Found Yet Lost
by E. P. Roe
CHAPTER I. LOVE
CHAPTER II. LOVE
MARTINE SEEKS AN
CHAPTER VI. MORE
"HOW CAN I?"
CHAPTER X. "YOU
CHAPTER XI. MR.
CHAPTER I. LOVE IN THE WILDERNESS
Hopeless indeed must that region be which May cannot clothe with
some degree of beauty and embroider with flowers. On the 5th day of
the month the early dawn revealed much that would charm the eyes of
all true lovers of nature even in that section of Virginia whose
characteristics so grimly correspond with its name—The Wilderness.
The low pines and cedars, which abound everywhere, had taken a fresh
green; the deciduous trees, the tangled thickets, impenetrable in many
places by horse or man, were putting forth a new, tender foliage,
tinted with a delicate semblance of autumn hues. Flowers bloomed
everywhere, humbly in the grass close to the soil as well as on the
flaunting sprays of shrubbery and vines, filling the air with
fragrance as the light touched and expanded the petals. Wood-thrushes
and other birds sang as melodiously and contentedly as if they had
selected some breezy upland forest for their nesting-place instead of
a region which has become a synonym for gloom, horror, and death.
Lonely and uninhabited in its normal condition, this forbidding
wilderness had become peopled with thousands of men. The Army of the
Potomac was penetrating and seeking to pass through it. Vigilant
General Lee had observed the movement, and with characteristic
boldness and skill ordered his troops from their strong intrenchments
on Mine Run toward the Union flank. On this memorable morning the van
of his columns wakened from their brief repose but a short distance
from the Federal bivouac. Both parties were unconscious of their
nearness, for with the exception of a few clearings the dense growth
restricted vision to a narrow range. The Union forces were directed in
their movements by the compass, as if they were sailors on a
fog-enshrouded sea; but they well knew that they were seeking their
old antagonist, the Army of Northern Virginia, and that the stubborn
tug-of-war might begin at any moment.
When Captain Nichol shook off the lethargy of a brief troubled
sleep, he found that the light did not banish his gloomy impressions.
Those immediately around him were still slumbering, wrapped in their
blankets. Few sounds other than the voices of the awakening birds
broke the silence. After a little thought he drew his notebook from
his pocket and wrote as follows:
"MY DARLING HELEN—I obey an impulse to write to you this morning.
It is scarcely light enough to see as yet; but very soon we shall be
on the move again to meet—we known not what, certainly heavy,
desperate fighting. I do not know why I am so sad. I have faced the
prospect of battles many times before, and have passed through them
unharmed, but now I am depressed by an unusual foreboding. Naturally
my thoughts turn to you. There was no formal engagement between us
when I said those words (so hard to speak) of farewell, nor have I
sought to bind you since. Every month has made more clear the
uncertainty of life in my calling; and I felt that I had no right to
lay upon you any restraint other than that of your own feelings. If
the worst happened you would be free as far as I was concerned, and
few would know that we had told each other of our love. I wish to tell
you of mine once more—not for the last time, I hope, but I don't
know. I do love you with my whole heart and soul; and if I am to die
in this horrible wilderness, where so many of my comrades died a year
ago, my last thoughts will be of you and of the love of God, which
your love has made more real to me. I love you too well to wish my
death, should it occur, to spoil your young life. I do not ask you to
forget me—that would be worse than death, but I ask you to try to be
happy and to make others happy as the years pass on. This bloody war
will come to an end, will become a memory, and those who perish hope
to be remembered; but I do not wish my memory to hang like a cloud
over the happy days of peace. I close, my darling, in hope, not fear—
hope for you, hope for me, whatever may happen to-day or on coming
days of strife. It only remains for me to do my duty. I trust that
you will also do yours, which may be even harder. Do not give way to
despairing grief if I cannot come back to you in this world. Let your
faith in God and hope of a future life inspire and strengthen you in
your battles, which may require more courage and unselfishness than
"Yours, either in life or death, ALBERT NICHOL."
He made another copy of this letter, put both in envelopes, and
addressed them, then sought two men of his company who came from his
native village. They were awake now and boiling their coffee. The
officer and the privates had grown up as boys together with little
difference of social standing in the democratic town. When off duty,
there still existed much of the old familiarity and friendly converse,
but when Captain Nichol gave an order, his townsmen immediately became
conscious that they were separated from him by the iron wall of
military discipline. This characteristic did not alienate his old
associates. One of the men hit the truth fairly in saying: "When Cap
speaks as Cap, he's as hard and sharp as a bayonet-point; but when a
feller is sick and worn out 'tween times you'd think your granny was
It was as friend and old neighbor that Nichol approached Sam and
Jim Wetherby, two stalwart brothers who had enlisted in his company.
"Boys," he said, "I have a favor to ask of you. The Lord only knows
how the day will end for any of us. We will take our chances and do
our duty, as usual. I hope we may all boil coffee again to-night; but
who knows? Here are two letters. If I should fall, and either or both
of you come out all right, as I trust you will, please forward them.
If I am with you again to-night, return them to me."
"Come, Captain," said Jim, heartily, "the bullet isn't molded that
can harm you. You'll lead us into Richmond yet."
"It will not be from lack of goodwill if I don't. I like your
spirit; and I believe the army will get there this time whether I'm
with it or not. Do as I ask. There is no harm in providing against
what may happen. Make your breakfast quickly, for orders may come at
any moment;" and he strode away to look after the general readiness of
The two brothers compared the address on the letters and laughed a
little grimly. "Cap is a-providing, sure enough," Sam Wetherby
remarked. "They are both written to the pretty Helen Kemble that he
used to make eyes at in the singing-school. I guess he thinks that you
might stop a bullet as well as himself, Jim."
"It's clear he thinks your chances for taking in lead are just as
good," replied Jim. "But come, I'm one of them fellows that's never
hit till I am hit. One thing at a time, and now it's breakast."
"Well, hanged if I want to charge under the lead of any other
captain!" remarked Sam, meditatively sipping his coffee. "If that
girl up yonder knows Cap's worth, she'll cry her eyes out if anything
happens to him."
A few moments later the birds fled to the closest cover, startled
by the innumerable bugles sounding the note of preparation. Soon the
different corps, divisions, and brigades were upon their prescribed
lines of march. No movement could be made without revealing the close
proximity of the enemy. Rifle-reports from skirmish lines and
reconnoitring parties speedily followed. A Confederate force was
developed on the turnpike leading southwest from the old Wilderness
Tavern; and the fighting began. At about eight o'clock Grant and Meade
came up and made their headquarters beneath some pine-trees near the
tavern. General Grant could scarcely believe at first that Lee had
left his strong intrenchments to give battle in a region little better
than a jungle; but he soon had ample and awful proof of the fact.
Practically unseen by each other, the two armies grappled like giants
in the dark. So thick were the trees and undergrowth that a soldier on
a battle line could rarely see a thousand men on either side of him,
yet nearly two hundred thousand men matched their deadly strength that
day. Hundreds fell, died, and were hidden forever from human eyes.
Thinking to sweep away the rear-guard of Lee's retreating army,
Grant ordered a strong advance on the pike in the afternoon. At first
it was eminently successful, and if it had been followed up vigorously
and steadily, as it undoubtedly would have been if the commander had
known what was afterward revealed, it might have resulted in severe
disaster to the Confederates. The enemy was pressed back rapidly; and
the advancing Union forces were filled with enthusiasm. Before this
early success culminated, genuine sorrow saddened every one in Captain
Nichol's company. With his face toward the enemy, impetuously leading
his men, he suddenly dropped his sword and fell senseless. Sam and Jim
Wetherby heard a shell shrieking toward them, and saw it explode
directly over their beloved leader. They rushed to his side; blood was
pouring over his face, and it also seemed to them that a fragment of
the shell had fatally wounded him in the forehead.
"Poor Cap, poor, brave Cap!" ejaculated Sam. "He didn't give us
those letters for nothing."
"A bad job, an awfully bad job for us all! curse the eyes that
aimed that shell!" growled practical Jim. "Here, take hold. We'll put
him in that little dry ditch we just passed, and bury him after the
fight, if still on our pins. We can't leave him here to be tramped
This they did, then hastily rejoined their company, which had
swept on with the battle line. Alas! that battle line and others also
were driven back with terrible slaughter before the day closed.
Captain Nichol was left in the ditch where he had been placed, and
poor Sam Wetherby lay on his back, staring with eyes that saw not at a
shattered bird's nest in the bushes above his head. The letter in his
pocket mouldered with him.
Jim's begrimed and impassive face disguised an aching heart as he
boiled his coffee alone that night. Then, although wearied almost to
exhaustion, he gave himself no rest until he had found what promised
to be the safest means of forwarding the letter in his pocket.
CHAPTER II. LOVE AT HOME
Long years before the war, happy children were growing in the
village of Alton. They studied the history of wars much as they
conned their lessons in geography. Scenes of strife belonged to the
past, or were enacted among people wholly unlike any who dwelt in
their peaceful community. That Americans should ever fight each other
was as undreamed of as that the minister should have a pitched battle
in the street with his Sunday-school superintendent. They rejoiced
mildly when in their progress through the United States history they
came to pages descriptive of Indian wars and the Revolutionary
struggle, since they found their lessons then more easily remembered
than the wordy disputes and little understood decisions of statesmen.
The first skating on the pond was an event which far transcended in
importance anything related between the green covers of the old
history book, while to Albert Nichol the privilege of strapping skates
on the feet of little Helen Kemble, and gliding away with her over the
smooth ice, was a triumph unknown by any general. He was the son of a
plain farmer, and she the daughter of the village banker. Thus, even
in childhood, there was thrown around her the glamour of position and
reputed wealth—advantages which have their value among the most
democratic folk, although slight outward deference may be paid to
their possessors. It was the charming little face itself, with its
piquant smiles and still more piquant pouts, which won Albert's boyish
admiration. The fact that she was the banker's daughter only fired his
ambition to be and to do something to make her proud of him.
Hobart Martine, another boy of the village, shared all his
schoolmate's admiration for pretty Nellie, as she was usually called.
He had been lame from birth, and could not skate. He could only shiver
on the bank or stamp around to keep himself warm, while the athletic
Al and the graceful little girl passed and repassed, quite forgetting
him. There was one thing he could do; and this pleasure he waited for
till often numb with cold. He could draw the child on his sled to her
home, which adjoined his own.
When it came his turn to do this, and he limped patiently through
the snow, tugging at the rope, his heart grew warm as well as his
chilled body. She was a rather imperious little belle with the other
boys, but was usually gentle with him because he was lame and quiet.
When she thanked him kindly and pleasantly at her gate, he was so
happy that he could scarcely eat his supper. Then his mother would
laugh and say, "You've been with your little sweetheart." He would
flush and make no reply.
How little did those children dream of war, even when studying
their history lessons! Yet Albert Nichol now lay in the Wilderness
jungle. He had done much to make his little playmate proud of him.
The sturdy boy developed into a manly man. When he responded to his
country's call and raised a company among his old friends and
neighbors, Helen Kemble exulted over him tearfully. She gave him the
highest tribute within her power and dearest possession—her heart.
She made every campaign with him, following him with love's untiring
solicitude through the scenes he described, until at last the morning
paper turned the morning sunshine into mockery and the songs of the
birds into dirges. Captain Nichol's name was on the list of the
With something of the same jealousy, developed and intensified,
which he had experienced while watching Albert glide away on the ice
with the child adored in a dumb, boyish way, Hobart had seen his old
schoolmate depart for the front. Then his rival took the girl from
him; now he took her heart. Martine's lameness kept him from being a
soldier. He again virtually stood chilled on the bank, with a cold,
dreary, hopeless feeling which he believed would benumb his life. He
did not know, he was not sure that he had lost Helen beyond hope,
until those lurid days when men on both sides were arming and drilling
for mutual slaughter. She was always so kind to him, and her tones so
gentle when she spoke, that in love's fond blindness he had dared to
hope. He eventually learned that she was only sorry for him. He did
not, could not, blame her, for he needed but to glance at Nichol's
stalwart form, and recall the young soldier's record, in order to know
that it would be strange indeed if the girl had chosen otherwise. He
would have been more than human if there had not been some bitterness
in his heart; but he fought it down honestly, and while pursuing his
peaceful avocations engaged in what he believed would be a lifelong
battle. He smiled at the girl across the garden fence and called out
his cheery "Good-morning." He was her frequent companion by the
fireside or on the piazza, according to the season; and he alone of
the young men was welcome, for she had little sympathy for those who
remained at home without his excuse. He was so bravely her friend,
keeping his great love so sternly repressed that she only felt it like
a genial warmth in his tones and manner, and believed that he was
becoming in truth what he seemed, merely a friend.
On that terrible May morning he was out in the garden and heard
her wild, despairing cry as she read the fatal words. He knew that a
heavy battle had been begun, and was going down to the gate for his
paper, which the newsboy had just left. There was no need of opening
it, for the bitter cry he had heard made known to him the one item of
intelligence compared with which all else for the time became
insignificant. Was it the Devil that inspired a great throb of hope in
his heart? At any rate he thought it was, and ground his heel into the
gravel as if the serpent's head was beneath it, then limped to Mr.
The old banker came out to meet him, shaking his gray head and
holding the paper in his trembling hand. "Ah!" he groaned, "I've
feared it, I've feared it all along, but hoped that it would not be.
You've seen Nichol's name—" but he could not finish the sentence.
"No, I have seen nothing; I only heard Helen's cry. That told the
"Yes. Well, her mother's with her. Poor girl! poor girl! God grant
it isn't her death-blow too. She has suffered too much under this
long strain of anxiety."
A generous resolve was forming in Martine's mind, and he said
earnestly, "We must tide her through this terrible shock. There may
be some mistake; he may be only wounded. Do not let her give up hope
absolutely. I'll drop everything and go to the battlefield at once. If
the worst has in truth happened, I can bring home his remains, and
that would be a comfort to her. A newspaper report, made up hastily in
the field, is not final. Let this hope break the cruel force of the
blow, for it is hard to live without hope."
"Well, Hobart, you ARE a true friend. God bless and reward you! If
nothing comes of it for poor Nichol, as I fear nothing will, your
journey and effort will give a faint hope to Nellie, and, as you say,
break the force of the blow. I'll go and tell her."
Martine went into the parlor, which Helen had decorated with
mementoes of her soldier lover. He was alone but a few moments before
he heard hasty steps. Helen entered with hot, tearless eyes and an
agonized, imploring expression.
"What!" she cried, "is it true that you'll go?"
"Yes, Helen, immediately. I do not think there's reason for
"Oh, God bless you! friend, friend! I never knew what the word
meant before. Oh, Hobart, no sister ever lavished love on a brother
as I will love you if you bring back my Albert;" and in the impulse of
her overwhelming gratitude she buried her face on his shoulder and
sobbed aloud. Hope already brought the relief of tears.
He stroked the bowed head gently, saying, "God is my witness,
Helen, that I will spare no pains and shrink from no danger in trying
to find Captain Nichol. I have known of many instances where the first
reports of battles proved incorrect;" and he led her to a chair.
"It is asking so much of you," she faltered.
"You have asked nothing, Helen. I have offered to go, and I AM
going. It is a little thing for me to do. You know that my lameness
only kept me from joining Captain Nichol's company. Now try to control
your natural feelings like a brave girl, while I explain my plans as
far as I have formed them."
"Yes, yes! Wait a few moments. Oh, this pain at my heart! I think
it would have broken if you hadn't come. I couldn't breathe; I just
felt as if sinking under a weight."
"Take courage, Helen. Remember Albert is a soldier."
"IS, IS! Oh, thanks for that little word! You do not believe that
he is gone and lost to me?"
"I cannot believe it yet. We will not believe it. Now listen
patiently, for you will have your part to do."
"Yes, yes; if I could only do something! That would help me so
much. Oh, if I could only go with you!"
"That would not be best or wise, and might defeat my efforts. I
must be free to go where you could not—to visit places unsafe for
you. My first step must be to get letters to our State Senator. Your
father can write one, and I'll get one or two others. The Senator will
give me a letter to the Governor, who in turn will accredit me to the
authorities at Washington and the officer in command on the
battlefield. You know I shall need passes. Those who go to the extreme
front must be able to account for themselves. I will keep in
telegraphic communication with you, and you may receive additional
tidings which will aid me in my search. Mr. Kemble!" he concluded,
calling her father from his perturbed pacing up and down the hall.
"Ah!" said the banker, entering, "this is a hundred-fold better
than despairing, useless grief. I've heard the gist of what Hobart
has said, and approve it. Now I'll call mother, so that we may all
take courage and get a good grip on hope."
They consulted together briefly, and in the prospect of action,
Helen was carried through the first dangerous crisis in her
CHAPTER III. "DISABLED"
Mrs. Martine grieved over her son's unexpected resolve. In her
estimation he was engaging in a very dangerous and doubtful
expedition. Probably mothers will never outgrow a certain jealousy
when they find that another woman has become first in the hearts of
their sons. The sense of robbery was especially strong in this case,
for Mrs. Martine was a widow, and Hobart an only and idolized child.
The mother speedily saw that it would be useless to remonstrate,
and tearfully aided him in his preparations. Before he departed, he
won her over as an ally. "These times, mother, are bringing heavy
burdens to very many, and we should help each other bear them. You
know what Helen is to me, and must be always. That is something which
cannot be changed. My love has grown with my growth and become
inseparable from my life. I have my times of weakness, but think I can
truly say that I love her so well that I would rather make her happy
at any cost to myself. If it is within my power, I shall certainly
bring Nichol back, alive or dead. Prove your love to me, mother, by
cheering, comforting, and sustaining that poor girl. I haven't as much
hope of success as I tried to give her, but she needs hope now; she
must have it, or there is no assurance against disastrous effects on
her health and mind. I couldn't bear that."
"Well, Hobart, if he is dead, she certainly ought to reward you
"We must not think of that. The future is not in our hands. We can
only do what is duty now."
Noble, generous purposes give their impress to that index of
character, the human face. When Martine came to say good-by to Helen,
she saw the quiet, patient cripple in a new light. He no longer
secured her strong affection chiefly on the basis of gentle, womanly
commiseration. He was proving the possession of those qualities which
appeal strongly to the feminine nature; he was showing himself capable
of prompt, courageous action, and his plain face, revealing the spirit
which animated him, became that of a hero in her eyes. She divined the
truth—the love so strong and unselfish that it would sacrifice itself
utterly for her. He was seeking to bring back her lover when success
in his mission would blot out all hope for him. The effect of his
action was most salutary, rousing her from the inertia of grief and
despair. "If a mere friend," she murmured, "can be so brave and
self-forgetful, I have no excuse for giving away utterly."
She revealed in some degree her new impressions in parting.
"Hobart," she said, holding his hand in both of hers, "you have done
much to help me. You have not only brought hope, but you have also
shown a spirit which would shame me out of a selfish grief. I cannot
now forget the claims of others, of my dear father and mother here,
and I promise you that I will try to be brave like you, like Albert. I
shall not become a weak, helpless burden, I shall not sit still and
wring idle hands when others are heroically doing and suffering.
Good-by, my friend, my brother. God help us all!"
He felt that she understood him now as never before; and the
knowledge inspired a more resolute purpose, if this were possible.
That afternoon he was on his way. There came two or three days of
terrible suspense for Helen, relieved only by telegrams from Martine
as he passed from point to point. The poor girl struggled as a swimmer
breasts pitiless waves intervening between him and the shore. She
scarcely allowed herself an idle moment; but her effort was feverish
and in a measure the result of excitement. The papers were searched
for any scrap of intelligence, and the daily mail waited for until the
hours and minutes were counted before its arrival.
One morning her father placed Nichol's letter in her hands. They
so trembled in the immense hope, the overwhelming emotion which swept
over her at sight of the familiar handwriting, that at first she could
not open it. When at last she read the prophetic message, she almost
blotted out the writing with her tears, moaning, "He's dead, he's
dead!" In her morbid, overwrought condition, the foreboding that had
been in the mind of the writer was conveyed to hers; and she
practically gave up hope for anything better than the discovery and
return of his remains. Her father, mother, and intimate friends tried
in vain to rally her; but the conviction remained that she had read
her lover's farewell words. In spite of the most pathetic and
strenuous effort, she could not keep up any longer, and sobbed till
she slept in utter exhaustion.
On the following day, old Mr. Wetherby came into the bank. The
lines about his mouth were rigid with suppressed feeling. He handed
Mr. Kemble a letter, saying in a husky voice, "Jim sent this. He says
at the end I was to show it to you." The scrawl gave in brief the
details about Captain Nichol already known to the reader, and stated
also that Sam Wetherby was missing. "All I know is," wrote the
soldier, "that we were driven back, and bullets flew like hail. The
brush was so thick I couldn't see five yards either way when I lost
sight of Sam."
The colonel of the regiment also wrote to Captain Nichol's father,
confirming Private Wetherby's letter. The village had been thrown
into a ferment by the tidings of the battle and its disastrous
consequences. There was bitter lamentation in many homes. Perhaps the
names of Captain Nichol and Helen were oftenest repeated in the little
community, for the fact of their mutual hopes was no longer a secret.
Even thus early some sagacious people nodded their heads and remarked,
"Hobart Martine may have his chance yet." Helen Kemble believed
without the shadow of a doubt that all the heart she had for love had
perished in the wilderness.
The facts contained in Jim Wetherby's letter were telegraphed to
Martine, and he was not long in discovering confirmation of them in
the temporary hospitals near the battlefield. He found a man of
Captain Nichol's company to whom Jim had related the circumstances.
For days the loyal friend searched laboriously the horrible region of
strife, often sickened nearly unto death by the scenes he witnessed,
for his nature had not been rendered callous by familiarity with the
results of war. Then instead of returning home, he employed the
influence given by his letters and passes, backed by his own earnest
pleading, to obtain permission for a visit to Nichol's regiment. He
found it under fire; and long afterward Jim Wetherby was fond of
relating how quietly the lame civilian listened to the shells
shrieking over and exploding around him. Thus Martine learned all that
could be gathered of Nichol's fate, and then, ill and exhausted, he
turned his face northward. He felt that it would be a hopeless task to
renew his search on the battlefield, much of which had been burned
over. He also had the conviction it would be fatal to him to look upon
its unspeakable horrors, and breathe again its pestilential air.
He was a sick man when he arrived at home, but was able to relate
modestly in outline the history of his efforts, softening and
concealing much that he had witnessed. In the delirium of fever which
followed, they learned more fully of what he had endured, of how he
had forced himself to look upon things which, reproduced in his
ravings, almost froze the blood of his watchers.
Helen Kemble felt that her cup of bitterness had been filled anew,
yet the distraction of a new grief, in which there was a certain
remorseful self-reproach, had the effect of blunting the sharp edge
of her first sorrow. In this new cause for dread she was compelled in
some degree to forget herself. She saw the intense solicitude of her
father and mother, who had been so readily accessory to Martine's
expedition; she also saw that his mother's heart was almost breaking
under the strain of anxiety. His incoherent words were not needed to
reveal that his effort had been prompted by his love. She was one of
his watchers, patiently enduring the expressions of regret which the
mother in her sharp agony could not repress. Nichol's last letter was
now known by heart, its every word felt to be prophetic. She had
indeed been called upon to exercise courage and fortitude greater than
he could manifest even in the Wilderness battle. Although she often
faltered, she did not fail in carrying out his instructions. When at
last Martine, a pallid convalescent, could sit in the shade on the
piazza, she looked older by years, having, besides, the expression
seen in the eyes of some women who have suffered much, and can still
suffer much more. In the matter relating to their deepest
consciousness, no words had passed between them. She felt as if she
were a widow, and hoped he would understand. His full recognition of
her position, and acceptance of the fact that she did and must mourn
for her lover, his complete self-abnegation, brought her a sense of
The old clock on the landing of the stairway measured off the
hours and days with monotonous regularity. Some of the hours and days
had been immeasurably longer than the ancient timekeeper had
indicated; but in accordance with usual human experiences, they began
to grow shorter. Poignant sorrow cannot maintain its severity, or
people could not live. Vines, grasses, and flowers covered the graves
in Virginia; the little cares, duties, and amenities of life began to
screen at times the sorrows that were nevertheless ever present.
"Hobart," Helen said one day in the latter part of June, "do you
think you will be strong enough to attend the commemorative services
next week? You know they have been waiting for you."
"Yes," he replied quietly; "'and they should not have delayed them
so long. It is very sad that so many others have been added since-
"Well, you have not been told, for we have tried to keep every
depressing and disquieting influence from you. Dr. Barnes said it was
very necessary, because you had seen so much that you should try to
forget. Ah, my friend, I can never forget what you suffered for me!
Captain Nichol's funeral sermon was preached while you were so ill. I
was not present—I could not be. I've been to see his mother often,
and she understands me. I could not have controlled my grief, and I
have a horror of displaying my most sacred feelings in public. Father
and the people also wish you to be present at the general
commemorative services, when our Senator will deliver a eulogy on
those of our town who have fallen; but I don't think you should go if
you feel that it will have a bad effect on you."
"I shall be present, Helen. I suppose my mind has been weak like
my body; but the time has come when I must take up life again and
accept its conditions as others are doing. You certainly are setting
me a good example. I admit that my illness has left a peculiar
repugnance to hearing and thinking about the war; it all seemed so
very horrible. But if our brave men can face the thing itself, I
should be weak indeed if I could not listen to a eulogy of their
"I am coming to think," resumed Helen, thoughtfully, "that the
battle line extends from Maine to the Gulf, and that quiet people
like you and me are upon it as truly as the soldiers in the field. I
have thought that perhaps the most merciful wounds are often those
which kill outright."
"I can easily believe that," he said.
His quiet tone and manner did not deceive her, and she looked at
him wistfully as she resumed, "But if they do not kill, the pain must
be borne patiently, even though we are in a measure disabled."
"Yes, Helen; and you are disabled in your power to give me what I
can never help giving you. I know that. I will not misjudge or
presume upon your kindness. We are too good friends to affect any
concealments from each other."
"You have expressed my very thought. When you spoke of accepting
the conditions of life, I hoped you had in mind what you have
said—the conditions of life as they ARE, as we cannot help or change
them. We both have got to take up life under new conditions."
"You have; not I, Helen."
Tears rushed to her eyes as she faltered, "I would be
transparently false should I affect not to know. What I wish you to
feel through the coming months and years is that I cannot—that I am
disabled by my wound."
"I understand, Helen. We can go on as we have begun. You have
lost, as I have not, for I have never possessed. You will be the
greater sufferer; and it will be my dear privilege to cheer and
sustain you in such ways as are possible to a simple friend."
She regarded him gratefully, and for the first time since that
terrible May morning the semblance of a smile briefly illumined her
CHAPTER IV. MARTINE SEEKS AN ANTIDOTE
It can readily be understood that Martine in his expedition to the
South had not limited his efforts solely to his search for Captain
Nichol. Wherever it had been within his power he had learned all that
he could of other officers and men who had come from his native
region; and his letters to their relatives had been in some instances
sources of unspeakable comfort. In his visit to the front he had also
seen and conversed with his fellow-townsmen, some of whom had since
perished or had been wounded. As he grew stronger, Helen wrote out at
his dictation all that he could remember concerning these interviews;
and these accounts became precious heirlooms in many families.
On the Fourth of July the commemorative oration was delivered by
the Senator, who proved himself to be more than senator by his deep,
honest feeling and good taste. The "spread eagle" element was
conspicuously absent in his solemn, dignified, yet hopeful words. He
gave to each their meed of praise. He grew eloquent over the enlisted
men who had so bravely done their duty without the incentive of
ambition. When he spoke of the honor reflected on the village by the
heroism of Captain Nichol, the hearts of the people glowed with
gratitude and pride; but thoughts of pity came to all as they
remembered the girl, robed in black, who sat with bowed head among
"I can best bring my words to a close," said the Senator, "by
reading part of a letter written by one of your townsmen, a private
in the ranks, yet expressive of feelings inseparable from our common
"DEAR FATHER—You know I ain't much given to fine feelings or fine
words. Poor Sam beat me all holler in such things; but I want you and
all the folks in Alton to know that you've got a regular soldier at
home. Of course we were all glad to see Bart Martine; and we expected
to have a good-natured laugh at his expense when the shells began to
fly. Soldiers laugh, as they eat, every chance they get, 'cause they
remember it may be the last one. Well, we knew Bart didn't know any
more about war than a chicken, and we expected to see him get very
nervous and limp off to the rear on the double quick. He didn't scare
worth a cent. When a shell screeched over our heads, he just waited
till the dinged noise was out of our ears and then went on with his
questions about poor Cap and Sam and the others from our town. We were
supporting a battery, and most of us lying down. He sat there with us
a good hour, telling about the folks at home, and how you were all
following us with your thoughts and prayers, and how you all mourned
with those who lost friends, and were looking after the children of
the killed and wounded. Fact is, before we knew it we were all on our
feet cheering for Alton and the folks at home and the little lame man,
who was just as good a soldier as any of us. I tell you he heartened
up the boys, what's left of us. I'm sorry to hear he's so sick. If he
should die, bury him with a soldier's honors. JAMES WETHERBY."
"These plain, simple, unadorned words," concluded the Senator,
"need no comment. Their force and significance cannot be enhanced by
anything I can say. I do not know that I could listen quietly to
shrieking and exploding shells while I spoke words of courage and good
cheer; but I do know that I wish to be among the foremost to honor
your modest, unassuming townsman, who could do all this and more."
Martine was visibly distressed by this unexpected feature in the
oration and the plaudits which followed. He was too sad, too weak in
body and mind, and too fresh from the ghastly battlefield, not to
shrink in sensitive pain from personal and public commendation. He
evaded his neighbors as far as possible and limped hastily away.
He did not see Helen again till the following morning, for her
wound had been opened afresh, and she spent the remainder of the day
and evening in the solitude of her room. Martine was troubled at this,
and thought she felt as he did.
In the morning she joined him on the piazza. She was pale from her
long sad vigil, but renewed strength and a gentle patience were
expressed in her thin face.
"It's too bad, Helen," he broke out in unwonted irritation. "I
wouldn't have gone if I had known. It was a miserable letting down of
all that had gone before—that reference to me."
Now she smiled brightly as she said, "You are the only one present
who thought so. Has this been worrying you?"
"Yes, it has. If the speaker had seen what I saw, he would have
known better. His words only wounded me."
"He judged you by other men, Hobart. His words would not have
wounded very many. I'm glad I heard that letter—that I have learned
what I never could from you. I'm very proud of my friend. What silly
creatures women are, anyway! They want their friends to be brave, yet
dread the consequences of their being so beyond words."
"Well," said Martine, a little grimly, "I'm going to my office to-
morrow. I feel the need of a long course of reading in Blackstone."
"You must help keep me busy also," was her reply.
"I've thought about that; yes, a great deal. You need some
wholesome, natural interest that is capable of becoming somewhat
absorbing. Is it strange that I should recommend one phase of my
hobby, flowers? You know that every tree, shrub, and plant on our
little place is a sort of a pet with me. You are fond of flowers, but
have never given much thought to their care, leaving that to your
gardener. Flowers are only half enjoyed by those who do not cultivate
them, nurse, or pet them. Then there is such an infinite variety that
before you know it your thoughts are pleasantly occupied in
experimenting with even one family of plants. It is an interest which
will keep you much in the open air and bring you close to Mother
The result of this talk was that the sad-hearted girl first by
resolute effort and then by a growing fondness for the tasks, began
to take a personal interest in the daily welfare of her plants.
Martine and her father were always on the look-out for something new
and rare; and as winter approached, the former had a small
conservatory built on the sunny side of the house. They also gave her
several caged song-birds, which soon learned to recognize and welcome
her. From one of his clients Martine obtained a droll- looking dog
that seemed to possess almost human intelligence. In the daily care of
living things and dependent creatures that could bloom or be joyous
without jarring upon her feelings, as would human mirth or gayety, her
mind became wholesomely occupied part of each day; she could smile at
objects which did not know, which could not understand.
Still, there was no effort on her part to escape sad memories or
the acts and duties which revived them. A noble monument had been
erected to Captain Nichol, and one of her chief pleasures was to
decorate it with the flowers grown under her own care. Few days
passed on which she did not visit one of the families who were or had
been represented at the front, while Mrs. Nichol felt that if she had
lost a son she had in a measure gained a daughter. As the months
passed and winter was wellnigh spent, the wise gossips of the village
again began to shake their heads and remark, "Helen Kemble and Bart
Martine are very good friends; but I guess that's all it will amount
to—all, at any rate, for a long time."
All, for all time, Helen had honestly thought. It might easily
have been for all time had another lover sought her, or if Martine
himself had become a wooer and so put her on her guard. It was his
patient acceptance of what she had said could not be helped, his
self-forgetfulness, which caused her to remember his need—a need
greatly increased by a sad event. In the breaking up of winter his
mother took a heavy cold which ended in pneumonia and death.
The gossips made many plans for him and indulged in many surmises
as to what lie would do; but he merely engaged the services of an old
woman as domestic, and lived on quietly as before. Perhaps he grew a
little morbid after this bereavement and clung more closely to his
This would not be strange. Those who dwell among shadows become
ill at ease away from them. Helen was the first to discover this
tendency, and to note that he was not rallying as she had hoped he
would. He rarely sought their house except by invitation, and then
often lapsed into silences which he broke with an evident effort. He
never uttered a word of complaint or consciously appealed for
sympathy, but was slowly yielding to the steady pressure of sadness
which had almost been his heritage. She would have been less than
woman if, recalling the past and knowing so well the unsatisfied love
in his heart, she had not felt for him daily a larger and deeper
commiseration. When the early March winds rattled the casements, or
drove the sleety rain against the windows, she saw him in fancy
sitting alone brooding, always brooding.
One day she asked abruptly, "Hobart, what are you thinking about
so deeply when you are looking at the fire?"
A slow, deep flush came into his face, and he hesitated in his
answer. At last he said, "I fear I'm getting into a bad mood, and
think I must do something decided. Well, for one thing, the
continuance of this war weighs upon my spirit. Men are getting so
scarce that I believe they will take me in some capacity. Now that
mother is not here, I think I ought to go."
"Oh, Hobart, we would miss you so!" she faltered.
He looked up with a smile. "Yes, Helen, I think you would—not
many others, though. You have become so brave and strong that you do
not need me any more."
"I am not so brave and strong as I seem. If I were, how did I
become so? With the tact and delicacy of a woman, yet with the
strength of a man, you broke the crushing force of the first blow,
and have helped me ever since."
"You see everything through a very friendly medium. At any rate I
could not have been content a moment if I had not done all in my
power. You do not need me any longer; you have become a source of
strength to others. I cannot help seeing crowded hospital wards; and
the thought pursues me that in one of them I might do something to
restore a soldier to his place in the field or save him for those at
home. I could at least be a hospital nurse, and I believe it would be
better for me to be doing some such work."
"I believe it would be better for me also," she answered, her eyes
full of tears.
"No, Helen—no, indeed. You have the higher mission of healing the
heart-wounds which the war is making in your own vicinity. You should
not think of leaving your father and mother in their old age, or of
filling their days with anxiety which might shorten their lives."
"It will be very hard for us to let you go. Oh, I did not think I
would have to face this also!"
He glanced at her hastily, for there was a sharp distress in her
tone, of which she was scarcely conscious herself. Then, as if
recollecting himself, he reasoned gently and earnestly: "You were not
long in adopting the best antidote for trouble. In comforting others,
you have been comforted. The campaign is opening in Virginia; and I
think it would be a good and wholesome thing for me to be at work
among the wounded. If I can save one life, it will be such a comfort
after the war is over."
"Yes," she replied, softly; "the war will be over some day.
Albert, in his last letter, said the war would cease, and that happy
days of peace were coming. How they can ever be happy days to some I
scarcely know; but he seemed to foresee the future when he wrote."
"Helen, I'm going. Perhaps the days of peace will be a little
happier if I go."
CHAPTER V. SECOND BLOOM
Martine carried out his purpose almost immediately, seeking the
temporary and most exposed hospitals on the extreme left of Grant's
army before Petersburg. Indeed, while battles were still in progress
he would make his way to the front and become the surgeon's tireless
assistant. While thus engaged, even under the enemy's fire, he was
able to render services to Jim Wetherby which probably saved the
soldier's life. Jim lost his right arm, but found a nurse who did not
let him want for anything till the danger point following amputation
had passed. Before many weeks he was safe at home, and from him Helen
learned more of Martine's quiet heroism than she could ever gather
from his letters. In Jim Wetherby's estimation, Cap and Bart Martine
were the two heroes of the war.
The latter had found the right antidote. Not a moment was left for
morbid brooding. On every side were sharp physical distress, deadly
peril to life and limb, pathetic efforts to hold ground against
diseases or sloughing wounds. In aiding such endeavor, in giving moral
support and physical care, Martine forgot himself. Helen's letters
also were an increasing inspiration. He could scarcely take up one of
them and say, "Here her words begin to have a warmer tinge of
feeling;" but as spring advanced, imperceptibly yet surely, in spite
of pauses and apparent retrogressions, just so surely she revealed a
certain warmth of sympathy. He was engaged in a work which made it
easy for her to idealize him. His unselfish effort to help men live,
to keep bitter tears from the eyes of their relatives, appealed most
powerfully to all that was unselfish in her nature, and she was
beginning to ask, "If I can make this man happier, why should I not
do so?" Nichol's letter gained a new meaning in the light of events:
"I do not ask you to forget me—that would be worse than death—but I
ask you to try to be happy and to make others happy."
"A noble, generous nature prompted those words," she now often
mused. "How can I obey their spirit better than in rewarding the man
who not only has done so much for me, but also at every cost sought to
In this growing disposition she had no innate repugnance to
overcome, nor the shrinking which can neither be defined nor reasoned
against. Accustomed to see him almost daily from childhood, conscious
for years that he was giving her a love that was virtually homage, she
found her heart growing very compassionate and ready to yield the
strong, quiet affection which she believed might satisfy him. This had
come about through no effort on her part, from no seeking on his, but
was the result of circumstances, the outgrowth of her best and most
But the effect began to separate itself in character from its
causes. All that had gone before might explain why she was learning
to love him, and be sufficient reason for this affection, but a
woman's love, even that quiet phase developing in Helen's heart, is
not like a man's conviction, for which he can give his clear-cut
reasons. It is a tenderness for its object—a wish to serve and give
all in return for what it receives.
Martine vaguely felt this change in Helen long before he
understood it. He saw only a warmer glow of sisterly affection, too
high a valuation of his self-denying work, and a more generous attempt
to give him all the solace and support within her power.
One day in July, when the war was well over and the field
hospitals long since broken up, he wrote from Washington, where he
was still pursuing his labors:
"My work is drawing to a close. Although I have not accomplished a
tithe of what I wished to do, and have soon so much left undone, I am
glad to remember that I have alleviated much pain and, I think, saved
some lives. Such success as I have had, dear Helen, has largely been
due to you. Your letters have been like manna. You do not know—it
would be impossible for you to know—the strength they have given, the
inspiration they have afforded. I am naturally very weary and worn
physically, and the doctors say I must soon have rest; but your kind
words have been life-giving to my soul. I turn to them from day to day
as one would seek a cool, unfailing spring. I can now accept life
gratefully with the conditions which cannot be changed. How fine is
the influence of a woman like you! What deep springs of action it
touches! When waiting on the sick and wounded, I try to blend your
womanly nature with my coarser fibre. Truly, neither of us has
suffered in vain if we learn better to minister to others. I cannot
tell you how I long to see the home gardens again; and it now seems
that just to watch you in yours will be unalloyed happiness."
Helen smiled over this letter with sweet, deep meanings in her
One August evening, as the Kemble family sat at tea, he gave them
a joyous surprise by appearing at the door and asking in a matter-
of-fact voice, "Can you put an extra plate on the table?"
There was no mistaking the gladness of her welcome, for it was as
genuine as the bluff heartiness of her father and the gentle
solicitude of her mother, who exclaimed, "Oh, Hobart, how thin and
pale you are!"
"A few weeks' rest at home will remedy all that," he said. "The
heat in Washington was more trying than my work."
"Well, thank the Lord! you ARE at home once more," cried the
banker. "I was thinking of drawing on the authorities at Washington
for a neighbor who had been loaned much too long."
"Helen," said Martine, with pleased eyes, "how well you look! It
is a perfect delight to see color in your cheeks once more. They are
gaining, too, their old lovely roundness. I'm going to say what I
think right out, for I've been with soldiers so long that I've
acquired their bluntness."
"It's that garden work you lured me into," she explained. "I hope
you won't think your plants and trees have been neglected."
"Have you been keeping my pets from missing me?"
"I guess they have missed you least of all. Helen has seen to it
that they were cared for first," said Mrs. Kemble, emphatically.
"You didn't write about that;" and he looked at the girl
"Do you think I could see weeds and neglect just over the fence?"
she asked, with a piquant toss of her head.
"Do you think I could believe that you cared for my garden only
that your eyes might not be offended?"
"There, I only wished to give you a little surprise. You have
treated us to one by walking in with such delightful unexpectedness,
and so should understand. I'll show you when you are through supper."
"I'm through now;" and he rose with a promptness most pleasing to
her. His gladness in recognizing old and carefully nurtured friends,
his keen, appreciative interest in the new candidates for favor that
she had planted, rewarded her abundantly.
"Oh," he exclaimed, "what a heavenly exchange from the close,
fetid air of hospital wards! Could the first man have been more
content in his divinely planted garden?"
She looked at him shyly and thought, "Perhaps when you taste of
the fruit of knowledge the old story will have a new and better
She now regarded him with a new and wistful interest, no longer
seeing him through the medium of friendship only. His face, thin and
spiritualized, revealed his soul without disguise. It was the
countenance of one who had won peace through the divine path of
ministry—healing others, himself had been healed. She saw also his
unchanged, steadfast love shining like a gem over which flows a
crystal current. Its ray was as serene as it was undimmed. It had
taken its place as an imperishable quality in his character—a place
which it would retain without vicissitude unless some sign from her
called it into immediate and strong manifestation. She was in no haste
to give this. Time was touching her kindly; the sharp, cruel outlines
of the past were softening in the distance, and she was content to
remember that the treasure was hers when she was ready for it—a
treasure more valued daily.
With exultation she saw him honored by the entire community. Few
days passed without new proofs of the hold he had gained on the
deepest and best feelings of the people. She who once had pitied now
looked up to him as the possessor of that manhood which the most
faultless outward semblance can only suggest.
Love is a magician at whose touch the plainest features take on
new aspects. Helen's face had never been plain. Even in its anguish
it had produced in beholders the profound commiseration which is more
readily given when beauty is sorrowful. Now that a new life at heart
was expressing itself, Martine, as well as others, could not fail to
note the subtile changes. While the dewy freshness of her girlish
bloom was absent, the higher and more womanly qualities were now
revealing themselves. Her nature had been deepened by her experiences,
and the harmony of her life was all the sweeter for its minor chords.
To Martine she became a wonderful mystery, and he almost
worshipped the woman whose love he believed buried in an unknown
grave, but whose eyes were often so strangely kind. He resumed his
old life, but no longer brooded at home, when the autumn winds began
to blow. He recognized the old danger and shunned it resolutely. If he
could not beguile his thoughts from Helen, it was but a step to her
home, and her eyes always shone with a luminous welcome. Unless
detained by study of the legal points of some case in hand, he usually
found his way over to the Kemble fireside before the evening passed,
and his friends encouraged him to come when he felt like it. The old
banker found the young man exceedingly companionable, especially in
his power to discuss intelligently the new financial conditions into
which the country was passing. Helen would smile to herself as she
watched the two men absorbed in questions she little understood, and
observed her mother nodding drowsily over her knitting. The scene was
so peaceful, so cheery, so hopeful against the dark background of the
past, that she could not refrain from gratitude. Her heart no longer
ached with despairing sorrow, and the anxious, troubled expression had
faded out of her parents' faces.
"Yes," she would murmur softly to herself, "Albert was right; the
bloody war has ceased, and the happy days of peace are coming. Heaven
has blessed him and made his memory doubly blessed, in that he had the
heart to wish them to be happy, although he could not live to see
them. Unconsciously he took the thorns out of the path which led to
his friend and mine. How richly father enjoys Hobart's companionship!
He will be scarcely less happy—when he knows—than yonder friend, who
is such a very scrupulous friend. Indeed, how either is ever going to
know I scarcely see, unless I make a formal statement."
Suddenly Martine turned, and caught sight of her expression.
"All I have for your thoughts! What wouldn't I give to know them!"
Her face became rosier than the firelight warranted as she laughed
outright and shook her head.
"No matter," he said; "I am content to hear you laugh like that."
"Yes, yes," added the banker; "Helen's laugh is sweeter to me than
any music I ever heard. Thank God! we all can laugh again. I am
getting old, and in the course of nature must soon jog on to the
better country. When that time comes, the only music I want to hear
from earth is good, honest laughter."
"Now, papa, hush that talk right away," cried Helen, with
"What's the matter?" Mrs. Kemble asked, waking up.
"Nothing, my dear, only it's time for us old people to go to bed."
"Well, I own that it would be more becoming to sleep there than to
reflect so unfavorably on your conversation. Of late years talk about
money matters always puts me to sleep."
"That wasn't the case, was it, my dear, when we tried to stretch a
thousand so it would reach from one January to another?"
"I remember," she replied, smiling and rolling up her knitting,
"that we sometimes had to suspend specie payments. Ah, well, we were
When left alone, it was Helen's turn to say, "Now your thoughts
are wool-gathering. You don't see the fire when you look at it that
"No, I suppose not," replied Martine. "I'll be more frank than
you. Your mother's words, 'We were happy,' left an echo in my mind.
How experience varies! It is pleasant to think that there are many
perfectly normal, happy lives like those of your father and mother."
"That's one thing I like in you, Hobart. You are so perfectly
willing that others should be happy."
"Helen, I agree with your father. Your laugh WAS music, the
sweetest I ever heard. I'm more than willing that you should be
happy. Why should you not be? I have always felt that what he said
was true—what he said about the right to laugh after sorrow—but it
never seemed so true before. Who could wish to leave blighting sorrow
after him? Who could sing in heaven if he knew that he had left tears
which could not be dried on earth?"
"You couldn't," she replied with bowed head.
"Nor you, either; nor the brave man who died, to whom I only do
justice in believing that he would only be happier could he hear your
laugh. Your father's wholesome, hearty nature should teach us to
banish every morbid tendency. Let your heart grow as light as it will,
my friend. Your natural impulses will not lead you astray.
"You feel sure of that?" she asked, giving him a hand that
fluttered in his, and looking at him with a soft fire in her eyes.
"Oh, Helen, how distractingly beautiful you are! You are blooming
again like your Jack-roses when the second growth pushes them into
flower. There; I must go. If I had a stone in my breast instead of a
heart—Good-night. I won't be weak again."
CHAPTER VI. MORE THAN REWARD
Helen Kemble's character was simple and direct She was one who
lived vividly in the passing hour, and had a greater capacity for
deep emotions than for retaining them. The reputation for constancy
is sometimes won by those incapable of strong convictions. A scratch
upon a rock remains in all its sharpness, while the furrow that has
gone deep into the heart of a field is eventually almost hidden by a
new flowering growth. The truth was fully exemplified in Helen's case;
and a willingness to marry her lifelong lover, prompted at first by a
spirit of self-sacrifice, had become, under the influence of daily
companionship, more than mere assent. While gratitude and the wish to
see the light of a great, unexpected joy come into his eyes remained
her chief motives, she had learned that she could attain a happiness
herself, not hoped for once, in making him happy.
He was true to his word, after the interview described in the
preceding chapter. He did not consciously reveal the unappeased
hunger of his heart, but her intuition was never at fault a moment.
One Indian-summer-like morning, about the middle of October, he
went over to her home and said, "Helen, what do you say to a long
day's outing? The foliage is at its brightest, the air soft as that
of June. Why not store up a lot of this sunshine for winter use?"
"Yes, Helen, go," urged her mother. "I can attend to everything."
"A long day, did you stipulate?" said the girl in ready assent;
"that means we should take a lunch. I don't believe you ever thought
"We could crack nuts, rob apple-orchards, or if driven to
extremity, raid a farmhouse."
"You have heard too much from the soldiers about living off the
country. I'd rather raid mamma's cupboard before we start. I'll be
ready as soon as you are."
He soon appeared in his low, easy phaeton; and she joined him with
the presentiment that there might be even greater gladness in his
face by evening than it now expressed. While on the way to the brow
of a distant hill which would be their lunching place, they either
talked with the freedom of old friends or lapsed into long silences.
At last he asked, "Isn't it a little odd that when with you the
sense of companionship is just as strong when you are not talking?"
"It's a comfort you are so easily entertained. Don't you think I'm
a rather moderate talker for a woman?"
"Those that talk the most are often least entertaining. I've
thought a good deal about it—the unconscious influence of people on
one another. I don't mean influence in any moral sense, but in the
power to make one comfortable or uncomfortable, and to produce a sense
of restfulness and content or to make one ill at ease and nervously
desirous of escape."
"And you have actually no nervous desire to escape, no castings
around in your mind for an excuse to turn around and drive home?"
"No one could give a surer answer to your question than yourself.
I've been thinking of something pleasanter than my enjoyment."
"That your expression has been a very contented one during the
last hour. I am coming to believe that you can accept my friendship
without effort. You women are all such mysteries! One gets hold of a
clew now and then. I have fancied that if you had started out in the
spirit of self-sacrifice that I might have a pleasant time, you would
be more conscious of your purpose. Even your tact might not have kept
me from seeing that you were exerting yourself; but the very genius of
the day seems to possess you. Nature is not exerting herself in the
least. No breath of air is stirring; all storms are in the past or the
future. With a smile on her face, she is just resting in serene
content, as you were, I hope. She is softening and obscuring
everything distant by an orange haze, so that the sunny present may be
all the more real. Days like these will do you good, especially if
your face and manner reveal that you can be as truly at rest as
"Yet what changes may soon pass over the placid scene!"
"Yes, but don't think of them."
"Well, I won't—not now. Yes, you are becoming very penetrating. I
am not exerting myself in the least to give you a pleasant time. I am
just selfishly and lazily content."
"That fact gives me so much more than content that it makes me
"Hobart, you are the most unselfish man I ever knew."
They had reached their picnic-ground—the edge of a grove whose
bright-hued foliage still afforded a grateful shade. The horse was
unharnessed and picketed so that he might have a long range for
grazing. Then Martine brought the provision basket to the foot of a
great oak, and sat down to wait for Helen, who had wandered away in
search of wild flowers. At last she came with a handful of
late-blooming closed gentians.
"I thought these would make an agreeable feature in your lunch."
"Oh, you are beginning to exert yourself."
"Yes, I have concluded to, a little. So must you, to the extent of
making a fire. The rest will be woman's work. I propose to drink your
health in a cup of coffee."
"Ah, this is unalloyed," he cried, sipping it later on.
"Yes, and everything. We don't foresee the bright days any more
than the dark ones. I did not dream of this in Virginia."
"You are easily satisfied. The coffee is smoky, the lunch is cold,
winter is coming, and—"
"And I am very happy," he said.
"It would be a pity to disturb your serenity."
"Nothing shall disturb it to-day. Peace is one of the rarest
experiences in this world. I mean only to remember that our armies
are disbanded and that you are at rest, like Nature."
She had brought a little book of autumn poems, and after lunch
read to him for an hour, he listening with the same expression of
quiet satisfaction. As the day declined, she shivered slightly in the
shade. He immediately arose and put a shawl around her.
"You are always shielding me," she said gently.
"One can do so little of that kind of thing," he replied, "not
much more than show intent."
"Now you do yourself injustice." After a moment's hesitancy she
added, "I am not quite in your mood to-day, and even Nature, as your
ally, cannot make me forget or even wish to forget."
"I do not wish you to forget, but merely cease to remember for a
little while. You say Nature is my ally. Listen: already the wind is
beginning to sigh in the branches overhead. The sound is low and
mournful, as if full of regret for the past and forebodings for the
future. There is a change coming. All that I wished or could expect in
you was that this serene, quiet day would give you a respite—that
complete repose in which the wounded spirit is more rapidly healed and
strengthened for the future."
"Have you been strengthened? Have you no fears for the future?"
"No fears, Helen. My life is strong in its negation. The man who
is agitated by hopes and fears, who is doomed to disappointments, is
the one who has not recognized his limitations, who has not accepted
"Hobart, I'm going to put you on your honor now. Remember, and do
not answer hastily," and her gaze into his face was searching.
Although quiet and perfectly self-controlled, the rich color mounted
to her very brow.
"Well, Helen," he asked wonderingly.
"Imagine it possible," she continued with the same earnest gaze,
"that you were a woman who has loved as I have loved, and lost as I
have. The circumstances are all known, and you have only to recall
them. If a man had loved you as you have loved me—"
"But, Helen, can you not believe in a love so strong that it does
By a gesture she checked him and repeated, "But if a man had loved
you as you have loved me—remember now, on your honor—would you
permit him to love with no better reward than the consciousness of
being a solace, a help, a sort of buffer between you and the ills of
"But, Helen, I am more than that: I am your friend."
"Indeed you are, the best a woman ever had, or I could not speak
as I am doing. Yet what I say is true. From the first it has been
your sleepless aim to stand between me and trouble. What have I ever
done for you?"
"In giving me your friendship—"
Again she interrupted him, saying, "That virtually means giving
you the chance for continued self-sacrifice. Any man or woman in the
land would give you friendship on such terms, YOUR terms with me. But
you do not answer my question; yet you have answered it over and over
again. Were you in my place with your unselfish nature, you could not
take so very much without an inevitable longing to return all in your
He was deeply agitated. Burying his face in his hands, he said
hoarsely, "I must not look at you, or my duty may be too hard. Ah,
you are banishing peace and serenity now with a vengeance! I
recognize your motive—whither your thoughts are tending. Your
conscience, your pity, your exaggerated gratitude are driving you to
contemplate a self-sacrifice compared with which mine is as nothing.
Yet the possibility of what you suggest is so sweet, so— oh, it is
like the reward of heaven for a brief life!" Then he bowed his head
lower and added slowly, as if the words were forced from him, "No,
Helen, you shall not reward me. I cannot take as pay, or 'return,' as
you express it, the reward that you are meditating. I must not
remember in after years that my efforts in your behalf piled up such a
burdensome sense of obligation that there was but one escape from it."
She came to his side, and removing his hands from his face,
retained one of them as she said, gently, "Hobart, I am no longer a
shy girl. I have suffered too deeply, I have learned too thoroughly
how life may be robbed of happiness, and for a time, almost of hope,
not to see the folly of letting the years slip away, unproductive of
half what they might yield to you and me. I understand you; you do not
understand me, probably because your ideal is too high. You employed
an illustration in the narrowest meaning. Is heaven given only as a
reward? Is not every true gift an expression of something back of the
gift, more than the gift?"
"Yes, Hobart, in my wish to make you happier I am not bent on
unredeemed self-sacrifice. You have been the most skilful of wooers."
"And you are the divinest of mysteries. How have I wooed you?"
"By not wooing at all, by taking a course which compelled my heart
to plead your cause, by giving unselfish devotion so unstintedly that
like the rain and dew of heaven, it has fostered a new life in my
heart, different from the old, yet sweet, real, and precious. I have
learned that I can be happier in making you happy. Oh, I shall be no
martyr. Am I inconstant because time and your ministry have healed the
old wound—because the steady warmth and glow of your love has kindled
He regarded her with a gaze so rapt, so reverent, so expressive of
immeasurable gratitude that her eyes filled with tears. "I think you
do understand me," she whispered.
He kissed her hand in homage as he replied, "A joy like this is
almost as hard to comprehend at first as an equally great sorrow. My
garden teaches me to understand you. A perfect flower-stalk is
suddenly and rudely broken. Instead of dying, it eventually sends out
a little side-shoot which gives what bloom it can."
"And you will be content with what it can give?"
"I shall be glad with a happiness which almost terrifies me. Only
God knows how I have longed for this."
That evening the old banker scarcely ceased rubbing his hands in
general felicitation, while practical, housewifely Mrs. Kemble
already began to plan what she intended to do toward establishing
Helen in the adjoining cottage.
Now that Martine believed his great happiness possible, he was
eager for its consummation. At his request the 1st of December was
named as the wedding day. "The best that a fireside and evening lamp
ever suggested will then come true to me," ha urged. "Since this can
be, life is too short that it should not be soon."
Helen readily yielded. Indeed, they were all so absorbed in
planning for his happiness as to be oblivious of the rising storm.
When at last the girl went to her room, the wind sighed and wailed so
mournfully around the house as to produce a feeling of depression and
CHAPTER VII. YANKEE BLANK
The wild night storm which followed the most memorable day of his
life had no power to depress Martine. In the wavy flames and glowing
coals of his open fire he saw heavenly pictures of the future. He drew
his mother's low chair to the hearth, and his kindled fancy placed
Helen in it. Memory could so reproduce her lovely and familiar
features that her presence became almost a reality. In a sense he
watched her changing expression and heard her low, mellow tones. The
truth that both would express an affection akin to his own grew upon
his consciousness like the incoming of a sun-lighted tide. The
darkness and storm without became only the background of his pictures,
enhancing every prophetic representation. The night passed in ecstatic
waking dreams of all that the word "home" suggests when a woman, loved
as he loved Helen, was its architect.
The days and weeks which followed were filled with divine
enchantment; the prosaic world was transfigured; the intricacies of
the law were luminous with the sheen of gold, becoming the quartz
veins from which he would mine wealth for Helen; the plants in his
little rose-house were cared for with caressing tenderness because
they gave buds which would be worn over the heart now throbbing for
him. Never did mortal know such unalloyed happiness as blessed
Martine, as he became daily more convinced that Helen was not giving
herself to him merely from the promptings of compassion.
At times, when she did not know he was listening, he heard her
low, sweet laugh; and it had a joyous ring and melody which repeated
itself like a haunting refrain of music. He would say smilingly, "It
is circumstantial evidence, equivalent to direct proof."
Helen and her mother almost took possession of his house while he
was absent at his office, refurnishing and transforming it, yet
retaining with reverent memory what was essentially associated with
Mrs. Martine. The changing aspects of the house did not banish the old
sense of familiarity, but were rather like the apple-tree in the
corner of the garden when budding into new foliage and flower. The
banker's purse was ever open for all this renovation, but Martine
jealously persisted in his resolve to meet every expense himself.
Witnessing his gladness and satisfaction, they let him have his way,
he meanwhile exulting over Helen's absorbed interest in the adornment
of her future home.
The entire village had a friendly concern in the approaching
wedding; and the aged gossips never tired of saying, "I told you so,"
believing that they understood precisely how it had all come about.
Even Mrs. Nichol aquiesced with a few deep sighs, assuring herself, "I
suppose it's natural. I'd rather it was Bart Martine than anybody
A few days before the 1st of December, Martine received a telegram
from an aged uncle residing in a distant State. It conveyed a request
hard to comply with, yet he did not see how it could be evaded. The
despatch was delivered in the evening while he was at the Kembles',
and its effect upon the little group was like a bolt out of a clear
sky. It ran:
"Your cousin dangerously ill at——Hospital, Washington. Go to him
at once, if possible, and telegraph me to come, if necessary."
Hobart explained that this cousin had remained in the army from
choice, and that his father, old and feeble, naturally shrank from a
journey to which he was scarcely equal. "My hospital experience," he
concluded, "leads him to think that I am just the one to go,
especially as I can get there much sooner than he. I suppose he is
right. Indeed, I do not know of any one else whom he could call upon.
It certainly is a very painful duty at this time."
"I can't endure to think of it," Helen exclaimed.
"It's a clear question of conscience, Helen," he replied gently.
"Many years have passed since I saw this cousin, yet he, and still
more strongly his father, have the claims of kinship. If anything
should happen which my presence could avert, you know we should both
feel bad. It would be a cloud upon our happiness. If this request had
come before you had changed everything for me, you know I would have
gone without a moment's hesitation. Very gratitude should make me more
ready for duty;" yet he signed deeply.
"But it may delay the wedding, for which the invitations have gone
out," protested Mrs. Kemble.
"Possibly it may, if my cousin's life is in danger." Then,
brightening up, he added: "Perhaps I shall find that I can leave him
in good care for a short time, and then we can go to Washington on our
wedding trip. I would like to gain associations with that city
different from those I now have."
"Come now," said the banker, hopefully, "if we must face this
thing, we must. The probabilities are that it will turn out as Hobart
says. At worst it can only be a sad interruption and episode. Hobart
will be better satisfied in the end if he does what he now thinks his
"Yours is the right view," assented the young man, firmly. "I
shall take the midnight train, and telegraph as soon as I have seen
my cousin and the hospital surgeon."
He went home and hastily made his preparations; then, with valise
in hand, returned to the Kembles'. The old people bade him Godspeed
on his journey, and considerately left him with his affianced.
"Hobart," Helen entreated, as they were parting, "be more than
ordinarily prudent. Do not take any risks, even the most trivial,
unless you feel you must. Perhaps I'm weak and foolish, but I'm
possessed with a strange, nervous dread. This sudden call of duty-
-for so I suppose I must look upon it—seems so inopportune;" and she
hid her tears on his shoulder.
"You are taking it much too seriously, darling," he said, gently
drawing her closer to him.
"Yes, my reason tells me that I am. You are only going on a brief
journey, facing nothing that can be called danger. Yet I speak as I
feel—I cannot help feeling. Give me glad reassurance by returning
quickly and safely. Then hereafter I will laugh at forebodings."
"There, you need not wait till I reach Washington. You shall hear
from me in the morning, and I will also telegraph when I have
opportunity on my journey."
"Please do so, and remember that I could not endure to have my
life impoverished again."
Late the following evening, Martine inquired his way to the
bedside of his cousin, and was glad indeed to find him convalescent.
His own experienced eyes, together with the statement of the sick man
and wardmaster, convinced him that the danger point was well passed.
In immense relief of mind he said cheerily, "I will watch to-night";
and so it was arranged.
His cousin, soothed and hushed in his desire to talk, soon dropped
into quiet slumber, while Martine's thronging thoughts banished the
sense of drowsiness. A shaded lamp burned near, making a circle of
light and leaving the rest of the ward dim and shadowy. The scene was
very familiar, and it was an easy effort for his imagination to place
in the adjoining cots the patients with whom, months before, he had
fought the winning or losing battle of life. While memory sometimes
went back compassionately to those sufferers, his thoughts dwelt
chiefly upon the near future, with its certainty of happiness—a
happiness doubly appreciated because his renewed experience in the old
conditions of his life made the home which awaited him all the sweeter
from contrast. He could scarcely believe that he was the same man who
in places like this had sought to forget the pain of bereavement and
of denial of his dearest wish—he who in the morning would telegraph
Helen that the wedding need not even be postponed, or any change made
in their plans.
The hours were passing almost unnoted, when a patient beyond the
circle of light feebly called for water. Almost mechanically Hobart
rose to get it, when a man wearing carpet slippers and an old
dressing-gown shuffled noiselessly into view.
"Captain Nichol!" gasped Martine, sinking back, faint and
trembling, in his chair.
The man paid no attention, but passed through the circle of light
to the patient, gave him a drink, and turned. Martine stared with the
paralysis of one looking upon an apparition.
When the figure was opposite to him, he again ejaculated hoarsely,
The form in slippers and gray ghostly dressing-gown turned sleepy
eyes upon him without the slightest sign of recognition, passed on,
and disappeared among the shadows near the wardmaster's room.
A blending of relief and fearful doubt agitated Martine. He knew
he had been wide awake and in the possession of every faculty— that
his imagination had been playing him no tricks. He was not even
thinking of Nichol at the time; yet the impression that he had looked
upon and spoken to his old schoolmate, to Helen's dead lover, had been
as strong as it was instantaneous. When the man had turned, there had
been an unnatural expression, which in a measure dispelled the
illusion. After a moment of thought which scorched his brain, he rose
and followed the man's steps, and was in time to see him rolling
himself in his blanket on the cot nearest the door. From violent
agitation, Martine unconsciously shook the figure outlined in the
blanket roughly, as he asked, "What's your name?"
"Yankee Blank, doggone yer! Kyant you wake a feller 'thout yankin'
'im out o' baid? What yer want?"
"Great God!" muttered Hobart, tottering back to his seat beside
his sleeping cousin, "was there ever such a horrible, mocking
suggestion of one man in another? Yankee Blank—what a name! Southern
accent and vernacular, yet Nichol's voice! Such similarity combined
with such dissimilarity is like a nightmare. Of course it's not
Nichol. He was killed nearly two years ago. I'd be more than human if
I could wish him back now; but never in my life have I been so shocked
and startled. This apparition must account for itself in the morning."
But he could not wait till morning; he could not control himself
five minutes. He felt that he must banish that horrible semblance of
Nichol from his mind by convincing himself of its absurdity.
He waited a few moments in order to compose his nerves, and then
returned. The man had evidently gone to sleep.
"What a fool I am!" Martine again muttered. "Let the poor fellow
sleep. The fact that he doesn't know me is proof enough. The idea of
wanting any proof! I can investigate his case in the morning, and, no
doubt, in broad light that astonishing suggestion of Nichol will
He was about to turn away when the patient who had called for
water groaned slightly. As if his ears were as sensitive to such
sounds as those of a mother who hears her child even when it stirs,
the man arose. Seeing Martine standing by him, he asked in slight
irritation, "What yer want? Why kyant yer say what yer want en have
done 'th it? Lemme 'tend ter that feller yander firs'. We uns don't
want no mo' stiffs;" and he shuffled with a peculiar, noiseless tread
to the patient whose case seemed on his mind. Martine followed, his
very hair rising at the well-remembered tones, and the mysterious
principle of identity again revealed within the circle of light.
"This is simply horrible!" he groaned inwardly, "and I must have
that man account for himself instantly."
"Now I'll 'tend ter yer, but yer mout let a feller sleep when he
"Don't you know me?" faltered Martine, overpowered.
"Please tell me your real name, not your nickname."
"Ain' got no name 'cept Yankee Blank. What's the matter with yer,
"Didn't you ever hear of Captain Nichol?"
"Reckon not. Mout have. I've nussed mo' cap'ins than I kin
"Are you a hospital nurse?"
"Sorter 'spect I am. That's what I does, anyhow. Have you anything
agin it? Don't yer come 'ferin' round with me less yer a doctor,
astin' no end o' questions. Air you a new doctor?"
"My name is Hobart Martine," the speaker forced himself to say,
expecting fearfully a sign of recognition, for the impression that it
was Nichol grew upon him every moment, in spite of apparent proof to
"Hump! Hob't Ma'tine. Never yeared on yer. Ef yer want ter chin
mo' in the mawnin', I'll be yere."
"Wait a moment, Yan—"
"Yankee Blank, I tole yer."
"Well, here's a dollar for the trouble I'm making you," and
Martine's face flushed with shame at the act, so divided was his
impression about the man.
Yankee Blank took the money readily, grinned, and said, "Now I'll
chin till mawnin' ef yer wants hit."
"I won't keep you long. You remind me of—of—well, of Captain
"He must 'a' been a cur'ous chap. Folks all say I'm a cur'ous
"Won't you please tell me all that you can remember about
"'Tain't much. Short hoss soon curried. Allus ben in hospitals.
Had high ole jinks with a wound on my haid. Piece o' shell, they sez,
cut me yere," and he pointed to a scar across his forehead. "That's
what they tole me. Lor'! I couldn't mek much out o' the gibberish I
firs' year, en they sez I talked gibberish too. But I soon got the
hang o' the talk in the hospital. Well, ez I wuz sayin', I've allus
been in hospitals firs' one, then anuther. I got well, en the sojers
call me Yankee Blank en set me waitin' on sick uns en the wounded.
That's what I'm a-doin' now."
"You were in Southern hospitals?"
"I reckon. They called the place Richman."
"Why did you come here?"
"Kaze I wuz bro't yere. They said I was 'changed."
"Exchanged, wasn't it?"
"Reckon it was. Anyhow I wuz bro't yere with a lot o' sick
fellers. I wuzn't sick. For a long time the doctors kep' a- pesterin'
me with questions, but they lemme 'lone now. I 'spected you wuz a new
doctor, en at it agin."
"Don't you remember the village of Alton?"
The man shook his head.
"Don't you—" and Martine's voice grew husky—"don't you remember
"Never yeared on her. I only reckerlect people I've seen in
hospitals. Women come foolin' roun' some days, but Lor'! I kin beat
any on 'em teekin' keer o' the patients; en wen they dies, I kin lay
'em out. You ast the wardmaster ef I kant lay out a stiff with the
best o' 'em."
"That will do. You can go to sleep now."
"All right, Doc. I call everybody doc who asts sech a lot o'
questions." He shuffled to his cot and was soon asleep.
CHAPTER VIII. "HOW CAN I?"
Martine sank into his chair again. Although the conversation had
been carried on in low tones, it was the voice of Nichol that he had
heard. Closer inspection of the slightly disfigured face proved that,
apart from the scar on the forehead, it was the countenance of Nichol.
A possible solution of the mystery was beginning to force itself in
Hobart's reluctant mind. When Nichol had fallen in the Wilderness, the
shock of his injury had rendered him senseless and caused him to
appear dead to the hasty scrutiny of Sam and Jim Wetherby. They were
terribly excited and had no time for close examination. Nichol might
have revived, have been gathered up with the Confederate wounded, and
sent to Richmond. There was dire and tremendous confusion at that
period, when within the space of two or three days tens of thousands
were either killed or disabled. In a Southern hospital Nichol might
have recovered physical health while, from injury to the brain,
suffering complete eclipse of memory. In this case he would have to
begin life anew, like a child, and so would pick up the vernacular and
bearing of the enlisted men with whom he would chiefly associate.
Because he remembered nothing and know nothing, he may at first
have been tolerated as a "cur'ous chap," then employed as he had
explained. He could take the place of a better man where men were
This theory could solve the problem; and Martine's hospital
experience prepared his mind to understand what would be a hopeless
mystery to many. He was so fearfully excited that be could not remain
in the ward. The very proximity to this strange being, who had
virtually risen from the dead and appeared to him of all others, was a
sort of torture in itself.
What effect would this discovery have on his relations to Helen?
He dared not think yet he must think. Already the temptation of his
life was forming in his mind. His cousin was sleeping; and with a wild
impatience to escape, to get away from all his kind, he stole
noiselessly out into the midnight and deserted streets. On, on he
went, limping he knew not, cared not where, for his passion and mental
agony drove him hither and thither like a leaf before a fitful gale.
"No one knows of this," he groaned. "I can still return and marry
Helen. But oh, what a secret to carry!"
Then his heart pleaded. "This is not the lover she lost—only a
horrible, mocking semblance. He has lost his own identity; he does
not even know himself—would not know her. Ah! I'm not sure of that.
I would be dead indeed if her dear features did not kindle my eyes in
recognition. It may be that the sight of her face is the one thing
essential to restore him. I feel this would be true were it my case.
But how can I give her up now? How can?—how can I? Oh, this terrible
journey! No wonder Helen had forebodings. She loves me; she is mine.
No one else has so good a right. We were to be married only a few
hours hence. Then she whom I've loved from childhood would make my
home a heaves on earth. And yet—and yet— " Even in the darkness he
buried his face in his hands, shuddered, moaned, writhed, and grated
his teeth in the torment of the conflict.
Hour after hour he wavered, now on the point of yielding, then
stung by conscience into desperate uncertainty. The night was cold,
the howling wind would have chilled him at another time, but during
his struggle great drops of sweat often poured from his face. Only the
eye of God saw that battle, the hardest that was fought and won during
At last, when well out of the city, he lifted his agonized eyes
and saw the beautiful hues of morning tingeing the east.
Unconsciously, he repeated the sublime, creative words, "Let there be
light." It came to him. With the vanishing darkness, he revolted
finally against the thought of any shadows existing between him and
Helen. She should have all the light that he had, and decide her own
course. He had little hope that she would wed him, even if she did not
marry Nichol in his present condition—a condition probably only
temporary and amenable to skilful treatment.
Wearily he dragged his lame foot back to a hotel in the populous
party of the city, and obtained food and wine, for he was terribly
exhausted. Next he telegraphed Mr. Kemble:
"Arrived last evening. The wedding will have to be postponed. Will
"It's the best I can do now," he muttered. "Helen will think it is
all due to my cousin's illness." Then he returned to the hospital and
found his relative in a state of wonderment at his absence, but
refreshed from a good night's rest. Yankee Blank was nowhere to be
"Hobart," exclaimed his cousin, "you look ill—ten years older
than you did last night."
"You see me now by daylight," was the quiet reply. "I am not very
"It's a perfect shame that I've been the cause of so much trouble,
especially when it wasn't necessary."
"Oh, my God!" thought Martine, "there was even no need of this
fatal journey." But his face had become grave and inscrutable, and
the plea of ill-health reconciled his cousin to the necessity of
immediate return. There was no good reason for his remaining, for by
a few additional arrangements his relative would do very well and soon
be able to take care of himself. Martine felt that lie could not
jeopardize his hard-won victory by delay, which was as torturing as
the time intervening between a desperate surgical operation and the
knowledge that it is inevitable.
After seeing that his cousin made a good breakfast, he sought a
private interview with the wardmaster. He was able to extract but
little information about Yankee Blank more than the man had given
himself. "Doctors say he may regain his memory at any time, or it may
be a long while, and possibly never," was the conclusion.
"I think I know him," said Martine. "I will bring physician from
the city to consult this morning with the surgeon in charge."
"I'm glad to hear it," was the reply. "Something would have to be
done soon. He is just staying on here and making himself useful to
When Martine re-entered the ward, Yankee Blank appeared, grinned,
and said affably, "Howdy." Alas! a forlorn, miserable hope that he
might have been mistaken was banished from Hobart's mind now that he
saw Nichol in the clear light of day. The scar across his forehead and
a change of expression, denoting the eclipse of fine, cultivated
manhood, could not disguise the unmistakable features. There was
nothing to be done but carry out as quickly as possible the purpose
which had cost him so dear.
He first telegraphed his uncle to dismiss further anxiety, and
that his son would soon be able to visit him. Then the heavy- hearted
man sought a physician whom he knew well by reputation.
The consultation was held, and Nichol (as he may be more properly
named hereafter) was closely questioned and carefully examined. The
result merely confirmed previous impressions. It was explained, as far
as explanation can be given of the mysterious functions of the brain,
that either the concussion of the exploding shell or the wound from a
flying fragment had paralyzed the organ of memory. When such paralysis
would cease, if ever, no one could tell. The power to recall
everything might return at any moment or it might be delayed
indefinitely. A shock, a familiar face, might supply the potency
required, or restoration come through the slow, unseen processes of
nature. Martine believed that Helen's face and voice would accomplish
He was well known to the medical authorities and had no difficulty
in securing belief that he had identified Nichol. He also promised
that abundant additional proof should be sent on from Alton, such
certainty being necessary to secure the officer's back pay and proper
discharge from the service. The surgeon then addressed the man so
strangely disabled, "You know I'm in charge of this hospital?"
"I reckon," replied Nichol, anxiously, for the brief experience
which he could recall had taught him that the authority of the
surgeon-in-chief was autocratic.
"Well, first, you must give up the name of Yankee Blank. Your name
hereafter is Captain Nichol."
"All right, Doctor. I'll be a gin'ral ef you sez so."
"Very well; remember your name is Captain Nichol. Next, you must
obey this man and go with him. You must do just what he says in all
respects. His name is Mr. Hobart Martine."
"Yes, he tole me las' night, Hob't Ma'tine. He took on mighty
cur'ous after seein' me."
"Do you understand that you are to mind, to obey him in all
respects just as you have obeyed me?"
"I reckon. Will he tek me to anuther hospital?"
"He will take you where you will be well cared for and treated
kindly." Having written Nichol's discharge from the hospital, the
surgeon turned to other duties.
Martine informed his cousin, as far as it was essential, of the
discovery he had made and of the duties which it imposed, then took
his leave. Nichol readily accompanied him, and with the exception of a
tendency to irritation at little things, exhibited much of the
good-natured docility of a child. Martine took him to a hotel, saw
that he had a bath, put him in the hands of a barber, and then sent
for a clothier. When dressed in clean linen and a dark civilian suit,
the appearance of the man was greatly improved. Hobart had set his
teeth, and would entertain no thought of compromise with his
conscience. He would do by Nichol as he would wish to be done by if
their relations were reversed. Helen should receive no greater shock
than was inevitable, nor should Nichol lose the advantage of appearing
before her in the outward aspect of a gentleman.
Martine then planned his departure so that he would arrive at
Alton in the evening—the evening of the day on which he was to have
been married. He felt that Mr. Kemble should see Nichol first and hear
the strange story; also that the father must break the news to the
daughter, for he could not. It was a terrible journey to the poor
fellow, for during the long hours of inaction he was compelled to face
the probable results of his discovery. The sight of Nichol and his
manner was intolerable; and in addition, he was almost as much care as
a child. Everything struck him as new and strange, and he was disposed
to ask numberless questions. His vernacular, his alternations of
amusement and irritation, and the oddity of his ignorance concerning
things which should be simple or familiar to a grown man, attracted
the attention of his fellow- passengers. It was with difficulty that
Martine, by his stern, sad face and a cold, repelling manner, kept
curiosity from intruding at every point.
At last, with heart beating thickly, he saw the lights of Alton
gleaming in the distance. It was a train not often used by the
villagers, and fortunately no one had entered the car who knew him;
even the conductor was a stranger. Alighting at the depot, he hastily
took a carriage, and with his charge was driven to the private
entrance of the hotel. Having given the hackman an extra dollar not to
mention his arrival till morning, he took Nichol into the
dimly-lighted and deserted parlor and sent for the well- known
landlord. Mr. Jackson, a bustling little man, who, between the gossip
of the place and his few guests, never seemed to have a moment's
quiet, soon entered. "Why, Mr. Martine," he exclaimed, "we wasn't
a-lookin' for you yet. News got around somehow that your cousin was
dyin' in Washington and that your weddin' was put off too—Why! you
look like a ghost, even in this light," and he turned up the lamp.
Martine had told Nichol to stand by a window with his back to the
door. He now turned the key, pulled down the curtain, then drew his
charge forward where the light fell clear upon his face, and asked,
"Jackson, who is that?"
The landlord stared, his jaw fell from sheer astonishment, as he
faltered, "Captain Nichol!"
"Yes," said Nichol, with a pleased grin, "that's my new name! Jes'
got it, like this new suit o' clo's, bes' I ever had, doggoned ef
they ain't. My old name was Yankee Blank."
"Great Scott!" ejaculated Jackson; "is he crazy?"
"Look yere," cried Nichol; "don' yer call me crazy or I'll light
on yer so yer won't fergit it."
"There, there!" said Martine, soothingly, "Mr. Jackson doesn't
mean any harm. He's only surprised to see you home again."
"Is this home? What's home?"
"It's the town where you were brought up. We'll make you
understand about it all before long. Now you shall have some supper.
Mr. Jackson is a warm friend of yours, and will see that you have a
"I reckon we'll get on ef he gives me plenty o' fodder. Bring it
toreckly, fer I'm hungry. Quit yer starin', kyant yer?" "Don't you
know me, Captain Nichol? Why, I—"
"Naw. Never seed ner yeared on yer. Did I ever nuss yer in a
hospital? I kyant reckerlect all on 'em. Get we uns some supper."
"That's the thing to do first, Jackson," added Martine, "Show us
upstairs to a private room and wait on us yourself. Please say
nothing of this till I give you permission."
They were soon established in a suitable apartment, in which a
fire was kindled. Nichol took a rocking-chair and acquiesced in
Martine's going out on the pretext of hastening supper.
The landlord received explanations which enabled him to co-operate
with Martine. "I could not," said the latter, "take him to his own
home without first preparing his family. Neither could I take him to
mine for several reasons."
"I can understand some of 'em, Mr. Martine. Why, great Scott! How
about your marriage, now that—"
"We won't discuss that subject. The one thing for you to keep in
mind is that Nichol lost his memory at the time of his wound. He
don't like to be stared at or thought strange. You must humor him
much as you would a child. Perhaps the sight of familiar faces and
scenes will restore him. Now copy this note in your handwriting and
send it to Mr. Kemble. Tell your messenger to be sure to put it into
the banker's hands and no other's," and he tore from his note-book a
leaf on which was pencilled the following words:
"DEAR SIR—A sick man at the hotel wishes to see you on important
business. Don't think it's bad news about Mr. Martine, because it
isn't. Please come at once and oblige, HENRY JACKSON."
CHAPTER IX. SHADOWS OF COMING EVENTS
This first day of winter, her fatal wedding-day, was a sad and
strange one to Helen Kemble. The sun was hidden by dark clouds, yet
no snow fell on the frozen ground. She had wakened in the morning with
a start, oppressed by a disagreeable yet forgotten dream. Hastily
dressing, she consoled herself with the hope of a long letter from
Martine, explaining everything and assuring her of his welfare; but
the early mail brought nothing. As the morning advanced, a telegram
from Washington, purposely delayed, merely informed her that her
affianced was well and that full information was on its way.
"He has evidently found his cousin very low, and needing constant
care," she had sighingly remarked at dinner.
"Yes, Nellie," said the banker, cheerily, "but it is a comfort he
is well. No doubt you are right about his cousin, and it has turned
out as Hobart feared. In this case it is well he went, for he would
always have reproached himself if he had not. The evening mail will
probably make all clear."
"It has been so unfortunate!" complained Mrs. Kemble. "If it had
only happened a little earlier, or a little later! To have all one's
preparations upset and one's plans frustrated is exasperating. Were it
not for that journey, Helen would have been married by this time.
People come ostensibly to express sympathy, but in reality to ask
"I don't care about people," said Helen, "but the day has been so
different from what we expected that it's hard not to yield to a
presentiment of trouble. It is so dark and gloomy that we almost need
a lamp at midday."
"Well, well," cried hearty Mr. Kemble, "I'm not going to cross any
bridges till I come to them. That telegram from Hobart is all we
need, to date. I look at things as I do at a bank-bill. If its face
is all right, and the bill itself all right, that's enough. You
women-folks have such a lot of moods and tenses! Look at this matter
sensibly. Hobart was right in going. He's doing his duty, and soon
will be back with mind and conscience at rest. It isn't as if he were
"Yes, papa, that's just the difference; we women feel, and you men
reason. What you say, though, is a good wholesome antidote. I fear
I'm a little morbid to-day."
After dinner she and her mother slipped over to the adjoining
cottage, which had been made so pretty for her reception. While Mrs.
Kemble busied herself here and there, Helen kindled a fire on the
hearth of the sitting-room and sat down in the low chair which she
knew was designed for her. The belief that she would occupy it daily
and be at home, happy herself and, better far, making another, to whom
she owed so much, happy beyond even his fondest hope, brought smiles
to her face as she watched the flickering blaze.
"Yes," she murmured, "I can make him happier even than he dreams.
I know him so well, his tastes, his habits, what he most enjoys, that
it will be an easy task to anticipate his wishes and enrich his life.
Then he has been such a faithful, devoted friend! He shall learn that
his example had not been lost on me,"
At this moment the wind rose in such a long mournful, human-like
sigh about the house that she started up and almost shuddered. When
the evening mail came and brought no letter, she found it hard indeed
not to yield to deep depression. In vain her father reasoned with her.
"I know all you say sounds true to the ear," she said, "but not to my
heart. I can't help it; but I am oppressed with a nervous dread of
some impending trouble."
They passed the early hours of the evening as best they could,
seeking to divert each other's thoughts. It had been long since the
kind old banker was so garrulous, and Helen resolved to reward him by
keeping up. Indeed, she shrank from retiring, feeling that through the
sleepless night she would be the prey of all sorts of wretched
fancies. Never once did her wildest thoughts suggest what had
happened, or warn her of the tempest soon to rage in her breast.
Then came the late messenger with the landlord's copied note. She
snatched it from the bearer's hand before he could ring the bell, for
her straining ears had heard his step even on the gravel walk.
Tremblingly she tore open, the envelope in the hall without looking
at the address.
"Mr. Jackson said how I was to give it to your father," protested
"Well, well," responded Mr. Kemble, perturbed and anxious, "I'm
here. You can go unless there's an answer required.'
"Wasn't told nothin' 'bout one," growled the departing errand-boy.
"Give the note to me, Helen," said her father. "Why do you stare
at it so?"
She handed it to him without a word, but looked searchingly in his
face, and so did his wife, who had joined him.
"Why, this is rather strange," he said.
"I think it is," added Helen, emphatically.
Mrs. Kemble took the note and after a moment ejaculated: "Well,
thank the Lord! it isn't about Hobart."
"No, no," said the banker, almost irritably. "We've all worried
about Hobart till in danger of making fools of ourselves. As if
people never get sick and send for relatives, or as if letters were
never delayed! Why, bless me! haven't we heard to-day that he was
well? and hasn't Jackson, who knows more about other people's business
than his own, been considerate enough to say that his request has
nothing to do with Hobart? It is just as he says, some one is sick and
wants to arrange about money matters before banking hours to-morrow.
There, it isn't far. I'll soon be back."
"Let me go with you, father," pleaded Helen. "I can stay with Mrs.
Jackson or sit in the parlor till you are through."
"Oh, no, indeed."
"Papa, I AM going with you," said Helen, half-desperately. "I
don't believe I am so troubled for nothing. Perhaps it's a merciful
warning, and I may be of use to you."
"Oh, let her go, father," said his wife. "She had better be with
you than nervously worrying at home. I'll be better satisfied if she
is with you."
"Bundle up well, then, and come along, you silly little girl."
Nichol was too agreeably occupied with his supper to miss Hobart,
who watched in the darkened parlor for the coming of Mr. Kemble. At
last he saw the banker passing through the light streaming from a
shop-window, and also recognized Helen at his side. His ruse in
sending a note purporting to come from the landlord had evidently
failed; and here was a new complication. He was so exhausted in body
and mind that he felt he could not meet the girl now without giving
way utterly. Hastily returning to the room in which were Nichol and
Jackson, he summoned the latter and said, "Unfortunately, Miss Kemble
is coming with her father. Keep your counsel; give me a light in
another private room; detain the young lady in the parlor, and then,
bring Mr. Kemble to me."
"Ah, glad to see you, Mr. Kemble," said the landlord, a moment or
two later, with reassuring cheerfulness; "you too, Miss Helen. That's
right, take good care of the old gentleman. Yes, we have a sick man
here who wants to see you, sir. Miss Helen, take a seat in the parlor
by the fire while I turn up the lamp. Guess you won't have to wait
"Now, Helen," said her father, smiling at her significantly, "can
you trust me out of your sight to go upstairs with Mr. Jackson?"
Much relieved, she smiled in return and sat down to wait.
"Who is this man, Jackson?" Mr. Kemble asked on the stairs.
"Well, sir, he said he would explain everything."
A moment later the banker needed not Martine's warning gesture
enjoining silence, for he was speechless with astonishment.
"Mr. Jackson," whispered Martine, "will you please remain in the
other room and look after your patient?"
"Hobart," faltered Mr. Kemble, "in the name of all that's strange,
what does this mean?"
"It is indeed very strange, sir. You must summon all your nerve
and fortitude to help us through. Never before were your strength and
good strong common-sense more needed. I've nearly reached the end of
my endurance. Please, sir, for Helen's sake, preserve your
self-control and the best use of all your faculties, for you must now
advise. Mr. Kemble, Captain Nichol is alive."
The banker sank into a chair and groaned. "This would have been
glad news to me once; I suppose it should be so now. But how, how can
"Well, sir, as you say, it should be glad news; it will be to all
eventually. I am placed in a very hard position; but I have tried to
do my duty, and will."
"Why, Hobart, my boy, you look more worn than you did after your
illness. Merciful Heaven! what a complication!"
"A far worse one than you can even imagine. Captain Nichol
wouldn't know you. His memory was destroyed at the time of the
injury. All before that is gone utterly;" and Martine rapidly
narrated what is already known to the reader, concluding, "I'm sorry
Helen came with you, and I think you had better get her home as soon
as possible. I could not take him to my home for several reasons, or
at least I thought it best not to. It is my belief that the sight of
Helen, the tones of her voice, will restore him; and I do not think it
best for him to regain his consciousness of the past in a dwelling
prepared for Helen's reception as my wife. Perhaps later on, too, you
will understand why I cannot see him there. I shall need a home, a
refuge with no such associations. Here, on this neutral ground, I
thought we could consult, and if necessary send for his parents
to-night. I would have telegraphed you, but the case is so
complicated, so difficult. Helen must be gradually prepared for the
part she must take. Cost me what it may, Nichol must have his chance.
His memory may come back instantly and he recall everything to the
moment of his injury. What could be more potent to effect this than
the sight and voice of Helen? No one here except Jackson is now aware
of his condition. If she can restore him, no one else, not even his
parents, need know anything about it, except in a general way. It
will save a world of disagreeable talk and distress. At any rate,
this course seemed the best I could hit upon in my distracted
"Well, Hobart, my poor young friend, you have been tried as by
fire," said Mr. Kemble, in a voice broken by sympathy; "God help you
and guide us all in this strange snarl! I feel that the first thing to
be done is to get Helen home. Such tidings as yours should be broken
to her in that refuge only."
"I agree with you most emphatically, Mr. Kemble. In the seclusion
of her own home, with none present except yourself and her mother,
she should face this thing and nerve herself to act her part, the
most important of all. If she cannot awaken Captain Nichol's memory,
it is hard to say what will, or when he will be restored."
"Possibly seeing me, so closely associated with her, may have the
same effect," faltered the banker.
"I doubt it; but we can try it. Don't expect me to speak while in
the hallway. Helen, no doubt, is on the alert, and I cannot meet her
to-night. I am just keeping up from sheer force of will. You must try
to realize it. This discovery will change everything for me. Helen's
old love will revive in all-absorbing power. I've faced this in
thought, but cannot in reality NOW—I simply CANNOT. It would do no
good. My presence would be an embarrassment to her, and I taxed beyond
mortal endurance. You may think me weak, but I cannot help it. As soon
as possible I must put you, and if you think best, Captain Nichol's
father, in charge of the situation. Jackson can send for his father at
once if you wish."
"I do wish it immediately. I can't see my way through. this. I
would like Dr. Barnes' advice and presence also."
"I think it would be wise, sir. The point I wish to make is that I
have done about all that I now can in this affair. My further
presence is only another complication. At any rate, I must have a
respite—the privilege of going quietly to my own home as soon as
"Oh, Hobart, my heart aches for you; it just ACHES for you. You
have indeed been called upon to endure a hundredfold too much in this
strange affair. How it will all end God only knows. I understand you
sufficiently. Leave the matter to me now. We will have Dr. Barnes and
Mr. and Mrs. Nichol here as soon as can be. I suppose I had better see
the captain a few moments and then take Helen home."
Martine led the way into the other apartment, where Nichol,
rendered good-natured by his supper and a cigar, was conversing
sociably with the landlord. Mr. Kemble fairly trembled as he came
forward, involuntarily expecting that the man so well known to him
must give some sign of recognition.
Nichol paid no heed to him. He had been too long accustomed to see
strangers coming and going to give them either thought or attention.
"I say, Hob't Ma'tine," he began, "don' yer cuss me fer eatin' all
the supper. I 'lowed ter this Jackson, as yer call 'im, that yer'd
get a bite somewhar else, en he 'lowed yer would."
"All right, Nichol; I'm glad you had a good supper."
"I say, Jackson, this Ma'tine's a cur'ous chap—mo cur'ous than I
be, I reckon. He's been actin' cur'ous ever since he seed me in the
horspital. It's all cur'ous. 'Fore he come, doctors en folks was
trying ter fin' out 'bout me, en this Ma'tine 'lows he knows all 'bout
me. Ef he wuzn't so orful glum, he'd be a good chap anuff, ef he is
cur'ous. Hit's all a-changin' somehow, en yet' tisn't. Awhile ago
nobody knowd 'bout me, en they wuz allus a- pesterin' of me with
questions. En now Ma'tine en you 'low you know 'bout me, yet you ast
questions jes' the same. Like anuff this man yere," pointing with his
cigar to Mr. Kemble, who was listening with a deeply-troubled face,
"knows 'bout me too, yet wants to ast questions. I don' keer ef I do
say it, I had better times with the Johnnies that call me Yankee Blank
than I ever had sence. Well, ole duffer [to Mr. Kemble], ast away and
git yer load off'n yer mind. I don't like glum faces roun' en folks
jes' nachelly bilin' over with questions."
"No, Captain Nichol," said the banker, gravely and sadly, "I've no
questions to ask. Good-by for the present."
Nichol nodded a careless dismissal and resumed his reminiscences
with Jackson, whose eager curiosity and readiness to laugh were much
more to his mind.
Following the noise made by closing the door, Helen's voice rang
up from the hall below, "Papa!"
"Yes, I'm coming, dear," he tried to answer cheerily. Then he
wrung Martine's hand and whispered, "Send for Dr. Barnes. God knows
you should have relief. Tell Jackson also to have a carriage go for
Mr. Nichol at once. After the doctor comes you may leave all in our
Martine heard the rustle of a lady's dress and retired
CHAPTER X. "YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND"
With an affectation of briskness he was far from feeling, Mr.
Kemble came down the stairs and joined his daughter in the hall. He
had taken pains to draw his hat well over his eyes, anticipating and
dreading her keen scrutiny, but, strange to say, his troubled demeanor
passed unnoticed. In the interval of waiting Helen's thoughts had
taken a new turn. "Well, papa," she began, as they passed into the
street, "I am curious to know about the sick man. You stayed an age,
but all the same I'm glad I came with you. Forebodings, presentiments,
and all that kind of thing seemed absurd the moment I saw Jackson's
keen, mousing little visage. His very voice is like a ray of garish
light entering a dusky, haunted room. Things suggesting ghosts and
hobgoblins become ridiculously prosaic, and you are ashamed of
yourself and your fears."
"Yes, yes," replied Mr. Kemble, yielding to irritation in his deep
perplexity, "the more matter-of-fact we are the better we're off. I
suppose the best thing to do is just to face what happens and try to
"Well, papa, what's happened to annoy you to-night? Is this sick
man going to make you trouble?"
"Like enough. I hope not. At any rate, he has claims which I must
"Don't you think you can meet them?" was her next anxious query,
her mind reverting to some financial obligation.
"We'll see. You and mother'll have to help me out, I guess. I'll
tell you both when we get home;" and his sigh was so deep as to be
almost a groan.
"Papa," said Helen, earnestly pressing his arm, "don't worry.
Mamma and I will stand by you; so will Hobart. He is the last one in
the world to desert one in any kind of trouble."
"I know that, no one better; but I fear he'll be in deeper trouble
than any of us. The exasperating thing is that there should be any
trouble at all. If it had only happened before—well, well, I can't
talk here in the street. As you say, you must stand by me, and I'll do
the best I can by you and all concerned."
"Oh, papa, there was good cause for my foreboding."
"Well, yes, and no. I don't know. I'm at my wits' end. If you'll
be brave and sensible, you can probably do more than any of us."
"Papa, papa, something IS the matter with Hobart," and she drew
him hastily into the house, which they had now reached.
Mrs. Kemble met them at the door. Alarmed at her husband's
troubled face, she exclaimed anxiously, "Who is this man? What did he
"Come now, mother, give me a chance to get my breath. We'll close
the doors, sit down, and talk it all over."
Mrs. Kemble and her daughter exchanged an apprehensive glance and
followed with the air of being prepared for the worst.
The banker sat down and wiped the perspiration from his brow, then
looked dubiously at the deeply anxious faces turned toward him.
"Well," he said, "I'm going to tell you everything as far as I
understand it. Now I want to see if you two can't listen calmly and
quietly and not give way to useless feeling. There's much to be done,
and you especially, Helen, must be in the right condition to do it."
"Oh, papa, why torture me so? Something HAS happened to Hobart. I
can't endure this suspense."
"Something has happened to us all," replied her father, gravely.
"Hobart has acted like a hero, like a saint; so must you. He is as
well and able to go about as you are. I've seen him and talked with
"He saw you and not me?" cried the girl, starting up.
"Helen, I entreat, I command you to be composed and listen
patiently. Don't you know him well enough to be sure he had good
"I can't imagine a reason," was the passionate reply, as she paced
the floor. "What reason could keep me from him? Merciful Heaven!
father, have you forgotten that I was to marry him to-day? Well," she
added hoarsely, standing before him with hands clinched in her effort
at self-restraint, "the reason?"
"Poor fellow! poor fellow! he has not forgotten it," groaned Mr.
Kemble. "Well, I might as well out with it. Suppose Captain Nichol
was not killed after all?"
Helen sank into a chair as if struck down as Nichol had been
himself. "What!" she whispered; and her face was white indeed.
Mrs. Kemble rushed to her husband, demanding, "Do you mean to tell
us that Captain Nichol is alive?"
"Yes; that's just the question we've got to face."
"It brings up another question," replied his wife, sternly. "If
he's been alive all this time, why did he not let us know? As far as
I can make out, Hobart has found him in Washington—"
"Helen," cried her father to the trembling girl, "for Heaven's
sake, be calm!"
"He's alive, ALIVE!" she answered, as if no other thought could
exist in her mind. Her eyes were kindling, the color coming into her
face, and her bosom throbbed quickly as if her heart would burst its
bonds. Suddenly she rushed to her father, exclaiming, "He was the sick
man. Oh, why did you not let me see him?"
"Well, well!" ejaculated Mr. Kemble, "Hobart was right, poor
fellow! Yes, Helen, Captain Nichol is the sick man, not dangerously
ill, however. You are giving ample reason why you should not see him
yet; and I tell you plainly you can't see him till you are just as
composed as I am."
She burst into a joyous, half-hysterical laugh as she exclaimed,
"That's not asking much. I never saw you so moved, papa. Little
wonder! The dead is alive again! Oh, papa, papa, you don't understand
me at all! Could I hear such tidings composedly—I who have wept so
many long nights and days over his death? I must give expression to
overwhelming feeling here where it can do no harm, but if I had seen
him—when I do see him—ah! he'll receive no harm from me."
"But, Helen, think of Hobart," cried Mrs. Kemble, in sharp
"Mother, mother, I cannot help it. Albert is alive, ALIVE! The old
feeling comes back like the breaking up of the fountains of the great
deep. You cannot know, cannot understand; Hobart will. I'm sorry,
SORRY for him; but he will understand. I thought Albert was dead; I
wanted to make Hobart happy. He was so good and kind and deserving
that I did love him in a sincere, quiet way, but not with my first
love, not as I loved Albert. I thought my love was buried with him;
but it has burst the grave as he has. Papa, papa, let me go to him,
now, NOW! You say he is sick; it is my place to nurse him back to
life. Who has a better right? Why do you not bring him here?"
"Perhaps it will be best, since Helen feels so," said Mr. Kemble,
looking at his wife.
"Well, I don't know," she replied with a deep sigh. "We certainly
don't wish the public to be looking on any more than we can help. He
should be either here or at his own home."
"There's more reason for what you say than you think," Mr. Kemble
"There, papa," interrupted Helen, "I'd be more or less than human
if I could take! this undreamed-of news quietly, I can see how
perplexed and troubled you've been, and how you've kindly tried to
prepare me for the tidings. You will find that I have strength of
mind to meet all that is required of me. It is all simpler to me than
to you, for in a matter of this kind the heart is the guide, indeed,
the only guide. Think! If Albert had come back months ago; if Hobart
had brought him back wounded and disabled—how would we have acted?
Only our belief in his death led to what has happened since, and the
fact of life changes everything back to—"
"Now, Helen, stop and listen to me," said her father, firmly. "In
one sense the crisis is over, and you've heard the news which I
scarcely knew how to break to you. You say you will have strength of
mind to meet what is required of you. I trust you may. But it's time
you understood the situation as far as I do. Mother's words show she's
off the track in her suspicion. Nichol is not to blame in any sense.
He is deserving of all sympathy, and yet—oh, dear, it is such a
complication!" and the old man groaned as he thought of the
personality who best knew himself as Yankee Blank. "The fact is," he
resumed to his breathless listeners, "Nichol is not ill at all
physically. His mind is affected—"
Mrs. Kemble sank back in her chair, and Helen uttered a cry of
"Yes, his mind is affected peculiarly. He remembers nothing that
happened before he was wounded. You must realize this, Helen; you
must prepare yourself for it. His loss of memory is much more sad
than if he had lost an arm or a leg. He remembers only what he has
picked up since his injury."
"Then, then, he's not insane?" gasped Helen.
"No, no, I should say not," replied her father, dubiously; "yet
his words and manner produce much the same effect as if he were—
even a stronger effect."
"Oh, this is dreadful!" cried his wife.
"Dreadful indeed, but not hopeless, you know. Keep in mind doctors
say that his memory may come back at any time; and Hobart has the
belief that the sight and voice of Helen will bring it back."
"God bless Hobart," said Helen, with a deep breath, "and God help
him! His own love inspired that belief. He's right; I know he's
"Well, perhaps he is. I don't know. I thought Nichol would
recognize me; but there wasn't a sign."
"Oh, papa," cried Helen, smiling through her tears, "there are
some things which even your experience and wisdom fail in. Albert
will know me. We have talked long enough; now let us act."
"You don't realize it all yet, Helen; you can't. You must remember
that Nichol regained consciousness in a Southern hospital. He has
learned to talk and act very much like such soldiers as would
associate with him."
"The fact that he's alive and that I now may restore him is
"Well, I want Dr. Barnes present when you meet him."
"Certainly; at least within call."
"I must stipulate too," said Mrs. Kemble. "I don't wish the coming
scenes to take place in a hotel, and under the eyes of that gossip,
Jackson. I don't see why Hobart took him there."
"I do," said Mr. Kemble, standing up for his favorite. "Hobart has
already endured more than mortal man ought, yet he has been most
delicately considerate. No one but Jackson and Dr. Barnes know about
Nichol and his condition. I have also had Nichol's father and mother
sent for on my own responsibility, for they should take their share of
the matter. Hobart believes that Helen can restore Nichol's memory.
This would simplify everything and save many painful impressions. You
see, it's such an obscure trouble, and there should be no ill-advised
blundering in the matter. The doctors in Washington told Hobart that a
slight shock, or the sight of an object that once had the strongest
hold upon his thoughts—well, you understand."
"Yes," said Helen, "I DO understand. Hobart is trying to give
Albert the very best chance. Albert wrote that his last earthly
thoughts would be of me. It is but natural that my presence should
kindle those thoughts again. It was like Hobart, who is almost divine
in his thoughtfulness of others, to wish to shield Albert from the
eyes of even his own father and mother until he could know them, and
know us all. He was only taken to the hotel that we all might
understand and be prepared to do our part. Papa, bring Albert here and
let his father and mother come here also. He should be sacredly
shielded in his infirmity, and give a every chance to recover before
being seen by others; and please, papa, exact from Jackson a solemn
promise not to tattle about Albert."
"Yes, yes; but we have first a duty to perform. Mother, please
prepare a little lunch, and put a glass of your old currant wine on
the tray. Hobart must not come to a cold, cheerless home. I'll go and
have his old servant up and ready to receive him."
"No, mamma, that is still my privilege," said Helen, with a rush,
of tears. "Oh, I'm so sorry, SORRY for him! but neither he nor I can
help or change what is, what's true."
When the tray was ready, she wrote and sealed these words:
"God bless you, Hobart; God reward you! You have made me feel to-
night that earth is too poor, and only heaven rich enough to reward
CHAPTER XI. MR. KEMBLE'S APPEAL
It often happens that the wife's disposition is an antidote to her
husband: and this was fortunately true of Mrs. Jackson. She was
neither curious nor gossiping, and with a quick instinct that privacy
was desired by Martine, gave at an early hour her orders to close the
house for the night. The few loungers, knowing that she was
autocratic, slouched off to other resorts. The man and maids of all
work were kept out of the way, while she and her husband waited on
their unexpected guests. After Mr. Kemble's departure, the errand-boy
was roused from his doze behind the stove and seat for Dr. Barnes;
then Jackson wrote another note at Martine's dictation:
"MR. WILLIAM NICHOL:
"DEAR SIR—A relative of yours is sick at my house. He came on the
evening train. You and your wife had better come at once in the
Martine retired to the room in which he had seen Mr. Kemble, that
he might compose himself before meeting the physician. The sound of
Helen's voice, the mere proximity of the girl who at this hour was to
have been his wife had not "old chaos" come again for him, were by no
means "straws" in their final and crushing weight. Motionless, yet
with mind verging on distraction, he sat in the cold, dimly lighted
room until aroused by the voice of Dr. Barnes.
"Why, Hobart!" cried his old friend, starting at the bloodshot
eyes and pallid face of the young man, "what is the matter? You need
me, sure enough, but why on earth are you shivering in this cold room
at the hotel?"
Martine again said to Jackson: "Don't leave him," and closed the
door. Then, to the physician: "Dr. Barnes, I am ill and worn-out. I
know it only too well. You must listen carefully while I in brief tell
you why you were sent for; then you and others must take charge and
act as you think best. I'm going home. I must have rest and a respite.
I must be by myself;" and he rapidly began to sketch his experiences
"Hold!" said the sensible old doctor, who indulged in only a few
strong exclamations of surprise, which did not interrupt the speaker,
"hold! You say you left the ward to think it over, after being
convinced that you had discovered Nichol. Did you think it over
"Quietly!" repeated Martine, with intense bitterness. "Would a
man, not a mummy, think over such a thing quietly? Judge me as you
please, but I was tempted as I believe never man was before. I fought
the Devil till morning."
"I thought as much," said the doctor, grasping Martine's hand,
then slipping a finger on his pulse. "You fought on foot too, didn't
"Yes, I walked the streets as if demented."
"Of course. That in part accounts for your exhaustion. Have you
slept much since?"
"Oh, Doctor, let me get through and go home!"
"No, Hobart, you can't get through with me till I am with you. My
dear fellow, do you think that I don't understand and sympathize with
you? There's no reason why you should virtually risk your life for
Captain Nichol again. Take this dose of quinine at once, and then
proceed. I can catch on rapidly. First answer, how much have you slept
"The idea of sleep! You can remedy this, Doctor, after my part in
this affair is over. I must finish now. Helen may return, and I
cannot meet her, nor am I equal to seeing Mr. and Mrs. Nichol. My
head feels queer, but I'll get through somehow, if the strain is not
kept up too long;" and he finished in outline his story. In conclusion
he said, "You will understand that you are now to have charge of
Nichol. He is prepared by his experience to obey you, for he has
always been in hospitals, where the surgeon's will is law. Except with
physicians, he has a sort of rough waywardness, learned from the
"Yes, I understand sufficiently now to manage. You put him in my
charge, then go home, and I'll visit you as soon as I can."
"One word more, Doctor. As far as you think best, enjoin reticence
on Jackson. If the sight of Helen restores Nichol, as I believe it
will, little need ever be said about his present condition. Jackson
would not dare to disobey a physician's injunction."
"Don't you dare disobey them, either. I'll manage him too. Come."
Nichol had slept a good deal during the latter part of his
journey, and now was inclined to wakefulness—a tendency much
increased by his habit of waiting on hospital patients at night. In
the eager and curious Jackson he had a companion to his mind, who
stimulated in him a certain child-like vanity.
"Hello, Ma'tine," he said, "ye're gittin' tired o' me, I reckon,
ye're off so much. I don't keer. This yere Jackson's a lively cuss,
en I 'low we'll chin till mawnin'."
"Yes, Nichol, Mr. Jackson is a good friend of yours; and here is
another man who is more than a friend. You remember what the surgeon
at the hospital said to you?"
"I reckon," replied Nichol, anxiously. "Hain't I minded yer
"Yes, you have done very well indeed—remarkably well, since you
knew I was not a doctor. Now this man is a doctor—the doctor I was
to bring you to. You won't have to mind me any more, but you must mind
this man, Dr. Barnes, in all respects, just as you did the doctors in
the hospitals. As long as you obey him carefully he will be very good
"Oh, I'll mind, Doctor," said Nichol, rising and assuming the
respectful attitude of a hospital nurse. "We uns wuz soon larned
that't wuzn't healthy to go agin the doctor. When I wuz Yankee Blank,
'fo' I got ter be cap'n, I forgot ter give a Johnny a doze o'
med'cine, en I'm doggoned ef the doctor didn't mek me tek it myse'f.
Gee wiz! sech a time ez I had! Hain't give the doctors no trouble
"All right, Captain Nichol," said Dr. Barnes, quietly, "I
understand my duties, and I see that you understand yours. As you
say, doctors must be obeyed, and I already see that you won't make me
or yourself any trouble. Good-night, Hobart, I'm in charge now."
"Good-night, Doctor. Mr. Jackson, I'm sure you will carry out Dr.
Barnes' wishes implicitly."
"Yer'd better, Jackson," said Nichol, giving him a wink. "A doctor
kin give yer high ole jinks ef ye're not keerful."
Martine now obeyed the instinct often so powerful in the human
breast as well as in dumb animals, and sought the covert, the refuge
of his home, caring little whether he was to live or die. When he saw
the lighted windows of Mr. Kemble's residence, he moaned as if in
physical pain. A sudden and immeasurable longing to see, to speak with
Helen once before she was again irrevocably committed to Nichol,
possessed him. He even went to her gate to carry out his impulse, then
curbed himself and returned resolutely to his dwelling. As soon as his
step was on the porch, the door opened and Mr. Kemble gave him the
warm grasp of friendship. Without a word, the two men entered the
sitting-room, sat down by the ruddy fire, and looked at each other,
Martine with intense, questioning anxiety in his haggard face. The
banker nodded gravely as he said, "Yes, she knows."
"It's as I said it would be?" Martine added huskily, after a
moment or two.
"Well, my friend, she said you would understand her better than
any one else. She wrote you this note."
Martine's hands so trembled that he could scarcely break the seal.
He sat looking at the tear-blurred words some little time, and grew
evidently calmer, then faltered, "Yes, it's well to remember God at
such a time. He has laid heavy burdens upon me. He is responsible for
them, not I. If I break, He also will be responsible."
"Hobart," said Mr. Kemble, earnestly, "you must not break under
this, for our sake as well as your own. I have the presentiment that
we shall all need you yet, my poor girl perhaps most of all. She
doesn't, she can't realize it. Now, the dead is alive again. Old
girlish impulses and feelings are asserting themselves. As is natural,
she is deeply excited; but this tidal wave of feeling will pass, and
then she will have to face both the past and future. I know her well
enough to be sure she could never be happy if this thing wrecked you.
And then, Hobart," and the old man sank his voice to a whisper,
"suppose—suppose Nichol continues the same."
"He cannot," cried Martine, almost desperately. "Oh, Mr. Kemble,
don't suggest any hope for me. My heart tells me there is none, that
there should not be any. No, she loved him as I have loved her from
childhood. She is right. I do understand her so well that I know what
the future will be."
"Well," said Mr. Kemble, firmly, as he rose, "she shall never
marry him as he is, with my consent. I don't feel your confidence
about Helen's power to restore him. I tell you, Hobart, I'm in sore
straits. Helen is the apple of my eye. She is the treasure of our old
age. God knows I remember what you have done for her and for us in the
past; and I feel that we shall need you in the future. You've become
like a son to mother and me, and you must stand by us still. Our need
will keep you up and rally you better than all Dr. Barnes' medicine. I
know you well enough to know that. But take the medicine all the same;
and above all things, don't give way to anything like recklessness and
despair. As you say, God has imposed the burden. Let him give you the
strength to bear it, and other people's burdens too, as you have in
the past. I must go now. Don't fail me."
Wise old Mr. Kemble had indeed proved the better physician. His
misgivings, fears, and needs, combined with his honest affection, had
checked the cold, bitter flood of despair which had been overwhelming
Martine. The morbid impression that he would be only another
complication, and of necessity an embarrassment to Helen and her
family, was in a measure removed. Mere words of general condolence
would not have helped him; an appeal like that to the exhausted
soldier, and the thought that the battle for him was not yet over,
stirred the deep springs of his nature and slowly kindled the purpose
to rally and be ready. He rose, ate a little of the food, drank the
wine, then looked around the beautiful apartment prepared for her who
was to have been his wife, "I have grown weak and reckless," he said.
"I ought to have known her well enough—I do know her so well—as to
be sure that I would cloud her happiness if this thing destroyed me."
CHAPTER XII. "YOU MUST REMEMBER"
Mr. And Mrs. Nichol wonderingly yet promptly complied with the
request for their presence, meantime casting about in their minds as
to the identity of the relative who had summoned them so unexpected.
Mr. Kemble arrived at the hotel at about the same moment as they did,
and Jackson was instructed to keep the carriage in waiting. "It was I
who sent for you and your wife," said the banker. "Mr. Martine, if
possible, would have given you cause for a great joy only; but I fear
it must be tempered with an anxiety which I trust will not be long
continued;" and he led the way into the parlor.
"Is it—can it be about Albert?" asked Mrs. Nichols trembling, and
sinking into a chair.
"Yes, Mrs. Nichol. Try to keep your fortitude, for perhaps his
welfare depends upon it."
"Oh, God be praised! The hope of this never wholly left me,
because they didn't find his body."
Dr. Barnes came down at once, and with Mr. Kemble tried to soothe
the strong emotions of the parents, while at the same time
enlightening them as to their son's discovery and condition.
"Well," said Mr. Nichol, in strong emphasis; "Hobart Martine is
one of a million."
"I think he ought to have brought Albert right to me first," Mrs.
Nichol added, shaking her head and wiping her eyes. "After all, a
"My dear Mrs. Nichol," interrupted Dr. Barnes, "there was no
thought of undervaluing your claim on the part of our friend Hobart.
He has taken what he believed, and what physicians led him to believe,
was the best course to restore your son. Besides, Mr. Martine is a
very sick man. Even now he needs my attention more than Captain
Nichol. You must realize that he was to have married Miss Kemble
to-day; yet he brings back your son, sends for Mr. Kemble in order
that his daughter, as soon as she can realize the strange truth, may
exert her power. He himself has not seen the girl who was to have been
"Wife, wife," said Mr. Nichol, brokingly, "no mortal man could do
more for us than Hobart Martine, God bless him!"
"Mrs. Nichol," began Mr. Kemble, "my wife and Helen both unite in
the request that you and your husband bring your son at once to our
house; perhaps you would rather meet him in the privacy—"
"Oh, no, no!" she cried, "I cannot wait. Please do not think I am
insensible to all this well-meant kindness; but a mother's heart
cannot wait. He'll know ME—me who bore him and carried him on my
"Mrs. Nichol, you shall see him at once," said the doctor. "I hope
it will be as you say; but I'm compelled to tell you that you may be
disappointed. There's no certainty that this trouble will pass away at
once under any one's influence. You and your husband come with me. Mr.
Kemble, I will send Jackson down, and so secure the privacy which you
would kindly provide. I will be present, for I may be needed."
He led the way, the mother following with the impetuosity and
abandon of maternal love, and the father with stronger and stranger
emotions than he had ever known, but restrained in a manner natural to
a quiet, reticent man. They were about to greet one on whom they had
once centred their chief hopes and affection, yet long mourned as
dead. It is hard to imagine the wild tumult of their feelings. Not
merely by words, but chiefly by impulse, immediate action, could they
reveal how profoundly they were moved.
With kindly intention, as he opened the door of the apartment, the
doctor began, "Mr. Jackson, please leave us a few—"
Mrs. Nichol saw her son and rushed upon him, crying, "Albert,
Albert!" It was enough at that moment that she recognized him; and
the thought that he would not recognize her was banished. With an
intuition of heart beyond all reasoning, she felt that he who had
drawn his life from her must know her and respond to nature's first
In surprise, Nichol had risen, then was embarrassed to find an
elderly woman sobbing on his breast and addressing him in broken,
endearing words by a name utterly unfamiliar. He looked wonderingly
at his father, who stood near, trembling and regarding him through
tear-dimmed eyes with an affectionate interest, impressive even to his
"Doctor," he began over his mother's head, "what in thunder does
all this here mean? Me 'n' Jackson was chinnin' comf't'bly, when
sud'n you uns let loose on me two crazy old parties I never seed ner
yeared on. Never had folks go on so 'bout me befo'. Beats even that
Hob't Ma'tine," and he showed signs of rising irritation.
"Albert, Albert!" almost shrieked Mrs. Nichol, "don't you know me-
-ME, your own mother?"
At the half-indignant, incredulous tone, yet more than all at the
strange accent and form of this negative, the poor woman was almost
beside herself. "Merciful God!" she cried, "this cannot be;" and she
sank into a chair, sobbing almost hysterically.
For reasons of his own, Dr. Barnes did not interfere. Nature in
powerful manifestations was actuating the parents; and he decided,
now that things had gone so far, to let the entire energy of uncurbed
emotion, combined with all the mysterious affinity of the closest
kinship, exert its influence on the clogged brain of his patient.
For a few moments Mrs. Nichol was too greatly overcome to
comprehend anything clearly; her husband, on the other hand, was
simply wrought up to his highest capacity for action. His old
instinct of authority returned, and he seized his son's hand and
began, "Now, see here, Albert, you were wounded in your head—"
"Yes, right yere," interrupted Nichol, pointing to his scar. "I
knows all 'bout that, but I don't like these goin's on, ez ef I wuz a
nachel-bawn fool, en had ter bleve all folks sez. I've been taken in
too often. When I wuz with the Johnnies they'd say ter me, 'Yankee
Blank, see that ar critter? That's a elephant.' When I'd call it a
elephant, they'd larf an' larf till I flattened out one feller's nose.
I dunno nothin' 'bout elephants; but the critter they pinted at wuz a
cow. Then one day they set me ter scrubbin' a nigger to mek 'im white,
en all sech doin's, till the head-doctor stopped the hull blamed
nonsense. S'pose I be a cur'ous chap. I ain't a nachel-bawn ijit. When
folks begin ter go on, en do en say things I kyant see through, then I
stands off en sez, 'Lemme 'lone.' The hospital doctors wouldn't 'low
any foolin' with me 't all."
"I'm not allowing any fooling with you," said Dr. Barnes, firmly.
"I wish you to listen to that man and woman, and believe all they
say. The hospital doctors would give you the same orders."
"All right, then," assented Nichol, with a sort of grimace of
resignation. "Fire away, old man, an' git through with yer yarn so
Jackson kin come back. I wish this woman wouldn't take on so. Hit
makes me orful oncomf't'ble, doggoned ef hit don't."
The rapid and peculiar utterance, the seemingly unfeeling words of
his son, stung the father into an ecstasy of grief akin to anger. A
man stood before him, as clearly recognized as his own image in a
mirror. The captain was not out of his mind in any familiar sense of
the word; he remembered distinctly what had happened for months past.
He must recall, he must be MADE to recollect the vital truths of his
life on which not only his happiness but that of others depended.
Although totally ignorant of what the wisest can explain but vaguely,
Mr. Nichol was bent on restoring his son by the sheer force of will,
making him remember by telling him what he should and must recall.
This he tried to do with strong, eager insistence. "Why, Albert," he
urged, "I'm your father; and that's your mother."
Nichol shook his head and looked at the doctor, who added gravely,
"That's all true."
"Yes," resumed Mr. Nichol, with an energy and earnestness of
utterance which compelled attention. "Now listen to reason. As I was
saying, you were wounded in the head, and you have forgotten what
happened before you were hurt. But you must remember, you must,
indeed, or you will break your mother's heart and mine, too."
"But I tell yer, I kyant reckerlect a thing befo' I kinder waked
up in the hospital, en the Johnnies call me Yankee Blank. I jes' wish
folks would lemme alone on that pint. Hit allus bothers me en makes me
mad. How kin I reckerlect when I kyant?" and he began to show signs of
Dr. Barnes was about to interfere when Mrs. Nichol, who had grown
calmer, rose, took her son's hand, and said brokenly: "Albert, look
me in the face, your mother's face, and try, TRY with all your heart
and soul and mind. Don't you remember ME?"
It was evident that her son did try. His brow wrinkled in the
perplexed effort, and he looked at her fixedly for a moment or more;
but no magnetic current from his mother's hand, no suggestion of the
dear features which had bent over him in childhood and turned toward
him in love and pride through subsequent years found anything in his
arrested consciousness answering to her appeal.
The effort and its failure only irritated him, and he broke out:
"Now look yere, I be as I be. What's the use of all these goin's on?
Doctor, if you sez these folks are my father and mother, so be it. I'm
learning somethin' new all the time. This ain't no mo' quar, I s'pose,
than some other things. I've got to mind a doctor, for I've learned
that much ef I hain t nuthin' else, but I want you uns to know that I
won't stan' no mo' foolin'. Doctors don't fool me, en they've got the
po'r ter mek a feller do ez they sez, but other folks is got ter be
keerful how they uses me."
Mrs. Nichol again sank into her chair and wept bitterly; her
husband at last remained silent in a sort of inward, impotent rage of
grief. There was their son, alive and in physical health, yet between
him and them was a viewless barrier which they could not break
The strange complications, the sad thwartings of hope which must
result unless he was restored, began to loom already in the future.
Dr. Barnes now came forward and said: "Captain Nichol, you are as
you are at this moment, but you must know that you are not what you
were once. We are trying to restore you to your old self. You'd be a
great deal better off if we succeed. You must help us all you can. You
must be patient, and try all the time to recollect. You know I am not
deceiving you, but seeking to help you. You don't like this. That
doesn't matter. Didn't you see doctors do many things in hospitals
which the patients didn't like?"
"I reckon," replied Nichol, growing reasonable at once when
brought on familiar ground.
"Well, you are my patient. I may have to do some disagreeable
things, but they won't hurt you. It won't be like taking off an arm
or a leg. You have seen that done, I suppose?"
"You bet!" was the eager, proud reply. "I used to hold the fellows
when they squirmed."
"Now hold yourself. Be patient and good-natured. While we are
about it, I want to make every appeal possible to your lost memory,
and I order you to keep on trying to remember till I say: 'Through for
the present.' If we succeed, you'll thank me all the days of your
life. Anyhow, you must do as I say."
"Oh, I know that."
"Well, then, your name is Captain Nichol. This is Mr. Nichol, your
father; this lady is your mother. Call them father and mother when
you speak to them. Always speak kindly and pleasantly. They'll take
you to a pleasant home when I'm through with you, and you must mind
them. They'll be good to you everyway."
Nichol grinned acquiescence and said: "All right, Doctor."
"Now you show your good sense. We'll have you sound and happy
yet." The doctor thought a moment and then asked: "Mr. Nichol, I
suppose that after our visit to Mr. Kemble, you and your wife would
prefer to take your son home with you?"
"Certainly," was the prompt response.
"I would advise you to do so. After our next effort, however it
results, we all will need rest and time for thought. Captain, remain
here a few moments with your father and mother. Listen good-naturedly
and answer pleasantly to whatever they may say to you. I will be back
CHAPTER XIII. "I'M HELEN"
Dr. Barnes descended the stairs to the parlor where Mr. Kemble
impatiently awaited him. "Well?" said the banker, anxiously.
"I will explain while on the way to your house. The carriage is
still ready, I suppose?" to Jackson.
"Yes," was the eager reply; "how did he take the meeting of his
"In the main as I feared. He does not know them yet. Mr. Jackson,
you and I are somewhat alike in one of our duties. I never talk about
my patients. If I did, I ought to be drummed out of the town instead
of ever being called upon again. Of course you feel that you should
not talk about your guests. You can understand why the parties
concerned in this matter would not wish to have it discussed in the
"Certainly, Doctor, certainly," replied Jackson, reddening, for he
knew something of his reputation for gossip. "This is no ordinary
"No, it is not. Captain Nichol and his friends would never forgive
any one who did not do right by them now. In about fifteen minutes or
so I will return. Have the carriage wait for me at Mr. Kemble's till
again wanted. You may go back to the captain and do your best to keep
Jackson accompanied them to the conveyance and said to the man on
the box: "Obey all Dr. Barnes's orders."
As soon as the two men were seated, the physician began: "Our
first test has failed utterly;" and he briefly narrated what had
occurred, concluding, "I fear your daughter will have no better
success. Still, it is perhaps wise to do all we can, on the theory
that these sudden shocks may start up the machinery of memory. Nichol
is excited; such powers as he possesses are stimulated to their
highest activity, and he is evidently making a strong effort to recall
the past, I therefore now deem it best to increase the pressure on his
brain to the utmost. If the obstruction does not give way, I see no
other course than to employ the skill of experts and trust to the
healing processes of time."
"I am awfully perplexed, Doctor," was the reply. "You must be firm
with me on one point, and you know your opinion will have great
weight. Under no sentimental sense of duty, or even of affection,
must Helen marry Nichol unless he is fully restored and given time to
prove there is no likelihood of any return of this infirmity."
"I agree with you emphatically. There is no reason for such self-
sacrifice on your daughter's part. Nichol would not appreciate it. He
is not an invalid; on the contrary, a strong, muscular man, abundantly
able to take care of himself under the management of his family."
"He has my profound sympathy," continued Mr. Kemble, "but giving
that unstintedly is a very different thing from giving him my only
"Certainly. Perhaps we need not say very much to Miss Helen on
this point at present. Unless he becomes his old self she will feel
that she has lost him more truly than if he were actually dead. The
only deeply perplexing feature in the case is its uncertainty. He may
be all right before morning, and he may never recall a thing that
happened before the explosion of that shell."
The carriage stopped, and Mr. Kemble hastily led the way to his
dwelling. Helen met them at the door. "Oh, how long you have been!"
she protested; "I've just been tortured by suspense."
Dr. Barnes took her by the hand and led her to the parlor. "Miss
Helen," he said gravely, "if you are not careful you will be another
patient on my hands. Sad as is Captain Nichol's case, he at least
obeys me implicitly; so must you. Your face is flushed, your pulse
"Doctor," cried the girl, "you can't touch the disease till you
remove the cause. Why is he kept so long from me?"
"Helen, child, you MUST believe that the doctor—that we all—are
doing our best for you and Nichol," said Mr. Kemble, anxiously. "His
father and mother came to the hotel. It was but natural that they
should wish to see him at once. How would we feel?"
"Come, Helen, dear, you must try to be more calm," urged the
mother, gently, with her arm around her daughter's neck. "Doctor,
can't you give her something to quiet her nerves?"
"Miss Helen, like the captain, is going to do just as I say,
aren't you? You can do more for yourself than I can do for you.
Remember, you must act intelligently and cooperate with me. His
father, and especially his mother, exhibited the utmost degree of
emotion and made the strongest appeals without effect. Now we must
try different tactics. All must be quiet and nothing occur to confuse
or irritate him."
"Ah, how little you all understand me! The moment you give me a
chance to act I can be as calm as you are. It's this waiting, this
torturing suspense that I cannot endure. Hobart would not have
permitted it. He knows, he understands. Every effort will fail till
Albert sees me. It will be a cause for lasting gratitude to us both
that I should be the one to restore him. Now let me manage. My heart
will guide me better than your science."
"What will you do?" inquired her father, in deep solicitude.
"See, here's his picture," she replied, taking it from a table
near—"the one he gave me just before he marched away. Let him look
at that and recall himself. Then I will enter. Oh, I've planned it
all! My self-control will be perfect. Would I deserve the name of
woman if I were weak or hysterical? No, I would do my best to rescue
any man from such a misfortune, much more Albert, who has such sacred
"That's a good idea of yours about the photograph. Well, I guess I
must let Nature have her own way again, only in this instance I
advise quiet methods."
"Trust me, Doctor, and you won't regret it."
"Nerve yourself then to do your best, but prepare to be
disappointed for the present. I do not and cannot share in your
"Of course you cannot," she said, with a smile which illuminated
her face into rare beauty. "Only love and faith could create my
"Miss Helen," was the grave response, "would love and faith
restore Captain Nichol's right arm if he had lost it?"
"Oh, but that's different," she faltered.
"I don't know whether it is or not. We are experimenting. There
may be a physical cause obstructing memory which neither you nor any
one can now remove. Kindness only leads me to temper your hope."
"Doctor," she said half-desperately, "it is not hope; it is
belief. I could not feel as I do if I were to be disappointed."
"Ah, Miss Helen, disappointment is a very common experience. I
must stop a moment and see one who has learned this truth pretty
thoroughly. Then I will bring Nichol and his parents at once."
Tears filled her eyes. "Yes, I know," she sighed; "my heart just
bleeds for him, but I cannot help it. Were I not sure that Hobart
understands me better than any one else, I should be almost
distracted. This very thought of him nerves me. Think what he did for
Albert from a hard sense of duty. Can I fail? Good-by, and please,
Martine rose to greet the physician with a clear eye and a
resolute face. "Why, why!" cried Dr. Barnes, cheerily, "you look a
hundred per cent better. That quinine—"
"There, Doctor, I don't undervalue your drugs; but Mr. Kemble has
been to see me and appealed to me for help—to still be on hand if
needed. Come, I've had my hour for weakness. I am on the up-grade
now. Tell me how far the affair has progressed."
"Haven't time, Hobart. Since Mr. Kemble's treatment is so
efficacious, I'll continue it. You will be needed, you will indeed,
no matter how it all turns out. I won't abandon my drugs, either.
Here, take this."
Martine took the medicine as administered. "Now when you feel
drowsy, go to sleep," added the doctor.
"Tell me one thing—has she seen him yet?"
"No; his father and mother have, and he does not know them. It's
going to be a question of time, I fear."
"Helen will restore him."
"So she believes, or tries to. I mercifully shook her faith a
little. Well, she feels for you, old fellow. The belief that you
understand her better than any one has great sustaining power."
"Say I won't fail her; but I entreat that you soon let me know the
result of the meeting."
"I'll come in," assented the doctor, as he hastily departed. Then
he added sotto voce, "If you hear anything more under twelve or
fifteen hours, I'm off my reckoning."
Re-entering the carriage, he was driven rapidly to the hotel.
Jackson had played his part, and had easily induced Nichol to recount
his hospital experience in the presence of his parents, who listened
in mingled wonder, grief, and impotent protest.
"Captain, put on your overcoat and hat and come with me," said the
doctor, briskly. "Your father and mother will go with us."
"Good-by, Jackson," said Nichol, cordially. "Ye're a lively cuss,
en I hopes we'll have a chaince to chin agin."
With a blending of hope and of fear, his parents followed him. The
terrible truth of his sensibility to all that he should recognize and
remember became only the more appalling as they comprehended it. While
it lost none of its strangeness, they were compelled to face and to
accept it as they could not do at first.
"Now, Captain," said the doctor, after they were seated in the
carriage, "listen carefully to me. It is necessary that you recall
what happened before you were wounded. I tell you that you must do it
if you can, and you know doctors must be obeyed."
"Look yere, Doctor, ain't I a-tryin'? but I tell yer hit's like
tryin' ter lift myself out o' my own boots."
"Mind, now, I don't say you must remember, only try your best. You
can do that?"
"Well, you are going to the house of an old friend who knew you
well before you were hurt. You must pay close heed to all she says
just as you would to me. You must not say any rude, bad words, such
as soldiers often use, but listen to every word she says. Perhaps
you'll know her as soon as you see her. Now I've prepared you. I won't
be far off."
"Don't leave me, Doctor. I jes' feels nachelly muxed up en mad
when folks pester me 'bout what I kyant do."
"You must not get angry now, I can tell you. That would never do
at all. I FORBID it."
"There, there now, Doctor, I won't, doggone me ef I will," Nichol
Mr. Kemble met them at the door, and the captain recognized him
"Why, yere's that sensible ole feller what didn't want to ast no
questions," he exclaimed.
"You are right, Captain Nichol, I have no questions to ask."
"Well, ef folks wuz all like you I'd have a comf't'ble time"
"Come with me, Captain," said the physician, leading the way into
the parlor. Mr. Kemble silently ushered Mr. and Mrs. Nichol into the
sitting-room on the opposite side of the hall and placed them in the
care of his wife. He then went into the back parlor in which was
Helen, now quiet as women so often are in emergencies. Through a
slight opening between the sliding-door she looked, with tightly
clasped hands and parted lips, at her lover. At first she was
conscious of little else except the overwhelming truth that before her
was one she had believed dead. Then again surged up with blinding
force the old feeling which had possessed her when she saw him
last—when he had impressed his farewell kiss upon her lips.
Remembering the time for her to act was almost at hand, she became
calm—more from the womanly instinct to help him than from the effort
of her will.
Dr. Barnes said to Nichol, "Look around. Don't you think you have
seen this room before? Take your time and try to remember."
The captain did as he was bidden, but soon shook his head. "Hit's
right purty, but I don't reckerlect."
"Well, sit down here, then, and look at that picture. Who is it?"
"Why, hit's me—me dressed up as cap'n," ejaculated Nichol,
"Yes, that was the way you looked and dressed before you were
"How yer talk! This beats anythin' I ever yeared from the
"Now, Captain Nichol, you see we are not deceiving you. We called
you captain. There's your likeness, taken before you were hurt and
lost your memory, and you can see for yourself that you were a
captain. You must think how much there is for you to try to remember.
Before you went to the war, long before you got hurt, you gave this
likeness of yourself to a young lady that you thought a great deal of.
Can't you recall something about it?"
Nichol wrinkled his scarred forehead, scratched his head, and
hitched uneasily in his chair, evidently making a vain effort to
penetrate the gloom back of that vague awakening in the Southern
hospital. At last he broke out in his usual irritation, "Naw, I
"Hush! you must not use that word here. Don't be discouraged. You
are trying; that's all I ask," and the doctor laid a soothing hand on
his shoulder. "Now, Captain, I'll just step in the next room. You
think quietly as you can about the young lady to whom you gave that
picture of yourself."
Nichol was immensely pleased with his photograph, and looked at it
in all its lights. While thus gratifying a sort of childish vanity,
Helen entered noiselessly, her blue eyes, doubly luminous from the
pallor of her face, shining like sapphires. So intent was her gaze
that one might think it would "kindle a soul under the ribs of death."
At last Nichol became conscious of her presence and started,
exclaiming, "Why, there she is herself."
"OH, Albert, you DO know me," cried the girl, rushing toward him
with outstretched hand.
He took it unhesitatingly, saying with a pleased wonder, "Well, I
reckon I'm comin' round. Yer the young lady I give this picture to?"
"I'm Helen," she breathed, with an indescribable accent of
tenderness and gladness.
"Why, cert'ny. The doctor tole me 'bout you."
"But you remember me yourself?" she pleaded. "You remember what
you said to me when you gave me this picture?" and she looked into
his eyes with an expression which kindled even his dull senses.
"Oh, shucks!" he said slowly, "I wish I could. I'd like ter 'blige
yer, fer ye're right purty, en I am a-tryin' ter mind the doctor."
Such a sigh escaped her that one might think her heart and hope
were going with it. The supreme moment of meeting had come and gone,
and he did not know her; she saw and felt in her inmost soul that he
did not. The brief and illusive gleam into the past was projected only
from the present, resulting from what he had been told, not from what
She withdrew her hand, turned away, and for a moment or two her
form shook with sobs she could not wholly stifle. He looked on
perplexed and troubled, then broke out, "I jes' feels ez ef I'd split
my blamed ole haid open—"
She checked him by a gesture. "Wait," she cried, "sit down." She
took a chair near him and hastily wiped her eyes. "Perhaps I can help
you remember me. You will listen closely, will you not?"
"I be dog—oh, I forgot," and he looked toward the back parlor
apprehensively. "Yes, mees, I'll do anythin' yer sez."
"Well, once you were a little boy only so high, and I was a little
girl only so high. We both lived in this village and we went to
school together. We studied out of the same books together. At three
o'clock in the afternoon school was out, and then we put our books in
our desks and the teacher let us go and play. There was a pond of
water, and it often froze over with smooth black ice. You and I used
to go together to that pond; and you would fasten my skates on my
"Hanged ef I wouldn't do it agin," he cried, greatly pleased. "Yer
beats 'em all. Stid o' astin' questions, yer tells me all 'bout what
happened. Why, I kin reckerlect it all ef I'm tole often anuff."
With a sinking heart she faltered on, "Then you grew older and
went away to school, and I went away to school. We had vacations; we
rode on horseback together. Well, you grew to be as tall as you are
now; and then came a war and you wore a captain's uniform, like—like
that you see in your likeness, and—and—" she stopped. Her rising
color became a vivid flush; she slowly rose as the thought burned its
way into her consciousness that she was virtually speaking to a
stranger. Her words were bringing no gleams of intelligence into his
face; they were throwing no better, no stronger light upon the past
than if she were telling the story to a great boy. Yet he was not a
boy. A man's face was merely disfigured (to her eyes) by a grin of
pleasure instead of a pleased smile; and a man's eyes were regarding
her with an unwinking stare of admiration. She was not facing her old
playmate, her old friend and lover, but a being whose only
consciousness reached back but months, through scenes, associations
coarse and vulgar like himself. She felt this with an intuition that
was overwhelming. She could not utter another syllable, much less
speak of the sacred love of the past. "O God!" she moaned in her
heart, "the man has become a living grave in which his old self is
buried. Oh, this is terrible, terrible!"
As the truth grew upon her she sprang away, wringing her hands and
looking upon him with an indescribable expression of pity and dread.
"Oh," she now moaned aloud, "if he had only come back to me mutilated
in body, helpless! but this change—"
She fled from the room, and Nichol stared after her in perplexed
CHAPTER XIV. "FORWARD! COMPANY A"
When Mrs. Kemble was left alone with Captain Nichol's parents in
the sitting-room, she told them of Helen's plan of employing the
photograph in trying to recall their son to himself. It struck them
as an unusually effective method. Mrs. Kemble saw that their anxiety
was so intense that it was torture for them to remain in suspense away
from the scene of action. It may be added that her own feelings also
led her to go with them into the back parlor, where all that was said
by Nichol and her daughter could be heard. Her solicitude for Helen
was not less than theirs for their son; and she felt the girl might
need both motherly care and counsel. She was opposed even more
strenuously than her husband to any committal on the daughter's part
to her old lover unless he should become beyond all doubt his former
self. At best, it would be a heavy cross to give up Martine, who had
won her entire affection. Helen's heart presented a problem too deep
for solution. What would—what could—Captain Nichol be to her child
in his present condition, should it continue?
It was but natural, therefore, that she and her husband should
listen to Helen's effort to awaken memories of the past with profound
anxiety. How far would she go? If Nichol were able to respond with no
more appreciative intelligence than he had thus far manifested, would
a sentiment of pity and obligation carry her to the point of accepting
him as he was, of devoting herself to one who, in spite of all their
commiseration and endeavors to tolerate, might become a sort of horror
in their household! It was with immense relief that they heard her
falter in her story, for they quickly divined that there was nothing
in him which responded to her effort. When they heard her rise and
moan, "If he had only come back to me mutilated in body, helpless! but
this change—" they believed that she was meeting the disappointment
as they could wish.
Mr. and Mrs. Nichol heard the words also, and while in a measure
compelled to recognize their force, they conveyed a meaning hard to
accept. The appeal upon which so much hope had been built had failed.
In bitterness of soul, the conviction grew stronger that their once
brave, keen-minded son would never be much better than an idiot.
Then Helen appeared among them as pale, trembling, and overwhelmed
as if she had seen a spectre. In strong reaction from her effort and
blighted hope she was almost in a fainting condition. Her mother's
arms received her and supported her to a lounge; Mrs. Nichol gave way
to bitter weeping; Mr. Kemble wrung the father's hand in sympathy, and
then at his wife's request went for restoratives. Dr. Barnes closed
the sliding-doors and prudently reassured Nichol: "You have done your
best, Captain, and that is all I asked of you. Remain here quietly and
look at your picture for a little while, and then you shall have a
good long rest."
"I did try, Doctor," protested Nichol, anxiously. "Gee wiz! I
reckon a feller orter try ter please sech a purty gyurl. She tole me
lots. Look yere, Doctor, why kyan't I be tole over en over till I
reckerlect it all?"
"Well, we'll see, Captain. It's late now, and we must all have a
rest. Stay here till I come for you."
Nichol was so pleased with his photograph that he was well content
in its contemplation. The physician now gave his attention to Helen,
who was soon so far restored as to comprehend her utter failure. Her
distress was great indeed, and for a few moments diverted the thoughts
of even Mr. and Mrs. Nichol from their own sad share in the
"Oh, oh!" sobbed Helen, "this is the bitterest sorrow the war has
brought us yet."
"Well, now, friends," said Dr. Barnes, "it's time I had my say and
gave my orders. You must remember that I have not shared very fully
in your confidence that the captain could be restored by the appeals
you have made; neither do I share in this abandonment to grief now. As
the captain says, he is yet simply unable to respond. We must
patiently wait and see what time and medical skill can do for him.
There is no reason whatever for giving up hope. Mrs. Kemble, I would
advise you to take Miss Helen to her room, and you, Mr. Nichol, to
take your wife and son home. I will call in the morning, and then we
can advise further."
His counsel was followed, the captain readily obeying when told to
go with his parents. Then the physician stepped over to Martine's
cottage and found, as he supposed, that the opiate and exhausted
nature had brought merciful oblivion.
It was long before Helen slept, nor would she take anything to
induce sleep. She soon became quiet, kissed her mother, and said she
wished to be alone. Then she tried to look at the problem in all its
aspects, and earnestly asked for divine guidance. The decision reached
in the gray dawn brought repose of mind and body.
It was late in the afternoon when Martine awoke with a dull pain
in his head and heart. As the consciousness of all that had happened
returned, he remembered that there was good reason for both. His
faithful old domestic soon prepared a dainty meal, which aided in
giving tone to his exhausted system. Then he sat down by his fire to
brace himself for the tidings he expected to hear. Helen's chair was
empty. It would always be hers, but hope was gone that she would smile
from it upon him during the long winter evenings. Already the room was
darkening toward the early December twilight, and he felt that his
life was darkening in like manner. He was no longer eager to hear what
had occurred. The mental and physical sluggishness which possessed him
was better than sharp pain; he would learn all soon enough—the
recognition, the beginning of a new life which inevitably would drift
further and further from him. His best hope was to get through the
time, to endure patiently and shape his life so as to permit as little
of its shadow as possible to fall upon hers. But as he looked around
the apartment and saw on every side the preparations for one who had
been his, yet could be no longer, his fortitude gave way, and he
buried his face in his hands.
So deep was his painful revery that he did not hear the entrance
of Dr. Barnes and Mr. Kemble. The latter laid a hand upon his
shoulder and said kindly, "Hobart, my friend, it is just as I told
you it would be. Helen needs you and wishes to see you."
Martine started up, exclaiming, "He must have remembered her."
Mr. Kemble shook his head. "No, Hobart," said the doctor, "she was
as much of a stranger to him as you were. There were, of course,
grounds for your expectation and hers also, but we prosaic
physiologists have some reason for our doubtings as well as you for
your beliefs. It's going to be a question of time with Nichol. How are
you yourself? Ah, I see," he added, with his finger on his patient's
pulse. "With you it's going to be a question of tonics."
"Yes, I admit that," Martine replied, "but perhaps of tonics other
than those you have in mind. You said, sir [to Mr. Kemble], that
Helen wished to see me?"
"Yes, when you feel well enough."
"I trust you will make yourselves at home," said Martine, hastily
preparing to go out.
"But don't you wish to hear more about Nichol?" asked the doctor,
"Not at present. Good-by."
Yet he was perplexed how to meet the girl who should now have been
his wife; and he trembled with strange embarrassment as he entered
the familiar room in which he had parted from her almost on the eve
of their wedding. She was neither perplexed nor embarrassed, for she
had the calmness of a fixed purpose. She went swiftly to him, took his
hand, led him to a chair, then sat down beside him. He looked at her
wonderingly and listened sadly as she asked, "Hobart, will you be
patient with me again?"
"Yes," he replied after a moment, yet he sighed deeply in
Tears came into her eyes, yet her voice did not falter as she
continued: "I said last night that you would understand me better
than any one else; so I believe you will now. You will sustain and
strengthen me in what I believe to be duty."
"Yes, Helen, up to the point of such endurance as I have. One
can't go beyond that."
"No, Hobart, but you will not fail me, nor let me fail. I cannot
marry Captain Nichol as he now is"—there was an irrepressible flash
of joy in his dark eyes—"nor can I," she added slowly and sadly,
"marry you." He was about to speak, but she checked him and resumed.
"Listen patiently to me first. I have thought and thought long hours,
and I think I am right. You, better than I, know Captain Nichol's
condition—its sad contrast to his former noble self. The man we once
knew is veiled, hidden, lost—how can we express it? But he exists,
and at any time may find and reveal himself. No one, not even I, can
revolt at what he is now as he will revolt at it all when his true
consciousness returns. He has met with an immeasurable misfortune. He
is infinitely worse off than if helpless—worse off than if he were
dead, if this condition is to last; but it may not last. What would he
think of me if I should desert him now and leave him nothing to
remember but a condition of which he could only think with loathing? I
will hide nothing from you, Hobart, my brave, true friend—you who
have taught me what patience means. If you had brought him back
utterly helpless, yet his old self in mind, I could have loved him and
married him, and you would have sustained me in that course. Now I
don't know. My future, in this respect, is hidden like his. The shock
I received last night, the revulsion of feeling which followed, leaves
only one thing clear. I must try to do what is right by him; it will
not be easy. I hope you will understand. While I have the deepest pity
that a woman can feel, I shrink from him NOW, for the contrast between
his former self and his present is so terrible. Oh, it is such a
horrible mystery! All Dr. Barnes's explanations do not make it one bit
less mysterious and dreadful. Albert took the risk of this; he has
suffered this for his country. I must suffer for him; I must not
desert him in his sad extremity. I must not permit him to awake some
day and learn from others what he now is, and that I, the woman he
loved, of all others, left him to his degradation. The consequences
might be more fatal than the injury which so changed him. Such action
on my part might destroy him morally. Now his old self is buried as
truly as if he had died. I could never look him in the face again if
I left him to take his chances in life with no help from me, still
less if I did that which he could scarcely forgive. He could not
understand all that has happened since we thought him dead. He would
only remember that I deserted him in his present pitiable plight. Do
you understand me, Hobart?"
"I must, Helen."
"I know how hard it is for you. Can you think I forget this for a
moment? Yet I send for you to help, to sustain me in a purpose which
changes our future so greatly. Do you not remember what you said once
about accepting the conditions of life as they are? We must do this
again, and make the best of them."
"But if—suppose his memory does not come back. Is there to be no
"Hobart, you must put that thought from you as far as you can. Do
you not see whither it might lead? You would not wish Captain Nichol
to remain as he is?"
"Oh," he cried desperately, "I'm put in a position that would tax
any saint in the calendar."
"Yes, you are. The future is not in our hands. I can only appeal
to you to help me do what I think is right NOW."
He thought a few moments, took his resolve, then gave her his hand
silently. She understood him without a word.
The news of the officer's return and of his strange condition was
soon generally known in the village; but his parents, aided by the
physician, quickly repressed those inclined to call from mere
curiosity. At first Jim Wetherby scouted the idea that his old
captain would not know him, but later had to admit the fact with a
wonder which no explanations satisfied. Nichol immediately took a
fancy to the one-armed veteran, who was glad to talk by the hour
about soldiers and hospitals.
Before any matured plan for treatment could be adopted Nichol
became ill, and soon passed into the delirium of fever. "The trouble
is now clear enough," Dr. Barnes explained. "The captain has lived in
hospitals and breathed a tainted atmosphere so long that his system is
poisoned. This radical change of air has developed the disease."
Indeed, the typhoid symptoms progressed so rapidly as to show that
the robust look of health had been in appearance only. The injured,
weakened brain was the organ which suffered most, and in spite of the
physician's best efforts his patient speedily entered into a condition
of stupor, relieved only by low, unintelligible mutterings. Jim
Wetherby became a tireless watcher, and greatly relieved the
grief-stricken parents. Helen earnestly entreated that she might act
the part of nurse also, but the doctor firmly forbade her useless
exposure to contagion. She drove daily to the house, yet Mrs. Nichol's
sad face and words could scarcely dissipate the girl's impression that
the whole strange episode was a dream.
At last it was feared that the end was near. One night Dr. Barnes,
Mr. and Mrs. Nichol, and Jim Wetherby were watching in the hope of a
gleam of intelligence. He was very low, scarcely more than breathing,
and they dreaded lest there might be no sign before the glimmer of
life faded out utterly.
Suddenly the captain seemed to awake, his glassy eyes kindled, and
a noble yet stern expression dignified his visage. In a thick voice
he said, "For—" Then, as if all the remaining forces of life asserted
themselves, he rose in his bed and exclaimed loudly, "Forward! Company
A. Guide right. Ah!" He fell back, now dead in very truth.
"Oh!" cried Jim Wetherby, excitedly, "them was the last words I
heard from him just before the shell burst, and he looks now just as
he did then."
"Yes," said Dr. Barnes, sadly and gravely, "memory came back to
him at the point where he lost it. He has died as we thought at
first—a brave soldier leading a charge."
The stern, grand impress of battle remained upon the officer's
countenance. Friends and neighbors looked upon his ennobled visage
with awe, and preserved in honored remembrance the real man that
temporarily had been obscured. Helen's eyes, when taking her farewell
look, were not so blinded with tears but that she recognized his
restored manhood. Death's touch had been more potent than love's
In the Wilderness, upon a day fatal to him and so many thousands,
Captain Nichol had prophesied of the happy days of peace. They came,
and he was not forgotten.
One evening Dr. Barnes was sitting with Martine and Helen at their
fireside. They had been talking about Nichol, and Helen remarked
thoughtfully, "It was so very strange that he should have regained
his memory in the way and at the time he did."
"No," replied the physician, "that part of his experience does not
strike me as so very strange. In typhoid cases a lucid interval is
apt to precede death. His brain, like his body, was depleted,
shrunken slightly by disease. This impoverishment probably removed
the cerebral obstruction, and the organ of memory renewed its action
at the point where it had been arrested. My theory explains his last
ejaculation, 'Ah!' It was his involuntary exclamation as he again
heard the shell burst. The reproduction in his mind of this explosion
killed him instantly after all. He was too enfeebled to bear the
shock. If he had passed from delirium into quiet sleep—ah, well! he
is dead, and that is all we can know with certainty."
"Well," said Martine, with a deep breath, "I am glad he had every
chance that it was possible for us to give him."
"Yes, Hobart," added his wife, gently, "you did your whole duty,
and I do not forget what it cost you."