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“ [310] mother myself when I get better. Did you think I was married because of this?” he asked, touching a plain ring he wore, and often turned thoughtfully on his finger when he lay alone.

“ Partly that, but more from a settled sort of look you have, a look which young men seldom get until they marry.”

“I don't know that; but I'm not so very young, ma'am, thirty in May, and have been what you might call settled this ten years; for mother's a widow, I'm the oldest child she has, and it wouldn't do for me to marry until Lizzy has a home of her own, and Laurie's learned his trade; for we're not rich, and I must be father to the children and husband to the dear old woman, if I can.”

“ No doubt but you are both, John; yet how came you to go to war, if you felt so? Wasn't enlisting as bad as marrying?”

“ No, ma'am, not as I see it, for one is helping my neighbor, the other pleasing myself. I went because I couldn't help it. I didn't want the glory or the pay; I wanted the right thing done, and people kept saying the men who were in earnest ought to fight. I was in earnest, the Lord knows! but I held off as long as I could, not knowing which was my duty; mother saw the case, gave me her ring to keep me steady, and said ‘ Go:’ so I went.”

A short story and a simple one, but the man and the mother were portrayed better than pages of fine writing could have done it.

Do you ever regret that you came, when you lie here suffering so much?”

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