The Shades of the Wilderness by Joseph A. Altsheler
Chapter IX. In Society
Harry, when the dawn had fully come, was sent farther away toward the ford to see if the remainder of the troops had passed, and, when he returned with the welcome news, the rain had ceased to fall. The army was rapidly drying itself in the brilliant sunshine, and marched leisurely on. He felt an immense relief. He knew that a great crisis had been passed, and, if the Northern armies ever reached Richmond, it would be a long and sanguinary road. Meade might get across and attack, but his advantage was gone.
The same spirit of relief pervaded the ranks, and the men sang their battle songs. There had been some fighting at one or two of the fords, but it did not amount to much, and no enemy hung on their rear. But no stop was made by the staff until noon, when a fire was made and food was cooked. Then Harry was notified that he and Dalton were to start that night with dispatches for Richmond. They were to ride through dangerous country, until they reached a point on the railroad, wholly within the Southern lines, when they would take a train for the Confederate capital.
They were glad to go. They felt sure that no great battles would be fought while they were gone. Neither army seemed to be in a mood for further fighting just yet, and they longed for a sight of the little city that was the heart of the Confederacy. They were tired of the rifle and march, of cannon and battles. They wished to be a while where civilized life went on, to hear the bells of churches and to see the faces of women.
It seemed to them both that they had lived almost all their lives in war. Even Jeb Stuart's ball, stopped by the opening guns of a great battle, was far, far away, and to Harry, it was at least a century since he had closed his Tacitus in the Pendleton Academy, and put it away in his desk. That old Roman had written something of battles, but they were no such struggles as Chancellorsville and Gettysburg had been. The legions, he admitted in his youthful pride, could fight well, but they never could have beaten Yank or Reb.
He and Dalton slept through the afternoon and directly after dark, well equipped and well-armed, they made their start into the South. But in going they did not neglect to pass the camp of the Invincibles who were now in the apex of the army farthest south. They had found an unusually comfortable place on a grassy plot beside a fine, cool spring, and most of them were lying down. But Colonel Talbot and Lieutenant- Colonel Hector St. Hilaire sat on empty kegs, with a board on an empty box between them. The great game which ran along with the war had been renewed. St. Clair and Langdon sat on the grass beside them, watching the contest.
The two colonels looked up at the sound of hoofs and paused a moment.
"I'm getting his king into a close corner, Harry," said Colonel Talbot, "and he'll need a lot of time for thinking. Where are you two going, or perhaps I shouldn't ask you such a question?"
"There's no secret about it," replied Harry. "We're going to Richmond with dispatches."
"He was incorrect in saying that he was getting my king into a close corner, as I'll presently show him," said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire; "but you boys are lucky. I suppose you'll stay a while in the capital. You'll sleep in white beds, you'll eat at tables, with tablecloths on 'em. You'll hear the soft voices of the women and girls of the South, God bless 'em!"
"And if you went on to Charleston you'd find just as fine women there," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot.
He sighed and a shade of sadness crossed his face. Harry heard and saw and understood. He remembered a night long, long ago in that heat of rebellion, when he had looked down from the window of his room, and, in the dark, had seen two figures, a man and a woman, upon a piazza, Colonel Talbot and Madame Delaunay, talking softly together. He had felt then that he was touching almost unconsciously upon the thread of an old romance. A thread slender and delicate, but yet strong enough in its very tenderness and delicacy to hold them both. The perfume of the flowers and of the old romance that night in the town so far away came back. He was moved, and when his eyes met Colonel Talbot's some kind of an understanding passed between them.
"The good are never rewarded," said Happy Tom.
"How so?" asked Harry.
"Because the proof of it sits on his horse here before us. Why should a man like George Dalton be sent to Richmond? A sour Puritan who does not know how to enjoy a dance or anything else, who looks upon the beautiful face of a girl as a sin and an abomination, who thinks to be ugly is to be good, who is by temperament and education unfit to enjoy anything, while Thomas Langdon, who by the same measurements is fit to enjoy everything, is left here to hold back the Army of the Potomac. It's undoubtedly a tribute to my valor, but I don't like it."
"Thomas," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot, gravely, "you're entirely too severe with our worthy young friend, Dalton. The bubbles of pleasure always lie beneath austere and solemn exteriors like his, seeking to break a way to the surface. The longer the process is delayed the more numerous the bubbles are and the greater they expand. If scandalous reports concerning a certain young man in Richmond should reach us here in the North, relating his unparalleled exploits in the giddier circles of our gay capital, I should know without the telling that it was our prim young George Dalton."
"You never spoke truer words, Leonidas," said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire. "A little judicious gallantry in youth is good for any one. It keeps the temperature from going too high. I recall now the case of Auguste Champigny, who owned an estate in Louisiana, near the Louisiana estate of the St. Hilaires, and the estates of those cousins of mine whom I visited, as I told you once.
"But pardon me. I digress, and to digress is to grow old, so I will not digress, but remain young, in heart at least. I go back now. I was speaking of Auguste Champigny, who in youth thought only of making money and of making his plantation, already great, many times greater. The blood in his veins was old at twenty-two. He did not love the vices that the world calls such. But yet there were times, I knew, when he would have longed to go with the young, because youth cannot be crushed wholly at twenty-two. There was no escape of the spirits, no wholesome blood-letting, so to speak, and that which was within him became corrupt. He acquired riches and more riches, and land and more land, and at fifty he went to New Orleans, and sought the places where pleasures abound. But his true blossoming time had passed. The blood in his veins now became poison. He did the things that twenty should do, and left undone the things that fifty should do. Ah! Harry, one of the saddest things in life is the dissipated boy of fifty! He should have come with us when the first blood of youth was upon him. He could have found time then for play as well as work. He could have rowed with us in the slender boats on the river and bayous with Mimi and Rosalie and Marianne and all those other bright and happy ones. He could have danced, too. It was no strain, we never danced longer than two days and two nights without stopping, and the festivals, the gay fete days, not more than one a week! But it was not Auguste's way. A man when he should have been a boy, and then, alas! a boy when he should have been a man!"
"You speak true words, Hector," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot, "though at times you seem to me to be rather sentimental. Youth is youth and it has the pleasures of youth. It is not fitting that a man should be a boy, but middle-age has pleasures of its own and they are more solid, perhaps more satisfying than those of youth. I can't conceive of twenty getting the pleasure out of the noble game of chess that we do. The most brilliant of your young French Creole dancers never felt the thrill that I feel when the last move is made and I beat you."
"Then if you expect to experience that thrill, Leonidas, continue the pursuit of my king, from which you expect so much, and see what will happen to you."
Colonel Talbot looked keenly at the board, and alarm appeared on his face. He made a rapid retreat with one of his pieces, and Harry and Dalton, knowing that it was time for them to go, reached down from their saddles, shook hands with both, then with St. Clair and Happy Tom, and were soon beyond the bounds of the camp.
They rode on for many hours in silence. They were in a friendly land now, but they knew that it was well to be careful, as Federal scouts and cavalry nevertheless might be encountered at any moment. Two or three times they turned aside from the road to let detachments of horsemen pass. They could not tell in the dark and from their hiding places to which army they belonged, and they were not willing to take the delay necessary to find out. They merely let them ride by and resumed their own place on the road.
Harry told Dalton many more details of his perilous journey from the river to the camp of the commander-in-chief, and he spoke particularly of Shepard.
"Although he's a spy," he said, "I feel that the word scarcely fits him, he's so much greater than the ordinary spy. That man is worth more than a brigade of veterans to the North. He's as brave as a lion, and his craft and cunning are almost superhuman."
He did not tell that he might easily have put Shepard forever out of the way, but that his heart had failed him. Yet he did not feel remorse nor any sense of treachery to his cause. He would do the same were the same chance to come again. But it seemed to him now that a duel had begun between Shepard and himself. They had been drifting into it, either through chance or fate, for a long time. He knew that he had a most formidable antagonist, but he felt a certain elation in matching himself against one so strong.
They rode all night and the next day across the strip of Maryland into Virginia and once more were among their own people, their undoubted own. They were now entering the Valley of Virginia where the great Jackson had leaped into fame, and both Harry and Dalton felt their hearts warm at the greetings they received. Both armies had marched over the valley again and again. It was torn and scarred by battle, and it was destined to be torn and scarred many times more, but its loyalty to the South stood every test. This too was the region in which many of the great Virginia leaders were born, and it rejoiced in the valor of its sons.
Food and refreshment were offered everywhere to the two young horsemen, and the women and the old men--not many young men were left--wanted to hear of Gettysburg. They would not accept it as a defeat. It was merely a delay, they said. General Lee would march North once more next year. Harry knew in his heart that the South would never invade again, that the war would be for her henceforth a purely defensive one, but he said nothing. He could not discourage people who were so sanguine.
Every foot of the way now brought back memories of Jackson. He saw many familiar places, fields of battle, sites of camps, lines of advance or retreat, and his heart grew sad within him, because one whom he admired so much, and for whom he had such a strong affection, was gone forever, gone when he was needed most. He saw again with all the vividness of reality that terrible night at Chancellorsville, when the wounded Jackson lay in the road, his young officers covering his body with their own to protect him from the shells.
When they reached the strip of railroad entering Richmond they left their horses to be sent later, and each took a full seat in the short train, where he could loosen his belt, and stretch his limbs. It was a crude coach, by the standards of to-day, but it was a luxury then. Harry and Dalton enjoyed it, after so much riding horseback, and watched the pleasant landscape, brown now from the July sun, flow past.
Their coach did not contain many passengers, several wounded officers going to Richmond on furlough, some countrymen, carrying provisions to the capital for sale, and a small, thin, elderly woman in a black dress, to whom Harry assigned the part of an old maid. He noticed that her features were fine and she had the appearance of one who had suffered. When they reached Richmond and their passes were examined, he hastened to carry her bag for her and to help her off the train. She thanked him with a smile that made her almost handsome, and quickly disappeared in the streets of the city.
"A nice looking old maid," he said to Dalton.
"How do you know she's an old maid?"
"I don't know. I suppose it's a certain primness of manner."
"You can't judge by appearances. Like as not she's been married thirty years, and it's possible that she may have a family of at least twelve children."
"At any rate, we'll never know. But it's good, George, to be here in Richmond again. It's actually a luxury to see streets and shop windows, and people in civilian clothing, going about their business."
"Looks the same way to me, Harry, but we can't delay. We must be off to the President, with the dispatches from the Army of Northern Virginia."
But they did not hurry greatly. They were young and it had been a long time since they had been in a city of forty thousand inhabitants, where the shop windows were brilliant to them and nobody on the streets was shooting at anybody else. It was late July, the great heats were gone for the time at least, and they were brisk and elated. They paused a little while in Capitol Square, and looked at the Bell Tower, rising like a spire, from the crest of which alarms were rung, then at the fine structure of St. Paul's Church. They intended to go into the State House now used as the Confederate Capitol, but that must wait until they reported to President Davis.
They arrived at the modest building called the White House of the Confederacy, and, after a short wait in the anteroom, they were received by the President. They saw a tall, rather spare man, dressed in a suit of home-knit gray. He received them without either warmth or coldness. Harry, although it was not the first time he had seen him, looked at him with intense curiosity. Davis, like Lincoln, was born in his own State, Kentucky, but like most other Kentuckians, he did not feel any enthusiasm over the President of the Confederacy. There was no magnetism. He felt the presence of intellect, but there was no inspiration in that arid presence.
A man of Oriental features was sitting near with a great bunch of papers in his hand. Mr. Davis did not introduce Harry and Dalton to him, and he remained silent while the President was asking questions of the messengers. But Harry watched him when he had a chance, interested strongly in that shrewd, able, Eastern face, the descendant of an immemorial and intellectual race, the man who while Secretary of State was trying also to help carry the tremendous burden of Confederate finance. What was he thinking, as Harry and Dalton answered the President's questions about the Army of Northern Virginia?
"You say that you left immediately after our army crossed the Potomac?" asked the President.
"Yes, sir," replied Harry. "General Meade could have attacked, but he remained nearly two days on our front without attempting to do so."
A thin gray smile flitted over the face of the President of the Confederacy.
"General Meade was not beaten at Gettysburg, but I fancy he remembered it well enough."
Harry glanced at Benjamin, but his Oriental face was inscrutable. The lad wondered what was lurking at the back of that strong brain. He was shrewd enough himself to know that it was not always the generals on the battlefield who best understood the condition of a state at war, and often the man who held the purse was the one who measured it best of all. But Benjamin never said a word, nor did the expression of his face change a particle.
"The Army of Northern Virginia is safe," said the President, "and it will be able to repel all invasion of Virginia. General Lee gives especial mention of both of you in his letters, and you are not to return to him at once. You are to remain here a while on furlough, and if you will go to General Winder he will assign you to quarters."
Both Harry and Dalton were delighted, and, although thanks were really due to General Lee, they thanked the President, who smiled dryly. Then they saluted and withdrew, the President and the Secretary of State going at once into earnest consultation over the papers Mr. Benjamin had brought.
Harry felt that he had left an atmosphere of depression and said so, when they were outside in the bright sunshine.
"If you were trying to carry as much as Mr. Davis is carrying you'd be depressed too," said Dalton.
"Maybe so, but let's forget it. We've got nothing to do for a few days but enjoy ourselves. General Winder is to give us quarters, but we're not to be under his command. What say you to a little trip through the capitol?"
Congress had adjourned for the day, but they went through the building, admiring particularly the Houdon Washington, and then strolled again through the streets, which were so interesting and novel to them. Richmond was never gayer and brighter. They were sure that the hated Yankees could never come. For more than two years the Army of Northern Virginia had been an insuperable bar to their advance, and it would continue so.
Harry suddenly lifted his cap as some one passed swiftly, and Dalton glancing backward saw a small vanishing figure.
"Who was it?" he asked.
"The thin little old maid in black whom we saw on the train. She may have nodded to me when I bowed, but it was such a little nod that I'm not certain."
"I rather like your being polite to an insignificant old maid, Harry. I'd expect you, as a matter of course, to be polite to a young and pretty girl, overpolite probably."
"That'll do, George Dalton. I like you best when you're preaching least. Come, let's go into the hotel and hear what they're talking about."
After the custom of the times a large crowd was gathered in the spacious lobby of Richmond's chief hotel. Among them were the local celebrities in other things than war, Daniel, Bagby, Pegram, Randolph, and a half-dozen more, musicians, artists, poets, orators and wits. People were quite democratic, and Harry and Dalton were free to draw their chairs near the edge of the group and listen. Pegram, the humorist, gave them a glance of approval, when he noticed their uniforms, the deep tan of their faces, their honest eyes and their compact, strong figures.
Harry soon learned that a large number of English and French newspapers had been brought by a blockade runner to Wilmington, North Carolina, and had just reached the capital, the news of which these men were discussing with eagerness.
"We learn that the sympathies of both the French and English governments are still with us," said Randolph.
"But these papers were all printed before the news of Vicksburg and Gettysburg had crossed the Atlantic," said Daniel.
"England is for us," said Pegram, "only because she likes us little and the North less. The French Imperialists, too, hate republics, and are in for anything that will damage them. When we beat off the North, until she's had enough, and set up our own free and independent republic, we'll have both England and France annoying us, and demanding favors, because they were for us in the war. Sympathy is something, but it doesn't win any battles."
"A nation has no real friend except itself," said Bagby. "Whatever the South gets she'll have to get with her own good right arm."
"I can predict the first great measure to be put through by the Southern Government after the war."
"What will it be?"
"The abolition of slavery."
"Why, that's one of the things we're fighting to maintain!"
"Exactly so. You're willing to throw away a thing of your own accord, when you're not willing to throw it away because another orders you to do so. Wars are due chiefly to our misunderstanding of human nature."
Then Pegram turned suddenly to Harry. "You're from the field?" he said. "From the Army of Northern Virginia?"
"Yes," replied Harry. "My name is Kenton and I'm a lieutenant on the staff of General Lee. My friend is George Dalton, also of the commander- in-chief's staff."
"Are you from Kentucky?" asked Daniel curiously.
"Yes, from a little town called Pendleton."
"Then I fancy that I've met a relative of yours. I returned recently from a small town in North Georgia, the name of which I may not give, owing to military reasons, necessary at the present time, and I met while I was there a splendid tall man of middle years, Colonel George Kenton of Kentucky."
"That's my father!" said Harry eagerly. "How was he?"
"I thought he must be your father. The resemblance, you know. I should say that if all men were as healthy as he looked there would be no doctors in the world. He has a fine regiment and he'll be in the battle that's breeding down there. Grant has taken Vicksburg, as we all know, but a powerful army of ours is left in that region. It has to be dealt with before we lose the West."
"And it will fight like the Army of Northern Virginia," said Harry. "I know the men of the West. The Yankees win there most of the time, because we have our great generals in the East and they have theirs in the West."
"I've had that thought myself," said Bagby. "We've had men of genius to lead us in the East, but we don't seem to produce them in the West. People are always quoting Napoleon's saying that men are nothing, a man is everything, which I never believed before, but which I'm beginning to believe now."
Then the talk veered away from battle and back to social, literary and artistic affairs, to all of which Harry and Dalton listened eagerly. Both had minds that responded to the more delicate things of life, and they were glad to hear something besides war discussed. It was hard for them to think that everything was going on as usual in Europe, that new books and operas and songs were being written, and that men and women were going about their daily affairs in peace. Yet both were destined to live to see the case reversed, the people of the States setting the world an example in moderation and restraint, while the governments of Europe were deluging that continent with blood.
"If this war should result in our defeat," said Bagby, "we won't get a fair trial before the world for two or three generations, and maybe never."
"Why?" asked Dalton.
"Because we're not a writing people. Oh, yes, there's Poe, I know, the nation's greatest literary genius, but even Europe honored him before the South did. We've devoted our industry and talents to politics, oratory and war. We don't write books, and we don't have any newspapers that amount to much. Why, as sure as I'm sitting here, the moment this war is over New England and New York and Pennsylvania, particularly New England, will begin to pour out books, telling how the wicked Southerners brought on the war, what a cruel and low people we are, the way in which we taught our boys, when they were strong enough, how to beat slaves to death, and the whole world will believe them. Maybe the next generation of Southerners will believe them too."
"Why?" asked Harry.
"Why? Why? Because we don't have any writers, and won't have any for a long time! The writer has not been honored among us. Any fellow with a roaring voice who can get up on the stump and tell his audience that they're the bravest and best and smartest people on earth is the man for them. You know that old story of Andy Jackson. Somebody taunted him with being an uneducated man, so at the close of his next speech he thundered out: E pluribus unum! Multum in parvo! Sic semper tyrannis! So it was all over. Old Andy to that audience, and all the others that heard of it, was the greatest Latin scholar in the world."
"But that may apply to the North, too," objected Harry.
"So it would. Nevertheless they'll write this war, and they'll get their side of it fastened on the world before our people begin to write."
"But if we win we won't care," said Randolph. "Success speaks for itself. You can squirm and twist all you please, and make all the excuses for it that you can think up, but there stands success glaring contemptuously at you. You're like a little boy shooting arrows at the Sphinx."
Thus the conversation ran on. Both Harry and Dalton were glad to be in the company of these men, and to feel that there was something in the world besides war. All the multifarious interests of peace and civilization suddenly came crowding back upon them. Harry remembered Pendleton with its rolling hills, green fields, and clear streams, and Dalton remembered his own home, much like it, in the Valley of Virginia, not so far away.
"Do you remain long in Richmond?" asked Randolph.
"A week at least," replied Harry.
"Then you ought to see a little of social life. Mrs. John Curtis, a leading hostess, gives a reception and a dance to-morrow night. I can easily procure invitations for both of you, and I know that she would be glad to have two young officers freshly arrived from our glorious Army of Northern Virginia."
"But our clothes!" said Dalton. "We have only a change of uniform apiece, and they're not fresh by any means."
All the men laughed.
"You don't think that Richmond is indulging in gorgeous apparel do you?" said Daniel. "We never manufactured much ourselves, and since all the rest of the world is cut off from us where are the clothes to come from even for the women? Brush up your uniforms all you can and you'll be more than welcome. Two gallant young officers from the Army of Northern Virginia! Why, you'll be two Othellos, though white, of course."
Harry glanced at Dalton, and Dalton glanced at Harry. Each saw that the other wanted to go, and Daniel, watching them, smiled.
"I see that you'll come," he said, "and so it's settled. Have you quarters yet?"
"Not yet," replied Harry, "but we'll see about it this afternoon."
"I'll have the invitations sent to you here at this hotel. All of us will be there, and we'll see that you two meet everybody."
Both thanked him profusely. They were about to go, thinking it time to report to General Winder, when Harry noticed a thin woman in a black dress, carrying a large basket, and just leaving the hotel desk. He caught a glimpse of her face and he knew that it was the old maid of the train. Then something else was impressed upon his mind, something which he had not noticed at their first meeting, but which came to him at their second. He had seen a face like hers before, but the resemblance was so faint and fleeting that he could not place it, strive as he would. But he was sure that it was there.
"Who is that woman?" he asked.
Daniel shook his head and so did Randolph, but Bagby spoke up.
"Her name is Henrietta Carden," he said, "and she's a seamstress. I've seen her coming to the hotel often before, bringing new clothes to the women guests, or taking away old ones to be repaired. I believe that the ladies account her most skillful. It's likely that she'll be at the Curtis house, in a surgical capacity, to-morrow night, as a quick repairer of damaged garments, those fine linen and silk and lace affairs that we don't know anything about. Mrs. Curtis relies greatly upon her and I ought to tell you, young gentlemen, that Mr. Curtis is a most successful blockade runner, though he takes no personal risk himself. The Curtis house is perhaps the most sumptuous in Richmond. You'll see no signs of poverty there, though, as I told you, officers in old and faded clothes are welcome."
Harry saw Henrietta Carden carrying the large basket of clothes, go out at a side door, and he felt as if a black shadow like a menace had passed across the floor. But it was only for an instant. He dismissed it promptly, as one of those thoughts that come out of nothing, like idle puffs of summer air. He and Dalton bade a brief farewell to their new friends and left for the headquarters of General Winder. An elderly and childless couple named Lanham had volunteered to take two officers in their house near Capitol Square, and there Harry and Dalton were sent.
They could not have found a better place. Mr. and Mrs. Lanham were quiet people, who gave them an excellent room and a fine supper. Mrs. Lanham showed a motherly solicitude, and when she heard that they were going to the Curtis ball on the following night she demanded that their spare and best uniforms be turned over to her.
"I can make them look fresh," she insisted, "and your appearance must be the finest possible. No, don't refuse again. It's a pleasure to me to do it. When I look at you two, so young and strong and so honest in manner and speech, I wish that I had sons too, and then again I'm glad I have not."
"Why not, Mrs. Lanham?" asked Harry.
"Because I'd be in deadly fear lest I lose them. They'd go to the war-- I couldn't help it--and they'd surely be killed."
"We won't grieve over losing what we've never had," smiled Mr. Lanham. "That's morbid."
Harry and Dalton did their best to answer all the questions of their hosts, who they knew would take no pay. The interest of both Mr. and Mrs. Lanham was increased when they found that their young guests were on the staff of General Lee and before that had been on the staff of the great Stonewall Jackson. These two names were mighty in the South, untouched by any kind of malice or envy, and with legends to cluster around them as the years passed.
"And you really saw Stonewall Jackson every day!" said Mrs. Lanham. "You rode with him, talked with him, and went into battle with him?"
"I was in all his campaigns, Mrs. Lanham," replied Harry, modestly, but not without pride. "I was with him in every battle, even to the last, Chancellorsville. I was one of those who sheltered him from the shells, when he was shot by our own men. Alas! what an awful mistake. I--"
He stopped suddenly. He had choked with emotion, and the tears came into his eyes. Mrs. Lanham saw, and, understanding, she quickly changed the subject to Lee. They talked a while after supper, called dinner now, and then they went up to their room on the second floor.
It was a handsome room, containing good furniture, including two single beds. Their baggage had preceded them and everything was in order. Two large windows, open to admit the fresh air, looked out over Richmond. On a table stood a pitcher of ice water and glasses.
"Our lot has certainly been cast in a pleasant place," said Dalton, taking a chair by one of the windows.
"You're right," said Harry, sitting in the chair by the other window. "The Lanhams are fine people, and it's a good house. This is luxury, isn't it, George, old man?"
"The real article. We seem to be having luck all around. And we're going to a big ball to-morrow night, too. Who'd have thought such a thing possible a week ago?"
"And we've made friends who'll see that we're not neglected."
"It's an absolute fact that we've become the favorite children of fortune."
"No earthly doubt of it."
Then ensued a silence, broken at length by a scraping sound as each moved his chair a little nearer to the window.
"Close, George," said Harry at length.
"Yes, a bit hard to breathe."
"When fellows get used to a thing it's hard to change."
"Fine room, though, and those are splendid beds."
"Great on a winter night."
"You've noticed how the commander-in-chief himself seldom sleeps under a tent, but takes his blankets to the open?"
"Wonder how an Indian who has roamed the forest all his life feels when he's shut up between four walls for the first time."
"Fancy it's like a prison cell to him."
"Think so too. But the Lanhams are fine people and they're doing their best for us."
"Do you think they'd be offended if I were to take my blankets, and sleep on the grass in the back yard?"
"Of course they would. You mustn't think of such a thing. After this war is over you've got to emerge slowly from barbarism. Do you remember whether at supper we cut our food with our knives and lifted it to our mouths with forks, or just tore and lifted with our fingers?"
"We used knife and fork, each in its proper place. I happened to think of it and watched myself. You, I suppose, did it through the force of an ancient habit, recalled by civilized surroundings."
"I'm glad you remember about it. Now I'm going to bed, and maybe I'll sleep. I suppose there's no hope of seeing the stars through the roof."
"None on earth! But my bed is fine and soft. We'd be all right if we could only lift the roof off the house. I'd like to hear the wind rubbing the boughs together."
"Stop it! You make me homesick! We've got no right to be pining for blankets and the open, when these good people are doing so much for us!"
Each stretched himself upon his bed, and closed his eyes. They had not been jesting altogether. So long a life in the open made summer skies at night welcome, and roofs and walls almost took from them the power of breathing.
But the feeling wore away after a while and amid pleasurable thoughts of the coming ball both fell asleep.