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Belle K. Abbott
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 169 pages of information about Leah Mordecai.
Willing or unwilling, men must be soldiers.  Cities, towns, and villages were astir with excitement.  Forgetting the ordinary interests of life, people talked enthusiastically, madly, of war.  Months ago had the accustomed serenity of the Queen City given place to noisy military life.  Its by-ways and suburbs were dotted with tents, the phantom homes of soldiers.  Men who yesterday were gentlemen, were to-day only vassals, whose existence was marked by the morning r‚veille and the evening tattoo.  The drilling, drilling, drilling, still hourly went on; but not that peaceful exercise the inhabitants had been wont to observe in Citadel Square in days agone.  Marching, guarding, countermarching, watching, were the order of the day.  Some hearts were wild with enthusiasm, others dark with despair.  Already the tide of brothers’ blood had crimsoned the sod of more than one State.  Blood, blood, was flowing-crimson blood, that might have been a libation to a nobler, holier cause.

Old Defiance, standing dark and warlike in the harbor of the Queen City, had now a new commander.  The guns, as usual, turned their deadly mouths to the open sea, but the gunners and the commander did not wear the uniform of the old troops once garrisoned there.  George Marshall, impelled by the love of State, and moved by the importunities of friends, had accepted the position of commander at Defiance, and was now Colonel instead of Captain Marshall.  With regret, with tears even, he folded away the regimentals of the old army, and said with a sigh, as he laid them out of sight, “I shall never need them again.”  Blame him, if you dare, you who have never stood the test of such a trial.  Censure him for a traitor, if you must, you that have only dallied on the outskirts of your country’s danger.  In that book on high, thank God, angels read his record aright.

“George,” said Eliza one morning to her husband, in a soft October day, as he was about leaving her for the fort, “I am sorry you ever took command of Defiance.  I have always had a strange horror of that monster of the sea.  I hate to think of your being there.”

“Well, you are foolish in that fear, my love.  It’s much better for you than if I were in the field.  If I were at the head of a regiment, I should be ordered here and there, Fate only knows where, and maybe not see you for months, perhaps years.  When you become more acquainted with the old fortress, my dear, you will cease to regard it with such terror.”

“Maybe I shall, George, but I fear not.  It stands like some terrible apparition, ever before me, waking or sleeping,” she replied, half sadly, half fearfully.  “Oh! this terrible war!  It has begun, but it is not yet ended,” she added with a shudder.

“You must be more hopeful; your words are not encouraging to a soldier-husband.  Come, cheer up, and go with me over to the fortress this evening.  What do you say?  Go, and beard the lion in his den, as it were.”

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