“You don’t mean that he—that he’s like—”
“Yes, dear; I should not wish my youngest son to marry.”
“Poor boy,” said Margaret, softly.
“It’s the Irish in him,” said the senator. “He must do all things to extremes. There, in a word, lies all his strength and all his weakness.”
“You would be sorry if I married Aladdin?”
“I should be afraid for your happiness. Do you love him?”
“I am not sure, papa.”
“You are fond of Peter, aren’t you?”
She leaned forward till her cheek touched his.
“Next to you and ’Laddin.”
The senator patted her shoulder, and thus they remained for some time.
A great shouting arose in the neighborhood.
The senator sat bolt upright in bed. His nostrils began to quiver. He was like an old war-horse that hears bugles.
“Sumter?” he cried. “Sumter? Do I hear Sumter?”
The shouting became louder.
“Sumter?” he cried. “Have they fired upon Sumter?”
Margaret flew to the window and threw it open. It acted upon the shouting like the big swell of an organ, and the cries of excitement filled the room to bursting. South Carolina had clenched her hand and struck the flag in the face.
The doctor rushed in. He paused flabbergasted at sight of the man whom he had supposed to be dying.
“Great God, man!” cried the senator, “can’t you get my clothes?”
When he was dressed they brought him his whalebone stick.
“Damn it, I can walk!” said he, and he broke the faithful old thing over a knee that had not been bent for a month.
New fervor of enlistment took place, and among the first to enlist was Aladdin, and when his regiment met for organization he was unanimously elected major. He had many friends.
At first he thought that his duty did not lie where his heart lay, because of his brother Jack, now fourteen, whom he had to support. And then, the old promises coming to mind, he presented himself one morning before Senator St. John.
“Senator,” he said, “you promised to do me a favor if I should ever ask it.”
The senator thought of Margaret and trembled.
“I have come to ask it.”
“I want to enlist, sir, but if I do there’s nobody to look after Jack.”
Again the senator thought of Margaret, and his heart warmed.
“He shall live in my house, sir,” said the senator, “as a member of my family, sir.”
“God bless you, sir!” cried Aladdin.
In a state of dancing glee he darted off to the “Spy” office to see his chief.
Mr. Blankinship was leaning against the post of the street door, reading his own editorial in the morning issue.
“Hallo, Mr. Blankinship!” cried Aladdin.
“Hallo, Aladdin!” cried Mr. Blankinship, grinning at his favorite. “Late as usual.”