Nor did Aladdin ever see her again, but in after years the smell of box or roses would bring into his mind the wonderful face of her, and the music of her voice.
In the delirium which was upon him all that night, he harped to the surgeon of Ellen, and in the morning fell asleep.
“Haec olim meminisse juvabit,” said the surgeon, as rain-clouded dawn rose whitely in the east.
Aladdin was jolted miserably down the Peninsula in a white ambulance, which mules dragged through knee-deep mud and over flowing, corduroy roads. He had fever in his whole body, anguish in one leg, and hardly a wish to live. But at Fort Monroe the breezes came hurrying from the sea, like so many unfailing doctors, and blew his fever back inland where it belonged. He lay under a live-oak on the parade ground and once more received the joy of life into his heart. When he was well enough to limp about, they gave him leave to go home; and he went down into a ship, and sailed away up the laughing Chesapeake, and up the broad Potomac to Washington. There he rested during one night, and in the morning took train for New York. The train was full of sick and wounded going home, and there was a great cheerfulness upon them all. Men joined by the brotherhood of common experience talked loudly, smoked hard, and drank deep. There was tremendous boasting and the accounting of unrivaled adventures. In Aladdin’s car, however, there was one man who did not join in the fellowship, for he was too sick. He had been a big man and strong, but he looked like a ghost made of white gossamer and violet shadows. His own mother would not have recognized him. He lay back into the corner of a seat with averted face and closed eyes. The more decent-minded endeavored, on his account, to impose upon the noisy a degree of quiet, but their efforts were unavailing. Aladdin, drumming with his nails upon the windowpane, fell presently into soft song:
Give me three breaths of pleasure
After three deaths of pain,
And make me not remeasure
The ways that were in vain.
Men grew silent and gathered to hear, for Aladdin’s fame as a maker of songs had spread over the whole army, and he was called the Minstrel Major. He felt his audience and sang louder. The very sick man turned a little so that he, too, could hear. Only the occasional striking of a match or the surreptitious drawing of a cork interrupted. The stately tune moved on:
The first breath shall be laughter,
The second shall be wine;
And there shall follow after
A kiss that shall be mine.
Somehow all the homing hearts were set to beating.
Roses with dewfall laden
One garden grows for me;
I call them kisses, maiden,
And gather them from thee.
The very sick man turned fully, and there was a glad light of recognition in his eyes.