In War Time

III.

DR. WENDELL had very early acquired a few patients in the widely scattered village. Most of them were poor, and were either mechanics, or else workmen attached to the many woolen mills in his neighborhood. But as time went on he had also attracted, by degrees, a few of a somewhat better class. His manners were gentle and amiable, and manners have a good deal to do with business success in medicine, — indeed sometimes insure a fair amount of it even where their possessor has but a moderate share of brains, since patients are rarely competent critics as to all that ought to go to make up a doctor, and in fact cannot be.

Meanwhile, his life was not a hard one. He spent his early morning at the hospital, after seeing any urgent cases near his home; and, returning to Germantown for his midday meal, went back to the hospital to make the afternoon visit.

The next day, after the events we have described, as he came, on his usual evening round, to the beds of Major Morton and Captain Gray, the Confederate officer, he was interested to see that his sister had accomplished her errand, and was standing beside Morton, in company with a lady, and a lad who might have been sixteen years of age. Glancing at the group, Wendell went first to the wounded rebel, whose face brightened visibly at the coming of the surgeon.

“ I have been waiting to see you,” he said. “I don’t think I am as well as I was. I feel the being shut up here. It’s such an awful change from the saddle and the open air ! Please to sit down, doctor, and don’t be in a hurry. I must talk to you a little. You doctors are always in such a hurry ! ”

“ It’s rather hard to help it,” replied Wendell, good-humoredly; “ but is there anything especial I can do for you ? ”

“ Yes. I want to know distinctly if I can pull through. It’s a thing you doctors hate to be asked, but still it is a question I would like to have answered.”

“ I do not see why you cannot. You have a serious wound, but you were not hurt in any vital organ. I should say you ought to get well.”

“Well, it’s a pretty grim business with me, doctor. I am alone in the world with one motherless girl, and I want to get well! I must get well ! ”

“ And so you will.”

“ No; to tell you the truth, that’s my trouble. I don’t think I shall.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Wendell, “you may say you don’t feel as if you should ; but when you say you don’t think you will, I am afraid I feel inclined to laugh, which is perhaps the very best thing I can do for yon. Is n’t it as well to let me do the thinking for you ? ”

Copyright, 1884, by HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & Co.

“ I can’t explain it,” said Gray dolefully; “ but the idea sticks in my head that I shall die.”

“But why ? Are you weaker ? Do you suffer more ? ”

“ No ; I have nothing new except a queer sensation of confusion in my head, and—then I can’t change my ideas at will. They stick like burrs, and — I can’t get rid of them.”

“ Quinine, I guess,” said Wendell, lightly.

“ No; I ‘ve taken no end of that, in my time. I know how that feels. Would you mind asking Dr. Lagrange to see me ? ”

“ Oh, of course not; but it is a rule not to call on the surgeon in charge unless there is some grave necessity.”

“ Well, I don’t want to violate any rules. You are all very kind, and for a prisoner I ought to be satisfied ; but I am sure that I am going to die.”

“ I do most honestly think you are needlessly alarmed,” Wendell replied ; “ but if you wish it, I will ask the doctor to look at you.”

The assistant surgeon had a faint but distinct impression that this wish implied a distrust of his own judgment, and to one of his temperament this was displeasing; yet knowing the request to be not unreasonable, he at once sent an orderly for the surgeon in charge, and saying, “ I will see you with Dr. Lagrange in a few minutes,” turned to the other bed.

Major Morton looked better ; his mustache was trimmed, and the long Vandyke beard became well his rather sombre face.

“ This is my wife,” he said. “ Dr. Wendell — Mrs. Morton,”—Mrs. Morton bowed across the bed, — “ and my boy Arthur. They have just come, doctor ; and do not you think I could be moved to a hotel to-day ? ”

“ Well, hardly; but I will talk it over with Dr. Lagrange, who will be here presently.”

Busying himself in getting chairs brought for the patient’s friends, he glanced at them more attentively, — little dreaming what share in his future the manly lad and his handsome, somewhat stately mother were to have. Her perfectly simple manners, touched with a certain coldness and calm which made any little display of feeling in her tones the more impressive, had their full effect on Wendell. This type of woman was strange to him. Her husband might have been full forty, and she herself some three or four years his junior ; but she was yet in the vigor of womanhood, and moved with the easy grace of one accustomed to the world. Whatever were her relations to her husband.— and they had met, as Wendell learned afterwards from his sister, without any marked effusion in their greeting, — for all other men, at least, she had a certain attractiveness, difficult to analyze.

The type was, as I have said, a novel one to Wendell; nor was he wrong in the feeling, which came to him with better knowledge of her and more accurate observation, that the satisfaction which she gave him lay in a group of qualities which beauty may emphasize, but which, like good wine, acquires more delicate and subtle flavors as years go by.

“ Mr. Morton seems better than I expected to find him,” she said, “and I know you must have taken admirable care of him. With your help, I am sure we could get him to a hotel ; and then in a few days I might open our country house on the Wissahickon, and we could easily carry him there, — easily, quite easily,” she added, with a gentle but emphatic gesture of shutting her fan.

Wendell had less doubt after she had spoken than before. In fact, his intellectual judgment of the case was unaltered ; but although his medical opinions upon a disease, or a crisis of it, were apt, like the action of the compass needle, to be correct, they were as liable to causes of disturbance, and were likely to become doubtful to their originator in the face of positive opponent sentiments ; or even of obstacles to their practical results which should never have had any influence. Although unconscious of it, he was in this manner quite frequently controlled by his sister’s tranquil decisiveness. Without knowing why he yielded, he began now to edge over mentally to Mrs. Morton’s side of the argument.

He said, in reply to her, “ Of course, if you have a country house, that would make the change more easy.”

In fact, it seemed pleasantly natural to find a ground of agreement with tins woman, whose stateliness made her courtesy yet more gracious. She herself did not, it is true, see very clearly the reasonableness of his answer, but she was not apparently surprised at his defection from his former statement.

“ We ’ll settle it somehow,” groaned the major. “ Do something; get me out of this den, at least. The rebels were a trifle to these flies ! ”

“ Of course, my dear,” assented Mrs. Morton, “I wanted to feel that Dr.— Dr. — you said ” —

“Wendell,—Wendell is my name.” “ Oh, yes, Dr. Wendell ! I was thinking more of the kind remark you had made than of your name ! It is a good old New England surname, I think. But before Dr. Lagrange comes, I want to say how gratified I am to find that the decision to which my own anxiety leads me should be justified by your medical judgment.”

Wendell was a little taken aback at this ready assumption. As he looked up, hardly knowing what answer to make, Dr. Lagrange came hastily to join their group, and was met by Mrs. Morton, with whom he was evidently on terms of easy acquaintanceship.

“ Dr. Wendell is, I think, rather inclined to believe that the major may be taken to a hotel, and in a few days moved out to our country home. I hope our doctors won’t differ. What do you think ? ”

“ Ah, my lady,” and the surgeon shook his finger at her warningly, “ you have changed many folks, — I mean, many men’s ideas; and I fancy you are keeping your hand in with my young friend. I don’t think that this morning, before you came, when we discussed the question, Dr. Wendell was then quite of your opinion.”

Wendell exclaimed, “ I did not at that time understand ” —

“ Oh, I dare say not, and I don’t blame you much for taking Mrs. Morton’s view. But practically, my good friends, Morton’s leg must be taken into account!”

“ Of course,” replied Mrs. Morton, “ that is the first consideration, and really the only one.”

“ He has,” urged Lagrange, “ a rather serious wound, and to-day a quick pulse and a little fever. I would rather he waited a few days, — two or three, perhaps.” Then Wendell spoke eagerly, under his breath, a few words to his superior, on which the latter continued, “ Yes, that will do. Indeed, I am very much obliged by your thoughtfulness for my friend. Dr. Wendell has,” and he turned to Mrs. Morton, “ a room in the hospital, a very good and airy room, which he wishes Major Morton to occupy.”

Wendell added, “It is no great sacrifice, as I rarely use it at night; but in any case, Major Morton is welcome to it.”

The young fellow at Morton’s side had been thus far a listener. Now he exclaimed, warmly, “ Thank you very much, sir ! It is a great kindness to give to a stranger.”

“ For my part,” said Mrs. Morton, “ I have not the courage to refuse.”

“ I should think not! ” cried the major. “ By Jove, refuse ! ” and he contributed his own share of thanks, with a reasonable amount of emphasis. Then he asked, “ Are there nets in the windows ? ”

“ Yes,” returned Wendell, a little amused.

“ And is the room a good size ?

“ Quite needlessly large for one,” answered Lagrange, quickly, “ and we are very full. Would you mind sharing it with another officer ? It will be only for a day or two.”

Morton did not like the prospect, but saw at once the need to yield.

“ Of course,” he replied, “ if you are crowded; but I would rather,” and he spoke low, “ have my rebel neighbor than some one I do not know at all.”

“ But, dear,” said Mrs. Morton, “ I am sure that when Dr. Lagrange considers it he will see that you would be far more comfortable alone.”

“ I am afraid,” returned Lagrange, “ that I must accept the major’s proposition. And now I shall run away, for fear you persuade me to change my mind; and I shall take Wendell, lest you get him, too, into some mischief. Come, doctor, let us see Gray ! ” He turned smiling to the rebel officer, with whom he conversed attentively and patiently for some time. Then he moved away with a cheerful face from the bed, saying some pleasantly hopeful words of the comforts of the new room. But as soon as he was out of earshot he spoke to his junior, “ Watch that man well. There is something odd in his manner. He has a way of emphasizing all his words. Perhaps it is natural, but I never like to hear a wounded man insist that he is going to die ! And by the way, stick to your own opinions, and don’t let the pressure or notions of lay folks push you off a path you meant to tread. Mrs. Morton is what my old nurse used to call ‘ main masterful,’ but I have found her, as you may, a good friend. In fact, they are not very faraway neighbors of yours. I will remember this when they move Morton to the country.”

Wendell thanked him. He felt that he himself had done a gracious and serviceable act to pleasant people.

“ And what a fine lad that is, of Morton’s ! ” said Lagrange. “ I like his face.”

“Yes; a nice boy, I should think,” returned Wendell.

When the two officers, the next morning, were eagerly eating a well-cooked breakfast, in their new and cheerful quarters, under the care of an orderly assigned to them by Wendell, Morton, who was in high good humor, remarked, “ By George, this is better than that ward ! I feel like myself.”

“ It is certainly more comfortable,” rejoined his room-mate, — “good coffee, fruit, — I have n’t seen an orange before for a year, — but I don’t feel quite right yet.”

“ Oh, you ’ll come up,” said Morton, who was apt to relate the condition of others to his own state.

“ I suppose so, — I hope so ! But I don’t feel sure, and that strikes me as odd, because I have been hit before, and never had the depression I now feel. Then that lad of yours made me think about my own child.”

“ And where is he ? ”

“At school. It’s a girl. I did not tell you it was a girl. She has been at school in Rahway. I could not either get her away or send money to her, and she and I are pretty much alone in the world. By George, I don’t suppose she would know me ! ”

“ Why not send for her ? ” suggested Morton, whose enormous increase in comfort disposed him to indulge his usual desire that everybody about him should be satisfied, provided it did not incommode Major Morton. “ We ’ll get that doctor of ours to ask his sister to write and have the child brought on to see you, and my wife can take care of her for a few days.”

“ But I have absolutely no money ! ”

On this point Morton was delightfully indifferent. He had always had money and what money buys, and just now, in the ennui of illness, this man interested him.

“ I can lend you what you want. I ‘ll arrange it.”

“ I do not know how I can thank you ! ”

“ Then don’t do it.” The major was languidly good-natured, and had the amiability so common among selfish people. A West Point man by education, he had served his two years on the plains, and then left the army, to return to it with eagerness, as it offered command, which he loved, and a rescue, for a time at least, from the monotony of a life without serious aim or ambition.

After some further talk about the girl, Morton asked, “ Where were you in that infernal row at Gettysburg? There’s no use in either of our armies attacking the other. The fellows who try it always get thrashed. I began to think we should never be anything else but thrashed.”

“ I am sorry the charm is broken ! ” said Gray. “ I was in the Third South Carolina, when we got our quietus on the crest of Cemetery Hill. What a scene that was ! I can see it now. I was twice in among your people, and twice back among my own ; but how, I can no more tell than fly. Once I was knocked down with a stone. It was like a devilish sort of Donnybrook fair.”

“ How were you hurt ? I was on the crest myself, and after I got this accursed ball in my leg I lay there, and as I got a chance in the smoke I cracked away with my revolver. I remember thinking it queer that I never had struck a man in anger since I grew up, and here I was in a mob of blood-mad men, and in a frenzy to kill some one. Droll, is n’t it ? ”

“ For my part,” returned Gray, “ I was as crazy as the rest until I got a pistol ball in my right shoulder. By George, perhaps you are the very man who shot me ! ”

“ I am rather pleased to be able to say,” responded Morton, stiffly, “ that I do not know whom I shot.”

“ I should be very glad to think it was you.”

“ And why, please ? ”

“ Well, it would be a comfort to know it was a gentleman.”

The idea had in it nothing absurd to Morton. He thought that perhaps he would have felt so himself, but he was pretty sure that he would not have said so, and he answered with perfect tact: “ For any other reason, I should infinitely regret to think it had been I ; and were it surely I, your pleasant reason would not lessen the annoyance I should feel; ” and then, laughing, “ I will promise not to do it any more.”

At this moment Wendell came in, and, seeing the flushed face of Captain Gray, said, —

“ I think I wouldn’t talk much, and above all don’t discuss the war.”

“ Oh, confound the war, doctor ! ” exclaimed Morton. “ It is only the editors who fight off of battle fields. However, we promise to be good boys ! ”

“ I don’t think our talk hurts me,” said Gray. I was saying that perhaps the major might be the man who shot me. Queer idea, was n’t it ? And what is more odd, it seems to keep going through my head. What’s that Tennyson says about the echo of a silent song that comes and goes a thousand times ? ”

“ A brain echo ? ” murmured Wendell. “ I, for one, should n’t think it very satisfactory to know who shot me. I should only hate the man unreasonably.”

“ But don’t you think that it would be pleasanter to know he was a gentleman ? ”

To Wendell, with all his natural refinement, the sentiment appeared inconceivably ludicrous, and, laughing aloud, he rejoined, “ I don’t think I can settle that question, but I hope you will quit talking. I will get you some books, if you like. Oh, by the way, here are the papers ; ” and so saying he walked away, much amused, and in a mood of analytic wonder at the state of mind and the form of social education which could bring a man to give utterance to so quaint an idea.

A moment later he returned to the bedside to discuss a request of the major, who had asked him to write about Captain Gray’s child.

“If you wish it,” said Wendell, “I think my sister might go to Rahway.”

“ Oh, no,” said Gray ; “ that is quite too much to ask.”

“ Then,” suggested Morton, “ as you are so kind, could n’t you take the little girl in for a few days, doctor? I — that is to say, there will be no trouble about the board.”

“ Certainly, if you wish it,” answered the doctor. “ I am quite sure that my sister will not object. Ann shall write at once. But is that all ? Can I do anything else for you ? No ? Well, then, good-night.”

IV.

Among the many permanent marks which the great war left upon the life of the nation, and that of its constituent genera of human atoms, none were more deep and more alterative than those with which it stamped the profession of medicine. In all other lands medicine had places of trust and even of power, in some way related to government; but with us, save when some unfortunate physician was abruptly called into public notice by a judicial trial, and shared for a time with ward politicians the temperate calm of newspaper statements, he lived unnoted by the great public, and for all the larger uses he should have had for the commonwealth quite unemployed. The war changed the relations of the profession to the state and to the national life, and hardly less remarkably altered its standards of what it should and must demand of itself in the future. Our great struggle found it, as a calling, with little of the national regard. It found it more or less humble, with reason enough to he so. It left it with a pride justified by conduct which blazoned its scutcheon with endless sacrifices and great intellectual achievements, as well as with a professional conscience educated by the patient performance of every varied form of duty which the multiplied calls of a hard-pressed country could make upon its mental and moral life.

Vast hospitals were planned and admirably built, without the advice of architects, by physicians, who had to learn as they went along the special constructive needs of different climates, and to settle novel and frequent hygienic questions as they arose. In and near the locality of my tale, the hospitals numbered twenty-five thousand beds for the sick and wounded ; and these huge villages, now drawn on by the war, now refilled by its constant strife, were managed with a skill which justified the American test of hotel-keeping as a gauge of ability. A surgeon taken abruptly from civil life, a country physician, a retired naval surgeon, were fair specimens of the class on which fell these enormous responsibilities. We may well look back with gratification and wonder at the exactness, the discipline, the comfort, which reigned in most of these vast institutions.

In this evolution of hitherto unused capacities. Dr. Wendell shared. In some ways it did him good service, and in others it was harmful. The definiteness of hospital duty was for a man so uneuergetie of great value. He was a wheel in a great piece of mechanism, and had to move with the rest of it. In time this might have substantially altered his habits; but in a hospital there are, as elsewhere, opportunities for self-indulgence ; indeed, more in a military hospital than elsewhere, since there the doctor lacks largely the private criticism and the demands of influential patients, which in a measure help to keep men alert in mind, thoughtful, and accurate. Moreover, the rush and hurry of the wholesale practice of medicine, inseparable from overflowing military hospitals, was hostile to the calm study of cases, and to the increasing exactions which new and accurate methods of diagnosis and treatment were then, and are now, making. On the whole, the effect on Wendell was bad. He did his work, and, as he was intelligent, often did it well; but his medical conscience, overweighted by the need for incessant wakefulness, and enfeebled by natural love of ease and of mere intellectual luxuries, suffered from the life he led, and carried into his after days more or less of the resultant evil. Happily for his peace of mind, as for that of many doctors, no keen critic followed him, or could follow him, through the little errors of unthoughtful work, often great in result, which grew as he continued to do his slipshod tasks. Like all men who practice that which is part art, part science, he lived in a world of possible, and I may say of reasonable, excuses for failures; and no man knew better than he how to use his intellect to apologize to himself for lack of strict obedience to the moral code by which his profession justly tests the character of its own labor.

When Wendell reported for duty, on the following day, and had signed, as usual, the roll which indicated that he was present at a set hour, he was told that the surgeon in charge desired to see him ; and accordingly he stopped in the little room which that officer reserved for his own personal needs. As Wendell paused in front of the table, Dr. Lagrange looked up, and putting aside his pen said, —

“ Good-morning. I have endeavored, Dr. Wendell, not to forget that the gentlemen on duty here have not all of them had the advantage of army life, but there are certain matters which, if not of first importance, have their value, and which I cannot overlook. I observe that you do not always wear an assistant surgeon’s uniform, and that last week, when officer of the day, you wore no sash. Pardon me, I am not quite through. Twice, of late, you have signed your name as present at the hour of the morning visit, when in one case it was ten minutes after, and in another eleven minutes after.”

“ I did not think, sir, it could make any difference.”

“ That, sir, I must look upon as a criticism of a superior’s opinion. If I did not, as surgeon in charge, consider it of moment, I should not have spoken ; but, and with your permission, I now speak only as an older man, and one, as you know, who is disposed to like and help you.”

“ Of course, I shall be very much obliged,” Wendell said. It must be added that he did not feel so. He inferred that, as he had a better intellectual machinery and much wider knowledge than the superior officer, he must be naturally elevated above the judgments of such a person.

“ It is not,” continued Lagrange, “ the want of punctuality to which I now refer, — that is an official matter. It is that you should shelter yourself under a false statement, however minutely false.”

Dr. Wendell began with irritation: “ I do not think any one could suspect me — could suspect me of that! ”

“ Then,” replied Lagrange, “ you were not aware of the hour ? I hope I don’t annoy you. I like you too well to do so without cause, and, as I said, I am conscious that I am putting the matter in an un-official shape.”

Wendell bowed, and, having reflected a little, said, “ Thank you, sir. Pray speak freely. I can only be grateful for whatever you think fit to say.”

“ Well, then,” added Lagrange, “ let let me go a step further. Try to be more accurate in your work, and — may I say it ? — a little more energetic, just a little,” and the old army surgeon smilingly put out his hand. “ Don’t spoil my predictions of success for you in life! You have better brains than I ever had, but ” —

“ Oh, sir! ” exclaimed Wendell, touched with the other’s want of egotism.

“ Yes, yes,” went on Lagrange, laughing ; " but I should beat you at most things, notwithstanding. There — you won’t misunderstand me, I am sure,” he added, with a gentle sweetness, which like most bits of good manners was alike pleasant and contagious.

The younger man returned, " You are very good to me. I shall try to remember.”

“Well, well,” said Lagrange; and then, in his official tones, “ Have you seen Major Morton ? ”

“ Not yet, sir. I have just come.”

“ True — of course; but that other man, — what’s his name, the rebel ? ”

“ Gray, sir. He is in a curious way.

I think his head must be wrong. He insists that Major Morton shot him.”

“ That is strange,” returned the surgeon ; “ very unusual, in fact. Some accident sets an idea in a man’s head, and there it stays. I have heard of such cases. I would like to separate them at once, but we have not a vacant bed. See him as soon as possible.”

When Wendell left Lagrange’s room he went immediately to visit Gray. The door was open, to secure a cool draught of air; and hearing the rebel officer speaking, the assistant surgeon paused a moment to listen. The voice he heard was decided, irritated, and a little loud:

“ I think I remember now; yes, sir, you were on the ground. I saw you shoot, and I don’t blame you ! ”

“ Good heavens, you could n’t have seen me! By George, I never heard anything so absurd ! Have the goodness not to repeat it.”

“ Yon doubt my word, then, sir ? ”

“ Oh, no, what stuff! ”

“ Then apologize, sir. I say, apologize ! ”

“ Pshaw ! ”

At this moment Wendell entered.

“ Captain Gray,” he said, “ this won’t do! You have forgotten your promise about talking. Come, put this thermometer under your tongue,” and with a finger on his pulse Wendell waited patiently a few minutes. " Hum,” he said to himself, not liking the results of his observation. Then he asked a few questions, and wrote a prescription, which meant decided and immediate treatment.

“ Am I ill ? ” said the captain.

“ You are ill enough to keep quiet.”

“ But he did shoot me.”

“ Nonsense ! You are feverish, and your head is out of order.”

“ But he shot me ! I say, he shot me! ”

“ Oh, confound it! ” growled Morton. “ Suppose I did ? ”

“ There, I knew it,” exclaimed Gray, — “I knew it, sir ! He says so.”

“ I said no such thing! Doctor, may I trouble you a moment ?” As Wendell approached his bed, he added, “ I cannot stand this any longer. Make some arrangements for me to leave as soon as Mrs. Morton comes back. That will be in an hour. At any risk, at all risks, I must be carried to my own home in the country. Perhaps I did shoot him: who the devil knows or cares ! ” And as, in his annoyance, his voice rose sufficiently to be heard by Gray, the latter broke in anew : —

“ Well, sir, I am glad you admit it. And my little girl, — who is to take care of her ? I say,” he repeated sharply, “ who is to take care of her ? Not this man.”

“ Oh, she will be looked after,” responded Wendell kindly, desiring to soothe the patient, whose diseased fancies were evidently hurting both himself and his neighbor. “ Ah, here comes my sister! Ann, let me speak to you a moment ; ” and so saying, he led her out of the room, and explained to her that Captain Gray was very ill and delirious, and that it would be necessary to separate him from Major Morton.

Ann Wendell at once reëntered the room, took her seat at the bedside, and sat fanning the poor fellow, while her brother left them to attend to other duties. Mrs. Morton arrived soon after ; and as Lagrange agreed with his subordinate that it would now be best to move her husband, the proper arrangements were soon completed.

As the major was being carried out of the room, he said, “ Captain Gray, I hope you will soon get well; and meanwhile, whatever we can do for you is at your service.”

“ I sha’n’t get well,” returned Gray. “ I am going to die, to die, and my death is on your head! ”

Morton made no reply.

“ Don’t mind him,” the young surgeon whispered quietly to Mrs. Morton, who had turned, with a startled air,— “don’t mind him; he is raving.”

“ Poor fellow,” she murmured softly.

“ I don’t blame him,” cried Gray, in a high, shrill voice, “ but he did it. And oh, my little one, my little one ! Friendless, friendless! ” and he sank back, faint and exhausted, upon the pillow, from which he had risen with an effort of frenzied strength.

“ You won’t forget to call to-night ? ” said Mrs. Morton to Wendell. “ What a strange delusion ! What a painful scene! ” Then the nurses carried her husband out of the room and downstairs to the ambulance, while Ann Wendell, disturbed and pitiful, sat fanning the fevered man who remained. As she looked at him, his face struck her painfully. It was thin and drawn, beaded with sweat, and deeply flushed.

“ When will my child come ? ” he asked.

“ To-morrow. I have had a telegram, and I will bring her here at once. Yes, I will bring her; now don’t talk. We will take care of her until some of her relatives are heard from, or she can return to school, till you are well and exchanged.”

“ You promise me ? ”

“ Yes, I promise,” Ann replied, hardly knowing what to say.

“And that man, — he couldn’t help it! That’s war, that’s war! He shot me, you know. He says so. I saw him. You won’t let them have my child, will you, — now, will you ? ”

Ann had a pretty clear idea that nothing was less likely than that the stately dame, who overawed her with easy graciousness, would desire to assume charge of the little waif.

“Make yourself easy. God will provide.”

“ Yes, yes, I know, of course; but you will — take care — yes — you will ? ”

“ I will,” said Ann, hardly clear as to what she was pledging herself to do, but feeling sure that she must say yes to whatever he asked, and that she was not given time to reflect as to what she ought to do.

“ All right,” moaned Gray. “ Turn this pillow, please. Lord, how wretched I feel! ”

Ann did as he desired. She had a strong feeling that she ought to say something to relieve him: “ You must not say Major Morton shot you. How could you know that ? You must have made him feel horribly. I would n’t say it if I were you ! ”

“ But,” cried Gray, seizing her wrist, “ I know it, arid before you came he said it! He acknowledged he shot me ! What was that you said about to-morrow? To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow! Stop, excuse me, Mistress Wendell, — I am not at all clear in my head; but let him say what he likes, he shot me ! Remember that, he shot me! ”

Miss Wendell was deeply distressed. She could not appreciate the state of mental disturbance which possessed the man, and to her inexperience it seemed at once improbable and yet possible that he could have been sure of the hand which had smitten him. It all left her with one of those vague but lasting mental impressions which may wear out with time, or be deepened by future circumstance, and which are, as it were, memorial ghosts that trouble us despite our unbeliefs in their reality. For the present she put it aside ; but in her simple life it was a great and strange event, never pleasant to think or talk of. She Stayed with Gray till it was quite late, and then went home with her brother, promising to return the next afternoon, when she hoped to be able to bring the little girl.

The following day she busied herself, as usual, about the household and among the flowers in her little garden, until the hour came to meet the train, which was, little as she then guessed it, to bring into her life new cares and fresh anxieties. It was close to the late twilight of summer when she stood waiting at the station. Her life had been, as I have said, simple. Her nature and her creed alike taught her to be eternally willing to do for others acts of kindness ; indeed, to be ever ready, for these had grown to be habitual, and excited in her mind no comment whatsoever; so that in this sense virtue was its own reward, in that it made each new act of virtue easier, and so kept calm a conscience which was only too apt with rebuke. She now stood silently watching the crowd of soldiers going to the front, of officers in varied uniforms, all the eager, hurried travel of ever anxious men and women moving southward. At last she saw a conductor coming towards her, and guessed at once that the girl at his side was the child for whom she had come.

“I am Miss Wendell, and I am here to meet a child named Gray.”

“ Yes,” the conductor replied, “ that is all right. I was to turn her over to Miss Wendell. Here is the check for her trunk. Good-by, missy ! ” and so saying he dropped the child’s hand and walked away. The girl looked after him with a sense of desertion, and then turned and faced Ann Wendell, silent with the shy, speechless uneasiness of girlhood.

“You are Hester Gray?” said Miss Wendell.

“ Yes, ma’am. Where is my father ? ”

“You shall see him soon, Come, my dear, you must be tired; we won’t talk now;” and so having arranged for her trunk to be sent to Germantown, Ann got into a street car with her charge, and set out for the hospital.

Ann was acutely observant of but one person in her small world, — the brother whose life had become one with her own ; and she therefore troubled herself but little about the child at her side, save to say now and then a kind word, or to notice that the dress of brown holland, though clean and neat, showed signs of over use.

The girl was perhaps fifteen years old, but looked very childlike for her age. She had been sent four years before, when her mother died, to the school in New Jersey, where, save for one brief visit from her father before the war broke out, she had had the usual school life among a large number of girls, to whom was applied alike a common system, which admitted of no recognition of individualities. But this little existence, now sent adrift from its monotonous colony of fellow polyps to float away and develop under novel circumstances, was a very distinct and positive individual being. She sat beside Ann Wendell, stealing quick glances at her, at her fellow - passengers, and at the houses and buildings they were passing ; not reasoning about them, but simply making up the child’s little treasury of automatically gathered memories, and feeling, without knowing that she felt it, the kindliness and quiet incuriousness of the woman beside her. Then, seeing a man drop a letter into a postal box in the street, she suddenly remembered herself, and flushing said,—

“ I have a letter to give. If father is too sick, I am to give it to some one.”

“ I will take it,” said Ann, and the child presently extracted a letter, which the careful schoolmistress had pinned fast in her pocket. It was addressed to “ Charles Gray, Esq.” “ I will take care of it, my little woman.”

The child made some vague reflections on her being called a little woman, and the train of thought, brief as are always the speculations of childhood, ended at the door of the great brick hospital. Then they walked through the lounging crowd of invalids about the portal, past the sentinel, and up the stairs, until Ann knocked softly at the sick man’s door. It was opened by a nurse, who said in a low voice that they were to wait a minute, until he sent for the doctor. While they lingered, Ann heard the deep, snoring respiration of the man within, and tightened her grasp on the child’s hand, knowing only too well what the sound meant. A moment later Wendell appeared with the surgeon-incharge. The two men said a few words apart, and then the elder took the child’s hand, and sitting down on the staircase drew her towards him.

“ What is your name, my dear ? ”

“ Hester, — Hester Gray.”

“ How long since you saw your father ? ”

“ Ever so long, sir. I don’t remember.”

“Well, you know when people are sick they do not look as they do when they are well, and your father, Hester, is very sick ; so if he is too sick to know you are his own little girl, you must n’t be afraid, will you ? ”

“ No, sir, I will try not to be.”

“ And don’t cry,” he added, as he saw the large blue eyes filling. Then he took her tenderly by the hand, and saying cheerily, “ Now come along ; we will go and see papa,” he led her into the room, followed by Ann and her brother. When Ann saw the dying man’s face, she turned, and whispered to Wendell, —

“ Oh, I would n’t have done it at all! Why should she see him ? ”

Wendell made no answer. He was himself wondering why this tender little life should be forced into rude acquaintance with death. The surgeon knew better; knew full well, with the wisdom of many deaths, what a softened sweetness this grim memory would grow to have, in years to come, — what a blank in the life of love its absence might come to be.

Charles Gray was lost even now to the world of loves and hates. Gaunt with past suffering, his cheeks flushed with moving spaces of intense purplishred, he lay on his back. His eyes, wide open, stared up at the ceiling between moveless lids, while the irregularly heaving chest and the dilating nostrils told of the closing struggle for the breath which is life. Ann wiped from his brow the sweat which marks the earning of death as of bread, — the sign of all great physical effort, — and said in a rising voice, —

“ Here is Hester, Captain Gray! Captain Gray, this is Hester! Don’t you know her ? Your Hester.”

He made no sign in reply. Nature had not waited for man to supply her anæsthetics, and the disturbed chemistries of failing life were flooding nerve and brain with potent sedatives.

“ Too late ! ” murmured Wendell.

A slight convulsion passed over the features of the dying man. The child looked up in curious amazement. Her little life gave her no true key to the sorrow of the scene.

“ Kiss him,” said Ann ; “ speak to him, Hester. Perhaps he will know you.”

The child touched his forehead, recoiled a second from the chill, sweatingbrow, and then kissed it again and again.

“Speak to him, Hester, — try,” repeated Ann.

“ Father — father ! ” cried the child.

“A little water,” said the surgeon in chief, knowing that to swallow sometimes for a moment awakens the slumbering consciousness.

The dying man struggled with the spoonful of fluid, then swallowed it abruptly, and moved his lips.

“ Does he say anything ? ” said Wendell.

Ann bent down, and again wiped his face, This time he murmured something, and Ann rose instantly, with a pale face.

“ He does n’t know any one,” she said. “ Come, my child, kiss him again, and we will go out for a while.”

What Ann had heard were broken words, sent back to her alone through the closing doors which opened to one world and shut out another: “ Shot—shot — he shot me ! ”

“ Come,” she repeated to the dazed and trembling girl, “ the surgeons must be with him alone, dear.”

Hester obeyed without a word, crying, she hardly knew why ; for tears are the large resource of nature in most of the incidents that startle or perplex the emotional years of childhood; and to be truthful, there was more of terror than of grief in the scene for a child to whom years of absence and silence had made all memories of home and father somewhat hazy and indistinct.

“ I will take her away with me at once,” said Ann to Dr. Lagrange. “ It will be no good for her to see him again.”

“ You will do the kindest thing for her, I think,” he answered ; and with this, hand in hand with the child, who pressed close to her side, Ann went out into the street, thoughtful and dismayed. She had seen hundreds of wounded men, in her constant hospital visits, but no one knew who had hurt them; so that in her eyes this single definite fact of individual war seemed like murder. The whole matter of war, indeed, was horrible to Ann. She somehow saw God in its larger results, but not in its tragedies. How could God mean one man to slay another ! There, it is true, were the Amalekites and the Jebusites; but as to them, the command to destroy had been sufficiently distinct. Still, this present war was a just war, in Ann’s eyes, and her brother had no doubts at all, which was sometimes a comfort to her, and would have been a larger one had Wendell shared her own religious creed, which he certainly did not, being vaguely inclined at times to a half acceptance of the mysticism of Swedenborg. His belief in the competency of his own intellect made it necessary for him to possess some views on matters of religious beliefs, but so far he had never got much beyond the easy goal of destructive criticism.

When the two doctors began to descend the stairs from the dying man’s room, the elder said, “Mrs. Morton has written to me to say that she will be glad to meet any expense you may be put to about this child.”

“ She is a kind and generous woman, I should think,” replied Wendell.

“ Well, yes, in a cool, quiet way she is. I like her myself, and you will find, if yon don’t cross her views, that she will be a good friend. But that is her trouble. She respects none but manly, resolute men, and yet she dearly loves her own way. Money is a very little thing to her, and to Morton also. What a rapid case of pyæmia! I wish one understood it better, or that somebody could take it up and work at it. We have plenty of material. Why could not you try your hand ? ”

“ I have been thinking of it,” said Wendell.

In fact, he was always planning some valuable research, but was never energetic enough to overcome the incessant obstacles which make research so difficult.

“ We will talk it over,” said Dr. Lagrange. “ What do you think of Jones, in Number Five? He seems to me a malingerer, and a poor actor at that.”

And so the talk went from the frequent tragedy of death to its causes, and thence to the hospital work and discipline ; the scamps who were feigning illness ; and who were well enough to go to the front, who must be discharged, who be turned over to the provost marshal.

The contrasts in a doctor’s life are always striking, and were never more so than in the splendid and terrible years of our great war, which added a long list of novel duties and a training foreign to his ordinary existence. These two men, coming from the every-day calamity of a death-bed, instantly set aside the emotions and impressions, which no repetition ever quite destroys for the most callous doctor, and began to discuss the scientific aspects of the disease with which they had been so vainly battling. They both felt more or less the sense of defeat which waits for the physician as he leaves the room of the dying, — a keener discomfort than the unthinking public can well imagine ; but both were able to lose it in their interest in that which caused it.

S. Weir Mitchell.