scraggly bristle, his eyes discolored and dispirited, and hisnspeech disjoined, exhausted, and crumbling. It was clear thatnremembering had taken too much out of him, that he hadntired himself almost past endurance. He had cut down onnhis tobacco intake, as if the exercise of a chaw drew off toonmuch strength, and had increased his frequency of whiskey,nalthough this spiritous surplus did not enliven his demeanor.nOn the eve of his departure, Lieutenant Aldershotnbegged off telling of the destruction of Atlanta and gave onlynthe most cursory sketch of the surrender at Appomattox. Fornthe first time in three weeks, he retired eady to bed.nNext morning he came down late and took only coffeenfor his breakfast. He had dragged his leatherbound trunk tonthe front door and stood with his foot propped on it as henbade the Beachams farewell. Gravely they shook hands.nWhen he spoke to Lydie Aldershot held his hat over hisnheart. “Ma’am, your hospitality has been most generous andnnot something a plain soldier will forget.”nLydie took his hand; she blushed, feeling that she oughtnto curtsey but not knowing how.nHe looked straight into Harry’s eyes. “So long. OldnHoss,” he said. “It’s been mighty fine for me here.”n”We’ve been honored,” Harry said. “Believe me.”nThen the government van arrived and the driver came tonload Aldershot’s trunk and they shook hands once more andnthe lieutenant departed. As they watched him trudgingndown the front walk Harry and Lydie were struck silent bynthe mournful figure he presented, his shoulders slumped,nhis head thrust forward, and his step a defeated shuffle.nWhen he mounted to the van cab and rode away withoutnwaving or looking back, a feeling of deep sadness descendednupon them, so that they stood for a minute or two holdingneach other for comfort and looking into the bright emptynmorning.nFinally Harry closed the door and turned away. “I don’tnknow about you,” he said, “but I feel tired. Tired in mynbones.”n”Me too,” Lydie said. “And I’ve got to get this housencleaned up. There’s tobacco spit everywhere. Everything innthe house is splattered.”n”I feel like we just lost the war.”n”Well, honey, that’s exactly what happened.”n”I’ll tell you what I’m going to do — if you don’t mind, Inmean. I’m going to call these government History peoplenand tell them not to send the other ancestors. I’m uttedynexhausted. I can’t imagine how I’d feel after two morenvisitors like the lieutenant.”n”I think you’re right,” she said. “Do it now.”nHarry got on the telephone and dialed a list of bureaucraticnnumbers, only to find that each and every one gave oflFna busy signal for hours on end.nSo that on Monday morning, at ten-thirty on the dot.nPrivate William Harper presented himself at the frontndoor and handed his papers to Lydie with a shy bow. Hisnwas a diffident gray uniform that had seen better days, but itnwas clean and tidy. He was accompanied by no trunk; only anmodest neatly turned bedroll lay at his feet. “Ma’am, Inbelieve you are expecting me?” he said.nHer first impulse was to send him away immediately, butnthe van must have departed already since it was nowhere inn20/CHRONICLESnnnsight, and, anyway, her second stronger impulse was to invitenhim into the house and feed him. Lieutenant Aldershotnmust have been in his early forties — though he had lookednto be sixty years old when he departed — but Private Harperncould hardly have been out of his teens.nHe offered her his papers and gave her what he obviouslynhoped was a winning smile, but he was so young andnclear-eyed and shy and apprehensive that his expression wasnmore frightened than cordial.nLydie’s heart went out to him entirely; she took thenpacket without looking at it, staring almost tenderly uponnHarper with his big bright blue eyes and rosy complexion innwhich the light fuzz was evidence of an infrequent acquaintancenwith a razor. He was a slight young man, slender andnwell-formed and with hands as long-fingered and delicate asna pianist’s. He seemed troubled by her stare and shiftednrestlessly in his boots.n”Ma’am,” he asked, “have I come to the right house?nMaybe I’m supposed to be somewhere else.”n”No,” Lydie said. “You come right in. This is the placenfor you.”n”I wouldn’t want to be a burden,” the private said.n”Those government people said that you had invited me toncome here. I wouldn’t want to impose on you.”n”We’re glad to have you. Don’t worry about a thing.”nHe looked all about him, wonderstruck. “You belong to anmighty grand place. It’s hard for me to get used to thenhouses and everything that people have.”n”We feel lucky,” Lydie said. “Lots of people are not sonwell-off.” Then, seeing that he could formulate no reply,nshe stooped and picked up his bedroll. “Please come in. Inwas just getting ready to make some fresh coffee. You’d likenthat, wouldn’t you?”n”Yes ma’am.”nIn the kitchen Private Harper sat at the table and watchednmoonily every step and gesture Lydie made. His nervousnessnwas subsiding, but he seemed a long way from being atnease. She took care to smile warmly and speak softly, but itnwas apparent to her from Harper’s worshipful gaze that shenhad already conquered the young man’s heart. When shenset the coffee before him with the cream pitcher and sugarnbowl alongside he didn’t glance down, looking instead intonher face. “Now, Private Harper,” she said, “drink yourncoffee. And would you like something to eat? I can make ansandwich or maybe there’s a piece of chocolate cake left.nYou like chocolate cake, don’t you?”n”No ma’am. Just the coffee is all I want to wake me up. Inwas feeling a little bit tired.”n”Of course you are,” she said. “You finish your coffeenand I’ll show you to your room and you can get somensleep.”n”You’re awful kind, ma’am. I won’t say No to that.”nWhen the private was tucked away, Lydie telephonednher spouse at his place of business, Harry’s Hot-HitnVidrents, to tell him the news.nHe was not happy. “Oh Lydie,” he said. “You werensupposed to send him back where he came from. That wasnour plan.”n”I just couldn’t,” she said. “He’s so young. And he wasntired out. He’s already asleep.”n