At the first halt of the detachment, the weary supporters of the coffin had deposited their rude and sombre burden upon the earth, preparatory to its being resumed by those appointed to relieve them. The dull sound emitted by the hollow fabric, as it touched the ground, caught the ear of him for whom it was destined, and he turned to gaze upon the sad and lonely tenement so shortly to become his final resting place. There was an air of calm composure and dignified sorrow upon his brow, that infused respect into the hearts of all who beheld him; and even the men selected to do the duty of executioners sought to evade his glance, as his steady eye wandered from right to left of the fatal rank. His attention, however, was principally directed towards the coffin, which lay before him; on this he gazed fixedly for upwards of a minute. He then turned his eyes in the direction of the fort, shuddered, heaved a profound sigh, and looking up to heaven with the apparent fervour that became his situation, seemed to pray for a moment or two inwardly and devoutly. The thick and almost suffocating breathing of one immediately beyond the coffin, was now distinctly heard by all. Halloway started from his attitude of devotion, gazed earnestly on the form whence it proceeded, and then wildly extending his arms, suffered a smile of satisfaction to illumine his pale features. All eyes were now turned upon the drummer boy, who, evidently labouring under convulsive excitement of feeling, suddenly dashed his cap and instrument to the earth, and flew as fast as his tottering and uncertain steps would admit across the coffin, and into the arms extended to receive him.
“My Ellen! oh, my own devoted, but too unhappy Ellen!” passionately exclaimed the soldier, as he clasped the slight and agitated form of his disguised wife to his throbbing heart. “This, this, indeed, is joy even in death. I thought I could have died more happily without you, but nature tugs powerfully at my heart; and to see you once more, to feel you once more here” (and he pressed her wildly to his chest) “is indeed a bliss that robs my approaching fate of half its terror.”