It was a time of great and uplifting excitement. The country was up in arms, and the war was on.
Daily the young volunteers marched down the avenue, smart and fine in their new uniforms. Proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheered with voices choked with emotion.
Nightly we packed the public meetings, where patriotic speeches stirred our hearts to the deepest deep. At every other word, we burst in with cyclones of applause, even as tears ran down our cheeks.
The volunteers were there, their young faces alight with visions of glorious victory. Beside them were their proud and happy dear ones, as well as envious neighbors with no sons or brothers of their own to send forth to the field of honor.
An aged stranger entered from the back and moved up the aisle with slow and noiseless step. His long body was clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, and his white hair fell in a frothy waterfall to his shoulders. His rough face was unnaturally pale, almost ghostly.