Once he saw me through the open door, and called, “Mutter! mutter!”
I went, knelt by him, took his hands, which were stretched appealingly to me, and spoke comforting words, while his blue eyes seemed ready to start from their sockets, as he clung to my hands with the old familiar cry:
“Oh, Mutter! Mutter!”
He was strapped down to his iron cot, about as closely as he had been to the amputation table, and the cot fastened to the floor. I had not been five minutes at his side when his special nurse hurried up and warned me to leave, saying:
“It’s surgeon’s orders. He’s not going to have any babyin’!”
I drew my hands from the frantic grasp, took away that last hold on human sympathy, and hurried oat, while his cry of “Oh, mutter! mutter!” rung in my ears as I turned and looked on his pure high brow for the last time.
Next morning I heard he had lock-jaw, and that the surgeon was to leave.
The night after that victim of some frightful, fiendish experiment had been carried to the dead-house, I was passing through the ward, when attracted by sounds of convulsive weeping, and I found a young man in an agony of grief, in one of those sobbing fits sure to come to the bravest. He was in a high fever, and while I bathed his face and hands, I asked the cause of his outbreak, and he sobbed:
“Oh, the pain in my wound! This is the third night I have not slept, and my God! I can bear it no longer!”
It was a flesh-wound in the thigh, such an one as usually proved fatal, and while I set him to talking I began patching scraps of observation into a theory. He was from Pennsylvania, and bitterly charged his State with having done nothing for her wounded, and when I asked why he had not sent for me, he said:
“Oh, I thought you were from Massachusetts, like all the rest of them; and if my own State would do nothing for me, I would not beg. People come here every day looking for Massachusetts soldiers. Since I have been frantic here, ladies have come and stood and looked at me, and said ‘Poor fellow!’ as if I had been a dog. I was as well raised as any of them, even if I am a common soldier.”
I thought his recovery very doubtful, and talked to draw his thoughts to the better land. To his charges against his native land, I said: “I am a Pennsylvanian; and more than that, the Governor of Pennsylvania sent me to you; bade me come to-night, that you might know he had not forgotten you.”
“He did? Why, how did he know anything about it?”
“He just knows all about it, and has been caring for you all this time. I do not mean Andy Curtin. He is nothing but a subaltern; but the dear Lord, our Father in Heaven, who never forgets us, though he often afflicts us. He sent me to you now, that you might know he loves you. It was he who made me love you and care to help you. All the love and care that come to you are a part of his love.”