And light was beaming in through his darkened eyes and gladdening his soul with a rapture he had not known for years. One instant he seized and clasped her hand. “May God bless you!” was all he whispered, but so softly that even she did not hear him. He bowed low over the slender white hand, and stayed.
March had come,—the month of gale and bluster, sleet and storm, in almost every section of our broad domain,—and March at Warrener was to the full as blustering and conscienceless as in New England. There were a few days of sunshine during the first week; then came a fortnight of raging snow-storms. The cavalry troops, officers and men, went about their stable-duties as usual, but, except for roll-call on the porch of the barracks and for guard-mounting over at the guard-house, all military exercise seemed suspended. This meant livelier times for the ladies, however, as the officers were enabled to devote just so many more hours a day to their entertainment. There were two or three hops a week over in the big assembly-room, and there was some talk of getting up a german in honor of Miss Travers, but the strained relations existing between Mrs. Rayner and the ladies of other families at the post made the matter difficult of accomplishment. There were bright little luncheon-, dinner-, and tea-parties, where the young officers and the younger ladies met every day; and, besides all this, despite the fact that Mrs. Rayner had at first shown a fixed determination to discuss the rights and wrongs of “the Hayne affair,” as it was now beginning to be termed, with all comers who belonged to the Riflers, it had grown to be a very general thing for the youngsters to drop in at her house at all hours of the day; but that was because there were attractions there which outweighed her combativeness. Then Rayner himself overheard some comments on the mistake she was making, and forbade her discussing the subject with the officers even of her own regiment. She was indignant, and demanded a reason. He would name no names, but told her that he had heard enough to convince him she was doing him more harm than good, and, if anything, contributing to the turn of the tide in Hayne’s favor. Then she felt outraged and utterly misjudged. It was a critical time for her, and if deprived of the use of her main weapon of offence and defence the battle was sure to go amiss. Sorely against her inclination, she obeyed her lord, for, as has been said, she was a loyal wife, and for the time being the baby became the recipient of her undivided attention.