The young woman rose, and stood out a pace or two from the shadows. Her hand rested upon the arm of the elder lady. She turned her face toward Franklin. He felt her gaze take in the uniform of blue, felt the stroke of mental dislike for the uniform—a dislike which he knew existed, but which he could not fathom. He saw the girl turn more fully toward him, saw upon her face a querying wonder, like that which he had known in his own dreams! With a strange, half-shivering gesture the girl advanced half a step and laid her head almost upon the shoulder of the elder woman, standing thus for one moment, the arms of the two unconsciously entwined, as is sometimes the way with women. Franklin approached rudeness as he looked at this attitude of the two, still puzzling, still seeking to solve this troubling problem of the past.
There came a shift in the music. The air swept from the merry tune into the minor from which the negro is never musically free. Then in a flash Franklin saw it all. He saw the picture. His heart stopped!
This music, it was the wail of trumpets! These steps, ordered, measured, were those of marching men. These sounds, high, commingling, they were the voices of a day gone swiftly by. These two, this one—this picture—it was not here, but upon the field of wheat and flowers that he saw it now again—that picture of grief so infinitely sad.
Franklin saw, and as he gazed, eager, half advancing, indecision and irresolution dropped from him forever. Resolved from out the shadows, wherein it had never in his most intimate self-searching taken any actual form, he saw the image of that unformulated dream which had haunted his sub-consciousness so long, and which was now to haunt him openly and forever.
The morning after the first official ball in Ellisville dawned upon another world.
The occupants of the wagons which trailed off across the prairies, the horsemen who followed them, the citizens who adjourned and went as usual to the Cottage—all these departed with the more or less recognised feeling that there had happened a vague something which had given Ellisville a new dignity, which had attached to her a new significance. Really this was Magna Charta. All those who, tired and sleepy, yet cheerful with the vitality of beef and air, were going home upon the morning following the ball, knew in their souls that something had been done. Each might have told you in his way that a new web of human interests and human antagonisms was now laid out upon the loom. Rapid enough was to be the weaving, and Ellisville was early enough to become acquainted with the joys and sorrows, the strivings and the failures, the happinesses and bitternesses of organized humanity.