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   Chapter 37 A WOMAN

The Long Roll By Mary Johnston Characters: 32429

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Allan Gold, lying in a corner of the Stonewall Hospital, turned his head toward the high window. It showed him little, merely a long strip of blue sky above housetops. The window was open, and the noises of the street came in. He knew them, checked them off in his mind. He was doing well. A body, superbly healthful, might stand out boldly against> a minie ball or two, just as calm nerves, courage and serene judgement were of service in a war hospital such as this. If he was restless now, it was because he was wondering about Christianna. It was an hour past her time for coming.

The ward was fearfully crowded. This, however, was the end by the stair, and he had a little cut-off place to himself. Many in the ward yet lay on the floor, on a blanket as he had done that first morning. In the afternoon of that day a wide bench had been brought into his corner, a thin flock mattress laid upon it, and he himself lifted from the floor. He had protested that others needed a bed much more, that he was used to lying on the earth-but Christianna had been firm. He wondered why she did not come.

Chickahominy, Gaines's Mill, Garnett's and Golding's farms, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Frayser's Farm, Malvern Hill-dire echoes of the Seven Days' fighting had thronged into this hospital as into all others, as into the houses of citizens and the public buildings and the streets! All manner of wounded soldiers told the story-ever so many soldiers and ever so many variants of the story. The dead bore witness, and the wailing of women which was now and then heard in the streets; not often, for the women were mostly silent, with pressed lips. And the ambulances jolting by-and the sound of funerals-and the church bells tolling, tolling-all these bore witness. And day and night there was the thunder of the cannon. From Mechanicsville and Gaines's Mill it had rolled near and loud, from Savage Station somewhat less so; White Oak Swamp and Frayser's Farm had carried the sound yet further off, and from Malvern Hill it came but distantly. But loud or low, near or far, day by day and into each night, Richmond heard the cannon. At first the vibration played on the town's heart, like a giant hand on giant strings. But at last the tune grew old and the town went about its business. There was so much to do! One could not stop to listen to cannon. Richmond was a vast hospital; pain and fever in all places, and, around, the shadow of death. Hardly a house but mourned a kinsman or kinsmen; early and late the dirges wailed through the streets. So breathlessly filled were the days, that often the dead were buried at night. The weather was hot-days and nights hot, close and still. Men and women went swiftly through them, swift and direct as weavers' shuttles. Privation, early comrade of the South, was here; scant room, scant supplies, not too much of wholesome food for the crowded town, few medicines or alleviatives, much to be done and done at once with the inadequatest means. There was little time in which to think in general terms; all effort must go toward getting done the immediate thing. The lift and tension of the time sloughed off the immaterial weak act or thought. There were present a heroic simplicity, a naked verity, a full cup of service, a high and noble altruism. The plane was epic, and the people did well.

The sky within Allan's range of vision was deep blue; the old brick gable-ends of houses, mellow and old, against it. A soldier with a broken leg and a great sabre cut over the head, just brought into the ward, brought with him the latest news. He talked loudly, and all down the long room, crowded to suffocation, the less desperately wounded raised themselves on their elbows to hear. Others, shot through stomach or bowels, or fearfully torn by shells, or with the stumps of amputated limbs not doing well, raved on in delirium or kept up their pitiful moaning. The soldier raised his voice higher, and those leaning on elbows listened with avidity. "Evelington Heights? Where's Evelington Heights?"-"Between Westover and Rawling's millpond, near Malvern Hill!"-"Malvern Hill! That was ghastly!"-"Go on, sergeant-major! We're been pining for a newspaper."

"Were any of you boys at Malvern Hill?"

"Yes,-only those who were there ain't in a fix to tell about it! That man over there-and that one-and that one-oh, a middling lot! They're pretty badly off-poor boys!"

From a pallet came a hollow voice. "I was at Malvern Hill, and I ain't never going there again-I ain't never going there again-I ain't never.... Who's that singing? I kin sing, too-

'The years creep slowly by, Lorena;

The snow is on the grass again;

The sun's low down the sky, Lorena;

The frost gleams where the flowers have been-'"

"Don't mind him," said the soldiers on elbows. "Poor fellow! he ain't got any voice anyhow. We know about Malvern Hill. Malvern Hill was pretty bad. And we heard there'd been a cavalry rumpus-Jeb Stuart and Sweeney playing their tricks! We didn't know the name of the place. Evelington Heights! Pretty name."

The sergeant-major would not be cheated of Malvern Hill. "'Pretty bad!' I should say 'twas pretty bad! Malvern Hill was awful. If anything could induce me to be a damn Yankee 'twould be them guns of their'n! Yes, sirree, bob! we fought and fought, and ten o'clock came and there wasn't any moon, and we stopped. And in the night-time the damn Yankees continued to retreat away. There was an awful noise of gun-wheels all the night long-so the sentries said, and the surgeons and the wounded and, I reckon, the generals. The rest of us, we were asleep. I don't reckon there ever was men any more tired. Malvern Hill was-I can't swear because there are ladies nursing us, but Malvern Hill was-Well, dawn blew at reveille-No, doctor, I ain't getting light-headed. I just get my words a little twisted. Reveille blew at dawn, and there were sheets of cold pouring rain, and everywhere there were dead men, dead men, dead men lying there in the wet, and the ambulances were wandering round like ghosts of wagons, and the wood was too dripping to make a fire, and three men out of my mess were killed, and one was a boy that we'd all adopted, and it was awful discouraging. Yes, we were right tired, damn Yankees and all of us.... Doctor, if I was you I wouldn't bother about that leg. It's all right as it is, and you might hurt me.... Oh, all right! Kin I smoke?... Yuugh! Well, boys, the damn Yankees continued their retreat to Harrison's Landing, where their hell-fire gunboats could stand picket for them.... Say, ma'am, would you kindly tell me why that four-post bed over there is all hung with wreaths of roses?-'Isn't any bed there?' But there is! I see it.... Evelington Heights-and Stuart dropping shells into the damn Yankees' camp.... They are roses, the old Giants of Battle by the beehive.... Evelington Heights. Eveling-Well, the damn Yankees dragged their guns up there, too.... If the beehive's there, then the apple tree's here-Grandma, if you'll ask him not to whip me I'll never take them again, and I'll hold your yarn every time you want me to-"

The ward heard no more about Evelington Heights. It knew, however, that it had been no great affair; it knew that McClellan with his exhausted army, less many thousand dead, wounded, and prisoners, less fifty-two guns and thirty-five thousand small arms, less enormous stores captured or destroyed, less some confidence at Washington, rested down the James by Westover, in the shadow of gunboats. The ward guessed that, for a time at least, Richmond was freed from the Northern embrace. It knew that Lee and his exhausted army, less even more of dead and wounded than had fallen on the other side, rested between that enemy and Richmond. Lee was watching; the enemy would come no nearer for this while. For all its pain, for all the heat, the blood, the fever, thirst and woe, the ward, the hospital, all the hospitals, experienced to-day a sense of triumph. It was so with the whole city. Allan knew this, lying, looking with sea-blue eyes at the blue summer sky and the old and mellow roofs. The city mourned, but also it rejoiced. There stretched the black thread, but twisted with it was the gold. A p?an sounded as well as a dirge. Seven days and nights of smoke and glare upon the horizon, of the heart-shaking cannon roar, of the pouring in of the wounded, of processions to Hollywood, of anguish, ceaseless labour, sick waiting, dizzy hope, descending despair.... Now, at last, above it all the bells rang for victory. A young girl, coming through the ward, had an armful of flowers,-white lilies, citron aloes, mignonette, and phlox-She gave her posies to all who stretched out a hand, and went out with her smiling face. Allan held a great stalk of garden phlox, white and sweet. It carried him back to the tollgate and to the log schoolhouse by Thunder Run.... Twelve o'clock. Was not Christianna coming at all?

This was not Judith Cary's ward, but now she entered it. Allan, watching the narrow path between the wounded, saw her coming from the far door. He did not know who she was; he only looked from the flower in his hand and had a sense of strength and sweetness, of something noble approaching nearer. She paused to ask a question of one of the women; answered, she came straight on. He saw that she was coming to the cut-off corner by the stair, and instinctively he straightened a little the covering over him. In a moment she was standing beside him, in her cool hospital dress, with her dark hair knotted low, with a flower at her breast. "You are Allan Gold?" she said.

"Yes."

"My name is Judith Cary. Perhaps you have heard of me. I have been to Lauderdale and to Three Oaks."

"Yes," said Allan. "I have heard of you. I-"

There was an empty box beside the wall. Judith drew it nearer to his bed and sat down. "You have been looking for Christianna? I came to tell you about poor little Christianna-and-and other things. Christianna's father has been killed."

Allan uttered an exclamation. "Isham Maydew! I never thought of his going!... Poor child!"

"So she thought she ought not to come to-day. Had there been strong reason, many people dependent upon her, she would have come."

"Poor Christianna-poor wild rose!... It's ghastly, this war! There is nothing too small and harmless for its grist."

"I agree with you. Nothing too great; nothing too small. Nothing too base, as there is nothing too noble."

"Isham Maydew! He was lean and tough and still, like Death in a picture. Where was he killed?"

"It was at White Oak Swamp. At White Oak Swamp, the day before Malvern Hill."

Allan looked at her. There was more in her voice than the non-coming of Christianna, than the death of Isham Maydew. She had spoken in a clear, low, bell-like tone that held somehow the ache of the world. He was simple and direct, and he spoke at once out of his thought. He knew that all the men of her house were at the front. "You have had a loss of your own?-"

She shook her head. "I? No. I have had no loss."

"Now," thought Allan, "there's something proud in it." He looked at her with his kindly, sea-blue eyes. In some chamber of the brain there flashed out a picture-the day of the Botetourt Resolutions, winter dusk after winter sunset and Cleave and himself going homeward over the long hilltop-with talk, among other things, of visitors at Lauderdale. This was "the beautiful one." He remembered the lift of Cleave's head and his voice. Judith's large dark eyes had been raised; transparent, showing always the soul within as did his own, they now met Allan's. "The 65th," she said, "was cut to pieces."

The words, dragged out as they were, left a shocked silence. Here, in the corner by the stair, the arch of wood partially obscuring the ward, with the still blue sky and the still brick gables, they seemed for the moment cut away from the world, met on desert sands to tell and hear a dreadful thing. "Cut to pieces," breathed Allan. "The 65th cut to pieces!"

The movement which he made displaced the bandage about his shoulder. She left the box, kneeled by him and straightened matters, then went back to her seat. "It was this way," she said,-and told him the story as she had heard it from her father and from Fauquier Cary. She spoke with simplicity, in the low, bell-like tone that held the ache of the world. Allan listened, with his hand over his eyes. His regiment that he loved!... all the old, familiar faces.

"Yes, he was killed-Hairston Breckinridge was killed, fighting gallantly. He died, they say, before he knew the trap they were caught in. And Christianna's father was killed, and others of the Thunder Run men, and very many from the county and from other counties. I do not know how many. Fauquier called it slaughter, said no worse thing has happened to any single command. Richard got what was left back across the swamp."

Allan groaned. "The 65th! General Jackson himself called it 'the fighting 65th!' Just a remnant of it left-left of the 65th!"

"Yes. The roll was called, and so many did not answer. They say other Stonewall regiments wept."

Allan raised himself upon the bench. She started forward. "Don't do that!" and with her hand pressed him gently down again. "I knew," she said, "that you were here, and I have heard Richard speak of you and say how good and likable you were. And I have worked hard all the morning, and just now I thought, 'I must speak to some one who knows and loves him or I will die.' And so I came. I knew that the ward might hear of the 65th any moment now and begin to talk of it, so I was not afraid of hurting you. But you must lie quiet."

"Very well, I will. I want to know about Richard Cleave-about my colonel."

Her dark eyes met the sea-blue ones fully. "He is under arrest," she said. "General Jackson has preferred charges against him."

"Charges of what?"

"Of disobedience to orders-of sacrificing the regiment-of-of retreating at last when he should not have done so and leaving his men to perish-of-of-. I have seen a copy of the charge. Whereas the said colonel of the 65th did shamefully-"

Her voice broke. "Oh, if I were God-"

There was a moment's silence-silence here in the corner by the stair, though none beyond in the painful, moaning ward. A bird sailed across the strip of blue sky; the stalk of phlox on the soldier's narrow bed lay withering in the light. Allan spoke. "General Jackson is very stern with failure. He may believe that charge. I don't see how he can; but if he made it he believes it. But you-you don't believe it?-"

"Believe it?" she said. "No more than God believes it! The question is now, how to help Richard."

"Have you heard from him?"

She took from her dress a folded leaf torn from a pocket-book. "You are his friend. You may read it. Wait, I will hold it." She laid it before him, holding it in her slight, fine, strong fingers.

He read. Judith: You will hear of the fate of the 65th. How it happened I do not yet understand. It is like death on my heart. You will hear, too, of my own trouble. As to me, believe only that I could sit beside you and talk to-day as we talked awhile ago, in the sunset. Richard.

She refolded the paper and put it back. "The evidence will clear him," said Allan. "It must. The very doubt is absurd."

Her face lightened. "General Jackson will see that he was hasty-unjust. I can understand such anger at first, but later, when he reflects-Richard will be declared innocent-"

"Yes. An honourable acquittal. It will surely be so."

"I am glad I came. You have always known him and been his friend."

"Let me tell you the kind of things I know of Richard Cleave. No, it doesn't hurt me to talk."

"I can stay a little longer. Yes, tell me."

Allan spoke at some length, in his frank, quiet voice. She sat beside him, with her cheek on her hand, the blue sky and old house roofs above her. When he ceased her eyes were full of tears. She would not let them fall. "If I began to cry I should never stop," she said, and smiled them away. Presently she rose. "I must go now. Christianna will

be back to-morrow."

She went away, passing up the narrow path between the wounded and out at the further door. Allan watched her going, then turned a little on the flock bed, and lifting his unbandaged arm laid it across his eyes. The 65th cut to pieces-The 65th cut to pieces-

At sunset Judith went home. The small room up in the branches of the tulip tree-she hardly knew how many months or years she had inhabited it. There had passed, of course, only weeks-but Time had widened its measure. To all intents and purposes she had been a long while in Richmond. This high, quiet niche was familiar, familiar! familiar the old, slender, inlaid dressing-table and the long, thin curtains and the engraving of Charlotte Corday; familiar the cool, green tree without the window and the nest upon a bough; familiar the far view and wide horizon, by day smoke-veiled, by night red-lit. The smoke was lifted now; the eye saw further than it had seen for days. The room seemed as quiet as a tomb. For a moment the silence oppressed her, and then she remembered that it was because the cannon had stopped.

She sat beside the window, through the dusk, until the stars came out; then went downstairs and took her part at the table, about which the soldier sons of the house were gathering. They brought comrades with them. The wounded eldest son was doing well, the army was victorious, the siege was lifted, the house must be made gay for "the boys." No house was ever less bright for Judith. Now she smiled and listened, and the young men thought she did not realize the seriousness of the army talk about the 65th. They themselves were careful not to mention the matter. They talked of a thousand heroisms, a thousand incidents of the Seven Days; but they turned the talk-if any one, unwary, drew it that way-from White Oak Swamp. They mistook her feeling; she would rather they had spoken out. Her comfort was when, afterwards, she went for a moment into the "chamber" to see the wounded eldest. He was a warm-hearted, rough diamond, fond of his cousin.

"What's this damned stuff I hear about Richard Cleave and a court-martial? What-nonsense! I beg your pardon, Judith." Judith kissed him, and finding "Le Vicomte de Bragelonne" face down on the counterpane offered to read to him.

"You would rather talk about Richard," he said. "I know you would. So should I. It's all the damnedest nonsense! Such a charge as that!-Tell you what, Judith. D'ye remember 'Woodstock' and Cromwell in it? Well, Stonewall Jackson's like Cromwell-of course, a better man, and a greater general, and a nobler cause, but still he's like him! Don't you fret! Cromwell had to listen to the truth. He did it, and so will Stonewall Jackson. Such damned stuff and nonsense! It hurts me worse than that old bayonet jab ever could! I'd like to hear what Edward says."

"He says, 'Duck your head and let it go by. The grass'll grow as green to-morrow.'"

"You aren't crying, are you, Judith?-I thought not. You aren't the crying kind. Don't do it. War's the stupidest beast."

"Yes, it is."

"Cousin Margaret's with Richard, isn't she?"

"Not with him-that couldn't be, they said. But she and Miriam have gone to Merry Mount. It's in the lines. I have had a note from her."

"What did she say?-You don't mind, Judith?"

"No, Rob, I don't mind. It was just a verse from a psalm. She said, I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.... Be of good courage and He shall strengthen thy heart."

Later, in her room again, she sat by the window through the greater part of the night. The stars were large and soft, the airs faint, the jasmine in the garden below smelled sweet. The hospital day stretched before her; she must sleep so that she could work. She never thought-in that city and time no woman thought-of ceasing from service because of private grief. Moreover, work was her salvation. She would be betimes at the hospital to-morrow, and she would leave it late. She bent once more a long look upon the east, where were the camp-fires of Lee and Stonewall Jackson. In imagination she passed the sentries; she moved among the sleeping brigades. She found one tent, or perhaps it would be instead a rude cabin.... She stretched her arms upon the window-sill, and they and her thick fallen hair were wet at last with her tears.

Three days passed. On the third afternoon she left the hospital early and went to St. Paul's. She chose again the dusk beneath the gallery, and she prayed dumbly, fiercely, "O God.... O God-"

The church was fairly filled. The grey army was now but a little way without the city; it had come back to the seven hills after the seven days. It had come back the hero, the darling. Richmond took the cypress from her doors; put off the purple pall and tragic mask. Last July Richmond was to fall, and this July Richmond was to fall, and lo! she sat secure on her seven hills and her sons did her honour, and for them she would have made herself a waste place. She yet toiled and watched, yet mourned for the dead and hung over the beds of the wounded, and more and more she wondered whence were to appear the next day's yard of cloth and measure of flour. But in these days she overlaid her life with gladness and made her house pleasant for her sons. The service at St. Paul's this afternoon was one of thankfulness; the hymns rang triumphantly. There were many soldiers. Two officers came in together. Judith knew General Lee, but the other?... in a moment she saw that it was General Jackson. Her heart beat to suffocation. She sank down in the gold dusk of her corner. "O God, let him see the truth. O God, let him see the truth-"

Outside, as she went homeward in the red sunset, she paused for a moment to speak to an old free negro who was begging for alms. She gave him something, and when he had shambled on she stood still a moment here at the corner of the street, with her eyes upon the beautiful rosy west. There was a garden wall behind her and a tall crape myrtle. As she stood, with the light upon her face, Maury Stafford rode by. He saw her as she saw him. His brooding face flushed; he made as if to check his horse, but did not so. He lifted his hat high and rode on, out of the town, back to the encamped army. Judith had made no answering motion; she stood with lifted face and unchanged look, the rosy light flooding her, the rosy tree behind her. When he was gone she shivered a little. "It is not Happiness that hates; it is Misery," she thought. "When I was happy I never felt like this. I hate him. He is glad of Richard's peril."

That night she did not sleep at all but sat bowed together in the window, her arms about her knees, her forehead upon them, and her dark hair loose about her. She sat like a sibyl till the dawn, then rose and bathed and dressed, and was at the hospital earliest of all the workers of that day. In the evening again, just at dusk, she re?ntered the room, and presently again took her seat by the window. The red light of the camp-fires was beginning to show.

There was a knock at the door. Judith rose and opened to a turbaned coloured girl. "Yes, Dilsey?"

"Miss Judith, de gin'ral air downstairs. He say, ax you kin he come up to yo' room?"

"Yes, yes, Dilsey! Tell him to come."

When her father came he found her standing against the wall, her hands, outstretched behind her, resting on it. The last soft bloom of day was upon her; indefinably, with her hands so, the wall behind her and her lifted head, she looked a soldier facing a firing party. "Tell me quickly," she said, "the exact truth."

Warwick Gary closed the door behind him and came toward her. "The court found him guilty, Judith."

As she still stood, the light from without upon her face, he took her in his arms, drew her from the wall and made her sit in the chair by the window, then placed himself beside her, and leaning over took her hands in his strong clasp. "Many a court has found many a man guilty, Judith, whom his own soul cleared."

"That is true," she answered. "Your own judgment has not changed?"

"No, Judith, no."

She lifted his hand and kissed it. "Just a moment, and then you'll tell me-"

They sat still in the soft summer air. The stars were coming out. Off to the east showed the long red light where was the army. Judith's eyes rested here. He saw it, and saw, presently, courage lift into her face. It came steady, with a deathless look. "Now," she said, and loosed her hands.

"It is very bad," he answered slowly. "The evidence was more adverse than I could have dreamed. Only on the last count was there acquittal."

"The last count?-"

"The charge of personal cowardice."

Her eyelids trembled a little. "I am glad," she said, "that they had a gleam of reason."

The other uttered a short laugh, proud and troubled. "Yes. It would not have occurred to me-just that accusation.... Well, he stood cleared of that. But the other charges, Judith, the others-" He rested his hands on his sword hilt and gazed broodingly into the deepening night. "The court could only find as it did. I myself, sitting there, listening to that testimony.... It is inexplicable!"

"Tell me all."

"General Jackson's order was plain. A staff officer carried it to General Winder with perfect correctness. Winder repeated it to the court, and word for word Jackson corroborated it. The same officer, carrying it on from Winder to the 65th came up with a courier belonging to the regiment. To this man, an educated, reliable, trusted soldier, he gave the order."

"He should not have done so?"

"It is easy to say that-to blame because this time there's a snarl to unravel! The thing is done often enough. It should not be done, but it is. Staff service with us is far too irregular. The officer stands to receive a severe reprimand-but there is no reason to believe that he did not give the order to the courier with all the accuracy with which he had already delivered it to Winder. He testified that he did so give it, repeated it word for word to the court. He entrusted it to the courier, taking the precaution to make the latter say it over to him, and then he returned to General Jackson, down the stream, before the bridge they were building. That closed his testimony. He received the censure of the court, but what he did has been done before."

"The courier testified-"

"No. That is the link that drops out. The courier was killed. A Thunder Run man-Steven Dagg-testified that he had been separated from the regiment. Returning to it along the wooded bank of the creek, he arrived just behind the courier. He heard him give the order to the colonel. 'Could he repeat it?' 'Yes.' He did so, and it was, accurately, Jackson's order."

"Richard-what did Richard say?"

"He said the man lied."

"Ah!"

"The courier fell before the first volley from the troops in the woods. He died almost at once, but two men testified as to the only thing he had said. It was, 'We ought never all of us to have crossed. Tell Old Jack I carried the order straight.'"

He rose and with a restless sigh began to pace the little room. "I see a tangle-something not understood-some stumbling-block laid by laws beyond our vision. We cannot even define it, cannot even find its edges. We do not know its nature. Things happen so sometimes in this strange world. I do not think that Richard himself understands how the thing chanced. He testified-"

"Yes, oh, yes-"

"He repeated to the court the order he had received. It was not the order that Jackson had given and that Winder had sent on to him, though it differed in only two points. And neither-and there, Judith, there is a trouble!-neither was it with entire explicitness an order to do that which he did do. He acknowledged that, quite simply. He had found at the time an ambiguity-he had thought of sending again for confirmation to Winder. And then-unfortunate man! something happened to strengthen the interpretation which, when all is said, he preferred to receive, and upon which he acted. Time pressed. He took the risk, if there was a risk, and crossed the stream."

"Father, do you blame him?"

"He blames himself, Judith, somewhat cruelly. But I think it is because, just now, of the agony of memory. He loved his regiment.-No. What sense in blaming where, had there followed success, you would have praised? Then it would have been proper daring; now-I could say that he had been wiser to wait, but I do not know that in his place I should have waited. He was rash, perhaps, but who is there to tell? Had he chosen another interpretation and delayed, and been mistaken, then, too, commination would have fallen. No. I blame him less than he blames himself, Judith. But the fact remains. Even by his own showing there was a doubt. Even accepting his statement of the order he received, he took it upon himself to decide."

"They did not accept his statement-"

"No, Judith. They judged that he had received General Jackson's order and had disobeyed it.-I know-I know! To us it is monstrous. But the court must judge by the evidence-and the verdict was to be expected. It was his sole word, and where his own safety was at stake. 'Had not the dead courier a reputation for reliability, for accuracy?' 'He had, and he would not lay the blame there, besmirching a brave man's name.' 'Where then?' 'He did not know. It was so that he had received the order'-Judith, Judith! I have rarely seen truth so helpless as in this case."

She drew a difficult breath. "No help. And they said-"

"He was pronounced guilty of the first charge. That carried with it the verdict as to the second-the sacrifice of the regiment. There, too-guilty. Only the third there was no sustaining. The loss was fearful, but there were men enough left to clear him from that charge. He struggled with desperation to retrieve his error, if error it were; he escaped death himself as by a miracle, and he brought off a remnant of the command which, in weaker hands, might have been utterly swallowed up. On that count he is clear. But on the others-guilty, and without mitigation."

He came back to the woman by the window. "Judith, I would rather put the sword in my own heart than put it thus in yours. War is a key, child, that unlocks to all dreadful things, to all mistakes, to every sorrow!"

"I want every worst drop of it," she said. "Afterward I'll look for comfort. Do not be afraid for me; I feel as strong as the hills, the air, the sea-anything. What is the sentence?"

"Dismissal from the army."

Judith rose and, with her hands on the window-sill, leaned out into the night. Her gaze went straight to the red light in the eastern sky. There was an effect as though the force, impalpable, real, which was herself, had gone too, flown from the window straight toward that horizon, leaving here but a fair ivory shell. It was but momentary; the chains held and she turned back to the shadowed room. "You have seen him?"

"Yes."

"How-"

"He has much of his mother in him, Judith. Eventually he will, I think, take it that way. But now it is his father that shows. He is very silent-grey and hard and silent."

"Where is he?"

"At present yet under guard. To-morrow it will all be over."

"He will be free, you mean?"

"Yes, he will be free."

She came and put her arm around her father's neck. "Father, you know what I want to do then? To do just as soon as I shall have seen him and made him realize that it is for my happiness. I want to marry him.... Ah, don't look at me so, saying nothing!" She withdrew herself a little, standing with her clasped hands against his breast. "You expected that, did you not? Why, what else.... Father, I am not afraid of you. You will let me do it."

He regarded her with a grave, compassionate face. "No. You need not fear me, Judith. It is hardly father and child with you and me. It is soul and soul, and I trust your soul with its own concerns. Moreover, if it is pain to consider what you would do, the pang would be greater to find you not capable.... Yes, I would let you do it. But I do not think that Richard will."

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