Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 239
Adam has joined the Army and Charles is left on the farm, a lonely bachelor. One day, when out working on the ranch alone and trying to pry loose a boulder, the tool he is using snaps and hits Charles in the head, knocking him unconscious. The injury leaves a permanent scar, which oddly becomes darker, not lighter, as time passes. Charles, quite prophetically, observes that he has been “marked.” Meanwhile, Adam has finally finished his stint in the Army and is preparing to return home to the farm and to Charles. However, his newfound freedom is so uncomfortable after years of military discipline that he decides to re-enlist. On the way back, Adam receives a summons from the Secretary of War, ordering him to Washington. When Adam arrives, he is surprised to find not the Secretary, but his father, awaiting him. Cyrus has risen to a position of power. He tries to tempt Adam with the offer of a cushy job, but Adam refuses, wishing instead to return to his unit. Cyrus wonders if sending Adam into service was a mistake. Back home, Charles eagerly awaits his brother. For his homecoming, Charles has painted the barn and the house and has even hired a woman to clean up everything. Of course, Adam does not arrive. Charles falls into a deep depression, becoming even more slovenly in his habits and appearance than he had been in the intervening years.