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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 95 pages of information about On Picket Duty, and Other Tales.

A few days before the absent lover came, Walter went to Bess, and, with a countenance whose pale serenity touched her deeply, he laid his gift before her, saying,—­

“I owe this all to Jamie; and the best use I can make of it is to secure your happiness, as I promised him I’d try to do.  Take it and God bless you, Sister Bess.”

“And you, Walter, what will your future be if I take this and go away to enjoy it as you would have me?” Bess asked, with an earnestness that awoke his wonder.

“I shall work, Bess, and in that find content and consolation for the loss of you and Jamie.  Do not think of me; this money will do me far more good in your hands than my own.  Believe me it is best to be so, therefore do not hesitate.”

Bess took it, for she had learned the cause of Walter’s restless wanderings and strange avoidance of herself of late, and she judged wisely that the generous nature should be gratified, and the hard-won victory rewarded by the full accomplishment of its unselfish end.  Few words expressed her joyful thanks, but from that time Walter felt that he held as dear a place as Jamie in her grateful heart, and was content.

Summer flowers were blooming when Bess went from the old home a happy wife, leaving her faithful friend alone in the little room where Jamie lived and died.

Years passed, and Walter’s pen had won for him an honored name.  Poverty and care were no longer his companions; many homes were open to him, many hearts would gladly welcome him, but he still lingered in the gloomy house, a serious, solitary man, for his heart lay beneath the daisies of a child’s grave.

But his life was rich in noble aims and charitable deeds, and with his strong nature softened by the sharp discipline of sorrow, and sweetened by the presence of a generous love, he was content to dwell alone with the memory of little Jamie, in the shadow of “the cross upon the tower.”

THE DEATH OF JOHN.

This is not a tale, but a true history.—­ED.

FROM “HOSPITAL SKETCHES.”

HARDLY was I settled again, when the inevitable bowl appeared, and its bearer delivered a message I had expected, yet dreaded to receive:—­

“John is going, ma’am, and wants to see you, if you can come.”

“The moment this boy is asleep; tell him so, and let me know if I am in danger of being too late.”

My Ganymede departed, and while I quieted poor Shaw, I thought of John.  He came in a day or two after the others; and, one evening, when I entered my “pathetic room,” I found a lately emptied bed occupied by a large, fair man, with a fine face, and the serenest eyes I ever met.  One of the earlier comers had often spoken of a friend, who had remained behind, that those apparently worse wounded than himself might reach a shelter first.  It seemed a David and Jonathan sort of friendship.  The man fretted for his mate, and was never tired of praising John,—­his courage, sobriety, self-denial, and unfailing kindliness of heart; always winding up with, “He’s an out an’ out fine feller, ma’am; you see if he ain’t.”

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