There was a cry of pain from a distant corner, and Hugh awoke to consciousness—awoke to know it was no dream—the soft hands on his brow, the kiss upon his lips—for Golden Hair was there; and by the tears she dropped upon his face, and the mute caresses she gave him, he knew that Sam had told him truly. For several minutes there was silence between them, while the eyes looked into each other with a deeper meaning than words could have expressed; then, smoothing back his damp brown hair, and letting her fingers still rest upon his forehead, Alice whispered to him: “Why did you distrust me, Hugh? But for that we need not have been separated so long.”
Winding his well arm around her neck, and drawing her nearer to him, Hugh answered:
“It was best just as it is. Had I been sure of your love, I should have found it harder to leave home. My country needed me. I am glad I have done what I could to defend it. Glad that I joined the army, for Alice, darling, Golden Hair, in my lonely tent reading that little Bible you gave me so long ago, the Savior found me, and now, whether I live or not, it is well, for if I die, I am sure you will be mine in heaven; and if I live—”
Alice finished the sentence for him.
“If you live, God willing, I shall be your wife. Dear Hugh, I bless the Good Father, first for bringing you to Himself, and then restoring you to me, darling Hugh.”
The Village hearse was waiting at Snowdon depot, and close beside it stood the carriage from Terrace Hill; the one sent there for Adah, the other for her husband, whose lifeblood, so freely shed, had wiped away all stains upon his memory, and enshrined him in the hearts of Snowdon’s people as a martyr. He was the first dead soldier returned to them, his the first soldier’s grave in their churchyard; and so a goodly throng were there, with plaintive fife and muffled drum, to do him honor. His major was coming with him, it was said—Major Stanley, who had himself been found, in a half-fainting condition watching by the dead—Major Stanley, who had seen that the body was embalmed, had written to the wife, and had attended to everything, even to coming on himself by way of showing his respect. Death is a great softener of errors; and the village people, who could not remember a time when they had not disliked John Richards, forgot his faults now that he was dead.
It seemed a long-time-waiting for the train, but it came at last, and the crowd involuntarily made a movement forward, and then drew back as a tall figure appeared upon the platform, his stylish uniform betokening an officer of rank, and his manner showing plainly that he was master of ceremonies.