Title: Mr. & Mrs. John Moore (aka Sara Howard Moore) VI: When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1/1)
Pairings/Characters: John/Sara, Laszlo/Karen, Lucius/Bitsy, Marcus
Fandom: The Alienist (2018)/The Alienist: Angel Of Darkness (2020)
Genres: Drama, Slice-Of-Life
Summary: John receives an enthusiastic welcome home from the war.
Date Of Completion: August 22, 2020
Date Of Posting: September 19, 2020
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, TNT does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1266
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: The entire series can be found here.
“When Johnny comes marching home again,
We'll give him a hearty welcome then
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.”
Louis Lambert (Pseud.)
“When Johnny Comes
Henry Tolman & Company
September 26, 1863
Sara waited excitedly at the pier. She was one of many packing the pier, dressed in their finest clothes and waving American flags. A brass band played patriotic songs as enterprising vendors peddled food and drinks. One vendor was doing a land-office business selling little American flags.
Sara watched the activity in the harbor as tugboats tooted their horns and larger ships came and went. The Statue of Liberty stood guard over the harbor, ferry boats bringing sightseers to Bedloe’s Island. Sara had come down here to view the fireworks on the Fourth of July. It had been a spectacular show, but this one promised to be even better. Sara searched the harbor for the troopship U.S.S. Rhode Island.
“There it is!” shouted a woman in a large pink hat decorated with red roses.
Sara followed her pointing finger and saw the ship. Her heart beat faster as she watched the ship’s approach, led by a plucky tugboat tooting its horn. Cheers went up and the flags waved vigorously. The band played “Anchors Aweigh”.
It took several minutes for the Rhode Island to dock. The ship was lined with young soldiers waving and shouting. Sara eagerly searched the happy faces for John. She finally spotted him on the far end of the line of soldiers.
“John! John! Over here!” Sara waved her little flag wildly.
Somehow in all the cacophony of sound, John heard her and waved as his face broke into a big smile. When the ship docked, the band struck up, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” as the gangplank was lowered. The officers gave the order and the soldiers marched down the gangplank as the crowd went wild. Motion picture cameras mounted on the roof of a nearby building captured the action as still photographers and reporters weaved in and out of the crowd.
Sara watched as the soldiers were greeted by their loved ones. Wives and girlfriends lavished kisses while proud fathers and brothers thumped brown-clad backs. Children jumped up and down and clamoured for attention.
Finally, Sara saw John descending the gangplank behind their old friend Theodore. Roosevelt was swamped by his five children as his wife patiently waited her turn. John battled through the crowd and reached Sara, who hugged him tightly. He returned the hug and they kissed passionately. Upon separating, two sets of eyes sparkled.
“Welcome home, John.”
“I see the band is welcoming me personally.”
“Yes, Johnny, very personally.” Sara felt quite giddy.
He smiled. “Quite a scene, eh?”
“It’ll be front-page news.” Sara noticed that John’s skin was browned by the Caribbean sun and that he had lost weight. He was in need of a haircut but he was still as handsome as ever. “Come on, I’ve got a cab waiting.”
Sara led John around the edge of the crowd to the hansom cab she had engaged. They climbed in and Sara gave the driver their address. She paid and tipped the driver when they reached home and went into the brownstone.
“I gave everyone the afternoon off,” Sara said.
John kissed her passionately and they hurried upstairs, choosing John’s bedroom. The door shut firmly behind them.
& & & & & &
“Now that was a welcome home,” he said mischievously.
Sara chuckled. “It was well-deserved.”
“Happy to agree.” John brought her hand to his lips. “Sometimes I wonder if I was ever in Cuba at all.”
John’s eyes took on a faraway look. “The war seems like some fantastic dream. I watched the battles as if they were in slow-motion. Sometimes it was simply strange. Battle can be swift or protracted. And what bullets can do.” John shuddered.
Sara rolled closer and cupped his face, kissing him gently. “It’s all right. You’re home now. You just need time to adjust.”
Sara touched his curling hair and looked at him with clear eyes. “If you need to talk to Laszlo, do so.”
John smiled. “I will.”
They embraced and fell asleep.
& & & & & &
After their welcome home night, John and Sara had been greeted the next morning by servants happy to see the master of the house back and in one piece. Cook had prepared a magnificent breakfast and then John had gone into the newspaper office. More welcomes, congratulations and hallelujahs, then this dinner hosted by Laszlo.
Present were Laszlo, Karen, the Isaacson brothers and Bitsy. Sara and John were pleased at the turnout.
“The green turtle soup was excellent to start,” John said, bringing his fingers to his lips with a mmwwaa!! sound. “And the chicken almondine. It’s all Delmonico’s high quality.”
“Hear, hear,” said Lucius as he held up his glass of wine.
Sara took her last bite of fish and smiled at Laszlo. “Fine menu.”
He nodded in satisfaction. Karen was amused. She leaned over and said to Sara, “I tried to get Laszlo to host this party at a restaurant I know, but he said it was better to host it at a familiar place as it would be a comfort on coming home for John. I have to admit that it was sound reasoning.”
“Yes, I can see that.”
John was telling an amusing story about Theodore in Cuba, and Karen said, “Has John been his old self since his return?”
Karen looked thoughtful. “I have been doing research on Civil War veterans, many of whom never readjusted to civilian life. Of course, that war was much longer, but war is war, long or short. If John has any problems, see if he will come and see me. I don’t leave for Vienna for several more weeks.”
“Thank you, Karen. I will keep that in mind.”
Sara watched as John finished his story and had his audience laughing. She would keep Karen’s words in mind. She knew that John was unsettled. It would be a good idea to keep an eye on him.
“Your stories in The Times were just wonderful,” Bitsy said. “I was always eager to see your latest dispatch.”
“Why, thank you, Bitsy,” John said.
“I agree,” Laszlo said. “When I wanted the truth about the war, it was John’s stories I would read.”
“Yes,” Marcus agreed. “You didn’t need sensationalism to sell your stories. Your talent and truth shone through. People respected that.”
John blushed. “Such lavish praise! Thank you, my friends.”
Laszlo lifted his wineglass. “To John!”
“To John!” everyone around the table repeated, raising their glasses.
Sara caught John’s eye and they exchanged loving smiles. As she drank her wine, Sara pledged to herself that she would make sure that John would have a sympathetic ear in her.
The Cuban part of the Spanish-American War was over, but the country was entering a dangerous new world, and Sara was determined to keep John from being swallowed up in it.
She put down her wineglass calmly. All would be well, no matter how fraught the journey.
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