He bowed his head in despair. His own despair seemed to multiply as thought of the many families who had lost loved ones to the war, and then of his own loss of Fanny and of Charles' terrible injury. He again took up his pen and wrote:
And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
He put down his pen and rested his head on his arms on the desk. “It's no use,” he thought. “I can't publish a poem that ends like that and right now I can't imagine any other ending.” He crumpled up the paper and threw it into the waste basket beside his desk.
But just then the newsboy's bell was also heard, mingling with the sound of the church bells. Then the sound of the newsboy's voice was heard above the pealing of the bells, shouting out the headlines: “Union forces make great advances. Read all about it.”
Charles threw down the Bible, grabbed his overcoat from the closet and ran out and bought a paper from the lad. Upon returning he decided to share the news with his father. Entering Henry's study, he said excitedly “Did you hear that news Father? There are great union advances. Why, the war may be over sooner than we think.”
“Let me see that, Son.” And Henry almost tore the paper from his son's hand. He then slumped down again into his easy chair with the paper in hand and read slowly. In a little while, he raised his head out of the paper again and said with a slight smile, “Well, things do look somewhat hopeful, don't they, Son?”
“I'd say more than somewhat. With first Lincoln’s re-election and now this news--I think it's a portent, Father. This civil war will soon be over. I think it's time you ended your personal war also, Father.”
Henry frowned. “That’ll be enough Son! I thank you for sharing with me the good news about the war. It is encouraging, but then, why did it even have to start in the first place? Where was God when it started? I'd just like to be left alone now, Son.”
“Alright, Father.” Charles went back to the living room again and reached once more for the family Bible, which was now on the floor where it had fallen when he went to get the paper.
Again Henry sat staring blankly at Fanny's picture. Then he thought, perhaps his son was right. At any rate he was glad that things looked hopeful on the National front. But how could he forget Fanny's death and Charles' serious injury? Surely God could have prevented these things if he wanted to.
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