Aladdin heard himself called by name, “’Laddin, ’Laddin.”
As quickly as the brain is advertised of an insect’s sting, so quickly did Aladdin recognize the voice and know that his brother. Jack was calling to him. He turned, and saw a little freckled boy, in a uniform much too big for him, trailing a large musket.
“Jack!” he cried, and rushed toward him with outstretched arms. “You little beggar, what are you doin’ here?”
Jack grinned like one confessing to a successful theft of apples belonging to a cross farmer. And then God saw fit to take away his life. He dropped suddenly, and there came a rapid pool of blood where his face had been. With his arms wrapped about the little figure that a moment before had been so warlike and gay, Aladdin turned toward the heavens a face of white flint.
“I believe in one God, Maker of hell!” he cried.
Thunder rumbled and rolled slowly across the battle-field from east, to west.
“I believe in one God, Maker of hell!” cried Aladdin, “Father of injustice and doer of hellish deeds! I believe in two damnations, the damnation of the living and the damnation of the dead.”
He turned to the little boy in his arms, and terrible sobs shook his body, so that it appeared as if he was vomiting. After a while he turned his convulsed face again to the sky.
“Come down,” he cried, “come down, you—”
Far down the hill there was a puff of white smoke, and a merciful bullet, glancing from a rock, struck Aladdin on the head with sufficient force to stretch him senseless upon the ground.
When the news of Gettysburg reached the Northern cities, lights were placed in every window, and horns were blown as at the coming of a new year. Senator Hannibal St. John had lost his three boys and the hopes of his old age in that terrible fight, but he caused his Washington house to be illuminated from basement to garret.
And then he walked out in the streets alone, and the tears ran down his old cheeks.
There had been a wedding in the hospital tent. Margaret bent over Peter and kissed him goodby. She was in deep black, and by her side loomed a great, dark figure, whose eyes were like caverns in the depths of which burned coals. The great, dark man leaned heavily upon a stick, and did not seem conscious of what was going on. The minister who had performed the ceremony stood with averted face. Every now and then he moistened his lips with the tip of his tongue. The wounded in neighboring cots turned pitiful eyes upon the girl in black, for she was most lovely—and very sad. Occasionally a throat was cleared.
“When you come, darling,” said the dying man, “there will be an end of sorrow.”
“There will be an end of sorrow,” echoed the girl. She bent closer to him, and kissed him again.