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A Soldier's Faith

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Grant laid aside the book, and wiped his eyes. He must be in confoundedly low spirits indeed, to weep over a poetical address to Napoleon, and yet the words had unmanned him. They approached too near to sentiments he had long thought safely buried; but what was buried could be unearthed, as he had too much reason to know. And what was buried here had undergone no transformation with the years since Jonathan Strange’s disappearance from the world. Grant’s feelings, he discovered with a sharp pang, were as fresh and lively as ever.

The book was one of Flora’s, of course; she still loved Lord Byron’s verses, though she no longer cared for their author. It was Strange, not Grant, who had displaced that idol from her heart. Some husbands might have been jealous upon this cause, but Grant was not. It would hardly have been fair in him to be so, since their friendship and subsequent union had sprung from love of the same man. What had begun as comfort and esteem grew by degrees to something warmer, and they had been as happy together as most husbands and wives, companionable and faithful. It surprized him still a little, sometimes, that this last was not more difficult, but no one had stirred his inclinations as powerfully as Strange; he thought no one ever would.

He read the lines over again, as if to steel himself against them:

Woman’s love – and Friendship’s Zeal,
Dear as both have seemed to me –
What are they to all I feel –
With a soldier’s faith for thee?

What was left of a soldier’s faith these days, he did not know; yet he could not quite believe that he had seen the last of Jonathan Strange, in this world or some other as yet unknown.