“It is very wonderful to have been loved,” said Peter. Then his face became still and very beautiful. A smile, innocent like that of a little child, lingered upon his lips, and his blind eyes closed.
St. John laid his hand upon Margaret’s shoulder.
A man, very tall and lean and homely, entered the tent. He was clad in an exceedingly long and ill-fitting frock-coat. Upon his head was a high black hat, somewhat the worse for wear. He turned a pair of very gentle and pitying eyes slowly over those in the tent.
Aladdin, his head almost concealed by bandages, sat suddenly upright in a neighboring cot. A wild, unreasoning light was in his eyes, and marking time with his hand, he burst suddenly into the “Battlehymn of the Republic”
He has sounded forth the trumpet
that shall never call
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
He sang on, and the wounded joined him with weak voices:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.
The tall man who had entered, to whom every death was nearer than his own, and to whom the suffering of others was as a crucifixion, removed the silk hat from his head, and wiped his forehead with a colored handkerchief.
Margaret knelt by Aladdin and held his unconscious form in her arms.
Outside, the earth was bathing in exquisite sunshine.
It was not long before Aladdin got back the strength of his body, but the gray bullet which had come in answer to his cry against God, even as the lightning came to Amyas Leigh, in that romance to which it is so good to bow, had injured the delicate mechanism of his brain, so that it seemed as if he would go down to the grave without memory of things past, or power upon the hour. Indeed, the war ended before the surgeons spoke of an operation which might restore his mind. He went under the knife a little child, his head full of pictures, playthings, and fear of the alphabet; he came forth made over, and turned clear, wondering eyes to the girl at his side. And he held her hand while she bridged over the years for him in her sweet voice.
He learned that she had married Peter, making his death peaceful, and he God-blessed her for so doing, while the tears ran down his cheeks.
But much of Aladdin that had slept so long was to wake no more. For it was spring when he woke, and waking, he fell in love with all living things.
One day he sat with Margaret on the porch of a familiar house, and looked upon a familiar river that flowed silverly beyond the dark trees.