The nurse came in just then, and Mrs. Flippin went away. And after a time the house was very still. Madge’s bed was close to the window. Outside innumerable fireflies studded the night with gold. Now and then a screech-owl sounded his mournful note. It was a ghostly call, and there was the patter of little feet on the porch as the old cat played with her kittens in the warm dark. But Madge was not afraid. She had a sense of great content as she lay there and thought of the things she had said to Major Prime. It was not often that she revealed herself, and when she did it was still rarer to meet understanding. But he had understood. She was sure of that, and she would see him soon. He had promised. And she would not have to go back to Oscar and Flora until she was ready. Flora was better, but still very weak. It would be much wiser, the doctor had said, if she saw no one but her nurses for several days.
Truxton Beaufort rode over to King’s Crest the next morning, and sat on the steps of the Schoolhouse. Randy and Major Prime were having breakfast out-of-doors. It was ten o’clock, but they were apparently taking their ease.
“I thought you had to work,” Truxton said to Randy.
“I sold a car yesterday——”
“And to-day you are playing around like a plutocrat. I wish I could sell cars. I wish I could do anything. Look here, you two. I wonder if you feel as I do.”
“Coming back. I came home expecting a pedestal—and I give you my word nobody seems to think much of me except my family. And they aren’t worshipful—exactly. They can’t be. How can they rave over my one decoration when that young nigger John has two, and deserved them, and when the butcher and baker and candlestick-maker are my ranking officers? War used to be a gentleman’s game. But it isn’t any more.”
“We’ve got to carve our own pedestals,” said the Major. “We are gods of yesterday. The world won’t stop to praise us. We did our duty, and we would do it again. But our laurel wreaths are doffed. Our swords are beaten into plowshares. Peace is upon us. If we want pedestals, we’ve got to carve them.”
Truxton argued that it wasn’t quite fair. The Major agreed that it might not seem so, but the thing had been so vast, and there were so many men involved, so many heroes.
“Every little family has a hero of its own,” Truxton supplemented. “Mary thinks none of the others did anything—I won the whole war. That’s where I have it over you two,” he grinned.
“It is a thing,” said the Major, cheerfully, “which can be remedied.”
“It can,” Truxton told him; “which reminds me that our young John is going to marry Flippins’ Daisy, and our household is in mourning. Mandy doesn’t approve of Daisy, and neither does Calvin. Mandy took to her bed when she heard the news, and young John cooked breakfast to the tune of his Daddy’s lamentations. But it was a good breakfast.”