“Major Stanley,” ran in a whisper through the crowd, whose wonder increased when another, and, if possible, a finer-looking man, emerged into view, his right arm in a sling, and his face pale and worn, from the effects of recent illness. He had not been expected, and many curious glances were cast at him as, slowly descending the steps, he gave his well hand to the lady following close behind, Mrs. Worthington; they knew her, and recognized also the two young ladies, Alice and Adah, as they sprang from the car. Poor Adah! how she shrank from the public gaze, shuddering as on her way to the carriage she passed the long box the men were handling so carefully.
Summoned by Irving Stanley, she had come on to Washington to meet, not a living husband, but a husband dead, and while there had learned that Mrs. Worthington, Hugh, and Alice were all in Georgetown, whither she hastened at once, eager to meet the mother whom she had never yet met as such. Immediately after the discovery of her parentage, she had written to Kentucky, but the letter had not reached its destination, consequently no one but Hugh knew how near she was; and he had only learned it a few days before the battle, when he had, by accident, a few moments’ conversation with Dr. Richards, whom he had purposely avoided. He was talking of Adah, and the practicability of sending for her, when she arrived at the private boarding house to which he had been removed.
The particulars of that interview between the mother and her daughter we cannot describe, as no one witnessed it save God; but Adah’s face was radiant with happiness, and her soft, brown eyes beaming with joy when it was ended, and she went next to where Hugh was waiting for her.
“Oh, Hugh, my noble brother!” was all she could say, as she wound her arms around his neck and pressed her fair cheek against his own, forgetting, in those moments of perfect bliss, all the sorrow, all the anguish of the past.
Nor was it until Hugh said to her: “The doctor was in that battle. Did he escaped unharmed?” that a shadow dimmed the sunshine flooding her pathway that autumn morning.
At the mention of him the muscles about her mouth grew rigid, and a look of pain flitted across her face, showing that there was yet much of bitterness mingled in her cup of joy. Composing herself as soon as possible she told Hugh that she was a widow, but uttered no word of complaint against the dead, and Hugh, knowing that she could not sorrow as other women have sorrowed over the loved ones slain in battle, drew her nearer to him, and after speaking a few words of poor ’Lina, told her of the golden fortune which had so unexpectedly come to him, and added: “And you shall share it with me. Your home shall be with me and Golden Hair—Alice—who has promised to be my wife. We will live very happily together yet, my sister.”
Then he asked what Major Stanley’s plan was concerning the body of her husband, and upon learning that it was to bury the doctor at home, he announced his determination to accompany them, as he knew he should be able to do so.