Aladdin had never seen just such a look as came into Peter’s eyes; at once they were full of infinite pity, and at peace with the whole world.
“Peter,” said Aladdin, “give me back my pipe.” His voice broke in spite of himself, for he had given up golden things. “I—” he said, “I’ll wait here a little while, but if—if all goes well, Peter, don’t you bother to come back.”
They clasped hands long and in silence. Then Peter turned with a gulp, and, his weakness a thing of the past, went striding up the driveway. But Aladdin sat down to wait. And now a great piping of tree-frogs arose in all that country. Aladdin waited for a long time. He waited until the day gave way to twilight and the sun went down. He waited until the twilight turned to dark and the stars came out. He waited until, after all the years of waiting and longing, his heart was finally at peace. And then he rose to go.
For Peter had not yet come.
“Where are the tall men that marched
on the right,
That marched to the battle so handsome and tall?
They ’ve been left to mark the places where they saw the foemen’s faces,
For the fever and the lead took them all, Jenny Orde,
The fever and the lead took them all.
“I found him in the forefront of
the battle, Kenny Orde,
With the bullets spitting up the ground around him,
And the sweat was on his brow, and his lips were on his sword,
And his life was going from him when I found him.
“We lowered him to rest, Jenny Orde,
With your picture on his breast, Jenny Orde,
And the rumble of pursuit was the regiment’s salute
To the man that loved you best, Jenny Orde.”
As a dam breaking gives free passage to the imprisoned waters, and they rush out victoriously, so Vicksburg, starving and crumbling in the West, was about to open her gates and set the Father of Waters free forever. That was where the Union hammer, grasped so firmly by strong fingers that their knuckles turned white, was striking the heaviest blows upon the cracking skull of the Confederacy. On the other hand, Chancellorsville had verged upon disaster, and the powers of Europe were waiting for one more Confederate victory in order to declare the blockade of Southern ports at an end, and to float a Southern loan. That a Confederate victory was to be feared, the presence in Northern territory of Lee, grasping the handle of a sword, whose splendid blade was seventy thousand men concentrated, testified. That Lee had lost the best finger of his right hand at Chancellorsville was but job’s comfort to the threatened government at Washington. That government was still, after years of stern fighting, trying generals and finding them wanting. But now the Fates, in secret conclave, weighed the lots of Union and Disunion; and that of Disunion, though glittering and brilliant like gold, sank heavily to the ground, as a great eagle whose wing is broken by the hunter’s bullet comes surely if fiercely down, to be put to death.