pensacola--I--how do you know they're not already thinking about
bombarding Washington?  Virginia is going out of the Union; the
entire South is out, or going.  Yesterday, I didn't suppose there
was any use in trying to get them back again.  Father did, but I
didn't.  I think it's got to be done, now.  And the question is,
Ailsa, whose going to do it?"

But she was fiercely absorbed again in the news, leaning close over
the paper, tumbled dull-gold hair falling around her bare
shoulders, breath coming faster and more irregularly as she read
the incredible story and strove to comprehend its cataclysmic
significance.

"If others are going, I am," repeated her cousin sullenly.

"Going where, Steve?--Oh------"

She dropped the paper and looked up, startled; and he looked back
at her, defiant, without a flicker in those characteristic family
eyes of his, clear as azure, steady to punishment given or
taken--good eyes for a boy to inherit.  And he inherited them from
his rebel mother.

"Father can't keep me home if other people go," he said.

"Wait until other people go."  She reached out and laid a hand on
his arm.

"Things are happening too fast, Steve, too fast for everybody to
quite understand just yet.  Everybody will do what is the thing to
do; the family will do what it ought to. . . .  Has your mother
seen this?"

"Yes.  Neither she nor father have dared speak about it before
us--"  He made a gesture of quick despair, walked to the window and
back.

"It's a terrible thing, Ailsa, to have mother feel as she does."

"How could she feel otherwise?"

"I've done my best to explain to her----"

"O Steve!  _You_!--when it's a matter between her soul and God!"

He said, reddening: "It's a matter of common-sense--I don't mean to
insult mother--but--good Lord, a nation is a nation, but a state is
only a state!  I--hang it all--what's the use of trying to explain
what is born in one----"

"The contrary was born in your mother, Steve.  Don't ever talk to
her this way.  And--go out, please, I wish to dress."

He went away, saying over his shoulders: "I only wanted to tell you
that I'm not inclined to sit sucking my thumb if other men go, and
you can say so to father, who has forbidden me to mention the
subject to him again until I have his permission."

But he went away to business that morning with his father, as
usual; and when evening came the two men returned, anxious, dead
tired, having passed most of the day standing in the dense throngs
that choked every street around the bulletin boards of the
newspaper offices.

Ailsa had not been out during the day, nor had Mrs. Craig, except
for an hour's drive in the family coupe around the district where
preliminary surveys for the new Prospect Park were being pushed.

They had driven for almost an hour in utter silence.  Her
sister-in-law's hand lay clasped in hers, but both looked from the
carriage windows without speaking, and the return from the drive
found them strangely weary and inclined for the quiet of their own
rooms.  But Celia Craig could not close her eyes even to feign
sleep to herself.

When husband and son returned at evening, she asked nothing of the
news from them, but her upturned face lingered a second or two
longer as her husband kissed her, and she clung a little to
Stephen, who was inclined to be brief with her.

Dinner was a miserable failure in that family, which usually had
much to compare, much to impart, much badinage and laughter to
distribute.  But the men were weary and uncommunicative; Estcourt
Craig went to his club after dinner; Stephen, now possessing a
latch-key, disappeared shortly afterward.

Paige and Marye did embroidery and gossipped together under the big
crystal chandelier while their mother read aloud to them from
"Great Expectations," which was running serially in _Harper's
Weekly_.  Later she read in her prayer-book; later still, fully
dressed, she lay across the bed in the alcove staring at the
darkness and listening for the sound of her husband's latch-key in
the front door,

When it sounded, she sprang up and hastily dried her eyes.

"The children and Ailsa are all abed, Curt.  How late you are!  It
was not very wise of you to go out--being so tired--"  She was
hovering near him as though to help his weariness with her small
offices; she took his hat, stood looking at him, then stepped
nearer, laying both hands on his shoulders, and her face against
his.

"I am--already tired of the--war," she sighed.  "Is it ended yet,
Curt?"

"There is no more news from Sumter."

"You will--love me--best--anyway.  Curt--won't you?"

"Do you doubt it?"

She only drew a deep, frightened breath.  For within her heart she
felt the weight of the new apprehension--the clairvoyant
premonition of a rival that she must prepare to encounter--a rival
that menaced her peace of mind--a shape, shadowy as yet, but
terrible, slowly becoming frightfully denned--a Thing that might
one day wean this man from her--husband, and son, too--both
perhaps----.

"Curt," she faltered, "it will all come right in the end.  Say it.
I am afraid."

"It will come out all right," he said gently.  They kissed, and she
turned to the mirror and silently began preparing for the night.


With the calm notes of church bells floating out across the city,
and an April breeze blowing her lace curtains, Ailsa awoke.
Overhead she heard the trample of Stephen's feet as he moved
leisurely about his bedroom.  Outside her windows in the backyard,
early sunshine slanted across shrub and grass and white-washed
fence; the Sunday quiet was absolute, save for the church bells.

She lay there listening and thinking; the church bells ceased; and
after a while, lying there, she began to realise that the silence
was unnatural--became conscious of something ominous in the intense
quiet outside--a far-spread stillness which was more than the hush
of Sabbath.

Whether or not the household was still abed she did not know; no
sound came from Celia's room; nor were Marye and Paige stirring on
the floor above when she rose and stole out barefooted to the
landing, holding a thin silk chamber robe around her.  She paused,
listening; the tic-toc of the hall clock accented the silence; the
door that led from Celia's chamber into the hall stood wide open,
and there was nobody in sight.  Something drew her to the alcove
window, which was raised; through the lace curtains she saw the
staff of the family flag set in its iron socket at right angles to
the facade--saw the silken folds stirring lazily in the sunshine,
tiptoed to the window and peered out.

As far as her eyes could see, east and west, the street was one
rustling mass of flags.

For a second her heart almost hurt her with its thrilling leap; she
caught her breath; the hard tension in her throat was choking her;
she dropped to her knees by the sill, drew a corner of the flag to
her, and laid her cheek against it.

Her eyes unclosed and she gazed out upon the world of flags; then,
upright, she opened her fingers, and the crinkled edges of the
flag, released, floated leisurely out once more into the April
sunshine.

When she had dressed she found the family in the dining-room--her
sister-in-law, serene but pale, seated behind the coffee urn, Mr.
Craig and Stephen reading the Sunday newspapers, Paige and Marye
whispering together over their oatmeal and cream.

She kissed Celia, dropped the old-fashioned, half-forgotten curtsey
to the others, and stood hesitating a moment, one hand resting on
Celia's shoulder.

"Is the fort holding out?" she asked.

Stephen looked up angrily, made as though to speak, but a deep
flush settled to the roots of his hair and he remained silent.

"Fort Sumter has surrendered," said her brother-in-law quietly.

Celia whispered: "Take your seat now, Honey-bell; your breakfast is
getting cold."


At church that Sunday the Northern clergy prayed in a dazed sort of
way for the Union and for the President; some addressed the Most
High as "The God of Battles."  The sun shone brightly; new leaves
were startling on every tree in every Northern city; acres of
starry banners drooped above thousands of departing congregations,
and formed whispering canopies overhead.

Vespers were solemn; April dusk fell over a million roofs and
spires; twinkling gas jets were lighted in street lamps; city,
town, and hamlet drew their curtains and bowed their heads in
darkness.  A dreadful silence fell over the North--a stillness that
breeds epochs and the makers of them.

But the first gray pallor of the dawn awoke a nation for the first
time certain of its entity, roaring its comprehension of it from
the Lakes to the Potomac, from sea to sea; and the red sun rose
over twenty States in solid battle line thundering their loyalty to
a Union undivided,

And on that day rang out the first loud call to arms; and the first
battalion of the Northland, seventy-five thousand strong, formed
ranks, cheering their insulted flag.

Then, southward, another flag shot up above the horizon.  The world
already knew it as The Stars and Bars.  And, beside it, from its
pointed lance, whipped and snapped and fretted another
flag--square, red, crossed by a blue saltier edged with white on
which glittered thirteen stars.

It was the battle flag of the Confederacy flashing the answer to
the Northern cheer.



CHAPTER V

"Burgess!"

"Sir?"

Berkley sat up in bed and viewed his environment with disgust.

"These new lodgings would make a fair kennel, wouldn't they,
Burgess?--if a man isn't too particular about his dog."

The servant entered with a nasty smirk.  "Yes, sir; I seen a rat
last night."

"He's not the only one, is he, Burgess," yawned Berkley.  "Oh,
hell! I've got to dress.  Did you paint that bathtub? I guess you
did, the place reeks like a paint shop.  Anyway, it kills less
desirable aromas.  Where's the water?"

He swung his symmetrical body to the bed's edge, dropped lightly to
the carpet, unloosed his night robe, and stretched himself.

"Was I very drunk, Burgess?"

"No, sir; you just went to sleep.  You haven't got no headache,
have you?"

"No--but it was only corn whisky.  I didn't remember what I did
with it.  Is there any left?"

"Not much, sir."

The servant, ugly to the verge of deformity, and wearing invariably
the abominable smirk that disgusted others but amused Berkley, went
about his duties.

Berkley blinked at him reflectively, then bathed, dressed, and sat
down to a bowl of chocolate and a bit of bread.

"What the devil was all that row this morning, Burgess?"

"War, sir.  The President has called for seventy-five thousand men.
Here it is, sir."  And he laid a morning paper beside the cup of
chocolate, which Berkley studied between sips, commenting
occasionally aloud:

"Heavens, Burgess, why, we're a race of patriots!  Now who on earth
could have suspected that. . . .  Why, we seem to be heroes, too!
What do you think of that, Burgess?  You're a hero; I'm a hero;
everybody north of Charleston is an embattled citizen or a hero!
Isn't it funny that nobody realised all this before?" . . .  He
turned the paper leisurely sipping his chocolate. . . .  "_Of_
course--the 'dear old flag'!  That's the cheese, isn't it, Burgess?
Been insulted, hasn't it?  And we're all going to Charleston to
punch that wicked Beauregard in the nose. . . .  Burgess, you and I
are neglecting our duty as heroes; there's much shouting to be done
yet, much yelling in the streets, much arguing to be done, many,
many cocktails to be firmly and uncompromisingly swallowed.  Are
you prepared to face the serious consequences of being a hero?"

"Yes, sir," said Burgess.

"You merit well of the republic!  The country needs you.  Here's
half a dollar.  Do your duty unflinchingly--at the nearest bar!"

Burgess took the coin with a smirk.

"Mr. Berkley, the landlady sent word that times is hard."

"Bless her soul!  They _are_ hard, Burgess.  Inform her of my
sentiments," said Berkley cordially.  "Now, my hat and cane, if you
please.  We're a wonderful people, Burgess; we'll beat our
walking-sticks into bayonets if Mr.  Beauregard insists on saying
boo to us too many times in succession. . . .  And, Burgess?"

"Sir?"

"Now that you have waked up this morning to find yourself a hero, I
think you'd better find yourself another and more spectacular
master.  My heroism, for the future, is to be more or less
inconspicuous; in fact, I begin the campaign by inserting my own
studs and cleaning my own clothes, and keeping out of gaol; and the
sooner I go where that kind of glory calls me the sooner my name
will be emblazoned in the bright lexicon of youth where there's no
such word as 'jail.'",

"Sir?"

"In simpler and more archaic phrase, I can't afford you, Burgess,
unless I pilfer for a living."

"I don't eat much, sir."

"No, you don't _eat_ much."

"I could quit drinking, sir."

"_That_ is really touching, Burgess.  This alcohol pickled
integument of yours covers a trusting heart.  But it won't do.
Heroics in a hall bedroom cut no coupons, my poor friend.  Our
paths to glory and the grave part just outside the door-sill
yonder."

"_She_ said I could stay, sir."

"Which _she_?"

"The landlady.  I'm to fetch coal and run errants and wait on
table.  But you'll get the best cuts, sir.  And after hours I can
see to your clothes and linen and boots and hats, and do your
errants same like the usual."

"Now this is nearly as pathetic as our best fiction," said Berkley;
"ruined master, faithful man--_won't_ leave--starves slowly at his
master's feet--tootle music very sneaky--'transformation!  Burgess
in heaven, blinking, puzzled, stretching one wing, reflectively
scratching his halo with right hind foot.  Angel chorus.  Burgess
appears to enjoy it and lights one of my best cigars----"

"Sir?" said Burgess, very red.

Berkley swung around, levelled his walking-stick, and indicated the
pit of his servant's stomach:

"Your face is talking now; wait till _that_ begins to yell.  It
will take more than I'm earning to fill it."

He stood a moment, smiling, curious.  Then:

"You've been as faithless a valet as any servant who ever watered
wine, lost a gimcrack, or hooked a weed.  Studs, neckcloths,
bootjacks, silk socks, pins, underwear--all magically and
eventually faded from my wardrobe, wafted to those silent bournes
of swag that valets wot of.  What in hell do you want to stay
_here_ for now, you amusing wastrel?"

"Yes, sir.  I'd prefer to stay with you."

"But there'll be no more pleasant pickings, my poor and faithless
steward!  If you should convert anything more to your own bank
account I'll be obliged to stroll about naked."

"Yes, sir," muttered Burgess; "I brought back some things last
night--them socks, shirt-pins and studs, and the fob. . . .  Yes,
sir; I fetched 'em back, I did--"  A sudden and curious gleam of
pride crossed the smirk for an instant;--"I guess my gentleman
ain't agoing to _look_ no worse than the next Fifth Avenue swell he
meets--even if he ain't et no devilled kidneys for breakfast and he
don't dine on no canvas-back at Delmonico's.  No, sir."

Berkley sat down on the bed's edge and laughed until he could
scarcely see the man, who observed him in patient annoyance.  And
every time Berkley looked at him he went into another fit of
uncontrollable laughter, as he realised the one delightful weakness
in this thorough-paced rogue--pride in the lustre cast upon himself
by the immaculate appearance of a fashionable master.  But after
reflection, it did not astonish him too much; the besetting
weakness of rogues is vanity in one form or another.  This happened
to be an unusual form.

"Burgess," he said, "I don't care how you go to hell.  Go with me
if you like or go it alone."

"Thank you, sir."

"You're welcome," replied Berkley gravely, and, tucking his cane up
under one arm, he went out to business, drawing on a pair of
lemon-coloured kid gloves.

Later he searched his pockets for the cigar he had denied himself
the evening before.  It was not there.  In fact, at that moment,
Burgess, in the boarding-house backyard, was promenading up and
down, leering at the Swedish scullion, and enjoying the last
expensive cigar that his master was likely to purchase in many a
day.

The street, and avenue were seething with people; people stood at
their windows looking out at the news-boys who swarmed everywhere,
shouting endless extras; people were gathering on corners, in
squares, along park railings, under porticos of hotels, and every
one of them had a newspaper and was reading.

In front of the St. Nicholas Hotel a lank and shabby man had
mounted a cracker box, and was evidently making a speech, but
Berkley could distinguish nothing he said because of the wild
cheering.

Everywhere, threading the throng, hurried boys and men selling
miniature flags, red-white-and-blue rosettes, and tricoloured
cockades; and everybody was purchasing the national colours--the
passing crowd had already become bright with badges; the Union
colours floated in streamers from the throats or sleeves of pretty
girls, glinted in the lapels of dignified old gentlemen, decorated
the hats of the stage-drivers and the blinders of their horses.

"Certainly," said Berkley, buying a badge and pinning it in his
button-hole.  "Being a hero, I require the trade-mark.  Kindly
permit that I offer a suggestion--" a number of people waiting to
buy badges; were now listening to him--"those gentlemen gathered
there in front of the New York Hotel seem to be without these marks
which distinguish heroes from citizens.  No doubt they'll be
delighted to avail themselves of your offered cockades."

A quick laugh broke out from those around, but there was an
undertone of menace in it, because the undecorated gentlemen in
front of the New York Hotel were probably Southerners, and
Secessionists in principles; that hostelry being the rendezvous in
New York of everything Southern.

So, having bestowed his mischievous advice, Berkley strolled on
down Broadway, his destination being the offices of Craig and Son,
City and Country Real Estate, where he had a desk to himself, a
client or two in prospect, and considerable leisure to study the
street, gas, and sewer maps of New York City.

Tiring of this distraction, he was always at liberty to twiddle his
thumbs, twirl his pencil, yawn, blink, and look out of the window
at the City Park across the way, where excited citizens maintained
a steady yelling monotone before the neighbouring newspaper offices
all day long.

He was also free to reflect upon his own personal shortcomings, a
speculation perhaps less damaging than the recent one he had
indulged in; and he thought about it sometimes; and sometimes about
Ailsa Paige, whom he had not again seen since the unaccountable
madness had driven him to trample and destroy the first real
inclination he had ever had for a woman.

This inclination he occasionally found leisure to analyse, but, not
understanding it, never got very far, except that, superficially,
it had been more or less physical.  From the moment he saw her he
was conscious that she was different; insensibly the exquisitely
volatile charm of her enveloped him, and he betrayed it, awaking
her, first, to uneasy self-consciousness; then uneasy consciousness
of him; then, imperceptibly, through distrust, alarm, and a
thousand inexplicable psychological emotions, to a wistful interest
that faintly responded to his.  Ah! that response!--strange,
childish, ignorant, restless--but still a response; and from
obscure shallows unsuspected, uncomprehended--shallows that had
never before warned her with the echo of an evanescent ripple.

For him to have reflected, reasoned, halted himself, had been
useless from the beginning.  The sister-in-law of this girl knew
who and what he was and had been.  There was no hope for him.  To
let himself drift; to evoke in her, sometimes by hazard, at times
with intent, the delicate response--faint echo--pale shadow of the
virile emotions she evoked in him, that, too, was useless.  He knew
it, yet curious to try, intent on developing communication through
those exquisite and impalpable lines that threaded the mystery from
him to her--from her to him.

And then, when the mystery all about them was aquiver, and her
vague eyes met his through the magic, acquiescent under a sorcery
for which she had no name--then, when all things occult breathed
silence--then he had said too much!

It was perhaps as well that he had said it then as later--as well
perhaps that, losing self-control, defeat had moved his tongue to
boast, had fixed the empty eye and stamped the smile he wore with a
confidence dead in him for ever.

He had said that he would come back.  He knew that he would not.

It was the pitiful defiance of a boaster hopelessly hurt.

He no longer desired to see her again.  Never again would he risk
enduring what she had evoked in him, whatever it was of good or of
evil, of the spiritual or the impure--he did not know he was aware
only of what his eyes had beheld and his heart had begun to desire.


On his way back from the office that evening he met Camilla Lent
and her uncle, the Captain, and would have passed with an amiable
salute, but the girl evinced a decided desire to speak.  So he
turned and joined them.

"How do you do, Camilla?  How are you, Captain Lent?  This
re-conversion of the nation's ploughshares and pruning hooks is a
noisy affair, isn't it?"

"April 18th, 1861!" replied the Captain quickly.  "What you hear,
sir, is the attrition consequent upon the grinding together of
certain millstones belonging to the gods."

"I have no doubt of it, Captain Lent; they'll probably make meal of
us all.  Are you offering your services, sir."

Camilla said quickly, and with gayest confidence: "Uncle has been
looking about casually.  There are so many regiments forming, so
many recruiting stations that we--we haven't decided--have we,
uncle?"  And she gave Berkley a wistful, harrowing glance that
enlightened him.

He said gravely: "I suppose the average age of these volunteers
will be about eighteen.  And if the militia go, too, it will be
comforting for a defenceless city to know she has men of your
experience to count on, Captain Lent."

"_I_ am going to the front," observed the Captain.

"There may be much to be done in New York, sir."

"Then let the police do it," said Captain Lent calmly.  "The Union
must and shall be preserved.  If any man attempts to haul down the
American flag, shoot him upon the spot.  Et cetera, sir, et cetera."

"Certainly.  But it's a question of niggers, too, I believe."

"No, sir.  It is _not_ a question of niggers.  It is a question of
who's at the wheel, Union or State.  I myself never had any doubts
any more than I ever doubted the Unitarian faith!  So it is no
question for me, sir.  What bothers me is to pick out the regiment
most likely to be sent first."

"We've walked our legs off," said Camilla, aside, "and we've been
in all kinds of frightful places where men are drilling and smoking
and swearing and yelling; and I was dreadfully afraid a gun would
go off or somebody would be impudent to uncle.  The dear old
thing," she whispered, "he is perfectly sure they want him and that
he has only to choose a regiment and offer his sword.  Oh, dear!
I'm beginning to be terribly unhappy--I'm afraid they won't let him
go and I'm deadly afraid they might!  And I'm sure that Jim means
to go.  Oh, dear!  Have you seen Ailsa Paige lately?"

"No. . . .  I hope she is quite well."

"You are not very enthusiastic."

"I have every reason to be.  She is a very winsome girl."

"She's a dear. . . .  She has spoken of you several times."

"That is most amiable of her, and of you to say so."

"Oh, very," laughed Camilla, tossing her pretty head, "but it
evidently does not interest you very much.  In fact--" she glanced
sidewise--"it is understood that no woman ever interests you for
more than forty-eight consecutive hours."

"Pure slander, Camilla.  _You_ do."

"Oh--not in the way I mean."

"Well, but you don't expect me to be interested in Mrs. Paige--in
the way _you_ mean do you?"

"Why not?" she asked mischievously.

"Because, to begin properly, Mrs. Paige is not likely ever to
become interested in me."

"I am heartily glad of it," retorted Camilla.  "You'd forget her in
a week,"

"That's more than forty-eight hours," he said, laughing.  "You're
flattering me now."

"Anyway," said Camilla, "I don't see why everybody that knows her
isn't mad about Ailsa Paige.  She has _such_ high principles, such
ideals, such wonderful aspirations--"  She clasped her hands
sentimentally: "At times, Phil, she seems too ethereal, scarcely of
earth--and yet I breakfasted with her and she ate twice as much as
I did.  _How_ does she keep that glorious figure!"

Plumpness was the bane and terror of Camilla's life.  Her smooth,
suave white skin was glossy and tight; distracting curves,
entrancing contours characterised her now; but her full red lips
fairly trembled as she gazed at her parents' portraits in her
bedroom, for they had both been of a florid texture and full habit;
and she had now long refused sugar and the comforts of sweetmeats
dear to the palate of her age and sex.  And mostly was this
self-denial practised for the sake of a young and unobservant
friend, one Stephen Craig, who had so far evinced no unusual
inclination for her, or for anything except cigars and masculine
society of his own age and condition.

She managed to get Philip Berkley to talk about Stephen, which
ingenuity soothed her.  But Philip was becoming bored, and he
presently escaped to retrace his steps up Broadway, up Fifth
Avenue, and then west to the exceedingly modest lodgings whither
fate and misfortune had wafted him.

On the way he passed Colonel Arran's big double house with a sullen
and sidelong scowl, and continued onward with a shrug.  But he
smiled no more to himself.

Burgess was in the room, cross-legged on the floor, ironing out his
master's best coat.

"What the devil are you about," said Philip ungraciously.  "Get up.
I need what floor I've got to stand on."

Burgess obediently laid the board and the coat on a trunk and
continued ironing; and Philip scowled at him askance.

"Why don't you enlist?" he said.  "Every car-driver, stage-driver,
hackman, and racing-tout can become major-generals if they yell
loud enough."

Burgess continued ironing, then stole a glance at his master.

"Are you thinking of enlisting, sir?"

"No; I can't pass the examination for lung power.  By the way," he
added, laughing, "I overlooked the impudence of your question, too.
But now is your time, Burgess.  If I wanted you I'd have to put up
with your insolence, I suppose."

"But you don't want me, sir."

"Which restrains you," said Philip, laughing.  "Oh, go on, my
friend.  Don't say 'sir' to me; it's a badge of servitude pasted
onto the vernacular.  Say 'Hi!' if you like."

"Sir?"

"Hell!  I say don't behave like a servant to me."

"I _am_ a servant, sir."

"You're not mine."

"Yes, sir, I am.  Will you wear this coat this evening, sir?"

"God knows," said the young fellow, sitting down and gazing about
at the melancholy poverty of the place. . . .  "Is there any of
that corn whisky?"

"No, sir."

"Damn it, you said there was this morning!"

"No, sir, I didn't."

The man lied placidly; the master looked at him, then laughed.

"Poor old Burgess," he said aloud as though to himself; "there
wasn't a skinful in that bottle.  Well, I can't get drunk, I can't
lie here and count from six to midnight and keep my sanity, I can't
smoke--you rascal, where's my cigar?  And I certainly can't go out
anywhere because I haven't any money."

"You might take the air on the avenue, sir.  Your clothes are in
order."

"Poor Burgess!  That was your amusement, wasn't it?--to see me go
out discreetly perfumed, in fine linen and purple, brave as the
best of them in club and hall, in ballroom and supper room, and in
every lesser hell from Crystal Palace cinders to Canal.

"Poor Burgess!  Even the seventy-five pretty waitresses at the
Gaities would turn up their seventy-five retrousse noses at a man
with pockets as empty as mine."

"Your clothes are fashionable.  So is your figger, sir."

"That settles it?" protested the young fellow, weak with laughter.
"Burgess, _don't_ go!  Don't _ever_ go!  I do need you.  Oh I _do_
want you, Burgess.  Because there never will be anybody exactly
like you, and I've only one life in which to observe you, study
you, and mentally digest you.  You _won't_ go, will you?"

"No sir," said Burgess with dignity.



CHAPTER VI

There was incipient demoralisation already in the offices of Craig
& Son.  Young gentlemen perched on high benches still searched city
maps and explored high-way and by-way with compass and
pencil-point, but their ears were alert to every shout from the
streets, and their interest remained centred in the newspaper
bulletins across the way, where excited crowds clamoured for
details not forthcoming.

All day, just outside the glass doors of the office, Broadway
streamed with people; and here, where the human counter currents
running north and south encountered amid the racket of omnibuses,
carts, carriages, and drays, a vast overflow spread turbulently,
eddying out around the recruiting stations and newspaper offices
which faced the City Park.

Sidewalks swarmed, the park was packed solid.  Overhead flags flew
from every flag pole, over every portal, across every alley and
street and square--big nags, little flags, flags of silk, of
cotton, of linen, of bunting, all waving wide in the spring
sunshine, or hanging like great drenched flowers in the winnowing
April rain.

And it was very hard for the young gentlemen in the offices of
Craig & Son to keep their minds on their business.

Berkley had a small room to himself, a chair, a desk, a city map
suspended against the wall, and no clients.  Such occasional
commissions as Craig & Son were able to give him constituted his
sole source of income.

He also had every variety of time on his hands--leisure to walk to
the window and walk back again, and then walk all around the
room--leisure to go out and solicit business in a city where
already business was on the edge of chaos and still
sliding--leisure to sit for hours in his chair and reflect upon
anything he chose--leisure to be hungry and satisfy the inclination
with philosophy.  He was perfectly at liberty to choose any subject
and think about it.  But he spent most of his time in trying to
prevent himself from thinking.

However, from his window, the street views now were usually
interesting; he was an unconvinced spectator of the mob which
started for the _Daily News_ office, hissing, cat-calling, yelling:
"Show your colours!" "Run up your colours!"  He saw the mob visit
the _Journal of Commerce_, and then turn on the _Herald_, yelling
insult and bellowing threats which promptly inspired that journal
to execute a political flip-flap that set the entire city smiling.

Stephen, who had conceived a younger man's furtive admiration for
Berkley and his rumoured misdemeanours, often came into his room
when opportunity offered.  That morning he chanced in for a moment
and found Berkley at the window chewing the end of a pencil,
perhaps in lieu of the cigar he could no longer afford.

"These are spectacular times," observed the latter, with a gesture
toward the street below.  "Observe yonder ladylike warrior in
brand-new regimentals.  Apparently, Stephen, he's a votary of Mars
and pants for carnage; but in reality he continues to remain the
sartorial artist whose pants are more politely emitted.  He emitted
these--" patting his trousers with a ruler.  "On what goose has
this my tailor fed that he hath grown so sightly!"

They stood watching the crowds, once brightened only by the red
shirts of firemen or the blue and brass of a policeman, but now
varied with weird uniforms, or parts of uniforms, constructed on
every known and unknown pattern, military and unmilitary, foreign
and domestic.  The immortal army at Coventry was not more
variegated.

"There's a new poster across the street," said Stephen.  He
indicated a big advertisement decorated with a flying eagle.

  DOWN WITH SECESSION!

  The Government Appeals to the
  New York Fire Department for One Regiment of Zouaves!

  Companies will select their own officers.  The roll is
  at Engine House 138, West Broadway.

    ELSWORTH, COL: ZOUAVES.

"That's a good, regiment to enlist in, isn't it?" said the boy
restlessly.

"Cavalry for me," replied Berkley, unsmiling; "they can run faster."

"I'm serious," said Stephen.  "If I had a chance--" He turned on
Berkley: "Why don't you, enlist?  There's nothing to stop you, is
there?"

"Nothing except constitutional timidity."

"Then why don't you?"

Berkley laughed.  "Well, for one thing, I'm not sure how I'd behave
in battle.  I might be intelligent enough to run; I might be ass
enough to fight.  The enemy would have to take its chances."

The boy laughed, too, turned to the window, and suddenly caught
Berkley by the arm:

"Look!  There's something going on down by the Astor House!"

"A Massachusetts regiment of embattled farmers arrived in this
hamlet last night.  I believe they are to pass by here on their way
to Washington," remarked Berkley, opening the window and leaning
out.

Already dense crowds of people were pushing, fighting, forcing
their way past the windows, driven before double lines of police;
already distant volleys of cheers sounded; the throb of drums
became audible; the cheering sounded shriller, nearer.

Past the windows, through Broadway, hordes of ragged street arabs
came running, scattered into night before another heavy escort of
police.  And now the on-coming drums could be heard more
distinctly; and now two dusty officers marched into view, a colonel
of Massachusetts infantry attended by a quartermaster of New York
militia.

Behind them tramped the regimental band of the 6th Massachusetts,
instruments slung; behind these, filling the street from gutter to
gutter, surged the sweating drummers, deafening every ear with
their racket; then followed the field and staff, then the Yankee
regiment, wave on wave of bayonets choking the thoroughfare far as
the eye could see, until there seemed no end to their coming, and
the cheering had become an unbroken howl.

Stephen turned to Berkley: "A fellow can't see too much of this
kind of thing and stand it very long.  Those soldiers are no older
than I am!"

Berkley's ironical reply was drowned in a renewed uproar as the
Massachusetts soldiers wheeled and began to file into the Astor
House, and the New York militia of the escort swung past hurrahing
for the first Northern troops to leave for the front.


That day Berkley lunched in imagination only, seriously inclined to
exchange his present board and lodgings for a dish of glory and a
cot in barracks.

That evening, too, after a boarding-house banquet, and after
Burgess had done his offices, he took the air instead of other and
more expensive distraction; and tired of it thoroughly, and of the
solitary silver coin remaining in his pocket.

From his clubs he had already resigned; other and less innocent
haunts of his were no longer possible; some desirable people still
retained him on their lists, and their houses were probably open to
him, but the social instinct was sick; he had no desire to go; no
desire even to cross the river for a penny and look again on Ailsa
Paige.  So he had, as usual, the evening on his hands, nothing in
his pockets, and a very weary heart, under a last year's evening
coat.  And his lodgings were becoming a horror to him; the
landlady's cat had already killed two enormous rats In the hallway;
also cabbage had been cooked in the kitchen that day.  Which left
him no other choice than to go out again and take more air.

Before midnight he had no longer any coin in his pockets, and he
was not drunk yet.  The situation seemed hopeless, and he found a
policeman and inquired politely for the nearest recruiting station;
but when he got there the station was closed, and his kicks on the
door brought nobody but a prowling Bowery b'hoy, sullenly in quest
of single combat.  So Berkley, being at leisure, accommodated him,
picked him up, propped him limply against a doorway, resumed his
own hat and coat, and walked thoughtfully and unsteadily homeward,
where he slept like an infant in spite of rats, cabbage, and a
swollen lip.

Next day, however, matters were less cheerful.  He had expected to
realise a little money out of his last salable trinket--a diamond
he had once taken for a debt.  But it seemed that the stone
couldn't pass muster, and he bestowed it upon Burgess, breakfasted
on coffee and sour bread, and sauntered downtown quite undisturbed
in the brilliant April sunshine.

However, the prospect of a small commission from Craig & Son buoyed
up his natural cheerfulness.  All the way downtown he nourished his
cane; he hummed lively tunes in his office as he studied his maps
and carefully read the real estate reports in the daily papers; and
then he wrote another of the letters which he never mailed,
strolled out to Stephen's desk for a little gossip, reported
himself to Mr. Craig, and finally sallied forth to execute that
gentleman's behest upon an upper Fifth Avenue squatter who had
declined to vacate property recently dedicated to blasting, the
Irish, and general excavation.

In a few moments he found himself involved in the usual crowd.  The
8th Massachusetts regiment was passing in the wake of the 6th, its
sister regiment of the day before, and the enthusiasm and noise
were tremendous.

However, he extricated himself and went about his business; found
the squatter, argued with the squatter, gracefully dodged a brick
from the wife of the squatter, laid a laughing complaint before the
proper authorities, and then banqueted in imagination.  What a
luncheon he had!  He was becoming a Lucullus at mental feasts.

Later, his business affairs and his luncheon terminated, attempting
to enter Broadway at Grand Street, he got into a crowd so rough and
ungovernable that he couldn't get out of it--an unreasonable,
obstinate, struggling mass of men, women, and children so
hysterical that the wild demonstrations of the day previous, and of
the morning, seemed as nothing compared to this dense, far-spread
riot.

Broadway from Fourth to Cortlandt Streets was one tossing mass of
flags overhead; one mad surge of humanity below.  Through it
battalions of almost exhausted police relieved each other in
attempting to keep the roadway clear for the passing of the New
York 7th on its way to Washington.

Driven, crushed, hurled back by the played-out police, the crowds
had sagged back into the cross streets.  But even here the police
charged them repeatedly, and the bewildered people turned
struggling to escape, stumbled, swayed, became panic-stricken and
lost their heads.

A Broadway stage, stranded in Canal Street, was besieged as a
refuge.  Toward it Berkley had been borne in spite of his efforts
to extricate himself, incidentally losing his hat in the confusion.
At the same moment he heard a quiet, unterrified voice pronounce
his name, caught a glimpse of Ailsa Paige swept past on the human
wave, set his shoulders, stemmed the rush from behind, and into the
momentary eddy created, Ailsa was tossed, undismayed, laughing, and
pinned flat against the forward wheel of the stalled stage.

"Climb up!" he said.  "Place your right foot on the hub!--now the
left on the tire!--now step on my shoulder!"

There came a brutal rush from behind; he braced his back to it; she
set one foot on the hub, the other on the tire, stepped to his
shoulder, swung herself aloft, and crept up over the roof of the
stage.  Here he joined her, offering an arm to steady her as the
stage shook under the impact of the reeling masses below.

"How did you get into this mob?" he asked.

"I was caught," she said calmly, steadying herself by the arm he
offered and glancing down at the peril below.  "Celia and I were
shopping in Grand Street at Lord and Taylor's, and I thought I'd
step out of the shop for a moment to see if the 7th was coming, and
I ventured too far--I simply could not get back. . . .  And--thank
you for helping me."  She had entirely recovered her serenity; she
released his arm and now stood cautiously balanced behind the
driver's empty seat, looking curiously out over the turbulent sea
of people, where already hundreds of newsboys were racing hither
and thither shouting an afternoon extra, which seemed to excite
everybody within hearing to frenzy.

"Can you hear what they are shouting?" she inquired.  "It seems to
make people very angry."

"They say that the 6th Massachusetts, which passed through here
yesterday, was attacked by a mob in Baltimore."

"_Our_ soldiers!" she said, incredulous.  Then, clenching her small
hands: "If I were Colonel Lefferts of the 7th I'd march my men
through Baltimore to-morrow!"

"I believe they expect to go through," he said, amused.  "That is
what they are for."

The rising uproar around was affecting her; the vivid colour in her
lips and cheeks deepened.  Berkley looked at her, at the cockade
with its fluttering red-white-and-blue ribbons on her breast, at
the clear, fearless eyes now brilliant with excitement and
indignation.

"Have you thought of enlisting?" she asked abruptly, without
glancing at him.

"Yes," he said, "I've ventured that far.  It's perfectly safe to
think about it.  You have no idea, Mrs. Paige, what warlike
sentiments I cautiously entertain in my office chair."

She turned nervously, with a sunny glint of gold hair and
fluttering ribbons:

"Are you _never_ perfectly serious, Mr. Berkley?  Even at such a
moment as this?"

"Always," he insisted.  "I was only philosophising upon these
scenes of inexpensive patriotism which fill even the most urbane
and peaceful among us full of truculence. . . .  I recently saw my
tailor wearing a sword, attired in the made-to-measure panoply of
battle."

"Did that strike you as humorous?"

"No, indeed; it fitted; I am only afraid he may find a soldier's
grave before I can settle our sartorial accounts."

There was a levity to his pleasantries which sounded discordant to
her amid the solemnly thrilling circumstances impending.  For the
flower of the city's soldiery was going forth to battle--a thousand
gay, thoughtless young fellows summoned from ledger, office, and
counting-house; and all about her a million of their neighbours had
gathered to see them go.

"Applause makes patriots.  Why should I enlist when merely by
cheering others I can stand here and create heroes in battalions?"

"I think," she said, "that there was once another scoffer who
remained to pray."

As he did not answer, she sent a swift side glance at him, found
him tranquilly surveying the crowd below where, at the corner of
Canal and Broadway, half a dozen Zouaves, clothed in their
characteristic and brilliant uniforms and wearing hairy knapsacks
trussed up behind, were being vociferously acclaimed by the people
as they passed, bayonets fixed.

"More heroes," he observed, "made immortal while you wait."

And now Ailsa became aware of a steady, sustained sound audible
above the tumult around them; a sound like surf washing on a
distant reef.

"Do you hear that?  It's like the roar of the sea," she said.  "I
believe they're coming; I think I caught a strain of military music
a moment ago!"

They rose on tiptoe, straining their ears; even the skylarking
gamins who had occupied the stage top behind them, and the driver,
who had reappeared, drunk, and resumed his reins and seat, stood up
to listen.

Above the noise of the cheering, rolling steadily toward them over
the human ocean, came the deadened throbbing of drums.  A far, thin
strain of military music rose, was lost, rose again; the double
thudding of the drums sounded nearer; the tempest of cheers became
terrific.  Through it, at intervals, they could catch the clear
marching music of the 7th as two platoons of police, sixty strong,
arrived, forcing their way into view, followed by a full company of
Zouaves.

Then pandemonium broke loose as the matchless regiment swung into
sight.  The polished instruments of the musicians flashed in the
sun; over the slanting drums the drumsticks rose and fell, but in
the thundering cheers not a sound could be heard from brass or
parchment.

Field and staff passed headed by the colonel; behind jolted two
howitzers; behind them glittered the sabre-bayonets of the
engineers; then, filling the roadway from sidewalk to sidewalk the
perfect ranks of the infantry swept by under burnished bayonets.

They wore their familiar gray and black uniforms, forage caps, and
blue overcoats, and carried knapsacks with heavy blankets rolled on
top.  And New York went mad.


What the Household troops are to England the 7th is to America.  In
its ranks it carries the best that New York has to offer.  The
polished metal gorgets of its officers reflect a past unstained;
its pedigree stretches to the cannon smoke fringing the Revolution.

To America the 7th was always The Guard; and now, in the lurid
obscurity of national disaster, where all things traditional were
crashing down, where doubt, distrust, the agony of indecision
turned government to ridicule and law to anarchy, there was no
doubt, no indecision in The Guard.  Above the terrible clamour of
political confusion rolled the drums of the 7th steadily beating
the assembly; out of the dust of catastrophe emerged its
disciplined gray columns.  Doubters no longer doubted, uncertainty
became conviction; in a situation without a precedent, the
precedent was established; the _corps d'elite_ of all state
soldiery was answering the national summons; and once more the
associated states of North America understood that they were first
of all a nation indivisible.

Down from window and balcony and roof, sifting among the bayonets,
fluttered an unbroken shower of tokens--gloves, flowers,
handkerchiefs, tricoloured bunches of ribbon; and here and there a
bracelet or some gem-set chain fell flashing through the sun.

Ailsa Craig, like thousands of her sisters, tore the
red-white-and-blue rosette from her breast and flung it down among
the bayonets with a tremulous little cheer.

Everywhere the crowd was breaking into the street; citizens marched
with their hands on the shoulders of the soldiers; old gentlemen
toddled along beside strapping sons; brothers passed arms around
brothers; here and there a mother hung to the chevroned sleeve of
son or husband who was striving to see ahead through blurring eyes;
here and there some fair young girl, badged with the national
colours, stretched out her arms from the crowd and laid her hands
to the lips of her passing lover.

The last shining files of bayonets had passed; the city swarmed
like an ant-hill.

Berkley's voice was in her ears, cool, good-humoured:

"Perhaps we had better try to find Mrs. Craig.  I saw Stephen in
the crowd, and he saw us, so I do not think your sister-in-law will
be worried."

She nodded, suffered him to aid her in the descent to the sidewalk,
then drew a deep, unsteady breath and gazed around as though
awaking from a dream.

"It certainly was an impressive sight," he said.  "The Government
may thank me for a number of heroes.  I'm really quite hoarse."

She made no comment.

"Even a thousand well-fed brokers in uniform are bound to be
impressive," he meditated aloud.

Her face flushed; she walked on ignoring his flippancy, ignoring
everything concerning him until, crossing the street, she became
aware that he wore no hat.

"Did you lose it?" she asked curtly,

"I don't know what happened to that hysterical hat, Mrs. Paige.
Probably it went war mad and followed the soldiers to the ferry.
You can never count on hats.  They're flighty."

"You will have to buy another," she said, smiling.

"Oh, no," he said carelessly, "what is the use.  It will only
follow the next regiment out of town.  Shall we cross?"

"Mr. Berkley, do you propose to go about town with me, hatless?"

"You have an exceedingly beautiful one.  Nobody will look at me."

"Please be sensible!"

"I am.  I'll take you to Lord and Taylor's, deliver you to your
sister-in-law, and then slink home----"

"But I don't wish to go there with a hatless man!  I can't
understand----"

"Well, I'll have to tell you if you drive me to it," he said,
looking at her very calmly, but a flush mounted to his cheek-bones;
"I have no money--with me."

"Why didn't you say so?  How absurd not to borrow it from me----"

Something in his face checked her; then he laughed.

"There's no reason why you shouldn't know how poor I am," he said.
"It doesn't worry me, so it certainly will not worry you.  I can't
afford a hat for a few days--and I'll leave you here if you wish.
Why do you look so shocked?  Oh, well--then we'll stop at Genin's.
They know me there."

They stopped at Genin's and he bought a hat and charged it, giving
his addresses in a low voice; but she heard it.

"Is it becoming?" he asked airily, examining the effect in a glass.
"Am I the bully boy with the eye of glass, Mrs. Paige?"

"You are, indeed," she said, laughing.  "Shall we find Celia?"

But they could not find her sister-in-law in the shop, which was
now refilling with excited people.

"Celia _non est_," he observed cheerfully.  "The office is closed
by this time.  May I see you safely to Brooklyn?"

She turned to the ferry stage which was now drawing up at the curb;
he assisted her to mount, then entered himself, humming under his
breath:

  "To Brooklyn! To Brooklyn!
  So be it.  Amen.
  Clippity, Cloppity, back again!"

On the stony way to the ferry he chatted cheerfully, irresponsibly,
but he soon became convinced that the girl beside him was not
listening, so he talked at random to amuse himself, amiably
accepting her pre-occupation.

"How those broker warriors did step out, in spite of Illinois
Central and a sadly sagging list!  At the morning board Pacific
Mail fell 3 1/2, New York Central 1/4, Hudson River 1/4, Harlem
preferred 1/2, Illinois Central 3/4. . . .  I don't care. . . .
_You_ won't care, but the last quotations were Tennessee 6's, 41, A
41 1/2. . . .  There's absolutely nothing doing in money or
exchange.  The bankers are asking 107 a 1/2 but sell nothing.  On
call you can borrow money at four and five per cent--" he glanced
sideways at her, ironically, satisfied that she paid no
heed--"_you_ might, but I can't, Ailsa.  I can't borrow anything
from anybody at any per cent whatever.  I know; I've tried.
Meanwhile, few and tottering are my stocks, also they continue
downward on their hellward way.

  "Margins wiped, out in war,
  Profits are scattered far,
  I'll to the nearest bar,
    Ailsa oroon!"

he hummed to himself, walking-stick under his chin, his new hat not
absolutely straight on his well-shaped head.

A ferry-boat lay in the slip; they walked forward and stood in the
crowd by the bow chains.  The flag new over Castle William; late
sunshine turned river and bay to a harbour in fairyland, where,
through the golden haze, far away between forests of
pennant-dressed masts, a warship lay all aglitter, the sun striking
fire from her guns and bright work, and setting every red bar of
her flag ablaze.

"The _Pocahontas_, sloop of war from Charleston bar," said a man in
the crowd.  "She came in this morning at high water.  She got to
Sumter too late."

"Yes.  Powhatan had already knocked the head off John Smith,"
observed Berkley thoughtfully.  "They did these things better in
colonial days."

Several people began to discuss the inaction of the fleet off
Charleston bar during the bombardment; the navy was freely
denounced and defended, and Berkley, pleased that he had started a
row, listened complacently, inserting a word here and there
calculated to incite several prominent citizens to fisticuffs.  And
the ferry-boat started with everybody getting madder.

But when fisticuffs appeared imminent in mid-stream, out of
somewhat tardy consideration for Ailsa he set free the dove of
peace.

"Perhaps," he remarked pleasantly, "the fleet _couldn't_ cross the
bar.  I've heard of such things."

And as nobody had thought of that, hostilities were averted.

Paddle-wheels churning, the rotund boat swung into the Brooklyn
dock.  Her gunwales rubbed and squeaked along the straining piles
green with sea slime; deck chains clinked, cog-wheels clattered,
the stifling smell of dock water gave place to the fresher odour of
the streets.

"I would like to walk uptown," said Ailsa Paige.  "I really don't
care to sit still in a car for two miles.   You need not come any
farther--unless you care to."

He said airily: "A country ramble with a pretty girl is always
agreeable to me.  I'll come if you'll let me."

She looked up at him, perplexed, undecided.

"Are you making fun of Brooklyn, or of me?"

"Of neither.  May I come?"

"If you care to," she said.

They walked on together up Fulton Street, following the stream of
returning sight-seers and business men, passing recruiting stations
where red-legged infantry of the 14th city regiment stood in groups
reading the extras just issued by the _Eagle_ and _Brooklyn Times_
concerning the bloody riot in Baltimore and the attack on the 6th
Massachusetts.  Everywhere, too, soldiers of the 13th, 38th, and
70th regiments of city infantry, in blue state uniforms, were
marching about briskly, full of the business of recruiting and of
their departure, which was scheduled for the twenty-third of April.

Already the complexion of the Brooklyn civic sidewalk crowds was
everywhere brightened by military uniforms; cavalrymen of the troop
of dragoons attached to the 8th New York, jaunty lancers from the
troop of lancers attached to the 69th New York, riflemen in green
epaulettes and facings, zouaves in red, blue, and brown uniforms
came hurrying down the stony street to Fulton Ferry on their return
from witnessing a parade of the 14th Brooklyn at Fort Greene.  And
every figure in uniform thrilled the girl with suppressed
excitement and pride.

Berkley, eyeing them askance, began blandly:

  "Citizens of martial minds,
  Uniforms of wondrous kinds,
  Wonderful the sights we see--
  Ailsa, you'll agree with me."

"_Are_ you utterly without human feeling?" she demanded.  "Because,
if you are, there isn't the slightest use of my pretending to be
civil to you any longer."

"Have you been pretending?"

"I suppose you think me destitute of humour," she said, "but there
is nothing humourous about patriotism and self-sacrifice to me, and
nothing very admirable about those who mock it."

Her cheeks were deeply flushed; she looked straight ahead of her as
she walked beside him.


Yet, even now the swift little flash of anger revealed an inner
glimpse to her of her unaltered desire to know this man; of her
interest in him--of something about him that attracted her but
defied analysis---or had defied it until, pursuing it too far one
day, she had halted suddenly and backed away.

Then, curiously, reflectively, little by little, she retraced her
steps.  And curiosity urged her to investigate in detail the Four
Fears--fear of the known in another, fear of the unknown in
another, fear of the known in one's self, fear of the unknown in
one's self.  _That_ halted her again, for she knew now that it was
something within herself that threatened her.  But it was his
nearness to her that evoked it.

For she saw, now that her real inclination was to be with him, that
she had liked him from the first, had found him agreeable--pleasant
past belief--and that, although there seemed to be no reason for
her liking, no excuse, nothing to explain her half-fearful pleasure
in his presence, and her desire for it, she did desire it.  And for
the first time since her widowhood she felt that she had been
living her life out along lines that lay closer to solitude than to
the happy freedom of which she had reluctantly dreamed locked in
the manacles of a loveless marriage.

For her marriage had been one of romantic pity, born of the
ignorance of her immaturity; and she was very young when she became
the wife of Warfield Paige--Celia's brother--a gentle,
sweet-tempered invalid, dreamy, romantic, and pitifully confident
of life, the days of which were already numbered.

Of the spiritual passions she knew a little--of the passion of
pity, of consent, of self-sacrifice, of response to spiritual need.
But neither in her early immaturity nor in later adolescence had
she ever before entertained even the most innocent inclination for
a man.  Man's attractions, physical and personal, had left only the
lightest of surface impressions--until the advent of this man.

To what in him was she responsive?  What intellectual charm had he
revealed?  What latent spiritual excellence did she suspect?  What
were his lesser qualities--the simpler moral virtues--the admirable
attributes which a woman could recognise.  Nay, where even were the
nobler failings, the forgivable faults, the promise of future
things?

Her uplifted, questioning eyes searched and fell.  Only the
clear-cut beauty of his head answered her, only the body's grace.


She sometimes suspected pity as her one besetting sin.  Was it pity
for this man--a young man only twenty-four, her own age, so
cheerful under the crushing weight of material ruin?  Was it his
poverty that appealed?

Was it her instinct to protect?  If all she heard was true, he
sorely needed protection from himself.  For tales of him had
filtered to her young ears--indefinite rumours of unworthy
things--of youth wasted and manhood threatened--of excesses
incomprehensible to her, and to those who hinted them to her.

Was it his solitude in the world for which she was sorry?  She had
no parents, either.  But she had their house and their memories
concrete in every picture, every curtain, every chair and sofa.
Twilight whispered of them through every hallway, every room; dawn
was instinct with their unseen spirits, sweetening everything in
the quiet old house. . . .  And that day she had learned _where_ he
lived.  And she dared not imagine _how_.

They turned together into the quiet, tree-shaded street, and, in
the mellow sunset light, something about it, and the pleasant
vine-hung house, and the sense of restfulness moved her with a
wistful impulse that he, too, should share a little of the home
welcome that awaited her from her own kin.

"Will you remain and dine with us, Mr. Berkley?"

He looked up, so frankly surprised at her kindness that it hurt her
all through.

"I want to be friends with you," she said impulsively.  "Didn't you
know it?"

They had halted at the foot of the stoop.

"I should think you could see how easy it would he for us to become
friends," she said with pretty self-possession.  But her heart was
beating violently.

His pulses, too, were rapping out a message to his intelligence:
"You had better not go in," it ran.  "You are not fit to go in.
You had better keep away from her.  You know what will happen if
you don't."

As they entered the house her sister-in-law rose from the piano in
the front parlour and came forward.

"_Were_ you worried, dearest?" cried Ailsa gaily.  "I really
couldn't help it.  And Mr. Berkley lost his hat, and I've brought
him back to dinner."



CHAPTER VII

To Berkley the times were surcharged with agreeable agitation.  A
hullabaloo diverted him.  He himself was never noisy; but agitated
and noisy people always amused him.

Day after day the city's multi-coloured militia regiments passed
through its echoing streets; day after day Broadway resounded with
the racket of their drums.  Rifles, chasseurs, zouaves, foot
artillery, pioneers, engineers, rocket batteries, the 79th
Highlanders, dismounted lancers of the 69th and dragoons of the
8th--every heard-of and unheard-of unnecessary auxiliary to a
respectable regiment of state infantry, mustered for inspection and
marched away in polychromatic magnificence.  Park, avenue, and
square shrilled with their windy fifes; the towering sides of the
transports struck back the wild music of their bands; Castle
William and Fort Hamilton saluted them from the ferries to the
Narrows; and, hoarse with cheering, the people stared through dim
eyes till the last stain of smoke off Sandy Hook vanished seaward.
All of which immensely diverted Berkley.

The city, too, had become a thoroughfare for New England and
Western troops hurrying pell-mell toward the capital and that
unknown bourne so vaguely defined as the "seat of war."  Also all
avenues were now dotted with barracks and recruiting stations,
around which crowds clamoured.   Fire Zouaves, Imperial Zouaves,
National Zouaves, Billy Wilson's Zouaves appropriated without
ceremony the streets and squares as drill grounds.  All day long
they manoeuvred and double-quicked; all day and all night herds of
surprised farm horses destined for cavalry, light artillery, and
glory, clattered toward the docks; files of brand-new army waggons,
gun-carriages, smelling of fresh paint, caissons, forges,
ambulances bound South checked the city traffic and added to the
city's tumult as they jolted in hundreds and hundreds toward the
wharves--materially contributing to Berkley's entertainment.

Beginning with the uproarious war meeting in Union Square, every
day saw its crowds listening to the harangue of a somebody or a
nobody.  Sometimes short, ugly demonstrations were made against an
unpopular newspaper office or the residence of an unpopular
citizen; the police were rough and excitable, the nerves of the
populace on edge, the city was now nearly denuded of its militia,
and everybody was very grateful for the temporary presence of
volunteer regiments in process of formation.

As yet the tension of popular excitement had not jaded the capacity
of the city for pleasure.  People were ready for excitement,
welcomed it after the dreadful year of lethargy.  Stocks fell, but
the theatres were the fuller; Joseph Jefferson at Winter Garden,
Wallack at his own theatre, "The Seven Sisters" at Laura Keene's,
drew unsatisfied crowds, galloping headlong on the heels of
pleasure.

Philharmonics, plays, burlesques, concerts, minstrel
entertainments, never lacked audiences, especially when the
proceeds were destined for the Union Defence Committee; the hotels,
Bancroft, St.  Nicholas, Metropolitan, New York, Fifth Avenue, were
all brilliantly thronged at night; cafes and concert halls like the
Gaieties, Canterbury, and American, flourished and flaunted their
advertisements; grills, restaurants, saloons, multiplied.  There
were none too many for Berkley's amusement.

As yet no battle lightning flickered along the Southern horizon to
sober folk with premonition; but the nightly illumination of the
metropolis was becoming tinged with a more sinister reflection
where licence had already begun to lift a dozen hydra-heads from
certain lurid resorts hitherto limited in number and in impudence.

It was into the streets of such a city, a meaner, dirtier, uglier,
noisier, perhaps more vicious edition of the French metropolis of
the Third Empire, thronged with fantastic soldiery and fox-eyed
contractors, filled already with new faces--faces of Western born,
Yankee born, foreign born; stupid faces, crafty faces, hard faces,
bedizened faces--it was into the streets of such a city that
Berkley sauntered twice a day to and fro from his office,
regretting only that his means did not permit him to go to the
devil like a gentleman.

And one day, out of the hurly-burly, and against all laws of
probability and finance, an incredible letter was handed to him.
And he read it, standing by his window, and calmly realised that he
was now no longer penniless.

Some inspired idiot had become a credulous market for his
apparently unmarketable securities.  Who this person was his
brokers did not say; but, whoever it was, had bought every rotten
share he held; and there was money for him in the world to help him
out of it.

As he stood there, the letter in his hands, drums sounded across
the street, and Stephen came in from the outer office.

"Another regiment," he said.  "Do you know where they come from?"

Berkley shook his head, and they went to the windows; below them
surged the flood of dead wood driven before the oncoming
waves--haggard men, ragged men, small boys, darkies, Bowery b'hoys,
stray red-shirted firemen, then the police, then solid double ranks
of drums battered by flashing, brass-bound drumsticks, then line
after line of blue and steel, steadily flowing through the streets
and away, away into the unknown.

"How young they are!" muttered Farren, the gray-haired cashier,
standing behind Stephen's shoulders.  "God bless me, they're
children!"

"It's a Vermont regiment," said Berkley; "they're filing out of the
Park Barracks.  What a lot of hawk-nosed, hatchet-faced,
turkey-necked cow milkers!--all heroes, too, Steve.  You can tell
that because they're in uniform and carry guns."

Stephen watched the lank troops, fascinated by the long, silent,
almost gliding stride of officers and men loaded down with
knapsack, blanket, and canteen, their caps pushed high on their red
and sweating foreheads.  There was a halt; big hands, big red
knuckles, big feet, and the delicate curve of the hawk's beak
outlining every Yankee nose, queer, humourous, restless glances
sweeping Gotham streets and windows where Gotham crowded to gaze
back at the halted youngsters in blue; then a far tenor cry, nasal
commands, thin voices penetrating from out of the crowded distance;
a sudden steadying of ranks; the level flash of shouldered steel; a
thousand men marking time; and at last the drums' quick outbreak;
and the 1st Vermont Infantry passed onward into the unknown.

"I'd rather like to go there--to see what there is there," observed
Berkley.

"Where?"

"Where they're going--wherever that may be--and I think I know."

He glanced absently at his letter again.

"I've sold some stock--all I had, and I've made a lot of money," he
said listlessly.

Stephen dropped an impulsive hand on his shoulder.

"I'm terribly glad, Berkley!  I'm delighted!" he said with a warmth
that brought a slight colour into Berkley's face.

"That's nice of you, Stephen.  It solves the immediate problem of
how to go there."

"Go where?"

"Why--where all our bright young men are going, old fellow," said
Berkley, laughing.  "I can go with a regiment or I can go alone.
But I really must be starting."

"You mean to enlist?"

"Yes, it can be done that way, too.  Or--other ways.  The main
thing is to get momentum.  . . .  I think I'll just step out and
say good-bye and many thanks to your father.  I shall be quite busy
for the rest of my career."

"You are not leaving here?"

"I am.  But I'll pay my rent first," said Berkley, laughing.


And go he did that very afternoon; and the office of Craig & Son
knew him no more.


A few days later Ailsa Paige returned to New York and reoccupied
her own house on London Terrace.

A silk flag drooped between the tall pilasters.  Under it, at the
front door stood Colonel Arran to welcome her.  It had been her
father's house; he had planted the great catalpa trees on the
grassy terrace in front.  Here she had been born; from here she had
gone away a bride; from here her parents had been buried, both
within that same strange year that left her widowed who had
scarcely been a wife.  And to this old house she had returned alone
in her sombre weeds--utterly alone, in her nineteenth year.

This man had met her then as he met her now; she remembered it,
remembered, too, that after any absence, no matter how short, this
old friend had always met her at her own door-sill, standing aside
with head bent as she crossed the sill.

Now she gave him both hands.

"It is so kind of you, dear Colonel Arran!  It would not be a
home-coming without you--"  And glancing into the hall, nodded
radiantly to the assembled servants--her parents' old and
privileged and spoiled servants gathered to welcome the young
mistress to her own.

"Oh--and there's Missy!" she said, as an inquiring "meow!" sounded
close to her skirts.  "You irresponsible little thing--I suppose
you have more kittens.  Has she, Susan?"

"Five m'm," said Susan drily.

"Oh, dear, I suppose it can't be avoided.  But we mustn't drown
any, you know."  And with one hand resting on Colonel Arran's arm
she began a tour of the house to inspect the new improvements.

Later they sat together amid the faded splendours of the southern
drawing-room, where sunshine regilded cornice and pier glass,
turned the lace curtains to nets of gold, and streaked the red
damask hangings with slanting bars of fire.

Shiftless old Jonas shuffled in presently with the oval silver
tray, ancient decanters, and seedcakes.

And here, over their cakes and Madeira, she told him about her
month's visit to the Craigs'; about her life in the quaint and
quiet city, the restful, old-fashioned charm of the cultivated
circles on Columbia Heights and the Hill; the attractions of a
limited society, a little dull, a little prim, pedantic, perhaps
provincially simple, but a society caring for the best in art, in
music, in literature, instinctively recognising the best although
the best was nowhere common in the city.

She spoke of the agreeable people she had met--unobtrusive,
gentle-mannered folk whose homes may have lacked such Madeira and
silver as this, but lacked nothing in things of the mind.

She spoke of her very modest and temporary duties in church work
there, and in charities; told of the advent of the war news and its
effect on the sister city.

And at last, casually, but without embarrassment, she mentioned
Berkley.

Colonel Arran's large hand lay along the back of the Virginia sofa,
fingers restlessly tracing and retracing the carved foliations
supporting the horns of plenty.  His heavy, highly coloured head
was lowered and turned aside a little as though to bring one ear to
bear on what she was saying.

"Mr. Berkley seems to be an--unusual man," she ventured.  "Do you
happen to know him, Colonel Arran?"

"Slightly."

"Oh.  Did you know his parents?"

"His mother."

"She is not living, I believe."

"No."

"Is his father living?"

"I--don't know."

"You never met him?"

Colonel Arran's forefinger slowly outlined the deeply carved horn
of plenty.

"I am not perfectly sure that I ever met Mr. Berkley's father."

She sat, elbows on the table, gazing reflectively into space.

"He is a--curious--man."

"Did you like him?" asked Colonel Arran with an effort.

"Yes," she said, so simply that the Colonel's eyes turned directly
toward her, lingered, then became fixed on the sunlit damask folds
behind her.

"What did you like about Mr.  Berkley, Ailsa?"

She considered.

"I--don't know---exactly."

"Is he cultivated?"

"Why, yes--I suppose so."

"Is he well bred?"

"Oh, yes; only--" she searched mentally--"he is not--may I say,
conventional? formal?"

"It is an age of informality," observed Colonel Arran, carefully
tracing out each separate grape in the horn of plenty.

Ailsa assented; spoke casually of something else; but when Colonel
Arran brought the conversation around again to Berkley, she in
nowise seemed reluctant.

"He is unusually attractive," she said frankly; "his features, at
moments, are almost beautiful.  I sometimes wonder whether he
resembles his mother.  Was she beautiful?"

"Yes."

"I thought she must have been.  He resembles her, does he not?"

"Yes."

"His father was--is--"  She hesitated, looked curiously at Colonel
Arran, then smiled.

"There was something I never thought of when I first met Mr.
Berkley, but now I understand why his features seemed to me not
entirely unfamiliar.  I don't know exactly what it is, but there
seems to be something about him that recalls you."

Colonel Arran sat absolutely still, his heavy hand gripping the
horn of plenty, his face so gray that it was almost colourless.

Ailsa, glancing again at his profile, saw nothing now in it
resembling Berkley; and, as he made no response, thought him
uninterested.  But when again she would have changed the subject,
the Colonel stirred, interrupting:

"Does he seem--well?"

"Well?" she repeated.  "Oh, yes."

"He--seems well . . .  and in good spirits?  Contented?  Is he that
type of young man?  Happy?"

"I don't think he is really very happy, though he is cheerful
and--and amusing.  I don't see how he can be very light-hearted."

"Why?"

She shook her head:

"I believe he--I know he must be in painfully straightened
circumstances."

"I have heard so," nodded Colonel Arran.

"Oh, he certainly _is_!" she said with decision.  "He lost
everything in the panic, and he lives in a most wretched
neighbourhood, and he hasn't any business except a very little now
and then.  It made me quite unhappy," she added naively.

"And you find him personally agreeable?"

"Yes, I do.  I didn't at first--" She checked herself--"I mean I
_did_ at the very first--then I didn't--then I did again, then
I--didn't--"  The delicate colour stole into her cheeks; she lifted
her wineglass, looked into it pensively, set it back on the table.
"But I understand him better now, I think."

"What, in him, do you understand better now?"

"I--don't--know."

"Is he a better kind of a man than you thought him at first?"

"Y-es.  He has it in him to be better, I mean. . . .  Yes, he is a
better man than I thought him--once."

"And you like him----"

"Yes, I do.  Colonel Arran."

"Admire him?"

She flushed up.  "How do you mean?"

"His qualities?"

"Oh. . . .  Yes, he has qualities."

"Admirable?"

"He is exceedingly intelligent."

"Intellectual?"

"I don't exactly know.  He pretends to make fun of so many things.
It is not easy to be perfectly sure what he really believes;
because he laughs at almost everybody and everything.  But I am
quite certain that he really has beliefs."

"Religious?"

She looked grave.  "He does not go to church."

"Does he--does he strike you as being--well, say,
irresponsible--perhaps I may even say reckless?"

She did not answer; and Colonel Arran did not ask again.  He
remained silent so long that she presently drifted off into other
subjects, and he made no effort to draw her back.

But later, when he took his leave, he said in his heavy way:

"When you see Mr. Berkley, say to him that Colonel Arran remembers
him. . . .  Say to him that it would be my--pleasure--to renew our
very slight acquaintance."

"He will be glad, I know," she said warmly.

"Why do you think so?"

"Why?  Because _I_ like you!" she explained with a gay little
laugh.  "And whoever I like Mr. Berkley must like if he and I are
to remain good friends."

The Colonel's smile was wintry; the sudden animation in his face
had subsided.

"I should like to know him--if he will," he said absently.  And
took his leave of Ailsa Paige.


Next afternoon he came again, and lingered, though neither he nor
Ailsa spoke of Berkley.  And the next afternoon he reappeared, and
sat silent, preoccupied, for a long time, in the peculiar hushed
attitude of a man who listens.  But the door-bell did not ring and
the only sound in tile house was from Ailsa's piano, where she sat
idling through the sunny afternoon.

The next afternoon he said:

"Does he never call on you?"

"Who?"

"Mr. Berkley."

"I--asked him," she replied, flushing faintly.

"He has not come, then?"

"Not yet.  I suppose--business----"

The Colonel said, ponderously careless: "I imagine that he is
likely to come in the late afternoon--when he does come."

"I don't know.  He is in business."

"It doesn't keep him after three o'clock at his office."

She looked up surprised: "Doesn't it?"  And her eyes asked
instinctively: "How did you know?"  But the Colonel sat silent
again, his head lowered and partly averted as though to turn his
good ear toward her.  Clearly his mind already dwelt on other
matters, she was thinking; but she was mistaken.

"When he comes," said Colonel Arran slowly, "will you have the
kindness to say to him that Colonel Arran will be glad to renew the
acquaintance?"

"Yes. . . .  Perhaps he has forgotten the street and number.  I
might write to him--to remind him?" Colonel Arran made no answer.


She wrote that night:

"DEAR MR. BERKLEY:

"I am in my own house now and am very contented--which does not
mean that I did not adore being with Celia Craig and Estcourt and
the children.

"But home is pleasant, and I am wondering whether you might care to
see the home of which I have so often spoken to you when you used
to come over to Brooklyn to see me [_me_ erased and _us_ neatly
substituted in long, sweeping characters].

"I have been doing very little since I last saw you--it is not
sheer idleness, but somehow one cannot go light-heartedly to
dinners and concerts and theatres in times like these, when
traitors are trampling the nag under foot, and when thousands and
thousands of young men are leaving the city every day to go to the
defence of our distracted country.

"I saw a friend the other day--a Mrs. Wells--and _three_ of her
boys, friends of mine, have gone with the 7th, and she is so
nervous and excited that she can scarcely speak about it.  _So_
many men I know have gone or are going.  Stephen was here
yesterday, wild to go with the 8d Zouaves, but I promised his
father to use my influence--and he _is_ too young--although it is
very fine and chivalrous of him to wish to go.

"I thought I would write you a little note, to remind you that I am
at home, and already it has become a letter.  Please remember--when
you think of it at all--that it would give me pleasure to receive
you.

"Sincerely yours,

"AILSA PAIGE."


Toward the end of the week she received a heart-broken note from
Celia Craig, which caused her to hasten over to Brooklyn.  She
arrived late; the streets were continually blocked by departing
troops, and the omnibus took a circuitous course to the ferry,
going by way of Fourth Avenue and the Bowery.

"Honey-bee!  O Honey-bell!" whispered her sister-in-law, taking
Ailsa into her arms, "I could have behaved myse'f better if Curt
were on the side of God and Justice!--But to have to let him go
this way--to know the awful danger--to know he is going against my
own people, my own home--against God and the Right!--O Honey-bird!
Honey-bud!  And the Charleston _Mercury_ says that the South is
most bitter against the Zouaves----"

"Curt!  With the Zouaves!"

"Oh yes, yes, Honey-bee!  The Third Regiment.  And he--some wicked
old men came here yesterday and read a speech--right befo' me--here
in this ve'y room--and began to say that they wished him to be
colonel of the 3d Zouaves, and that the Governor wished it
and--other fools!  And I rose straight up f'om my chair and I said,
'Curt!'  And he gave me one look.  Oh, Honey-bud!  His face was
changed; there was _that same thing_ in it that I saw the night the
news came about Sumter!  And he said: 'Gentlemen, my country
educated me; now it honours me.'  And I tried to speak again and my
lips were stiff; and then he said: 'I accept the command you
offer----'"

"Oh, Celia!"

"Yes, he said it, darling!  I stood there, frozen--in a corner of
my heart I had been afraid--such a long time!--but to have it come
real--'this terror!--to have this thing take my husband--come into
our own home befo' I knew--befo' I dreamed--and take Curt!--take
--my--Curt!"

"Where is he?"

"With--_them_.  They have a camp near Fort Hamilton.  He went there
this morning."

"When is he coming back?"

"I don't know.  Stephen is scaring me most to death; he is wild to
go, too.  And, oh--do you believe it? Captain Lent has gone with
Curt to the camp, and Curt means to recommend him for his major.
_What_ a regiment!--all the soldiers are mere boys, they
say--wilful, reckless, hair-brained boys who don't know--_can't_
know--where they're going. . . .  And Curt is so blind without his
glasses, and Captain Lent is certainly a little mad, and I'm most
distracted myse'f----"

"Darling--darling--don't cry!"

"Cry?  Oh, I could die, Ailsa.  Yet, I'm Southern enough to choke
back eve'y tear and let them go with a smile if they had to go fo'
God and the Right!  But to see my Curt go this way--and my only son
crazy to join him--Oh, it is ha'd, Honey-bee, ve'y, ve'y ha'd."

"Dearest!"

"O Honey-bud! Honey-bud!"

And the two women mourned, uncomforted.


Ailsa remained for three unhappy days in Fort Greene Place, then
fled to her own house.  A light, amusing letter from Berkley
awaited her.  It was so like him, gay, cynical, epigrammatic, and
inconsequent, that it cheered her.  Besides, he subscribed himself
very obediently hers, but on re-examining the letter she noticed
that he had made no mention of coming to pay his respects to her.

So she lived her tranquil life for another week; and Colonel Arran
came every day and seemed always to be waiting for
something--always listening--gray face buried in his stock.  And at
the week's end she answered Berkley's letter--although, in it, he
had asked no question.


"DEAR MR. BERKLEY:

"Such sad news from the Craigs.  Estcourt has accepted the command
of one of the new zouave regiments--the 3d, in camp near Fort
Hamilton.  But, being in his office, I suppose you have heard all
about it from Stephen.  Poor Celia Craig!  It is peculiarly
distressing in her case; all her sympathies are with her native
state, and to have her husband go under such unusually tragic
circumstances seems too dreadful.  Celia is convinced that he will
never return; she reads some Southern paper which breathes awful
threats against the Zouaves in particular.   Besides, Stephen is
perfectly determined to enlist in his father's regiment, and I can
see that they can't restrain him much longer.  I have done my best;
I have had him here and talked to him and argued with him, but I
have made no headway.  No appeal moves him; he says that the land
will need every man sooner or later, and that the quicker he begins
the sooner he will learn how to look out for himself in battle.

"The regiment is almost full; to-day, the first six companies are
to be mustered into the United States service for three years or
for the war.  Captain Barris of the regular army is the mustering
officer.  And on their departure I am to present a set of colours
to the regiment.  It is to be quite solemn.  I have already bought
the lances, and they are beautiful; the spears are silver gilt, the
rings gilded, too, and the flags are made of the most beautiful
silk with tassels and fringe of gold bullion.  There are three
flags: the national colours, the state flag, and a purple
regimental flag lettered in gold: '3d Regt. N. Y. Zouaves,' and
under it their motto: '_Multorum manibus grande levatur onus_.' I
hope it is good Latin, for it is mine.  Is it?

  "AILSA PAIGE."

To this letter he made no reply, and, after a week, his silence
hurt her.

One afternoon toward the middle of May Stephen was announced; and
with a sudden sense of foreboding she hastened down to the
drawing-room.

"_Oh_!" she cried.  "_You_--Stephen!"

But the boy in his zouave uniform was beside himself with
excitement and pride, and he embraced her, laughing, and then began
to walk up and down the room gesticulating.

"I couldn't stand it any longer, and they let me go.  I'm sorry for
mother, but look at other men's mothers!  They're calling for more
and more troops every week!  I knew everybody would have to go, and
I'm mighty fortunate to get into father's regiment--And O Ailsa!
It is a fine regiment!  We're drilling every minute, and now that
we've got our uniforms it won't be long before our orders come----"

"Stephen--does your mother----"

"Mother knows I can't help it.  I _do_ love her; she knows that
perfectly well.  But men have got to settle this thing----"

"Two hundred thousand are getting ready to settle it!  Are there
hot enough without you?--your mother's only son----"

"Suppose everybody thought that way, where would our army be?"

"But there are hundreds of regiments forming here--getting ready,
drilling, leaving on boats and trains every day----"

"And every regiment is composed of men exactly like me!  They go
because the Nation's business is everybody's business.  And the
Nation's business comes first.  There's no use talking to me,
Ailsa.  I've had it but with father.  He saw that he couldn't
prevent me from doing what he has done.  And old Lent is our major!
Lord, Ailsa, _what_ a terrible old man for discipline!  And father
is--well he is acting as though we ought to behave like West
Pointers.  They're cruelly hard on skylarkers and guard runners,
and they're fairly kicking discipline into us.  But I'm willing.
I'm ready to stand anything as long as we can get away!"

He was talking in a loud, excited voice, pacing restlessly to and
fro, pausing at intervals to confront Ailsa where she sat, limp and
silent, gazing up at this slender youth in his short blue jacket
edged with many bell-buttons, blue body sash, scarlet zouave
trousers and leather gaiters.

Presently old Jonas shuffled in with Madeira, cakes, and
sandwiches, and Stephen began on them immediately.

"I came over so you could see me in my uniform," he explained; "and
I'm going back right away to see mother and Paige and Marye and
Camilla."  He paused, sandwich suspended, then swallowed what he
had been chewing and took another bite, recklessly.

"I'm very fond of Camilla," he said condescendingly.  "She's very
nice about my going--the only one who hasn't snivelled.  I tell
you, Ailsa, Camilla is a good deal of a girl. . . .  And I've
promised to look out for her uncle--keep an eye on old Lent, you
know, which seems to comfort her a good deal when she begins
crying----

"Oh. . .  I thought Camilla didn't cry."

"She cries a little--now and then."

"About her uncle?"

"Certainly."

Ailsa looked down at her ringless fingers.  Within the week she had
laid away both rings, meaning to resume them some day.

"If you and your father go, your office will be closed, I suppose."

"Oh, no.  Farren will run it."

"I see. . . .  And Mr. Berkley, too, I suppose."

Stephen looked up from his bitten seedcake.

"Berkley?  He left long ago."

"Left--where?" she asked, confused.

"Left the office.  It couldn't be helped.  There was nothing for
him to do.  I was sorry--I'm sorrier now----"

He checked himself, hesitated, turned his troubled eyes on Ailsa.

"I _did_ like him so much."

"Don't you like him--still?"

"Yes--_I_ do.  I don't know what was the matter with that man.  He
went all to pieces."

"W-what!"

"Utterly.  Isn't it too bad."

She sat there very silent, very white.  Stephen bit into another
cake, angrily.

"It's the company he keeps," he said--"a lot of fast men--fast
enough to be talked about, fashionable enough to be tolerated--Jack
Casson is one of them, and that little ass, Arthur Wye.  _That's_
the crowd--a horse-racing, hard-drinking, hard-gambling crew."

"But--he is--Mr. Berkley's circumstances--how can he do such
things----"

"Some idiot--even Berkley doesn't know who--took all those dead
stocks off his hands.  Wasn't it the devil's own luck for Berkley
to find a market in times like these?"

"But it ended him. . . .  Oh, I was fond of him, I tell you, Ailsa!
I hate like thunder to see him this way----"

"_What_ way!"

"Oh, not caring for anybody or anything.  He's never sober.  I
don't mean that I ever saw him otherwise--he doesn't get drunk like
an ordinary man: he just turns deathly white and polite.  I've met
him--and his friends--several times.  They're too fast a string of
colts for me.  But isn't it a shame that a man like Berkley should
go to the devil--and for no reason at all?"

"Yes," she said.


When Stephen, swinging his crimson fez by the tassel, stood ready
to take his leave, she put her arms around his neck and kissed him.

After he departed Colonel Arran came, and sat, as usual, silent,
listening.

Ailsa was very animated; she told him about Stephen's enlistment,
asked scores of questions about military life, the chances in
battle, the proportion of those who went through war unscathed.

And at length Colonel Arran arose to take his departure; and she
had not told what was hammering for utterance in every heart beat;
she did not know how to tell, what to ask.

Hat in hand Colonel Arran bent over her hot little hand where it
lay in his own.

"I have been offered the colonelcy of a volunteer regiment now
forming," he said without apparent interest.

"You!"

"Cavalry," he explained wearily.

"But--you have not accepted!"

He gave her an absent glance.  "Yes, I have accepted. . . .  I am
going to Washington to-night."

"Oh!" she breathed, "but you are coming back before--before----"

"Yes, child.  Cavalry is not made in a hurry.  I am to see General
Scott--perhaps Mr. Cameron and the President. . . .  If, in my
absence--" he hesitated, looked down, shook his head.  And somehow
she seemed to know that what he had not said concerned Berkley.

Neither of them mentioned him.  But after Colonel Arran had gone
she went slowly to her room, sat down at her desk, sat there a
long, long while thinking.  But it was after midnight before she
wrote to Berkley:

"Have you quite forgotten me?  I have had to swallow a little pride
to write you again.  But perhaps I think our pleasant friendship
worth it.

"Stephen has been here.  He has enlisted as a private in his
father's regiment of zouaves.  I learned by accident from him that
you are no longer associated with Craig & Son in business.  I trust
this means at least a partial recovery of your fortune.  If it
does, with fortune recovered responsibilities increase, and I
choose to believe that it is these new and exacting duties which
have prevented me from seeing you or from hearing from you for more
than three weeks.

"But surely you could find a moment to write a line to a friend who
is truly your very sincere well-wisher, and who would be the first
to express her pleasure in any good fortune which might concern you.

  "AILSA PAIGE."


Two days passed, and her answer came:

"Ailsa Paige, dearest and most respected, I have not forgotten you
for one moment.  And I have tried very hard.

"God knows what my pen is trying to say to you, and not hurt you,
and yet kill utterly in you the last kindly and charitable memory
of the man who is writing to you.

"Ailsa, if I had known you even one single day before that night I
met you, you would have had of me, in that single day, all that a
man dare lay at the feet of the truest and best of women.

"But on that night I came to you a man utterly and hopelessly
ruined--morally dead of a blow dealt me an hour before I saw you
for the first time.

"I had not lived an orderly life, but at worst it was only a
heedless life.  I had been a fool, but not a damned one.  There was
in me something loftier than a desire for pleasure, something
worthier than material ambition.  What else lay latent--if
anything--I may only surmise.  It is all dead.

"The blow dealt me that evening--an hour before I first laid eyes
on you--utterly changed me; and if there was anything spiritual in
my character it died then.  And left what you had a glimpse
of--just a man, pagan, material, unmoral, unsafe; unmoved by
anything except by what appeals to the material senses.

"Is that the kind of man you suppose me?  That is the man I am.
And you _know_ it now.  And you know, now, what it was in me that
left you perplexed, silent, troubled, not comprehending--why it was
you would not dance with me again, nor suffer my touch, nor endure
me too near you.

"It was the less noble in me--all that the blow had not
killed--only a lesser part of a finer and perfect passion that
might perhaps have moved you to noble response in time.

"Because I should have given you all at the first meeting; I could
no more have helped it than I could have silenced my heart and
lived.  But what was left to give could awake in you no echo, no
response, no comprehension.  In plainer, uglier words, I meant to
make you love me; and I was ready to carry you with me to that hell
where souls are lost through love--and where we might lose our
souls together.

"And now you will never write to me again."


All the afternoon she bent at her desk, poring over his letter.  In
her frightened heart she knew that something within her, not
spiritual, had responded to what, in him, had evoked it; that her
indefinable dread was dread of herself, of her physical
responsiveness to his nearness, of her conscious inclination for it.

Could this be she--herself--who still bent here over his written
words--this tense, hot-cheeked, tremulous creature, staring
dry-eyed at the blurring lines which cut her for ever asunder from
this self-outlawed man!

Was this letter still unburned.  Had she not her fill of its
brutality, its wickedness?

But she was very tired, and she laid her arms on the desk and her
head between them.  And against her hot face she felt the cool
letter-paper.

All that she had dreamed and fancied and believed and cared for in
man passed dully through her mind.  Her own aspirations toward
ideal womanhood followed--visions of lofty desire, high ideals,
innocent passions, the happiness of renunciation, the glory of
forgiveness----

She sat erect, breathing unevenly; then her eyes fell on the
letter, and she covered it with her hands, as hands cover the shame
on a stricken face.  And after a long time her lips moved,
repeating:

"The glory of forgiveness--the glory of forgiveness----"

Her heart was beating very hard and fast as her thoughts ran on.

"To  forgive--help  him--teach truth--nobler ideals----"


She could not rest; sleep, if it really came, was a ghostly thing
that mocked her.  And all the next day she roamed about the house,
haunted with the consciousness of where his letter lay locked in
her desk.  And that day she would not read it again; but the next
day she read it.  And the next.

And if it were her desire to see him once again before all ended
irrevocably for ever--or if it was what her heart was striving to
tell her, that he was in need of aid against himself, she could not
tell.  But she wrote him:


"It is not you who have written this injury for my eyes to read,
but another man, demoralised by the world's cruelty--not knowing
what he is saying--hurt to the soul, not mortally.  When he
recovers he will be you.  And this letter is my forgiveness."


Berkley received it when he was not particularly sober; and
lighting the end of it at a candle let it burn until the last ashes
scorched his fingers.

"Burgess," he said, "did you ever notice how hard it is for the
frailer things to die?  Those wild doves we used to shoot in
Georgia--by God! it took quail shot to kill them clean."

"Yes, sir?"

"Exactly.  Then, that being the case, you may give me a
particularly vigorous shampoo.  Because, Burgess, I woo my volatile
goddess to-night--the Goddess Chance, Burgess, whose wanton and
naughty eyes never miss the fall of a card.  And I desire that all
my senses work like lightning, Burgess, because it is a fast
company and a faster game, and that's why I want an unusually
muscular shampoo!"

"Yes, sir.  Poker, sir?"

"I--ah--believe so," said Berkley, lying back in his chair and
closing his eyes.  "Go ahead and rub hell into me--if I'll hold any
more."

The pallor, the shadows under eyes and cheeks, the nervous lines at
the corners of the nose, had almost disappeared when Burgess
finished.  And when he stood in his evening clothes pulling a
rose-bud stem through the button-hole of his lapel, he seemed very
fresh and young and graceful in the gas-light.

"Am I very fine, Burgess?  Because I go where youth and beauty
chase the shining hours with flying feet.  Oh yes, Burgess, the
fair and frail will be present, also the dashing and
self-satisfied.  And we'll try to make it agreeable all around,
won't we? . . .  And don't smoke _all_ my most expensive cigars,
Burgess.  I may want one when I return.  I hate to ask too much of
you, but you won't mind leaving one swallow of brandy in that
decanter, will you?  Thanks.  Good night, Burgess."

"Thank _you_, sir.  Good night, sir."

As he walked out into the evening air he swung his cane in
glittering circles.

"Nevertheless," he said under his breath, "she'd better be careful.
If she writes again I might lose my head and go to her.  You can
never tell about some men; and the road to hell is a lonely
one--damned lonely.  Better let a man travel it like a gentleman if
he can.  It's more dignified than sliding into it on your back,
clutching a handful of lace petticoat."

He added: "There's only one hell; and it's hell, perhaps, because
there are no women there."



CHAPTER VIII

Berkley, hollow-eyed, ghastly white, but smiling, glanced at the
clock.

"Only one more hand after this," he said.  "I open it for the
limit."

"All in," said Cortlandt briefly.  "What are you going to do now?"

"_Scindere glaciem_," observed Berkley, "you may give me three
cards, Cortlandt."  He took them, scanned his hand, tossed the
discards into the centre of the table, and bet ten dollars.
Through the tobacco smoke drifting in level bands, the crystal
chandeliers in Cortlandt's house glimmered murkily; the cigar haze
even stretched away into the farther room, where, under brilliantly
lighted side brackets, a young girl sat playing at the piano, a
glass of champagne, gone flat, at her dimpled elbow.  Another girl,
in a shrimp-pink evening gown, one silken knee drooping over the
other, lay half buried among the cushions, singing the air which
the player at the piano picked out by ear.  A third girl,
velvet-eyed and dark of hair, listened pensively, turning the gems
on her fingers.

The pretty musician at the piano was playing an old song, once much
admired by the sentimental; the singer, reclining amid her
cushions, sang the words, absently:

  "Why did I give my heart away--
  Give it so lightly, give it to pay
  For a pleasant dream on a summer's day?

  "Why did I give?  I do not know.
  Surely the passing years will show.

  "Why did I give my love away--
  Give it in April, give it in May,
  For a young man's smile on a summer's day?

  "Why did I love?  I do not know.
  Perhaps the passing years will show.

  "Why did I give my soul away--
  Give it so gaily, give it to pay
  For a sigh and a kiss on a summer's day?

  "Perhaps the passing years may show;
  My heart and I, we do not know."

She broke off short, swung on the revolving chair, and called: "Mr.
Berkley, _are_ you going to see me home?"

"Last jack, Miss Carew," said Berkley, "I'm opening it for the
limit.  Give me one round of fixed ammunition, Arthur."

"There's no use drawing," observed another man, laying down his
hand, "Berkley cleans us up _as_ usual."

He was right; everything went to Berkley, as usual, who laughed and
turned a dissipated face to Casson.

"Cold decks?" he suggested politely.  "Your revenge at your
convenience, Jack."

Casson declined.  Cortlandt, in his brilliant zouave uniform, stood
up and stretched his arms until the scarlet chevrons on the blue
sleeves wrinkled into jagged lightning.

"It's been very kind of you all to come to my last 'good-bye
party,'" he yawned, looking sleepily around him through the smoke
at his belongings.

For a week he had been giving a "good-bye party" every evening in
his handsome house on Twenty-third Street.  The four men and the
three young girls in the other room were the residue of this party,
which was to be the last.

Arthur Wye, wearing the brand-new uniform, red stripes and facings,
of flying artillery, rose also; John Casson buttoned his cavalry
jacket, grumbling, and stood heavily erect, a colossus in blue and
yellow.

"You have the devil's luck, Berkley," he said without bitterness.

"I need it."

"So you do, poor old boy.  But--God! you play like a professional."

Wye yawned, thrust his strong, thin hands into his trousers
pockets, and looked stupidly at the ceiling.

"I wish to heaven they'd start our battery," he said vacantly.
"I'm that sick of Hamilton!"

Casson grumbled again, settling his debts with Berkley.

"Everybody has the devil's own luck except the poor God-forsaken
cavalry.  Billy Cortlandt goes tomorrow, your battery is under
orders, but nobody cares what happens to the cavalry.  And they're
the eyes and ears of an army----"

"They're the heels and tail of it," observed Berkley, "and the
artillery is the rump."

"Shut up, you sneering civilian!"

"I'm shutting up--shop--unless anybody cares to try one last cold
hand--" He caught the eye of the girl at the piano and smiled
pallidly.  "'_Quid non mortalia pectora cogis, auri sacra fames_!'
Also I have them all scared to death, Miss Carew--the volunteer
army of our country is taking water."

"It doesn't taste like water," said the pretty singer on the sofa,
stretching out her bubbling glass, "try it yourself, Mr. Berkley."

They went toward the music room; Cortlandt seated himself on top of
the piano.  He looked rather odd there in his zouave jacket, red
trousers, white-gaitered legs hanging.

  "Oh the Zou-zou-zou!
  Oh the Zou-zou-zou!
  Oh the boys of the bully Zouaves!"

he hummed, swinging his legs vigorously.  "Ladies and gentlemen,
it's all over but the shooting.  Arthur, I saw your battery horses;
they belong in a glue factory.  How arc you going to save your guns
when the rebs come after you?"

"God knows, especially if the Zouaves support us," replied Wye,
yawning again.  Then, rising:

"I've got to get back to that cursed fort.  I'll escort anybody
who'll let me."

"One more glass, then," said Cortlandt.  "Berkley, fill the parting
cup!  Ladies of the Canterbury, fair sharers of our hospitality who
have left the triumphs of the drama to cheer the unfortunate
soldier on his war-ward way, I raise my glass and drink to each
Terpsichorean toe which, erstwhile, was pointed skyward amid the
thunder of metropolitan plaudits, and which now demurely taps my
flattered carpet.  Gentlemen--soldiers and civilians--I give you
three toasts!  Miss Carew, Miss Lynden, Miss Trent!  Long may they
dance!  Hurrah!"

"Get on the table," said Casson amid the cheering, and climbed up,
spurs jingling, glass on high.

"Will it hold us all?" inquired Letty Lynden, giving her hands to
Berkley, who shrugged and swung her up beside him.  "Hurrah for the
Zouaves!" she cried; "Hurrah for Billy Cortlandt!--Oh, somebody
spilled champagne all over me!"

"Hurrah for the artillery!" shouted Arthur Wye, vigorously cheering
himself and waving his glass, to the terror of Ione Carew, who
attempted to dodge the sparkling rain in vain.

"Arthur, you look like a troop of trained mice," observed Berkley
gravely.  "Has anybody a toy cannon and a little flag?"

Wye descended with a hop, sprang astride a chair, and clattered
around the room, imitating his drill-master.

"Attention!  By the right of batteries, break into sections, trot.
Mar-r-rch!  Attention-n-n!  By section from the right of
batteries--front into column.  Mar-r-rch!"

"By section from the right, front into column, march!" repeated
Cortlandt, jumping down from the table and seizing another chair.
"Everybody mount a chair!" he shouted.  "This is the last artillery
drill of the season.  Line up there, Letty!  It won't hurt your
gown.  Berkley'll get you another, anyway!  Now, ladies and
gentlemen, sit firmly in your saddles.  Caissons to the
rear--march!  Caissons, left about--pieces forward--march!"

Wye's chair buckled and he came down with a splintering crash;
Casson galloped madly about, pretending his chair had become
unmanageable.  It, also, ultimately collapsed, landed him flat on
his back, whence he surveyed the exercises of the _haute ecole_ in
which three flushed and laughing young girls followed the dashing
lead of Cortlandt, while Berkley played a cavalry canter on the
piano with one hand and waved his cigar in the other.

Later, breathless, they touched glasses to the departing
volunteers, to each other, to the ladies ("God bless them! Hear!
He-ah!"), to the war, to every regiment going, to each separate
battery horse and mule in Arthur's section.  And then began on the
guns,

"I prophesy a quick reunion!" said Berkley.  "Here's to it!  Full
glasses!

"Speech!  Speech--you nimble-witted, limber-legged prophet!" roared
John Casson, throwing a pack of cards at Berkley.  "Read the cards
for us!"

Berkley very gracefully caught a handful, and sorting them, began
impromptu:

  "Diamonds for _you_,
  Little Miss Carew,
  Strung in a row,
  Tied in a bow--
  What would you do
  If they came true?

  "What can it be?
  _Hearts_! for Miss Letty--
  Sweethearts and beaux,
  Monarchs in rows,
  Knaves on their knees--
  Choose among these!

  "Clubs now, I see!
  _Ace_! for Miss Betty--
  Clubman and swell,
  Soldier as well.
  Yes, he's all three;
  Who can he be?

  "Ione, be kind
  To monarch and knave,
  But make up your mind
  To make 'em behave.
  And when a man finds _you_
  The nicest he's met, he
  Is likely to marry you,
  Letty and Betty!"

Tremendous cheering greeted these sentiments; three more cheers
were proposed and given for the Canterbury.

"Home of the 'ster arts, m-music an' 'r' drama-r-r--" observed
Casson hazily--"I'm going home."

Nobody seemed to hear him.

"Home--ser-weet home," he repeated sentimentally--"home among the
horses--where some Roman-nosed, camel-backed, slant-eared nag is
probably waitin' to kick daylight out'r me!  Ladies, farewell!" he
added, tripping up on his spurs and waving his hand vaguely.
"Cav'lry's eyes 'n' ears 'f army!  'Tain't the hind legs' No--_no_!
_I'm_ head 'n' ears--army! 'n' I wan' t' go home."

For a while he remained slanting against the piano, thoughtfully
attempting to pry out the strings; then Wye returned from putting
Miss Carew and Miss Trent into a carriage.

"You come to the fort with me," he said.  "That'll sober you.  I
sleep near the magazine."

Berkley's face looked dreadfully battered and white, but he was
master of himself, careful of his equilibrium, and very polite to
everybody.

"You're--hic!--killin' yourself," said Cortlandt, balancing himself
carefully in the doorway.

"Don't put it that way," protested Berkley.  "I'm trying to make
fast time, that's all.  I'm in a hurry."

The other wagged his head: "_You_ won't last long if you keep this
up.  The--hic!--trouble with you is that you can't get decently
drunk.  You just turn blue and white.  That's
what's--matter--_you_!  And it kills the kind of--hic!--of man you
are.  B-b'lieve me," he added shedding tears, "I'm fon' 'v' you,
Ber--hic!--kley."

He shed a few more scalding tears, waved his hand in resignation,
bowed his head, caught sight of his own feet, regarded them with
surprise.

"Whose?" he inquired naively.

"Yours," said Berkley reassuringly.  "They don't want to go to bed."

"Put 'em to bed!" said Cortlandt in a stem voice.  "No business
wand'ring 'round here this time of night!"

So Berkley escorted Cortlandt to bed, bowed him politely into his
room, and turned out the gas as a precaution.

Returning, he noticed the straggling retreat of cavalry and
artillery, arms fondly interlaced; then, wandering back to the
other room in search of his hat, he became aware of Letty Lynden,
seated at the table.

Her slim, childish body lay partly across the table, her cheek was
pillowed on one outstretched arm, the fingers of which lay loosely
around the slender crystal stem of a wine-glass.

"Are you asleep?" he asked.  And saw that she was.

So he roamed about, hunting for something or other--he forgot
what--until he found it was her mantilla.  Having found it, he
forgot what he wanted it for and, wrapping it around his shoulders,
sat down on the sofa, very silent, very white, but physically
master of the demoralisation that sharpened the shadows under his
cheek-bones and eyes.

"I guess," he said gravely to himself, "that I'd better become a
gambler.  It's--a--very, ve--ry good 'fession--no," he added
cautiously, "_per_--fession--" and stopped short, vexed with his
difficulties of enunciation.

He tried several polysyllables; they went better.  Then he became
aware of the mantilla on his shoulders.

"Some time or other," he said to himself with precision, "that
little dancer girl ought to go home."

He rose steadily, walked to the table:

"Listen to me, you funny little thing," he said.

No answer.

The childlike curve of the cheek was flushed; the velvet-fringed
lids lay close.  For a moment he listened to the quiet breathing,
then touched her arm lightly.

The girl stirred, lifted her head, straightened up, withdrawing her
fingers from the wine-glass.

"Everybody's gone home," he said.  "Do you want to stay here all
night?"

She rose, rubbing her eyes with the backs of her hands, saw the
mantilla he was holding, suffered him to drop it on, her shoulders,
standing there sleepy and acquiescent.  Then she yawned.

"Are you going with me, Mr. Berkley?"

"I'll--yes.  I'll see you safe."

She yawned again, laid a small hand on his arm, and together they
descended the stairs, opened the front door, and went out into
Twenty-third Street.  He scarcely expected to find a hack at that
hour, but there was one; and it drove them to her lodgings on
Fourth Avenue, near Thirteenth Street.  Spite of her paint and
powder she seemed very young and very tired as she stood by the
open door, looking drearily at the gray pallor over the roofs
opposite, where day was breaking.

"Will you--come in?"

He had prepared to take his leave; he hesitated.

"I think I will," he said.  "I'd like to see you with your face
washed."

Her room was small, very plain, very neat.  On the bed lay folded a
white night gown; a pair of knitted pink slippers stood close
together on the floor beside it.  There was a cheap curtain across
the alcove; she drew it, turned, looked at him; and slowly her oval
face crimsoned.

"You needn't wash your face," he said very gently.

She crept into the depths of a big arm-chair and lay back watching
him with inscrutable eyes.

He did not disturb her for a while.  After a few moments he got up
and walked slowly about, examining the few inexpensive ornaments on
wall and mantel; turned over the pages of an album, glanced at a
newspaper beside it, then came back and stood beside her chair.

"Letty?"

She opened her eyes.

"I suppose that this isn't the--first time."

"No."

"It's not far from it, though."  She was silent, but her eyes
dropped.

He sat down on the padded arm of the chair.

"Do you know how much money I've made this week?" he said gaily.

She looked up at him, surprised, and shook her head; but her velvet
eyes grew wide when he told her.

"I won it fairly," he said.  "And I'm going to stake it all on one
last bet."

[Illustration: "I won it fairly, and I'm going to stake it all on
one last bet."]

"On--what?"

"On--_you_.  Now, _what_ do you think of that, you funny little
thing?"

"How--do you mean, Mr. Berkley?"  He looked down into the eyes of a
hurt child.

"It goes into the bank in your name--if you say so."

"For--what?"

"I don't know," he said serenely, "but I am betting it will go for
rent, and board, and things a girl needs--_when she has no man to
ask them of--and nothing to pay for them_."

"You mean no man---excepting--you?"

"No," he said wearily, "I'm not trying to buy you."

She crimsoned.  "I thought--then why do you----"

"Why?  Good God, child!  _I_ don't know!  How do I know why I do
anything?  I've enough left for my journey.  Take this and try to
behave yourself if you can--in the Canterbury and out of it! . . .
And buy a new lock for that door of yours.  Good night."

She sprang up and laid a detaining hand on his sleeve as he reached
the hallway.

"Mr. Berkley! I--I can't----"

He said, smiling: "My manners are really better than that----"

"I didn't mean----"

"You ought to.  Don't let any man take his leave in such a manner.
Men believe a woman to be what she thinks she is.  Think well of
yourself.  And go to bed.  I never saw such a sleepy youngster in
my life!  Good night, you funny, sleepy little thing."

"Mr. Berkley--I can't take--accept----"

"Oh, listen to her!" he said, disgusted.  "Can't I make a bet with
my own money if I want to?  I _am_ betting; and _you_ are holding
the stakes.  It depends on how you use them whether I win or lose."

"I don't understand--I don't, truly," she stammered; "d-do you wish
me to--leave--the Canterbury?  Do you--_what_ is it you wish?"

"You know better than I do.  I'm not advising you.  Where is your
home?  Why don't you go there?  You have one somewhere, I suppose,
haven't you?"

"Y-yes; I had."

"Well--where is it?"

"In Philadelphia."

"Couldn't you stand it?" he inquired with a sneer.

"No."  She covered her face with her hands.

"Trouble?"

"Y-yes."

"Man?"

"Y-y-yes."

"Won't they take you back?"

"I--haven't written."

"Write.  Home is no stupider than the Canterbury.  Will you write?"

She nodded, hiding her face.

"Then--_that's_ settled.  Meanwhile--" he took both her wrists and
drew away her clinging hands:

"I'd rather like to win this bet because--the odds are all against
me."  He smiled, letting her hands swing back and hang inert at her
sides.

But she only closed her eyes and shook her head, standing there,
slim and tear-stained in her ruffled, wine-stained dinner dress.
And, watching her, he retreated, one step after another, slowly;
and slowly closed the door, and went out into the dawn, weary,
haggard, the taste of life bitter in his mouth.

"What a spectacle," he sneered, referring to himself, "the vicious
god from the machine!  Chorus of seraphim.  Apotheosis of little
Miss Turveydrop----"

He swayed a trine as he walked, but it was not from the wine.

A policeman eyed him unfavourably,

"No," said Berkley, "I'm not drunk.  You think I am.  But I'm not.
And I'm too tired to tell you how I left my happy, happy home."

In the rosy gray of the dawn he sat down on the steps of his new
lodgings and gazed quietly into space.

"_This_ isn't going to help," he said.  "I can stand years of it
yet.  And that's much too long."

He brooded for a few moments.

"I hope she doesn't write me again.  I can't stand everything."

He got up with an ugly, oblique glance at the reddening sky.

"I'm what he's made me--and I've got to let her alone. . . .  Let
her alone.  I--" He halted, laid his hand heavily on the door,
standing so, motionless.

"If I--go--near her, he'll tell her what I am.  If he didn't, I'd
have to tell her.  There's no way--anywhere--for me.  And _he_ made
me so. . . .  And--by God! it's in me--in me--to--to--if she writes
again--" He straightened up, turned the key calmly, and let himself
in.

Burgess was asleep, but Berkley went into his room and awoke him,
shining a candle in his eyes.

"Burgess!"

"S-sir?"

"Suppose you knew you could never marry a woman.  Would you keep
away from her?  Or would you do as much as you could to break her
heart first?"

Burgess yawned: "Yes, sir."

"You'd do all you could?"

"Yes, sir."

There was a long silence; then Berkley laughed.  "They drowned the
wrong pup," he said pleasantly.  "Good night."

But Burgess was already asleep again.



CHAPTER IX

And now at last she knew what it was she feared.  For she was
beginning to understand that this man was utterly unworthy, utterly
insensible, without character, without one sympathetic trait that
appealed to anything in her except her senses.

She understood it now, lying there alone in her room, knowing it to
be true, admitting it in all the bitter humiliation of
self-contempt.  But even in the light of this new self-knowledge
her inclination for him seemed a thing so unreasonable, so
terrible, that, confused and terrified by the fear of spiritual
demoralisation, she believed that this bewildering passion was all
that he had ever evoked in her, and fell sick in mind and body for
the shame of it.

A living fever was on her night and day; disordered memories of him
haunted her, waking; defied her, sleeping; and her hatred for what
he had awakened in her grew as her blind, childish longing to see
him grew, leaving no peace for her.


What kind of love was that?--founded on nothing, nurtured on
nothing, thriving on nothing except what her senses beheld in him.
Nothing higher, nothing purer, nothing more exalted had she ever
learned of him than what her eyes saw; and they had seen only a man
in his ripe youth, without purpose, without ideals, taking
carelessly of the world what he would one day return to it--the
material, born in corruption, and to corruption doomed.


It was night she feared most.  By day there were duties awaiting,
or to be invented.  Also, sometimes, standing on her steps, she
could hear the distant sound of drums, catch a glimpse far to the
eastward of some regiment bound South, the long rippling line of
bayonets, a flutter of colour where the North was passing on God's
own errand.  And love of country became a passion.

Stephen came sometimes, but his news of Berkley was always
indefinite, usually expressed with a shrug and emphasised in
silences.

Colonel Arran was still in Washington, but he wrote her every day,
and always he asked whether Berkley had come.  She never told him.

Like thousands and thousands of other women in New York she did
what she could for the soldiers, contributing from her purse,
attending meetings, making havelocks, ten by eight, for the
soldiers' caps, rolling bandages, scraping lint in company with
other girls of her acquaintance, visiting barracks and camps and
"soldiers' rests," sending endless batches of pies and cakes and
dozens of jars of preserves from her kitchen to the various
distributing depots.

Sainte Ursula's Church sent out a call to its parishioners; a
notice was printed in all the papers requesting any women of the
congregation who had a knowledge of nursing to meet at the rectory
for the purpose of organisation.  And Ailsa went and enrolled
herself as one who had had some hospital experience.

Sickness among the thousands of troops in the city there already
was, also a few cases of gunshots in the accident wards incident on
the carelessness or ignorance of raw volunteers.  But as yet in the
East there had been no soldier wounded in battle, no violent death
except that of the young colonel of the 1st Fire Zouaves, shot down
at Alexandria.

So there was no regular hospital duty asked of Ailsa Paige, none
required; and she and a few other women attended a class of
instruction conducted by her own physician, Dr. Benton, who
explained the simpler necessities of emergency cases and coolly
predicted that there would be plenty of need for every properly
instructed woman who cared to volunteer.

So the ladies of Sainte Ursula's listened very seriously; and some
had enough of it very soon, and some remained longer, and finally
only a small residue was left--quiet, silent, attentive women of
various ages who came every day to hear what Dr. Benton had to tell
them, and write it down in their little morocco notebooks.  And
these, after a while, became the Protestant sisterhood of Sainte
Ursula, and wore, on duty, the garb of gray with the pectoral
scarlet heart.

May went out with the booming of shotted guns beyond the, Southern
horizon, amid rumours of dead zouaves and cavalrymen somewhere
beyond Alexandria.  And on that day the 7th Regiment returned to
garrison the city, and the anxious city cheered its return, and
people slept more soundly for it, though all day long the streets
echoed with the music of troops departing, and of regiments
parading for a last inspection before the last good-byes were said.

Berkley saw some of this from his window.  Never perfectly sober
now, he seldom left his rooms except at night; and all day long he
read, or brooded, or lay listless, or as near drunk as he ever
could be, indifferent, neither patient nor impatient with a life he
no longer cared enough about to either use or take.

There were intervals when the deep despair within him awoke
quivering; instants of fierce grief instantly controlled,
throttled; moments of listless relaxation when some particularly
contemptible trait in Burgess faintly amused him, or some attempted
invasion of his miserable seclusion provoked a sneer or a haggard
smile, or perhaps an uneasiness less ignoble, as when, possibly,
the brief series of letters began and ended between him and the
dancing girl of the Canterbury.

  "DEAR MR. BERKLEY:
  "Could you come for me after the theatre this evening?
  "LETITIA LYNDEN."


  "DEAR LETTY:
  "I'm afraid I couldn't.
  "Very truly yours,
    "P. O. BERKLEY."

  "DEAR MR. BERKLEY:
  "Am I not to see you again?  I think perhaps you
  might care to hear that I have been doing what you
  wished ever since that night.  I have also written home,
  but nobody has replied.  I don't think they want me
  now.  It is a little lonely, being what you wish me to
  be.  I thought you might come sometimes.  Could you?
  "LETITIA LYNDEN."

  "DEAR LETITIA:
  "I seem to be winning my bet, but nobody can ever
  tell.  Wait for a while and then write home again.
  Meantime, why not make bonnets?  If you want to, I'll
  see that you get a chance.
  "P. O. BERKLEY."

  "DEAR MR. BERKLEY:
  "I don't know how.  I never had any skill.  I was
  assistant in a physician's office--once.  Thank you for
  your kind and good offer--for all your goodness to me.
  I wish I could see you sometimes.  You have been better
  to me than any man.  Could I?
  "LETTY."

  "DEAR LETTY:
  "Why not try some physician's office?"

  "DEAR MR. BERKLEY:
  "Do you wish me to?  Would you see me sometimes
  if I left the Canterbury?  It is _so_ lonely--you don't
  know, Mr. Berkley, how lonely it is to be what you wish
  me to be.  Please only come and speak to me.
  "LETTY."

  "DEAR LETTY:
  "Here is a card to a nice doctor, Phineas Benton,
  M.D.  I have not seen him in years; he remembers me
  as I was.  You will not, of course, disillusion him.  I've
  had to lie to him about you--and about myself.  I've
  told him that I know your family in Philadelphia, that
  they asked me about the chances of a position here for
  you as an assistant in a physician's office, and that now
  you had come on to seek for such a position.  Let me
  know how the lie turns out.
  "P. O. BERKLEY."


A fortnight later came her last letter:


  "DEAR MR. BERKLEY:
  "I have been with Dr. Benton nearly two weeks now.
  He took me at once.  He is such a good man!  But--I
  don't know--sometimes he looks at me and looks at me
  as though he suspected what I am--and I feel my cheeks
  getting hot, and I can scarcely speak for nervousness;
  and then he always smiles so pleasantly and speaks so
  courteously that I know he is too kind and good to suspect.

  "I hold sponges and instruments in minor operations,
  keep the office clean, usher in patients, offer them
  smelling salts and fan them, prepare lint, roll
  bandages--and I know already how to do all this quite well.
  I think he seems pleased with me.  He is so very kind to
  me.  And I have a little hall bedroom in his house, very
  tiny but very neat and clean; and I have my meals with
  his housekeeper, an old, old woman who is very deaf and
  very pleasant.

  "I don't go out because I don't know where to go.
  I'm afraid to go near the Canterbury--afraid to meet
  anybody from there.  I think I would die if any man
  I ever saw there ever came into Dr. Benton's office.
  The idea of that often frightens me.  But nobody has
  come.  And I sometimes do go out with Dr. Benton.
  He is instructing a class of ladies in the principles of
  hospital nursing, and lately I have gone with him to hold
  things for him while he demonstrates.  And once, when
  he was called away suddenly, I remained with the class
  alone, and I was not very nervous, and I answered all
  their questions for them and showed them how things
  ought to be done.  They were _so_ kind to me; and one
  very lovely girl came to me afterward and thanked me
  and said that she, too, had worked a little as a nurse for
  charity, and asked me to call on her.

  "I was so silly--do you know I couldn't see her for
  the tears, and I couldn't speak--and I couldn't let go
  of her hands.  I wanted to kiss them, but I was ashamed.

  "Some day do you think I might see you again?  I
  am what you have asked me to be.  I never wanted to be
  anything else.  They will not believe that at home because
  they had warned me, and I was such a fool--and perhaps
  you won't believe me--but I _didn't_ know what I
  was doing; I didn't want to be what I became--This is
  really true, Mr. Berkley.  Sometime may I see you
  again?
  Yours sincerely,
    "LETITIA A. LYNDEN."


He had replied that he would see her some day, meaning not to do
so.  And there it had rested; and there, stretched on his sofa, he
rested, the sneer still edging his lips, not for her but for
himself.

"She'd have made some respectable man a good--mistress," he said.
"Here is a most excellent mistress, spoiled, to make a common-place
nurse! . . .  _Gaude!  Maria Virgo; gaudent proenomine molles
auriculoe. . . .  Gratis poenitet esse probum_.  Burgess!"

"Sir?"

"What the devil are you scratching for outside my door?"

"A letter, sir."

"Shove it under, and let me alone."

The letter appeared, cautiously inserted under the door, and lay
there very white on the floor.  He eyed it, scowling, without
curiosity, turned over, and presently became absorbed in the book
he had been reading:


"Zarathustra asked Ahura-Mazda: 'Heavenly, Holiest, Pure, when a
pure man dies where does his soul dwell during that night?'

"Then answered Ahura-Mazda: 'Near his head it sits itself down.  On
this night his soul sees as much joy as the living world possesses.'

"And Zarathustra asked: 'Where dwells the soul throughout the
second night after the body's death?'

"Then answered Ahura-Mazda: 'Near to his head it sits itself down.'

"Zarathustra spake: 'Where stays the soul of a pure roan throughout
the third night, O Heavenly, Holiest, Pure?'

"And thus answered Ahura-Mazda, Purest, Heavenly: 'When the Third
Night turns Itself to Light, the soul arises and goes forward; and
a wind blows to meet it; a sweet-scented one, more sweet-scented
than other winds.'

"And in that wind there cometh to meet him His Own Law in the body
of a maid, one beautiful, shining, with shining arms; one powerful,
well-grown, slender, with praiseworthy body; one noble, with
brilliant face, as fair in body as the loveliest.

"And to her speaks the soul of the pure man, questioning her who
she might truly be.  And thus replies to him His Own Law, shining,
dove-eyed, loveliest: 'I am thy thoughts and works; I am thine own
Law of thine own Self.  Thou art like me, and I am like thee in
goodness, in beauty, in all that I appear to thee.  Beloved, come!'

"And the soul of the pure man takes one step and is in the First
Paradise, Humata; and takes a second step, and is in the Second
Paradise, Hukhta; and takes a third step, and is in the Third
Paradise, Hvarsta.

"And takes one last step into the Eternal Lights for ever."


His haggard eyes were still fixed vacantly on the printed page, but
he saw nothing now.  Something in the still air of the room had
arrested his attention--something faintly fresh--an evanescent hint
of perfume.

Suddenly the blood surged up in his face; he half rose, turned
where he lay and looked back at the letter on the floor.  "Damn
it," he said.  And rising heavily, he went to it, picked it up, and
broke the scented seal.


"Will you misunderstand me, Mr. Berkley?  They say that the pages
of friendship are covered with records of misunderstandings.

"We _were_ friends.  Can it not be so again?  I have thought so
long and so steadily about it that I no longer exactly know whether
I may venture to write to you or whether the only thing decently
left me is silence, which for the second time I am breaking now,
because I cannot believe that I offered my friendship to such a man
as you have said you are.  It is not in any woman to do it.
Perhaps it is self-respect that protests, repudiates, denies what
you have said to me of yourself; and perhaps it is a sentiment less
austere.  I can no longer judge.

"And now that I have the courage--or effrontery--to write you once
more, will you misconstrue my letter--and my motive?  If I cannot
be reconciled to what I hear of you--if what I hear pains,
frightens me out of a justifiable silence which perhaps you might
respect, will you respect my motive for breaking it the less?  I do
not know.  But the silence is now broken, and I must endure the
consequences.

"Deep unhappiness I have never known; but I recognise it in others
when I see it, and would aid always if I could.  Try to understand
me.

"But despair terrifies me--I who never have known it--and I do not
understand how to meet it, how to cope with it in others, what to
say or do.  Yet I would help if help is possible.  Is it?

"I think you have always thought me immature, young in experience,
negligible as to wisdom, of an intellectual capacity
inconsequential.

"These are the facts: I was married when I was very young, and I
have known little of such happiness; but I have met sorrow and have
conquered it, and I have seen bitter hours, and have overcome them,
and I have been tempted, and have prevailed.  Have you done these
things?

"As for wisdom, if it comes only with years, then I have everything
yet to learn.  Yet it seems to me that in the charity wards of
hospitals, in the city prisons, in the infirmary, the asylum--even
the too brief time spent there has taught me something of human
frailty and human sorrow.  And if I am right or wrong, I do not
know, but to me sin has always seemed mostly a sickness of the
mind.  And it is a shame to endure it or to harshly punish it if
there be a cure.  And if this is so, what you may have done, and
what others may have done to you, cannot be final.

"My letter is longer than I meant it, but I had a great need to
speak to you.  If you still think well of me, answer me.  Answer in
the way it pleases you best.  But answer--if you still think well
of me.

  "AILSA PAIGE."

A touch of rose still tinted the sky overhead, but already the lamp
lighters were illuminating the street lamps as he came to London
Terrace--that quaint stretch of old-time houses set back from the
street, solemnly windowed, roofed, and pilastered; decorously
screened behind green trees and flowering bushes ringed by little
lawns of emerald.

For a moment, after entering the iron gateway and mounting the
steps, he stood looking up at her abode.  Overhead the silken folds
of the flag hung motionless in the calm evening air; and all the
place about him was sweet with the scent of bridal-wreath and early
iris.

Then, at his tardy summons, the door of her house opened to him.
He went in and stood in the faded drawing-room, where the damask
curtain folds were drawn against the primrose dusk and a single
light glimmered like a star high among the pendant prisms of the
chandelier.

Later a servant came and gave the room more light.  Then he waited
for a long while.  And at last she entered.

Her hands were cold--he noticed it as the fingers touched his,
briefly, and were withdrawn.  She had scarcely glanced at him, and
she had not yet uttered a word when they were seated.  It lay with
him, entirely, so far.

"What a lazy hound I have been," he said, smiling; "I have no
excuses to save my hide--no dogs ever have.  Are you well, Ailsa?"

She made the effort: "Yes, perfectly.  I fear--" Her eyes rested on
his marred and haggard face; she said no more because she could not.

He made, leisurely, all proper and formal inquiries concerning the
Craigs and those he had met there, mentioned pleasantly his changed
fortunes; spoke of impending and passing events, of the war, of the
movement of troops, of the chances for a battle, which the papers
declared was imminent.

Old Jonas shuffled in with the Madeira and a decanter of brandy, it
being now nearly eight o'clock.

Later, while Berkley was still carelessly bearing the burden of
conversation, the clock struck nine times; and in another
incredibly brief interval, it struck ten.

He started to rise, and encountered her swiftly lifted eyes.  And a
flush grew and deepened on his face, and he resumed his place in
silence.  When again he was seated she drew, unconsciously, a long,
deep breath, and inclined her head to listen.  But Berkley had no
more to say to her--and much that he must not say to her.  And she
waited a long while, eyes bent steadily on the velvet carpet at her
feet.

The silence endured too long; she knew it, but could not yet break
it, or the spell which cradled her tired heart, or the blessed
surcease from the weariness of waiting.

Yet the silence was lasting too long, and must be broken quickly.

She looked up, startled, as he rose to take his leave.  It was the
only way, now, and she knew it.  And, oh, the time had sped too
fast for her, and her heart failed her for all the things that
remained unsaid--all the kindness she had meant to give him, all
the counsel, the courage, the deep sympathy, the deeper friendship.

But her hand lay limply, coldly in his; her lips were mute,
tremulously curving; her eyes asked nothing more.

"Good night, Ailsa."

"Good night."

There was colour, still, in his marred young face, grace, still, in
his body, in the slightly lowered head as he looked down at her.

"I must not come again, Ailsa."

Then her pulses died.  "Why?"

"Because--I am afraid to love you."

It did not seem that she even breathed, so deathly still she stood.

"Is that---your reason?"

"Yes.  I have no right to love you."

She could scarcely speak.  "Is--friendship not enough, Mr. Berkley?"

"It is too late for friendship.  You know it."

"That cannot be."

"Why, Ailsa?"

"Because it is friendship--mistaken friendship that moves you now
in every word you say."  She raised her candid gaze.  "Is there no
end to your self-murder?  Do you still wish to slay yourself before
my very eyes?"

"I tell you that there is nothing good left living in me:

"And if it were true; did you never hear of a resurrection?"

"I--warn you!"

"I hear your warning."

"You dare let me love you?"

Dry-lipped, voices half stifled by their mounting emotion, they
stood closely confronted, paling under the effort of self-mastery.
And his was giving way, threatening hers with every breath.

Suddenly in his altered face she saw what frightened her, and her
hand suddenly closed in his; but he held it imprisoned.

"Answer me, Ailsa!"

"Please--" she said--"if you will let me go--I will answer--you----"

"What?"

"What you--ask."

Her breath was coming faster; her face, now white as a flower, now
flushed, swam before him.  Through the surging passion enveloping
him he heard her voice as at a distance:

"If you will--let me go--I can tell you----"

"Tell me now!"

"Not--this way. . . .  How can you care for me if----

"I warned you, Ailsa!  I told you that I am unfit to love you.  No
woman could ever marry _me_!  No woman could even love me if she
knew what I am!  You understood that.  I told you.  And now--good
God!--I'm telling you I love you--I can't let you go!--your
hands:--the sweetness of them--the----"

"I--oh, it must not be--this way----"

"It _is_ this way!"

"I know--but please try to help.--I--I am not afraid to--love
you------"

Her slender figure trembled against him; the warmth of her set him
afire.  There was a scent of tears in her breath--a fragrance as
her body relaxed, yielded, embraced; her hands, her lids, her:
hair, her mouth, all his now, for the taking, as he took her into
his arms.  But he only stared down at what lay there; and,
trembling, breathless, her eyes unclosed and she looked up blindly
into his flushed face.

"Because I--love you," she sighed, "I believe in all that--that I
have--never--seen--in you."

He looked back into her eyes, steadily:

"I am going mad over you, Ailsa.  There is only destruction for you
in that madness. . . .  Shall I let you go?"

"W-what?"

But the white passion in his face was enough; and, involuntarily
her lids shut it out.  But she did not stir.

"I--warned you," he said again.

"I know. . . .  Is it in you to--destroy--me?"

"God knows. . . .  Yes, it is."

She scarcely breathed; only their hearts battled there in silence.
Then he said harshly:

"What else is there for us?  You would not marry me."

"Ask me."

"You would not marry me if I told you----"

"What?"

"I will _not_ tell you!"

"Are you--married?"

"No!"

"Then _tell_ me!"

"G-od!  _No_!  I can't throw _this_ hour away.  I can't throw love
away!  I want you anyway--if you have the--courage!"

"Tell me.  I promise to marry you anyway.  I promise it, whatever
you are!  Tell me."

"I--"  An ugly red-stained neck and forehead; his embrace suddenly
hurt her so that she cried out faintly, but her hand closed on his.

"Tell me, tell me, _tell_ me!" she pleaded; "I know you are half
crazed by something--some dreadful thing that has been done to
you--" and ceased, appalled at the distorted visage he turned on
her.  His arms relaxed and fell away from her.

Released, she stood swaying as though stunned, pressed both hands
to her eyes, then let her arms fall, inert.

For a moment they confronted one another; then he straightened up,
squared his shoulders with a laugh that terrified her.

"No," he said, "I _won't_ tell you! You go on caring for me.  I'm
beast enough to let you.  Go on caring! Love me--if you're brave
enough. . . .  And I warn you now that I love you, and I don't care
a damn how I do it! . . .  Now you _are_ frightened! . . .  Very
well--I----"

He swayed a little, swung blindly on his heel, and lurched out into
the hall.

Mechanically she followed, halting in the doorway and resting
against it, for it seemed as though her knees were giving way.

"Is that--to be the--end?" she whispered.

He turned and came swiftly back, took her in his arms, crushed her
to him, kissed her lips again and again, fiercely.

"The end will be when you make an end," he said.  "Make it now or
never!"

His heart was beating violently against hers; her head had fallen a
little back, lips slightly parted, unresponsive under his kiss, yet
enduring--and at last burning and trembling to the verge of
response----

And suddenly, passion-swept, breathless, she felt her self-control
going, and she opened her eyes, saw hell in his, tore herself from
his arms, and shrank, trembling, against the wall.  He turned
stupidly and opened the door, making his way out into the night.
But she did not see him, for her burning face was hidden in her
hands.

Drunk as though drugged, the echoes of passion still stirred his
darker self, and his whirling thoughts pierced his heart like
names, whispering, urging him to go back and complete the
destruction he had begun--take her once more into his arms and keep
her there through life, through death, till the bones of the
blessed and the damned alike stirred in their graves at the last
reveille.

To know that she, too, had been fighting herself--that she, too,
feared passion, stirred every brutal fibre in him to a fiercer
recklessness that halted him in his tracks under the calm stars.
But what held him there was something else, perhaps what he
believed had died in him; for he did not even turn again.  And at
last, through the dark and throbbing silence he moved on again at
random, jaws set.

The mental strain was beginning to distort everything.  Once or
twice he laughed all to himself, nodding mysteriously, his tense
white face stamped with a ghastly grimace of self-contempt.  Then
an infernal, mocking curiosity stirred him:

What kind of a thing _was_ he anyway?  A moment since he had loosed
the brute in himself, leaving it to her to re-chain or let it carry
her with him to destruction.  And yet he was too fastidious to
marry her under false pretences!

"Gods of Laughter!  What in hell--what sort of thing am I?" he
asked aloud, and lurched on, muttering insanely to himself,
laughing, talking under his breath, hearing nothing, seeing nothing
but her wistful eyes, gazing sorrowfully out of the night.

At a dark crossing he ran blindly into a moving horse; was pushed
aside by its cloaked rider with a curse; stood dazed, while his
senses slowly returned--first, hearing--and his ears were filled
with the hollow trample of many horses; then vision, and in the
dark street before him he saw the column of shadowy horsemen riding
slowly in fours, knee to knee, starlight sparkling on spur and bit
and sabre guard.

Officers walked their lean horses beside the column.  One among
them drew bridle near him, calling out:

"Have you the right time?"

Berkley looked at his watch.

"Midnight."

"Thank you, friend."

Berkley stepped to the curb-stone: "What regiment is that?"

"Eighth New York."

"Leaving?"

"Going into camp.  Yorkville."

Berkley said: "Do you want a damned fool?"

"The companies are full of fools. . . .  We can stand a few
first-class men.  Come up to camp to-morrow, friend.  If you can
pass the surgeons I guess it will be all right."

And he prodded his tired horse forward along the slowly moving
column of fours.



CHAPTER X

Her hatred and horror of him gave her no peace.  Angry, incensed,
at moments almost beside herself with grief and shame and
self-contempt, she awaited the letter which he must write--the
humble and hopeless effort for pardon which she never, never would
answer or even in her own soul grant.

Day after day she brooded, intent, obsessed, fiercely pondering his
obliteration.

But no letter came.


No letter came that week, nor Monday, nor at the end of the next
week, nor the beginning of the next.

Wrath, at night, had dried her eyes where she lay crying in her
humiliation; wrath diminished as the days passed; scorn became less
rigid, anger grew tremulous.   Then what was lurking near her
pillow lifted a pallid head.  Fear!

She waited.  Wrath died, scorn died; there was not enough to dry
her tears at night--a deeper, more hopeless humiliation had become
the shame of forgiving him, of loneliness without him, of waiting
for his letter, heart sick--his letter that never came.

Letter after letter to him she destroyed, and fell ill of the
tension, or perhaps of a heavy cold caught in the rain where she
had walked for hours, aimlessly, unable to bear her longing and her
desolation.

Dr. Benton attended her; the pretty volunteer nurse came to sit
with her during convalescence.

The third week in June she was physically well enough to dress and
go about the house.  And on that day she came to her shameful
decision.

She wrote him, waited a dreary week for an answer; wrote him again,
waited two weeks; wrote him a third and last letter.  No answer
came.  And she went dully about the task of forgetting.

About the middle of July she heard from Stephen that Berkley had
enlisted in one of the new unattached cavalry companies, but which
one he did not know.  Also she learned that the 3rd Zouaves had
their marching orders and would probably come to the city to
receive their colours.  Later she heard from the mayor, the common
council, and from Major Lent; and prepared for the ceremony.

The ceremony was prettily impressive; Ailsa, Mrs. Craig, her
daughters, Paige and Marye, and Camilla Lent wearing a bell button
from Stephen's zouave jacket, stood on the lawn in front of Ailsa's
house, escorted by Colonel Arran who had returned from Washington,
with his commission, by the mayor of the city, and several
red-faced, fat-paunched gentlemen of the common council, and by a
young officer, Captain Hallam, who stood behind Ailsa and seemed
unable to keep his handsome eyes off her.

Twenty-third Street was packed solid with people and all aflutter
with flags under the July sun when the distant strains of military
music and blue lines of police heralded the coming of the 3rd
Zouaves.

Band crashing, raw, gray horses of field and staff-officers
dancing, the regiment came swinging down the wide stony street,--a
torrent of red and gold, a broad shaft of silvery bayonets;--and
halted facing the group of ladies and officials.

Celia Craig looked down at her husband where he sat his great gray
horse.  Their last good-bye had already been said; he sat erect,
calm, gazing quietly up at her through his gold-rimmed eye-glasses;
from his blue sleeves' edge to the points of his shoulders
glittered in twisted gold the six-fold arabesques of his rank.

The roar of cheers was dying away now; a girlish figure in white
had moved forward to the edge of the lawn, carrying two standards
in her arms, and her voice was very clear and sweet and perfectly
audible to everybody;

"Colonel Craig, officers, and soldiers of the 3rd New York Zouaves;
the ladies of the Church of Sainte Ursula have requested me, in
their name, to present to you this set of colours.  God guard them
and you!

"Remember that, although these flags are now yours, they still
remain ours.  Your cause is ours.  Your vows our vows.  Your
loyalty to God and country is part of our loyalty to God, to
country, and to you."

She stood silent, pensive a moment; then stretched out her arms, a
flag in either hand; and the Colonel rode straight up to where she
stood, took the silken colours and handed them to the two
colour-sergeants.  Then, while an orderly advanced to the head of
his horse, Colonel Craig dismounted and quietly ascended the steps
beside the little group of ladies and city officials:

"On behalf of the officers and men of the 3rd New York Zouaves," he
said, "I thank you.  We are grateful.  I think that we all mean to
do our best.

"If we cannot, in the hour of trial, do all that is expected of us,
we will do all that is in us to do.

"It is very easy to dress a thousand men in uniform, and invest
them with the surroundings of military life; but it is not thus
alone that soldiers are made.  It is only discipline; regular
steady, rigid discipline--that forms a soldier to be relied upon in
the hour of need.

"At present we are only recruits.   So I ask, in justice to the
regiment, that you will not demand too much of us in the beginning.
We desire to learn; we desire most earnestly to deserve your
confidence.  I can only say that we will try to prove ourselves not
unworthy guardians of these flags you have given us."

He bowed, turned to go, swung around sharply and looked at his wife.

"Good-bye, my darling," he said under his breath; and the nest
moment he was in the saddle.

All the rest that Ailsa recollected distinctly was the deafening
outcrash of military music, the sustained cheering, the clatter of
hoofs, the moving column of red and gold--and Celia, standing there
under the July sun, her daughters' hands in hers.

So the 3rd Zouaves marched gaily away under their new silk flags to
their transport at Pier No. 3, North River.  But the next day
another regiment received its colours and went, and every day or so
more regiments departed with their brand-new colours; and after a
little only friends and relatives remembered the 3rd Zouaves, and
what was their colonel's name.


By the middle of July the transformation of the metropolis from a
city into a vast military carnival was complete.  Gaudy uniforms
were no longer the exception; a madness for fantastic brilliancy
seized the people; soldiers in all kinds of colours and all kinds
of dress filled the streets.  Hotels, shops, ferry-boats, stages,
cars, swarmed with undisciplined troops of all arms of the service,
clad in every sort of extravagant uniforms.  Except for the more
severe state uniform and the rarer uniform of National troops,
eccentric costumes were the rule.  It was a carnival of military
absurdity.  Regiments were continually entering the city, regiments
were continually leaving it; regiments in transit disembarked
overnight only to resume the southward journey by steamer or train;
regiments in camp and barrack were completing organisation and
being mustered in by United States officers.  Gorgeous regiments
paraded for inspection, for drill, for the reception of state and
regimental colours; three-month troops were returning, bands madly
playing; two- and three-year regiments leaving, drums beating
frantically.

The bewildering variety of cut and colour in the uniforms of this
vast army, which was being made to order, had been, in a measure,
rendered comparatively homogeneous by the adoption of the
regulation blue overcoat, but many a regiment wore its own pattern
of overcoat, many a regiment went forward in civilian attire,
without arms and equipment, on the assurance that these details
were to be supplied in Washington.

The dress of almost every foreign army in Europe was represented
among the regiments forming or in transit.  The 79th Highlanders,
it is true, discarded kilt and bagpipe on the eve of departure,
marching in blouse and cap and breeks of army blue; but the 14th.
Brooklyn departed in red cap and red breeches, the 1st and 2d Fire
Zouaves discarded the Turkish fez only; the 5th, 9th, 10th Zouaves
marched wearing fez and turban; and bizarre voltigeurs, foot
chasseurs, hussars, lancers, rocket batteries in costume de
fantasie poured southward,--no two regiments equipped and armed
alike.

The city remained in painful suspense concerning its raw,
multicoloured, and undisciplined army.  Every few days arose
rumours of a great battle fought on Virginia soil, corroborated by
extras, denied next morning.  During the last half of July such
reports had been current daily, tightening the tension, frightening
parents, wives, and sweethearts.  Recent armed affrays had been
called battles; the dead zouaves at Big Bethel, a dead trooper at
Alexandria sobered and silenced the street cheering.  Yet, what a
real battle might be, nobody really comprehended or even surmised.


To Ailsa Paige June and July passed like fevered dreams; the brief
sweet spring had suddenly turned into summer in a single day--a
strange, stifling, menacing summer full of heavy little
thunder-storms which rolled crackling and banging up the Hudson
amid vivid electric displays, leaving no coolness behind their
trailing wake of rain.

Society was lingering late in town--if the few nebulous,
unorganised, and scattered social groups could be called
society--small coteries drawn temporarily together through accident
of environment, inherited family acquaintance, traditional,
material, or religious interest, and sometimes by haphazard
intellectual compatibility.

In the city, and in Ailsa's little world, the simple social routine
centring in Sainte Ursula's and the Assembly in winter, and in Long
Branch and Saratoga in summer, had been utterly disorganised.  Very
few of her friends had yet left for the country; nor had she made
any arrangements for this strange, unreal summer, partly because,
driven to find relief from memory in occupation, she was devoting
herself very seriously to the medical instruction under Dr. Benton;
partly because she did not consider it a fitting time to seek the
coolness and luxury of inland spa or seaside pier.

Colonel Arran had brought back with him from Washington a Captain
Hallam, a handsome youngster who wore his cavalry uniform to
perfection and who had become instantly attentive to Ailsa,--so
attentive that before she realised it he was a regular visitor at
her house, appropriating the same chair that Berkley always
had--Berkley!----

At the memory she closed her eyes instinctively.  The wound
throbbed,

"What is the matter, Mrs. Paige?" inquired Captain Hallam
anxiously.  "Are you faint?"

She opened her eyes and smiled in pretence of surprise at such a
question; and Hallam muttered: "I thought you seemed rather pale
all of a sudden."  Then he brightened up and went gaily on with
what he had been saying:

"We've got nine full companies already, and the 10th, K, is an
independent company which we're taking in to complete our
organisation.  Colonel Arran and I stopped in Philadelphia to
inspect Colonel Rush's regiment of lancers--the 6th Pennsylvania
Cavalry--because the French officers on McClellan's staff have put
it into his head that he needs lancers----"

"Is Colonel Arran's regiment to carry lances?" interrupted Ailsa in
surprise.

Hallam nodded, laughing: "We recruited as light cavalry, armed with
sabre and pistol, but General McClellan has ordered that we carry
the lance in addition.  The department had none to issue until the
foreign samples arrived.  We are ordered to carry a lance of the
Austrian pattern, nine feet long with an eleven-inch, three-edged
blade; the staff of Norway fir about an inch and a quarter through,
with ferrule and counter poise at the heel.  Do I make myself
clear, Mrs. Paige?"

Ailsa, thinking of Berkley, flushed slightly and nodded.

"There'll be a scarlet swallow-tailed pennon on the end just below
the blade point.  The whole affair will weigh about five pounds,"
concluded Hallam, rising to take his leave; "and I've got to be off
to camp."

"Must you go, Captain Hallam?"

"I really must.  That K Company is due in camp this evening, and I
expect our uniforms and equipments will be delivered in the
morning.  Are you coming to see us off, Mrs. Paige?"

"When do you go?  Colonel Arran said nothing about going."

"Oh, I expect we'll be on our way before very long.  We are not in
the best of shape yet; that's not to be expected.  But there's a
sad lack of cavalry in Washington, and they may want us to go
whether we're ready or not.  They sent off a regiment that had
neither arms nor uniforms and couldn't even keep step, the other
day.  I've an idea we are going pretty soon." He took Ailsa's
offered hand, looked at her a little earnestly, smiled in
self-satisfaction, and went his way.


Later in the week he came back for a few moments; and all through
the week he continued to come back for a few moments whenever he
had an hour's leave.

And every time he took his leave his smile became less nervous and
more confident.

She was very unhappy; devotion to Dr. Benton's class helped;
devotion to Celia in her brief visits to Brooklyn helped, too;
devotion to others, to prayer, all helped as long as it was
devotion of some sort.

And now this young, blue-eyed, blonde-haired fellow was on the edge
of offering to devote himself to her.  She knew it, wondered
whether this was her refuge from care.  And when he did, at last,
she was quietly prepared to answer.

"Captain Hallam," she said slowly, "I _do_ like you.  I don't know
whether I could ever learn to love you.  I am not very happy; it
might influence my judgment.  If you are willing to wait until I
know more about myself----"

Oh, he _would_ wait!  Certainly.  Meanwhile would she wear his
ring--not exactly an engagement--unless she was willing--but----

She hesitated.  Lonelier than she had ever been in all her life, no
longer self-sufficient, wistfully hopeless, needing to devote
herself absolutely to something or somebody, she hesitated.  But
that evening when Hallam came with his ring she could not bring
herself to accept what she now seemed to be most deeply in need
of--the warm, eager, complacent affection that he laid at her feet.
She was not yet able--could not; and the desolate memories of
Berkley set the wound aching anew. . . .  No, she could promise
nothing to this young fellow--nothing yet. . . .  Perhaps, in the
future--as time passed--she might venture to wear his ring, and see
what happened to her.  But she would not promise--she would not
talk of marrying him. . . .  And cried herself to sleep over the
memory of Berkley, and his vileness, and his heartless wickedness,
and his ignoble love that had left her so ashamed, so humiliated,
so cruelly crushed for ever.  And all night long she dreamed of
Berkley and of his blessed nearness; and the sweetness of her dream
troubled her profoundly.  She sat up, still asleep, her straining
throat whispering his name, her arms outstretched, blindly
searching the darkness for him, until suddenly awake, she realised
what she was doing, and dropped back among her pillows.


All that day the city was filled with rumours of a great battle
fought in Virginia.  The morning's papers hailed it with triumphant
head-lines and columns of praise and thanksgiving for a great
victory won.  But at night the stunned city knew that Bull Run had
been fought and lost, and the Confederacy was at the gates of
Washington.



CHAPTER XI

In a city where thousands and thousands of women were now
organising relief work for the troops already in the field, Ailsa
Paige had been among the earliest to respond to the call for a
meeting at the Church of the Puritans.  Here she had left her name
for enrolment with Mrs. Gerard Stuyvesant.

Later, with Mrs. Marquand, Mrs. Aspinwall, Mrs. Astor, and Mrs.
Hamilton Fish, and a hundred others, she had signed the call for
the great mass-meeting; had acted on one of the subcommittees
chosen from among the three thousand ladies gathered at the
Institute; had served with Mrs. Schuyler on the board of the
Central Relief Association; had been present at the inception of
the Sanitary Commission and its adjunct, the Allotment Commission;
had contributed to the Christian Commission, six thousand of whose
delegates were destined to double the efficiency of the armies of
the Union.

Then Sainte Ursula's Sisterhood, organised for field as well as
hospital service, demanded all her energies.  It was to be an
emergency corps; she had hesitated to answer the call, hesitated to
enroll for this rougher service, and, troubled, had sought counsel
from Mr. Dodge and Mr. Bronson of the Allotment Commission, and
from Dr. Agnew of the Sanitary Commission.

Dr. Agnew wrote to Dr. Benton:

"Mrs. Paige is a very charming and very sweet little lady,
excellently equipped by experience to take the field with Sainte
Ursula's Sisterhood, but self-distrustful and afraid of her own
behaviour on a battle-field where the emergency corps might be
under fire.  In _this_ sort of woman I have every confidence."


The next day Ailsa enrolled; arranged her household affairs so that
she could answer any summons at a few hours' notice; and went to
bed dead tired, and slept badly, dreaming of dead men.  The morning
sun found her pale and depressed.  She had decided to destroy
Berkley's letters.  She burned all, except one; then went to her
class work.

Dr. Benton's class was very busy that morning, experimenting on the
doctor's young assistant with bandages, ligatures, lint, and
splints.  Letty, wearing only her underclothes, lay on the
operating table, her cheek resting on her bared arm, watching Ailsa
setting a supposed compound fracture of the leg, and, at intervals,
quietly suggesting the proper methods.

Autumn sunshine poured through the windows gilding the soft gray
garb of Sainte Ursula's nursing sisterhood which all now wore on
duty.

The girl on the table lay very still, now and then directing or
gently criticising the well-intended operations on limb and body.
And after the allotted half hour had struck, she sat up, smiling at
Ailsa, and, slipping to the floor, dressed rapidly, talking all the
while in her pretty, gentle way about bandages and bones and
fractures and dislocations.

A few minutes after she had completed dressing and was standing
before the glass, smoothing the dark, silky masses of her hair, Dr.
Benton arrived, absent-eyed, preoccupied at first, then in a
fidgety humour which indicated something was about to happen.  It
happened.

"Could any lady get ready in time to take the noon train for
Washington?" he asked abruptly.

There was a startled silence; the call had come at last.

Mrs. Rutherford said quietly: "I will go.  But I must see my
husband and children first.  I could be ready by to-morrow, if that
will do."

Another--a young girl--said: "I could not leave my mother at an
hour's notice.  She is ill.  Would tomorrow do, Dr. Benton?"

"I--think I can go to-day," said Ailsa in a low voice.

"Our quota is to be two nurses," said the doctor.  But no other
lady could possibly leave before the morrow; and it was, after all,
scarcely fair to expect it of women with families to be provided
for and home responsibilities to be arranged.

"I could go to-day--if I may be permitted," said the doctor's young
assistant, timidly.

He swung around and scowled at her, lips compressed, eyes gleaming
through his spectacles:

"You are not asked to go, Miss Lynden."

"I--thought----"

"Do you want to go?"

"If Mrs. Paige is going--alone----"

Ailsa looked at her, gratefully surprised, but smiled her thanks.

"If Miss Lynden may come, Dr. Benton, I would be very glad.  May
she?"

"Miss Lynden is not a member of Sainte Ursula's congregation," he
said drily.  "She's my--rather valuable--assistant."

"She has been to church with me several times," said Ailsa.  "I
have spoken to her about becoming a communicant of Sainte Ursula's,
and she desired to begin her instruction in October----"

"But, confound it!--I want her with me!" interrupted the doctor
impatiently.  "My house and office require the services of Miss
Lynden!"  He turned and paced the room rapidly, hands clasped
behind his bent back; then, halting:

"Do you _want_ to go?" he repeated.

The girl coloured.  "You are very kind to wish me to remain. . . .
But I feel as though Mrs. Paige should not go alone."

"Oh, all right," said the doctor gruffly.  "And you'd better start
at once; that train leaves at mid-day."  And, turning to his class:
"Now, ladies, if you will kindly put away those rags and give me
your strict and undivided attention!"--his voice rumbled off into a
growl.

Ailsa was already putting on her hat.  Presently Letty Lynden came
out of the inner office, carrying a light scarf over her arm.  She
and Ailsa bade a hasty and excited good-bye to the ladies of the
class; thanked Dr. Benton; listened solemnly to instructions;
promised to obey; and gave him tremulous hands in leave taking.

"If those ungrateful dogs of soldiers don't appreciate you two
young ladies, come home on the next train, where you'll be
appreciated," grumbled the doctor.  "Anyway, God bless you both.
And don't drink dirty water!  And keep your patients clean!  Keep
'em clean! clean! clean!  I've a notion that cleanness is
nine-tenths of surgery; and it's all there is to nursing--but few
agree with me.  Good-bye!  Tell Agnew I say that you know your
business!"


Ailsa turned to Letty Lynden.

"It is so sweet of you to want to come.  Will you send your trunk
to my house?  I will have luncheon ready, and another gray uniform
for you.  You'll be a communicant soon, so there is no possible
harm in wearing it."

"I would like to wear Sainte Ursula's garb," said the girl
wistfully.  "Do you really think I may, Mrs. Paige?"

"You shall indeed!  Will you be ready by eleven?"

"I have very little to take with me--only a small trunk.  I will be
at your house at eleven."

Ailsa, nervous and excited, nodded; the suddenness of departure was
beginning to stimulate her.  She walked rapidly home, summoned the
servants, interviewed the house-keeper, sat down and drew necessary
checks to cover a month's absence; sent hurried notes to Celia, to
Camilla, to Colonel Arran, to Captain Hallam; dispatched a servant
to find a hack, another to pack for her, another to serve her
something to eat.

The household below stairs was inclined to tears; old Jonas
sniffled and shuffled about, shrunken hands hanging helpless, mild
eyes following his young mistress as she moved decisively from room
to room, gathering up or indicating to servants what she required
for her journey.

Shawls, handbags, umbrellas, cloaks, and trunk were packed and
strapped and carried off below.  Letty arrived with her trunk, was
taken to Ailsa's room where luncheon for two was ready on a big
silver tray.

Later Jonas arrived, still sniffling, to announce the hack; and the
two gray-garbed women hurried away amid the hysterical snivel of
servants and the friendly mewing of Missy, who trotted after them
to the front door, tail erect, followed by her latest progeny on
diminutive and wavering legs.

All the way to the ferry Ailsa sat silent in her corner of the
hack, worried, reflecting, trying to recollect what it was that she
had left undone.

_Something_ important she certainly had forgotten; she knew it,
searching her mind, while Letty furtively watched her in silence,
gloved hands clasped in her lap.

And suddenly Ailsa knew, and a flood of colour dyed her face; for
the vague sense of leaving something undone was the instinct to let
Berkley know she was going--the blind, unreasoning need for some
communication with him.

Had it been possible that all this time she had not utterly
uprooted this man from her insulted heart!  Had hope, all this
time, unconsciously lived latent in her; was it possible that
somehow, somewhere, there remained a chance for him yet--a chance
for her--a cure--the only cure for all he had done to her--himself!

She reddened painfully again as memory, insolent, imperious,
flashed in her brain, illuminating the unquiet past, sparing her
nothing--no, not one breathless heart beat, not one atom of the
shame and the sweetness of it, not one dishonourable thrill she had
endured for love of him, not one soundless cry at night where she
lay tortured, dumb, hands clenched but arms wide flung as her heart
beat out his name, calling, calling to the man who had ended
himself for ever.

And Letty, silent in her comer, watched her without a word.

At the station, scarcely knowing what she did, Ailsa stopped at the
telegraph office and wrote a despatch to him, addressing it to his
old lodgings:

"I don't know whether this will ever reach you, but I can't go
without trying to let you know that I am leaving for Washington as
volunteer nurse.  They have my address at the house.

  "AILSA PAIGE."

Then the two gray-garbed women hurried to the train, but found no
seats together until a lank, sad-eyed lieutenant of artillery gave
up his place and doubled in with a sweating, red-necked contractor
from St. Louis, who sat in his shirt sleeves, fanning himself with
his straw hat.

The day was hot; the car dusty, ill-smelling, uncomfortable.

At Philadelphia their train was stalled for hours.  Two long
trains, loaded with ammunition and a section of field-artillery,
had right of way; and then another train filled with jeering,
blue-clad infantry blocked them.

The soldiers, bare headed and in their undershirts, lolled and
yelled and hung from the car windows, chewing tobacco, smoking, or
gazing, jaws a-gape, at the crowds in the station.

Another train rolled by, trailing a suffocating stench of cattle
and hogs from its slatted stock-cars; and Ailsa was almost stifled
before her train at last moved heavily southward, saluted by
good-natured witticisms from the soldiers at the windows of the
stalled troop train.

Evening came, finding them somewhere in Delaware; the yellow stars
appeared, the air freshened a little.  Letty had fallen asleep; her
dark lashes rested quietly on her cheeks, but the car jolted her
head cruelly, and Ailsa gently drew it to her own shoulder and put
one arm around her.

A major of heavy artillery turned toward her from his seat and said:

"Are you a volunteer nurse, ma'am?"

"Yes," motioned Ailsa with her lips, glancing cautiously at Letty.

"Can I do anything for you at Wilmington?"

She thanked him, smiling.  He was disposed to be very friendly.

"You ladies arc the right stuff," he said.  "I've seen you aboard
those abominable transports, behaving like angels to the poor
sea-sick devils.  I saw you after Big Bethel, scraping the blood
and filth off of the wounded zouaves; I saw you in Washington after
Bull Run, doing acts of mercy that, by God, madam! would have
turned my stomach. . . .  _Won't_ you let me do something for you.
You don't need any whisky for your sick boys, do you?"

Ailsa smiled and shook her head, saying they had not yet been
assigned to duty.

"I haven't anything else to offer you except tobacco," said the
Major ruefully, and subsided.

At Wilmington, however, he got out, and presently reappeared with
hard-boiled eggs and sandwiches, a big bottle of cold, sweet milk,
and a basket of fruit.  Letty awoke; realised that Ailsa had been
holding her in her arms; looked at her in confusion, then
impulsively bent and laid her lips against Ailsa's hands.

"Why--child--I didn't mind," faltered Ailsa, flushing in response
to Letty's swift emotion.  "See what this very kind officer has
brought us for dinner, dear!  Isn't it delicious?"

They were as hungry as two school children and ate everything; and
by and by the Major of heavy artillery came back and reversed the
seat he had been occupying, and arranged it so he could sit facing
them.  He was fat, red-faced, with a pair of terrific moustaches,
and a closely clipped head showing two scars.

"I've daughters older than you, ma'am," he said, in part
explanation of his friendliness.  "One's got a new baby.  He's a
devil!"

"W-what?" asked Ailsa.

"The right kind of devil, ma'am.  I've been to see him!  He wanted
my sword; he tried to chew off my shoulder straps; he almost
impaled himself on my spurs.  By heaven, ma'am, _that's_ a boy for
you!"

Ailsa smiled.  She knew about babies; implanted in her had always
been a perfect madness to possess one.

She and the red-faced Major talked babies.  Letty, knowing nothing
about babies and not deeply interested, lay back in her seat,
watching Ailsa in the dim light of the ceiling lamps.  She seemed
never to have enough of Ailsa.  It had been so from the first.

In Baltimore dawn was breaking when Ailsa awoke at the summons of
the major; and he remained devoted to the two nurses of Sainte
Ursula, attending to their baggage and transfer across the city,
finding seats in the waiting-room already invaded by the officers
of several regiments in transit, and finally saw them safely aboard
the cars again.

"Good-bye, little ladies," he said cheerily.  "If I'm hit, God send
one of you to wash my face for me.  My card, ladies--if I may be
permitted the honour.  I'm to be at Fortress Monroe as soon as my
command leaves Baltimore."

After he had gone away, Ailsa looked at his card:

      A. J. DENISLOW
   MAJOR, ART., U. S. A.

"I thought he was a regular," she said, smiling at Letty.  "He's a
perfect old dear.  Shall we open the parcel and see what he has
left us for breakfast?"

There was more milk, more peaches and pears, more bread and butter,
and a cold roast chicken; and they made very merry over it, doing
the best they could without knife and fork.

They were nearing Washington now.  Every little while they passed
bodies of troops marching or encamped along the roads; and once
they saw a line of army waggons, drab coloured, with yellow canvas
tops, moving slowly in clouds of dust.

In the limpid morning light buzzards were already soaring over the
green fields; the fresh odour of wild flowers came blowing in at
the open car window; butterflies fluttered, wind-driven, helpless.

And now they were passing mounds of freshly turned red earth--long
stretches of hillocks banked high and squared at the ends.
Hundreds of negroes were at work sodding them; here and there a
flag fluttered and a bayonet gleamed.

"I believe all these little hills and ditches have something to do
with forts," said Ailsa.  "Certainly that great mound must be part
of a fort.  Do you see the cannon?"

Letty nodded, wide-eyed.  And now they were passing soldiers on
every road, at every bridge, along every creek bank.

Squads of them, muskets shining, marched briskly along beside the
railroad track; sentinels stood at every culvert, every flag house,
every water tank and local station past which they rolled without
stopping.  Acres of white tents flashed into view; houses and negro
cabins became thicker; brick houses, too, appeared at intervals,
then half-finished blocks fronting the dusty roads, then rows and
lines of dwellings, and street after street swarming with negroes
and whites.  And before they realised it they had arrived.

They descended from the car amid a pandemonium of porters, hackmen,
soldiers, newsboys, distracted fellow-passengers, locomotives
noisily blowing off steam, baggagemen trundling and slamming trunks
about; and stood irresolute and confused.

"Could you direct us to the offices of the Sanitary Commission?"
asked Ailsa of a passing soldier wearing the insignia of the
hospital service on his sleeve.

"You bet I can, ladies!  Are you nurses?"

"Yes," said Ailsa, smiling.

"Bully for you," said the boy; "step right this way, Sanitary.  One
moment----"

He planted himself before a bawling negro hack driver and began to
apply injurious observations to him, followed by terrible threats
if he didn't take these "Sanitary Ladies" to the headquarters of
the Commission.

"I'm going up that way, too," he ended, "and I'm going to sit on
the box with you, and I'll punch your nose off if you charge my
Sanitary Ladies more than fifty cents!"

And escorted in this amazing manner, cinder-smeared, hot, rumpled,
and very tired, Ailsa Paige and Letty Lynden entered the
unspeakably dirty streets of the Capital of their country and
turned into the magnificent squalor of Pennsylvania Avenue which
lay, flanked by ignoble architecture, straight and wide and hazy
under its drifting golden dust from the great unfinished dome of
the Capitol to the Corinthian colonnade of the Treasury.  Their
negro drove slowly; their self-constituted escort, legs crossed,
cap over one impish eye, lolled on the box, enjoying the drive.

Past them sped a company of cavalry in blue and yellow, bouncing
considerably in their saddles, red faces very dusty under their
tightly strapped caps, sabres and canteens jangling like an
unexpected avalanche of tin-ware in a demoralised pantry.

"Go it, young 'uns!" cried their soldier escort from the box,
waving his hand patronisingly.  He also saluted an officer in
spectacles as "Bully boy with a glass eye," and later informed
another officer in a broad yellow sash that he was "the cheese."
All of which painfully mortified the two young nurses of Sainte
Ursula, especially when passing the fashionably-dressed throng
gathered in front of the Willard and promenading Lafayette Square.

"Oh, dear," said Ailsa, "I suppose he's only a boy, but I didn't
know soldiers were permitted to be so impudent.  What on earth do
all these people think of us?"

Letty, who had been mischievously amused and inclined to enjoy it,
looked very grave as the boy, after a particularly outrageous jibe
at a highly respectable old gentleman, turned and deliberately
winked at his "Sanitary Ladies."

"That's old hoss Cameron," he said.  "I made such a mug at the old
terrapin that he'll never be able to recognise my face."

"The--the Secretary of War!" gasped Ailsa.

"You very wicked little boy, don't you dare to make another face at
anybody!--or I'll--I'll report your conduct to--to the Sanitary
Commission!"

"Oh, come!" he said blankly, "don't do that, lady!  They'll raise
hell with me, if you do.  I want to get hunky with the Sanitary
boss."

"Then behave yourself!" said Ailsa, furious; "and don't you dare to
swear again.  Do you hear?"

"Yes, ma'am--I will--I won't, I mean.  And if I see that old
mudsill, Simon Cameron, I'll take off my cap to him, b'gosh!"

It was an anxious and subdued soldier who showed them the door of
the Commission's office, and stood at attention, saluting carefully
as the ladies passed him.

"You won't peach, will you?" he whispered loudly, as Ailsa stopped
to pay the driver.

"No, I won't--this time," she said, smiling, "if you promise to be
a very good soldier hereafter."

He promised fervidly.  He happened to be on duty at headquarters,
and the fear of the Commission had been driven into him deep.  So
she and Letty entered the door with a stream of people who
evidently had business with the officials of the American Sanitary
Commission; and a very amiable young man received them in their
turn, took their papers, examined their credentials, nodded
smilingly, and directed them to a small boarding-house on F Street,
where, he explained, they had better remain until further orders.

There had been some desultory fighting in Virginia, he said, also
there were a great many sick soldiers in the army.

Perhaps, added the young man, they would be sent to one of the city
hospitals, but the chances were that they would be ordered directly
to a field hospital.  In that case their transportation would be by
army waggon or ambulance, or the Commission might send one of its
own mule-drawn conveyances.  At any rate, they had better rest and
not worry, because as long as the Commission had sent for them, the
Commission certainly needed them, and would see that they arrived
safely at their destination.

Which turned out to be a perfectly true prophecy; for after a
refreshing bath in their boarding-house quarters, and a grateful
change of linen, and an early supper, a big, bony cavalryman came
clanking to their door, saying that a supply train was leaving for
the South, and that an ambulance of the Sanitary Commission was
waiting for them in front of the house.

The night was fearfully hot; scarcely a breath of dir stirred as
their ambulance creaked put toward the river.

The Long Bridge, flanked by its gate houses, loomed up in the dusk;
and:

"Halt!  Who goes there?"

"Friends with the countersign."

"Dismount one and advance with the countersign!"

And the Sergeant of cavalry dismounted and moved forward; there was
a low murmur; then: "Pass on, Sanitary!"

A few large and very yellow stars looked down from the blackness
above; under the wheels the rotten planking and worn girders of the
Long Bridge groaned and complained and sagged.

Ailsa, looking out from under the skeleton hood, behind her, saw
other waggons following, loaded heavily with hospital supplies and
baggage, escorted by the cavalrymen, who rode as though exhausted,
yellow trimmed shell jackets unbuttoned exposing sweat-soaked
undershirts, caps pushed back on their perspiring heads.

Letty, lying on a mattress, had fallen asleep.  Ailsa, scarcely
able to breathe in the heavy heat, leaned panting against the
framework, watching the darkness.

It seemed to be a little cooler on the Virginia side after they had
passed the General Hospital, and had gone forward through the
deserted city of Alexandria.  About a mile beyond a slight
freshness, scarcely a breeze, stirred Ailsa's hair.   The driver
said to her, pointing at a shadowy bulk with his whip-stock:

"That's the Marshall House, where Colonel Ellsworth was killed.
God help their 'Tigers' if the Fire Zouaves ever git at 'em."

She looked at the unlighted building in silence.  Farther on the
white tents of a Pennsylvania regiment loomed gray under the stars;
beyond them the sentinels were zouaves of an Indiana regiment,
wearing scarlet fezzes.

Along the road, which for a while paralleled the Orange and
Alexandria Railroad, cavalry vedettes sat their horses, carbine on
thigh.  No trains passed the embankment; once she saw, on a
weed-grown siding, half a dozen locomotives apparently intact; but
no fire burned in their furnaces, no smoke curled from their huge
drumhead stacks; and on the bell frame of one an owl was sitting.

And now, between a double line of ditches, where a battalion of
engineers lay asleep in their blankets, the road entered the pine
woods.

Ailsa slept fitfully, but the far challenge and the halting of the
waggon usually awoke her in darkness feebly lit by the rays of a
candle-set lantern, swung up inquiringly by the corporal of some
guard.  And, "Pass forward, Sanitary!" was the invariable formula;
and the ambulance rolled on again between a double abattis of
fallen trees, flanked on either horizon by tall, quiet pines.

Once she heard singing; a small company of cavalry-men straggled
by, and, seeing their long lances and their Belgian forage caps,
she leaned out and asked what regiment it might be.  Somebody
answered: "Escort Squad of Rankin's Lancers, 1st United States.
Our regiment is in Detroit, Miss, and thank God we're going back
there."

And they rode on toward Washington, singing their monotonous "Do
They Miss Me at Home" song, till she lost them against the darkness
of the distant woods, and dropped back to her bed of shawls and
blankets once more.

After midnight she slept, and it was only the noise the driver made
pulling the canvas cover of the frame above her that awakened her,
and she sat up, half frozen, in a fine fog that became a drizzle
soon after the cover was up.

"The sunny South," observed the driver in disgust.  "Yesterday the
thermometer stood at 105 in Washington, and now look at this here
weather, lady."

Day broke, bitter cold; it was raining heavily; but soon after
sunrise the rain slackened, the fog grew thinner, and the air
warmer.  Slowly the sun appeared, at first only a dazzling blot
through the smother, then brassy, glittering, flooding the chilled
earth with radiance.

Through steaming fields, over thickets, above woods, the vapours
were rising, disclosing a shining and wet world, sweet and fresh in
its early autumn beauty.

The road to Fairfax Court House was deep in red mud, set with
runnels and pools of gold reflecting corners of blue sky.  Through
it slopped mules and horses and wheels, sending splashes of spray
and red mud over the roadside bushes.  A few birds sang; overhead
sailed and circled hundreds of buzzards, the sun gilding their
upcurled wing tips as they sheered the tree-tops.

And now, everywhere over the landscape soldiers were visible,
squads clothed only in trousers and shirts, marching among the oaks
and magnolias with pick and shovel; squads carrying saws and axes
and chains.  A little farther on a wet, laurel-bordered road into
the woods was being corduroyed; here they were bridging the lazy
and discoloured waters of a creek, there erecting log huts.  Hammer
strokes rang from half-cleared hillsides, where some regiment,
newly encamped, was busily flooring its tents; the blows of axes
sounded from the oak woods; and Ailsa could see great trees
bending, slowly slanting, then falling with a rippling crash of
smashed branches.

The noises in the forest awoke Letty.  Whimpering sleepily, but
warm under the shawls which Ailsa had piled around her, she sat up
rubbing her dark eyes; then, with a little quick-drawn breath of
content, took Ailsa's hand.

The driver said: "It's them gallus lumbermen from some o' the Maine
regiments clearing the ground.  They're some with the axe.
Yonder's the new fort the Forty Thieves is building."

"The--what?" asked Ailsa, perplexed.

"Fortieth New York Infantry, ma'am.  The army calls 'em the Forty
Thieves, they're that bright at foraging, flag or no flag!
Chickens, pigs, sheep--God knows they're a light-fingered lot; but
their colonel is one of the best officers in the land.  Why
shouldn't they be a good fat regiment, with their haversacks full
o' the best, when half the army feeds on tack and sow-belly, and
the other half can't git that!"

The driver, evidently nearing his destination, became
confidentially loquacious.

"Yonder's Fort Elsworth, ladies!  It's hid by the forest, but it's
there, you bet!  If you ladies could climb up one o' them big
pines, you'd see the line of forts and trenches in a half-moon from
the Chain Bridge at Georgetown to Alexandria, and you'd see the
seminary in its pretty park, and, belike, Gineral McClellan in the
chapel cupola, a-spying through his spy-glass what deviltry them
rebel batteries is hatching on the hill over yonder."

"Are the rebels _there_?"

"Yes'm.  Little Mac, he lets 'em stay there till he's good 'n'
ready to gobble 'em."

Ailsa and Letty stared at the bluish hill, the top of which just
showed above the forest.

A young soldier of engineers, carrying a bundle of axes, came along
the road, singing in a delightful tenor voice the hymn, "Arise, My
Soul, Arise!"  He glanced admiringly at Ailsa, then at Letty, as
the ambulance drove by, but his song did not falter; and far away
they heard him singing gloriously through the autumn woods.

Presently a brigade medical officer rode up, signalling the driver
to stop, with his gloved hand.

"Where do you come from, ladies--the General Hospital at
Alexandria?"

Ailsa explained.

"That's good," he said emphatically; "the brigade hospitals are
short handed.  We need experienced nurses badly."  And he pointed
across the fields toward a hillside where a group of farm-houses
and barns stood.  A red flag napped darkly against the sky from the
cupola of a barn.

"Is that the hospital?" asked Ailsa, noticing some ambulances
parked near by.

"Yes, madam.  You will report to Dr. West." He looked at them for a
second, shook his head thoughtfully, then saluted and wheeled his
horse.

"Pass on, Sanitary!" he added to the driver.

There was a deeply rutted farm road across the fields, guarded by
gates which now hung wide open.  Through these the supply waggons
and the Commission ambulance rolled, followed slowly by the
rain-soaked troopers of the escort.

In front of one of the outhouses a tall, bald-headed, jolly-faced
civilian stood in his checked shirt sleeves, washing bloody hands
in a tin basin.  To Ailsa's question he answered:

"I'm Dr. Hammond of the Sanitary Commission.  Dr. West is in the
wards.  Very glad you came, Mrs. Paige; very glad, indeed, Miss
Lynden.  Here's an orderly who'll show you your quarters--can't
give you more than one room and one bed.  You'll get breakfast in
that house over there, as soon as it's ready.  After that come back
here to me.  There's plenty to do," he added grimly; "we're just
sending fifty patients to Alexandria, and twenty-five to
Washington.  Oh, yes, there's plenty to do--plenty to do in this
God-forsaken land.  And, it isn't battles that are keeping us busy."


No, it was not battles that kept the doctors, nurses, and details
for the ambulance corps busy at the front that first autumn and
winter in Virginia.  Few patients required the surgeon, few wounded
were received, victims of skirmish or sharpshooting or of their own
comrades' carelessness.  But unwounded patients were arriving
faster and faster from the corduroy road squads, from the outposts
in the marshy forests, from the pickets' hovels on the red-mud
banks of the river, from chilly rifle pits and windy hill camps,
from the trenches along Richmond Turnpike, from the stockades at
Fairfax.  And there seemed no end of them.  Hundreds of regimental
hospital tents, big affairs, sixty feet long by forty wide, were
always full.  The hospitals at Alexandria, Kalorama, the Columbia,
and the Stone Mansion, took the overflow, or directed it to
Washington, Philadelphia, and the North.

In one regiment alone, the Saratoga Regiment, the majority of the
men were unfit for duty.  In one company only twelve men could be
mustered for evening parade.  Typhoid, pneumonia, diphtheria,
spotted fever were doing their work in the raw, unacclimated
regiments.  Regimental medical officers were exhausted.

Two steady streams of human beings, flowing in opposite directions,
had set in with the autumn; the sick, going North, the new
regiments arriving from the North to this vast rendezvous, where a
great organizer of men was welding together militia and volunteers,
hammering out of the raw mass something, that was slowly beginning
to resemble an army.

Through the wards of their hospital Ailsa and Letty saw the
unbroken column of the sick pass northward or deathward; from their
shuttered window they beheld endless columns arriving--cavalry,
infantry, artillery, engineers, all seeking their allotted fields
or hillsides, which presently blossomed white with tents and grew
blue and hazy with the smoke of camp fires.

All day long, rain or sun, the landscape swarmed with men and
horses; all day long bugle answered bugle from hill to hill; drums
rattled at dawn and evening; the music from regimental and brigade
bands was almost constant, saluting the nag at sunset, or, with
muffled drums, sounding for the dead, or crashing out smartly at
guard-mount, or, on dress parade, playing the favorite, "Evening
Bells."

Leaning on her window ledge when off duty, deadly tired, Ailsa
would listen dully to the near or distant strains, wondering at the
strangeness of her life; wondering what it all was coming to.

But if life was strange, it was also becoming very real and very
full as autumn quickened into winter, and the fever waxed fiercer
in every regiment.

Life gave her now scant time for brooding--scarce time for thought
at all.  There were no other women at the Farm Hospital except the
laundresses.  Every regiment in the newly formed division encamped
in the vicinity furnished one man from each company for hospital
work; and from this contingent came their only relief.

But work was what Ailsa needed, and what Letty needed, too.  It
left them no chance to think of themselves, no leisure for
self-pity, no inclination for it in the dreadful daily presence of
pestilence and death.

So many, many died; young men, mostly.  So many were sent away,
hopelessly broken, and very, very young.  And there was so much to
do--so much!--instruments and sponges and lint to hold for
surgeons; bandages, iced compresses, medicines to hand to
physicians; and there were ghastly faces to be washed, and filthy
bodies to be cleansed, and limp hands to be held, and pillows to be
turned, and heads to be lifted.  And there were letters to be
written for sick boys and dying boys and dead boys; there was tea
and lemonade and whisky and wine to be measured out and given;
there was broth to be ordered and tasted and watched, delicacies to
be prepared; clothing to be boiled; inventories to be made of
dwindling medical supplies and of fresh stores to be ordered or
unpacked from the pyramids of muddy boxes and barrels in the courts.

There was also the daily need of food and a breath of fresh air;
and there were, sometimes, letters to read, None came to Ailsa from
Berkley.  No letters came to Letty at all, except from Dr. Benton,
who wrote, without any preliminary explanation of why he wrote at
all, once every fortnight with absolute regularity.

What he had to say in his letters Ailsa never knew, for Letty, who
had been touched and surprised by the first one and had read it
aloud to Ailsa, read no more of the letters which came to her from
Dr. Benton.  And Ailsa asked her nothing.

Part of Colonel Arran's regiment of lancers was now in
Washington--or near it, encamped to the east of Meridian Hill, in a
field beyond Seventh Street--at least these were the careful
directions for posting letters given her by Captain Hallam, who
wrote her cheerfully and incessantly; and in every letter he
declared himself with a patient and cordial persistence that
perhaps merited something more enthusiastic than Ailsa's shy and
brief replies.

Colonel Arran had been to see her twice at her hospital that
winter; he seemed grayer, bigger than ever in his tight blue and
yellow cavalry uniform; and on both occasions he had spoken of
Berkley, and had absently questioned her; and after both visits she
had lain awake, her eyes wide in the darkness, the old pain
stirring dully in her breast.  But in the duties of the morning she
forgot sorrow, forgot hope, and found strength and peace in a duty
that led her ever amid the shadows of pain and death.

Once Hallam obtained leave, and made the journey to the Farm
Hospital; but it had been a hard day for her, and she could
scarcely keep awake to talk to him.  He was very handsome, very
bronzed, very eager and determined as a wooer; and she did not
understand just how it happened, but suddenly the world's misery
and her own loneliness overwhelmed her, and she broke down for the
first time.  And when Captain Hallam went lightly away about his
business, and she lay on her mattress beside Letty, she could feel,
furtively, a new jewel on the third finger of her left hand, and
fell asleep, wondering what she had done, and why--too tired to
really care.


The sick continued to drift North; new regiments continued to
arrive; the steady, tireless welding of the army was going on all
around her, night and day; and the clamour of it filled the sky.

Celia Craig wrote her and sent her boxes for herself; but the
contents of the parcels went to her sick men.  Camilla wrote her
and requested information concerning Stephen, who was, it appeared,
very lax in correspondence; but Ailsa had not heard from Colonel
Craig since the 3rd Zouaves left Fortress Monroe, and she had no
information for either Celia or Camilla.

Christmas boxes for the hospital began to arrive early; presents
came to Ailsa from Colonel Arran, from Hallam, from Celia and
Camilla,

Letty had only one gift, a beautiful watch and chain from Dr.
Benton; and Ailsa, going up to undress for a short sleep before
supper, found the girl sitting with the little timepiece in her
hand, crying silently all to herself.

"Why, dear!" she exclaimed, "what in the world is the trouble?" and
put both arms around her.  But Letty only laid her head against
Ailsa's breast, and sobbed anew, uncomforted.

"Won't you tell me what is wrong?" urged Ailsa, mystified.

"Yes . . .  _I_ am . . .  Don't pay attention to what I say, Mrs.
Paige.  You--you like me, don't you?"

"I love you, dear,"

"Please--do.  I am--very unhappy."

"You are only tired out.  Listen; don't the wards look pretty with
all the laurel and evergreens and ribbons!  Our poor boys will have
something to remind them of Christmas. . . .  I--do you know that
young Langley is dead?"

"Yes--I helped him--die.  Yesterday Dr. West seemed to think he
would get well.  But Hammond couldn't stop the gangrene, and he cut
him almost to pieces.  Oh--I'm very, very miserable--my boys die so
fast--so fast----"

"You mustn't be miserable on Christmas Eve!  I won't let you be
silly!"

"I'm gay enough in the wards," said Letty listlessly; "I've got to
be.  Can't I cry a little in my own room?"

"No, we haven't time to cry," said Ailsa decisively.  "Lie down
beside me and go to sleep.  Flannery has promised to wake us in
time for supper."

"I can't get Langley's terrible face out of my mind," whimpered
Letty, cuddling close to Ailsa, as they lay in bed in the wintry
darkness.  "It was all drawn up on one side."

"But coma had set in," said Ailsa gently.  "You know, he wasn't
suffering when he died. . . .  You'll write to his mother, won't
you, dear?  Or shall I?"

"I will. . . .  She wanted to come, you remember, but she's
bedridden. . . .  Her only son. . . .  Yes, I'll write . . .  I
think Peterson is going to die, next----"

"But Levy is getting well," interrupted Ailsa.

"Stop it, Letty dear!  I won't let you become morbid.  Think of
your beautiful watch!  Think of dear Dr. Benton." "I--I am," gasped
Letty, and fell to crying again until she sobbed herself to sleep
in Ailsa's tired arms.


Supper was spread in Dr. West's private office; Hallam had obtained
leave, and Ailsa expected him; Colonel Arran was in Washington and
could not come, but the company was to be a small one at
best--Ailsa, Letty Lynden, Dr. West, Dr. Hammond, and Hallam were
all who had been expected for Christmas Eve supper.

They waited for Hallam until Dr. West decided to wait no longer,
saying that he was either stuck in the mud somewhere or had been
detailed for duty unexpectedly.

So Ailsa lighted the Christmas candles, and the two young women in
their fresh gray garbs, and the two civilian doctors in clean
clothes, sat down before a rather thin roasted turkey.  But the
bird proved tender and juicy, and it was beautifully cooked; and a
glass of wine sent the colour into Letty's pale cheeks, and
straightened Ailsa's drooping neck.

Candles, laurel branches, evergreens, bits of red ribbon, and flags
made the office very gay and attractive.  Dr. West rose and
delivered an unexpected speech, complimenting the ladies and
praising their skill and devotion; then dinner began, and Dr.
Hammond told about an intensely interesting operation, which made
the negro waiter turn almost white.

"Christmas comes but once a year!" cried jolly Dr. Hammond, warming
up.  "Let's be merry!" And he told about another operation even
more wonderful than the first; and Letty, catching a glimpse of the
negro's wildly rolling eyes, threw back her head and laughed.  It
was the first genuine laughter of the evening, and rested everybody.

A few moments later there came a jingle of metal from outside, and
Hallam walked in, his wonderfully handsome face aglow, and plenty
of red mud frozen on his boots.

"I've a green orderly outside.  Where can I stow him?" he asked,
shaking hands and exchanging preliminary Christmas greetings all
around.

"I'll attend to him," said Ailsa, flushed and a little shy as she
felt the significant pressure of Hallam's hand and saw him glance
at her ring.

"No," he insisted, "I'll see to him myself, if you'll tell me where
he can put the horses and find some supper."

"Poor fellow," said Ailsa.  "Tell him to stable the horses in the
new barn, and go to the kitchen.  Wait a moment, Captain Hallam,
I'd rather do it myself!"  And she turned lightly and ran out to
the dark porch.

The trooper holding Hallam's horse: sat his own saddle, wrapped to
the eyes in his heavy overcoat, long lance with its drooping pennon
slanting stiffly athwart the wintry wilderness of stars.

"Soldier!" she called gently from the porch.  "Stable, blanket, and
feed; then come back to the kitchen, and there will be a good hot
dinner waiting."

The cavalryman slowly turned his head at the sound of her voice.
And, as he made no movement to obey:

"There is the stable over there," she said, pointing across the
frozen field. "Follow that gate path.  There's a lantern in the
barn."

An orderly, passing, added:

"Come on, lancer.  I'm going to the barn myself;" and very slowly
the trooper turned both tired horses and walked them away into the
darkness.

When she returned to the table there was considerable laughter over
a story chat Hallam had been telling.  He jumped up, seated Ailsa,
hovered over her for a second with just a suspicion of proprietary
air which made her blush uncomfortably.  Talking had become
general, but everybody noted it, and Letty's eyes grew wide and
velvety, and the blood was making her cheeks and lips very pink.

Dr. West said: "The new regiment on Pine Knob was recruited from
the Bowery.  I happened to be with Kemp, their surgeon, when sick
call sounded, and I never saw such a line of impudent, ruffianly
malingerers as filed before Kemp.  One, I am convinced, had
deliberately shot off his trigger finger; but it couldn't be
proven, and he'll get his discharge.  Another, a big, hulking
brute, all jaw and no forehead, came up and looked insolently at
Kemp.

"Kemp said: 'Well, what's the matter with you?' "'Aw,' said the
soldier, with a leer, 'I've got de lapsy-palls, and I wanter go to
de horspittle, I do.'

"I never saw such a mad man as Kemp was.

"'So you've got the lapsy-palls, have you?'

"'Bet yer boots, I have.'

"'_And_ you want to go to the hospital?'

"Aw--w'ats der matter wit youse, Doc.?'

"And Kemp gave him a bang on the eye with his fist, and another on
the nose, and then began to hit him so quickly that the fellow
reeled, about, yelling for mercy.

"'Sure cure for the lapsy-palls,' said Kemp; and, turning his glare
on the rest of the shivering line: 'Anybody else got 'em?' he asked
briskly.

"At that a dozen big brutes sneaked out of the line and hurriedly
decamped; and I don't think that disease is going to be popular in
that regiment."

A shout of laughter greeted the story.  All present had seen too
many instances of malingering not to appreciate Surgeon Kemp's cure
for a disease which never existed.

A plum pudding was brought on and set afire.  Ailsa poured the
burning sauce over and over it.  Dr. Hammond got up and threw some
more pine logs on the fire.  Huge shadows rose up and danced in the
ruddy light, as the candles burned lower.  Then Dr. West began
another story, but was checked by the appearance of a hospital
steward:

"Davis, Ward A, No. 3, is very bad, sir."

"Going?"

"Yes, sir."

The doctor bent above the table, took a hasty spoonful of pudding,
nodded to the company, and went out.

"Speaking of malingerers," began Hammond, "I saw the Colonel of the
forty Thieves put down in a most amusing manner the day before Bull
Run.  Shall I tell it?  It involves some swearing."

Ailsa laughed.  "Proceed, Dr. Hammond.  Do you think Miss Lynden
and I have been deaf since we arrived at the front?"

"Does anybody in this hospital use bad language?" demanded the
doctor sharply.

"Not to us," said Ailsa, smiling.  "But there's an army just
outside the windows.  Go on with your story, please."

"Well, then," said the jolly surgeon, "I was talking with Colonel
Riley, when up walks the most honest-looking soldier I think I ever
saw; and he gazed straight into the Colonel's eyes as he saluted.
He wanted a furlough, it appeared, to go to New York and see his
dying wife.

"Riley said: 'Is she very sick?'

"'Yes, Colonel.'

"'You have a letter: saying she is very sick?'

"'Yes, Colonel.'

"'Well, _I_ also have a letter from your wife.  I wanted to make
certain about all the applications for furlough you have been
making, so I wrote her.'

"'Yes, Colonel.'

"'And she says that she is perfectly well, and does not want you to
come home!'

"The soldier smiled.

"'Did you write a letter to my wife, Colonel?'

"'I did."

"'Did my wife write to you?'

"'She did.  And what do you mean by coming here to me with a lie
about your sick wife!  Have you anything to say to that?'

"'Yes, Colonel.'

"'Then say it!'

"'Well, Colonel, all I have to say is that there are two of the
damnedest, biggest liars that ever lived, right here in this
regiment!'

"'What!'

"The soldier grinned.

"'I'm not married at all,' he said, 'and I'm the biggest liar--and
you can ask the boys who the damnedest liar is.'"

When the merriment and laughter had subsided, Hallam told another
story rather successfully; then Hammond told another.  Then Dr.
West returned; the tiny Christmas tree, cut in the forest, and
loaded with beribboned cakes and sticks of chocolate and a few
presents tied in tissue-paper, was merrily despoiled.

Ailsa and Letty had worked slippers for the two doctors, greatly
appreciated by them, apparently; Hallam had some embroidered
handkerchiefs from Ailsa, and she received a chain and locket from
him--and refrained from opening the locket, although everybody
already had surmised that their engagement was a fact.

Letty sent an orderly for her guitar, and sang very sweetly an
old-fashioned song:

  "When the moonlight
  Shines bright
  Silvery bright on the sea."

Ailsa sang "Aileen Aroon," and "Oft in the Stilly Night," and
everybody, later, sang "The Poor Old Soldier."

The fire glowed red in the chimney; gigantic shadows wavered on
wall and ceiling; and, through the Christmas candles dimly burning,
the branches of the little evergreen spread, laden with cake and
candy.

"They're to have a tree in every ward to-morrow," said Ailsa,
turning toward Hallam.  Her eyes smiled, but her voice was
spiritless.  A tinge of sadness had somehow settled over the
festivity; Hammond was staring at the fire, chin in hand; West
sipped his wine reflectively; Letty's idle fingers touched her
guitar at intervals, as her dark eyes rested on Ailsa and Hallam.

Hallam had found in camp a copy of a Southern newspaper; and,
thinking it might amuse the company to read it, produced it.
Ailsa, looking over his shoulder, noticed a poem called
"Christmas," printed on the first page.

"Read it aloud," he said, laughing.  "Let's hear what sort of
Christmas poetry the Johnnies produce."

So, after smilingly scanning the first lines, she began, aloud; but
her face had grown very grave, and her low voice thrilled them as
she became conscious of the deeper sadness of the verse.

    "How grace this Hallowed Day?
  Shall happy bells from yonder ancient spire
  Send their glad greetings to each Christmas fire
    Round which our children play?

    "How shall we grace the Day?
  With feast and song and dance and homely sport,
  And shout of happy children in the court,
    And tales of ghost and fay?

    "Is there indeed a door
  Where the old pastimes with their joyful noise
  And all the merry round of Christmas joys
    Can enter as of yore?

    "Would not some pallid face
  Look in upon the banquet, calling up
  Dread shapes of battle in the Christmas cup,
    And trouble all the place?

    "How can we hear the mirth
  While some loved reveller of a year ago
  Keeps his mute Christmas now beneath the snow,
    In cold Virginia earth--"

Her voice suddenly broke; she laughed, slightly hysterical, the
tears glittering in her eyes.

"I--c-can't--read it, somehow. . . .  Forgive me, everybody, I
think I'm--tired----"

"Nerves," said West cheerily.  "It'll all come right in a moment,
Mrs. Paige.  Go up and sit by Davis for a while.  He's going fast."

Curious advice, yet good for her.  And Ailsa rose and fled; but a
moment later, seated at the side of the dying man, all thought of
self vanished in the silent tragedy taking place before her.

"Davis?" she whispered.

The man opened his sunken eyes as the sleepy steward rose, gave his
bedside chair to Ailsa, and replaced the ominous screen.

"I am here, Private Davis," she said cheerily, winking away the
last tear drop.

Then the man sighed deeply, rested his thin cheek against her hand,
and lay very, very still.

At midnight he died as he lay.  She scarcely realised it at first.
And when at length she did, she disengaged her chilled hand, closed
his eyes, drew the covering over his face, and, stepping from
behind the screen, motioned to the steward on duty.

Descending the stairs, her pale, pensive glance rested on the
locket flashing on its chain over the scarlet heart sewn on her
breast.  Somehow, at thought of Hallam waiting for her below, she
halted on the stairway, one finger twisted in the gold chain.  And
presently the thought of Hallam reminded her of the trooper and the
hot dinner she had promised the poor fellow.  Had the cook been
kind to him?

She hastened downstairs, passed the closed door of the improvised
dining-room, traversed the hall to the porch, and, lifting the
skirts of her gray garb, sped across the frozen yards to the
kitchen.

The cook had gone; fire smouldered in the range; and a single
candle guttered in its tin cup on the table.

Beside it, seated on a stool, elbows planted on both knees, face
buried in his spread fingers, sat the lancer, apparently asleep.

She cast a rapid glance at the table.  The remains of the food
satisfied her that he had had his hot dinner.  Once more she
glanced at him, and then started to withdraw on tiptoe.

And he raised his head; and she gazed into the face of Berkley.

Neither stirred, although in the shock of discovery she felt that
she would drop where she stood.  Then, instinctively, she reached
for the table's edge, rested against it, hand clutching it,
fascinated eyes never leaving his face.

He got up leisurely, walked toward her, made an abrupt turn and
faced her again from the window recess, leaning back against the
closed wooden shutters.

Her heart was beating too rapidly for her to speak; she tried to
straighten her shoulders, lift her head.  Both sank, and she looked
down blindly through the throbbing silence.

Berkley spoke first; but she could not answer him.  Then he said,
again, lightly:

"A woman's contempt is a bitter thing; but they say we thrive best
on bitter medicine.  Do you wish me to go, Ailsa?  If so, where?
I'll obey with alacrity."

She raised her dazed eyes.

"W-was that _you_, with Captain Hallam's horse--there in the
starlight--when I spoke?"

"Yes.  Didn't you know me?"

"No.  Did you know _me_?"

"Of course.  I nearly fell out of my saddle."

She strove hard to collect herself.

"How did you know it was I?"

"How?"  He laughed a short, mirthless laugh.  "I knew your voice.
Why shouldn't I know it?"

"Did--had anybody told you I was here?"

"No.  Who is there to tell me anything?"

"Nobody wrote you?--or telegraphed?"

He laughed again.  "Nobody has my address."

"And you never--received--receive--letters?"

"Who would write to me?  No, I never receive letters.  Why do you
ask?"

She was silent.

He waited a moment, then said coolly: "If you actually have any
interest in what I'm doing--" and broke off with a shrug.  At which
she raised her eyes, waiting for him to go on.

"I went into an unattached company--The Westchester Horse--and some
fool promised us incorporation with the 1st Cavalry and quick
service.  But the 1st filled up without us and went off.  And a
week ago we were sent off from White Plains Camp as K Company
to"--he bit his lip and stared at her--"to--your friend Colonel
Arran's regiment of lancers.  We took the oath.  Our captain,
Hallam, selected me for his escort to-night.  That is the simple
solution of my being here.  I didn't sneak down here to annoy you.
I didn't know you were here."

After a moment she raised her pallid face.

"Have you seen Colonel Arran?"

"No," he said shortly.

"I--it would give me--pleasure--to recommend you to his--attention.
May I write----"

"Thank you, no."

There was another painful interval of silence.  Then:

"May I speak to Captain Hallam about you?"

"No, thank you!" he said contemptuously, "I am currying no favours."

Hurt, she shrank away, and the blood mounted to her temples.

"You see," he said, "I'm just a plain brute, and there's no use
being kind to me."  He added in a lower voice, but deliberately:
"You once found out that."

She quivered and straightened up.

"Yes," she said, "I found that out.  I have paid very dearly for
my--my--" But she could not continue.

Watching her, cap hanging in his gauntleted hand, he saw the colour
deepen and deepen in neck and cheek, saw her eyes falter, and turn
from him.

"Is there any forgiveness for me?" he said.  "I didn't ask it
before--because I've still some sense of the ludicrous left in
me--or did have.  It's probably gone now, since I've asked if it is
in you to pardon--"  He shrugged again, deeming it useless; and she
made no sign of comprehension.

For a while he stood, looking down at his cap, turning it over and
over, thoughtfully.

"Well, then, Ailsa, you are very kind to offer what you did offer.
But--I don't like Colonel Arran," he added with a sneer, "and I
haven't any overwhelming admiration for Captain Hallam.  And there
you are, with your kindness and gentleness and--everything--utterly
wasted on a dull, sordid brute who had already insulted you
once. . . .  Shall I leave your kitchen?"

"No," she said faintly.  "I am going."

He offered to open the door for her, but she opened it herself,
stood motionless, turned, considered him, head high and eyes steady;

"You have killed in me, this night--this Christmas night--something
that can never again l-live in me.  Remember that in the years to
come."

"I'm sorry," he said.  "That's the second murder I've attempted.
The other was your soul."

Her eyes flashed.

"Even murderers show some remorse--some regret----"

"I do regret," he said deliberately, "that I didn't kill it. . . .
You would have loved me then."

She turned white as death, then, walking slowly up in front of him:

"You lie!" she said in even tones.

Confronted, never stirring, their eyes met; and in the cold,
concentrated fury which possessed her she set her small teeth and
stared at him, rigid, menacing, terrible in her outraged pride.

After a while he stirred; a quiver twitched his set features.

"Nevertheless--" he said, partly to himself.  Then, drawing a long
breath, he turned, unhooked his sabre from a nail where it hung,
buckled his belt, picked up the lance which stood slanting across a
chair, shook out the scarlet, swallow-tailed pennon, and walked
slowly toward the door--and met Letty coming in.

"Mrs. Paige," she said, "we couldn't imagine what had become of
you--" and glancing inquiringly at Berkley, started, and uttered a
curious little cry:

"You!"

"Yes," he said, smiling through his own astonishment.

"Oh!" she cried with a happy catch in her voice, and held out both
hands to him; and he laid aside his lance and took them, laughing
down into the velvet eyes.  And he saw the gray garb of Sainte
Ursula that she wore, saw the scarlet heart on her breast, and
laughed again--a kindly, generous, warm-hearted laugh; but there
was a little harmless malice glimmering in his eyes.

"Wonderful--wonderful, Miss Lynden"--he had never before called her
Miss Lynden--"I am humbly overcome in the presence of Holy Sainte
Ursula embodied in you.  How on earth did old Benton ever permit
you to escape?  He wrote me most enthusiastically about you before
I--ahem--left town."

"Why didn't you let me know where you were going?" asked Letty with
a reproachful simplicity that concentrated Ailsa's amazed attention
on her, for she had been looking scornfully at Berkley.

"Why--you are very kind, Miss Lynden, but I, myself, didn't know
where I was going."

"I--I wanted to write you," began Letty; and suddenly remembered
Ailsa's presence and turned, shyly:

"Mrs. Paige," she said, "this private soldier is Mr. Berkley--a
gentleman.  May I be permitted to present him to you?"

And there, while the tragic and comic masks grinned side by side,
and the sky and earth seemed unsteadily grinning above and under
her feet, Ailsa Paige suffered the mockery of the presentation;
felt the terrible irony of it piercing her; felt body and senses
swaying there in the candle-light; heard Letty's happy voice and
Berkley's undisturbed replies; found courage to speak, to take her
leave; made her way back through a dreadful thickening darkness to
her room, to her bed, and lay there silent, because she could not
weep.



CHAPTER XII

In February the birds sang between flurries of snow; but the end of
the month was warm and lovely, and robins, bluebirds, and cardinals
burst into a torrent of song.  The maples' dainty fire illumined
every swamp; the green thorn turned greener; and the live-oaks
sprouted new leaves amid their olive-tinted winter foliage, ever
green.

Magnolia and laurel grew richer and glossier; azaleas were budding;
dog-wood twigs swelled; and somewhere, in some sheltered hollow, a
spray of jasmine must have been in bloom, because the faint and
exquisite scent haunted all the woodlands.

On the 17th the entire army was paraded by regiments to cheer for
the fall of Fort Donnelson.

About mid-February the Allotment Commission began its splendid work
in camp; and it seemed to Ailsa that the mental relief it brought
to her patients was better than any other medicine--that is, better
for the Union patients; for now there were, also, in the wards, a
number of Confederate wounded, taken at various times during the
skirmishing around Fairfax--quiet, silent, dignified Virginians,
and a few fiery Louisianians, who at first, not knowing what to
expect, scarcely responded to the brusque kindness of the hospital
attendants.

The first Confederate prisoner that Ailsa ever saw was brought in
on a stretcher, a quiet, elderly man in bloody gray uniform,
wearing the stripes of a sergeant.

Prisoners came more often after that.  Ailsa, in her letters to
Celia Craig, had mentioned the presence of Confederate wounded at
the Farm Hospital; and, to her delight and amazement, one day late
in February a Commission ambulance drove up, and out stepped Celia
Craig; and the next instant they were locked tightly in each
other's arms,

"Darling--darling!" sobbed Ailsa, clinging desperately to Celia,
"it is heavenly of you to come.  I was so lonely, so tired and
discouraged.  You won't go away soon, will you? I couldn't bear
it--I want you so--I need you----"

"Hush, Honey-bud!  I reckon I'll stay a while.  I've been a week
with Curt's regiment at Fortress Monroe.  I had my husband to
myse'f fo' days, befo' they sent him to Acquia Creek.  And I've had
my boy a whole week all to myse'f!  Then his regiment went away.
They wouldn't tell me where.'  But God is kinder. . . .  You are
certainly ve'y pale, Honey-bee!"

"I'm well, dearest--really I am, I'll stay well now.  Is Curt all
right?  And Stephen?  And Paige and Marye?--and Camilla?"

"Everybody is well, dear.  Curt is ve'y brown and thin--the dear
fellow!  And Steve is right handsome.  I'm just afraid some pretty
minx--" She laughed and added: "But I won't care if she's a rebel
minx."

"Celia! . . .  And I--I didn't think you liked that word."

"What word, Honey-bell?" very demurely.

"Rebel!"

"Why, I reckon George Washington wore that title without reproach.
It's a ve'y good title--rebel," she added serenely.  "I admire it
enough to wear it myse'f."

Quarters were found for Mrs. Craig.  Letty shyly offered to move,
but Celia wouldn't have it.

"My dear child," she said, "I'm just a useless encumbrance 'round
the house; give me a corner where I may sit and look on and--he'p
everybody by not inte'fering."

Her corner was an adjoining section of the garret, boarded up,
wall-papered, and furnished for those who visited the Farm Hospital
on tour of inspection or to see some sick friend or relative, or
escort some haggard convalescent to the Northern home.

Celia had brought a whole trunkful of fresh gingham clothes and
aprons, and Ailsa could not discover exactly why, until, on the day
following her arrival, she found Celia sitting beside the cot of a
wounded Louisiana Tiger, administering lemonade.

"Dearest," whispered Ailsa that night, "it is very sweet of you to
care for your own people here.  We make no distinction, however,
between Union and Confederate sick; so, dear, you must be very
careful not to express any--sentiments."

Celia laughed.  "I won't express any sentiments, Honey-bee.  I
reckon I'd be drummed out of the Yankee army."  Then, graver: "If
I'm bitter--I'll keep it to myse'f."

"I know, dear. . . .  And--your sympathies would never lead
you--permit you to any--indiscretion."

"You mean in talking--ahem!--treason--to sick Confederates?  I
don't have to, dear."

"And. . .  you must never mention anything concerning what you see
inside our lines.  You understand that, of course, don't you,
darling?"

"I hadn't thought about it," said Celia musingly.

Ailsa added vaguely: "There's always a government detective hanging
around the hospital."

Celia nodded and gazed out of the open window.  Very far away the
purple top of a hill peeped above the forest.  Ailsa had told her
that a Confederate battery was there.  And now she looked at it in
silence, her blue eyes very soft, her lips resting upon one another
in tender, troubled curves.

Somewhere on that hazy hill-top a new flag was flying; soldiers of
a new nation were guarding it, unseen by her.  It was the first
outpost of her own people that she had ever seen; and she looked at
it wistfully, proudly, her soul in her eyes.  All the pain, all the
solicitude, all the anguish of a Southern woman, and a wife of a
Northern man, who had borne him Northern children deepened in her
gaze, till her eyes dimmed and her lids quivered and closed; and
Ailsa's arms tightened around her.

"It is ve'y hard, Honey-bud," was all she said.

She had Dr. West's permission to read to the sick, mend their
clothing, write letters for them, and perform such little offices
as did not require the judgment of trained nurses.

By preference she devoted herself to the Confederate sick, but she
was very sweet and gentle with all, ready to do anything any sick
man asked; and she prayed in her heart that if her husband and her
son were ever in need of such aid.  God would send, in mercy, some
woman to them, and not let them lie helpless in the clumsy hands of
men.

She had only one really disagreeable experience.  Early in March a
government detective sent word that he wished to speak to her; and
she went down to Dr. West's office, where a red-faced, burly man
sat smoking a very black cigar.  He did not rise as she entered;
and, surprised, she halted at the doorway.

"Are you Mrs. Craig?" he demanded, keeping his seat, his hat, and
the cigar between his teeth.

"Are you a government detective?"

"Yes, I am."

"Then stand up when you speak to me!" she said sharply.  "I reckon
a Yankee nigger has mo' manners than you display."

And the astonished detective presently found himself, hat in hand,
cigar discarded, standing while Mrs. Craig, seated, replied
indifferently to his very mild questions.

"Are you a Southerner, Mrs. Craig?"

"I am."

"Your husband is Colonel Estcourt Craig, 3rd New York Zouaves?"

"He is."

"You have a son serving in that regiment?"

"Yes."

"Private soldier?"

"Yes."

"You are not a volunteer nurse?"

"No."

"Your sister-in-law, Mrs. Paige, is?"

"Yes."

"Now, Mrs. Craig"--but he could not succeed in swaggering, with her
calm, contemptuous eyes taking his measure--"now, Mrs.  Craig, is
it true that you own, a mansion called Paigecourt near Richmond?"

"I do."

"It was your father's house?"

"It was my father's home befo' he was married."

"Oh.  Who owns your father's house--the one he lived in after he
was married?"

"Mrs. Paige."

"She is your sister-in-law?  Your brother inherited this house?
And it is called Marye Mead, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"It is not occupied?"

"No."

"Is Paigecourt--your own house--ah--occupied?"

"It is."

"By an overseer?"

"By a housekeeper.  The overseer occupies his own quarters."

"I see.  So you hold slaves."

"There are negroes on the plantations.  Mr. Paige, my father, freed
his slaves befo' I was married."

The man looked surprised and incredulous.

"How did your father come to do that?  I never heard of a Southern
slave owner voluntarily freeing his slaves."

"A number of gentlemen have done so, at va'ious times, and fo'
va'ious reasons," said Celia quietly.  "Mr. Paige's reason was a
personal matter. . . .  Am I obliged to give it to you?"

"I think you had better," said the detective, watching her.

"Ve'y well.  Mr.  Paige happened to find among family papers a
letter written by General Washington to my grandfather, in which
his Excellency said;

"'I never mean to possess another slave, it being now among my
first wishes to see slavery, in this country, abolished by law.'
That is why my father freed his slaves."

The detective blinked; then, reddening, started toward the door,
until he suddenly remembered his rudiments of manners.  So he
halted, bowed jerkily, clapped the hat on his head and the cigar
into his mouth, and hastily disappeared.

When Celia scornfully informed Ailsa what had happened, the latter
looked worried.

"You see," she said, "how easily trouble is created.  Somehow the
Government has learned about your coming here."

"Oh, I had to have a pass."

"Of course.  And somebody has informed somebody that you own
Paigecourt, and that you hold slaves there, and therefore you might
be a suspicious person.  And they told that detective to find out
all about you.  You see, dear, for Curt's sake and Stephen's sake
as well as for your own, you will have to be particularly careful.
You see it, don't you?"

"Yes," said Celia, thoughtfully, "I----"

The sudden thunder of a field battery drowned her voice.  Ailsa ran
to the door and looked out, and a soldier shouted to her the news
of the _Monitor's_ combat with the _Merrimac_.  Battery after
battery saluted; regiment after regiment blackened the hill-tops,
cheering.  At dusk gigantic bonfires flamed.

That evening Hallam came unexpectedly.

Now Ailsa had neither worn her ring and locket since her
sister-in-law had arrived at the Farm Hospital, nor had she told
her one word about Hallam.

Since her unhappy encounter with Berkley, outraged pride had aided
to buoy her above the grief over the deep wound he had dealt her.
She never doubted that his insolence and deliberate brutality had
killed in her the last lingering spark of compassion for the memory
of the man who had held her in his arms that night so long--so long
ago.

Never, even, had she spoken to Letty about him, or betrayed any
interest or curiosity concerning Letty's knowing him. . . .  Not
that, at moments, the desire to ask, to know had not burned her.

Never had she spoken of Berkley to Hallam.  Not that she did not
care to know what this private in Colonel Arran's regiment of
lancers might be about.  And often and often the desire to know
left her too restless to endure her bed; and many a night she rose
and dressed and wandered about the place under the yellow stars.

But all fires burn themselves: to extinction; a dull endurance,
which she believed had at last become a God-sent indifference,
settled on her mind.  Duties helped her to endure; pride, anger,
helped her toward the final apathy which she so hopefully desired
to attain.  And still she had never yet told Celia about Hallam and
his ring; never told her about Berkley and his visit to the Farm
Hospital that Christmas Eve of bitter memory.

So when, unexpectedly, Hallam rode into the court, dismounted, and
sent word that he was awaiting Ailsa in Dr. West's office, she
looked up at Celia in guilty consternation.

They had been seated in Celia's room, mending by candle-light, and
the steward who brought the message was awaiting Ailsa's response,
and Celia's lifted eyes grew curious as she watched her
sister-in-law's flushed face.

"Say to Captain Hallam that I will come down, Flannery."

And when the hospital steward had gone:

"Captain Hallam is a friend of Colonel Arran, Celia."

"Oh," said Celia drily, and resumed her mending.

"Would you care to meet him, dear?"

"I reckon not, Honey-bud."

A soldier had found a spray of white jasmine in the woods that
afternoon and had brought it to Ailsa.  She fastened a cluster in
the dull gold masses of her hair, thickly drooping above each ear,
glanced at her hot cheeks in the mirror, and, exasperated, went out
and down the stairs.

And suddenly, there in the star-lit court, she saw Berkley leaning
against one of the horses, and Letty Lynden standing beside him,
her pretty face uplifted to his.

The shock of it made her falter.  Dismayed, she shrank back,
closing the door noiselessly.  For a moment she stood leaning
against it, breathing fast; then she turned and stole through to
the back entrance, traversed the lower gallery, and came into Dr.
West's office, offering Hallam a lifeless hand.

They talked of everything--every small detail concerning their
personal participation in the stirring preparations which were
going on all around them; gossip of camp, of ambulance; political
rumours, rumours from home and abroad; and always, through her
brain, ran the insistent desire to know what Berkley was doing in
his regiment; how he stood; what was thought of him; whether the
Colonel had yet noticed him.  So many, many things which she had
supposed no longer interested her now came back to torment her into
inquiry. . . .  And Hallam talked on, his handsome sun-bronzed face
aglow, his eager eyes of a lover fastened on her and speaking to
her a different but silent language in ardent accompaniment to his
gaily garrulous tongue.

"I tell you, Ailsa, I witnessed a magnificent sight yesterday.
Colonel Rush's regiment of lancers, a thousand strong, rode into
the meadow around Meridian Hill, and began to manoeuvre at full
speed, not far away from us.  Such a regiment!  Every man a
horseman; a thousand lances with scarlet pennons fluttering in the
sunlight!  By ginger! it was superb!  And those Philadelphians of
the 6th Pennsylvania Lancers can give our 8th Lancers a thousand
keener points than the ends of their lance blades!"

"I thought your regiment was a good one," she said surprised.

"It is--for greenhorns.  Every time we ride out past some of these
dirty blue regiments from the West, they shout: 'Oh my!  Fresh
fish!  Fresh fish!' until our boys are crazy to lay a lance butt
across their ragged blouses."

"After all," said Ailsa, smiling, "what troops have really seen war
yet--except the regiments at Bull Run--and those who have been
fighting in the West?"

"Oh, we _are_ fresh fish," laughed Hallam.  "I don't deny it.  But
Lord! what an army we _look_ like! It ought to scare the Johnnies
into the Union again, just to look at us; but I don't suppose it
will."

Ailsa scarcely heard him; she had caught the sound of regular and
steady steps moving up and down the wooden walk outside; and she
had caught glimpses, too, of a figure in the starlight, of two
figures, Berkley and Letty, side by side, pacing the walk together.

To and fro, to and fro, they passed, until it seemed as though she
could not endure it.  Hallam laughed and talked, telling her about
something or other--she did not know what--but all she listened to
was the steady footsteps passing, repassing.

"Your orderly--" she scarce knew what she was saying--"is the
same--the one you had Christmas Eve?"

"Yes," said Hallam.  "How did you know?"

"I re--thought so."

"What wonderfully sharp eyes those violet ones of yours are, Ailsa!
Yes, I did take Ormond with me on Christmas Eve--the surly brute."

"Or--Ormond?"

"That's his rather high-flown name.  Curious fellow.  I like
him--or try to.  I've an odd idea he doesn't like me, though.
Funny, isn't it, how a man goes out of his way to win over a nobody
whom he thinks doesn't like him but ought to?  He's an odd crab,"
he added.

"Odd?"  Her voice sounded so strange to her that she tried again.
"Why do you think him odd?"

"Well, he is.  For one thing, he will have nothing to do with
others of his mess or troop or squadron, except a ruffianly trooper
named Burgess; consequently he isn't very popular.  He could be.
Besides, he rides better than anybody except the drill-master at
White Plains; he rides like a gentleman---and looks like one, with
that infernally cool way of his.  No, Ormond isn't very popular."

"Because he--looks like a gentleman?"

"Because he has the bad breeding of one.  Nobody can find out
anything about him."

"Isn't it bad breeding to try?"

Hallam laughed.  "Technically.  But a regiment that elects its
officers is a democracy; and if a man is too good to answer
questions he's let alone."

"Perhaps," said Ailsa, "that is what he wants."

"He has what he wants, then.  Nobody except the trooper Burgess
ventures to intrude on his sullen privacy.  Even his own bunky has
little use for him. . . .  Not that Ormond isn't plucky.  That's
all that keeps the boys from hating him."

"_Is_ he plucky?"

Hallam said; "We were on picket duty for three days last week.  The
Colonel had become sick of their popping at us, and asked for
twelve carbines to the troop.  On the way to the outposts the
ammunition waggon was rushed by the Johnnies, and, as our escort
had only their lances, they started to scatter--would have
scattered, I understand, in spite of the sergeant if that man
Ormond hadn't ridden bang into them, cursing and swearing and
waving his pistol in his left hand.

"'By God!' he said, 'it's the first chance you've had to use these
damned lances!  Are you going to run away?'

"And the sergeant and the trooper Burgess and this fellow Ormond
got 'em into line and started 'em down the road at a gallop; and
the rebs legged it."

Ailsa's heart beat hard.

"I call that pluck," said Hallam, "a dozen lancers without a
carbine among them running at a company of infantry.  I call that a
plucky thing, don't you?"

She nodded.

Hallam shrugged.  "He behaved badly to the sergeant, who said
warmly: ''Tis a brave thing ye did, Private Ormond.'  And 'Is it?'
said Ormond with a sneer.  'I thought we were paid for doing such
things.'  'Och, ye sour-faced Sassenach!' said Sergeant Mulqueen,
disgusted; and told me about the whole affair."

Ailsa had clasped her hands in her lap.  The fingers were
tightening till the delicate nails whitened.

But it was too late to speak of Berkley to Hallam now, too late to
ask indulgence on the score of her friendship for a man who had
mutilated it.  Yet, she could scarcely endure the strain, the
overmastering desire to say something in Berkley's behalf--to make
him better understood--to explain to Hallam, and have Hallam
explain to his troop that Berkley was his own most reckless enemy,
that there was good in him, kindness, a capacity for better
things----

Thought halted; was it _that_ which, always latent within her
bruised heart, stirred it eternally from its pain-weary repose--the
belief, still existing, that there was something better in Berkley,
that there did remain in him something nobler than he had ever
displayed to her?  For in some women there is no end to the
capacity for mercy--where they love.

Hallam, hungry to touch her, had risen and seated himself on the
flat arm of the chair in which she was sitting.  Listlessly she
abandoned her hand to him, listening all the time to the footsteps
outside, hearing Hallam's low murmur; heard him lightly venturing
to hint of future happiness, not heeding him, attentive only to the
footsteps outside.

"Private Berk--Ormond--" she calmly corrected herself--"has had no
supper, has he?"

"Neither have I!" laughed Hallam.  And Ailsa rose up, scarlet with
annoyance, and called to a negro who was evidently bound
kitchenward.

And half an hour later some supper was brought to Hallam; and the
negro went out into the star-lit court to summon Berkley to the
kitchen.

Ailsa, leaving Hallam to his supper, and wandering aimlessly
through the rear gallery, encountered Letty coming from the kitchen.

"My trooper," said the girl, pink and happy, "is going to have
_such_ a good supper! You know who I mean, dear--that Mr.
Ormond----"

"I remember him," said Ailsa steadily.  "I thought his name was
Berkley."

"It is Ormond," said Letty in a low voice.

"Then I misunderstood.  Is he here again?"

"Yes," ventured Letty, smiling; "he is escort to--your Captain."

Ailsa's expression was wintry.  Letty, still smiling out of her
velvet eyes, looked up confidently into Ailsa's face.

"Dear," she said, "I wish you could ever know how nice he is. . . .
But--I don't believe I could explain----"

"Nice?  Who?  Oh, your trooper!"

"You don't mistake me, do you?" asked the girl, flushing up.  "I
only call him so to you.  I knew him in New York--and--he is so
much of a man--so entirely good----"

She hesitated, seeing no answering sympathy in Ailsa's face,
sighed, half turned with an unconscious glance at the closed door
of the kitchen.

"What were you saying about--him?" asked Ailsa listlessly.

"Nothing--" said Letty timidly--"only, isn't it odd how matters are
arranged in the army.  My poor trooper--a gentleman born--is being
fed in the kitchen; your handsome Captain--none the less gently
born--is at supper in Dr. West's office. . . .  They might easily
have been friends in New York. . . .  War is so strange, isn't it?"

Ailsa forced a smile; but her eyes remained on the door, behind
which was a man who had held her in his arms. . . .  And who might
this girl be who came now to her with tales of Berkley's goodness,
kindness--shy stories of the excellence of the man who had killed
in her the joy of living--had nigh killed more than that?  What did
this strange, dark-eyed, dark-haired girl know about his
goodness?--a girl of whom she had never even heard until she saw
her in Dr. Benton's office!

And all the while she stood looking at the closed door, thinking,
thinking.

They were off duty that night, but Letty was going back to a New
Hampshire boy who was not destined to live very long, and whose
father was on the way from Plymouth to see his eldest son--his
eldest son who had never fought a battle, had never seen one, had
never even fired his musket, but who lay dying in the nineteenth
year of his age, colour corporal, loved of his guard and regiment.

"Baily asked for me," she said simply.  "I can get some sleep
sitting up, I think." She smiled.  "I'm happier and--better for
seeing my trooper. . . .  I am--a--better--woman," she said
serenely.  Then, looking up with a gay, almost childish toss of her
head, like a schoolgirl absolved of misdemeanours unnumbered, she
smiled wisely at Ailsa, and went away to her dying boy from New
Hampshire.

The closed door fascinated Ailsa, distressed, harrowed her, till
she stood there twisting her hands between desire and pallid
indecision.

Leaden her limbs, for she could not stir them to go forward or to
retire; miserably she stood there, swayed by fear and courage
alternately, now rigid in bitter self-contempt, now shivering lest
he fling open the door and find her there, and she see the mockery
darkening his eyes----

And, "Oh-h!" she breathed, "is there nothing on earth but this
shame for me?"

Suddenly she thought of Celia, and became frightened.  Suppose
Celia had gone to the kitchen!  What would Celia think of her
attitude toward the son of Constance Berkley?  She had never told
Celia that she had seen Berkley or that she even knew of his
whereabouts.  What would Celia think!

In her sudden consternation she had walked straight to the closed
door.  She hesitated an instant; then she opened the door.  And
Berkley, seated as he had been seated that Christmas Eve, all alone
by the burning candle, dropped his hands from his face and looked
up.  Then he rose and stood gazing at her.

She said, haughtily: "I suppose I am laying myself open to
misconstruction and insult again by coming here to speak to you."

"Did you come to speak to me, Ailsa?"

"Yes.  Celia Craig is here--upstairs.  I have never told her that
you have even been in this place.  She does not know you are here
now.  If she finds out----"

"I understand," he said wearily.  "Celia shall not be informed of
my disgrace with you--unless you care to tell her."

"I do not care to tell her.  Is there any reason to distress her
with--such matters?"

"No," he said.  "What do you wish me to do?  Go out somewhere--"
He glanced vaguely toward the darkness.  "I'll go anywhere you
wish."

"Why did you come--again?" asked Ailsa coldly.

"Orders--" he shrugged--"I did not solicit the detail; I could not
refuse.  Soldiers don't refuse in the army."

She stood looking at the floor for a moment.  Then: "Why have you
changed your name?"

"It's not a permanent change," he said carelessly.

"Oh.  You wish to remain unrecognised in your regiment?"

"While my service lasts."

Her lips formed the question again; and he understood, though she
had not spoken.

"Why?  Yes, I'll tell you," he said with a reckless laugh.  "I'll
tell you why I wear a new name.  It's because I love my old
one--and the mother who bore it--and from whom I received it!  And
it's because I won't risk disgracing it.  You have asked, and
_that's_ why!  Because--_I'm afraid in battle_!--if you want to
know!--afraid of getting hurt--wounded--killed!  I don't know what
I might do; I don't _know_!  And if the world ever sees Private
Ormond running away, they'll never know it was Constance Berkley's
son.  And _that's_ why I changed my name!"

"W-what?" she faltered.  Then, revolted.  "It is not true!  You are
_not_ afraid!"

"I tell you I am," he repeated with a mirthless laugh.  "Don't you
suppose I ought to know?  I want to get out of bullet range every
time I'm shot at.  And--if anybody ever turns coward, I prefer that
it should be trooper Ormond, not trooper Berkley.  And that is the
truth, Ailsa."

She was scarcely able to suppress her anger now.  She looked at
him, flushed, excited, furious.

"Why do you say such untruthful things to me!  Who was it that
fairly kicked his fellow troopers into charging infantry with
nothing but lances against bullets?"

Amazed for a second, he burst into an abrupt laugh that rang
harshly in the room.

"Who told you such cock-and-bull stories, Ailsa?"

"Didn't you do it?  _Isn't_ it true?"

"Do what?  Do what the Government pays me for doing?  Yes, I
happened to come up to the scratch that time.  But I was scared,
every inch of me--if you really want the truth."

"But--you _did_ it?"

He laughed again, harshly, but apparently puzzled by her attitude.

She came nearer, paler in her suppressed excitement.

"Private Ormond," she faltered, "the hour that you fail under fire
is the hour when I--shall be able to--forget--you.
Not--until--then."

Neither moved.  The slow, deep colour mounted to the roots of his
hair; but she was white as death.

"Ailsa."

"Yes."

And suddenly he had dropped to one knee, and the hem of her gray
garb was against his lips--and it was a thing of another age that
he did, there on one knee at her feet, but it became him as it had
become his ancestors.  And she saw it, and, bending, laid her slim
hands on his head.

After a long silence, her hands still resting on his dark hair, she
found voice enough to speak.

"I know you now."

And, as he made no answer:

"It is there, in you--all that I believed.  It was to that
I--yielded--once."

She looked intently down at him.

"I think at last you have become--my champion. . . .  Not
my--destroyer.  Answer me, Philip!"

He would not, or could not.

"I take you--for mine," she said.  "Will you deny me?"

"No, Ailsa."

She said, steadily: "The other--the lesser happiness is to
be--forgotten.  Answer."

"It--must be."

She bent lower, whispering: "Is there no wedlock of the spirit?"

"That is all there ever was to hope for."

"Then--_will_ you--Philip?"

"Yes.  Will _you_, Ailsa?"

"I--will."

He rose; her fingers slipped from his hair to his hands, and they
stood, confronted.

She said in a dull voice: "I am engaged to--be--married to Captain
Hallam."

"I know it."

She spoke again, very white.

"Can you tell me why you will not marry me?"

"No, I cannot tell you."

"I--would love you none the less.  Don't you believe me?"

"Yes, I do now.  But I--cannot ask that of you."

"Yet--you would have--taken me without--marriage."

He said, quietly:

"Marriage--or love to the full, without it--God knows how right or
wrong that may be.  The world outlaws those who love without
it--drives them out, excommunicates, damns. . . .  It may be God
does, too; but--_I--don't--believe it_, Ailsa."

She said, whiter still: "Then I must not think of--what cannot be?"

"No," he said dully, "it cannot be."

She laid her hands against his lips in silence.

"Good night. . . .  You won't leave me--too much--alone?"

"May I write to you, dear?"

"Please.  And come when--when you can."

He laughed in the utter hopelessness of it all.

"Dear, I cannot come to you unless--_he_ comes."

At that the colour came back into her face.

Suddenly she stooped, touched his hands swiftly with her lips--the
very ghost of contact--turned, and was gone.


Hallam's voice was hearty and amiable; also he welcomed her with a
smile; but there seemed to be something hard in his eyes as he said:

"I began to be afraid that you'd gone to sleep, Ailsa.  What the
deuce has kept you?  A sick man?"

"Y-es; he is--better--I think."

"That's good.  I've only a minute or two left, and I wanted to
speak--if you'll let me--about----"

"Can't you come again next week?" she asked.

"Well--of course, I'll do my best.  I wanted to speak----"

"Don't say everything now," she protested, forcing a smile,
"otherwise what excuse will you have for coming again?"

"Well--I wished to--  See here, Ailsa, will you let me speak about
the _practical_ part of our future when I come next time?"

For a moment she could, not bring herself to the deception; but the
memory of Berkley rendered her desperate.

"Yes--if you will bring back to Miss Lynden her trooper friend when
you come again.  Will you?"

"Who?  Oh, Ormond.  Yes, of course, if she wishes----"

But she could not endure her own dishonesty any longer.

"Captain Hallam," she said with stiffened lips, "I--I have just
lied to you.  It is not for Miss Lynden that I asked; it is for
myself!"

He looked at her in a stunned sort of way.  She said, forcing
herself to meet his eyes:

"Trooper Ormond is your escort; don't you understand?  I desire to
see him again, because I knew him in New York."

"Oh," said Hallam slowly.

She stood silent, the colour racing through her cheeks.  She
_could_ not, in the same breath, ask Hallam to release her.  It was
impossible.  Nothing on earth could prevent his believing that it
was because she wished to marry Berkley.  And she was never to
marry Berkley.  She knew it, now.

"Who is this Private Ormond, anyway?" asked Hallam, handsome eyes
bent curiously on her.

And she said, calmly: "I think you did not mean to ask me that,
Captain Hallam."

"Why not?"

"Because the man in question would have told you had he not desired
the privilege of privacy--to which we all are entitled, I think."

"It seems to me," said Hallam, reddening, "that, under the
circumstances, I myself have been invested by you with some
privileges."

"Not yet," she returned quietly.  And again her reply implied
deceit; and she saw, too late, whither that reply led--where she
was drifting, helpless to save herself, or Berkley, or this man to
whom she had been betrothed.

"I've got to speak now," she began desperately calm.  "I must tell
you that I cannot marry you.  I do not love you enough.  I am
forced to say it.  I was a selfish, weak, unhappy fool when I
thought I could care enough for you to marry you.  All the fault is
mine; all the blame is on me.  I am a despicable woman."

"Are you crazy, Ailsa!"

"Half crazed, I think.  If you can, some day, try to forgive me--I
should be very grateful."

"Do you mean to tell me that you--you are--have been--in love with
this--this broken-down adventurer----"

"Yes.  From the first second in my life that I ever saw him.  Now
you know the truth.  And you will now consider me worthy of
this--adventurer----"

"No," he replied.  And thought a moment.  Then he looked at her.

"I don't intend to give you up," he said.

"Captain Hallam, believe me, I am sorry----"

"I won't give you up," he repeated doggedly.

"You won't--release me?"

"No."

She said, with heightened colour: "I am dreadfully sorry--and
bitterly ashamed.  I deserve no mercy, no consideration at your
hands.  But--I must return your ring--"  She slipped it from her
finger, laid it on the table, placed the chain and locket beside it.

She said, wistfully: "I dare not hope to retain your esteem--I dare
not say to you how much I really desire your forgiveness--your
friendship----"

Suddenly he turned on her a face, red, distorted, with rage.

"Do you know what this means to me?  It means ridicule in my
regiment!  What kind of figure do you think I shall cut after this?
It's--it's a shame!--it's vile usage.  I'll appear
absurd--_absurd_! Do you understand?"

Shocked, she stared into his inflamed visage, which anger and
tortured vanity had marred past all belief.

"Is _that_ why you care?" she asked slowly.

"Ailsa!  Good God--I scarcely know what I'm saying----"

"I know."

She stepped back, eyes darkening to deepest violet--retreated,
facing him, step by step to the doorway, through it; and left him
standing there.



CHAPTER XIII

Berkley's first letter to her was written during that week of
lovely weather, the first week in March.  The birds never sang more
deliriously, the regimental bands never played more gaily; every
camp was astir in the warm sunshine with companies, regiments,
brigades, or divisions drilling.

At the ceremonies of guard mount and dress parade the country was
thronged with visitors from Washington, ladies in gay gowns and
scarfs, Congressmen in silk hats and chokers, apparently forgetful
of their undignified role in the late affair at Bull Run--even
children with black mammies in scarlet turbans and white wool
dresses came to watch a great army limbering up after a winter of
inaction.

He wrote to her:


"Dearest, it has been utterly impossible for me to obtain leave of
absence and a pass to go as far as the Farm Hospital.  I tried to
run the guard twice, but had to give it up.  I'm going to try again
as soon as there seems any kind of a chance.

"We have moved our camp.  Why, heaven knows.  If our general
understood what cavalry is for we would have been out long
ago--miles from here--if to do nothing more than make a few maps
which, it seems, our august leaders entirely lack.

"During the night the order came: 'This division will move at four
o'clock in the morning with two days' rations.'  All night long we
were at work with axe and hammer, tearing down quarters, packing
stores, and loading our waggons.

"We have an absurd number of waggons.  There is an infantry
regiment camped near us that has a train of one hundred and
thirty-six-mule teams to transport its household goods.  It's the
77th New York,

"The next morning the sun rose on our army in motion.  You say that
I am a scoffer.  I didn't scoff at that spectacle.  We were on
Flint Hill; and, as far as we could see around us, the whole world
was fairly crawling with troops.  Over them a rainbow hung.  Later
it rained, as you know.

"I'm wet, Ailsa.  The army for the first time is under shelter
tents.  The Sibley wall tents and wedge tents are luxuries of the
past for officers and men alike.

"The army--that is, the bulk of it--camped at five.  We--the
cavalry--went on to see what we could see around Centreville; but
the rebels had burned it, so we came back here where we don't
belong--a thousand useless men armed with a thousand useless
weapons.  Because, dear, our lances are foolish things, picturesque
but utterly unsuited to warfare in such a country as this.

"You see, I've become the sort of an ass who is storing up
information and solving vast and intricate problems in order to be
kind to my superiors when, struck with panic at their own tardily
discovered incapacity, they rush to me in a body to ask me how to
do it.

"Rush's Lancers are encamped near you now; our regiment is not far
from them.  If I can run the guard I'll do it.  I'm longing to see
you, dear.

"I've written to Celia, as you know, so she won't be too much
astonished if I sneak into the gallery some night.

"I've seen a lot of Zouaves, the 5th, 9th, 10th, and other
regiments, but not the 3rd.  What a mark they make of themselves in
their scarlet and blue.  Hawkins' regiment, the 9th, is less
conspicuous, wearing only the red headgear and facings, but
Duryea's regiment is a sight!  A magnificent one from the
spectacular stand-point, but the regiments in blue stand a better
chance of being missed by the rebel riflemen.  I certainly wish
Colonel Craig's Zouaves weren't attired like tropical butterflies.
But for heaven's sake don't say this to Celia.

"Well, you see, I betray the cloven hoof of fear, even when I write
you.  It's a good thing that I know I am naturally a coward;
because I may learn to be so ashamed of my legs that I'll never run
at all, either way.

"Dear, I'm too honest with you to make promises, and far too
intelligent not to know that when people begin shooting at each
other somebody is likely to get hit.  It is instinctive in me to
avoid mutilation and extemporary death if I can do it.  I realise
what it means when the air is full of singing, buzzing noises; when
twigs and branches begin to fall and rattle on my cap and saddle;
when weeds and dead grass are snipped off short beside me; when
every mud puddle is starred and splashed; when whack! smack! whack!
on the stones come flights of these things you hear about, and
hear, and never see.  And--it scares me.

"But I'm trying to figure out that, first, I am safer if I do what
my superiors tell me to do; second, that it's a dog's life anyway;
third, that it's good enough for me, so why run away from it?

"Some day some of these Johnnies will scare me so that I'll start
after them.  There's no fury like a man thoroughly frightened.

"Nobody has yet been hurt in any of the lancer regiments except one
of Rush's men, who got tangled up in the woods and wounded himself
with his own lance.

"Oh, these lances!  And oh, the cavalry!  And, alas! a general who
doesn't know how to use his cavalry.

"No sooner does a cavalry regiment arrive than, bang! it's split up
into troops--a troop to escort General A., another to gallop after
General B., another to sit around headquarters while General C.
dozes after dinner!  And, if it's not split up, it's detailed
bodily on some fool's job instead of being packed off under a line
officer to find out what is happening just beyond the end of the
commander's nose.

"The visitors like to see us drill--like to see us charge, red
pennons flying, lances at rest.  I like to see Rush's Lancers, too.
But, all the same, sometimes when we go riding gaily down the road,
some of those dingy, sunburnt Western regiments who have been too
busy fighting to black their shoes line up along the road and
repeat, monotonously:

"'Who-ever-saw-a-dead-cavalryman?'

"It isn't what they say, Ailsa, it's the expression of their dirty
faces that turns me red, sometimes, and sometimes incites me to
wild mirth.

"I'm writing this squatted under my 'tente d'abri.' General
McClellan, with a preposterous staff the size of a small brigade,
has just passed at a terrific gallop--a handsome, mild-eyed man who
has made us into an army, and who ornaments headquarters with an
entire squadron of Claymore's 20th Dragoons and one of our own 8th
Lancers.  Well, some day he'll come to me and say: 'Ormond, I
understand that there is only one man in the entire army fit to
command it.  Accept this cocked hat.'

"That detail would suit me, dear.  I could get behind the casemates
of Monroe and issue orders.  I was cut out to sit in a good, thick
casemate and bring this cruel war to an end.

"A terribly funny thing happened at Alexandria.  A raw infantry
regiment was camped near the seminary, and had managed to flounder
through guard mount.  The sentinels on duty kept a sharp lookout
and turned out the guard every time a holiday nigger hove in sight;
and sentinels and guard and officer were getting awfully tired of
their mistakes; and the day was hot, and the sentinels grew sleepy.

"Then one sentry, dozing awake, happened to turn and glance toward
the woods; and out of it, over the soft forest soil, and already
nearly on top of him, came a magnificent cavalcade at full
gallop--the President, and Generals McClellan and Benjamin Butler
leading.

"Horror paralyzed him, then he ran toward the guard house,
shrieking at the top of his lungs:

"'Great God!  Turn out the guard!  Here comes Old Abe and Little
Mac and Beast Butler!'

"And that's all the camp gossip and personal scandal that I have to
relate to you, dear.

"I'll run the guard if I can, so help me Moses!

"And I am happier than I have ever been in all my life.  If I don't
run under fire you have promised not to stop loving me.  That is
the bargain, remember.

"Here comes your late lamented.  I'm no favorite of his, nor he of
mine.  He did me a silly trick the other day--had me up before the
Colonel because he said that it had been reported to him that I had
enlisted under an assumed name.

"I had met the Colonel.  He looked at me and said:

"'Is Ormond your name?'

[Illustration: "'Is Ormond your name?'"]

"I said: 'It is, partly.'

"He said: 'Then it is sufficient to fight under.'

"Ailsa, I am going to tell you something.  It has to do with me, as
you know me, and it has to do with Colonel Arran.

"I'm afraid I'm going to hurt you; but I'm also afraid it will be
necessary.

"Colonel Arran is your friend.  But, Ailsa, I am his implacable
enemy.  Had I dreamed for one moment that the Westchester Horse was
to become the 10th troop of Arran's Lancers, I would never have
joined it.

"It was a bitter dose for me to swallow when my company was sworn
into the United States service under this man.

"Since, I have taken the matter philosophically.  He has not
annoyed me, except by being alive on earth.  He showed a certain
primitive decency in not recognizing me when he might have done it
in a very disagreeable fashion.  I think he was absolutely
astonished to see me there; but he never winked an eyelash.  I give
the devil his due.

"All this distresses you, dear.  But I cannot help it; you would
have to know, sometime, that Colonel Arran and I are enemies.  So
let it go at that; only, remembering it, avoid always any
uncomfortable situation which must result in this man and myself
meeting under your roof."


His letter ended in lighter vein--a gay message to Celia, a cordial
one to Letty, and the significant remark that he expected to see
her very soon.

The next night he tried to run the guard, and failed.

She had written to him, begging him not to; urging the observance
of discipline, while deploring their separation--a sweet, confused
letter, breathing in every line her solicitation for him, her new
faith and renewed trust in him.

Concerning what he had told her about his personal relations with
Colonel Arran she had remained silent--was too unhappy and
astonished to reply.  Thinking of it later, it recalled to her mind
Celia's studied avoidance of any topic in which Colonel Arran
figured.  She did not make any mental connection between Celia's
dislike for the man and Berkley's--the coincidence merely made her
doubly unhappy.

And, one afternoon when Letty was on duty and she and Celia were
busy with their mending in Celia's room, she thought about
Berkley's letter and his enmity, and remembered Celia's silent
aversion at the same moment.

"Celia," she said, looking up, "would you mind telling me what it
is that you dislike about my old and very dear friend, Colonel
Arran?"

Celia continued her needlework for a few moments.  Then, without
raising her eyes, she said placidly:

"You have asked me that befo', Honey-bird."

"Yes, dear. . . .  You know it is not impertinent curiosity----"

"I know what it is, Honey-bee.  But you can not he'p this gentleman
and myse'f to any ground of common understanding."

"I am so sorry," sighed Ailsa, resting her folded hands on her work
and gazing through the open window.

Celia continued to sew without glancing up.  Presently she said:

"I reckon I'll have to tell you something about Colonel Arran after
all.  I've meant to for some time past.  Because--because my
silence condemns him utterly; and that is not altogether just."
She bent lower over her work; her needle travelled more slowly as
she went on speaking:

"In my country, when a gentleman considers himse'f aggrieved, he
asks fo' that satisfaction which is due to a man of his
quality. . . .  But Colonel Arran did not ask.  And when it was
offered, he refused."  Her lips curled.  "He cited the _Law_,"
she said with infinite contempt.

"But Colonel Arran is not a Southerner," observed Ailsa quietly.
"You know how all Northerners feel----"

"It happened befo' you were born, Honey-bud.  Even the No'th
recognised the code then."

"Is _that_ why you dislike Colonel Arran?  Because he refused to
challenge or be challenged when the law of the land forbade private
murder?"

Celia's cheeks flushed deeply; she tightened her lips; then:

"The law is not made fo' those in whom the higher law is inherent,"
she said calmly.  "It is made fo' po' whites and negroes."

"Celia!"

"It is true, Honey-bird.  When a gentleman breaks the law that
makes him one, it is time fo' him to appeal to the lower law.  And
Colonel Arran did so."

"What was his grievance?"

"A deep one, I reckon.  He had the right on his side--and his own
law to defend it, and he refused.  And the consequences were ve'y
dreadful."

"To--him?"

"To us all. . . .  His punishment was certain."

"Was he punished?"

"Yes.  Then, in his turn, _he_ punished--terribly.  But not as a
gentleman should.  Fo' in that code which gove'ns us, no man can
raise his hand against a woman.  He must endure all things; he may
not defend himse'f at any woman's expense; he may not demand
justice at the expense of any woman.  It is the privilege of his
caste to endure with dignity what cannot be remedied or revenged
except through the destruction of a woman. . . .  And Colonel Arran
invoked the lower law; and the justice that was done him
destroyed--a woman."

She looked up steadily into Ailsa's eyes.

"She was only a young girl, Honey-bud--too young to marry anybody,
too inexperienced to know her own heart until it was too late.

"And Colonel Arran came; and he was ve'y splendid, and handsome,
and impressive in his cold, heavy dignity, and ve'y certain that
the child must marry him--so certain that she woke up one day and
found that she had done it.  And learned that she did not love him.

"There was a boy cousin.  He was reckless, I reckon; and she was
ve'y unhappy; and one night he found her crying in the garden; and
there was a ve'y painful scene, and she let him kiss the hem of her
petticoat on his promise to go away fo' ever.  And--Colonel Arran
caught him on his knees, with the lace to his lips--and the child
wife crying. . . .  He neither asked nor accepted satisfaction; he
threatened the--_law_!  And that settled him with her, I reckon,
and she demanded her freedom, and he refused, and she took it.

"Then she did a ve'y childish thing; she married the boy--or
supposed she did----"

Celia's violet eyes grew dark with wrath:

"And Colonel Arran went into co't with his lawyers and his
witnesses and had the divorce set aside--and publicly made this
silly child her lover's mistress, and their child nameless!  That
was the justice that the law rendered Colonel Arran.  And now you
know why I hate him--and shall always hate and despise him."

Ailsa's head was all awhirl; lips parted, she stared at Celia in
stunned silence, making as yet no effort to reconcile the memory of
the man she knew with this cold, merciless, passionless portrait.

Nor did the suspicion occur to her that there could be the
slightest connection between her sister-in-law's contempt for
Colonel Arran and Berkley's implacable enmity.

All the while, too, her clearer sense of right and justice cried
out in dumb protest against the injury done to the man who had been
her friend, and her parents' friend--kind, considerate, loyal,
impartially just in all his dealings with her and with the world,
as far as she had ever known.

From Celia's own showing the abstract right and justice of the
matter had been on his side; no sane civilisation could tolerate
the code that Celia cited.  The day of private vengeance was over;
the era of duelling was past in the North--was passing in the
South.  And, knowing Colonel Arran, she knew also that twenty odd
years ago his refusal to challenge had required a higher form of
courage than to face the fire of a foolish boy's pistol.

And now, collecting her disordered thoughts, she began to
understand what part emotion and impulse had played in the painful
drama--how youthful ignorance and false sentiment had combined to
invest a silly but accidental situation with all the superficial
dignity of tragedy.

What must it have meant to Colonel Arran, to this quiet, slow,
respectable man of the world, to find his girl wife crying in the
moonlight, and a hot-headed boy down on his knees, mumbling the
lace edge of her skirts?

What must it have meant to him--for the chances were that he had
not spoken the first word--to be confronted by an excited,
love-smitten, reckless boy, and have a challenge flung in his face
before he had uttered a word.

No doubt his calm reply was to warn the boy to mind his business
under penalty of law.  No doubt the exasperated youth defied
him--insulted him--declared his love--carried the other child off
her feet with the exaggerated emotion and heroics.  And, once off
their feet, she saw how the tide had swept them together--swept
them irrevocably beyond reason and recall.

Ailsa rose and stood by the open window, looking out across the
hills; but her thoughts were centred on Colonel Arran's tragedy,
and the tragedy of those two hot-headed children whom his
punishment had out-lawed.

Doubtless his girl wife had told him how the boy had come to be
there, and that she had banished him; but the clash between
maturity and adolescence is always inevitable; the misunderstanding
between ripe experience and Northern logic, and emotional
inexperience and Southern impulse was certain to end in disaster.

Ailsa considered; and she knew that now her brief for Colonel Arran
was finished, for beyond the abstract right she had no sympathy
with the punishment he had dealt out, even though his conscience
and civilisation and the law of the land demanded the punishment of
these erring' ones.

No, the punishment seemed too deeply tainted with vengeance for her
to tolerate.

A deep unhappy sigh escaped her.  She turned mechanically, seated
herself, and resumed her sewing.

"I suppose I ought to be asleep," she said.  "I am on duty
to-night, and they've brought in so many patients from the new
regiments."

Celia bent and bit off her thread, then passing the needle into the
hem, laid her work aside.

"Honey-bud," she said, "you are ve'y tired.  If you'll undress I'll
give you a hot bath and rub you and brush your hair."

"Oh, Celia, will you? I'd feel so much better." She gave a dainty
little shudder and made a wry face, adding:

"I've had so many dirty, sick men to cleanse--oh, incredibly dirty
and horrid!--poor boys--it doesn't seem to be their fault, either;
and they are so ashamed and so utterly miserable when I am obliged
to know about the horror of their condition. . . .  Dear, it will
be angelic of you to give me a good, hot scrubbing.  I could go to
sleep if you would."

"Of co'se I will," said Celia simply.  And, when Ailsa was ready to
call her in she lifted the jugs of water which a negro had
brought--one cold, one boiling hot--entered Ailsa's room, filled
the fiat tin tub; and, when Ailsa stepped into it, proceeded to
scrub her as though she had been two instead of twenty odd.

Then, her glowing body enveloped in a fresh, cool sheet, she lay
back and closed her eyes while Celia brushed the dull gold masses
of her hair.

"Honey-bee, they say that all the soldiers are in love with you,
even my po' Confederate boys in Ward C.  Don't you dare corrupt
their loyalty!"

"They are the dearest things--all of them," smiled Ailsa sleepily,
soothed by the skilful brushing.  "I have never had one cross word,
one impatient look from Union or Confederate."  She added: "They
say in Washington that we women are not needed--that we are in the
way--that the sick don't want us. . . .  Some very important
personage from Washington came down to the General Hospital and
announced that the Government was going to get rid of all women
nurses.  And such a dreadful row those poor sick soldiers made!
Dr. West told us; he was there at the time.  And it seems that the
personage went back to Washington with a very different story to
tell the powers that be.  So I suppose they've concluded to let us
alone."

"It doesn't surprise me that a Yankee gove'nment has no use fo'
women," observed Celia.

"Hush, dear.  That kind of comment won't do.  Besides, some horrid
stories were afloat about some of the nurses not being all they
ought to be."

"That sounds ve'y Yankee, too!"

"Celia!  And perhaps it was true that one or two among thousands
might not have been everything they should have been," admitted
Ailsa, loyal to her government in everything.  "And perhaps one or
two soldiers were insolent; but neither Letty Lynden nor I have
ever heard one unseemly word from the hundreds and hundreds of
soldiers we have attended, never have had the slightest hint of
disrespect from them."

"They certainly do behave ve'y well," conceded Celia, brushing away
vigorously.  "They behave like our Virginians."

Ailsa laughed, then, smiling reflectively, glanced at her hand
which still bore the traces of a healed scar.  Celia noticed her
examining the slender, uplifted hand, and said:

"You promised to tell me how you got that scar, Honey-bud."

"I will, now--because the man who caused it has gone North."

"A--man!"

"Yes, poor fellow.  When the dressings were changed the agony
crazed him and he sometimes bit me.  I used to be so annoyed," she
added mildly, "and I used to shake my forefinger at him and say,
'Now it's got to be done, Jones; will you promise not to bite me.'
And the poor fellow would promise with tears in his eyes--and then
he'd forget--poor boy----"

"I'd have slapped him," said Celia, indignantly.  "What a darling
you are, Ailsa! . . .  Now bundle into bed," she added, "because
you haven't any too much time to sleep, and poor little Letty
Lynden will be half dead when she comes off duty."


Letty really appeared to be half dead when she arrived, and bent
wearily over the bed where Ailsa now lay in calm-breathing, rosy
slumber.

"Oh, you sweet thing!" she murmured to herself, "you can sleep for
two hours yet, but you don't know it."  And, dropping her garments
from her, one by one, she bathed and did up her hair and crept in
beside Ailsa very softly, careful not to arouse her.

But Ailsa, who slept lightly, awoke, turned on her pillow, passed
one arm around Letty's dark curls.

"I'll get up," she said drowsily.  "Why didn't Flannery call me?"

"You can sleep for an hour or two yet, darling," cooed Letty,
nestling close to her.  "Mrs. Craig has taken old Bill Symonds, and
they'll be on duty for two hours more."

"How generous of Celia--and of old Symonds, too.  Everybody seems
to be so good to me here."

"Everybody adores you, dear," whispered Letty, her lips against
Ailsa's flushed cheek.  "Don't you know it?"

Ailsa laughed; and the laugh completed her awakening past all hope
of further slumber.

"You quaint little thing," she said, looking at Letty.  "You
certainly are the most engaging girl I ever knew."

Letty merely lay and looked her adoration, her soft cheek pillowed
on Ailsa's arm.  Presently she said:

"Do you remember the first word you ever spoke to me?"

"Yes, I do."

"And--you asked me to come and see you."

"Who wouldn't ask you--little rosebud?"

But Letty only sighed and closed her eyes; nor did she awaken when
Ailsa cautiously withdrew her arm and slipped out of bed.

She still had an hour and more; she decided to dress and go out for
a breath of fresh, sweet air to fortify her against the heavy
atmosphere of the sick wards.

It was not yet perfectly dark; the thin edge of the new moon traced
a pale curve in the western sky; frogs were trilling; a night-bird
sang in a laurel thicket unceasingly.

The evening was still, but the quiet was only comparative because,
always, all around her, the stirring and murmur of the vast army
never entirely ended.

But the drums and bugles, answering one another from hill to hill,
from valley to valley, had ceased; she saw the reddening embers of
thousands of camp fires through the dusk; every hill was jewelled,
every valley gemmed.

In the darkness she could hear the ground vibrate under the steady
tread of a column of infantry passing, but she could not see
them--could distinguish no motion against the black background of
the woods.

Standing there on the veranda, she listened to them marching by.
From the duration of the sound she judged it to be only one
regiment, probably a new one arriving from the North.

A little while afterward she heard on some neighbouring hillside
the far outbreak of hammering, the distant rattle of waggons, the
clash of stacked muskets.  Then, in sudden little groups, scattered
starlike over the darkness, camp fires twinkled into flame.  The
new regiment had pitched its tents.

It was a pretty sight; she walked out along the fence to see more
clearly, stepping aside to avoid collision with a man in the dark,
who was in a great hurry--a soldier, who halted to make his
excuses, and, instead, took her into his arms with a breathless
exclamation.

"Philip!" she faltered, trembling all over.

"Darling!  I forgot I was not to touch you!"  He crushed her hands
swiftly to his lips and let them drop.

"My little Ailsa!  My--little--Ailsa!" he repeated under his
breath--and caught her to him again.

"Oh--darling--we mustn't," she protested faintly.  "Don't you
remember, Philip?  Don't you remember, dear, what we are to be to
one another?"

He stood, face pressed against her burning cheeks; then his arm
encircling her waist fell away.

"You're right, dear," he said with a sigh so naively robust, so
remarkably hearty, that she laughed outright--a very tremulous and
uncertain laugh.

"What a tragically inclined boy!  I never before heard a
'thunderous sigh'; but I had read of them in poetry.  Philip, tell
me instantly how you came here!"

"Ran the guard," he admitted.

"No!  Oh, dear, oh, dear!--and I told you not to.  Philip!
_Philip_! Do you want to get shot?"

"Now you know very well I don't," he said, laughing.  "I spend
every minute trying not to. . . .  And, Ailsa, what do you think?
A little while ago when I was skulking along fences and lurking in
ditches--all for your sake, ungrateful fair
one!--tramp--tramp--tramp comes a column out of the darkness!
'Lord help us,' said I, 'it's the police guard, or some horrible
misfortune, and I'll never see my Ailsa any more!' Then I took a
squint at 'em, and I saw officers riding, with about a thousand
yards of gold lace on their sleeves, and I saw their music trudging
along with that set of silver chimes aloft between two scarlet
yaks' tails; and I saw the tasselled fezzes and the white gaiters
and--'Aha!' said I--'the Zou-Zous!  But _which_?'

"And, by golly, I made out the number painted white on their
knapsacks; and, Ailsa, it was the 3d Zouaves, Colonel Craig!--just
arrived!  And there--on that hill--are their fires!"

"Oh, Phil!" she exclaimed in rapture, "how heavenly for Celia!  I'm
perfectly crazy to see Curt and Steve----"

"Please transfer a little of that sweet madness to me."

"Dear--I can't, can I?"

But she let him have her hands; and, resting beside him on the rail
fence, bent her fair head as he kissed her joined hands, let it
droop lower, lower, till her cheek brushed his.  Then, turning very
slowly, their lips encountered, rested, till the faint fragrance of
hers threatened his self-control.

She opened her blue eyes as he raised his head, looking at him
vaguely in the dusk, then very gently shook her head and rested one
cheek on her open palm.

"I don't know," she sighed.  "I--don't--know--" and closed her lids
once more.

"Know what, dearest of women?"

"What is going to happen to us, Phil. . . .  It seems
incredible--after our vows--after the lofty ideals we----"

"The ideals are there," he said in a low voice.  And, in his tone
there was a buoyancy, a hint of something new to her--something
almost decisive, something of protection which began vaguely to
thrill her, as though that guard which she had so long mounted over
herself might be relieved--the strain relaxed---the duty left to
him.

She laid one hand on his arm, looked up, searching his face,
hesitated.  A longing to relax the tension of self-discipline came
over her--to let him guard them both--to leave all to him--let him
fight for them both.  It was a longing to find security in the
certainty of his self-control, a desire to drift, and let him be
responsible, to let him control the irresponsibility within her,
the unwisdom, the delicate audacity, latent, mischievous, that
needed a reversal of the role of protector and protected to blossom
deliciously into the coquetry that she had never dared.

"Are you to be trusted?" she asked innocently.

"Yes, at last.  You know it.  Even if I----"

"Yes, dear."

She considered him with a new and burning curiosity.  It was the
feminine in her, wondering, not yet certain, whether it might
safely dare.

"I suppose I've made an anchorite out of you," she ventured.

"You can judge," he said, laughing; and had her in his arms again,
and kissed her consenting lips and palms, and looked down into the
sweet eyes; and she smiled back at him, confident, at rest.

"What has wrought this celestial change in you, Phil?" she
whispered, listlessly humourous.

"What change?"

"The spiritual."

"Is there one?  I seem to kiss you just as ardently."

"I know. . . .  But--for the first time since I ever saw you--I
feel that I am safe in the world. . . .  It may annoy me."

He laughed.

"I may grow tired of it," she insisted, watching him.  "I may
behave like a naughty, perverse, ungrateful urchin, and kick and
scream and bite. . . .  But you won't let me be hurt, will you?"

"No, child."  His voice was laughing at her, but his eyes were
curiously grave.

She put both arms up around his neck with a quick catch of her
breath.

"I do love you--I do love you.  I know it now, Phil--I know it as I
never dreamed of knowing it. . . .  You will never let me be hurt,
will you?  Nothing can harm me now, can it?"

"Nothing, Ailsa."

She regarded him dreamily.  Sometimes her blue eyes wandered toward
the stars, sometimes toward the camp fires on the hill.

"Perfect--perfect belief in--your goodness--to me," she murmured
vaguely.  "Now I shall--repay you--by perversity--misbehaviour--I
don't know what--I don't know--what----"

Her lids closed; she yielded to his embrace; one slim, detaining
hand on his shoulder held her closer, closer.

"You must--never--go away," her lips formed.

But already he was releasing her, pale but coolly master of the
situation.  Acquiescent, inert, she lay in his arms, then
straightened and rested against the rail beside her.

Presently she smiled to herself, looked at him, still smiling.

"Shall we go into Dr. West's office and have supper, Phil?  I'm on
duty in half an hour and my supper must be ready by this time; and
I'm simply dying to have you make up for the indignity of the
kitchen."

"You ridiculous little thing!"

"No, I'm not.  I could weep with rage when I think of _you_ in the
kitchen and--and--  Oh, never mind.  Come, will you?"  And she held
out her hand.

Her supper was ready, as she had predicted, and she delightedly
made room for him beside her on the bench, and helped him to
freshly baked bread and ancient tinned vegetables, and some
doubtful boiled meat, all of which he ate with an appetite and a
reckless and appreciative abandon that fascinated her.

"Darling!" she whispered in consternation, "don't they give you
_anything_ in camp?"

"Sometimes," he enunciated, chewing vigorously on the bread.  "We
don't get much of this, darling.  And the onions have all sprouted,
and the potatoes are rotten."

She regarded him for a moment, then laughed hysterically.

"I _beg_ your pardon, Phil, but somehow this reminds me of our cook
feeding her policeman:--just for one tiny second, darling----"

They abandoned any effort to control their laughter.  Ailsa had
become transfigured into a deliciously mischievous and bewildering
creature, brilliant of lip and cheek and eye, irresponsible,
provoking, utterly without dignity or discipline.

She taunted him with his appetite, jeered at him for his recent and
marvellous conversion to respectability, dared him to make love to
her, provoked him at last to abandon his plate and rise and start
toward her.  And, of course, she fled, crying in consternation:
"Hush, Philip!  You _mustn't_ make such a racket or they'll put us
both out!"--keeping the table carefully between them, dodging every
strategy of his, every endeavour to make her prisoner, quick,
graceful, demoralising in her beauty and abandon.  They behaved
like a pair of very badly brought up children, until she was in
real terror of discovery.

"Dearest," she pleaded, "if you will sit down and resume your
gnawing on that crust, I'll promise not to torment you. . . .  I
will, really.  Besides, it's within a few minutes of my tour of
duty----"

She stopped, petrified, as a volley of hoof-beats echoed outside,
the clash of arms and accoutrements rang close by the porch.

"Phil!" she gasped.

And the door opened and Colonel Arran walked in.

There was a dreadful silence.  Arran stood face to face with
Berkley, looked him squarely in the eye where he stood at salute.
Then, as though he had never before set eyes on him, Arran lifted
two fingers to his visor mechanically, turned to Ailsa, uncovered,
and held out both his hands.

"I had a few moments, Ailsa," he said quietly.  "I hadn't seen you
for so long.  Are you well?"

She was almost too frightened to answer; Berkley stood like a
statue, awaiting dismissal, and later the certain consequences of
guard running.

And, aware of her fright, Arran turned quietly to Berkley:

"Private Ormond," he said, "there is a led-horse in my escort, in
charge of Private Burgess.  It is the easier and--safer route to
camp.  You may retire."

Berkley's expression was undecipherable as he saluted, shot a
glance at Ailsa, turned sharply, and departed.

"Colonel Arran," she said miserably, "it was all my fault.  I am
too ashamed to look at you."

"Let me do what worrying is necessary," he said quietly.  "I
am--not unaccustomed to it. . . .  I suppose he ran the guard."

She did not answer.

The ghost of a smile--a grim one--altered the Colonel's expression
for a second, then faded.  He looked at Ailsa curiously.  Then:

"Have you anything to tell me that--perhaps I may be entitled to
know about, Ailsa?"

"No."

"I see.  I beg your pardon.  If you ever are--perplexed--in
doubt--I shall always----"

"Thank you," she said faintly. . . .  "And--I am so sorry----"

"So am I.  I'm sorrier than you know--about more matters than you
know, Ailsa--"  He softly smote his buckskin-gloved hands together,
gazing at vacancy.  Then lifted his head and squared his heavy
shoulders.

"I thought I'd come when I could.  The chances are that the army
will move if this weather continues.  The cavalry will march out
anyway.  So I thought I'd come over for a few moments, Ailsa. . . .
Are you sure you are quite well?  And not overdoing it?  You
certainly look well; you appear to be in perfect health. . . .  I
am very much relieved. . . .  And--don't worry.  Don't cherish
apprehension about--anybody."  He added, more to himself than to
her: "Discipline will be maintained--_must_ be maintained.  There
are more ways to do it than by military punishments, I know that
now."

He looked up, held out his hand, retained hers, and patted it
gently.

"Don't worry, child," he said, "don't worry." And went out to the
porch thoughtfully, gazing straight ahead of him as his horse was
brought up.  Then, gathering curb and snaffle, he set toe to
stirrup and swung up into his saddle.

"Ormond!" he called.

Berkley rode up and saluted.

"Ride with me," said Colonel Arran calmly.

"Sir?"

"Rein up on the left."  And, turning in his saddle, he motioned
back his escort twenty paces to the rear.  Then he walked his big,
bony roan forward.

"Ormond?"

"Yes, Colonel."

"You ran the guard?"

"Yes, Colonel."

"Why?"

Berkley was silent.

The Colonel turned in his saddle and scrutinised him.  The lancer's
visage was imperturbable.

"Ormond," he said in a low voice, "whatever you think of
me--whatever your attitude toward me is, I would like you to
believe that I wish to be your friend."

Berkley's expression remained unchanged.

"It is my desire," said the older man, "my--very earnest--desire."

The young lancer was mute.

Arran's voice fell still lower:

"Some day--if you cared to--if you could talk over some--matters
with me, I would be very glad.  Perhaps you don't entirely
understand me.  Perhaps I have given you an erroneous impression
concerning--matters--which it is too late to treat differently--in
the light of riper experience--and in a knowledge born of
years--solitary and barren years----"

He bent his gray head thoughtfully, then, erect in his saddle again:

"I would like to be your friend," he said in a voice perceptibly
under control.

"Why?" asked Berkley harshly.  "Is there any reason on God's earth
why I could ever forgive you?"

"No; no reason perhaps.  Yet, you are wrong."

"Wrong!"

"I say so in the light of the past, Berkley.  Once I also believed
that a stern, uncompromising attitude toward error was what God
required of an upright heart."

"Error!  D-do you admit that?" stammered Berkley.  "Are you awake
at last to the deviltry that stirred you--the damnable, misguided,
distorted conscience that twisted you into a murderer of souls?  By
God, _are_ you alive to what you did to--_her_?"

Colonel Arran, upright in his saddle and white as death, rode
straight on in front of him..  Beside him, knee to knee, rode
Berkley, his features like marble, his eyes ablaze.

"I am not speaking for myself," he said between his teeth, "I am
not reproaching you, cursing you, for what you have done to me--for
the ruin you have made of life for me, excommunicating me from
every hope, outlawing me, branding me!  I am thinking, now, only of
my mother.  God!--to think--to _think_ of it--of her----"

Arran turned on him a face so ghastly that the boy was silenced.
Then the older man said:

"Do you not know that the hell men make for others is what they are
destined to burn in sooner or later?  Do you think you can tell me
anything of eternal punishment?"  He laughed a harsh, mirthless
laugh.  "Do you not think I have learned by this time that
vengeance is God's--and that He never takes it?  It is man alone
who takes it, and suffers it.  Humanity calls it justice.  But I
have learned that what the laws of men give you is never yours to
take; that the warrant handed you by men is not for you to execute.
I--have--learned--many things in the solitary years, Berkley. . . .
But this--what I am now saying to you, here under the stars--is the
first time I have ever, even to myself, found courage to confess
Christ."


Very far away to the south a rocket rose--a slender thread of fire.
Then, to the northward, a tiny spark grew brighter, flickered,
swung in an arc to right, to left, dipped, soared, hung motionless,
dipped again to right, to left, tracing faint crimson semicircles
against the sky.

Two more rockets answered, towering, curving, fading, leaving blue
stars floating in the zenith.

And very, very far away there was a dull vibration of thunder, or
of cannon.



CHAPTER XIV

The tremendous exodus continued; regiment after regiment packed
knapsacks, struck tents, loaded their waggons and marched back
through the mud toward Alexandria, where transports were waiting in
hundreds.

The 3rd Zouaves were scheduled to leave early.  Celia had only a
few hours now and then in camp with husband and son.  Once or twice
they came to the hospital in the bright spring weather where new
blossoms on azalea and jasmine perfumed the fields and flowering
peach orchards turned all the hills and valleys pink.

Walking with her husband and son that last lovely evening before
the regiment left, a hand of each clasped in her own, she strove
very hard to keep up the gaiety of appearances, tried with all her
might to keep back the starting tears, steady the lip that
quivered, the hands that trembled locked in theirs.

They were walking together in a secluded lane that led from behind
the Farm Hospital barns to a little patch of woodland through which
a clear stream sparkled, a silent, intimate, leafy oasis amid an
army-ridden desert, where there was only a cow to stare at them,
knee deep in young mint, only a shy cardinal bird to interrupt them
with its exquisite litany.

Their talk had been of Paige and Marye, of Paigecourt and the
advisability of selling all stock, dismissing the negroes, and
closing the place with the exception of the overseer's house.  And
Celia had made arrangements to attend to it.

"I certainly do despise travelling," she said, "but while I'm so
near, I reckon I'd better use my pass and papers and try to go
through to Paigecourt.  It's just as well to prepare for the
impossible, I suppose."

Colonel Craig polished his eye-glasses, adjusted them, and examined
the official papers that permitted his wife to go to her estate,
pack up certain family papers, discharge the servants, close the
house, and return through the Union lines carrying only personal
baggage.

He said without enthusiasm: "It's inside their lines.  To go there
isn't so difficult, but how about coming back?  I don't want you to
go, Celia."

She explained in detail that there would be no difficulty--a little
proudly, too, when she spoke of her personal safety among her own
people.

"I understand all that," he said patiently, "but nobody except the
commander-in-chief knows where this army is going.  I don't want
you to be caught in the zone of operations."

She flushed up with a defiant little laugh.  "The war isn't going
to Paigecourt, anyway," she said.

He smiled with an effort.  "I am not sure, dearest.  All I am sure
of is that we march in the morning, and go aboard ship at
Alexandria.  I _don't_ know where we are expected to land, or where
we are going to march after we do land." . . .  He smiled again,
mischievously.  "Even if you believe that a Yankee army is not
likely to get very far into Virginia, Paigecourt is too near
Richmond for me to feel entirely sure that you may not have another
visit from Stephen and me before you start North."

"Listen to the Yankee!" she cried, laughing gaily to hide the
sudden dimness in her blue eyes.  "My darling Yankee husband is
ve'y absurd, and he doesn't suspect it!  Why! don't you perfec'ly
ridiculous Zouaves know that you'll both be back in New York befo'
I am--and all tired out keeping up with the pace yo' general sets
you?"

But when it was time to say good-bye once more, her limbs grew weak
and she leaned heavily on husband and son, her nerveless feet
dragging across the spring turf.

"Oh, Curt, Curt," she faltered, her soft cheeks pressed against the
stiff bullion on his sleeve and collar, "if only I had the wretched
consolation of sending you away to fight fo' the Right--fo' God and
country--There, darling!  Fo'give me--fo'give me.  I am yo' wife
first of all--first of all, Curt.  And that even comes befo'
country and--God!--Yes, it does! it _does_, dear.  You are all
three to me--I know no holier trinity than husband, God, and native
land. . . .  _Must_ you go so soon?  So soon? . . .  Where is my
boy--I'm crying so I can't see either of you--Stephen!  Mother's
own little boy--mother's little, little boy--oh, it is ve'y
hard--ve'y hard----"

[Illustration: "_Must_ you go so soon?  So soon?"]

"Steve--I think you'd better kiss your mother now"--his voice
choked and he turned his back and stood, the sun glittering on the
gold and scarlet of his uniform.

Mother and son clung, parted, clung; then Colonel Craig's
glittering sleeve was flung about them both.

"I'll try to bring him through all right, Celia.  You must believe
that we are coming back."

So they parted.

And at three in the morning, Celia, lying in her bed, started to a
sitting posture.  Very far away in the night reveille was sounding
for some regiment outward bound; and then the bugles blew for
another regiment and another, and another, until everywhere the
darkened world grew gaily musical with the bugle's warning.

She crept to the window; it was too dusky to see.  But in obscurity
she felt that not far away husband and son were passing through
darkness toward the mystery of the great unknown; and there, in her
night-dress, she knelt by the sill, hour after hour, straining her
eyes and listening until dawn whitened the east and the rivers
began to marshal their ghostly hosts.  Then the sun rose,
annihilating the phantoms of the mist and shining on columns of
marching men, endless lines of waggons, horse-batteries, foot
artillery, cavalry, engineers with gabions and pontoons, and entire
divisions of blue infantry, all pouring steadily toward Alexandria
and the river, where lay the vast transport fleet at anchor,
destined to carry them whither their Maker and commanding general
willed that they should go.

To Celia's wet eyes there seemed to be little variation in the dull
blue columns with the glitter of steel flickering about them; yet,
here and there a brilliant note appeared--pennons fluttering above
lances, scarfs and facings of some nearer foot battery, and, far
away toward Alexandria, vivid squares of scarlet in a green field,
dimmed very little by the distance.  Those were zouaves--her own,
or perhaps the 5th, or the 9th from Roanoke, or perhaps the 14th
Brooklyn--she could not know, but she never took her eyes from the
distant blocks and oblongs of red against the green until the woods
engulfed them.

Ailsa still lay heavily asleep.  Celia opened the door and called
her to the window.

"Honey-bud, darling," she whispered tearfully, "did you know the
Lancers are leaving?"

Ailsa's eyes flew wide open:

"Not _his_ regiment!"

"Are there two?"

"Yes," said Ailsa, frightened.  "That must be the 6th
Pennsylvania. . . .  Because I think--somebody would have told
me--Colonel Arran----"

She stared through eyes from which the mist of slumber had entirely
cleared away.  Then she sprang from her bed to the window:

"Oh--_oh_!" she said half to herself, "he wouldn't go away without
saying something to me!  He couldn't!  . . .  And--oh, dear--oh
dear, their pennons _are_ swallow-tailed and scarlet!  It looks
like his regiment--it does--it does! . . .  But he wouldn't go
without speaking to me----"

Celia turned and looked at her.

"Do you mean Colonel Arran?"  And saw that she did not.

For a while they stood there silently together, the soft spring
wind blowing over their bare necks and arms, stirring the frail,
sheer fabric of their night-robes.

Suddenly the stirring music of cavalry trumpets along the road
below startled them; they turned swiftly to look out upon a torrent
of scarlet pennons and glancing lance points--troop after troop of
dancing horses and blue-clad riders, their flat forage caps set
rakishly, bit and spur and sabre hilt glistening, the morning sun
flashing golden on the lifted trumpets.

On they came, on, on, horses' heads tossing, the ground shaking
with the mellow sound of four thousand separate hoofs,--and passed,
troop on troop, a lengthening, tossing wave of scarlet across the
verdure.

Then, far away in the column, a red lance pennon swung in a circle,
a blue sleeve shot up in salute and adieu.  And Ailsa knew that
Berkley had seen her, and that the brightness of the young world
was leaving her, centred there in the spark of fire that tipped his
lance.

Now she saw her lover turn in his saddle and, sitting so, ride on
and on, his tall lance slanting from stirrup boot to arm loop, the
morning sun bright across his face, and touching each metal button
with fire from throat to belt.

So her lancer rode away into the unknown; and she sat on the edge
of her bed, crying, until it was time to go on duty and sit beside
the dying in the sick wards.

They brought her his last letter that evening.


"You wicked little thing," it ran, "if you hadn't taught me
self-respect I'd have tried to run the guard to-night, and would
probably have been caught and drummed out or shot.  We're in a
bustle; orders, totally unexpected, attach us to Porter's Corps,
Sykes's division of regulars.  Warren's brigade, which includes, I
believe, the 5th Zouaves, the 10th Zouaves, 6th Pennsylvania
Lancers, and 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery.

"We've scarcely time to get off; our baggage will never be ready,
and how we're going to get to Alexandria and aboard ship is more
than I know.

"And I'm simply furious; I'd counted on a dramatic situation,
Ailsa--the soldiers farewell, loud sobs, sweetheart faints, lancer
dashes away unmanly tears--'Be strong, be br-r-rave, dah-ling!
Hevving watches over your Alonzo!'

"Not so.  A big brawny brute in spurs comes in the dark to stir us
with the toe of his boot.  'Silence,' he hisses, 'if you can't hear
that damn reveille, I'll punch you in the snoot, an' then mebbe
you'll spread them lop-ears o' yourn!'

"Heaven!  Your Alonzo is derided by a hireling!

"'Pack up, you swallow-tailed, leather-seated, pig-prodding sons of
galoots!'  Thus, our first sergeant, recently of the regulars,
roll-call having ended.

"Coffeeless, soupless, tackless, we leer furtively at the two days'
rations in our haversacks which we dare not sample; lick our chops
reflectively, are cruelly chidden by underlings in uniform, further
insulted by other underlings, are stepped on, crowded, bitten, and
kicked at by our faithful Arab steeds, are coarsely huddled into
line, where officers come to gloat over us and think out further
ingenious indignities to heap upon us while we stand to horse.  And
we stand there two hours!

"I can't keep up this artificial flow of low comedy.  The plain
fact of the situation is that we're being hustled toward an
amphibious thing with paddle-wheels named _The Skylark_, and I
haven't said good-bye to you.

"Ailsa, it isn't likely that anything is going to knock my head off
or puncture vital sections of me.  But in case the ludicrous should
happen, I want you to know that a cleaner man goes before the last
Court Marshal than would have stood trial there before he met you.

"You are every inch my ideal of a woman--every fibre in you is
utterly feminine.  I adore your acquired courage, I worship your
heavenly inconsistencies.  The mental pleasure I experienced with
you was measured and limited only by my own perversity and morbid
self-absorption; the splendour of the passion I divine in you,
unawakened, awes me, leaves me in wonder.  The spiritual tonic,
even against my own sickly will has freshened me by mere contact
with the world you live in; the touch of your lips and hands--ah,
Ailsa--has taught me at last the language that I sneered at.

"Well--we can never marry.  How it will be with us, how end, He
who, after all is said and done, _did_ construct us, knows now.
And we will know some day, when life is burned out in us.

"Hours, days of bitter revolt come--the old madness for you, the
old recklessness of desire, the savage impatience with life, assail
me still.  Because, Ailsa, I would--I _could_ have made you
a--well, an _interesting_ husband, anyway.  You were fashioned to
be the divinest wife and . . .  I'm not going on in this strain;
I'll write you when I can.  And for God's sake take care of your
life.  There's nothing left if you go--_nothing_.

"I've made a will.  Trooper Burgess, a comrade--my former
valet--carries a duplicate memorandum.  Don't weep; I'll live to
make another.  But in this one I have written you that my mother's
letters and pictures are to be yours--when I have a chance I'll
draw it in legal form.  And, dear, first be perfectly sure I'm
dead, and then destroy my mother's letters without reading them;
and then look upon her face.  And I think you will forgive me when
I tell you that it is for her sake that I can never marry.  But you
will not understand why."


Over this letter Ailsa had little time to wonder or to make herself
wretched, for that week orders came to evacuate the Farm Hospital
and send all sick and wounded to the General Hospital at Alexandria.

A telegram arrived, too, from Miss Dix, who was authorised to
detail nurses by the Secretary of War, ordering the two nurses of
Sainte Ursula's Sisterhood to await letters of recommendation and
written assignments to another hospital to be established farther
south.  But where that hospital was to be built nobody seemed to
know.

A week later a dozen Protestant women nurses arrived at Alexandria,
where they were made unwelcome.  Medical directors, surgeons, ward
masters objected, bluntly declaring that they wouldn't endure a lot
of women interfering and fussing and writing hysterical nonsense to
the home newspapers.

For a while confusion reigned, intensified by the stupendous
mobilisation going on all around.

A medical officer came to the Farm Hospital and angrily informed
Ailsa that the staff had had enough of women in the wards; and from
forty cots forty half-dead, ghastly creatures partly rose and
cursed the medical gentleman till his ears burned crimson,

Ailsa, in her thin gray habit bearing the scarlet heart, stood in
the middle of the ward and defied him with her credentials.

"The medical staff of the army has only to lay its case before the
Secretary of War," she said, looking calmly at him, "and that is
where the Sanitary Commission obtains its authority.  Meanwhile our
orders detail us here for duty."

"We'll see about that!" he snapped, backing away.

"So will we," said Ailsa, smiling.  But that afternoon she and
Letty took an ambulance and went, in great distress of mind, to see
Mother Angela, Superior of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who had
arrived from Indiana ready to continue hospital duties on the
Potomac if necessary.

The lovely Superieure, a lady of rare culture and ability, took
Ailsa's hand in hers with a sad smile.

"Men's prejudices are hard to meet.  The social structure of the
world is built on them.  But men's prejudices vanish when those
same men fall sick.  The War Department has regularised our
position; it will authorise yours.  You need not be afraid."

She smiled again reminiscently.

"When our Sisters of the Holy Cross first appeared in the wards,
the patients themselves looked at us sullenly and askance.  I heard
one say: 'Why can't they take off those white-winged sun-bonnets in
the wards?' And another sneered: 'Sun-bonnets!  Huh!  They look
like busted white parasols!'  But, Mrs. Paige, our white
'sun-bonnets' have already become to them the symbol they love
most, after the flag.  Be of good courage.  Your silver-gray garb
and white cuffs will mean much to our soldiers before this battle
year is ended."

That evening Ailsa and Letty drove back to the Parm Hospital in
their ambulance, old black Cassius managing his mules with
alternate bursts of abuse and of praise.  First he would beat upon
his mules with a flat stick which didn't hurt, but made a loud
racket; then, satisfied, he would loll in his seat singing in
melodious and interminable recitative:

  An' I hope to gain de prommis' lan',
    Yaas I do,
    'Deed I do.
  Lor' I hope to gain de prommis' lan',
    Dat I do,
  An' dar I'll flap ma wings an' take ma stan',
    Yaas I will,
    'Deed I will,
  An' I'll tune ma harp an' jine de Shinin' Ban'
    Glory, Glory,
  I hope to gain de prommis' lan'!

And over and over the same shouted melody, interrupted only by an
outburst of reproach for his mules.

They drove back through a road which had become for miles only a
great muddy lane running between military encampments, halted at
every bridge and crossroads to exhibit their passes; they passed
never-ending trains of army waggons cither stalled or rumbling
slowly toward Alexandria.  Everywhere were soldiers, drilling,
marching, cutting wood, washing clothes, cooking, cleaning arms,
mending, working on camp ditches, drains, or forts, writing letters
at the edge of shelter tents, digging graves,
skylarking--everywhere the earth was covered with them.

They passed the camp for new recruits, where the poor "fresh fish"
awaited orders to join regiments in the field to which they had
been assigned; they passed the camp for stragglers and captured
deserters; the camp for paroled prisoners; the evil-smelling
convalescent camp, which, still under Surgeon General Hammond's
Department, had not yet been inspected by the Sanitary Commission.

An officer, riding their way, talked with them about conditions in
this camp, where, he said, the convalescents slept on the bare
ground, rain or shine; where there were but three surgeons for the
thousands suffering from intestinal and throat and lung troubles,
destitute, squalid, unwarmed by fires, unwashed, wretched, forsaken
by the government that called them to its standard.

It was the first of that sort of thing that Ailsa and Letty had
seen.

After the battles in the West--particularly after the fall of Fort
Donnelson--terrible rumours were current in the Army of the Potomac
and in the hospitals concerning the plight of the wounded--of new
regiments that had been sent into action with not a single medical
officer, or, for that matter, an ounce of medicine, or of lint in
its chests.

They were grisly rumours.  In the neat wards of the Farm Hospital,
with its freshly swept and sprinkled floors, its cots in rows, its
detailed soldier nurses and the two nurses from Sainte Ursula's
Sisterhood, its sick-diet department, its medical stores, its two
excellent surgeons, these rumours found little credence.

And now, here in the vicinity, Ailsa's delicate nostrils shrank
from the stench arising from the "Four Camps"; and she saw the
emaciated forms lining the hillside, and she heard the horrible and
continuous coughing.

"Do you know," she said to Letty the next morning, "I am going to
write to Miss Dix and inform her of conditions in that camp."

And she did so, perfectly conscious that she was probably earning
the dislike of the entire medical department.  But hundreds of
letters like hers had already been sent to Washington, and already
the Sanitary Commission was preparing to take hold; so, when at
length one morning an acknowledgment of her letter was received, no
notice was taken of her offer to volunteer for service in that
loathsome camp, but the same mail brought orders and credentials
and transportation vouchers for herself and Letty.

Letty was still asleep, but Ailsa went up and waked her when the
hour for her tour of duty approached.

"What do you think!" she said excitedly.  "We are to pack up our
valises and go aboard the _Mary Lane_ to-morrow.  She sails with
hospital stores.  _What_ do you think of that?"

"Where are we going?" asked Letty, bewildered.

"You poor, sleepy little thing," said Ailsa, sitting down on the
bed's shaky edge, "I'm sure I don't know where we're going, dear.
Two Protestant nurses are coming here to superintend the removal of
our sick boys--and Dr. West says they are old and ugly, and that
Miss Dix won't have any more nurses who are not over thirty and who
are not _most_ unattractive to look at."

"I wonder what Miss Dix would do if she saw us," said Letty
naively, and sat up in bed; rubbing her velvety eyes with the backs
of her hands.  Then she yawned, looked inquiringly at Ailsa,
smiled, and swung her slender body out of bed.

While she was doing her hair Ailsa heard her singing to herself.
She was very happy; another letter from Dr. Benton had arrived.

Celia, who had gone to Washington three days before, to see Mr.
Stanton, returned that evening with her passes and order for
transportation; and to Ailsa's astonishment and delight she found
that the designated boat was the _Mary Lane_.

But Celia was almost too nervous and too tired to talk over the
prospects.

"My dear," she said wearily, "that drive from the Chain Bridge to
Alexandria has mos'ly killed me.  I vow and declare there was never
one moment when one wheel was not in a mud hole.  All my bones
ache, Honey-bud, and I'm cross with talking to so many Yankees,
and--do you believe me !--that ve'y horrid Stanton creature gave
orders that I was to take the oath!"

"The--oath?" asked Ailsa, amazed.

"Certainly.  And I took it," she added fiercely, "becose of my
husband!  If it had not been fo' Curt I'd have told Mr. Stanton
what I thought of his old oath!"

"What kind of an oath was it, Celia?"

Celia repeated it haughtily:

"'I do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, to
faithfully support the Constitution of the United States, and of
the State of New York.  So he'p me God.'"

"It is the oath of fealty," said Ailsa in a hushed voice.

"It was not necessa'y," said Celia coldly.  "My husband is
sufficient to keep me--harmless. . . .  But I know what I feel in
my heart, Honey-bud; and so does eve'y Southern woman--God help us
all. . . .  Is that little Miss Lynden going with us?"

"Letty?  Yes, of course."

Celia began to undress.  "She's a ve'y sweet little minx. . . .
She is--odd, somehow. . . .  So young--such a he'pless, cute little
thing. . .  Ailsa, in that child's eyes--or in her features
somewhere, somehow, I see--I feel a--a sadness, somehow--like the
gravity of expe'ience, the _something_ that wisdom brings to the
ve'y young too early.  It is odd, isn't it."

"Letty is a strange, gentle little thing.  I've often wondered----"

"What, Honey-bee?"

"I--don't know," said Ailsa vaguely.  "It is not natural that a
happy woman should be so solemnly affectionate to another.  I've
often thought that she must, sometime or other, have known deep
unhappiness."

When Celia was ready to retire, Ailsa bade her good-night and
wandered away down the stairs, Letty was still on duty; she glanced
into the sick-diet kitchen as she passed and saw the girl bending
over a stew-pan.

She did not disturb her.  With evening a soft melancholy had begun
to settle over Ailsa.  It came in the evening, now, often--a
sensation not entirely sad, not unwelcome, soothing her, composing
her mind for serious thought, for the sweet sadness of memory.

Always she walked, now, companioned by memories of Berkley.
Wherever she moved--in the quiet of the sick wards, in the silence
of the moonlight, seated by smeared windows watching the beating
rain, in the dead house, on duty in the kitchen contriving broths,
or stretched among her pillows, always the memories came in troops
to bear her company.

They were with her now as she paced the veranda to and fro, to and
fro.

She heard Letty singing happily over her stew-pan in the kitchen;
the stir and breathing of the vast army was audible all around her
in the darkness.  Presently she looked at her watch in the
moonlight, returned it to her breast.

"I'm ready, dear," she said, going to the kitchen door.

And another night on duty was begun--the last she ever was to spend
under the quiet roof of the Farm Hospital.

That night she sat beside the bed of a middle-aged man, a corporal
in a Minnesota regiment whose eyes had been shot out on picket.
Otherwise he was convalescent from dysentery.  But Ailsa had seen
the convalescent camp, and she would not let him go yet.

So she read to him in a low, soothing voice, glancing from time to
time at the bandaged face.  And, when she saw he was asleep, she
sat silent, hands nervously clasped above the Bible on her knee.
Then her lids closed for an instant as she recited a prayer for the
man she loved, wherever he might be that moon-lit night.

A zouave, terribly wounded on Roanoke Island, began to fret; she
rose and walked swiftly to him, and the big sunken eyes opened and
he said, humbly:

"I am sorry to inconvenience you, Mrs. Paige.  I'll try to keep
quiet."

"You foolish fellow, you don't inconvenience me.  What can I do for
you?"

His gaze was wistful, but he said nothing, and she bent down
tenderly, repeating her question.

A slight flush gathered under his gaunt cheek bones.  "I guess I'm
just contrary," he muttered.  "Don't bother about me, ma'am."

"You are thinking of your wife; talk to me about her, Neil."

It was what he wanted; he could endure the bandages.  So, her cool
smooth hand resting lightly over his, where it lay on the sheets,
she listened to the home-sick man until it was time to give another
sufferer his swallow of lemonade.

Later she put on a gingham overgown, sprinkled it and her hands
with camphor, and went into the outer wards where the isolated
patients lay--where hospital gangrene and erysipelas were the
horrors.  And, farther on, she entered the outlying wing devoted to
typhus.  In spite of the open windows the atmosphere was heavy;
everywhere the air seemed weighted with the odour of decay.

As always, in spite of herself, she hesitated at the door.  But the
steward on duty rose; and she took his candle and entered the place
of death.


Toward morning a Rhode Island artilleryman, dying in great pain,
relapsed into coma.  Waiting beside him, she wrote to his parents,
enclosing the little keepsakes he had designated when conscious,
while his life flickered with the flickering candle.  Her letter
and his life ended together; dawn made the candle-light ghastly; a
few moments later the rumble of the dead waggon sounded in the
court below.  The driver came early because there was a good deal
of freight for his waggon that day.  A few moments afterward the
detail arrived with the stretchers, and Ailsa stood up, drew aside
the screen, and went down into the gray obscurity of the court-yard.

Grave-diggers were at work on a near hillside; she could hear the
clink clink of spade and pick; reveille was sounding from hill to
hill; the muffled stirring became a dull, sustained clatter, never
ceasing around her for one instant.

A laundress was boiling clothing over a fire near by; Ailsa slipped
off her gingham overdress, unbound the white turban, and tossed
them on the grass near the fire.  Then, rolling back her sleeves,
she plunged her arms into a basin of hot water in which a little
powdered camphor was floating.

While busy with her ablutions the two new nurses arrived, seated on
a battery limber; and, hastily drying her hands, she went to them
and welcomed them, gave them tea and breakfast in Dr. West's
office, and left them there while she went away to awake Celia and
Letty, pack her valise for the voyage before her, and write to
Berkley.

But it was not until she saw the sun low in the west from the deck
of the _Mary Lane_, that she at last found a moment to write.

The place, the hour, her loneliness, moved depths in her that she
had never sounded--moved her to a recklessness never dreamed of.
It was an effort for her to restrain the passionate confessions
trembling on her pen's tip; her lips whitened with the cry
struggling for utterance.


"Dear, never before did I so completely know myself, never so
absolutely trust myself to the imperious, almost ungovernable tide
which has taken my destiny from the quiet harbour where it lay, and
which is driving it headlong toward yours.

"You have left me alone, to wonder and to wonder.  And while
isolated, I stand trying to comprehend why it was that your words
separated our destinies while your arms around me made them one.  I
am perfectly aware that the surge of life has caught me up, tossed
me to its crest, and is driving me blindly out across the waste
spaces of the world toward you--wherever you may be--whatever be
the cost.  I will not live without you.

"I am not yet quite sure what has so utterly changed me--what has
so completely changed within me.  But I am changed.  Perhaps daily
familiarity with death and pain and wretchedness, hourly contact
with the paramount mystery of all, has broadened me, or benumbed
me.  I don't know.  All I seem to see clearly--to clearly
understand--is the dreadful brevity of life, the awful chances
against living, the miracle of love in such a maelstrom, the
insanity of one who dare not confess it, live for it, love to the
uttermost with heart, soul, and body, while life endures,

"All my instincts, all principles inherent or inculcated; all
knowledge spiritual and intellectual, acquired; all precepts,
maxims, proverbs, axioms incorporated and lately a part of me, seem
trivial, empty, meaningless in sound and in form compared to the
plain truths of Death.  For never until now did I understand that
we walk always arm in arm with Death, that he squires us at every
step, coolly joggles our elbow, touches our shoulder now and then,
wakes us at dawn, puts out our night-light, and smooths the sheets
we sleep under.

"I had thought of Death as something hiding very, very far away.
Yet I had already seen him enter my own house.  But now I
understand how close he always is; and, somehow, it has
changed--hardened, maybe--much that was vague and unformed in my
character.  And, maybe, the knowledge is distorting it; I don't
know.  All I know is that, before life ends, if there is a chance
of fulfilment, I will take it.  And fulfilment means you--my love
for you, the giving of it, of myself, of all I am, all I desire,
all I care for, all I believe, into your keeping--into your
embrace.  That, for me, is fulfilment of life.

"Even in your arms you tell me that there is to be no fulfilment.
I have acquiesced, wondering, bewildered, confused.  But, dear, you
can never tell me so again--if we live--if I live to look into your
eyes again--never, never.  For I shall not believe it, nor shall I
let you believe it, if only we can win through this deathly battle
nightmare which is rising between us--if ever we can find each
other again, touch each other through this red, unreal glare of war.

"Oh, Philip--Philip--only to have your arms around me!  Only to
touch you!  You shall not tell me then that our destinies do not
mingle.  They shall mingle like two wines; they shall become
utterly confused in one another; I was meant for that; I will not
die, isolated by you, unknown to you, not belonging to you!  I will
not die alone this way in the world, with no deeper memory to take
into the unknown than that you said you loved me.

"God alone knows what change misery and sorrow and love and death
have accomplished in me; never have I stood so alone upon this
earth; never have I cared so for life, never have I so desired to
be a deathless part of yours.

"If you love me you will make me part of yours--somehow, some way.
And, Philip, if there is no way, yet there is always one way if we
both live.  And I shall not complain--only, I cannot die--let life
go out--so that you could ever forget that my life had been part of
yours.

"Is it dreadful of me to think this?  But the mighty domination of
Death has dwarfed everything around me, dear; shrivelled the little
man-made formulas and laws; the living mind and body seem more
vital than the by-laws made to govern them. . . .  God knows what
I'm writing, but you have gone into battle leaving life unfulfilled
for us both, and I assented--and my heart and soul are crying out
to you, unreconciled--crying out my need of you across the
smoke. . . .


"There is a battery at Cock-pit Point, firing, and the smoke of the
guns drifts across the low-hanging sun.  It must be only a salute,
for our fleet of transports moves on, torrents of black smoke
pouring out of every tall funnel, paddle-wheels churning steadily.

"When the fleet passed Mount Vernon the bells tolled aboard every
boat; and we could see the green trees and a glimmer of white on
shore, and the flag flying.

"What sadness!  A people divided who both honour the sacredness of
this spot made holy by a just man's grave--gathering to meet in
battle--brother against brother.

"But Fate shall not longer array you and me against each other!  I
will not have it so!  Neither my heart nor my soul could endure the
cruelty of it, nor my reason its wickedness and insanity.  From the
first instant I met your eyes, Philip, somehow, within me, I knew I
belonged to you.  I do more hopelessly to-day than ever--and with
each day, each hour, more and more until I die.  You will not let
me go to my end unclaimed, will you?--a poor ghost all alone, lost
in the darkness somewhere among the stars--lacking that tie between
you and it which even death does not know how to sever!

"I leave all to you, loving you, wishing what you wish, content
with what you give--and take--so that you do give and take and keep
and hold for life.


"It is very dusky; the lights, red and white, glimmer on every
transport.  We feel the sea-swell a little.  Celia left us, going
ashore at Acquia Creek.  She takes the cars to Richmond and then to
Paigecourt.  Letty sits beside me on deck.  There were two cases of
fever aboard and we went down into a dreadfully ill-smelling cabin
to do what we could.  Now we are here on deck again.  Some officers
are talking very gaily with Letty.  I am ending my letter to
you--wherever you are, my darling, under these big, staring stars
that look down at me out of space.  I don't want my ghost to be
blown about up there--unless it belongs to you.  That is the only
fear of death I ever have or ever had--that I might die before you
had all of me there is to give."



CHAPTER XV

Toward the end of June, as Claymore's new provisional brigade of
Sykes's division, Fitz John Porter's superb corps d'armee, neared
the designated rendezvous, some particularly dirty veteran
regiments, bivouacked along the fields, crowded to the roadside,
fairly writhing in their scorn and derision.

"Fresh fish!  Oh--h!  Fresh fi--sh!" they shouted.  "My God, boys,
just see them pretty red pants!  Mother! Come and look.  Oh, papa,
what are they?  Sa--ay, would you gentlemen kindly tell us poor old
sodgers what kind ov a hell ov a, dressmaker cut out them
pantalettes?  I wish I could go out to play with these nice,
perlite little boys?  Oh, children! why _didn't_ you bring your
nursemaids with you?"

The 3rd Zouaves marched past the jeering veterans, grinding their
teeth, but making no effort at retort.  They knew well enough by
this time that any attempt to retort would be worse than useless.

As the head of the column of the 8th Lancers appeared from the West
at the forks of the other road, the dingy veterans fairly danced in
malicious delight:

"Excuse us," they simpered, kissing their dirty finger-tips to the
horsemen, "_ex_-cuse us, please, but do tell us how you left dear
old Fift' Avenoo.  Them rocking hosses need a leetle new paint
where they sit down, me lords.  Hey, you ain't got any old red silk
stockings we can use for guidons, have you?  Oh, Alonzo darling!
curl my hair an' wet me with expensive cologne!"

Colonel Egerton's 20th Dragoons, being in blue and orange, got off
easier, though the freshness of their uniforms was tremendously
resented; but McDunn's 10th Flying Battery, in brand new uniforms,
ran the full fierce fire of chaff; the indignant cannoneers were
begged to disclose the name of the stage line which had supplied
their battery horses; and Arthur Wye, driving the showy swing team
of No. 6, Left Section, shouted back in his penetrating voice:

"If you want to know who sells broken-down nags to suckers, it's
Simon Cameron!--you Dutch-faced, barrel-bellied, Pennsylvania
scuts!"

A bull-like bellow of laughter burst from the battery; even Captain
McDunn's grin neutralised the scowling visage he turned to conceal
it.  And the fury of the Pennsylvanians knew no bounds; for, from
general to drummer boy, the troops of that great State were
horribly sensitive to any comment on the Hon. Mr. Cameron's horse
transactions.

Warren's matchless brigade followed; but the 6th Lancers had seen
service and they were not jeered; nor were the 5th and 10th
Zouaves, the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery and the Rhode Island
Battery.

Berkley, riding with his troop, bridle loose in both gauntleted
hands, lance swinging wide from stirrup and elbow loop, looked to
the left and noticed Warren's regiments swinging out across the
breezy uplands.  Half an hour later he saw the 3rd Zouaves enter a
wheat field to the left of the road, form on their colour front,
unsling knapsacks, and stack arms.  McDunn's battery found a gap in
the fence and followed, the guns bumping and bouncing out over a
potato field; and presently Egerton's Dragoons turned sharply to
the right and entered a cool road that ran along a bushy hollow.

The 8th Lancers kept straight on for five or six hundred yards,
until they encountered their regimental quartermaster and camping
party.  Then they wheeled to the right, passed through a thin belt
of shade trees, across a splendid marl drive and a vast unkempt
lawn.  Beyond this they skirted a typical planter's house of the
better class, with its white galleries, green blinds, quarters,
smoke houses, barns, and outhouses innumerable; and halted, each
troop moving to a point a little in the rear of where its horses
were to be secured, and forming one rank.  The bugles sounded
"Dismount!" Eight hundred sun-burned riders set foot to sod,
details were made to hold the horses, lances were stacked, picket
ropes fixed, shelter tents erected, sabre and bridle hung on the
twelve weapons of the troop-carbineers, and the standard carried to
Colonel Arran's tent.

Directly to the right was a gentle declivity with a clear, rapid
stream splashing the bottom grasses.  Beyond the stream a low green
hill rose, concealing the landscape and the river beyond.

And here, on the breezy meadow slope, Egerton's Dragoons went into
camp and sent out their fatigue parties and grand guards.

Company and squadron streets were laid out, sinks dug, shelter
tents pitched, firewood brought, horses picketed.  Twenty paces in
front of each pile of tents the kitchens were established; all the
regimental cavalry waggons came up promptly and were parked in the
rear of the picket line for sick horses; the belated and hated
sutler of the 8th Lancers drove hastily in, deaf to the
blandishments of veterans along the roadside, who eyed him
malevolently and with every desire to work him substantial harm.

Late in the afternoon there was much visiting along the lines and
between distant camps; the day was cloudless and perfect; magnolia
and china-berry scented the winds which furrowed every grassy
hillside; flags fluttered, breezy gusts of bugle music incited the
birds to rivalry.  Peace and sunshine lay over all, and there was
nothing sinister to offend save, far along the horizon, the low,
unbroken monotone of cannon, never louder, never lower, steady,
dull, interminable; and on the southern horizon a single tall
cloud, slanting a trifle to the east, like a silver pillar out of
plumb.

Berkley's attention was directed to it by a suspicious comrade;
they both gazed at it curiously, listening to the low mutter of the
cannonade; then Berkley frowned, folded both gauntlets, placed them
in his belt, passed his hand over his freshly shaven chin, and,
pocketing his cob pipe, sauntered forth to visit and gossip with
those he knew in other camps.

"Hello, Burgess," he said humorously; "how are you making out?"

His late valet's arm twitched instinctively toward the salute he
dared not offer; he glanced stealthily right and left before
answering:

"I am doing very well, sir, thank you."

"I told you to cut out the 'sir,' didn't I?"

"Yes, sir--beg pardon----"

Berkley eyed him.  "You've got your chance," he said.  "Your rank
and mine are equal.  Do you take pleasure in continually reminding
yourself of your recent position of servitude?"

"Sir?--beg pardon----"

"Can't you help it?  Is it born in you?"

Burgess stood silent, considering, then he lifted his ugly face and
looked hard at Berkley.

"I am not ashamed of having served you.  I am more comfortable
under orders. . . .  I liked to dress you up . . .  I wish to God
it was that way now."

"Don't you want your independence?"

"My independence," repeated Burgess, "I had it--more of it when I
was looking out for you, sir, than I have now in this damn
regiment----"

"Well, what did you enlist for?"

"You've asked me that many times, sir, and I don't know. . . .  I'd
rather be around, handy like----"

"You'll get killed some day, don't you know it?"

"No, sir.  I guess you'll look out for me.  You always did."

"How the devil can I prevent one of those big shells from knocking
you off your horse!"

Burgess, patient, undisturbed, let the, question go with a slight
smile.

"What a jackass you are!" said Berkley irritably; "here's a dollar
to get some pie.  And if you can cheat that cursed sutler, do it!"

He himself purchased two big pies from the sutler after an angry
haggle in which he was easily worsted; and he munched away
contentedly as he walked toward the lines of the 3rd Zouaves, his
spurs and sabre jingling, Burgess following respectfully at heel.

"Hello, Steve!" he called out to a sun-burnt young zouave who was
drying his freshly washed turban in the hill breeze.  "I always
heard you fellows wore infant's underclothes, but I never believed
it before!"

"That's my turban, you idiot!" retorted Stephen, turning red as
several of McDunn's artillerymen began to laugh.  But he came over
and shook hands and accepted a big piece of pie without further
resentment.  "Hello, Burgess," he added.

"How do you do, sir."

"That damned Dutch sutler of ours," commented Berkley, "puts clay
in his pie-erust.  We'll certainly have to fix him before long.
How are you, Steve, anyway?"

"Both socks full of tallow; otherwise I'm feeling fine," said the
boy.  "Did you hear those dirty Bucktail veterans back there poking
fun at us?  Well, we never answer 'em nowadays; but the Zouaves are
getting fearfully sick of it; and if we don't go into battle pretty
soon there'll be a private war on--" he winked--"with those
Pennsylvanians, you bet.  And I guess the Lancers will be in it,
too."

Berkley cast an evil eye on a pair of Pennsylvania soldiers who had
come to see how the Zou-zous made camp; then he shrugged his
shoulders, watching Burgess, who had started away to roam hungrily
around the sutler's camp again.

"After all," he said, "these veterans have a right to jeer at us.
They've seen war; and now they know whether they'll fight or run
away.  It's more than we know, so far."

"Well, I tell you," said Stephen candidly, "there's no chance of my
running away.  A fellow can't skedaddle when his father's looking
at him.  Besides, Phil, I don't know how it is, but I'm not very
much afraid, not as much as I thought I'd be."

Berkley looked at him curiously.  "Have you been much under fire?"

"Only that affair at the Blue Bridge--you know yourself how it was.
After the first shell had made me rather sick at my stomach I was
all right--except that I hated to see father sitting up there on
his horse while we were all lying snug in the wheat. . . .  How did
you feel when the big shells came over?"

"Bad," said Berkley briefly.

"Sick?"

"Worse."

"I don't see why you should feel queer, Phil--after that bully
thing you did with the escort----"

"Oh, hell!" cut in Berkley savagely, "I'm sick of hearing about it.
If you all knew that I was too scared to realise what I was doing
you'd let up on that episode."

Stephen laughed.  "I hope our boys get scared in the same
way. . . .  Hello, here's a friend of yours I believe----"

They turned to encounter Casson, the big dragoon, arm in arm with
the artilleryman, Arthur Wye.

"Give us some pie, you son of a gun!" they suggested
unceremoniously; and when supplied and munching, they all locked
arms and strolled out across the grass toward the hill, where
already, dark against the blinding blue, hundreds of idle soldiers
had gathered to sit on the turf and stare at the tall cloud on the
horizon, or watch the signal officer on the higher hill beyond,
seated at his telescope, while, beside him, a soldier swung dirty
square flags in the wind,

As they arrived on the crest a quick exclamation escaped them; for
there, beyond, mile on mile, lay the armed host of which their
regiments were tiny portions.

"Lord!" said Stephen in a low, surprised voice, "did you fellows
know that the whole army was near here?"

"Not I," said Berkley, gazing spellbound out across the rolling
panorama of river, swamp, woods, and fields.  "I don't believe it
occurs very often, either--the chance to see an entire army all at
once, encamped right at your feet.  What a lot of people and
animals!"

They sat down, cross-legged, enjoying their pie, eyes wandering
wonderingly over the magic landscape.  Here and there a marquee
marked some general's headquarters, but except for these there were
no tents save shelter tents in sight, and not so many of these,
because many divisions had bivouacked, and others were in
cantonments where the white cupola of some house glimmered, or the
thin spire of a church pierced green trees.

Here and there they noted and pointed out to each other roads over
which cavalry moved or long waggon trains crept.  Down along the
swamps that edged the river they could see soldiers building
corduroy, repairing bridges, digging ditches, and, in one spot,
erecting a fort.

"Oh, hell," said Casson, whose regiment, dismounted, had served
muddy apprenticeship along the York River, "if they're going to
begin that kind of thing again I'd rather be at home laying gas
pipes on Broadway!"

"What kind of thing?" demanded Stephen.

"That road making, swamp digging--all that fixing up forts for big
guns that nobody has a chance to fire because the Johnnies get out
just when everything's ready to blow 'em into the Union again.
A--h!" he added in disgust, "didn't we have a dose of that at
Yorktown and Williamsburg?  Why doesn't Little Mac start us
hell-bent for Richmond and let us catch 'em on the jump?"

For a while, their mouths full of pie, the soldiers, with the
exception of Berkley, criticised their commander-in-chief,
freely--their corps commanders, and every officer down to their
particular corporals.  That lasted for ten minutes.  Then one and
all began comparing these same maligned officers most favourably
with other officers of other corps; and they ended, as usual, by
endorsing their commander-in-chief with enthusiasm, and by praising
every officer under whom they served.

Then they boasted of their individual regiments--all except
Berkley--extolling their discipline, their marching, their foraging
efficiency, their martyr-like endurance.

"What's your Colonel like, anyway?" inquired Casson, turning to
Berkley.

"He's a good officer," said the latter indifferently.

"Do you like him?"

"He has--merit."

"Jerusalem!" laughed Wye, "if that isn't a kick in the seat of his
pants!"

Berkley reddened.  "You're mistaken, Arthur."

"Didn't you tell me at Alexandria that you hated him?"

"I said that--yes.  I was disappointed because the Westchester
Horse was not attached to John Casson's regiment. . . .  I
don't--dislike Colonel Arran."

Berkley was still red; he lay in the grass on his stomach, watching
the big cloud pile on the horizon.

"You know," said Casson, "that part of our army stretches as far as
that smoke.  We're the rear-guard."

"Listen to the guns," said Wye, pretending technical familiarity
even at that distance.  "They're big fellows--those Dahlgrens and
Columbiads----"

"Oh, bosh!" snapped Casson, "you can't tell a howitzer from a
rocket!"

Wye sat up, thoroughly offended.  "To prove _your_ dense ignorance,
you yellow-bellied dragoon, let me ask you a simple question: When
a shell is fired toward you _can_ you see it coming?"

"Certainly.  Didn't we see the big shells at Yorktown----"

"Wait!  When a solid shot is fired, can you see it when it is
coming toward you?"

"Certainly----"

"No you can't, you ignoramus! You can see a shell coming or going;
you can see a solid shot going--never coming from the enemy's guns.
Aw! go soak that bull head of yours and wear a lady-like havelock!"

The bickering discussion became general for a moment, then, still
disputing, Casson and Wye walked off toward camp, and Stephen and
Berkley followed.

"Have you heard from your mother?" asked the latter, as they
sauntered along over the grass.

"Yes, twice.  Father was worried half to death because she hadn't
yet left Paigecourt.  Isn't it strange, Phil, that after all we're
so near mother's old home?  And father was all against her going, I
tell you, I'm worried."

"She has probably gone by this time," observed Berkley.

The boy nodded doubtfully; then: "I had a fine letter from Ailsa.
She sent me twenty dollars," he added naively, "but our sutler has
got it all."

"What did Ailsa say?" asked Berkley casually.

"Oh, she enquired about father and me--and you, too, I believe.
Oh, yes; she wanted me to say to you that she was well---and so is
that other girl--what's her name?"

"Letty Lynden?"

"Oh, yes--Letty Lynden.  They're in a horrible kind of a temporary
hospital down on the York River along with the Sisters of Charity;
and she said she had just received orders to pack up and start west
with the ambulances."

"West?"

"I believe so."

After a silence Berkley said:

"I heard from her yesterday."

"You did!"

"Yes.  Unless your father already knows, it might be well to say to
him that Ailsa's ambulance train is ordered to rendezvous in the
rear of the 5th Provisional Corps head-quarters."

"Our corps!"

"That looks like it, doesn't it?  The 5th Provisional Corps is
Porter's."  He turned and looked back, out across the country.

"She may be somewhere out yonder, at this very moment, Steve." He
made a vague gesture toward the west, stood looking for a while,
then turned and walked slowly on with head lowered.

"I wish my mother and Ailsa were back in New York," said the boy
fretfully.  "I don't see why the whole family should get into hot
water at the same time."

"It wouldn't surprise me very much if Ailsa's ambulance landed
beside your mother's door at Paigecourt," said Berkley.  "The
head-quarters of the 5th Corps cannot be very far from Paigecourt."
At the cavalry lines he offered his hand to Stephen in farewell.

"Good-bye," said the boy.  "I wish you the luck of the 6th Lancers.
Since Hanover Court-House nobody calls 'em 'fresh fish'--just
because they charged a few Johnnies with the lance and took a few
prisoners and lost thirty horses."

Berkley laughed.  "Thanks; and I wish you the luck of the 5th
Zouaves.  They're into everything, I hear, particularly hen-coops
and pigpens.  Casson says they live high in the 5th Zouaves. . .
Good-bye, old fellow . . .  will you remember me to your father?"

"I will when he lets me talk to him," grinned Stephen.  "We're a
disciplined regiment--I found that out right away--and there's
nothing soft for me to expect just because my father is colonel and
Josiah Lent happens to be major."


The regimental bands played the next day; the distant cannonade had
ceased; sunshine fell from a cloudless sky, and the army watched a
military balloon, the "Intrepid," high glistening above the river,
its cables trailing in gracious curves earthward.

Porter's 5th Corps now formed the rear-guard of the army; entire
regiments went on picket, even the two regiments of Lancers took
their turn, though not armed for that duty.  During the day there
had been some unusually brisk firing along the river, near enough
to cause regiments that had never been under fire to prick up a
thousand pairs of ears and listen.  As the day lengthened toward
evening, picket firing became incessant, and the occasional solid
report of a cannon from the shore opposite disclosed the presence
of Confederate batteries, the nearness of which surprised many an
untried soldier.

Toward sundown Berkley saw a business-like cavalry officer ride
into camp with an escort of the 5th Regulars.  Men around him said
that the officer was General Philip St. George Cooke, and that the
chances were that the regiments of the reserve were going into
action pretty soon.

About 3 o'clock the next morning boots and saddles sounded from the
head-quarters of the Cavalry Reserve brigade and the 5th and 6th
United States Cavalry, followed by Colonel Rush's Lancers, rode out
of their camp grounds and were presently followed by the 1st United
States and a squadron of Pennsylvania carbineers.

The troopers of the 8th Lancers watched them ride away in the dawn;
but mo orders came to follow them, and, discontented, muttering,
they went sullenly about their duties, wondering why they, also,
had not been called on.

That nobody had caught the great Confederate cavalryman did not
console them; they had to listen to the jeers of the infantry,
blaming them for Stuart's great raid around the entire Union army;
in sickening reiteration came the question: "Who ever saw a dead
cavalryman?"  And, besides, one morning in a road near camp, some
of the 8th Lancers heard comments from a group of general officers
which were not at all flattering to their own cavalry.

"You see," said a burly colonel of engineers, "that this army
doesn't know what real cavalry looks like--except when it gets a
glimpse of Jeb Stuart's command."

An infantry colonel coincided with him, profanely:

"That damned rebel cavalry chases ours with a regularity and
persistence that makes me ill.  Did the world ever see the like of
it?  You send out one of our mounted regiments to look for a
mounted rebel regiment, and the moment it finds what it's lookin'
for the rebs give a pleased sort of yell, and ours turn tail.
Because it's become a habit: that's why our cavalry runs!  And then
the fun begins!  Lord God Almighty! what's the matter with our
cavalry?"

"You can't make cavalry in a few months," observed a colonel of
heavy artillery, stretching his fat, scarlet-striped legs in his
stirrups.  "What do you expect?  Every man, woman, and child south
of Mason and Dixon's Line knows how to ride.  The Southerners are
born horsemen.  We in the North are not.  That's the difference.
We've got to learn to be.  Take a raw soldier and send him forth
mounted on an animal with which he has only a most formal
acquaintance, and his terrors are increased twofold.  When you give
him a sabre, pistol, and carbine, to take care of when he has all
he can do to take care of himself, those terrors increase in
proportion.  _Then_ show him the enemy and send him into
battle--and what is the result?  Skedaddle!

"Don't make any mistake; we haven't any cavalry yet.  Some day we
will, when our men learn to ride faster than a walk."

"God!" muttered a brigadier-general under his white moustache;
"it's been a bitter pill to swallow--this raid around our entire
army by fifteen hundred of Jeb Stuart's riders and two iron guns!"

The half dozen lancers, lying on their bellies in the grass on the
bank above the road where this discussion took place remained
crimson, mute, paralysed with mortification.  Was _that_ what the
army thought of them?

But they had little time for nursing their mortification that
morning; the firing along the river was breaking out in patches
with a viciousness and volume heretofore unheard; and a six-gun
Confederate field battery had joined in, arousing the entire camp
of Claymore's brigade.  Louder and louder grew the uproar along the
river; smoke rose and took silvery-edged shape in the sunshine;
bugles were calling to the colours regiments encamped on the right;
a light battery trotted out across a distant meadow, unlimbered and
went smartly into action.

About noon the bugles summoned the 3rd Zouaves.  As they were
forming, the camps of the 8th Lancers and the 10th Light Battery
rang with bugle music.  Berkley, standing to horse, saw the Zouaves
leaving the hill at a jog-trot, their red legs twinkling; but half
way down the slope they were halted to dress ranks; and the
Lancers, cantering ahead, turned westward and moved off along the
edge of the river swamp toward the piled-up cloud of smoke down
stream.

After them trotted the 10th New York Flying Battery as though on
parade, their guidons standing straight out behind the
red-and-white guidons of the Lancers.

The Zouaves had now reached wet land, where a staff officer met
Colonel Craig and piloted him through a field of brush and wild
grass, and under the parapets of an emplacement for big guns, on
which men were nonchalantly working, to the beginning of a newly
laid road of logs.  The noise of musketry and the smoke had become
prodigious.  On the logs of the road lay the first big pool of
blood that many of them had ever seen.  What it had come from they
could not determine; there was nothing dead or dying there.

The men glanced askance at the swamp where the black shining water
had risen almost level with the edges of the road; but the Colonel
and his staff, still mounted, rode coolly over it, and the regiment
followed.

The corduroy road through the heavily wooded swamp which the 3rd
Zouaves now followed was the only inlet to the noisy scene of local
action, and the only outlet, too.

Except for watching the shells at Blue Bridge, the regiment had
never been in battle, had never seen or heard a real battle; many
had never even seen a wounded man.  They understood that they were
going into battle now; and now the regiment caught sight of its
first wounded men.  Stretchers passed close to them on which
soldiers lay naked to the waist, some with breasts glistening red
and wet from unstopped haemorrhage, some with white bodies marked
only by the little round blue hole with its darker centre.
Soldiers passed them, limping, bloody rags dripping from thigh or
knee; others staggered along with faces the colour of clay, leaning
on the arms of comrades, still others were carried out feet first,
sagging, a dead-weight in the arms of those who bore them.  One man
with half his fingers gone, the raw stumps spread, hurried out,
screaming, and scattering blood as he ran.

The regiment passed an artilleryman lying in the water whose head,
except for the lower jaw, was entirely missing; and another on his
back in the ooze whose bowels were protruding between his fingers;
and he was trying very feebly to force them back, while two
comrades strove in vain to lift him.

The regiment sickened as it looked; here and there a young zouave
turned deathly pale, reeled out of the ranks, leaned against a
tree, nauseated, only to lurch forward again at the summons of the
provost guard; here and there a soldier disengaged his white turban
from his fez and dropped it to form a sort of Havelock; for the
vertical sun was turning the men dizzy, and the sights they saw
were rapidly unnerving them.

They heard the tremendous thunder and felt the concussion of big
guns; the steady raining rattle of musketry, the bark of howitzers,
the sharp, clean crack of rifled field guns dismayed them.
Sometimes, far away, they could distinguish the full deep cheering
of a Union regiment; and once they caught the distant treble battle
cry of the South.  There were moments when a sudden lull in the
noise startled the entire regiment.  Even their officers looked up
sharply at such times.  But ahead they could still see Colonel
Craig riding calmly forward, his big horse picking its leisurely
way over the endless road of logs; they could see the clipped gray
head of Major Lent under its red forage-cap, steady, immovable, as
he controlled his nervous mount with practised indifference.

It was broiling hot in the swamp; the Zouaves stood bathed in
perspiration as the regiment halted for a few minutes, then they
moved forward again toward a hard ridge of grass which glimmered
green beyond the tangled thicket's edges.

Here the regiment was formed in line of battle, and ordered to lie
down.

Stephen wiped his sweaty hands on his jacket and, lifting his head
from the grass, looked cautiously around.  Already there had been
fighting here; a section of a dismantled battery stood in the road
ahead; dead men lay around it; smoke still hung blue in the woods.
The air reeked.

The Zouaves lay in long scarlet rows on the grass; their officers
stood leaning on their naked swords, peering ahead where the
Colonel, Major, and a mounted bugler were intently watching
something--the two officers using field glasses.  In a few moments
both officers dismounted, flung their bridles to an orderly, and
came back, walking rather quickly.  Major Lent drawing his bright,
heavy sword and tucking up his gold-embroidered sleeves as he came
on.

"Now, boys," said Colonel Craig cheerfully, "we are going in.  All
you've got to do can be done quickly and thoroughly with the
bayonet.  Don't cock your muskets, don't fire unless you're told
to.  Perhaps you won't have to fire at all.  All I want of you is
to keep straight on after me--right through those dry woods, there.
Try to keep your intervals and alignment; don't yell until you
sight the enemy, don't lose your heads, trust your officers.  Where
they go you are safest."

He dropped his eye-glasses into his slashed pocket, drew out and
put on a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles.  The soldiers saw him
smile and say something to Major Lent, saw him bare his handsome
sword, saw the buglers setting the shining bugles to their lips.

"Now, _charge_, you red-legged rascals!" shouted Major Lent; and up
from the grass rose a wave of scarlet and flashing steel.

Charge! Charge! echoed the bugles; a wailing storm, high among the
tree tops, passed over them as they entered the dry woods on a run;
branches crashed earthward, twig's and limbs crackled down in
whirling confusion.  But there was nothing in the woods except
smoke--and the streaming storm shrilling overhead, raining down on
them leaves and boughs and splintered sticks.

The belt of woodland was very narrow; already the men could see
sunlight on the farther edge, and catch glimpses of fields; and
still they ran forward, keeping their alignment as best they might
among the trees; and came, very soon, to the wood's edge.  Here
they were halted and ordered to lie down again; and they lay there,
close to the ground among the dead leaves, while from above living
leaves rained on them in never-ending showers, and the wild tempest
sped overhead unchecked.

Far out across the fields in the sunshine, looking diminutive as
toys in the distance, four cannon puffed smoke toward them.  The
Zouaves could see the guns--see even the limbers and caissons
behind, and the harnessed teams, and the cannoneers very busily at
work in the sunshine.  Then a long low wall of white smoke suddenly
appeared along a rail fence in front of the guns, and at the same
time the air thickened with bullets storming in all about them.

The Colonel and the Major had run hastily out into the field.  "Get
up! Get up!" shouted the company officers.  "Left dress, there!
Forward!  Don't cock your rifles; don't fire until you're told to.
Steady there on the left.  Forward!  Forward!"

"Now yell, you red-legs!  Yell!"

As they started running, their regimental colours fell, man and nag
sprawling in the grass; and the entire line halted, bewildered.
The next instant a zouave had lifted the colours, and was running
forward; and: "Get on there!  Continue the movement!  What in
hell's the matter with you Zouaves!" shouted their
lieutenant-colonel.  And the sagging scarlet line bellied out,
straightened as the flanks caught up, and swept out into the
sunshine with a cheer--the peculiar Zouave cheer--not very full
yet, for they had not yet lost the troubled wonder of things.

Stephen, running with shouldered musket, saw close ahead a long
line of blue smoke and flame, but instead of the enemy there was
nothing hidden behind the smoke except a long field-ditch in which
dry brush was burning.

Into the ditch tumbled the regiment, and lay panting, coughing,
kicking out the embers, and hugging the ground closely, because now
the storm that had swept the tree tops was shaving the weeds and
grass around them; and the drone of bullets streaming over the
ditch rose to a loud, fierce whine.

Up in the blue sky little white clouds suddenly unfolded themselves
with light reports, and disappeared, leaving jagged streamers of
vapour afloat here and there; the near jarring discharge of
artillery shook the ground till bits of sod fell in particles,
crumbling from the ditch's edge; the outrageous racket of musketry
never slackened.

Lying there, they heard a sudden burst of cheering, and far to the
left saw another regiment come tumbling into the ditch and crouch,
huddled there in a blue line stretching as far away as they could
see.  And again the firing increased to a stunning roar, and there
were more cheers; and, to their right, another regiment came
running and rolling into the ditch.

Officers, recklessly erect, stood here and there along the interior
of the ditch; then from the lair of each regiment flags emerged,
bugles blew clear and impatient; there came an upheaval of
bayonets, and the three regiments scrambled to their feet, over the
ditch's edge, and surged forward into the sunshine.

Across the fields Stephen saw guns being limbered up; and drivers
lashing their horses to a gallop across a bridge.  The regiment on
their left was firing by wings as it advanced, the regiment on the
right had broken into a heavy run, yelling: "Hey!  We want them
guns!  Wait a second, will yer?  Where you takin' them guns to?"

There was a new rail fence close in front of the Zouaves, barring
their way to the bridge; and suddenly, from behind it, men arose
with levelled muskets; and the Zouaves dropped flat to the volley
that buried the fence in smoke.

"Now, boys!" cried Colonel Craig, "we've got to have that bridge!
So we'll finish this business right here with the bayonet.  Come on
and let's end it _now_!"

Major Lent ran forward and started to climb the smoky fence;
everywhere the Zouaves were swarming along the newly split rails or
driving their bayonets through the smoke at the gray phantoms
clustering behind.  Shots rang out, the crack of stock against
stock, the ringing clamour and click of steel filled the air.

The zouave next to Stephen lurched up against him spouting blood
from the neck; on the other side of him another, a sergeant, too,
had gone stark mad, apparently, and was swinging his terrible sabre
bayonet without regard to friend or foe; and still another man of
his squad, swearing horridly, had clutched a ghostly enemy in the
smoke across the fence and was trying to strangle him with his bare
hands.

Stephen, bewildered by a blow which glanced from his head to his
left shoulder, clung to his musket and tried to stagger forward,
but a bayonet seared his right temple, tearing the scalp and
letting down a rush of blood all over his face and eyes.   Blinded,
the boy called instinctively: "Father!  I'm hurt!  Could you help
me!"

Colonel Craig turned white under his tan, and looked back.

"I can't help you, my boy.  Sergeant, will you look after my son?"
And he ran forward into the infernal network of bayonets, calling
out: "Get through there, boys.  We might as well clean up this mess
while we're about it.  Pull down that fence!  Never mind those men
behind it!--rush it!  Kick it over!  Now come on!  I don't ask you
to do anything that I don't do.  Major Lent and I will take you
through.  Come on and take that bridge!"

A captain, fighting back the bayonets with his sword, suddenly
floundered to the fence top and clung, balanced on his belly,
shouting hysterically:

"Look at the Lancers!  Look at 'em coming!  Now, Zouaves!  Pull
down the fence and give them a chance to charge the bridge!"

Over a low swell of land some horsemen trotted into view; behind
them the horizon was suddenly filled with the swimming scarlet
pennons of the Lancers.  A thousand horses' heads shot up against
the sky line, manes tossing; a thousand lance points fell to a
glittering level.

They were cheering shrilly as they came on; the Zouaves heard them,
the gray infantry regiment gave way, turned, filed off, retreating
toward the bridge at a slow trot like some baffled but dangerous
animal; and after it ran the Zouaves, firing, screaming, maddened
to hysteria by their first engagement, until their panting officers
and their bugles together barely managed to halt them short of the
edges of utter annihilation just as a full Confederate brigade rose
grimly from the wood's edge across the stream, ready to end their
hysterical yelling for ever.

Stephen, sitting on the grass among the dead and stricken, tied his
bloody turban, pulled the red fez close over it, smeared the blood
from his eyes, and, clutching his musket, stood up unsteadily.

He could see the charge of the 8th Lancers--see the horsemen wheel
and veer wildly as they received the fire of the Confederate troops
from the woods across the stream, squadron after squadron sheering
off at a gallop and driving past the infantry, pell-mell, a wild
riot of maddened horses, yelling riders, and streaming scarlet
pennons descending in one vivid, headlong torrent to the bridge.
But the structure was already hopelessly afire; and the baffled
carbineers of the advance reined up at the edge of the burning
timbers and sent an angry volley after the gray infantry now
jogging back into the woods beyond.  Then, suddenly, the Zouaves
heard the Lancers cheering wildly in the smoke of the burning
structure, but did not know what it meant.

It meant--Berkley.

Fear had squired him that day.  When the bugles sounded through the
cannon thunder and his squadron trotted out, Fear, on a paler horse
than Death bestrides, cantered with him, knee to knee.  Fear's
startled eyes looked into his through the jetted smoke of musketry,
through the tumult of the horses and the trumpets; Fear made his
voice light and thin, so that he scarcely heard it amid the fierce
cheering of his comrades, the pounding of hoofs, the futile
clattering of equipments.

It was all a swift and terrible nightmare to him--the squadrons
breaking into a gallop, the woods suddenly belted with smoke, the
thud and thwack of bullets pelting leather and living flesh, the
frantic plunging of stricken horses, the lightning down-crash of
riders hurled earthward at full speed, the brief glimpses of
scarlet streaks under foot--of a horse's belly and agonised
iron-shod feet, of a white face battered instantly into
obliteration, of the ruddy smoke flowing with sparks amid which
bugles rang above the clashing halt of maddened squadrons.

Then, through the rolling ocean of smoke, he saw officers and men
trying to hack away and beat out the burning timbers--saw a
reckless carbineer--his own tent-mate--dismount and run out across
the planking which was already afire, saw him stumble and roll over
as a bullet hit him, get to his knees blindly, trip and fall flat
in the smoke.  Then Fear bellowed in Berkley's ear; but he had
already clapped spurs to his horse, cantering out across the
burning planking and straight into the smoke pall.

"Where are you, Burgess?" he shouted.  The Fear of Death stiffened
his lips as he reined up in the whirling spark-shot obscurity.
"Burgess--damn you--answer me, can't you!" he stammered, half
strangled in the smoke, trying to master his terrified mount with
rein and knee and heel.

Vaguely he heard comrades shouting for him to come back, heard
shells exploding amid the smoke, wheeled his staggering horse, bent
swiftly and grasped at an inanimate form in the smoke, missed,
dismounted and clutched the senseless carbineer--his comrade--and
once his valet.

[Illustration: "He dismounted and clutched the senseless
carbineer."]

Out of the fiery tunnel came tearing his terrified horse,
riderless; out of the billowing, ruddy vapours reeled Berkley,
dragging the carbineer.

It was the regiment cheering him that the Zouaves heard.


The fields were now swimming in bluish smoke; through it the
Zouaves were reforming as they marched.  Little heaps of brilliant
colour dotting the meadow were being lifted and carried off the
field by comrades; a few dismounted carbineers ran hither and
thither, shooting hopelessly crippled horses.  Here and there a
dead lancer lay flat in the grass, his scarlet pennon a vivid spot
beside him.

The hill road to the burning bridge was now choked with Colonel
Arran's regiment, returning to the crest of the hill; through the
blackish and rolling smoke from the bridge infantry were creeping
swiftly forward toward the river bank, and very soon the
intermittent picket firing began again, running up and down the
creek bank and out across the swamp lands, noisily increasing as it
woke up vicious volleys from the woods on the opposite bank, and
finally aroused the cannon to thunderous anger.

Berkley, standing to horse with his regiment on the sparsely wooded
hill crest, could see the crowding convolutions of smoke rising
from the thickets, as each gun spoke from the Confederate
batteries.  But to him their thunder was like the thunder in a
dream.

Hour after hour the regiment stood to horse; hour after hour the
battle roared west and south of them.  An irregular cloud, slender
at the base, spreading on top, towered to mid zenith above the
forest.  Otherwise, save for the fleecy explosion of shells in the
quivering blue vault above, nothing troubled the sunshine that lay
over hill and valley, wood and river and meadowland.

McDunn's battery was not firing; the Zouaves lay dozing awake in
the young clover, the Lancers, standing to horse, looked out across
the world of trees and saw nothing stirring save a bird or two
winging hastily northward.

Berkley could distinguish a portion of the road that ran down to
the burning bridge, where part of McDunn's battery was in position.
Across the hills to the left a scarlet windrow undulating on either
flank of the battery marked the line of battle where the Zouaves
lay in a clover-field, within supporting distance of the guns.

Except for these, and a glimpse of Lowe's balloon overhead, Berkley
could not see anything whatever even remotely connected with the
uproar which continued steadily in the west and south.  Nobody
seemed to know whose troops were engaged, where they came from,
whither they were trying to force a fiery road through a land in
arms against their progress.

At times, to Berkley, it seemed as though every tree, every hill,
every thicket was watching him with sombre intent; as if Nature
herself were hostile, stealthy, sinister, screening terrors yet
unloosed, silently storing up violence in dim woods, aiding and
abetting ambush with all her clustering foliage; and that every
river, every swamp, every sunny vista concealed some hidden path to
death.

He stood rigid at his horse's head, lance in hand, dirty,
smoke-blackened, his ears deafened by the cannonade, his eyes cool
and alert, warily scanning hill and hollow and thicket.

Dead men of his regiment were borne past him; he glanced furtively
at them, not yet certain that the lower form of fear had left him,
not yet quite realising that he had blundered into manhood--that
for the first time in his life he was ready to take his chance with
life.

But, little by little, as the hours passed, there in the trodden
grass he began to understand something of the unformulated decision
that had been slowly growing in him--of the determination, taking
shape, to deal more nobly with himself--with this harmless self
which had accepted unworthiness and all its attributes, and which
riven pride would have flung back at the civilisation which branded
him as base.

It came--this knowledge--like a slowly increasing flare of light;
and at last he said under his breath, to himself:

"Nothing is unworthily born that is born of God's own law.  I have
been what I chose.  I can be what I will."

A gracious phantom grew under his eyes taking exquisite shape
before him; and dim-eyed, he stared at it till it dwindled, faded,
dissolved into empty air and sunshine.


No; he could never marry without revealing what he was; and that he
would never do because of loyalty to that tender ghost which he
must shield for ever even as he would have shielded her in life.

No living soul had any right to know.  No love of his for any woman
could ever justify betrayal of what alone concerned the dead.


The shells, which, short fused, had been bursting high above the
swamp to the right, suddenly began to fall nearer the cavalry, and
after a while a shell exploded among them, killing a horse.

They retired by squadrons, leisurely, and in good order; but the
shells followed them, searching them out and now and then finding
them with a deafening racket and cloud of smoke, out of which
mangled horses reared, staggered, and rolled over screaming; out of
which a rider, here and there was hurled sideways, head first, or
sent spinning and headless among his white-faced comrades.

McDunn's guns had opened now, attempting to extinguish the fire of
the troublesome Confederate battery.  Berkley, teeth set, pallid,
kept his place in the ranks, and hung to his horse's head until he
got the animal calmed again.  One of his sleeves was covered with
blood from a comrade's horse, blown into fragments beside him.

He could see McDunn's gunners working methodically amid the vapours
steaming back from the battery as it fired by sections; saw the
guns jump, buried in smoke; saw the long flames flicker, flicker,
flicker through the cannon mist; felt the solid air strike him in
the face at each discharge.

Hallam, white as a sheet, stood motionless at the head of his
troop; a shell had just burst, but it was as though he dared not
look back until Colonel Arran rode slowly over to the stricken
company--and saw Berkley still standing at his horse's head, and
gave him a look that the younger man never forgot.

Again, by troops, the Lancers retired; and again the yelling shells
found them, and they retired to the base of a hill.  And came upon
a division in full panic.

Over a culvert and down a wooded road troops of all arms were
riotously retreating, cavalry, baggage-waggons, battered fragments
of infantry regiments, ambulances, all mixed and huddled pell-mell
into a headlong retreat that stretched to the rear as far as the
eye could see.

Astonished, the Lancers looked on, not understanding, fearful of
some tremendous disaster.  A regiment of regular cavalry of the
Provost Guard was riding through the fugitives, turning, checking,
cutting out, driving, separating the disorganised mob; but it was
hard work, and many got away, and teamsters began to cut traces,
and skulking cavalrymen clapped spurs and rode over screeching
deserters who blocked their path.  It was a squalid sight; the
Lancers looked on appalled.

Colonel Arran rode his horse slowly along the front of his
regiment, talking quietly to his men.

"It's only one or two of the raw brigades and a few teamsters and
frightened sutlers--that's all.  Better that the Provost Guard
should let them through; better to sift out that kind of soldier."
. . .  He calmly turned his horse's head and rode back along the
lines of horses and dismounted troopers, commenting reassuringly on
what was taking place around them.

"There is never any safety in running away unless your officers
order you to run.  The discipline of a regiment is the only
security for the individual.  There is every chance of safety as
long as a regiment holds together; no chance at all if it
disintegrates.

"The regulars understand that; it is what makes them formidable; it
is what preserves them individually, and every man knows it.  The
regulars don't run; it happens to be contrary to their traditions;
but those traditions originated less in sentiment than in plain
common-sense."

He turned his horse and walked the animal slowly along the lines.

"I am exceedingly gratified by the conduct of this regiment," he
said.  "You have done all that has been asked of you.  To do more
than is asked of you is not commendable in a soldier, though it may
display individual courage. . . .  The carbineer, Burgess, 10th
troop, Captain Hallam, was foolhardy to attempt the bridge without
orders. . . .  The lancer, Ormond, 10th troop, Captain Hallam,
however, did his full duty--admirably--when he faced death to
rescue a wounded comrade from the flames. . . .  In England a
Victoria Cross is given for deeds of this kind.  The regiment
respects him--and respects itself. . . .  I care to believe that
there is not one officer or trooper in my command who is not ready
to lay down his life for a friend. . . .  I am happy in the
consciousness that it is not courage which is lacking in this
command; it is only experience.  And that will come; it came with
the shells on the slope yonder.  There is no more severe test of a
regiment's discipline than to endure the enemy's fire without being
able to retaliate."

The regiment's eyes were fastened on their colonel's tall heavy
figure as he walked his powerful horse slowly to and fro along
their front, talking to them in his calm, passionless manner.
Strained muscles and tense nerves relaxed; breath came more
regularly and naturally; men ventured to look about them more
freely, to loosen the spasmodic grip on curb and snaffle, to speak
to comrades in low tones, inquiring what damage other troops had
sustained.

The regular cavalry of the Provost Guard had turned the tide of
stragglers now, letting through only the wounded and the teams.
But across the open fields wreckage from the battle was streaming
in every direction; and so stupid and bewildered with fear were
some of the fugitives that McDunn's battery had to cease its fire
for a time, while the officers ran forward through the smoke,
shouting and gesticulating to warn the mass of skulkers out of the
way.

And now a fearful uproar of artillery arose immediately to the
west, shells began to rain in the river woods, then shrapnel, then,
in long clattering cadence, volley succeeded volley, faster,
faster, till the outcrash became one solid, rippling roar.

Far to the west across the country the Lancers saw regiments
passing forward through the trees at a quick-step; saw batteries
galloping hither and thither, aides-de-camp and staff-officers
racing to and fro at full speed.

The 3rd Zouaves rose from the clover, shouldered muskets, and moved
forward on a run; a staff-officer wheeled out of the road, jumped
his horse over the culvert, and galloped up to Colonel Arran.  And
the next moment the Lancers were in the saddle and moving at a trot
out toward the left of McDunn's battery.

They stood facing the woods, lances poised, for about ten minutes,
when a general officer with dragoon escort came galloping down the
road and through the meadow toward McDunn's battery.  It was
Claymore, their general of brigade.

"Retire by prolonge!" he shouted to the battery commander, pulling
in his sweating horse.  "We've got to get out of this!"  And to
Colonel Arran, who had ridden up, flushed and astonished: "We've
got to leave this place," he repeated shortly.  "They're driving
the Zouaves in on us."

All along the edge of the woods the red breeches of the Zouaves
were reappearing, slowly retreating in excellent order before
something as yet unseen.  The men turned every few paces to fire by
companies, only to wheel again, jog-trot toward the rear, halt,
load, swing to deliver their fire, then resume their jogging
retreat.

Back they fell, farther, farther, while McDunn's battery continued
to fire and retire by prolonge, and the Lancers, long weapons
disengaged, accompanied them, ready to support the guns in an
emergency.

The emergency seemed very near.  Farther to the left a blue
regiment appeared enveloped in spouting smoke, fairly hurled bodily
from the woods; Egerton's 20th Dragoons came out of a concealed
valley on a trot, looking behind them, their rear squadron firing
from the saddle in orderly retreat; the Zouaves, powder soiled,
drenched in sweat, bloody, dishevelled, passed to the left of the
battery and lay down.

Then, from far along the stretch of woods, arose a sound,
incessant, high-pitched--a sustained treble cadence, nearer,
nearer, louder, shriller, like the excited cry of a hunting pack,
bursting into a paroxysm of hysterical chorus as a long line of
gray men leaped from the wood's edge and swept headlong toward the
guns.

Berkley felt every nerve in his body leap as his lance fell to a
level with eight hundred other lances; he saw the battery bury
itself in smoke as gun after gun drove its cannister into obscurity
or ripped the smoke with sheets of grape; he saw the Zouaves rise
from the grass, deliver their fire, sink back, rise again while
their front spouted smoke and flame.

The awful roar of the firing to the right deafened him; he caught a
glimpse of squadrons of regular cavalry in the road, slinging
carbines and drawing sabres; a muffled blast of bugles reached his
ears; and the nest moment he was trotting out into the smoke.

After that it was a gallop at full speed; and he remembered nothing
very distinctly, saw nothing clearly, except that, everywhere among
his squadron ran yelling men on foot, shooting, lunging with
bayonets, striking with clubbed rifles.  Twice he felt the shocking
impact of his lance point; once he drove the ferruled counterpoise
at a man who went down under his horse's feet.  One moment there
was a perfect whirlwind of scarlet pennons flapping around him,
another and he was galloping alone across the grass, lance crossed
from right to left, tugging at his bridle.  Then he set the reeking
ferrule in his stirrup boot, slung the shaft from the braided arm
loop, and drew his revolver--the new weapon lately issued, with its
curious fixed ammunition and its cap imbedded.

There were groups of gray infantry in the field, walking, running,
or standing still and firing; groups of lancers and dragoons
trotting here and there, wheeling, galloping furiously at the men
on foot.  A number of foot soldiers were crowding around a mixed
company of dragoons and Lancers, striking at them, shooting into
them.  He saw the Lieutenant-colonel of his own regiment tumble out
of his saddle; saw Major Lent put his horse to a dead run and ride
over a squad of infantry; saw Colonel Arran disengage his horse
from the crush, wheel, and begin to use his heavy sabre in the mass
around him.

Bugles sounded persistently; he set spurs to his tired horse and
rode toward the buglers, and found himself beside Colonel Arran,
who, crimson in the face, was whipping his way out with dripping
sabre.

Across a rivulet on the edge of the woods he could see the
regimental colours and the bulk of his regiment re-forming; and he
spurred forward to join them, skirting the edge of a tangle of
infantry, dragoons, and lancers who were having a limited but
bloody affair of their own in a cornfield where a flag tossed
wildly--a very beautiful, square red flag, its folds emblazoned
with a blue cross set with stars,

Out of the melee a score of dishevelled lancers came plunging
through the corn, striking right and left at the infantry that
clung to them with the fury of panthers; the square battle flag,
flung hither and thither, was coming close to him; he emptied his
revolver at the man who carried it, caught at the staff, missed,
was almost blinded by the flashing blast from a rifle, set spurs to
his horse, leaned wide from his saddle, seized the silk, jerked it
from its rings, and, swaying, deluged with blood from a
sword-thrust in the face, let his frantic horse carry him whither
it listed, away, away, over the swimming green that his sickened
eyes could see no longer.



CHAPTER XVI

On every highway, across every wood trail, footpath, and meadow
streamed the wreckage of seven battle-fields.  Through mud and rain
crowded heavy artillery, waggons, herds of bellowing cattle,
infantry, light batteries, exhausted men, wounded men, dead men on
stretchers, men in straw-filled carts, some alive, some dying.
Cannoneers cut traces and urged their jaded horses through the
crush, cursed and screamed at by those on foot, menaced by bayonets
and sabres.  The infantry, drenched, starving, plastered with mud
to the waists, toiled doggedly on through the darkness; batteries
in deplorable condition struggled from mud hole to mud hole; the
reserve cavalry division, cut out and forced east, limped wearily
ahead, its rear-guard firing at every step.

To the north, immense quantities of stores--clothing, provisions,
material of every description were on fire, darkening the sky with
rolling, inky clouds; an entire army corps with heavy artillery and
baggage crossed the river enveloped in the pitchy, cinder-laden
smoke from two bridges on fire.  The forests, which had been felled
from the Golden Farm to Fair Oaks to form an army's vast abattis,
were burning in sections, sending roaring tornadoes of flame into
rifle pits, redoubts, and abandoned fortifications.  Cannon
thundered at Ellison's Mills; shells rained hard on Gaines's Farm;
a thousand simultaneous volleys of musketry mingled with the awful
uproar of the cannon; uninterrupted sheets of light from the shells
brightened the smoke pall like the continuous flare of electricity
against a thundercloud.  The Confederacy, victorious, was advancing
wrapped in flame and smoke.

At Savage's Station the long railroad bridge was now on fire;
trains and locomotives burned fiercely; millions of boxes of hard
bread, barrels of flour, rice, sugar, coffee, salt pork, cases of
shoes, underclothing, shirts, uniforms, tin-ware, blankets,
ponchos, harness, medical stores, were in flames; magazines of
ammunition, flat cars and box cars loaded with powder, shells, and
cartridges blazed and exploded, hurling jets and spouting fountains
of fire to the very zenith.

And through the White Oak Swamp rode the Commander-in-chief of an
army in full retreat, followed by his enormous staff and escort,
abandoning the siege of Richmond, and leaving to their fate the
wretched mass of sick and wounded in the dreadful hospitals at
Liberty Hall.  And the red battle flags of the Southland fluttered
on every hill.

Claymore's mixed brigade, still holding together, closed the rear
of Porter's powder-scorched _corps d'armee_.

The Zouaves of the 3rd Regiment--what was left of them--marched as
flankers; McDunn's battery, still intact, was forced to unlimber
every few rods; and the pouring rain turned to a driving golden
fire in the red glare of the guns, which lighted up the halted
squadrons of the Lancers ranged always in support.

Every rod in retreat was a running combat.  In the darkness the
discharge of the Zouaves' rifles ran from the guns' muzzles like
streams of molten metal spilling out on the grass.  McDunn's guns
spirted great lumps of incandescence; the fuses of the shells in
the sky showered the darkness with swarming sparks.

Toward ten o'clock the harried column halted on a hill and
bivouacked without fires, food, or shelter.  The Zouaves slept on
their arms in the drenched herbage; the Lancers, not daring to
unsaddle, lay down on the grass under their patient horses, bridle
tied to wrist.  An awful anxiety clutched officers and men.  Few
slept; the ceaseless and agonised shrieking from an emergency
hospital somewhere near them in the darkness almost unnerved them.

At dawn shells began to plunge downward among the Dragoons.
McDunn's battery roused itself to reply, but muddy staff-officers
arrived at full speed with orders for Claymore to make haste; and
the starving command staggered off stiffly through the mud, their
ears sickened by the piteous appeals of the wounded begging not to
be abandoned.

Berkley, his face a mass of bloody rags, gazed from his wet saddle
with feverish eyes at the brave contract surgeons standing silent
amid their wounded under the cedar trees.

Cripples hobbled along the lines, beseeching, imploring, catching
at stirrups, plucking feebly, blindly at the horses' manes for
support.

"Oh, my God!" sobbed a wounded artilleryman, lifting himself from
the blood-stained grass, "is this what I enlisted for?  Are you
boys going to leave us behind to rot in rebel prisons?"

"Damn you!" shrieked another, "you ain't licked!  What'n hell are
you runnin' away for?  Gimme a gun an' a hoss an' I'll go back with
you to the river!"

And another pointed a mangled and shaking hand at the passing
horsemen.

"Oh, hell!" he sneered, "we don't expect anything of the cavalry,
but why are them Zouaves skedaddlin'?  They fit like wild cats at
the river.  Halt! you red-legged devils.  You're goin' the wrong
way!"

A Sister of Charity, her snowy, wide-winged headdress limp in the
rain, came out of a shed and stood at the roadside, slender hands
joined imploringly.

"You mustn't leave your own wounded," she kept repeating.  "You
wouldn't do that, gentlemen, would you?  They've behaved so well;
they've done all that they could.  Won't somebody tell General
McClellan how brave they were?  If he knew, he would never leave
them here."

The Lancers looked down at her miserably as they rode; Colonel
Arran passed her, saluting, but with heavy, flushed face averted;
Berkley, burning with fever, leaned from his saddle, cap in hand.

"We can't help it, Sister.  The same thing may happen to us in an
hour.  But we'll surely come back; you never must doubt that!"

Farther on they came on a broken-down ambulance, the mules gone,
several dead men half buried in the wet straw, and two Sisters of
Charity standing near by in pallid despair.

Colonel Arran offered them lead-horses, but they were timid and
frightened; and Burgess gave his horse to the older one, and
Berkley took the other up behind him, where she sat sideways
clutching his belt, white coiffe aflutter, feet dangling.

At noon the regiment halted for forage and rations procured from a
waggon train which had attempted to cross their line of march.  The
rain ceased: a hot sun set their drenched clothing and their
horses' flanks steaming.  At two o'clock they resumed their route;
the ragged, rain-blackened pennons on the lance heads dried out
scarlet; a hot breeze set in, carrying with it the distant noise of
battle.

All that afternoon the heavy sound of the cannonade jarred their
ears.  And at sunset it had not ceased.

Berkley's Sister of Charity clung to his belt in silence for a
while.  After a mile or two she began to free her mind in regard to
the distressing situation of her companion and herself.  She
informed Berkley that the negro drivers had become frightened and
had cut the traces and galloped off; that she and the other Sister
were on their way to the new base at Azalea Court House, where
thousands of badly wounded were being gathered from the battles of
the last week, and where conditions were said to be deplorable,
although the hospital boats had been taking the sick to Alexandria
as fast as they could be loaded.

She was a gentle little thing, with ideas of her own concerning the
disaster to the army which was abandoning thousands of its wounded
to the charity and the prisons of an enemy already too poor to feed
and clothe its own.

"Some of our Sisters stayed behind, and many of the medical staff
and even the contract surgeons remained.  I hope the rebels will be
gentle with them.  I expected to stay, but Sister Aurelienne and I
were ordered to Azalea last night.  I almost cried my eyes out when
I left our wounded.  The shells were coming into the hospital
yesterday, and one of them killed two of our wounded in the straw.
Oh, it was sad and terrible.  I am sure the rebels didn't fire on
us on purpose.  Do you think so?"

"No, I don't.  Were you frightened, Sister."

"Oh, yes," she said naively, "and I wished I could run into the
woods and hide."

"But you didn't?"

"Why, no, I couldn't," she said, surprised.

The fever in his wound was making him light-headed.  At intervals
he imagined that it was Ailsa seated behind him, her arms around
his waist, her breath cool and fragrant on his neck; and still he
knew she was a phantom born of fever, and dared not speak--became
sly, pretending he did not know her lest the spell break and she
vanish into thin air again.

What the little sister said was becoming to him only a pretty
confusion of soft sounds; at moments he was too deaf to hear her
voice at all; then he heard it and still believed it to be Ailsa
who was speaking; then, for a, few seconds, reality cleared his
clouded senses; he heard the steady thunder of the cannonade, the
steady clattering splash of his squadron; felt the hot, dry wind
scorching his stiffened cheek and scalp where the wound burned and
throbbed under a clotted bandage.

When the regiment halted to fill canteens the little sister washed
and re-bandaged his face and head.

It was a ragged slash running from the left ear across the
cheek-bone and eyebrow into the hair above the temple--a deep,
swollen, angry wound.

"What _were_ you doing when you got this?" she asked in soft
consternation, making him as comfortable as possible with the
scanty resources of her medical satchel.  Later, when the bugles
sounded, she came back from somewhere down the line, suffered him
to lift her up behind him, settled herself, slipped both arms
confidently around his waist, and said:

"So you are the soldier who took the Confederate battle flag?  Why
didn't you tell me?  Ah--I know.  The bravest never tell."

"There is nothing to tell," he replied.   "They captured a guidon
from us.  It evens the affair."

She said, after a moment's thought; "It speaks well for a man to
have his comrades praise him as yours praise you."

"You mean the trooper Burgess," he said wearily.  "He's always
chattering."

"All who spoke to me praised you," she observed.  "Your colonel
said: 'He does not understand what fear is.  He is absolutely
fearless.'"

"My colonel has been misinformed, Sister.  I am intelligent enough
to be afraid--philosopher enough to realise that it doesn't help
me.  So nowadays I just go ahead."

"Trusting in God," she murmured.

He did not answer.

"Is it not true, soldier?"

But the fever was again transfiguring her into the shape of Ailsa
Paige, and he remained shyly silent, fearing to disturb the
vision--yet knowing vaguely that it was one.

She sighed; later, in silence, she repeated some Credos and Hail
Marys, her eyes fixed on space, the heavy cannonade dinning in her
ears.  All around her rode the Lancers, tall pennoned weapons
swinging from stirrup and loop, bridles loose under their clasped
hands.  The men seemed stupefied with fatigue; yet every now and
then they roused themselves to inquire after her comfort or to
offer her a place behind them.  She timidly asked Berkley if she
tired him, but he begged her to stay, alarmed lest the vision of
Ailsa depart with her; and she remained, feeling contented and
secure in her drowsy fatigue.  Colonel Arran dropped back from the
head of the column once to ride beside her.  He questioned her
kindly; spoke to Berkley, also, asking with grave concern about his
wound.  And Berkley answered in his expressionless way that he did
not suffer.

But the little Sister of Charity behind his back laid one finger
across her lips and looked significantly at Colonel Arran; and when
the colonel again rode to the head of the weary column his face
seemed even graver and more careworn.

By late afternoon they were beyond sound of the cannonade, riding
through a golden light between fields of stacked wheat.  Far behind
in the valley they could see the bayonets of the Zouaves
glistening; farther still the declining sun glimmered on the guns
of the 10th battery.  Along a parallel road endless lines of
waggons stretched from north to south, escorted by Egerton's
Dragoons.

To Berkley the sunset world had become only an infernal pit of
scarlet strung with raw nerves.  The terrible pain in his face and
head almost made him lose consciousnesss.  Later he seemed to be
drifting into a lurid sea of darkness, where he no longer felt his
saddle or the movement of his horse; he scarcely saw the lanterns
clustering, scarcely heard the increasing murmur around him, the
racket of picket firing, the noise of many bewildered men, the
cries of staff-officers directing divisions and brigades to their
camping ground, the confused tumult which grew nearer, nearer,
mounting like the ominous clamour of the sea as the regiment rode
through Azalea under the July stars.

He might have fallen from his saddle; or somebody perhaps lifted
him, for all he knew.  In the glare of torches he found himself
lying on a moving stretcher.  After that he felt straw under him;
and vaguely wondered why it did not catch fire from his body, which
surely now was but a mass of smouldering flame.


For days the fever wasted him--not entirely, for at intervals he
heard cannon, and always the interminable picket firing; and he
heard bugles, too, and recognised the various summons.  But it was
no use trying to obey them--no use trying to find his legs.  He
could not get up without his legs--he laughed weakly at the
thought; then, drowsy, indifferent, decided that they had been shot
away, but could not remember when; and it bothered him a good deal.

Other things bothered him; he was convinced that his mother was in
the room.  At intervals he was aware of Hallam's handsome face, cut
out like a paper picture from _Harper's Weekly_ and pasted flat on
the tent wall.  Also there were too many fire zouaves around his
bed--if it was a bed, this vague vibrating hammock he occupied.  It
was much more like a hollow nook inside a gigantic pendulum which
swung eternally to and fro until it swung him into
senselessness--or aroused him with fierce struggles to escape.
But his mother's slender hand sometimes arrested the maddening
motion, or--and this was curiously restful--she cleverly
transferred him to a cradle, which she rocked, leaning close over
him.  Only she kept him wrapped up too warmly.

And after a long while there came a day when his face became
cooler, and his skin grew wet with sweat; and on that day he partly
unclosed his eyes and saw Colonel Arran sitting beside him.

Surprised, he attempted to sit up, but not a muscle of his body
obeyed him, and he lay there stupid, inert, hollow eyes fixed
meaninglessly on his superior, who spoke cautiously.

"Berkley, do you know me?"

His lips twitched a voiceless affirmative.

Colonel Arran said: "You are going to get well, now. . . .  Get
well quickly, because--the regiment misses you. . . .  What is it
you desire to say?  Make the effort if you wish."

Berkley's sunken eyes remained focussed on space; he was trying to
consider.  Then they turned painfully toward Colonel Arran again.

"Ailsa Paige?" he whispered.

The other said quietly: "She is at the base hospital near Azalea.
I have seen her.  She is well. . . .  I did not tell her you were
ill.  She could not have left anyway. . . .  Matters are not going
well with the army, Berkley."

"Whipped?"  His lips barely formed the question.

Colonel Arran's careworn features flushed.

"The army has been withdrawing from the Peninsula.  It is the
commander-in-chief who has been defeated--not the Army of the
Potomac."

"Back?"

"Yes, certainly we shall go back.  This rebellion seems to be
taking more time to extinguish than the people and the national
authorities supposed it would require.  But no man must doubt our
ultimate success.  I do not doubt it.  I never shall.  You must
not.  It will all come right in the end."

"Regiment?" whispered Berkley.

"The regiment is in better shape, Berkley.  Our remounts have
arrived; our wounded are under shelter, and comfortable.  We need
rest, and we're getting it here at Azalea, although they shell us
every day.  We ought to be in good trim in a couple of weeks.
You'll be in the saddle long before that.  Your squadron has become
very proud of you; all the men in the regiment have inquired about
you.  Private Burgess spends his time off duty under the oak trees
out yonder watching your window like a dog. . . .  I--ah--may say
to you, Berkley, that you--ah--have become a credit to the
regiment.  Personally--and as your commanding officer--I wish you
to understand that I am gratified by your conduct.  I have said so
in my official reports."

Berkley's sunken eyes had reverted to the man beside him.  After a
moment his lips moved again in soundless inquiry.

Colonel Arran replied: "The Zouaves were very badly cut up; Major
Lent was wounded by a sabre cut.  He is nearly well now.  Colonel
Craig and his son were not hurt.  The Zouaves are in cantonment
about a mile to the rear.  Both Colonel Craig and his son have been
here to see you--" he hesitated, rose, stood a moment undecided.

"Mrs. Craig--the wife of Colonel Craig--has been here.  Her
plantation, Paigecourt, is in this vicinity I believe.  She has
requested the medical authorities to send you to her house for your
convalescence.  Do you wish to go?"

The hollow-eyed, heavily bandaged face looked up at him from the
straw; and Colonel Arran looked down at it, lips aquiver.

"Berkley--if you go there, I shall not see you again until you
return to the regiment.  I--" suddenly his gray face began to
twitch again--and he set his jaw savagely to control it.

"Good-bye," he said. . .  "I wish--some day--you could try to think
less harshly of me.  I am a--very--lonely man."

Berkley closed his eyes, but whether from weakness or sullen
resentment the older man could not know.  He stood looking down
wistfully at the boy for a moment, then turned and went heavily
away with blurred eyes that did not recognise the woman in bonnet
and light summer gown who was entering the hospital tent.  As he
stood aside to let her pass he heard his name pronounced, in a
cold, decisive voice; and, passing his gloved hand across his eyes
to clear them, recognised Celia Craig.

"Colonel Arran," she said coolly, "is it necessa'y fo' me to
request yo' permission befo' I am allowed to move Philip Berkley to
my own house?"

"No, madam.  The brigade surgeon is in charge.  But I think I can
secure for you the necessary authority to do so if you wish."

She thanked him haughtily, and passed on; and he turned and walked
out, impassive, silent, a stoop to his massive shoulders which had
already become characteristic.

And that evening Berkley lay at Paigecourt in the chintz-hung
chamber where, as a girl, his mother had often slept, dreaming the
dreams that haunt young hearts when the jasmine fragrance grows
heavier in the stillness and the magnolia's snowy chalice is
offered to the moon, and the thrush sings in the river thickets,
and the fire-fly's lamp drifts through the fairy woods.

Celia told him this on the third day, late in the afternoon--so
late that the westering sun was already touching the crests of the
oak woods, and all the thickets had turned softly purple like the
bloom on a plum; the mounting scent of phlox from the garden was
growing sweeter, and the bats fluttered and dipped and soared in
the calm evening sky.

She had been talking of his mother when she was Constance Paige and
wore a fillet over her dark ringlets and rode to hounds at ten with
the hardest riders in all Prince Clarence County.

"And this was her own room, Phil; nothing in it has been moved,
nothing changed; this is the same bird and garland chintz, matching
the same wall-paper; this is the same old baid with its fo' ca'ved
columns and its faded canopy, the same gilt mirror where she looked
and saw reflected there the loveliest face in all the valley. . . .
A child's face, Phil--even a child's face when she drew aside her
bridal veil to look. . . .  Ah--God--" She sighed, looking down at
her clasped hands, "if youth but knew--if youth but knew!"

He lay silent, the interminable rattle of picket firing in his
ears, his face turned toward the window.  Through it he could see
green grass, a magnolia in bloom, and a long flawless spray of
Cherokee roses pendant from the gallery.

Celia sighed, waited for him to speak, sighed again, and picked up
the Baltimore newspaper to resume her reading if he desired.

Searching the columns listlessly, she scanned the headings, glanced
over the letter press in silence, then turned the crumpled page.
Presently she frowned.

"Listen to this, Philip; they say that there is yellow fever among
the Yankee troops in Louisiana.  It would be like them to bring
that horror into the Ca'linas and Virginia----"

He turned his head suddenly, partly rose from where he lay; and she
caught her breath and bent swiftly over him, placing one hand on
his arm and gently forcing him down upon the-pillow again.

"Fo'give me, dear," she faltered.  "I forgot what I was reading----"

He said, thoughtfully: "Did you ever hear exactly how my mother
died, Celia? . . .  But I know you never did. . . .  And I think I
had better tell you."

"She died in the fever camp at Silver Bayou, when you were a little
lad," whispered Celia.

"No."

"Philip!  What are you saying?"

"You don't know how my mother died," he said quietly.

"Phil, we had the papers--and the Governor of Louisiana wrote us
himse'f----"

"I know what he wrote and what the papers published was not true.
I'll tell you how she died.  When I was old enough to take care of
myself I went to Silver Bayou. . . .  Many people in that town had
died; some still survived.  I found the parish records.  I found
one of the camp doctors who remembered that accursed year of
plague--an old man, withered, indifferent, sleeping his days away
on the rotting gallery of his tumble-down house.  _He_ knew. . . .
And I found some of the militia still surviving; and one among them
retained a confused memory of my mother--among the horrors of that
poisonous year----"

He lay silent, considering; then: "I was old enough to remember,
but not old enough to understand what I understood later. . . .  Do
you want to know how my mother died?"

Celia's lips moved in amazed assent.

"Then I will tell you. . . .  They had guards north, east, and west
of us.  They had gone mad with fright; the whole land was
quarantined against us; musket, flintlock, shotgun, faced us
through the smoke of their burning turpentine.  I was only a little
lad, but the horror of it I have never forgotten, nor my mother's
terror--not for herself, for me."

He lay on his side, thin hands clasped, looking not at Celia but
beyond her at the dreadful scene his fancy was painting on the wall
of his mother's room:

"Often, at night, we heard the shots along the dead line.  Once
they murdered a man behind our water garden.  Our negroes moaned
and sobbed all day, all night, helpless, utterly demoralised.  Two
were shot swimming; one came back dying from snake bite.  I saw him
dead on the porch.

"I saw men fall down in the street with the black vomit--women,
also--and once I saw two little children lying dead against a
garden wall in St. Catharine's Alley.  I was young, but I remember."

A terrible pallor came into his wan face.

"And I remember my mother," he said; "and her pleading with the men
who came to the house to let her send me across the river where
there was no fever.  I remember her saying that it was murder to
imprison children there in Silver Bayou; that I was perfectly well
so far.  They refused.  Soldiers came and went.  Their captain
died; others died, we heard.  Then my mother's maid, Alice, an
octoroon, died on the East Gallery.  And the quarters went insane
that day.

"When night came an old body-servant of my grandfather scratched at
mother's door.  I heard him.  I thought it was Death.  I was half
dead with terror when mother awoke and whispered to me to dress in
the dark and to make no sound.

"I remember it perfectly--remember saying: 'I won't go if you
don't, mother.  I'd rather be with you.'  And I remember her
saying: 'You shall not stay here to die when you are perfectly
well.  Trust mother, darling; Jerry will take you to Sainte
Jacqueline in a boat.'

"And after that it is vaguer--the garden, the trench dug under the
north wall--and how mother and I, in deadly fear of moccasins, down
on all fours, crept after Jerry along the ditch to the water's
edge----"

His face whitened again; he lay silent for a while, crushing his
wasted hands together.

"Celia, they fired on us from the levee.  After that I don't know;
I never knew what happened.  But that doctor at Silver Bayou said
that I was found a mile below in a boat with the first marks of the
plague yellowing my skin.  Celia, they never found my mother's
body.  It is not true that she died of fever at Silver Bayou.  She
fell under the murderous rifles of the levee guard--gave her life
trying to save me from that pest-stricken prison.  Jerry's body was
found stranded in the mud twenty miles below.  He had been shot
through the body. . . .  And now you know how my mother died."

He raised himself on one elbow, watching Celia's shocked white face
for a moment or two, then wearily turned toward the window and sank
back on his pillows.

In the still twilight, far away through the steady fusillade from
the outposts, he heard the dull boom-booming of cannon, and the
heavy shocks of the great guns aboard the Union gun-boats.  But it
sounded very far off; a mocking-bird sang close under his window;
the last rosy bar faded from the fleecy cloud bank in the east.
Night came abruptly--the swift Southern darkness quickly emblazoned
with stars; and the whip-poor-wills began their ghostly calling;
and the spectres of the mist crept stealthily inland.

"Celia?"

Her soft voice answered from the darkness near him.

He said: "I knew this was her room before you told me.  I have seen
her several times."

"Good God, Phil!" she faltered, "what are you saying?"

"I don't know. . . .  I saw her the night I came here."

After a long silence Celia rose and lighted a candle.  Holding it a
little above her pallid face she glided to his bedside and looked
down at him.  After a moment, bending, she touched his face with
her palm; then her cool finger-tips brushed the quiet pulse at his
wrist.

"Have I any fever?"

"No, Phil."

"I thought not. . . .  I saw mother's face a few moments ago in
that mirror behind you."

Celia sank down on the bed's edge, the candle trembling in her
hand.  Then, slowly, she turned her head and looked over her
shoulder, moving cautiously, until her fascinated eyes found the
glass behind her.  The mirror hung there reflecting the flowered
wall opposite; a corner of the bed; nothing else.

He said in an even voice;

"From the first hour that you brought me into this room, she has
been here.  I knew it instantly. . . .  The first day she was
behind those curtains--was there a long while.  I knew she was
there; I watched the curtains, expecting her to step out.  I waited
all day, not understanding that I--that it was better that I should
speak.  I fell asleep about dusk.  She came out then and sat where
you are sitting."

"It was a dream, Phil.  It was fever.  Try to realise what you are
saying!"

"I do.  The next evening I lay watching; and I saw a figure
reflected in the mirror.  It was not yet dusk.  Celia, in the
sunset light I saw her standing by the curtains.  But it was
star-light before she came to the bed and looked down at me.

"I said very quietly: 'Mother dear!'  _Then_ she spoke to me; and I
knew she was speaking, but I could not hear her voice. . . .  It
was that way while she stood beside me--I could not hear her,
Celia.  I could not hear what she was saying.  It was no spirit I
saw--no phantom from the dead there by my bed, no ghost--no
restless wraith, grave-driven through the night.  I believe she is
living.  She knows I believe it. . . .  As you sat here, a moment
ago, reading to me, I saw her reflected for a moment in the mirror
behind you, passing into the room beyond.  Her hair is perfectly
white, Celia--or," he said vaguely to himself, "was it something
she wore?--like the bandeaux of the Sisters of Charity----"

The lighted candle fell from Celia's nerveless fingers and rolled
over and over across the floor, trailing a smoking wick.  Berkley's
hand steadied her trembling arm.

"Why are you frightened?" he asked calmly.

"There is nothing dead about what I saw."

"I c-can't he'p myse'f," stammered Celia; "you say such frightful
things to me--you tell me that they happen in my own house--in
_her_ own room--How can I be calm?  How can I believe such things
of--of Constance Berkley--of yo' daid mother----"

"I don't know," he said dully.

The star-light sparkled on the silver candle-stick where it lay on
the floor in a little pool of wax.  Quivering all over, Celia
stooped to lift, relight it, and set it on the table.  And, over
her shoulder, he saw a slim shape enter the doorway.

"Mother dear?" he whispered.

And Celia turned with a cry and stood swaying there in the rays of
the candle.

But it was only a Sister of Charity--a slim, childish figure under
the wide white head-dress--who had halted, startled at Celia's cry.
She was looking for the Division Medical Director, and the sentries
had misinformed her--and she was very sorry, very deeply distressed
to have frightened anybody--but the case was urgent--a Sister shot
near the picket line on Monday; and authority to send her North
was, what she had come to seek.  Because the Sister had lost her
mind completely, had gone insane, and no longer knew them, knew
nobody, not even herself, nor the hospital, nor the doctors, nor
even that she lay on a battle-field.  And she was saying strange
and dreadful things about herself and about people nobody had ever
heard of. . . .  Could anybody tell her where the Division Medical
Director could be found?


It was not yet daybreak when Berkley awoke in his bed to find
lights in the room and medical officers passing swiftly hither and
thither, the red flames from their candles blowing smokily in the
breezy doorways.

The picket firing along the river had not ceased.  At the same
instant he felt the concussion of heavy guns shaking his bed.  The
lawn outside the drawn curtains resounded with the hurrying clatter
of waggons, the noise of pick and spade and crack of hammer and
mallet.

He drew himself to a sitting posture.  A regimental surgeon passing
through the room glanced at him humorously, saying: "You've got a
pretty snug berth here, son.  How does it feel to sleep in a real
bed?" And, extinguishing his candle, he went away through the door
without waiting for any answer.

Berkley turned toward the window, striving to reach the drawn
curtains.  And at length he managed to part them, but it was all
dark outside.  Yet the grounds were evidently crowded with waggons
and men; he recognised sounds which indicated that tents were being
erected, drains and sinks dug; the rattle of planks and boards were
significant of preparation for the construction of "shebangs."

Farther away on the dark highway he could hear the swift gallop of
cavalry and the thudding clank of light batteries, all passing in
perfect darkness.  Then, leaning closer to the sill, he gazed
between the curtains far into the southwest; and saw the tall curve
of Confederate shells traced in whirling fire far down the river,
the awful glare of light as the enormous guns on the Union warships
replied.

Celia, her lovely hair over her shoulders, a scarf covering her
night-dress, came in carrying a lighted candle; and instantly a
voice from outside the window bade her extinguish the light or draw
the curtain.

She looked at Berkley in a startled manner, blew out the flame, and
came around between his bed and the window, drawing the curtains
entirely aside.

"General Claymore's staff has filled eve'y room in the house except
yours and mine," she said in her gentle, bewildered way.  "There's
a regiment--Curt's Zouaves--encamped befo' the west quarters, and a
battery across the drive, and all the garden is full of their
horses and caissons."

"Poor little Celia," he said, reaching out to touch her hand, and
drawing her to the bed's edge, where she sat down helplessly.

"The Yankee officers are all over the house," she repeated.
"They're up in the cupola with night-glasses now.  They are ve'y
polite.  Curt took off his riding boots and went to sleep on my
bed--and oh he is so dirty!--my darling Curt' my own husband!--too
dirty to touch!  I could cry just to look at his uniform, all black
and stained and the gold entirely gone from one sleeve!  And
Stephen!--oh, Phil, some mise'ble barber has shaved the heads of
all the Zouaves, and Steve is perfectly disfigured!--the poor, dear
boy"--she laughed hysterically--"he had a hot bath and I've been
mending the rags that he and Curt call unifo'ms--and I found clean
flannels fo' them both in the attic----"

"_What_ does all this mean--all this camping outside?" he
interrupted gently.

"Curt doesn't know.  The camps and hospitals west of us have been
shelled, and all the river roads are packed full of ambulances and
stretchers going east."

"Where is my regiment?"

"The Lancers rode away yesterday with General Stoneman--all except
haidqua'ters and one squadron--yours, I think--and they are acting
escort to General Sykes at the overseers house beyond the oak
grove.  Your colonel is on his staff, I believe."

He lay silent, watching the burning fuses of the shells as they
soared up into the night, whirling like fiery planets on their
axes, higher, higher, mounting through majestic altitudes to the
pallid stars, then, curving, falling faster, faster, till their
swift downward glare split the darkness into broad sheets of light.

"Phil," she whispered, "I think there is a house on fire across the
river!"

Far away in the darkness rows of tiny windows in an unseen mansion
had suddenly become brilliantly visible.

"It--it must be Mr. Ruffin's house," she said in an awed voice.
"Oh, Phil!  It _is_!  Look!  It's all on fire--it's--oh, see the
flames on the roof! This is terrible--terrible--" She caught her
breath.

"Phil! There's another house on fire!  Do you see--do you _see_!
It's Ailsa's house--Marye-mead!  Oh, how could they set it on
fire--how could they have the heart to burn that sweet old place!"

"Is that Marye-mead?" he asked.

"It _must_ be.  That's where it ought to stand--and--oh!  oh! it's
all on fire, Phil, all on fire!"

"Shells from the gun-boats," he muttered, watching the entire sky
turn crimson as the flames burst into fury, lighting up clumps of
trees and outhouses.  And, as they looked, the windows of another
house began to kindle ominously; little tongues of fire fluttered
over a distant cupola, leaped across to a gallery, ran up in
vinelike tendrils which flowered into flame, veining everything in
a riotous tangle of brilliancy.  And through the kindling darkness
the sinister boom--boom! of the guns never ceased, and the shells
continued to mount, curve, and fall, streaking the night with
golden incandescence.

Outside the gates, at the end of the cedar-lined avenue, where the
highway passes, the tumult was increasing every moment amid shouts,
cracking of whips, the jingle and clash of traces and metallic
racket of wheels.  The house, too, resounded with the heavy hurried
tread of army boots trampling up and down stairs and crossing the
floors above in every direction.

In the summer kitchen loud-voiced soldiers were cooking; there came
the clatter of plates from the dining-room, the odour of hot bread
and frying pork.

"All my negroes except old Peter and a quadroon maid have gone
crazy," said Celia hopelessly.  "I had them so comfo'tably
qua'tered and provided foh!--Cary, the ove'seer, would have looked
after them while the war lasts--but the sight of the blue uniforms
unbalanced them, and they swa'med to the river, where the
contraband boats were taking runaways. . . .  Such foolish
creatures!  They were ve'y happy here and quite safe and well
treated. . . .  And everyone has deserted, old and young!--toting
their bundles and baskets on their silly haids--every negro on
Paigecourt plantation, every servant in this house except Peter and
Sadie has gone with the contrabands . . .  I'm sure I don't know
what these soldiers are cooking in the kitchen.  I expect they'll
end by setting the place afire, and I told Curt so, but he can't
he'p it, and I can't.  It's ve'y hard to see the house turned out
of the windows, and the lawns and gardens cut to pieces by hoofs
and wheels, but I'm only too thankful that Curt can find shelter
under this roof, and nothing matters any mo' as long as he and
Stephen are alive and well."

"Haven't you heard from Ailsa yet?" asked Berkley in a low voice.

"Oh, Phil!  I'm certainly worried.  She was expecting to go on
board some hospital boat at the landing the day befo' your regiment
arrived.  I haven't set eyes on her since.  A gun-boat was to take
one of the Commission's steamers to Fortress Monroe, and all that
day the fleet kept on firing at our--at the Confederate batteries
over the river"--she corrected herself wearily--"and I was so
afraid, that Ailsa's steamer would try to get out----"

"Did it?"

"I don't know.  There are so many, many boats at the landing, and
there's been so much firing, and nobody seems to know what is
happening or where anybody is. . . .  And I don't know where Ailsa
is, and I've been ve'y mise'ble because they say some volunteer
nurses have been killed----"

"What!"

"I didn't want to tell you, Phil--until you were better----"

"Tell me what?" he managed to say, though a terrible fear was
stiffening his lips and throat.

She said dully: "They get shot sometimes.  You remember yo'se'f
what that Sister of Charity said last night.  I heard Ailsa
cautioning Letty--the little nurse, Miss Lynden----"

"Yes, I know.  What else?"

Celia's underlip quivered: "Nothing, only Ailsa told me that she
was ordered to the field hospital fo' duty befo' she went aboard
the commission boat--and she never came back--and there was a
battle all that day----"

"Is that all?" he demanded, rising on one elbow.  "Is there
anything else you are concealing?"

"No, Phil.  I'd tell you if there was.  Perhaps I'm foolish to be
so nervous--but I don't know--that Sister of Charity struck by a
bullet--and to think of Ailsa out there under fire--"  She closed
her eyes and sat shivering in the gray chill of the dawn, the tears
silently stealing over her pale cheeks.  Berkley stared out of the
window at a confused and indistinct mass of waggons and tents and
moving men, but the light was still too dim to distinguish
uniforms; and presently Celia leaned forward and drew the curtains.

Then she turned and took Berkley's hands in hers.

"Phil, dear," she said softly, "I suspect how it is with you and
Ailsa.  Am I indiscreet to speak befo' you give me any warrant?"

He said nothing.

"The child certainly is in love with you.  A blind woman could
divine that," continued Celia wistfully.  "I am glad, Phil, because
I believe you are as truly devoted to her as she is to you.  And
when the time comes--if God spares you both----"

"You are mistaken," he said quietly, "there is no future before us."

She coloured in consternation.  "Wh--why I certainly
supposed--believed----"

"Celia!"

"W-what, dear?"

"Don't you _know_ I cannot marry?"

"Why not, Philip?"

"Could I marry Ailsa Craig unless I first told her that my father
and my mother were never married?" he said steadily.

"Oh, Philip!" she cried, tears starting to her eyes again, "do you
think that would weigh with a girl who is so truly and unselfishly
in love with you?"

"You don't understand," he said wearily.  "I'd take _that_ chance
now.  But do you think me disloyal enough to confess to any woman
on earth what my mother, if she were living, would sacrifice her
very life to conceal?"

He bent his head, supporting it in his hands, speaking as though to
himself:

"I believe that the brain is the vehicle, not the origin of
thought.  I believe a brain becomes a mind only when an immortality
exterior to ourselves animates it.  And this is what is called the
soul. . . .  Whatever it is, it is what I saw--or what that
_something_, exterior to my body, recognised.

"Perhaps these human eyes of mine did not see her.  Something that
belongs to me saw the immortal visitor; something, that is the
vital part of me, saw, recognised, and was recognised."

For a long while they sat there, silent; the booming guns shook the
window; the clatter and uproar of the passing waggon train filled
their ears.

Suddenly the house rocked under the stunning crash of a huge gun.
Celia sprang to her feet, caught at the curtain as another terrific
blast shivered the window-panes and filled the room with acrid dust.

Through the stinging clouds of powdered plaster Colonel Craig
entered the room, hastily pulling on his slashed coat as he came.

"There's a fort in the rear of us--don't be frightened, Celia.  I
think they must be firing at----"

His voice was drowned in the thunder of another gun; Celia made her
way to him, hid her face on his breast as the room shook again and
the plaster fell from the ceiling, filling the room with blinding
dust.

"Oh, Curt," she gasped, "this is dreadful.  Philip cannot stay
here----"

"Better pull the sheets over his head," said her husband, meeting
Berkley's eyes with a ghost of a smile.  "It won't last long; and
there are no rebel batteries that can reach Paigecourt."  He kissed
her.  "How are you feeling, dear?  I'm trying to arrange for you to
go North on the first decent transport----"

"I want to stay with you, Curt," she pleaded, tightening her arms
around his neck.  "Can't I stay as long as my husband and son are
here?  I don't wish to go----"

"You can't stay," he said gently.  "There is no immediate danger
here at Paigecourt, but the army is turning this landing into a
vast pest hole.  It's deadly unhealthy.  I wish you to go home just
as soon as I can secure transportation----"

"And let them burn Paigecourt?  Who is there to look after----"

"We'll have to take such chances, Celia.  The main thing is for you
to pack up and go home as soon as you possibly can. . . .  I've got
to go out now.  I'll try to come back to-night.  The General
understands that it's your house, and that you are my wife; and
there's a guard placed and a Union flag hung out from the
gallery----"

She looked up quickly; a pink flush stained her neck and forehead.

"I would not use that wicked flag to protect myse'f," she said
quietly--"nor to save this house, either, Curt.  It's only fo' you
and Phil that I care what happens to anything now----"

"Then go North, you bad little rebel!" whispered her husband,
drawing her into his arms.  "Paige and Marye have been deserted
long enough; and you've seen sufficient of this war--plenty to last
your lifetime----"

"I saw Ailsa's house burn," she said slowly.

"Marye-mead.  When?"

"This mo'ning, Curt.  Phil thinks it was the shells from the
gun-boats.  It can't be he'ped now; it's gone.  So is Edmund
Ruffin's.  And I wish I knew where that child, Ailsa, is.  I'm that
frightened and mise'ble, Curt----"

An orderly suddenly appeared at the door; her husband kissed her
and hurried away.  The outer door swung wide, letting in a brassy
clangour of bugles and a roll of drums, which softened when the
door closed with a snap.

It opened again abruptly, and a thin, gray-garbed figure came in,
hesitated, and Celia turned, staring through her tears:

"Miss Lynden!" she exclaimed.  "Is Ailsa here?"

Berkley sat up and leaned forward, looking at her intently from the
mass of bandages.

"Letty!" he said, "where is Mrs. Paige?"

Celia had caught the girl's hands in hers, and was searching her
thin white face with anxious eyes; and Letty shook her head and
looked wonderingly at Berkley.

"Nothing has happened to her," she said.  "A Sister of Mercy was
wounded in the field hospital near Azalea, and they sent for Mrs.
Paige to fill her place temporarily.  And," looking from Celia to
Berkley, "she is well and unhurt.  The fighting is farther west
now.  Mrs. Paige heard yesterday that the 8th Lancers were encamped
near Paigecourt and asked me to find Mr. Berkley--and deliver a
letter----"

She smiled, drew from her satchel a letter, and, disengaging her
other hand from Celia's, went over to the bed and placed it in
Berkley's hands.

"She is quite well," repeated Letty reassuringly; and, to Celia:
"She sends her love to you and to your husband and son, and wishes
to know how they are and where their regiment is stationed."

"You sweet little thing!" said Celia, impulsively taking her into
her arms and kissing her pale face.  "My husband and my son are
safe and well, thank God, and my cousin, Phil Berkley, is
convalescent, and you may tell my sister-in-law that we all were
worried most to death at not hearing from her.  And now I'm going
to get you a cup of broth--you poor little white-faced child!  How
did you ever get here?"

"Our ambulance brought me.  We had sick men to send North.  Ailsa
couldn't leave, so she asked me to come."

She accepted a chair near the bed.  Celia went away to prepare some
breakfast with the aid of old Peter and Sadie, her maid.  And as
soon as she left the room Letty sprang to her feet and went
straight to Berkley.

"I did not tell the entire truth," she said in a low, excited
voice.  "I heard your regiment was here; Ailsa learned it from me.
I was coming anyway to see you."

"To see me, Letty?" he repeated, surprised and smiling.

"Yes," she said, losing what little colour remained in her cheeks.
"I am in--in much--anxiety--to know--what to do."

"Can _I_ help you?"

She looked wistfully at him; the tears rushed into her eyes; she
dropped on her knees at his bedside and hid her face on his hands.

[Illustration: "She dropped on her knees at his bedside and hid her
face on his hands."]

"Letty--Letty!" he said in astonishment, "what on earth has
happened?"

She looked up, lips quivering, striving to meet his gaze through
her tears.

"Dr. Benton is here. . . .  He--he has asked me to--marry him."

Berkley lay silent, watching her intently.

"Oh, I know--I know," she sobbed.  "I can't, can I?  I should have
to tell him--and he would never speak to me again--never write to
me--never be what he has been all these months!--I know I cannot
marry him.  I came to tell you--to ask--but it's no use--no use.  I
knew what you would say----"

"Letty!  Wait a moment----"

She rose, controlling herself with a desperate effort.

"Forgive me, Mr. Berkley; I didn't mean to break down; but I'm so
tired--and--I wanted you--I needed to hear you tell me what was
right. . . .  But I knew already.  Even if I were--were treacherous
enough to marry him--I know he would find me out. . . .  I can't
get away from it--I can't seem to get away.  Yesterday, in camp,
the 20th Cavalry halted--and there was John Casson!--And I nearly
dropped dead beside Dr. Benton--oh the punishment for what I
did!--the awful punishment!--and Casson stared at me and said: 'My
Lord, Letty! is that you?'"

She buried her burning cheeks in her hands.

"I did not lie to him.  I offered him my hand; and perhaps he saw
the agony in my face, for he didn't say anything about the
Canterbury, but he took off his forage cap and was pleasant and
kind.  And he and Dr. Benton spoke to each other until the bugles
sounded for the regiment to mount."

She flung her slender arm out in a tragic gesture toward the
horizon.  "The world is not wide enough to hide in," she said in a
heart-breaking voice.  "I thought it was--but there is no
shelter--no place--no place in all the earth!"

"Letty," he said slowly, "if your Dr. Benton is the man I think he
is--and I once knew him well enough to judge--he is the only man on
earth fit to hear the confession you have made this day to me."

She looked at him, bewildered.

"I advise you to love him and marry him.  Tell him about yourself
if you choose; or don't tell him.  There is a vast amount of
nonsense talked about the moral necessity of turning one's self
inside out the moment one comes to marry.  Let me tell you, few men
can do it; and their fiancees survive the shock.  So, few men are
asses enough to try it.  As for women, few have any confessions to
make.  A few have.  You are one."

"Yes," she whispered.

"But I wouldn't if I were you.  If ever any man or woman took the
chance of salvation and made the most of it, that person is you!
And I'm going to tell you that I wouldn't hesitate to marry you if
I loved you."

"W-what!"

He laughed.  "Not one second!  It's a good partnership for any
plan.  Don't be afraid that you can't meet men on their own level.
You're above most of us now; and you're mounting steadily.  There,
that's my opinion of you--that you're a good woman, and a charming
one; and Benton is devilish lucky to get you. . . .  Come here,
Letty."

She went to him as though dazed; and he took both her hands in his.

"Don't you know," he said, "that I have seen you, day after day,
intimately associated with the woman I love?  Can you understand
now that I am telling the truth when I say, let the past bury its
ghosts; and go on living as you have lived from the moment that
your chance came to live nobly.  I know what you have made of
yourself.  I know what the chances were against you.  You are a
better woman to-day than many who will die untempted.  And you
shall not doubt it, Letty.  What a soul is born into is often fine
and noble; what a soul makes of itself is beyond all praise.

"Choose your own way; tell him or not; but if you love him, give
yourself to him.  Whether or not you tell him, he will want you--as
I would--as any man would. . . .  Now you must smile at me, Letty."

She turned toward him a face, pallid, enraptured, transfigured with
an inward radiance that left him silent--graver after that swift
glimpse of a soul exalted.

She said slowly: "You and Ailsa have been God's own messengers to
me. . . .  I shall tell Dr. Benton. . . .  If he still wishes it, I
will marry him.  It will be for him to ask--after he knows all."

Celia entered, carrying the breakfast on a tray.

"Curt's Zouaves have stolen ev'y pig, but I found bacon and po'k in
the cellar," she said, smilingly.  "Oh, dear! the flo' is in such a
mess of plaster!  Will you sit on the aidge of the bed, Miss
Lynden, and he'p my cousin eat this hot co'n pone?"

So the napkin was spread over the sheets, and pillows tucked behind
Berkley; and Celia and Letty fed him, and Letty drank her coffee
and thankfully ate her bacon and corn pone, telling them both,
between bites, how it had been with her and with Ailsa since the
great retreat set in, swamping all hospitals with the sick and
wounded of an unbeaten but disheartened army, now doomed to
decimation by disease.

"It was dreadful," she said.  "We could hear the firing for miles
and miles, and nobody knew what was happening.  But all the
northern papers said it was one great victory after another, and we
believed them.  All the regimental bands at the Landing played; and
everybody was so excited.  We all expected to hear that our army
was in Richmond."

Celia reddened to the ears, and her lips tightened, but she said
nothing; and Letty went on, unconscious of the fiery emotions
awaking in Celia's breast:

"Everybody was so cheerful and happy in the hospital--all those
poor sick soldiers," she said, "and everybody was beginning to plan
to go home, thinking the war had nearly ended.  I thought so, too,
and I was so glad.  And then, somehow, people began to get uneasy;
and the first stragglers appeared. . . .  Oh, it did seem
incredible at first; we wouldn't believe that the siege of Richmond
had been abandoned."

She smiled drearily.  "I've found out that it is very easy to
believe what you want to believe in this world. . . .  Will you
have some more broth, Mr. Berkley?"

Before he could answer the door opened and a red zouave came in,
carrying his rifle and knapsack.

"Mother," he said in an awed voice, "Jimmy Lent is dead!"

"What!"

He looked stupidly around the room, resting his eyes on Letty and
Berkley, then dropped heavily onto a chair.

"Jim's dead," he repeated vacantly.  "He only arrived here
yesterday--transferred from his militia to McDunn's battery.  And
now he's dead.  Some one had better write to Camilla.  I'm afraid
to. . . .  A shell hit him last night--oh--he's all torn to
pieces--and Major Lent doesn't know it, either. . . .  Father let
me come; we're ordered across the river; good-bye, mother--"  He
rose and put his arms around her.

"You'll write to Camilla, won't you?" he said.  "Tell her I love
her.  I didn't know it until just a few minutes ago.  But I do,
mother.  I'd like to marry her.  Tell her not to cry too much.
Jimmy was playing cards, they say, and a big shell fell inside the
redoubt.   Philip--I think you knew Harry Sayre?  Transferred from
the 7th to the Zouaves as lieutenant in the 5th company?"

"Yes.  Was he killed?"

"Oh, Lord, yes; everybody in the shebang except Arthur Wye was all
torn to pieces.  Tommy Atherton, too; you knew him, of course--5th
Zouaves.  He happened in--just visiting Arthur Wye.  They were all
playing cards in a half finished bomb-proof. . . .  Mother, you
_will_ write to Camilla, won't you, dear?  Good-bye--good-bye,
Phil--and Miss Lynden!"  He caught his mother in his arms for a
last hug, wrenched himself free, and ran back across the hall,
bayonet and canteen clanking.

"Oh, why are they sending Curt's regiment across the river?" wailed
Celia, following to the window.  "Look at them, Phil!  Can you see?
The road is full of Zouaves--there's a whole regiment of them in
blue, too.  The batteries are all harnessed up; do you think
there's going to be another battle?  I don't know why they want to
fight any mo'!" she exclaimed in sudden wrath and anguish.  "I
don't understand why they are not willing to leave the South alone.
My husband will be killed, and my only son--like Jimmy Lent--if
they don't ever stop this wicked fighting----"

The roar of a heavy gun buried the room in plaster dust.  Letty
calmly lifted the tray from the bed and set it on a table.  Then
very sweetly and with absolute composure she took leave of Celia
and of Berkley.  They saw her climb into an ambulance which was
drawn up on the grass.

Then Berkley opened the letter that Letty had brought him:


"This is just a hurried line to ask you a few questions.  Do you
know a soldier named Arthur Wye?  He is serving now as artilleryman
in the 10th N. Y. Flying Battery, Captain McDunn.  Are you
acquainted with a lieutenant in the 5th Zouaves, named Cortlandt?
I believe he is known to his intimates as Billy or 'Pop' Cortlandt.
Are they trustworthy and reliable men?  Where did you meet Miss
Lynden and how long have you known her?  Please answer immediately.

  "AILSA PAIGE."


Wondering, vaguely uneasy, he read and re-read this note, so unlike
Ailsa, so brief, so disturbing in its direct coupling of the people
in whose company he had first met Letty Lynden. . . .  Yet, on
reflection, he dismissed apprehension, Ailsa was too fine a
character to permit any change in her manner to humiliate Letty
even if, by hazard, knowledge of the unhappy past had come to her
concerning the pretty, pallid nurse of Sainte Ursula.

As for Arthur Wye and Billy Cortlandt, they were incapable of
anything contemptible or malicious.

He asked Celia for a pencil and paper, and, propped on his pillows,
he wrote:


"My darling, I don't exactly understand your message, but I guess
it's all right.  To answer it:

"Billy Cortlandt and Arthur Wye are old New York friends of mine.
Their words are better than other people's bonds.  Letty Lynden is
a sweet, charming girl.  I regret that I have not known her years
longer than I have.  I am sending this in haste to catch Letty's
ambulance just departing, though still blocked by artillery passing
the main road.  Can you come? I love you.

  "PHILIP BERKLEY."


Celia sent her coloured man running after the ambulance.  He caught
it just as it started on.  Berkley, from his window, saw the
servant deliver his note to Letty.

He had not answered the two questions concerning Letty.  He could
not.  So he had evaded them.

Preoccupied, still conscious of the lingering sense of uneasiness,
he turned on his pillows and looked out of the window.

An enormous cloud of white smoke rose curling from the river,
another, another; and boom! boom!  boom! came the solid thunder of
cannon.  The gunboats at the Landing were opening fire; cavalry
were leading their horses aboard transports; and far down the road
the sun glistened on a long column of scarlet, where the 3rd
Zouaves were marching to their boats.

The sharpshooters had already begun to trouble them.  Their
officers ordered them to lie down while awaiting their turn to
embark.  After a while many of the men sat up on the ground to
stretch and look about them, Stephen among the others.  And a
moment later a conoidal bullet struck him square in the chest and
knocked him flat in the dirt among his comrades.



CHAPTER XVII

The smoke and spiteful crackle of the pickets' fusilade had risen
to one unbroken crash, solidly accented by the report of field guns.

Ambulances were everywhere driving to the rear at a gallop past the
centre and left sections of McDunn's Battery, which, unlimbered,
was standing in a cotton field, the guns pointed southward across
the smoke rising below.

Claymore's staff, dismounted, stood near.  The young general
himself, jacket over one arm, was seated astride the trail of the
sixth gun talking eagerly to McDunn, when across the rolling ground
came a lancer at full speed, plunging and bucketing in his saddle,
the scarlet rags of the lance pennon whipping the wind.  The
trooper reined in his excited horse beside Claymore, saluted, and
handed him a message; and the youthful general, glancing at it, got
onto his feet in a hurry, and tossed his yellow-edged jacket of a
private to an orderly.  Then he faced the lancer:

"Tell Colonel Craig to hold his position no matter what it costs!"
he exclaimed sharply.  "Tell Colonel Arran that I expect him to
stand by the right section of the 10th battery until it is safely
and properly brought off!"  He swung around on Captain McDunn.

"Limber your battery to the rear, sir!  Follow headquarters!" he
snapped, and threw himself into his saddle, giving his mount rein
and heel with a reckless nod to his staff.

McDunn, superbly mounted, scarcely raised his clear, penetrating
voice: "Cannoneers mount gun-carriages; caissons follow; drivers,
put spur and whip to horses--forward--march!" he said.

"Trot out!" rang the bugles; the horses broke into a swinging lope
across the dry ridges of the cotton field, whips whistled, the
cannoneers bounced about on the chests, guns, limbers and caissons
thumped, leaped, jolted, rose up, all wheels in the air at once,
swayed almost to overturning, and thundered on in a tornado of
dust, leaders, swing team, wheel team straining into a frantic
gallop.

The powerful horses bounded forward into a magnificent stride;
general and staff tore on ahead toward the turnpike.  Suddenly,
right past them came a driving storm of stampeding cavalry,
panic-stricken, riding like damned men, tearing off and hurling
from them carbines, canteens, belts; and McDunn, white with rage,
whipped out his revolver and fired into them as they rushed by in a
torrent of red dust.  From his distorted mouth vile epithets
poured; he cursed and damned their cowardice, and, standing up in
his stirrups, riding like a cossack at full speed, attempted to use
his sabre on the fugitives from the front.  But there was no
stopping them, for the poor fellows had been sent into fire
ignorant how to use the carbines issued the day before.

Into a sandy field all spouting with exploding shells and bullets
the drivers galloped and steered the plunging guns.  The driver of
the lead team, fifth caisson, was shot clear out of his saddle, all
the wheels going over him and grinding him to pulp; piece and
limber whirled into a lane on a dead run, and Arthur Wye, driving
the swing team, clinging to the harness and crawling out along the
traces, gained the saddle of the lead-horse.

"Bully for you!" shouted McDunn.  "I hope to God that cowardly
monkey cavalry saw you!"

The left section swung on the centre to get its position; limber
after limber dashed up, clashing and clanking, to drop its gun;
caisson after caisson rounded to under partial cover in the farm
lane to the right.

The roar of the conflict along the river had become terrific; to
the east a New Jersey battery, obscured in flame-shot clouds, was
retiring by its twenty-eight-foot prolonges, using cannister; the
remains of a New Hampshire infantry regiment supported the retreat;
between the two batteries Claymore in his shirt, sleeves rolled to
his elbows, heavy revolver swinging in his blackened fist, was
giving a tongue lashing to the stream of fugitives from the river
woods.

"Where are you going!  Hey!  Scouting?  Well scout to the front,
damn you! . . .  Where are _you_ going, young man?  For ammunition?
Go back to the front or I'll shoot you!  Get along there you
malingerers! or, by God, I'll have a squadron of Arran's
pig-stickers ride you down and punch your skins full of holes!
Orderly!  Ask Colonel Arran if he can spare me a squad of his
lancers for a few minutes----"

The orderly saluted, coughed up a stream of blood, fell backward
off his horse, scrambled to his feet, terror-stricken, both hands
pressed convulsively over his stomach!

"Damn them!  They've got me.  General!" he gasped--"they've g-got
me this time!  There's a piece of shell inside me as big----"

He leaned weakly against his mild-eyed horse, nauseated; but it was
only a spent ball on his belt plate after all, and a few moments
later, swaying and sickly, he forced his horse into a trot across
the hill.

A major of Claymore's staff galloped with orders to the Zouaves;
but, as he opened his mouth to speak a shell burst behind him, and
he pitched forward on his face, his shattered arm doubling under
him.

"Drag me behind that tree.  Colonel Craig!" he said coolly.  "I'll
finish my orders in a moment."  Major Lent and Colonel Craig got
him behind the tree; and the officer's superb will never faltered.

"Your new position must cover that bridge," he whispered faintly.
"The left section of McDunn's battery is already ordered to your
support. . . .  How is it with you, Colonel?  Speak louder----"

Colonel Craig, pallid and worn under the powder smears and sweat,
wiped the glistening grime from his eye-glasses.

"We are holding on," he said.  "It's all right, Major.  I'll get
word through to the General," and he signalled to some drummer boys
lying quietly in the bushes to bring up a stretcher, just as the
left section of McDunn's battery burst into view on a dead run,
swung into action, and began to pour level sheets of flame into the
woods, where, already, the high-pitched rebel yell was beginning
again.

A solid shot struck No. 5 gun on the hub, killing Cannoneer No. 2,
who was thumbing the vent, and filling No. 1 gunner with splinters
of iron, whirling him into eternity amid a fountain of dirt and
flying hub-tires.  Then a shell blew a gun-team into fragments,
plastering the men's faces with bloody shreds of flesh; and the
boyish lieutenant, spitting out filth, coolly ordered up the
limbers, and brought his section around into the road with a
beautiful display of driving and horsemanship that drew raucous
cheers from the Zouaves, where they lay, half stifled, firing at
the gray line of battle gathering along the edges of the woods.

And now the shrill, startling battle cry swelled to the hysterical
pack yell, and, gathering depth and volume, burst out into a
frantic treble roar.  A long gray line detached itself from the
woods; mounted officers, sashed and debonaire, trotted jauntily out
in front of it; the beautiful battle flags slanted forward; there
came a superb, long, low-swinging gleam of steel; and the Southland
was afoot once more, gallant, magnificent, sweeping recklessly on
into the red gloom of the Northern guns.

Berkley, his face bandaged, covered with sweat and dust, sat his
worn, cowhide saddle in the ranks, long lance couched, watching,
expectant.   Every trooper who could ride a horse was needed now;
hospitals had given up their invalids; convalescents and sick men
gathered bridle with shaking fingers; hollow-eyed youngsters
tightened the cheek-straps of their forage caps and waited, lance
in rest.

In the furious smoke below them they could see the Zouaves running
about like red devils in the pit; McDunn's guns continued to pour
solid columns of flame across the creek; far away to the west the
unseen Union line of battle had buried itself in smoke.  Through it
the Southern battle flags still advanced, halted, tossed wildly,
moved forward in jerks, swung to the fierce cheering, moved on
haltingly, went down, up again, wavered, disappeared in the cannon
fog.

Colonel Arran, his naked sabre point lowered, sat his saddle, gray
and erect.  The Major never stirred in his saddle; only the troop
captains from time to time turned their heads as some stricken
horse lashed out, or the unmistakable sound of a bullet hitting
living flesh broke the intense silence of the ranks.

Hallam, at the head of his troop, stroked his handsome moustache
continually, and at moments spoke angrily to his restive horse.  He
was beginning to have a good deal of trouble with his horse, which
apparently wished to bolt, and he had just managed to drag the
fretting animal back into position, when, without warning, the
volunteer infantry posted on the right delivered a ragged volley,
sagged back, broke, and began running.  Almost on their very heels
a dust-covered Confederate flying battery dropped its blackened
guns and sent charge after charge ripping through them, while out
of the fringing woods trotted the gray infantry, driving in
skirmishers, leaping fences, brush piles, and ditches, like lean
hounds on the trail.

Instantly a squadron of the Lancers trampled forward, facing to the
west; but down on their unprotected flank thundered the Confederate
cavalry, and from the beginning it had been too late for a
counter-charge.

A whirlwind of lancers and gray riders drove madly down the slope,
inextricably mixed, shooting, sabering, stabbing with tip and
ferrule.

A sabre stroke severed Berkley's cheek-strap, sheering through
visor and button; and he swung his lance and drove it backward into
a man's face.

In the terrible confusion and tangle of men and horses he could
scarcely use his lance at all, or avoid the twirling lances of his
comrades, or understand what his officers were shouting.  It was
all a nightmare--a horror of snorting horses, panting, sweating
riders, the swift downward glitter of sabre strokes, thickening
like sheeted rain.

His horse's feet were now entangled in brush heaps; a crowding,
cursing mass of cavalrymen floundered into a half demolished snake
fence, which fell outward, rolling mounts and riders into a wet
gully, where they continued fighting like wild cats in a pit.

Yelling exultantly, the bulk of Confederate riders passed through
the Lancers, leaving them to the infantry to finish, and rode at
the flying Federal infantry.  Everywhere bayonets began to glimmer
through the smoke and dust, as the disorganised squadrons rallied
and galloped eastward, seeking vainly for shelter to reform.

Down in the hollow an entire troop of Lancers, fairly intact, had
become entangled among the brush and young saplings, and the
Confederate infantry, springing over the fence, began to bayonet
them and pull them from their horses, while the half-stunned
cavalrymen scattered through the bushes, riding hither and thither
looking vainly for some road to lead them out of the bushy trap.
They could not go back; the fence was too solid to ride down, too
high to leap; the carbineers faced about, trying to make a stand,
firing from their saddles; Colonel Arran, confused but cool, turned
his brier-torn horse and rode forward, swinging his heavy sabre,
just as Hallam and Berkley galloped up through the bushes, followed
by forty or more bewildered troopers, and halted fo'r orders.  But
there was no way out.

Then Berkley leaned from his saddle, touched the visor of his cap,
and, looking Arran straight in the eyes, said quietly:

"With your permission, sir, I think I can tear down enough of that
fence to let you and the others through!  May I try?"

Colonel Arran said, quietly: "No man can ride to that fence and
live.  Their infantry hold it."

"Two men may get there."  He turned and looked at Hallam.  "We're
not going to surrender; we'll all die here anyway.  Shall we try
the fence together?"

For a second the silence resounded with the racket of the
Confederate rifles; three men dropped from their saddles; then
Hallam turned ghastly white, opened his jaws to speak; but no sound
came.  Suddenly he swung his horse, and spurred straight toward the
open brush in the rear, whipping out his handkerchief and holding
it fluttering above his head.

Colonel Arran shouted at him, jerked his revolver free, and fired
at him.  A carbineer also fired after him from the saddle, but
Hallam rode on unscathed in his half-crazed night, leaving his
deserted men gazing after him, astounded.  In the smoke of another
volley, two more cavalrymen pitched out of their saddles.

Then Berkley drove his horse blindly into the powder fog ahead; a
dozen brilliant little jets of flame pricked the gloom; his horse
reared, and went down in a piteous heap, but Berkley landed on all
fours, crawled hurriedly up under the smoke, jerked a board loose,
tore another free, rose to his knees and ripped away board after
board, shouting to his comrades to come on and cut their way out.

They came, cheering, spurring their jaded horses through the gap,
crowding out across the road, striking wildly with their sabres,
forcing their way up the bank, into a stubble field, and forward at
a stiff trot toward the swirling smoke of a Union battery behind
which they could see shattered squadrons reforming.

Berkley ran with them on foot, one hand grasping a friendly
stirrup, until the horse he clung to halted abruptly, quivering all
over; then sank down by the buttocks with a shuddering scream.  And
Berkley saw Colonel Arran rising from the ground, saw him glance at
his horse, turn and look behind him where the Confederate
skirmishers were following on a run, kneeling to fire occasionally,
then springing to their feet and trotting forward, rifles
glittering in the sun.

A horse with an empty saddle, its off foreleg entangled in its
bridle, was hobbling around in circles, stumbling, neighing,
tripping, scrambling to its feet again, and trying frantically to
go on.  Berkley caught the bridle, freed it, and hanging to the
terrified animal's head, shouted to Colonel Arran:

"You had better hurry, sir.  Their skirmishers are coming up fast!"

Colonel Arran stood quietly gazing at him.  Suddenly he reeled and
stumbled forward against the horse's flank, catching at the mane.

"Are you badly hurt, sir?"

The Colonel turned his dazed eyes on him, then slid forward along
the horse's flank.  His hands relaxed their hold on the mane, and
he fell flat on his face; and, Berkley, still hanging to the bit,
dragged the prostrate man over on his back and stared into his
deathly features.

"Where did they hit you, sir?"

"Through the liver," he gasped.  "It's all right, Berkley. . . .
Don't wait any longer-----"

"I'm not going to leave you."

"You must . . . I'm ended. . . .  You haven't a--moment--to
lose----"

"Can you put your arms around my neck?"

"There's no time to waste!  I tell you to mount and run for
it! . . .  And--thank you----"

"Put both arms around my neck. . . .  Quick! . . .  Can you lock
your fingers? . . .  This damned horse won't stand!  Hold fast to
me.  I'll raise you easily. . . .  Get the other leg over the
saddle.  Lean forward.  Now I'll walk him at first--hold
tight! . . .  Can you hang on, Colonel?"

"Yes--_my son_"

A wild thrill ran through the boy's veins, stopping breath and
pulse for a second.  Then the hot blood rushed stinging into his
face; he threw one arm around the drooping figure in the saddle,
and, controlling the bridle with a grip of steel, started the horse
off across the field.

All around them the dry soil was bursting into little dusty
fountains where the bullets were striking; ahead, dark smoke hung
heavily.  Farther on some blue-capped soldiers shouted to them from
their shallow rifle pits.

Farther on still they passed an entire battalion of regular
infantry, calmly seated on the grass in line of battle; and behind
these troops Berkley saw a stretcher on the grass and two men of
the hospital corps squatted beside it, chewing grass stems.

They came readily enough when they learned the name and rank of the
wounded officer.  Berkley, almost exhausted, walked beside the
stretcher, leading the horse and looking down at the stricken man
who lay with eyes closed and clothing disordered where a hasty
search for the wound had disclosed the small round blue hole just
over the seat of the liver.

They turned into a road which had been terribly cut up by the
wheels of artillery.  It was already thronged with the debris of
the battle, skulkers, wounded men hobbling, pallid malingerers
edging their furtive way out of fire.   Then ahead arose a terrible
clamour, the wailing of wounded, frightened cries, the angry shouts
of cavalrymen, where a Provost Guard of the 20th Dragoons was
riding, recklessly into the fugitives, roughly sorting the goats
from the sheep, and keeping the way clear for the ambulances now
arriving along a cross-road at a gallop.

Berkley heard his name called out, and, looking up, saw Casson,
astride a huge horse, signalling him eagerly from his saddle.

"Who in hell have you got there?" he asked, pushing his horse up to
the litter.  "By God, it's Colonel Arran," he added in a modified
voice.  "Is he very bad, Berkley?"

"I don't know.  Can't you stop one of those ambulances, Jack?  I
want to get him to the surgeons as soon as possible----"

"You bet!" said Casson, wheeling his horse and displaying the new
chevrons of a sergeant.  "Hey, you black offspring of a yellow
whippet!" he bellowed to a driver, "back out there and be damn
quick about it!"  And he leaned from his saddle, and seizing the
leaders by the head, swung them around with a volley of profanity.
Then, grinning amiably at Berkley, he motioned the stretcher
bearers forward and sat on his horse, garrulously superintending
the transfer of the injured man.

"There's an emergency hospital just beyond that clump of trees," he
said.  "You'd better take him there.  Golly! but he's hard hit.  I
guess that bullet found its billet.  There's not much hope when
it's a belly-whopper.  Too bad, ain't it?  He was a bully old boy
of a colonel; we all said so in the dragoons.  Only--to hell with
those lances of yours, Berkley!  What cursed good are they
alongside a gun?  And I notice your regiment has its carbineers,
too--which proves that your lances are no good or you wouldn't have
twelve carbines to the troop.  Eh?  Oh, you bet your boots, sonny.
Don't talk lance to me!  It's all on account of those Frenchmen on
Little Mac's staff----"

"For God's sake shut up!" said Berkley nervously.  "I can't stand
any more just now."

"Oh!" said Casson, taken aback, "I didn't know you were such
cronies with your Colonel.  Sorry, my dear fellow; didn't mean to
seem indifferent.   Poor old gentleman.  I guess he will pull
through.  There are nurses at the front--nice little things.  God
bless 'em!  Say, don't you want to climb up with the driver?"

Berkley hesitated.  "Do you know where my regiment is?  I ought to
go back--if there's anybody to look after Colonel Arran----"

"Is that your horse?"

"No--some staff officer's, I guess."

"Where's yours?"

"Dead," said Berkley briefly.  He thought a moment, then tied his
horse to the tail-board and climbed up beside the driver.

"Go on," he said; "drive carefully", and he nodded his thanks to
Casson as the team swung north.

The Provost Guard, filing along, carbines on thigh, opened to let
him through; and he saw them turning in their saddles to peer
curiously into the straw as the ambulance passed.

It was slow going, for the road was blocked with artillery and
infantry and other ambulances, but the driver found a lane between
guns and caissons and through the dusty blue columns plodding
forward toward the firing line; and at last a white hospital tent
glimmered under the trees, and the slow mule team turned into a
leafy lane and halted in the rear of a line of ambulances which
were all busily discharging their mangled burdens.  The cries of
the wounded were terrible.

Operating tables stood under the trees in the open air; assistants
sponged the blood from them continually; the overworked surgeons,
stripped to their undershirts, smeared with blood, worked coolly
and rapidly in the shade of the oak-trees, seldom raising their
voices, never impatient.  Orderlies brought water in artillery
buckets; ward-masters passed swiftly to and fro; a soldier stood by
a pile of severed limbs passing out bandages to assistants who
swarmed around, scurrying hither and thither under the quiet orders
of the medical directors.

A stretcher was brought; Colonel Arran opened his heavy lids as
they placed him in it.  His eyes summoned Berkley.

"It's all right," he said in the ghost of a voice.  "Whichever way
it turns put, it's all right. . .  I've tried to live
lawfully. . . .  It is better to live mercifully.  I think--she--would
forgive. . . .  Will you?"

"Yes."

He bent and took the wounded man's hand, in his.

"If I knew--if I _knew_--" he said, and his burning eyes searched
the bloodless face beneath him.

"God?" he whispered--"if it were true----"

A surgeon shouldered him aside, glanced sharply at the patient,
motioned the bearers forward.

Berkley sat down by the roadside, bridle in hand, head bowed in his
arms.  Beside him his horse fed quietly on the weeds.  In his ears
rang the cries of the wounded; all around him he was conscious of
people passing to and fro; and he sat there, face covered, deadly
tired, already exhausted to a stolidity that verged on stupor.

He must have slept, too, because when he sat up and opened his eyes
again it was nearly sundown, and somebody had stolen his horse.

A zouave with a badly sprained ankle, lying on a blanket near him,
offered him bread and meat that stank; and Berkley ate it, striving
to collect his deadened thoughts.  After he had eaten he filled the
zouave's canteen at a little rivulet where hundreds of soldiers
were kneeling to drink or dip up the cool, clear water.

"What's your reg'ment, friend?" asked the man.

"Eighth New York Lancers."

"Lord A'mighty!  You boys did get cut up some, didn't you?"

"I guess so.  Are you Colonel Craig's regiment?"

"Yes.  We got it, too.  Holy Mother--we got it f'r fair!"

"Is your Colonel all right?"

"Yes.  Steve--his son--corporal, 10th Company--was hit."

"What!"

"Yes, sir.  Plumb through the collar-bone.  He was one of the first
to get it.  I was turrible sorry for his father--fine old boy!--and
he looked like he'd drop dead hisself--but, by gosh, friend, when
the stretcher took Steve to the rear the old man jest sot them
clean-cut jaws o' his'n, an' kep' his gold-wired gig-lamps to the
front.  An' when the time come, he sez in his ca'm, pleasant way:
'Boys,' sez he, 'we're agoin' in.  It's a part of the job,' sez he,
'that has got to be done thorough.  So,' sez he, 'we'll jest mosey
along kind o' quick steppin' now, and we'll do our part like we
al'us does do it.  For'rd--mar-r-rch!'"

Berkley sat still, hands clasped over his knees, thinking of
Stephen, and of Celia, and of the father out yonder somewhere amid
the smoke.

"Gawd," said the zouave, "you got a dirty jab on your cocanut,
didn't you?"

The bandage had slipped, displaying the black scab of the scarcely
healed wound; and Berkley absently replaced it.

"That'll ketch the girls," observed the zouave with conviction.
"Damn it, I've only got a sprained ankle to show my girl."

"The war's not over," said Berkley indifferently.  Then he got up,
painfully, from the grass, exchanged adieux with the zouave, and
wandered off toward the hospital to seek for news of Colonel Arran.

It appeared that the surgeons had operated, and had sent the
Colonel a mile farther to the rear, where a temporary hospital had
been established in a young ladies' seminary.  And toward this
Berkley set out across the fields, the sound of the battle dinning
heavily in his aching cars.

As he walked he kept a sullen eye out for his stolen horse, never
expecting to see him, and it was with a savage mixture of surprise
and satisfaction that he beheld him, bestridden by two dirty
malingerers from a New York infantry regiment who rode on the
snaffle with difficulty and objurgations and reproached each other
for their mutual discomfort.

How they had escaped the Provost he did not know; how they escaped
absolute annihilation they did not comprehend; for Berkley seized
the bridle, swung the horse sharply, turning them both out of the
saddle; then, delivering a swift kick apiece, as they lay cursing,
he mounted and rode forward amid enthusiastic approval from the
drivers of passing army waggons.

Long since the towering smoke in the west had veiled the sun; and
now the sky had become gray and thick, and already a fine drizzling
rain was falling, turning the red dust to grease.

Slipping, floundering, his horse bore him on under darkening skies;
rain fell heavily now; he bared his hot head to it; raised his
face, masked with grime, and let the drops fall on the dark scar
that burned under the shifting bandage.

In the gathering gloom eastward he saw the horizon redden and
darken and redden with the cannon flashes; the immense battle
rumour filled his ears and brain, throbbing, throbbing.

"Which way, friend?" demanded a patrol, carelessly throwing his
horse across Berkley's path.

"Orderly to Colonel Arran, 8th New York Lancers, wounded.  Is that
the hospital, yonder?"

"Them school buildin's," nodded the patrol.  "Say, is your colonel
very bad?  I'm 20th New York, doin' provost.  We seen you fellers
at White Oak.  Jesus! what a wallop they did give us----"

He broke off grimly, turned his horse, and rode out into a soggy
field where some men were dodging behind a row of shaggy hedge
bushes.  And far behind Berkley heard his loud, bullying voice:

"Git! you duck-legged, egg-suckin', skunk-backed loafers!  Go on,
there!  Aw, don't yer talk back to me 'r I'll let m' horse bite yer
pants off!  Back yer go!  Forrard!  Hump!  Hump!  Scoot!"

Through the heavily falling rain he saw the lighted school
buildings looming among the trees; turned into the drive, accounted
for himself, gave his horse to a negro with orders to care for it,
and followed a ward-master into an open-faced shed where a kettle
was boiling over a sheet-iron stove.

The ward-master returned presently, threading his way through a
mass of parked ambulances to the shed where Berkley sat on a broken
cracker box.

"Colonel Arran is very low.  I guess you'd better not bother him
to-night."

"Is he--mortally hurt?"

"I've seen worse."

"He may get well?"

"I've seen 'em get well," said the non-committal ward-master.
Then, looking Berkley over: "You're pretty dirty, ain't you?  Are
you--" he raised his eyebrows significantly.

"I'm clean," said Berkley with the indifference habituated to filth.

"All right.  They'll fix you up a cot somewhere.  If Colonel Arran
comes out all right I'll call you.  He's full of opium now."

"Did they get the bullet?"

"Oh, yes.  I ain't a surgeon, my friend, but I hear a lot of
surgeon talk.  It's the shock--in a man of his age.  The wound's
clean, so far--not a thread in it, I hear.  Shock--and
gangrene--that's what we look out for. . . .  What's the news down
by the river?"

"I don't know," said Berkley.

"Don't you know if you got licked?"

"I don't think we did.  You'd hear the firing out here much
plainer."

"You're the 8th Cavalry, ain't you?"

"Yes."

"They say you got cut up."

"Some."

"And how about the Zouaves?"

"Oh, they're there yet," said Berkley listlessly.  Fatigue was
overpowering him; he was aware, presently, that a negro, carrying a
lantern, was guiding his stumbling steps into a small building
where, amid piles of boxes, an army cot stood covered by a blanket.
Berkley gave him a crumpled mess of paper money, and he almost
expired.

Later the same negro rolled a wooden tub into the room, half filled
it with steaming water, and stood in profound admiration of his
work, grinning at Berkley.

"Is you-all gwine bresh up, suh?" he inquired.

Berkley straightened his shoulders with an effort, unbuckled his
belt, and slowly began to take off his wet uniform.

The negro aided him respectfully; that wet wad of dollars had done
its work profoundly.

"Yo' is de adjetant ob dis here Gin'ral ob de Lancers, suh?  De po'
ole Gin'ral!  He done git shot dreffle bad, suh. . . .  Jess you
lay on de flo', suh, t'will I gits yo' boots off'n yo' laigs!  Dar!
Now jess set down in de tub, suh.  I gwine scrub you wif de
saddle-soap--Lor', Gord-a-mighty!  Who done bang you on de haid
dat-a-way?"--scrubbing vigorously with the saddle-soap all the
while.  "Spec' you is lame an' so' all over, is you?  Now I'se
gwine rub you haid, suh; an' now I'se gwine dry you haid."  He
chuckled and rubbed and manipulated, yet became tender as a woman
in drying the clipped hair and the scarred temple.  And, before
Berkley was aware of what he was about, the negro lifted him and
laid him on the cot.

"Now," he chuckled, "I'se gwine shave you."  And he fished out a
razor from the rear pocket of his striped drill overalls, rubbed
the weapon of his race with a proud thumb, spread more soap over
Berkley's upturned face, and fell deftly to work, wiping off the
accumulated lather on the seat of his own trousers.

Berkley remembered seeing him do it twice; then remembered no more.
A blessed sense of rest soothed every bone; in the heavenly
stillness and surcease from noise he drifted gently into slumber,
into a deep dreamless sleep.

The old negro looked at him, aged face wrinkled in compassion.

"Po' li'l sodger boy," he muttered.  "Done gib me fo' dollahs.
Lor' Gor' a'mighty!  Spec' Mars Linkum's men is all richer'n ole
Miss."

He cast another glance at the sleeping man, then picked up the
worn, muddy boots, threw the soiled jacket and breeches over his
arm, and shuffled off, shaking his grizzled head.



CHAPTER XVIII

It was still dark when he awoke with a violent start, dreaming of
loud trumpets, and found himself sitting upright on his cot,
staring into obscurity.

Outside on the veranda a multitude of heavy steps echoed and
re-echoed over the creaking boards; spurs clinked, sabres dragged
and clanked; a man's harsh, nasal voice sounded irritably at
intervals:

"We're not an army--we're not yet an army; that's what's the
matter.  You can't erect an army by uniforming and drilling a few
hundred thousand clerks and farmers.  You can't manufacture an army
by brigading regiments--by creating divisions and forming army
corps.  There is only one thing on God's long-enduring earth that
can transform this mob of State troops into a National
army--discipline!--and that takes time; and we've got to take it
and let experience kick us out of one battle into another.  And
some day we'll wake up to find ourselves a real army, with real
departments, really controlled and in actual and practical working
order.  Now it's every department for itself and God help General
McClellan!  He has my sympathy!  He has a dirty job on his hands
half done, and they won't let him finish it!"

And again the same impatient voice broke out contemptuously:

"War?  These two years haven't been two years of war!  They've been
two years of a noisy, gaudy, rough and tumble!  Bull Run was _opera
bouffe_!  The rest of it has been one fantastic and bloody
carnival!  Did anybody ever before see such a grandmother's rag bag
of uniforms in an American army!  What in hell do we want of
zouaves in French uniforms, cavalry, armed with Austrian lances,
ridiculous rocket-batteries, Polish riders, Hungarian hussars,
grenadiers, mounted rifles, militia and volunteers in every garb,
carrying every arm ever created by foreign armourers and military
tailors! . . .  But I rather guess that the fancy-dress-ball era is
just about over.  I've a notion that we're coming down to the
old-fashioned army blue again.  And the sooner the better.  I want
no more red fezzes and breeches in my commands for the enemy to
blaze at a mile away!  I want no more picturesque lances.  I want
plain blue pants and Springfield rifles, by God! And I guess I'll
get them, if I make noise enough in North America!"

Who this impassioned military critic was, shouting opinions to the
sky, Berkley never learned; for presently there was a great
jingling and clatter and trample of horses brought around, and the
officers, whoever they were, mounted and departed as they had
arrived, in darkness, leaving Berkley on his cot in the storehouse
to stretch his limbs, and yawn and stretch again, and draw the warm
folds of the blanket closer, and lie blinking at the dark, through
which, now, a bird had begun to twitter a sweet, fitful salute to
the coming dawn.

Across the foot of his couch lay folded an invalid's red hospital
wrapper; beside his bed stood the slippers.  After a few moments he
rose, stepped into the slippers, and, drawing on the woolen robe,
belted it in about his thin waist.  Then he limped out to the
veranda.

In the dusk the bird sang timidly.  Berkley could just make out the
outlines of the nearer buildings, and of tall trees around.  Here
and there lights burned behind closed windows; but, except for
these, the world was black and still; stiller for the deadened
stamping of horses in distant unseen stalls.

An unmistakable taint of the hospital hung in the fresh morning
air--a vague hint of anaesthetics, of cooking--the flat odour of
sickness and open wounds.

Lanterns passed in the darkness toward the stables; unseen shapes
moved hither and thither, their footsteps sharply audible.  He
listened and peered about him for a while, then went back to the
store-room, picked his way among the medical supplies, and sat down
on the edge of his bed.

A few moments later he became aware of somebody moving on the
veranda, and of a light outside; heard his door open, lifted his
dazzled eyes in the candle rays.

"Are you here, Philip?" came a quiet, tired voice.  "You must wake,
now, and dress.  Colonel Arran is conscious and wishes to see you."

"Ailsa! Good God!"

She stood looking at him placidly, the burning candle steady in her
hand, her; face very white and thin.

He had risen, standing there motionless in his belted invalid's
robe with the stencilled S. C.  on the shoulder.  And now he would
have gone to her, hands outstretched, haggard face joyously
illumined; but she stepped back with a swift gesture that halted
him; and in her calm, unfriendly gaze he hesitated, bewildered,
doubting his senses.

"Ailsa, dear, is anything wrong?"

"I think," she said quietly, "that we had better not let Colonel
Arran see how wrong matters have gone between us.  He is very badly
hurt.  I have talked a little with him.  I came here because he
asked for you and for no other reason."

"Did you know I was here?"

"I saw you arrive last night--from the infirmary window. . . .  I
hope your wound is healed," she added in a strained voice.

"Ailsa! What has happened?"

She shuddered slightly, looked at, him without a shadow of
expression.

"Let us understand one another now.  I haven't the slightest atom
of--regard--left for you.  I have no desire to see you, to hear of
you again while I am alive.  That is final."

"Will you tell me why?"

She had turned to go; now she hesitated, silent, irresolute.

"Will you tell me, Ailsa?"

She said, wearily: "If you insist, I can make it plainer, some
time.  But this is not the time. . .  And you had better not ask me
at all, Philip."

"I do ask you."

"I warn you to accept your dismissal without seeking an
explanation.  It would spare--us both."

"I will spare neither of us.  What has changed you?"

"I shall choose my own convenience to answer you," she replied
haughtily.

"Choose it, then, and tell me when to expect your explanation."

"When I send for you; not before."

"Are you going to let me go away with that for my answer?"

"Perhaps."

He hooked his thumbs in his girdle and looked down, considering;
then, quietly raising his head:

"I don't know what you have found out--what has been told you.  I
have done plenty of things in my life unworthy of you, but I
thought you knew that."

"I know it now."

"You knew it before.  I never attempted to conceal anything."

A sudden blue glimmer made her eyes brilliant.  "That is a
falsehood!" she said deliberately.  The colour faded from his
cheeks, then he said with ashy composure:

"I lie much less than the average man, Ailsa.  It is nothing to
boast of, but it happens to be true.  I don't lie."

"You keep silent and act a lie!"

He reflected for a moment; then:

"Hadn't you better tell me?"

"No."

Then his colour returned, surging, making the scar on his face
hideous; he turned, walked to the window, and stood looking into
the darkness while the departing glimmer of her candle faded on the
wall behind him.

Presently, scraping, ducking, chuckling, the old darky appeared
with his boots and uniform, everything dry and fairly clean; and he
dressed by lantern light, buckled his belt, drew on his gloves,
settled his forage cap, and followed the old man out into the
graying dawn.

They gave him some fresh light bread and a basin of coffee; he
finished and waited, teeth biting the stem of his empty pipe for
which he had no tobacco.

Surgeons, assistant surgeons, contract physicians, ward-masters,
nurses, passed and re-passed; stretchers filed into the dead house;
coffins were being unloaded and piled under a shed; a constant
stream of people entered and left the apothecary's office; the
Division Medical Director's premises were besieged.  Ambulances
continually drove up or departed; files of sick and wounded, able
to move without assistance, stood in line, patient, uncomplaining
men, bloody, ragged, coughing, burning with fever, weakened for
lack of nourishment; many crusted with filth and sometimes with
vermin, humbly awaiting the disposition of their battered,
half-dead bodies. . . .

The incipient stages of many diseases were plainly apparent among
them.  Man after man was placed on a stretcher, and hurried off to
the contagious wards; some were turned away and directed to other
hospitals, and they went without protest, dragging their gaunt
legs, even attempting some feeble jest as they passed their
wretched comrades whose turns had not yet come.

Presently a hospital servant came and took Berkley away to another
building.  The wards were where the schoolrooms had been.
Blackboards still decorated the wall; a half-erased exercise in
Latin remained plainly visible over the rows of cots.

Ailsa and the apothecary stood together in low-voiced conversation
by a window.  She merely raised her eyes when Berkley entered;
then, without giving him a second glance, continued her
conversation.

In the heavy, ether-laden atmosphere flies swarmed horribly, and
men detailed as nurses from regimental companies were fanning them
from helpless patients.  A civilian physician, coming down the
aisle, exchanged a few words with the ward-master and then turned
to Berkley.

"You are trooper Ormond, orderly to Colonel Arran?"

"Yes."

"Colonel Arran desires you to remain here at his orders for the
present."

"Is Colonel Arran likely to recover, doctor?"

"He is in no immediate danger."

"May I see him?"

"Certainly.  He sent for you.  Step this way."

They entered another and much smaller ward in which there were very
few cots, and from which many of the flies had been driven.

Colonel Arran lay very white and still on his cot; only his eyes
turned as Berkley came up and stood at salute.

"Sit down," he said feebly.  And, after a long silence:

"Berkley, the world seems to be coming right.  I am grateful that
I--lie here--with you beside me."

Berkley's throat closed; he could not speak; nor did he know what
he might have said could he have spoken, for within him all had
seemed to crash softly into chaos, and he had no mind, no will, no
vigour, only a confused understanding of emotion and pain, and a
fierce longing.

Colonel Arran's sunken eyes never left his, watching, wistful,
patient.  And at last the boy bent forward and rested his elbows on
his knees and dropped his face in both hands.  Time ebbed away in
silence; there was no sound in the ward save the blue flies' buzz
or the slight movement of some wounded man easing his tortured body.

"Philip!"

The boy lifted his face from his hands.

"Can you forgive me?"

"Yes, I have. . . .  There was only one thing to forgive.  I don't
count--myself."

"I count it--bitterly."

"You need not. . . .  It was only--my mother----"

"I know, my boy.  The blade of justice is double-edged.  No mortal
can wield it safely; only He who forged it. . . .  I have never
ceased to love--your mother."

Berkley's face became ashen.

Colonel Arran said: "Is there punishment more terrible than that
for any man?"

Presently Berkley drew his chair closer.

"I wish you to know how mother died," he said simply.  "It is your
right to know. . . .  Because, there will come a time when she
and--you will be together again . . .  if you believe such things."

"I believe."

For a while the murmur of Berkley's voice alone broke the silence.
Colonel Arran lay with eyes closed, a slight flush on his sunken
cheeks; and, before long, Berkley's hand lay over his and remained
there.

The brilliant, ominous flies whirled overhead or drove headlong
against the window-panes, falling on their backs to kick and buzz
and scramble over the sill; slippered attendants moved softly along
the aisle with medicines; once the ward-master came and looked down
at Colonel Arran, touched the skin of his face, his pulse, and
walked noiselessly away.  Berkley's story had already ended.

After a while he said: "If you will get well--whatever I am--we two
men have in common a memory that can never die.  If there were
nothing else--God knows whether there is--that memory is enough, to
make us live at peace with one another. . . .  I do not entirely
understand how it is with me, but I know that some things have been
washed out of my heart--leaving little of the bitterness--nothing
now of anger.  It has all been too sad for such things--a tragedy
too deep for the lesser passions to meddle with. . . .  Let us
forgive each other. . . .  She will know it, somehow."

Their hands slowly closed together and remained.

"Philip!"

"Sir?"

"Ailsa is here."

"Yes, sir."

"Will you say to her that I would like to see her?"

For a moment Berkley hesitated, then rose quietly and walked into
the adjoining ward.

Ailsa was bending over a sick man, fanning away the flies that
clustered around the edge of the bowl from which he was drinking.
And Berkley waited until the patient had finished the broth.

"Ailsa, may I speak to you a moment?"

She had been aware of his entrance, and was not startled.  She
handed the bowl and fan to an attendant, turned leisurely, and came
out into the aisle.

"What is it?"

"Colonel Arran wishes to see you.  Can you come?"

"Certainly."

She led the way; and as she walked he noticed that all the lithe
grace, all the youth and spring to her step had vanished.  She
moved wearily; her body under the gray garb was thin; blue veins
showed faintly in temple and wrist; only her superb hair and eyes
had suffered no change.

Colonel Arran's eyes opened as she stooped at his bedside and laid
her lips lightly on his forehead.

"Is there another chair?" he asked wearily.

Ailsa's glance just rested on Berkley, measuring him in
expressionless disdain.  Then, as he brought another chair, she
seated herself.

"You, too, Philip," murmured the wounded man.

Ailsa's violet eyes opened in surprise at the implied intimacy
between these men whom she had vaguely understood were anything but
friends.  But she remained coldly aloof, controlling even a shiver
of astonishment when Colonel Arran's hand, which held hers, groped
also for Berkley's, and found it.

Then with an effort he turned his head and looked at them.

"I have long known that you loved each other," he whispered.  "It
is a happiness that God sends me as well as you.  If it be His will
that I--do not recover, this makes it easy for me.  If He wills it
that I live, then, in His infinite mercy, He also gives me the
reason for living."

Icy cold, Ailsa's hand lay there, limply touching Berkley's; the
sick man's eyes were upon them.

"Philip!"

"Sir?"

"My watch is hanging from a nail on the wall.  There is a chamois
bag hanging with it.  Give--it--to me."

And when it lay in his hand he picked at the string, forced it
open, drew out a key, and laid it in Berkley's hand with a faint
smile.

"You remember, Philip?"

"Yes, sir."

The wounded man looked at Ailsa wistfully.

"It is the key to my house, dear.  One day, please God, you and
Philip will live there." . . .  He closed his eyes, groping for
both their hands, and retaining them, lay silent as though asleep.

Berkley's palm burned against hers; she never stirred, never moved
a muscle, sitting there as though turned to stone.  But when the
wounded man's frail grasp relaxed, cautiously, silently, she freed
her fingers, rose, looked down, listening to his breathing, then,
without a glance at Berkley, moved quietly toward the door.

He was behind her a second later, and she turned to confront him in
the corridor lighted by a single window.

"Will you tell me what has changed you?" he said.

"Something which that ghastly farce cannot influence!" she said,
hot faced, eyes brilliant with anger.  "I loved Colonel Arran
enough to endure it--endure your touch--which
shames--defiles--which--which outrages every instinct in me!"

Breathless, scornful, she drew back, still facing him.

"The part you have played in my life!" she said bitterly--"think it
over.  Remember what you have been toward me from the first--a
living insult!  And when you remember--all--remember that in spite
of _all_ I--I loved you--stood before you in the rags of my
pride--all that you had left me to clothe myself!--stood upright,
unashamed, and acknowledged that I loved you!"

She made a hopeless gesture.

"Oh, you had all there was of my heart!  I gave it; I laid it
beside my pride, under your feet.  God knows what madness was upon
me--and you had flung my innocence into my face!  And you had held
me in your embrace, and looked me in the eyes, and said you would
not marry me.  And I still loved you!"

Her hands flew to her breast, higher, clasped against the full,
white throat.

"Now, have I not dragged my very soul naked under your eyes?  Have
I not confessed enough.  What more do you want of me before you
consent to keep your distance and trouble me no more?"

"I want to know what has angered you against me," he said quietly.

She set her teeth and stared at him, with beautiful resolute eyes.

"Before I answer that," she said, "I demand to know why you refused
to marry me."

"I cannot tell you, Ailsa."

In a white rage she whispered:

"No, you dare not tell me!--you coward! I had to learn the
degrading reason from others!"

He grew deathly white, caught her arms in a grasp of steel, held
her twisting wrists imprisoned.

"Do you know what you are saying?" he stammered.

"Yes, I know! Your cruelty--your shame----"

"Be silent!" he said between his teeth.  "My shame is my pride!  Do
you understand!"

Outraged, quivering all over, she twisted out of his grasp.

"Then go to her!" she whispered.  "Why don't you go to her?"

And, as his angry eyes became blank:

"Don't you understand?  She is there--just across the road!" She
flung open the window and pointed with shaking anger.

"Didn't anybody tell you she is there?  Then I'll tell you.  Now go
to her!  You are--worthy--of one another!"

"Of whom are you speaking--in God's name!" he breathed.

Panting, flushed, flat against the wall, she looked back out of
eyes that had become dark and wide, fumbling in the bosom of her
gray garb.  And, just where the scarlet heart was stitched across
her breast, she drew out a letter, and, her fascinated gaze still
fixed on him, extended her arm.

He took the crumpled sheets from her in a dazed sort of way, but
did not look at them.

"_Who_ is there--across the road?" he repeated stupidly.

"Ask--Miss--Lynden."

"Letty!"

But she suddenly turned and slipped swiftly past him, leaving him
there in the corridor by the open window, holding the letter in his
hand.

For a while he remained there, leaning against the wall.  Sounds
from the other ward came indistinctly--a stifled cry, a deep groan,
the hurried tread of feet, the opening or closing of windows.  Once
a dreadful scream rang out from a neighbouring ward, where a man
had suddenly gone insane; and he could hear the sounds of the
struggle, the startled orders, the shrieks, the crash of a cot;
then the dreadful uproar grew fainter, receding.  He roused
himself, passed an unsteady hand across his eyes, looked blindly at
the letter, saw only a white blurr, and, crushing it in his
clenched fist, he went down the kitchen stairs and out across the
road.

A hospital guard stopped him, but on learning who he was and that
he had business with Miss Lynden, directed him toward a low,
one-storied, stone structure, where, under the trees, a figure
wrapped in a shawl lay asleep in a chair.

"She's been on duty all night," observed the guard.  "If you've got
to speak to her, go ahead."

"Yes," said Berkley in a dull voice, "I've got to speak to her."
And he walked toward her across the dead brown grass.

Letty's head lay on a rough pine table; her slim body, supported by
a broken chair, was covered by a faded shawl; and, as he looked
down at her, somehow into his memory came the recollection of the
first time he ever saw her so--asleep in Casson's rooms, her
childish face on the table, the room reeking with tobacco smoke and
the stale odour of wine and dying flowers.

He stood for a long while beside her, looking down at the thin,
pale face.  Then, in pity, he turned away; and at the same moment
she stirred, sat up, confused, and saw him.

"Letty, dear," he said, coming back, both hands held out to her, "I
did not mean to rob you of your sleep."

"Oh--it doesn't matter!  I am so glad--" She sat up suddenly,
staring at him.  The next moment the tears rushed to her eyes.

"O--h," she whispered, "I wished so to see you.  I am so thankful
you are here.  There is--there has been such--a terrible
change--something has happened----"

She rose unsteadily; laid her trembling hand on his arm.

"I don't know what it is," she said piteously, "but
Ailsa--something dreadful has angered her against me----"

"Against _you_!"

"Oh, yes.  I _don't_ know all of it; I know--partly."

Sleep and fatigue still confused her mind; she pressed both frail
hands to her eyes, her forehead:

"It was the day I returned from seeing you at Paigecourt. . . .  I
was deadly tired when the ambulance drove into Azalea; and when it
arrived here I had fallen asleep. . . .  I woke up when it stopped.
Ailsa was sitting here--in this same chair, I think--and I remember
as I sat up in the ambulance that an officer was just leaving
her--Captain Hallam."

She looked piteously at Berkley.

"He was one of the men I have avoided.  Do you understand?"

"No. . . .  Was he----"

"Yes, he often came to the--Canterbury.  He had never spoken to me
there, but Ione Carew knew him; and I was certain he would
recognise me. . . .  I thought I had succeeded in avoiding him, but
he must have seen me when I was not conscious of his presence--he
must have recognised me."

She looked down at her worn shoes; the tears fell silently; she
smoothed her gray gown for lack of employment for her restless
hands.

"Dear," he said, "do you believe he went to Ailsa with his story
about you?"

"Oh, yes, yes, I am sure.  What else could it be that has angered
her--that drives me away from her--that burns me with the dreadful
gaze she turns on me--chills me with her more dreadful
silence? . . .  Why did he do it? I don't know--oh, I don't
know. . . .  Because I had never even spoken to him--in those days
that I have tried so hard--so hard to forget----"

He said slowly: "He is a coward.  I have known that for a long
time.  But most men are.  The disgrace lies in acting like one. . .
And I--that is why I didn't run in battle. . . .  Because, that
first day, when they fired on our waggons, _I saw him riding in the
road behind us_.  Nobody else suspected him to be within miles.  I
saw him.  And--_he galloped the wrong way_.   And that is why
I--did what I did!  He shocked me into doing it. . . .  But I never
before have told a soul.  I would not tell even you--but the man,
yesterday, put himself beyond the pale.  And it can make no
difference now, for he carries the mark into his grave."

He shuddered slightly.  "God forbid I hold him up to scorn.  I
might, this very moment, be what he is now.  No man may know--no
man can foretell how he will bear himself in time of stress.  I
have a sorry record of my own.  Battle is not the only conflict
that makes men or cowards."

He stood silent, gazing into space.  Letty's tears dried as she
watched him.

"Have you seen--her?" she asked tremulously.

"Yes."

The girl sighed and looked down.

"I am so sorry about Colonel Arran . . . .  I believe, somehow, he
will get well."

"Do you really believe it, Letty?"

"Yes.  The wound is clean.  I have seen many recover who were far
more dangerously hurt. . . .  His age is against him, but I do
truly believe he will get well."

He thought a moment.  "Have you heard about Stephen Craig?"

"They have telegraphed to his affianced--a Miss Lent.  You probably
know her.  Her brother was killed a day or two ago.  Poor little
thing!  I believe that Miss Lent is coming.  Mrs. Craig wishes to
take her boy North as soon as he can be moved.  And, unless the
wound becomes infected, I don't believe he is going to die."

"Where is he?"

"At Paigecourt.  Many transports are waiting at the landing. . . .
They say that there was another severe engagement near there
yesterday, and that our army is victorious.  I have heard, also,
that we were driven in, and that your regiment lost a great many
men and horses . . .  I don't know which is true," she added,
listlessly picking at her frayed gown; "only, as we haven't heard
the guns to-day, it seems to me that if we had lost the battle we'd
have Confederate cannon thundering all around us."

"That seems reasonable," he admitted absently. . . .  "Is Dr.
Benton here still?"

"No," she said softly.

"Where is he?"

"At Paigecourt.  I asked him to go because he is the best doctor I
ever knew.  He came down here to see me; he is not detailed for
duty under contract.  I asked him to go and see Stephen Craig.  He
grumbled--and went."

She looked up shyly at Berkley, smiled for the first time, then her
pale young face grew beautiful and solemn.

"You dear girl," he said impulsively, taking both her hands and
kissing them.  "I am so glad for you--and for him.  I knew it would
come true."

"Yes.  But I had to tell him--I started to tell him--and--oh, would
you believe how splendid he is!  He _knew_ already!  He stopped me
short--and I never can forget the look in his face.  And he said:
'Child--child!  You can tell me nothing I am not already aware of.
And I am aware of nothing except your goodness.'"

"I _thought_ I knew Phineas Benton," said Berkley, warmly.  "He was
too upright a character for me to enjoy with any comfort--a few
years back. . . .  I'm trying harder than you ever had to, Letty.
You always desired to be decent; I didn't."  He shook both her
hands heartily.

"You deserve every atom of your happiness, you dear, sweet girl!  I
only wish you were safely out of here and back in the North!"

Letty began to cry softly:

"Forgive me, please; I'm not naturally as tearful as this.  I am
just tired.  I've done too much--seen too much--and it hasn't
hardened me; it has made me like a silly child, ready to sniffle at
anything."

Berkley laughed gently.

"Why are you crying now, Letty?"

"B-because they have offered me a furlough.  I didn't apply.  But
Dr. Benton has made me take it.  And it almost kills me to go North
and leave Ailsa--alone--and so strangely changed toward me----"

She straightened her shoulders resolutely; brushed the tears from
her lashes; strove to smile at him.

"Shall we walk a little?  I am not on duty, you know; and I've had
enough sleep.  There's such a pretty lane along the creek behind
the chapel. . . .  What are you doing here, anyway?  I suppose you
are acting orderly to poor Colonel Arran?  How splendidly the
Lancers have behaved! . . .  And those darling Zouaves!--oh, we are
just bursting with pride over our Zou-zous----"

They had turned away together, walking slowly through the grove
toward a little cart road deep in golden seeded grass which wound
down a hollow all moist with ferns and brambles and young trees in
heavy leaf.

Her hand, unconsciously, had sought his nestling into it with a
confidence that touched him; her pale, happy face turned
continually to meet his as she chatted innocently of the things
which went to make up the days of life for her, never conscious of
herself, or that the artless chatter disclosed anything admirable
in her own character.  She prattled on at random, sometimes naive,
sometimes wistful, sometimes faintly humourous--a brave, clean
spirit that was content to take the consequence of duty done--a
tender, gentle soul, undeformed amid the sordid horrors that
hardened or crippled souls less innocent.

Calm, resourceful, patient, undismayed amid conditions that
sickened mature experience to the verge of despair, she went about
her business day after day, meeting all requisitions upon her
slender endurance without faltering, without even supposing there
was anything unusual or praiseworthy in what she did.

She was only one of many women who did full duty through the
darkest days the nation ever knew--saints in homespun, martyrs
uncanonised save in the hearts of the stricken.


There was a small wooden foot-bridge spanning the brook, with a
rough seat nailed against the rail.

"One of my convalescents made it for me," she said proudly.  "He
could use only one arm, and he had such a hard time sawing and
hammering! and the foolish boy wouldn't let anybody help him."

She seated herself in the cool shade of a water oak, retaining his
hand in hers and making room for him beside her.

"I wonder," she said, "if you know how good you have been to me.
You changed all my life.  Do you realise it?"

"You changed it yourself, Letty."

She sighed, leaned back, dreamy eyed, watching the sun spots glow
and wane on the weather-beaten footbridge.

"In war time--here in the wards--men seem gentler to
women--kinder--than in times of peace.  I have stood beside many
thousands; not one has been unkind--lacking in deference. . . ."  A
slight smile grew on her lips; she coloured a little, looked up at
Berkley, humorously.

"It would surprise you to know how many have asked me to marry
them. . . .  Such funny boys. . . .  I scolded some of them and
made them write immediately to their sweethearts. . . .  The older
men were more difficult to manage--men from the West--such fine,
simple-natured fellows--just sick and lonely enough to fall in love
with any woman who fanned them and brought them lemonade. . . .  I
loved them all dearly.  They have been very sweet to me. . . .  Men
_are_ good. . . .  If a woman desires it. . . .  The world is so
full of people who don't mean to do wrong."

She bent her head, considering, lost in the retrospection of her
naive philosophy.

Berkley, secretly amused, was aware of several cadaverous
convalescents haunting the bushes above, dodging the eyes of this
pretty nurse whom one and all adored, and whom they now beheld,
with jealous misgivings, in intimate and unwarrantable tete-a-tete
with a common and disgustingly healthy cavalryman.

Then his weather-tanned features grew serious.

The sunny moments slipped away as the sunlit waters slipped under
the bridge; a bird or two, shy and songless in their moulting
fever, came to the stream to drink, looking up, bright eyed, at the
two who sat there in the mid-day silence.  One, a cardinal, ruffled
his crimson crest, startled, as Berkley moved slightly.

"The Red Birds," he said, half aloud.  "To me they are the sweetest
singers of all.  I remember them as a child, Letty."

After a while Letty rose; her thin hand lingered, on his shoulder
as she stood beside him, and he got to his feet and adjusted belt
and sabre.

"I love to be with you," she said wistfully.  "It's only because I
do need a little more sleep that I am going back."

"Of course," he nodded.  And they retraced their steps together.

He left her at the door of the quaint, one-storied stone building
where, she explained, she had a cot.

"You _will_ come to see me again before you go back to your
regiment, won't you?" she pleaded, keeping one hand in both of hers.

"Of course I will.  Try to get some sleep, Letty.  You're
tremendously pretty when you've had plenty of sleep."

They both laughed; then she went indoors and he turned away across
the road, under the windows of the ward where Ailsa was on duty,
and so around to his store-room dwelling-place, where he sat down
on the cot amid the piles of boxes and drew from his pocket the
crumpled sheets of the letter that Ailsa had given him.

The handwriting seemed vaguely familiar to him; he glanced
curiously down the page; his eyes became riveted; he reddened to
the roots of his hair; then he deliberately began at the beginning,
reading very carefully.

The letter had been written several weeks ago; it was dated, and
signed with Hallam's name:


"MY DEAR MRS. PAIGE:

"Only my solemn sense of duty to all pure womanhood enables me to
indite these lines to you; and, by so doing, to invite, nay, to
encourage a cruel misunderstanding of my sincerest motives.

"But my letter is not dictated by malice or inspired by the natural
chagrin which animates a man of spirit when he reflects upon the
undeserved humiliation which he has endured from her who was once
dearer to him than life itself.  Mine is a nature susceptible and
sensitive, yet, I natter myself, incapable of harbouring sentiments
unworthy of a gentleman and a soldier.

"To forgive, to condone, is always commendable in man; but, madam,
there is a higher duty men owe to womanhood--to chaste and trusting
womanhood, incapable of defending itself from the wiles and schemes
which ever are waiting to ensnare it.

"It is for this reason, and for this reason alone, that, my
suspicions fully aroused, I have been at some pains to verify them.
A heart conscious of its moral rectitude does not flinch from the
duty before it or from the pain which, unfortunately, the execution
of that duty so often inflicts upon the innocent.

"Believe me, dear Mrs. Paige, it is a sad task that lies before me.
Woman is frail and weak by nature.  Man's noblest aspiration can
attain no loftier consummation than in the protection of a pure
woman against contamination.

"Mine becomes the unhappy mission of unmasking two unworthy people
whom you, in your innocence and trust, have cherished close to your
heart.  I speak of the trooper Ormond--whose name I believe you
know is Philip Berkley--and, if you now hear it for the first time,
it is proof additional of his deceit and perfidy.

"The other is Miss Lynden, known, in a certain immoral resort
called the Canterbury, as Letty Lynden, or 'Daisy' Lynden.

"She was a dancer in the Canterbury Music Hall.  I enclose
photographs of her in costume, also receipts from her landlady,
washing lists, her contract with the Canterbury, all in her own
handwriting, and all gathered for me at my request by a New York
detective, and forwarded to me here.  Among these papers you will
find several notes written to her in the spring and summer of 1861
by the trooper Berkley and discovered in her room by her landlady
after her departure.  A perusal of them is sufficient to leave no
doubt concerning the character of this young woman--who,
apparently, neglected by the fellow, Berkley, pleaded piteously
with him for an interview, and was, as you see, cynically rebuffed.

"I enclose, also, an affidavit made by Miss Lynden's landlady that
she, Letty, or 'Daisy' Lynden, was commonly understood to be the
mistress of Berkley; that he took her from the Canterbury and from
her lodgings, paid her board bills, and installed her in rooms at
the enclosed address, where she remained until she found employment
with a Doctor Benton.

"What her relations were with him I do not pretend to know.  It is
evident, however, that they continue, as he writes to her.  It will
also be apparent to you that she has not scrupled to continue her
relations with the man Berkley.

"I will now further prove to you the truth of my assertion
concerning this degrading and demoralising condition of affairs.

"It came to my knowledge that a certain Arthur Wye, serving in the
volunteer artillery, and a certain subaltern in a zouave regiment,
were not only intimates of the trooper Berkley, but had also been
on dubious terms with the Lynden girl.

"Therefore, in company with an agent of the United States Secret
Service detailed for the duty by Surgeon-General Hammond at my
request, I held a private examination of these two men, and, with
some adroitness, succeeded in making them identify the photographs
of the Lynden girl, and later, unobserved by her, attempted to make
them identify her as she was sitting outside the field hospital.
But this they refused to do.

"However, that evidence was not necessary.  Among her effects,
scraps of letters in the waste-basket, etc., which she had
imprudently left at her lodgings, were discovered fragments which,
when pasted together, showed conclusively that she was on speaking
terms at least with the artilleryman, Wye.

"This evidence I deem it my duty to lay before you.  As a sensitive
and chaste woman, gently born, the condition of affairs will
horrify you.  But the knowledge of them will also enable you to
take measures for self-protection, and to clearly understand the
measure which I shall now take to rid the Sanitary Service of this
abandoned woman, who, as your friend and intimate associate,
conceals her true character under the garb of Sainte Ursula, and
who continues her intrigues with the trooper Berkley under the very
roof that shelters you.

"I am, madam, with sincere pain and deepest sympathy and respect,

  "Obediently your humble servant,
    "EUGENE HALLAM,
      "Capt. 8th N. Y. Cav."

He laid the letter and the enclosed papers on the bunk beside him,
and sat there thinking.

He knew that the evidence before him had been sufficient to drive
Letty from the Sanitary Service.  Why had she not been driven?  The
evidence and the letter were weeks old now.  What had prevented
their use?  And now Hallam was a fugitive--a deserter in the face
of the enemy.  It was too late for him to work more mischief if he
would.  But why had he held his hand against Letty?

Sunset found him still sitting there, thinking.  The old negro came
shuffling in, bringing hot hoe-cake and bacon for his dinner.  He
ate obediently; later he submitted to the razor and clothes brush,
absently pondering the problem that obsessed him: "Why had Hallam
spared Letty; how could he convey the truth to Ailsa Paige?"

At dusk he reported to the ward-master; but Colonel Arran was
asleep, and there were no orders for him.

Then, slowly, he went into the adjoining ward.  Ailsa was off duty,
lying down in her room.  His message asking a moment's interview
was refused.

So he turned away again, head bent, and wandered over to his
store-room quarters, pondering the problem before him.



CHAPTER XIX

A car full of leaf tobacco had been brought in that day, and
Berkley secured a little of it for his pipe.

Seated on the edge of the shaky veranda in the darkness, he filled
and lighted his cob pipe and, smoking tranquilly, listened to the
distant cannonade which had begun about sundown.  Thousands of
fire-flies sailed low in the damp swale beyond the store-house, or,
clinging motionless to the long wet grass and vines, sparkled
palely at intervals.  There was no wind.  Far on the southern
horizon the muttering thunder became heavier and more distinct.
From where he sat he could now watch the passage of the great
mortar shells through the sky, looking like swiftly moving comets
cleaving unfathomable space; then, falling, faster and faster,
dropping out of the heights of night, they seemed to leave behind
them tracks of fire that lingered on the dazzled retina long after
they had disappeared.  The explosion of the incendiary shells was
even more spectacular; the burning matter of the chemical charge
fell from them in showers of clear blue and golden stars, dropping
slowly toward the unseen river below.

He could distinguish the majestic thunder of the huge mortars from
the roar of the Parrotts; the irregular volleys of musketry had a
resonant clang of metal in them like thousands of iron balls
dropped on a sheet of tin.

For an hour the distant display of fireworks continued, then the
thunder rolled away, deadened to a dull rumour, and died out; and
the last lingering spark of Greek fire faded in mid-heaven.  A
wavering crimson light brightened on the horizon, increasing,
deepening.  But what it was that had been set on fire he could not
guess.  Paigecourt lay in that direction.

He extended his booted legs, propped his back against a pillar, and
continued smoking carefully and economically to save his fragments
of Virginia leaf, deeply absorbed in retrospection.

For the first time he was now certain of the change which time,
circumstance, and environment had wrought in himself; he was
curiously conscious of the silent growth of a germ which, one day,
must become a dictatorial and arbitrary habit--the habit of right
thinking.  The habit of duty, independent of circumstances, had
slowly grown with his military training; mind and body had learned
automatically to obey; mind and body now definitely recognised the
importance of obedience, were learning to desire it, had begun to
take an obscure sort of pride in it.  Mind and body were already
subservient to discipline.  How was it with his other self.

In the human soul there is seldom any real perplexity.  Only the
body reasons; the soul knows.  He knew this now.  He knew, too,
that there is a greater drill-master than that which was now
disciplining his mind and body--the spiritual will--that there is a
higher sentiment than the awakened instinct of mental and physical
obedience--the occult loyalty of the spirit.  And, within him,
something was now awaking out of night, slowly changing him, soul
and body.


As he sat there, tranquil, pondering, there came a shadowy figure,
moving leisurely under the lighted windows of the hospital,
directly toward him--a man swinging a lantern low above the
grass--and halted beside him in a yellow shaft of light,

"Berkley," he said pleasantly; then, to identify himself, lifted
the lantern to a level with his face.

"Dr. Benton!"

"Surely--surely.  I come from Paigecourt.  I left Mrs. Craig and
Stephen about five o'clock; I have just left Miss Lynden on duty.
May I sit here beside you, Phil?  And, in the first place, how are
you, old fellow?"

"Perfectly well, doctor. . . .  I am glad to see you. . . .  It is
pleasant to see you. . . .  I am well; I really am.  You are, too;
I can see that. . . .  I want to shake hands with you again--to
wish you happiness," he added in a low voice.  "Will you accept my
warmest wishes, Dr. Benton?"

They exchanged a hard, brief grip.

"I know what you mean.  Thank you, Phil. . . .  I am very happy; I
mean that she shall be.  Always."

Berkley said: "There are few people I really care for.  She is
among the few."

"I have believed so. . . .  She cares, deeply, for you. . . .  She
is right." . . .  He paused and glanced over his shoulder at the
crimson horizon.  "What was that shelling about? The gun-boats were
firing, too."

"I haven't any idea.  Something is on fire, evidently.  I hope it
is not Paigecourt."

"God forbid!"

The doctor looked hard at the fiery sky, but said nothing more.

"How is Stephen?" asked the younger man earnestly.

"Better."

"Is he going to get well?"

Dr. Benton thought a moment.

"He was struck by a conoidal ball, which entered just above the
interclavicular notch of the sternum and lodged near the superior
angle of the scapula.  Assistant Surgeon Jenning, U. S. V., removed
the bullet and applied simple dressings.  There was a longitudinal
groove on the bullet which may have been caused by contact with the
bone, but there are no symptoms of injury to the osseous tissue.  I
hope he will recover entirely.  Miss Lent, his affianced, is
expected to-night.  Arrangements have been made to convey him
aboard a Sanitary Commission boat this evening.  The sooner he
starts North the better.  His mother and Miss Lent go with him as
nurses."

Berkley drew a quiet breath of relief.  "I am glad," he said
simply.  "There is fever in the air here."

"There is worse, Phil.  They're fine people, the Craigs.  That
mother of his stood the brutal shock of the news wonderfully--not a
tear, not a tremor.  She is a fine woman; she obeyed me, not
implicitly, but intelligently.  I don't like that kind of obedience
as a rule; but it happened to be all right in her case.  She has
voluntarily turned Paigecourt and all the barns, quarters, farms,
and out-buildings into a base hospital for the wounded of either
army.  She need not have done it; there were plenty of other
places.  But she offered that beautiful old place merely because it
was more comfortable and luxurious.  The medical corps have already
ruined the interior of the house; the garden with its handsome box
hedges nearly two centuries old is a wreck.  She has given all the
farm horses to the ambulances; all her linen to the medical
director; all cattle, sheep, swine, poultry to the hospital
authorities; all her cellared stores, wines, luxuries to the
wounded.  I repeat that she is a fine specimen of American
woman--and the staunchest little rebel I ever met."

Berkley smiled, then his bronzed face grew serious in the nickering
lantern light.

"Colonel Arran is badly hurt.  Did you know it?"

"I do," said the doctor quietly.  "I saw him just before I came
over here to find you."

"Would you care to tell me what you think of his chances?"

"I--don't--know.  He is in considerable pain.  The wound continues
healthy.  They give him a great deal of morphia."

"Do you--believe----"

"I can't yet form an opinion worth giving you.  Dillon, the
assistant surgeon, is an old pupil of mine.  He asked me to look in
to-morrow; and I shall do so."

"I'm very glad.  I was going to ask you.  But--there's a good deal
of professional etiquette in these hospitals----"

"It's everywhere," said the doctor, smiling.  Then his pleasant,
alert face changed subtly; he lifted the lantern absently, softly
replaced it on the veranda beside him, and gazed at it.  Presently
he said:

"I came here on purpose to talk to you about another matter. . . .
Shall we step inside?  Or"--he glanced sharply around, lantern held
above his head--"I guess we're better off out here."

Berkley silently assented.  The doctor considered the matter in
mind for a while, nursing his knees, then looking directly at
Berkley:

"Phil, you once told roe a deliberate falsehood."

Berkley's face flushed scarlet, and he stiffened in every muscle.

The doctor said: "I merely wanted you to understand that I knew it
to be a falsehood when you uttered it.  I penetrated your motive in
telling it, let it go at that, and kept both eyes open--and waited."

Berkley never moved.  The painful colour stained the scar on his
brow to an ugly purple.

"The consequences of which falsehood," continued the doctor,
"culminated in my asking Miss Lynden to marry me. . . .  I've been
thinking--wondering--whether that lie was justifiable.  And I've
given up the problem.  But I respect your motive in telling it.
It's a matter for you to settle privately with yourself and your
Maker.  I'm no Jesuit by nature; but--well--you've played a man's
part in the life of a young and friendless girl who has become to
me the embodiment of all I care for in woman.  And I thank you for
that.  I thank you for giving her the only thing she lacked--a
chance in the world.  Perhaps there were other ways of doing it.  I
don't know.  All I know is that I thank you for giving her the
chance."

He ceased abruptly, folded Ins arms, and gazed musingly into space.
Then:

"Phil, have you ever injured a man named Eugene Hallam, Captain of
your troop in the 8th Lancers?"

Berkley looked up, startled; and the hot colour began to fade.

"What do you know about Captain Hallam?" he asked.

"Where is he?"

"Probably a prisoner.  He was taken at the cavalry affair which
they now call Yellow Run."

"You saw him taken by the enemy?"

"No.  I saw him--surrender--or rather, ride toward the enemy,
apparently with that design in mind."

"Why don't you say that Hallam played the coward--that he deserted
his men under fire--was even shot at by his own colonel?"

"You seem to know about it," said Berkley in a mortified
voice. . . . "No man is anxious to reflect on his own regiment.
That is why I did not mention it."

"Yes, I knew it.  Your servant, the trooper Burgess, came to
Paigecourt in search of you.  I heard the detestable details from
him.  He was one of the detachment that got penned in; he saw the
entire performance."

"I didn't know Burgess was there," said Berkley.  "Is he all right?"

"Wears his left wrist in a sling; Colles's fracture; horse fell.
He's a villainous-looking party; I wouldn't trust that fellow with
a pewter button.  But he seems devoted to you."

"I've never been able to make him out," said Berkley, smiling.

The doctor thought a minute.

"I saw two interesting people at Paigecourt.  One was Miss Dix, an
old friend of mine; the other chanced to be Surgeon General
Hammond.  They were on a tour of inspection.  I hope they liked
what they saw."

"Did they?"

"I guess not. . . .  Things in the hospitals ought to go better
now.  We're learning. . . .  By the way, you didn't know that Ailsa
Paige had been to Paigecourt, did you?"

"When?"

"Recently. . . .  She's another fine woman.   She never had an
illness worse than whooping cough.  I know because I've always been
her physician.  Normally she's a fine, wholesome woman,
Berkley--but she told a falsehood. . . .  You are not the only liar
south of Dixon's damnable Line!"

Berkley straightened up as though shot, and the doctor dropped a
heavy hand on his shoulder.

"The sort of lie you told, Phil, is the kind she told.  It doesn't
concern you or me; it's between her conscience and herself; and
it's in a good safe place. . . .  And now I'll sketch out for you
what she did.  This--this beast, Hallam, wrote to Miss Dix at
Washington and preferred charges against Miss Lynden. . . .  I'm
trying to speak calmly and coherently and without passion, damn it!
Don't interrupt me. . . .  I say that Hallam sent his written
evidence to Miss Dix; and Ailsa Paige learned of it, and learned
also what the evidence was. . . .  And it was a terrible thing for
her to learn, Phil--a damnable thing for a woman to learn."

He tightened his grasp on Berkley's shoulder, and his voice was not
very steady.

"To believe those charges--that evidence--meant the death of her
faith in you. . . .  As for the unhappy revelation of what Miss
Lynden had been--the evidence was hopelessly conclusive.  Imagine
what she thought!  Any other woman would have sat aloof and let
justice brand the woman who had doubly betrayed her.  I want you to
consider it; every instinct of loyalty, friendship, trust, modesty
had apparently been outraged and trampled on by the man she had
given her heart to, and by the woman she had made a friend.  That
was the position in which Ailsa Paige found herself when she
learned of these charges, saw the evidence, and was informed by
Hallam that he had forwarded his complaint."

His grip almost crushed Berkley's shoulder muscles.

"And now I'll tell you what Ailsa Paige did.  She went before Miss
Dix and told her that there was not one atom of truth in the
charges.  She accounted for every date specified by saying that
Miss Lynden was with her at those times, that she had known her
intimately for years, known her family--that it was purely a case
of mistaken identity, which, if ever pressed, would bewilder her
friend, who was neither sufficiently experienced to understand what
such charges meant, nor strong enough to endure the horror and
shock if their nature were explained.

"She haughtily affirmed her absolute faith in you, avowed her
engagement to marry you, pointed to your splendid military record;
disdainfully exposed the motive for Hallam's action. . . .  And she
_convinced_ Miss Dix, who, in turn, convinced the Surgeon General.
And, in consequence, I can now take my little girl away from here
on furlough, thank God!--and thanks to Ailsa Paige, who lied like a
martyr in her behalf.  And that's what I came here to tell you."

He drew a long, shuddering breath, his hand relaxed on Berkley's
shoulder, and fell away.

"I don't know to-day what Ailsa Paige believes; but I know what she
did for the sake of a young girl. . . .  If, in any way, her faith
in you has been poisoned, remember what was laid before her, proven
in black and white, apparently; remember, more than that, the
terrible and physically demoralising strain she has been under in
the line of duty.  No human mind can remain healthy very long under
such circumstances; no reasoning can be normal.  The small daily
vexations, the wear and tear of nerve tissue, the insufficient
sleep and nourishment, the close confinement in the hospital
atmosphere, the sights, sounds, odours, the excitement, the
anxiety--all combine to distort reason and undermine one's natural
equipoise.

"Phil, if Ailsa, in her own heart, doubts you as she now doubts
Letty, you must understand why.  What she did shows her courage,
her sweetness, her nobility.  What she may believe--or think she
believes--is born only of morbid nerves, overworked body, and a
crippled power of reasoning.  Her furlough is on the way; I did
myself the honour to solicit it, and to interest Miss Dix in her
behalf.  It is high time; the child cannot stand much more. . . .
After a good rest in the North, if she desires to return, there is
nobody to prevent her . . .  unless you are wise enough to marry
her.  What do you think?"

Berkley made no answer.  They remained silent for a long time.
Then the doctor rose and picked up his lantern; and Berkley stood
up, too, taking the doctor's outstretched hand.

"If I were you, Phil, I'd marry her," said Benton.  "Good-night.
I'll see Colonel Arran in the morning.  Good-night, my boy."

"Good-night," said Berkley in a dull voice.


Midnight found him pacing the dead sod in front of the veranda,
under the stars.  One by one the lights in the hospital had been
extinguished; a lantern glimmered at the guard-house; here and
there an illuminated window cast its oblong of paler light across
the grass.  Southward the crimson radiance had died out; softened
echoes of distant gunshots marked the passing of the slow, dark
hours, but the fitful picket firing was now no louder than the
deadened stamp of horses in their stalls.

A faint scent of jasmine hung in the air, making it fresher, though
no breeze stirred.

He stood for a while, face upturned to the stars, then his head
fell.  Sabre trailing, he moved slowly out into the open; and, at
random, wandered into the little lane that led darkly down under
green bushes to Letty's bridge.

It was fresher and cooler in the lane; starlight made the planking
of the little foot-bridge visible in the dark, but the stream ran
under it too noiselessly for him to hear the water moving over its
bed of velvet sand.

A startled whippoorwill flashed into shadowy night from the rail as
he laid his hand upon it, and, searching for the seat which Letty's
invalid had built for her, he sank down, burying his head in his
hands.

And, as he sat there, a vague shape, motionless in the starlight,
stirred, moved silently, detaching itself from the depthless wall
of shadow.

There was a light step on the grass, a faint sound from the bridge.
But he heard nothing until she sank down on the flooring at his
feet and dropped her head, face downward, on his knees.

As in a dream his hands fell from his eyes--fell on her shoulders,
lay heavily inert.

"Ailsa?"

Her feverish face quivered, hiding closer; one small hand searched
blindly for his arm, closed on his sleeve, and clung there.  He
could feel her slender body tremble at intervals, under his lips,
resting on her hair, her breath grew warm with tears.

She lay there, minute after minute, her hand on his sleeve,
slipping, tightening, while her tired heart throbbed out its heavy
burden on his knees, and her tears fell under the stars.

Fatigued past all endurance, shaken, demoralised, everything in her
was giving way now.  She only knew that he had come to her out of
the night's deathly desolation--that she had crept to him for
shelter, was clinging to him.  Nothing else mattered in the world.
Her weary hands could touch him, hold fast to him who had been lost
and was found again; her tear-wet face rested against his; the
blessed surcease from fear was benumbing her, quieting her,
soothing, relaxing, reassuring her.

Only to rest this way--to lie for the moment unafraid--to cease
thinking, to yield every sense to heavenly lethargy--to forget--to
forget the dark world's sorrows and her own.

The high planets shed their calm light upon her hair, silvering her
slender neck and the hand holding to his sleeve, and the steel edge
of his sabre hilt, and a gilded button at his throat.  And all else
lay in shadow, wrapping them close together in obscurity.

At times he thought she was asleep, and scarcely moving, bent
nearer; but always felt the nervous closing of her fingers on his
sleeve.

And at last sleep came to her, deadening every sense.  Cautiously
he took her hand; the slim fingers relaxed; body and limbs were
limp, senses clouded, as he lifted her in his arms and rose.

"Don't--go," she murmured drowsily.

"No, dear."

Through the darkness, moving with infinite care, he bore her under
the stars and stepped noiselessly across the veranda, entered, and
laid her on his cot.

"Philip," she murmured.

But he whispered to her that she must sleep, that he would be near
her, close to her.  And she sighed deeply, and her white lids
closed again and rested unstirring on her pallid cheeks.

So she slept till the stars faded, then, awaking, lifted her head,
bewildered, drawing her hand from his; and saw the dawn graying his
face where he sat beside her.

She sat up, rigid, on the blanket, the vivid colour staining her
from throat to brow; then memory overwhelmed her.  She covered her
eyes with both arms and her head dropped forward under the beauty
of her disordered hair.

Minute succeeded minute; neither spoke nor moved.  Then, slowly, in
silence, she looked up at him and met his gaze.  It was her
confession of faith.

He could scarcely hear her words, so tremulously low was the voice
that uttered them.

"Dr. Benton told me everything.  Take me back.  The world is empty
without you.  I've been through the depths of it--my heart has
searched it from the ends to the ends of it. . . .  And finds no
peace where you are not--no hope--no life.  All is desolation
without you.  Take me back."

She stretched out her hands to him; he took them, and pressed them
against his lips; and looking across at him, she said:

"Love me--if you will--as you will.  I make no terms; I ask none.
Teach me your way; your way is mine--if it leads to you; all other
paths are dark, all other ways are strange.  I know, for I have
trodden them, and lost myself.  Only the path you follow is lighted
for me.  All else is darkness.  Love me.  I ask no terms."

"Ailsa, I can offer none."

"I know.  You have said so.  That is enough.  Besides, if you love
me, nothing else matters.  My life is not my own; it is yours.  It
has always been yours--only I did not know how completely.  Now I
have learned. . . .  Why do you look at me so strangely?  Are you
afraid to take me for yourself?  Do you think I do not know what I
am saying?  Do you not understand what the terror of these days
without you has done to me?  The inclination which lacked only
courage lacks it no longer.  I know what you have been, what you
are.  I ask nothing more of life than you."

"Dear," he said, "do you understand that I can never marry you?"

"Yes," she said steadily.  "I am not afraid."

In the silence the wooden shutter outside the window swung to with
a slam in the rising breeze which had become a wind blowing
fitfully under a wet gray sky.  From above the roof there came a
sudden tearing sound, which at first he believed to be the wind.
It increased to a loud, confusing, swishing whistle, as though
hundreds of sabres were being whirled in circles overhead.

Berkley rose, looking upward at the ceiling as the noise grew in
volume like a torrent of water flowing over rocks.

Ailsa also had risen, laying one hand on his arm, listening
intently.

"What is it?" she breathed.

"It is the noise made by thousands of bullets streaming through the
air above us.  It sounds like that in the rifle-pits.  Listen!"

The strange, bewildering sound filled the room.  And now, as the
wind shifted, the steady rattle of musketry became suddenly
audible.  Another sound, sinister, ominous, broke on their ears,
the clang of the seminary bell.

"Is it an attack on this place?" she asked anxiously.  "What can we
do?  There are no troops here!  I--I must go to my sick boys----"

Her heart stood still as a cannon thundered, followed by the
fearful sound of the shell as it came tearing toward them.  As it
neared, the noise grew deafening; the air vibrated with a rushing
sound that rose to a shriek.

Ailsa's hands grasped his arm; her ears seemed bursting with the
abominable sound; pain darted through her temples, flashing into
agony as a heavy jar shook the house, followed by a dazzling light
and roar.

Boom! Boom! came the distant, sullen thunder, followed by the
unmistakable whir of a Parrott shell.  Suddenly shrapnel shells
began to come over, screaming, exploding, filling the air with the
rush and clatter of bullets.

"Lie down," he said.  "You can't go out in this.  It will veer off
in a few moments, when they find out that they're shelling our
hospitals."

"I've got to go," she repeated; "my boys won't understand why I
don't come."

She turned and opened the door; he caught her in his arms, and she
looked up and kissed him.

"Good-bye, dear," she whispered.  "You mustn't detain me----"

"You shall not go outside----"

"I've got to.  Be reasonable, dear.  My sick are under fire."

The bugle was sounding now; his arms fell from her waist; she
smiled at him, stepped outside, and started to run; and found him
keeping pace between her and the west.

"You should not do that!" she panted, striving to pass him, but he
kept his body in line with the incoming missiles.  Suddenly he
seized her and dropped flat with her as a shell plunged downward,
exploding in a white cloud laced with flame through which the
humming fragments scattered.

As they rose to their knees in the dust they saw men
gathering--soldiers of all arms, infantry, dismounted cavalrymen,
hospital guards, limping convalescents, officers armed' with
rifles, waggon drivers, negroes.

"They're attacking our works at Cedar Springs," said an officer
wearing one hand in a sling.  "This hospital is in a bad place."

Ailsa clapped both hands over her ears as a shell blew up at the
angle of an outhouse and the ground rocked violently; then, pale
but composed, she sprang inside the hospital door and ran for her
ward.

It was full of pungent smoke; a Parrott shell had passed through a
window, carrying everything away in its path, and had burst,
terrifying the sick men lying there, but not injuring anybody.

And now a flare of light and a crash outside marked the descent of
another shell.  The confusion and panic among the wounded was
terrible; ward-masters, nurses, surgeons, ran hither and thither,
striving to quiet the excited patients as shell after shell rushed
yelling overhead or exploded with terrific force, raining its
whirring iron fragments over roof and chimney.

Ailsa, calm and collected in the dreadful crisis, stood at the end
of the ward, directing the unnerved stretcher bearers,
superintending the carrying out of cots to the barns, which stood
in the shelter of the rising ground along the course of the little
stream.

Letty appeared from the corridor behind her; and Ailsa smiled and
kissed her lightly on the cheek; and the blood came back to the
girl's face in a passion of gratitude which even the terror of
death could not lessen or check.

"Ailsa--darling--" she whispered; then shuddered in the violence of
an explosion that shattered the window-glass beside her,

"We're taking them to the old barns, Letty," said Ailsa, steadying
her voice.  "Will you take charge here while I go to Colonel Arran?"

"They've taken him out," whispered Letty.  "That ward is on fire.
Everybody is out.  W-what a cruel thing for our boys!  Some of them
were getting well!  Can you come now?"

"As soon as they carry out young Spencer.  He's the last. . . .
Look from the window!  They're trying to put out the fire with
water in buckets.  O--h!" as a shell struck and the flame flashed
out through a geyser of sand and smoke.

"Come," murmured Letty.  "I will stay if there is anything to stay
for----"

"No, dear; we can go.  Give me your hand; this smoke is horrible.
Everything is on fire, I think. . . .  Hurry, Letty!"

She stumbled, half suffocated, but Letty kept her hand fast and
guided her to the outer air.

A company of cavalry, riding hard, passed in a whirlwind of dust.
After them, clanking, thudding, pounding, tore a battery, horses on
a dead run,

The west wing of the seminary was on fire; billows of sooty smoke
rolled across the roof and blew downward over the ground where the
forms of soldiers could be seen toiling to and fro with buckets.

Infantry now began to arrive, crowding the main road on the double
quick, mounted officers cantering ahead.  Long lines of them were
swinging out east and west across the country, where a battery went
into action wrapped in torrents of smoke.

Bullets swarmed, singing above and around in every key, and the
distracting racket of the shrapnel shells became continuous.

Ailsa and Letty ran, stooping, into the lane where the stretchers
were being hurried across the little footbridge.  As they crossed
they saw a dead artilleryman lying in the water, a crimson thread
wavering from his head to the surface.  It was Arthur Wye; and
Letty knew him, and halted, trembling; but Ailsa called to her in a
frightened voice, for, confused by the smoke, they had come out in
the rear of a battery among the caissons, and the stretchers had
turned to the right, filing down into the hollow where the barns
stood on the edge of a cedar grove.

Already men were hard at work erecting hospital tents; the wounded
lay on their stretchers, bloodless faces turned to the sky, the
wind whipping their blankets and uncovering their naked, emaciated
bodies.  The faces of the dead had turned black.

"Good God!" said Dr. Benton as Letty and Ailsa came up, out
of'breath, "we've got to get these sick men under shelter!  Can you
two girls keep their blankets from blowing away?"

They hurried from cot to cot, from mattress to mattress, from one
heap of straw to another, from stretcher to stretcher, deftly
replacing sheet and blanket, tucking them gently under, whispering
courage, sometimes a gay jest or smiling admonition to the helpless
men, soothing, petting, reassuring.

The medical director with his corps of aides worked furiously to
get up the big tents.  The smoke from the battery blew east and
south, flowing into the hollow in sulphurous streams; the uproar
from the musketry was terrific.

Ailsa, kneeling beside a stretcher to tuck in the blankets, looked
up over her shoulder suddenly at Letty.

"Where did they take Colonel Arran?"

"I don't know, dear."

Ailsa rose from her knees and looked around her through the flying
smoke; then she got wearily to her feet and began to make
inquiries.  Nobody seemed to know anything about Colonel Arran.

Anxious, she threaded her way through the stretchers and the
hurrying attendants, past the men who were erecting the tents,
looking everywhere, making inquiries, until, under the trees by the
stream, she saw a heap of straw on which a man was dying.

He died as she came up--a big, pallid, red-headed zouave, whose
blanket, soaked with blood, bore dreadful witness of his end.

A Sister of Charity rose as though dazed.

"I could not stop the hemorrhage," she said in her soft, bewildered
voice.

Together they turned back toward the mass of stretchers, moving
with difficulty in the confusion.  Letty, passing, glanced wanly at
the Sister, then said to Ailsa:

"Colonel Arran is in the second barn on the hay.  I am afraid he is
dying."

Ailsa turned toward the barns and hurried across the trampled sod.

Through the half light within she peered about her, moving
carefully among the wounded stretched out on the fragrant hay.

Colonel Arran lay alone in the light of a window high under the
eaves.

"Oh, here you are!" she said gaily.  "I hear most most splendid
things about you.  I--" she stopped short, appalled at the terrible
change that was coming over his face.

"I want to see--Phil--" he whispered.

"Yes--yes, I will find him," she said soothingly; "I will go
immediately and find him."

His head was moving slowly, monotonously, from side to side.

"I want to see my boy," he murmured.  "He is my son.  I wish you to
know it--my only son."

He lifted his brilliant eyes to Ailsa.

Twice he strove to speak, and could not, and she watched him,
stunned.

He made the supreme effort.

"Philip!" he gasped; "our son!  My little son!  My little, little
boy!  I want him, Ailsa, I want him near me when I die!"



CHAPTER XX

They told her that Berkley had gone up the hill toward the firing
line.

On the windy hill-top, hub deep in dry, dead grass, a section of a
battery was in action, the violent light from the discharges
lashing out through the rushing vapours which the wind flattened
and drove, back into the hollow below so that the cannoneers seemed
to be wading waist deep in fog.

The sick and wounded on their cots and stretchers were coughing and
gasping in the hot mist; the partly erected tents had become full
of it.  And now the air in the hollow grew more suffocating as
fragments of burning powder and wadding set the dead grass afire,
and the thick, strangling blue smoke spread over everything.

Surgeons and assistants were working like beavers to house their
patients; every now and then a bullet darted into the vale with an
evil buzz, rewounding, sometimes killing, the crippled.  To add to
the complication and confusion, more wounded arrived from the
firing line above and beyond to the westward; horses began to fall
where they stood harnessed to the caissons; a fine, powerful
gun-team galloping back to refill its chests suddenly reared
straight up into annihilation, enveloped in the volcanic horror of
a shell, so near that Ailsa, standing below in a clump of willows,
saw the flash and smoke of the cataclysm and the flying
disintegration of dark objects scattering through the smoke.

Far away on the hillside an artilleryman, making a funnel of his
hands, shouted for stretchers; and Ailsa, repeating the call,
managed to gather together half a dozen overworked bearers and
start with them up through the smoke.

Deafened, blinded, her senses almost reeling under the
nerve-shattering crash of the guns, she toiled on through the dry
grass, pausing at the edge of charred spaces to beat out the low
flames that leaped toward her skirts.

There was a leafy hollow ahead, filled with slender, willow-trees,
many of them broken off, shot, torn, twisted, and splintered.  Dead
soldiers lay about under the smoke, their dirty shirts or naked
skin visible between jacket and belt; to the left on a sparsely
wooded elevation, the slope of which was scarred, showing dry red
sand and gravel, a gun stood, firing obliquely across the gully
into the woods.  Long, wavering, irregular rings of smoke shot out,
remaining intact and floating like the rings from a smoker's pipe,
until another rush and blast of flame scattered them.

The other gun had been dismounted and lay on its side, one wheel in
the air, helpless, like some monster sprawling with limbs stiffened
in death.  Behind it, crouched close, squatted some infantry
soldiers, firing from the cover of the wreckage.  Behind every
tree, every stump, every inequality, lay infantry, dead, wounded,
or alive and cautiously firing.  Several took advantage of the
fallen battery horses for shelter.  Only one horse of that gun-team
remained alive, and the gunners had lashed the prolonge to the
trail of the overturned cannon and to the poor horse's collar, and
were trying to drag the piece away with the hope of righting it.

This manoeuvre dislodged the group of infantry soldiers who had
taken shelter there, and, on all fours, they began crawling and
worming and scuffling about among the dead leaves, seeking another
shelter from the pelting hail of lead.

There was nothing to be seen beyond the willow gully except smoke,
set grotesquely with phantom trees, through which the enemy's
fusillade sparkled and winked like a long level line of fire-flies
in the mist.

The stretcher bearers crept about gathering up the wounded who
called to them out of the smoke.  Ailsa, on her knees, made her way
toward a big cavalryman whose right leg was gone at the thigh.

She did what she could, called for a stretcher, then, crouching
close under the bank of raw earth, set her canteen to his blackened
lips and held it for him.

"Don't be discouraged," she said quietly, "they'll bring another
stretcher in a few moments.  I'll stay here close beside you until
they come."

The cavalryman was dying; she saw it; he knew it.  And his swollen
lips moved.

"Don't waste time with me," he managed to say.

"Then--will you lie very still and not move?"

"Yes; only don't let the horse step on me."

She drew her little note-book and pencil from the pocket of her
gown and gently lowered her head until one ear was close to his
lips.

"What is your name and regiment?"

His voice became suddenly clear.

"John Casson--Egerton's Dragoons. . . .  Mrs. Henry Casson, Islip,
Long Island.  My mother is a widow; I don't--think
she--can--stand----"

Then he died--went out abruptly into eternity.

Beside him, in the grass, lay a zouave watching everything with
great hollow eyes.  His body was only a mass of bloody rags; he had
been shot all to pieces, yet the bleeding heap was breathing, and
the big sunken eyes patiently watched Ailsa's canteen until she
encountered his unwinking gaze.  But the first swallow he took
killed him, horribly; and Ailsa, her arms drenched with blood,
shrank back and crouched shuddering under the roots of a shattered
tree, her consciousness almost deserting her in the roaring and
jarring and splintering around her.  She saw more stretcher bearers
in the smoke, stooping, edging their way--unarmed heroes of many a
field who fell unnoted, died unrecorded on the rolls of glory.

A lieutenant of artillery, powder-blackened, but jaunty, called
down to her from the bank above:

"Look out, little lady.  We're going to try to limber up, and we
don't want to drop six horses and a perfectly good gun on top of
you!"

Somebody seized her arm and dragged her across the leaves; and she
struggled to her knees, to her feet, turned, and started to run.

"This way," said Berkley's voice in her ear; and his hand closed on
hers.

"Phil--help me--I don't know where I am!"

"I do.  Run this way, under the crest of the hill. . . .  Dr.
Connor told me that you had climbed up here.  This isn't your
place!  Are you stark mad?"

They ran on westward, panting, sheltered by the grassy crest behind
which soldiers lay firing over the top of the grass--long lines of
them, belly flattened to the slope, dusty blue trousers hitched up
showing naked ankles and big feet pendant.  Behind them, swords
drawn, stood or walked their officers, quietly encouraging them or
coolly turning to look at Ailsa and Berkley as they hurried past.

In a vast tobacco field to their left, just beyond a wide cleft in
the hills, a brigade of cavalry was continually changing station to
avoid shell fire.  The swallow-tailed national flags, the yellow
guidons with their crossed sabres, the blue State colours, streamed
above their shifting squadrons as they trotted hither and thither
with the leisurely precision of a peaceful field day; but here and
there from the trampled earth some fallen horse raised its head in
agony; here and there the plain was dotted with dark heaps that
never stirred.

The wailing flight of bullets streamed steadily overhead, but, as
they descended, the whistling, rushing sound grew higher and
fainter.  They could see, on the plain where the cavalry was
manoeuvring, the shells bursting in fountains of dirt, the ominous
shrapnel cloud floating daintily above.

Far away through the grassy cleft, on wooded hillsides, delicately
blue, they could see the puff of white smoke shoot out from among
the trees where the Confederate batteries were planted, then hear
the noise of the coming shell rushing nearer, quavering, whistling
into a long-drawn howl as it raced through the gray clouds overhead.

While he guided her among the cedars at the base of the hill, one
arm around her body to sustain her, he quietly but seriously
berated her for her excursion to the firing line, telling her there
was no need of it, no occasion for anybody except the bearers
there; that Dr. Connor was furious at her and had said aloud that
she had little common-sense.

Ailsa coloured painfully, but there was little spirit left in her,
and she walked thankfully and humbly along beside him, resting her
cheek, against his shoulder.

"Don't scold me; I really feel half sick, Phil. . . .  From where
did you come?" she added timidly.

"From the foot bridge.  They wanted a guard set there.  I found
half a dozen wounded men who could handle a musket.  Lord, but the
rebels came close to us that time!  When we heard those bullets
they were charging the entire line of our works.  I understand that
we've driven them all along the line.  It must be so, judging from
the sound of the firing."

"Did our hospital burn?"

"Only part of one wing.  They're beginning to move back the wounded
already. . . .  Now, dear, will you please remain with your
superiors and obey orders?" he added as they came out along the
banks of the little stream and saw the endless procession of
stretchers recrossing the foot bridge to the left.

"Yes. . . .  I didn't know.  I saw part of a battery blown up; and
a soldier stood on the hill and shouted for stretchers.  There was
nobody else to start them off, so I did it."

He nodded.  "Wait here, dear.  I will run over and ask Dr. Connor
whether they have moved Colonel Arran----"

"Colonel Arran! Oh, Philip!  I forgot to tell you--" She clutched
his arm in her excitement, and he halted, alarmed.

"Has anything happened to him?" he demanded.

"He asked for you."

"Is he worse?"

"I fear so."

"Dying?"

"Phil--I am afraid so.  He--he--thinks that you are his son!"

"W-what are you saying!" he stammered: "What are you trying to tell
me, Ailsa?"

"Phil--my darling!--don't look that way!" she exclaimed, frightened.

"What way?" He laughed as though crazed.  "Where is he?  Do you
know?  I want to see him.  You better let me see him."

"I'll go with you, Phil; I'll be close beside you.  You mustn't
become so terribly excited; I didn't know what I was saying; I
think he is delirious----"

"Where is he?  I can't endure this much longer," he kept repeating
in a vacant way as they forced a path among the litters and
ambulances, and came out through the smoke blowing from a pile of
debris that lay where the east wing of the seminary had once stood.
Charred and battered, every window smashed, and the blackened
rafters of the roof still smouldering, the east wing rose before
them, surrounded by the wounded.

A surgeon told them that Colonel Arran had been carried out of the
barn, but to what place he did not know.  Letty with Dr. Benton
passed them by the stables, but they knew only that Colonel Arran,
lying on a litter, had been placed in an ambulance which had
started for Azalea Court House.

This was confirmed by Dr. Connor, who came hurrying by and who
halted to scowl heartily at Ailsa.

"No more of _that_!" he said roughly.  "When I want a nurse on the
firing line I'll detail her.  I've sent two hundred invalids to the
landing, and I wanted you to go with them and when I looked around
for you I saw you kiting for the line of battle!  That's all wrong,
Mrs. Paige!  That's all wrong!  You look sick anyway.  Are you?"

"No.  I'll go now, if you'll let me, Dr. Connor."

"How are you going to get there?  I haven't another ambulance to
send--not a horse or a mule----"

"I--I'll walk," she said with a sob in her throat.  "I am fearfully
sorry--and ashamed----"

"There, there," muttered Dr. Connor, "I didn't mean all I said.  It
was a brave thing to do--not that your pluck mitigates the offence!
Be a little more considerate; think a little faster; don't take to
your legs on the first impulse.  Some fool told me you'd been
killed--and that made--made me--most damnably angry!" he burst out
with a roar to cover the emotion working at his mouth and eyes.

He seized Ailsa's hand and shook it vigorously.

"Excuse my profanity.  I can't avoid it when I think of
_you_--dead!  There, there.  I'm an old fool and you're a--younger
one.  See if you can find somebody to take you to Azalea.  I want
that batch of invalids carefully watched.  Besides, there's a
furlough there for you.  Don't say one word!  You're not well, I
tell you.  I had to send those invalids back; the place here is
atrociously crowded.  Try to find some way of getting to the
landing.  And take care of your pretty little self for God's sake!"

She promised, shook hands with him again, disengaged herself from
the crowd around her, turned about to search for Berkley, and
caught sight of him near the stables, saddling his horse.  He
buckled the last strap as she came up; turned a blank gaze on her,
and did not appear to comprehend her question for a moment.  Then,
nodding in a dazed way, he lifted her to the saddle in front, swung
up behind her, passed one arm around her waist, gathered bridle,
and edged his way carefully through the crowd out into the road.

The 3rd Zouaves in heavy marching order filled the road with their
scarlet column, moving steadily southward; and Ailsa, from her
perch on the saddle, called to Colonel Craig and Major Lent,
stretching out her hot little hand to them as she passed.

Engineers blocked their progress farther on, then Wisconsin
infantry, young giants in blue, swinging forward in their long
loose-limbered stride; then an interminable column of artillery,
jolting slowly along, the grimy gunners swaying drowsily on their
seats, officers nodding half asleep in their saddles.

"Philip," she ventured timidly.

"Yes."

"Is there--anything--you wish to tell me?  Anything that
I--perhaps--have a faint shadow of a right to know?"

For a long time they rode in silence, her question unanswered.  A
narrow cart road--less of a road than a lane--led east.  He turned
his horse into it.

For a moment no sound broke the silence save the monotonous clank
of his sabre and the creak of girth and saddle.

"Ailsa!"

"Yes, Phil."

"Move closer; hold very tight to me; clasp both arms around my
neck. . . .  Are you seated firmly?"

"Yes, Phil."

He encircled her slender body with his right arm and, shaking out
the bridle, launched his horse at a gallop down the sandy lane.
Her breath and his mingled as they sped forward; the wind rushed
by, waving the foliage on either hand; a steady storm of sand and
gravel rained rattling through the bushes as the spurred horse
bounded forward, breaking into a grander stride, thundering on
through the gathering dusk.

Swaying, cradled in his embrace, her lips murmured his name, or,
parted breathless, touched his, as the exquisitely confused sense
of headlong speed dimmed her senses to a happy madness.

Trees, bushes, fences flew past and fled away behind in the dusk.
It seemed to her as though she was being tossed through space
locked in his arms; infinite depths of shadow whirled and eddied
around her; limitless reaches, vistas unfathomable stretched toward
outer chaos into which they were hurled, unseeing, her arms around
his neck, her soft face on his breast.

Then a lantern flashed; voices sounded in far-off confusion; more
lanterns twinkled and glimmered; more voices broke in on their
heavenly isolation.

Was the divine flight ended?

Somebody said: "Colonel Arran is here, and is still alive, but his
mind is clouding.  He says he is waiting for his son to come."

Dizzy, burning hot, half blinded, she felt herself swung out of
space onto the earth again, through a glare of brightness in which
Celia's face seemed to be framed, edged with infernal light. . . .
And another face, Camilla's, was there in the confusing brilliancy;
and she reeled a little, embraced, held hot and close; and in her
dulled ears drummed Celia's voice, murmuring, pitying, complaining,
adoring:

"Honey-bell--Oh, my little Honey-bud!  I have you back in my a'ms,
and I have my boy, and I'm ve'y thankful to my Heavenly Master--I
certainly am, Honey-bee!--fo' His goodness and His mercy which He
is showing eve'y day to me and mine."

And Camilla's pale face was pressed against her hot cheeks and the
girl's black sleeve of crape encircled her neck.

She whispered: "I--I try to think it reconciles me to losing Jimmy.
. . .  War gave me Stephen. . . .  Yet--oh, I cannot understand why
God's way must sometimes be the way of battle!"

Ailsa saw and heard and understood, yet, all around her fell an
unreal light--a terrible fiery radiance, making voices the voices,
of phantoms, forms the outlines of ghosts.

Through an open door she saw a lamp-lit room where her lover knelt
beside a bed--saw a man's arm reach feebly toward him--and saw no
more.  Everything wavered and dazzled and brightened into rainbow
tints around her, then to scarlet; then velvety darkness sprang up,
through which she fell into swift unconsciousness.

One of the doctors, looking at her as she lay on the hospital cot,
dropped his hand gravely on her thin wrist.

"You cannot tell me anything that I don't know about Mrs. Paige,"
he said wearily.  "This is a complete breakdown.   It's come just
in time, too, that girl has been trying to kill herself.  I
understand that her furlough has arrived.  You'd better get her
North on the next transport.  I guess that our angels are more
popular in our hospitals just now than they would be tuning little
gilt harps aloft.  We can't spare 'em, Mrs. Craig, and I guess the
Most High can wait a little longer."

Doctor, ward-master, apothecary, and nurses stood looking down at
the slim, fever-flushed shape moving restlessly on the
cot--babbling soft inconsequences, staring out of brilliant eyes at
nothing.

The doctor whispered to the apothecary, and his gesture dismissed
those who stood around her waiting in silence.



CHAPTER XXI

Early in October the Union Cavalry began their favourite pastime of
"chasing" Stuart.  General Pleasanton with a small force and a
horse battery began it, marching seventy-eight miles in twenty-four
hours; but Stuart marched ninety in the same time.  He had to.

About ten o'clock in the morning of October tenth, General Buford,
chief of cavalry, set the 6th Pennsylvania Lancers galloping after
Stuart.  Part of the 1st Maine Cavalry joined the chase; but Stuart
flourished his heels and cantered gaily into Pennsylvania to the
amazement and horror of that great State, and to the unbounded
mortification of the Union army.  He had with him the 1st, 3d, 4th,
5th and 9th Virginia Cavalry; the 7th and 9th North Carolina, and
two Legions; and after him went pelting the handful that McClellan
could mount.  A few tired troopers galloped up to Whitens Ford just
as Stuart crossed in safety; and the gain of "chasing" Stuart was
over.  Never had the efficiency of the Union Cavalry been at such a
low ebb; but it was low-water mark, indeed, and matters were
destined to mend after a history of nearly two years of neglect,
disorganisation, and misuse.

Bayard took over the cavalry south of Washington; Pleasanton
collected the 6th Regulars, the 3d Indiana, the 8th New York, the
8th Pennsylvania, and the 8th Illinois, and started in to do
mischief with brigade head-quarters in the saddle.

The 8th New York went with him, but the 8th New York Lancers,
reorganising at Orange Hill, were ordered to recruit the depleted
regiment to twelve companies.

In August, Berkley's ragged blue and yellow jacket had been gaily
embellished with brand-new sergeant's chevrons; at the Stone Bridge
where the infantry recoiled his troop passed over at a gallop.

The War Department, much edified, looked at the cavalry and began
to like it.  And it was ordered that every cavalry regiment be
increased by two troops, L and M.  Which liberality, in combination
with Colonel Arran's early reports concerning Berkley's conduct,
enabled the company tailor to sew a pair of lieutenant's
shoulder-straps on Berkley's soiled jacket.

But there was more than that in store for him; it was all very well
to authorise two new troops to a regiment, but another matter to
recruit them.

Colonel Arran, from his convalescent couch in the North, wrote to
Governor Morgan; and Berkley got his troop, and his orders to go to
New York and recruit it.  And by the same mail came the first
letter Ailsa had been well enough to write him since her transfer
North on the transport _Long Branch_.

He read it a great many times; it was his only diversion while
awaiting transportation at the old Hygeia Hotel, where, in company
with hundreds of furloughed officers, he slept on the floors in his
blanket; he read it on deck, as the paddle-wheeled transport
weighed anchor, swung churning under the guns of the great
Fortress--so close that the artillerymen on the water-battery could
have tossed a biscuit aboard--and, heading north-east, passed out
between the capes, where, seaward, the towering black sides of a
sloop of war rose, bright work aglitter, smoke blowing fitfully
from her single funnel.

At Alexandria he telegraphed her: "Your letter received, I am on my
way North," and signed it with a thrill of boyish pride: "Philip O.
Berkley-Arran, Capt. Cavalry, U. S. V."

To his father he sent a similar telegram from the Willard in
Washington; wasted two days at the State, War, and Navy for an
audience with Mr. Stanton, and finally found himself, valise in
hand, waiting among throngs of officers of all grades, all arms of
the service, for a chance to board his train.

And, as he stood there, he felt cotton-gloved fingers fumbling for
the handle of his valise, and wheeled sharply, and began to laugh.

"Where the devil did you come from, Burgess?  Did they give you a
furlough?"

"Yes, Captain."

"Well, you got more than I.  What's the matter; do you want to
carry my bag?"

"Yes, sir."

"You don't have to."

"No, Captain. . . .  If you don't object, sir, I'll carry it."

They found seats together; Philip, amused, tried to extract from
Burgess something besides the trite and obvious servant's
patter--something that might signify some possibility of a latent
independence--the germ of aspiration.  And extracted nothing.
Burgess had not changed, had not developed.  His ways were Philip's
ways; his loftier flights mounted no higher toward infinity than
the fashions prevailing in the year 1862, and their suitability to
his master's ultimate requirements.

For his regiment, for its welfare, its hopes, its glory, he
apparently cared nothing; nor did he appear to consider the part he
had borne in its fluctuating fortunes anything to be proud of.

Penned with the others in the brush field, he had done stolidly
what his superiors demanded of him; and it presently came out that
the only anxiety that assailed him was when, in the smoke of the
tangled thickets, he missed his late master.

"Well, what do you propose to do after the regiment is mustered
out?" inquired Philip curiously.

"Wait on you, sir."

"Don't you _want_ to do anything else?"

"No, sir."'

Philip looked at him, smiling.

"I suppose you like my cigars, and my brandy and my linen?"

The ghost of .a grin touched the man's features.

"Yes, sir," he said with an impudence that captivated Philip.

"All right, my friend; I can stand it as long as you can. . . .
And kindly feel in my overcoat for a cigar wrapped in paper.  I'll
go forward and smoke for a while."

"Sir?"

"The cigar--I put it in my overcoat pocket wrapped in a bit of
paper. . . .  You--you don't mean to tell me that it's not there!"

Burgess searched the pockets with a perfectly grave face.

"It ain't here; no, sir."

Philip flung himself into the corner of his seat, making no effort
to control his laughter:

"Burgess," he managed to say, "the dear old days are returning
already.  I'll stay here and read; you go forward and smoke that
cigar.  Do you hear?"

"Yes, sir."


Again, just as he had done every day since leaving camp, he reread
Ailsa's letter, settling down in his corner by the dirty, rattling
window-pane:


"Everybody writes to you except myself.  I know they have told you
that it is taking a little longer for me to get well than anybody
expected.  I was terribly tired.  Your father has been so sweet;
everybody has been good to me--Celia, poor little Camilla, and
Stephen.  I know that they all write to you; and somehow I have
been listlessly contented to let them tell you about home matters,
and wait until my strength returned.  But you must not doubt where
every waking memory of mine has centred; my thoughts have circled
always around that central vortex from which, since I first laid
eyes on you, they have never strayed.

"Home news is what all good soldiers want; I write for you all I
know:

"The city is the same hot, noisy, dirty, dusty, muddy, gridiron,
changed in nowise except that everywhere one sees invalid soldiers;
and there are far too many officers lounging about, presumably on
furlough--too many Captain Dash's, twirling black moustaches in
front of fashionable hotels.  There are no powder stains on their
uniforms, no sun-burn on their cheeks.  They throng the city; and
it is a sinister phenomenon.

"I think Broadway was never as lively, never quite as licentious.
Those vivid cafes, saloons, concert halls, have sprung up
everywhere; theatres, museums, gardens are in full blast; shops are
crowded, hotels, street cars, stages overflowing with careless,
noisy, overdressed people.  The city is _en fete_; and somehow when
I think of that Dance of Death thundering ceaselessly just south of
us, it appalls me to encounter such gaiety and irresponsibility in
the streets.

"Yet, after all, it may be the safety-valve of a brave people.
Those whirling daily in the Dance of Death have, at least, the
excitement to sustain them.  Here the tension is constant and
terrible; and the human mind cannot endure too much tragedy.

". . . They say our President fits a witticism to the tragedy of
every battle-field; but it may be to preserve his own reason
through these infernal years.  He has the saddest eyes of any man
since the last Martyr died.


"England behaves badly.  It was her God-given opportunity to stand
by us.  She has had chance after chance since the last patriot died
from lack of food and air in this sad old city of New York. . . .
The Prince Consort is kind; his wife is inclined to be what he is.
Napoleon is the sinister shape behind the arras; and the Tory
government licks his patent-leather boots.  Vile is the attitude of
England, vile her threats, her sneers, her wicked contempt of a
great people in agony.  Her murderous government, bludgeon in hand,
stands snarling at us in Mexico; her ministers glare at us from
every war port; her press mocks in infamous caricature our unhappy
President; only her poor are with us--the poor of England whom our
war is starving.  Again and again we have forgiven her.  But now,
standing on our blood-wet battle-fields, can we ever again forgive?


"You have heard from your family and from Celia, so what news I
write may be no news.  Yet I know how it is with soldiers; they
never tire of such repetitions.

"Your father is slowly recovering.  But he will never sit his
saddle again, dear.  Don't expect it; the war is over as far as he
is concerned.  But never have my eyes beheld such happiness, such
gratitude, such adoration as I see in his eyes when your letters
come.  I think the burden of his conversation is you.  I never hear
him speak of anything else.  Your father walks now; and by the time
you are here he will be able to drive on Fifth Avenue and in the
new Central Park.  But he is not the man who left this city at the
head of his regiment.  His hair and moustache are white as snow;
there are a thousand tiny wrinkles on his hands and features.  All
that heavy colour is gone; only a slight flush remains on his thin
face.  He is very handsome, Phil.  Once, never dreaming of what was
true, I thought he resembled you.  Do you recollect my saying so
once?  Even you would recognise the likeness now.  He is absorbed,
wrapped up in you. . . .  I can see, now, that he always has been.
How blind we are! How blind!

"Celia, the darling, has not changed one particle.  She is the
prettiest thing you ever saw, cheerful, clever, courageous,
self-possessed, devoted to Stephen, whose leave has been extended
and who plays the role of a pale and interesting invalid hero with
placid satisfaction to himself, adored and hovered over by Paige
and Marye and all their girl friends.  But when poor little
Camilla, in her deep mourning, appears at the door, he clears out
the others with a tyranny characteristic of young men; and I'm
somewhat sorry for his mother and sisters.  But it's the
inevitable; and Camilla is the sweetest thing.

"Celia hears often from Curt, Poor Major Lent!  It seems too hard
that Camilla should be left so utterly alone in the world.  The
Major died as he would have wished to die, Curt writes.  It was at
that terrible Stone Bridge--where God was merciful to me when your
squadron galloped across.

"He was found, seated against a tree, stone dead, one hand
stiffened over the Mexican war medal at his throat.  Curt says his
face was calm, almost smiling.  Camilla has his sword and medals.

"Did you know that your friend John Casson was dead?  I was with
him; I did not know he was a friend of yours.  He displayed the
same patience, the same desire not to be troublesome that so many
badly wounded do.

"Letty asked me to say that a zouave of the 5th Regiment, a Mr.
Cortlandt, was also killed.  So many, many people I knew or had
heard of have been killed or have died of disease since the war
began.  One sees a great many people wearing mourning in the
city--crape is so common, on sword-hilts, on arms, veils, gowns,
bonnets.

"Letty made the loveliest bride you or I ever beheld.  Usually
brides do not look their best, but Letty was the most charming,
radiant, bewildering creature--and so absurdly young--as though
suddenly she had dropped a few years and was again beginning that
girlhood which I sometimes thought she had never had.

"Dr. Benton is a darling.  He looks twenty years younger and wears
a monocle!  They are back from their honeymoon, and are planning to
offer their services to the great central hospital at Philadelphia.

"Dear, your letter breaking the news to me that Marye Mead was
burned when the cavalry burned Edmund Ruffin's house was no news to
me.  I saw it on fire.  But, Philip, there was a fiercer flame
consuming me than ever swept that house.  I thank God it Is
quenched for ever and that my heart and soul, refreshed, made new,
bear no scars now of that infernal conflagration.

"I sit here at my window and see below me the folds of the dear
flag stirring; in my ears, often, is the noise of drums from the
dusty avenue where new regiments are passing on into the
unknown--no longer the unknown to us--but the saddest of all truths.

"Sometimes Celia comes from the still, leafy seclusion of Fort
Greene Place, to love me, caress me, gently jeer at me for the hint
of melancholy in my gaze, shaming me for a love-sick thing that
droops and pines in the absence of all that animates her soul and
body with the desire to live.

"She is only partly right; I am very tired, Phil.  Not that I am
ill.  I am well, now.  It only needs you.  She knows it; I have
always known it.  Your love, and loving you, is all that life means
to me.

"I see them all here--Celia fussing with my trousseau, gowns,
stockings, slippers, hovering over them with Paigie and Marye in
murmurous and intimate rapture.  They lead me about to shops and in
busy thoroughfares; and I see and understand, and I hear my own
voice as at an infinite distance, and I am happy in the same
indefinite way.  But, try as I may, I cannot fix my thoughts on
what I am about, on the pretty garments piled around me, on the
necessary arrangements to be made, on the future--our future!  I
cannot even think clearly about that.  All that my mind seems able
to contain is my love for you, the knowledge that you are coming,
that I am to see you, touch you.

"I try to realise that I am to be your wife; the heavenly reality
seems vaguely impossible.  Yet every moment I am schooling myself
to the belief, telling myself that it is to be, repeating the
divine words again and again.  And all I am capable of
understanding is that I love you, and that the world stands still,
waiting for you as I wait; and that without you nothing is real,
and I move in a world of phantoms.


"I have been to the mirror to look at myself.  To be certain, I
also asked Celia.  She says that you will not be disappointed.

"She sat here searching the morning paper for news of her husband's
regiment, but found none.  What women endure for men no man that
ever lives can understand.

"She is perfectly cheerful about it all.  And, oh, such a rebel!
She read aloud to me with amused malice the order from the War
Department which does away with regimental bands and substitutes a
brigade band.

"I sca'cely blame them,' she observed; 'I'd be ve'y glad myse'f to
hear less of Yankee Doodle and the Star-spangled Banner.  When they
let President Davis alone, and when Curt comes home, I've got some
ve'y pretty songs fo' him to learn to appreciate.'

"She's down stairs now, seated at the piano, singing very softly to
herself some gaily impudent rebel song or other.  I know it's a
rebel song by the way she sings it.

"And, as I sit here, alone, thinking of how I love you--far away I
hear the 'old line's bugle'--the quaint, quick rhythm of the fifes
and drums; and it stirs depths in me where my very soul lies
listening--and the tears spring to my eyes.  And I try to
understand why every separate silver star in the flag is mine to
hold, mine to rescue and replace, mine to adore.  And I try to
understand why all of it is part of the adoration of you, and of
God who gave you to me--Philip--Philip--my lover, my country, my
God--worshipped and adored of men!"

[Illustration: "Philip--Philip--my lover, my country, my
God--worshipped and adored of men!"]


THE END





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