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Ailsa Paige by Robert W. Chambers

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man of that kind did not belong in her sister-in-law's house,
anyway, nor in her own--a man who could appeal to a woman for a
favourable opinion of himself, asking her to suspend her reason,
stifle logic, stultify her own intelligence, and trust to a
sentimental impulse that he deserved the toleration and
consideration which he asked for. . . . It was certainly well for
her that he should not return. . . . It would be better for her to
lay the entire matter before her sister-in-law--that was what she
would do immediately!

She sprang to her feet and ran lightly up-stairs; but, fast as she
fled, thought outran her slender flying feet, and she came at last
very leisurely into Celia's room, a subdued, demure opportunist,
apparently with nothing on her mind and conscience,

"If I may have the carriage at ten, Celia, I'll begin on the
Destitute Children to-morrow. . . . Poor babies! . . . If they
only had once a week as wholesome food as is wasted in this city
every day by Irish servants . . . which reminds me--I suppose you
will have to invite your new kinsman to dine with you."

"There is loads of time for that, Honey-bud," said her
sister-in-law, glancing up absently from the note she was writing.

"I was merely wondering whether it was necessary at all," observed
Ailsa Paige, without interest.

But Celia had begun to write again. "I'll ask him," she said in
her softly preoccupied voice, "Saturday, I think."

"Oh, but I'm invited to the Cortlandt's," began Ailsa, and caught
her under lip in her teeth. Then she turned and walked noiselessly
into her bedroom, and sat down on the bed and looked at the wall.

CHAPTER IV

It was almost mid-April; and still the silvery-green tassels on the
wistaria showed no hint of the blue petals folded within; but the
maples' leafless symmetry was already veined with fire. Faint
perfume from Long Island woodlands, wandering puffs of wind from
salt meadows freshened the city streets; St. Felix Street boasted a
lilac bush in leaf; Oxford Street was gay with hyacinths and a
winter-battered butterfly; and in Fort Greene Place the grassy
door-yards were exquisite with crocus bloom. Peace, good-will, and
spring on earth; but in men's souls a silence as of winter.

To Northland folk the unclosing buds of April brought no awakening;
lethargy fettered all, arresting vigour, sapping desire. An
immense inertia chained progress in its tracks, while overhead the
gray storm-wrack fled away,--misty, monstrous, gale-driven before
the coming hurricane.

Still, for the Northland, there remained now little of the keener
suspense since those first fiery outbursts in the South; but all
through the winter the dull pain throbbed in silence as star after
star dropped from the old galaxy and fell flashing into the new.

And it was a time of apathy, acquiescence, stupefied incredulity; a
time of dull faith in destiny, duller resignation.

The printed news was read day after day by a people who understood
nothing, neither the cautious arming nor the bold disarming, nor
the silent fall of fortified places, nor the swift dismantling of
tall ships--nor did they comprehend the ceaseless tremors of a land
slowly crumbling under the subtle pressure--nor that at last the
vast disintegration of the matrix would disclose the forming
crystal of another nation cradled there, glittering, naming under
the splendour of the Southern skies.

A palsied Old Year had gone out. The mindless old man--he who had
been President--went with it. A New Year had come in, and on its
infant heels shambled a tall, gaunt shape that seated itself by the
White House windows and looked out into the murk of things with
eyes that no man understood.

And now the soft sun of April spun a spell upon the Northland folk;
for they had eyes but they saw not; ears had they, but they heard
not; neither spoke they through the mouth.

To them only one figure seemed real, looming above the vast and
motionless mirage where a continent stood watching the parapets of
a sea-girt fort off Charleston.

But the nation looked too long; the mirage closed in; fort, sea,
the flag itself, became unreal; the lone figure on the parapet
turned to a phantom. God's will was doing. Who dared doubt?

"There seems to be no doubt in the South," observed Ailsa Paige to
her brother-in-law one fragrant evening after dinner where, in the
dusk, the family had gathered on the stoop after the custom of a
simpler era.

Along the dim street long lines of front stoops blossomed with the
light spring gowns of women and young girls, pale, dainty clusters
in the dusk set with darker figures, where sparks from cigars
glowed and waned in the darkness.

Windows were open, here and there a gas jet in a globe flickered
inside a room, but the street was dusky and tranquil as a country
lane, and unilluminated save where at far intervals lamp-posts
stood in a circle of pale light, around which a few moths hovered.

"The rebels," repeated Ailsa, "appear to have no doubts, honest or
otherwise. They've sent seven thousand troops to the Charleston
fortifications--the paper says."

Stephen Craig heard his cousin speak but made no response. He was
smoking openly and in sight of his entire family the cigar which
had, heretofore, been consumed surreptitiously. His mother sat
close to his shoulder, rallying him like a tormenting schoolgirl,
and, at intervals, turning to look back at her husband who stood on
the steps beside her, a little amused, a little proud, a little
inclined to be critical of this tall son of his who yesterday had
been a boy.

The younger daughters of the house, Paige and Marye, strolled past,
bareheaded, arms linked, in company with Camilla and Jimmy Lent.

"O dad!" called out Paige softly, "Jim says that Major Anderson is
to be reinforced at once. There was a bulletin this evening."

"I am very glad to hear it, sweetheart," said her father, smiling
through his eye-glasses.

Stephen bent forward across his mother's shoulder. "Is that true,
father?"

"Camilla's brother has probably been reading the _Tribune's_
evening bulletin. The _Herald_ bulletin says that the Cabinet has
ordered the evacuation of Fort Sumter; the _Times_ says Major
Anderson is to be reinforced; the _World_ says that he abandoned
the fort last night; and they all say he has been summoned to
surrender. Take your choice, Steve," he added wearily. "There is
only one wire working from the South, and the rebels control that."

"Are you tired, Curt?" asked his wife, looking around and up at him.

He seated himself and readjusted his eye-glasses.

"No, dear--only of this nightmare we are living in"--he stopped
abruptly. Politics had been avoided between them. There was a
short silence; he felt his wife's hand touch his in the
darkness--sign of a tender respect for his perplexity, but not for
his political views.

"Forgive me, dear, for using the word 'rebel,'" he said, smiling
and straightening his shoulders. "Where have you and Ailsa been
to-day? Did you go to New York?"

"Yes. We saw the Academy, and, oh, Curt! there are some very
striking landscapes--two by Gifford; and the cutest portrait of a
girl by Wiyam Hunt. And your friend Bierstadt has a Western
scene--all fireworks! and, dear, Eastman Johnson was there--and
Kensett sent such a cunning little landscape. We lunched at
Taylor's." She lowered her voice to a whisper. "Ailsa did look
too cute fo' words. I declare she is the most engaging little
minx. Eve'y man sta'ed at her. I _wish_ she would marry again and
be happy. _She_ doesn't know what a happy love affair can be--poor
baby."

"Do you?" asked her husband.

"Are you beginning to co't me again, Curt?"

"Have I ever ceased?--you little Rebel!"

"No," she said under her breath.

"By the way, Celia," he said smiling, "that young man--cousin of
yours--Berkley, turned up promptly to-day. I gave him a room in
the office."

"That was certainly ve'y frien'ly of you, Curt!" she responded
warmly. "You _will_ be patient with him, won't you?"

"I've had to be already. I gave him a commission to collect some
rents and he came back fifty dollars short, calmly explaining that
one of our lodgers looked poor and he hated to ask for the rent."

"O Curt--the boy is ve'y sweet and wa'm-hearted. Were you cross
with him?"

"Not very. I imparted a few plain truths--very pleasantly, Celia.
He knew better; there's a sort of an impish streak in him--also an
inclination for the pleasant by-ways of life. . . . He had better
let drink alone, too, if he expects to remain in my office. I told
him that."

"Does he--the foolish baby!"

"Oh, probably not very much. I don't know; he's likable, but--he
hasn't inspired me with any overwhelming respect and confidence.
His record is not exactly savoury. But he's your protege, and I'll
stand him as long as you can."

"Thank you, Curt. We must be gentle to him. I shall ask him to
dinner and we can give a May dance perhaps--something informal and
pretty--What is the matter, Curt?"

"Nothing, dear. . . . Only I wouldn't plan anything just yet--I
mean for the present--not for a few days, anyway----"

He shrugged, removed his glasses, polished them on his
handkerchief, and sat holding them, his short-sighted eyes lost in
reverie.

His wife endured it to the limit of patience:

"Curt," she began in a lower voice, "you and I gen'ally avoid
certain matters, dear--but--ev'ything is sure to come right in the
end--isn't it? The No'th is going to be sensible."

"In the--end," he admitted quietly. And between them the ocean
sprang into view again.

"I wonder--" She stopped, and an inexplicable uneasiness stirred in
her breast. She looked around at her son, her left hand fell
protectingly upon his shoulder, her right, groping, touched her
husband's sleeve.

"I am--well cared for--in the world," she sighed happily to
herself. "It shall not come nigh me."

Stephen was saying to Ailsa:

"There's a piece of up-town property that came into the office
to-day which seems to me significant of the future. It would be a
good investment for you, Cousin Ailsa. Some day Fifth Avenue will
be built up solidly with brown-stone mansions as far as the Central
Park. It is all going to be wonderfully attractive when they
finish it."

Ailsa mused for a moment. Then:

"I walked down this street to Fort Greene this afternoon," she
began, "and the little rocky park was so sweet and fragrant with
dogwood and Forsythia and new buds everywhere. And I looked out
over the rivers and the bay and over the two cities and, Steve,
somehow--I don't know why--I found my eyes filling with tears. I
don't know why, Steve----"

"Feminine sentiment," observed her cousin, smoking.

Mrs. Craig's fingers became restless on her husband's sleeve; she
spoke at moments in soft, wistful tones, watching her younger
daughters and their friends grouped under the trees in the dusk.
And all the time, whatever it was that had brought a new unease
into her breast was still there, latent. She had no name to give
it, no reason, no excuse; it was too shadowy to bear analysis, too
impalpable to be defined, yet it remained there; she was perfectly
conscious of it, as she held her husband's sleeve the tighter.

"Curt, is business so plaguey poor because of all these politics?"

"My business is not very flourishing. Many men feel the
uncertainty; not everybody, dear."

"When this--_matter_--is settled, everything will be easier for
you, won't it? You look so white and tired, dear."

Stephen overheard her.

"The _matter_, as you call it, won't be settled without a row,
mother--if you mean the rebellion."

"Such a wise boy with his new cigar," she smiled through a sudden
resurgence of uneasiness.

The boy said calmly: "Mother, you don't understand; and all the
rest of the South is like you."

"Does anybody understand, Steve?" asked his father, slightly
ironical.

"Some people understand there's going to be a big fight," said the
boy.

"Oh. Do you?"

"Yes," he said, with the conviction of youth. "And I'm wondering
who's going to be in it."

"The militia, of course," observed Ailsa scornfully. "Camilla is
forever sewing buttons on Jimmy's dress uniform. He wears them off
dancing."

Mr. Craig said, unsmiling: "We are not a military nation, Steve; we
are not only non-military but we are unmilitary--if you know what
that means."

"We once managed to catch Cornwallis," suggested his son, still
proudly smoking.

"I wonder how we did it?" mused his father.

"They were another race--those catchers of Cornwallis--those
fellows in, blue-and-buff and powdered hair."

"You and Celia are their grandchildren," observed Ailsa, "and you
are a West Point graduate."

Her brother-in-law looked at her with a strange sort of humour in
his handsome, near-sighted eyes:

"Yes, too blind to serve the country that educated me. And now
it's too late; the desire is gone; I have no inclination to fight,
Ailsa. Drums always annoyed me. I don't particularly like a gun.
I don't care for a fuss. I don't wish to be a soldier."

Ailsa said: "I rather like the noise of drums. I think I'd
like--war."

"Molly Pitcher! Molly Pitcher! Of what are you babbling,"
whispered Celia, laughing down the flashes of pain that ran through
her heart. "Wars are ended in our Western World. Didn't you know
it, grandchild of Vikings? There are to be no more Lake
Champlains, only debates--_n'est ce pas_, Curt?--very grand debates
between gentlemen of the South and gentlemen of the North in
Congress assembled----"

"_Two_ congresses assembled," said Ailsa calmly, "and the debates
will be at long range----"

"By magnetic telegraph if you wish, Honey-bell," conceded Celia
hastily. "Oh, we must _not_ begin disputin' about matters that
nobody can possibly he'p. It will all come right; you know it
will, don't you, Curt?"

"Yes, I know it, somehow."

Silence, fragrance, and darkness, through which rang the distant
laugh of a young girl. And, very, very far away sounds arose in
the city, dull, indistinct, lost for moments at a time, then
audible again, and always the same sounds, the same monotony, and
distant persistence.

"I do believe they're calling an extra," said Ailsa, lifting her
head to listen.

Celia listened, too.

"Children shouting at play," she said.

"They _are_ calling an extra, Celia!"

"No, little Cassandra, it's only boys skylarking."

For a while they remained listening and silent. The voices still
persisted, but they sounded so distant that the light laughter from
their neighbour's stoop drowned the echoes.

Later, Jimmy Lent drifted into the family circle.

"They say that there's an extra out about Fort Sumter," he said.
"Do you think he's given up, Mr. Craig?"

"If there's an extra out the fort is probably safe enough, Jim,"
said the elder man carelessly. He rose and went toward the group
of girls and youths under the trees.

"Come, children," he said to his two daughters; and was patient
amid indignant protests which preceded the youthful interchange of
reluctant good-nights.

When he returned to the stoop Ailsa had gone indoors with her
cousin. His wife rose to greet him as though he had been away on a
long journey, and then, passing her arms around her schoolgirl
daughters, and nodding a mischievous dismissal to Jimmy Lent,
walked slowly into the house. Bolts were shot, keys turned; from
the lighted front parlour came the notes of the sweet-toned square
piano, and Ailsa's voice:

--"Dear are her charms to me,
Dearest her constancy,
Aileen aroon--"

"Never mind any more of that silly song!" exclaimed Celia,
imprisoning Ailsa's arms from behind.

"Youth must with time decay,
Aileen aroon,
Beauty must fade away,
Aileen aroon--"

"Don't, dear! please----"

But Ailsa sang on obstinately:

"Castles are sacked in war,
Chieftains are scattered far,
Truth is a fixed star,
Aileen aroon."

And, glancing back over her shoulder, caught her breath quickly.

"Celia! What _is_ the matter, dear?"

"Nothing. I don't like such songs--just now----"

"What songs?"

"I don't know, Ailsa; songs about war and castles. Little things
plague me. . . . There's been altogether too much talk about
war--it gets into ev'ything, somehow. I can't seem to he'p it,
somehow----"

"Why, Celia! _You_ are not worrying?"

"Not fo' myse'f, Honey-bud. Somehow, to-night--I don't know--and
Curt seemed a little anxious."

She laughed with an effort; her natural gaiety returned to buoy her
above this indefinable undercurrent of unrest.

Paige and Marye came in from the glass extension where their father
was pacing to and fro, smoking his bedtime cigar, and their mother
began her invariable running comment concerning the day's events,
rallying her children, tenderly tormenting them with their
shortcomings--undarned stockings, lessons imperfectly learned,
little household tasks neglected--she was always aware of and ready
at bedtime to point out every sin of omission.

"As fo' you, Paige, you are certainly a ve'y rare kind of
Honey-bird, and I reckon Mr. Ba'num will sho'ly catch you some day
fo' his museum. Who ever heard of a shif'less Yankee girl except
you and Marye?"

"O mother, how _can_ we mend _everything_ we tear? It's heartless
to ask us!"

"You don't have to try to mend _ev'y_thing. Fo' example, there's
Jimmy Lent's heart----"

A quick outbreak of laughter swept them--all except Paige, who
flushed furiously over her first school-girl affair.

"That poor Jimmy child came to me about it," continued their
mother, "and asked me if I would let you be engaiged to him; and I
said, 'Certainly, if Paige wants to be, Jimmy. I was engaiged
myse'f fo' times befo' I was fo'teen----'"

Another gale of laughter drowned her words, and she sat there
dimpled, mischievous, naively looking around, yet in her careful
soul shrewdly pursuing her wise policy of airing all sentimental
matters in the family circle--letting in fresh air and sunshine on
what so often takes root and flourishes rather morbidly at sixteen.

"It's perfectly absurd," observed Ailsa, "at your age, Paige----"

"Mother was married at sixteen! Weren't you, dearest?"

"I certainly was; but _I_ am a bad rebel and _you_ are good little
Yankees; and good little Yankees wait till they're twenty odd befo'
they do anything ve'y ridiculous."

"We expect to wait," said Paige, with a dignified glance at her
sister.

"You've four years to wait, then," laughed Marye.

"What's the use of being courted if you have to wait four years?"

"And you've three years to wait, silly," retorted Paige. "But I
don't care; I'd rather wait. It isn't very long, now. Ailsa, why
don't you marry again?"

Ailsa's lip curled her comment upon the suggestion. She sat under
the crystal chandelier reading a Southern newspaper which had been
sent recently to Celia. Presently her agreeable voice sounded in
appreciative recitation of what she was reading.

"Hath not the morning dawned with added light?
And shall not evening call another star
Out of the infinite regions of the night
To mark this day in Heaven? At last we are
A nation among nations; and the world
Shall soon behold in many a distant port
Another flag unfurled!"
"Listen, Celia," she said, "this is really beautiful:

A tint of pink fire touched Mrs. Craig's cheeks, but she said
nothing. And Ailsa went on, breathing out the opening beauty of
Timrod's "Ethnogenesis":

"Now come what may, whose favour need we court?
And, under God, whose thunder need we fear?"

She stopped short, considering the printed page. Then, doubtfully:

"And what if, mad with wrongs themselves have wrought,
In their own treachery caught,
By their own fears made bold,
And leagued with him of old
Who long since, in the limits of the North,
Set up his evil throne, and warred with God--
What if, both mad and blinded in their rage
Our foes should fling us down the mortal gauge,
And with a hostile horde profane our sod!"

The girl reddened, sat breathing a little faster, eyes on the page;
then:

"Nor would we shun the battleground!
. . . The winds in our defence
Shall seem to blow; to us the hills shall lend
Their firmness and their calm,
And in our stiffened sinews we shall blend
The strength of pine and palm!
Call up the clashing elements around
And test the right and wrong!
On one side creeds that dare to preach
What Christ and Paul refused to teach----"

"Oh!" she broke off with a sharp intake of breath; "Do they believe
such things of us in the South, Celia?"

The pink fire deepened in Celia Craig's cheeks; her lips unclosed,
tightened, as though a quick retort had been quickly reconsidered.
She meditated. Then: "Honey-bell," she said tranquilly, "if we are
bitter, try to remember that we are a nation in pain."

"A _nation_!"

"Dear, we have always been that--only the No'th has just found it
out. Charleston is telling her now. God give that our cannon need
not repeat it."

"But, Celia, the cannon _can't_! The same flag belongs to us both."

"Not when it flies over Sumter, Honey-bird." There came a subtle
ringing sound in Celia Craig's voice; she leaned forward, taking
the newspaper from Ailsa's idle fingers:

"Try to be fair," she said in unsteady tones. "God knows I am not
trying to teach you secession, but suppose the guns on Governor's
Island were suddenly swung round and pointed at this street? Would
you care ve'y much what flag happened to be flying over Castle
William? Listen to another warning from this stainless poet of the
South." She opened the newspaper feverishly, glanced quickly down
the columns, and holding it high under the chandelier, read in a
hushed but distinct voice, picking out a verse here and there at
random:

"Calm as that second summer which precedes
The first fall of the snow,
In the broad sunlight of heroic deeds
A city bides her foe.

"As yet, behind high ramparts stem and proud
Where bolted thunders sleep,
Dark Sumter like a battlemented cloud
Towers o'er the solemn deep.

"But still along the dim Atlantic's line
The only hostile smoke
Creeps like a harmless mist above the brine
From some frail floating oak.

"And still through streets re-echoing with trade
Walk grave and thoughtful men
Whose hands may one day wield the patriot's blade
As lightly as the pen.

"And maidens, with such eyes as would grow dim
Over a wounded hound
Seem each one to have caught the strength of him
Whose sword-knot she hath hound.

"Thus, girt without and garrisoned at home,
Day patient following day,
Old Charleston looks from roof and spire and dome
Across her tranquil bay.

"Shall the spring dawn, and she, still clad in steel,
And with an unscathed brow,
Watch o'er a sea unvexed by hostile keel
As fair and free as now?

"We know not. In the Temples of the Fates
God has inscribed her doom;
And, all untroubled in her faith she waits
Her triumph or her tomb!"

The hushed charm of their mother's voice fascinated the children.
Troubled, uncertain, Ailsa rose, took a few irresolute steps toward
the extension where her brother-in-law still paced to and fro in
the darkness, the tip of his cigar aglow. Then she turned suddenly.

"_Can't_ you understand, Ailsa?" asked her sister-in-law wistfully.

"Celia--dearest," she stammered, "I simply can't understand. . . .
I thought the nation was greater than all----"

"The State is greater, dear. Good men will realise that when they
see a sovereign people standing all alone for human truth and
justice--standing with book and sword under God's favour, as
sturdily as ever Israel stood in battle fo' the right!--I don't
mean to be disloyal to my husband in saying this befo' my children.
But you ask me, and I must tell the truth if I answer at all."

Slender, upright, transfigured with a flushed and girlish beauty
wholly strange to them, she moved restlessly back and forth across
the room, a slim, lovely, militant figure all aglow with
inspiration, all aquiver with emotion too long and loyally
suppressed.

Paige and Marye, astonished, watched her without a word. Ailsa
stood with one hand resting on the mantel, a trifle pale but also
silent, her startled eyes following this new incarnation wearing
the familiar shape of Celia Craig.

"Ailsa!"

"Yes, dear."

"Can you think evil of a people who po' out their hearts in prayer
and praise? Do traitors importune fo' blessings?"

She turned nervously to the piano and struck a ringing chord,
another--and dropped to the chair, head bowed on her slim childish
neck. Presently there stole through the silence a tremulous voice
intoning the "Libera Nos," with its strange refrain:

"_A furore Normanorum Libera nos, O Domme_!" Then, head raised, the
gas-light flashing on her dull-gold hair, her voice poured forth
all that was swelling and swelling up in her bruised and stifled
heart:

"God of our fathers! King of Kings!
Lord of the earth and sea!
With hearts repentant and sincere
We turn in need to thee."

She saw neither her children nor her husband nor Ailsa now, where
they gathered silently beside her. And she sang on:

"In the name of God! Amen!
Stand for our Southern rights;
On our side. Southern men,
The God of Battles fights!
Fling the invader far--
Hurl back his work of woe--
His voice is the voice of a brother,
But his hands are the hands of a foe.
By the blood which cries to Heaven.
Crimson upon our sod
Stand, Southrons, fight and conquer
In the Name of the Living God!"

Like receding battle echoes the chords, clashing distantly, died
away.

If she heard her husband turn, enter the hallway, and unbolt the
door, she made no sign. Ailsa, beside her, stooped and passed one
arm around her.

"You--are not crying, are you, Celia, darling?" she whispered.

Her sister-in-law, lashes wet, rose with decision.

"I think that I have made a goose of myse'f to-night. Marye, will
you say to your father that it is after eleven o'clock, and that I
am waiting to be well scolded and sent to bed?"

"Father went out a few moments ago," said Paige in an awed voice.
"I heard him unbolt the front door."

Ailsa turned and walked swiftly out into the hallway; the front
door swung wide; Mr. Craig stood on the steps wearing his hat. He
looked around as she touched his arm.

"Oh, is it you, Ailsa?" There was a moment's indecision. Through
it, once more, far away in the city The Voices became audible
again, distant, vague, incessant.

"I thought--if it is actually an extra--" he began carelessly and
hesitated; and she said:

"Let me go with you. Wait. I'll speak to Celia."

"Say to her that I'll be gone only a moment."

When Ailsa returned she slipped her arm through his and they
descended the steps and walked toward Fulton Avenue. The Voices
were still distant; a few people, passing swiftly through the dusk,
preceded them. Far down the vista of the lighted avenue dark
figures crossed and recrossed the street, silhouetted against the
gas-lights; some were running. A man called out something as they
passed him. Suddenly, right ahead in the darkness, they
encountered people gathered before the boarded fence of a vacant
lot, a silent crowd shouldering, pushing, surging back and forth,
swarming far out along the dimly lighted avenue.

"There's a bulletin posted there," whispered Ailsa. "Could you
lift me in your arms?"

Her brother-in-law stooped, clasped her knees, and lifted her high
up above the sea of heads. Kerosene torches flickered beyond,
flanking a poster on which was printed in big black letters:

"WASHINGTON, April 13, 1861, 6 A.M.
"At half-past four o'clock this morning fire was
opened on Fort Sumter by the rebel batteries in the
harbour. Major Anderson is replying with his
barbette guns."

"8 A.M.
"A private despatch to the N. Y. Herald says that
the batteries on Mount Pleasant have opened on
Sumter. Major Anderson has brought into action two tiers
of guns trained on Fort Moultrie and the Iron Battery."

"3 P.M.
"The fire at this hour is very heavy. Nineteen
batteries are bombarding Sumter. The fort replies
briskly. The excitement in Charleston is intense."

"LATER.
"Heavy rain storm. Firing resumed this evening.
The mortar batteries throw a shell into the fort every
twenty minutes. The fort replies at intervals."

"LATEST.
"The fort is still replying. Major Anderson has
signalled the fleet outside."

All this she read aloud, one hand resting on Craig's shoulder as he
held her aloft above the throng. Men crowding around and striving
to see, paused, with up-turned faces, listening to the emotionless
young voice. There was no shouting, no sound save the trample and
shuffle of feet; scarcely a voice raised, scarcely an exclamation.

As Craig lowered her to the pavement, a man making his way out said
to them:

"Well, I guess that ends it."

Somebody replied quietly: "I guess that _begins_ it."

Farther down the avenue toward the City Hall where the new marble
court house was being built, a red glare quivered incessantly
against the darkness; distant hoarse rumours penetrated the night
air, accented every moment by the sharper clamour of voices calling
the _Herald's_ extras.

"Curt?"

"Yes, dear."

"If he surrenders----"

"It makes no difference what he does now, child."

"I know it. . . . They've dishonoured the flag. This is war,
isn't it?"

"Yes."

"Will it be a long war?"

"I think not."

"Who will go?"

"I don't know. . . . Soldiers."

"I didn't suppose we had enough. Where are we going to get more?"

"The people--" he said absently--"everybody, I suppose. How do I
know, child?"

"Just ordinary people?"

"Just ordinary people," he responded quietly. A few minutes later
as they entered their own street he said:

"I suppose I had better tell my wife about this to-night. I don't
know--it will be in the morning papers; but I think I had better
break it to her to-night."

"She will have to know--sometime--of course----"

Halting at the foot of the stoop he turned and peered through his
glasses at his sister-in-law.

"I don't want Stephen to start any nonsense about going."

"Going where?" she asked innocently.

He hesitated: "I don't want to hear any talk from him about
enlisting. That is what I mean. Your influence counts with him
more deeply than you know. Remember that."

"Steve--_enlist_!" she repeated blankly.

She could not yet comprehend what all this had to do with people
she personally knew--with her own kin.

"He must not enlist, of course," she said curtly. "There are
plenty of soldiers--there will be plenty, of course. I----"

Something silenced her, something within her sealed her lips. She
stood in silence while Craig fitted his night-key, then entered the
house with him. Gas burned low in the hall globes; when he turned
it off a fainter light from above guided them.

"Celia, is that you?" she called gently,

"Hush; go to bed, Honey-bell. Everybody is asleep. How pale you
are, Curt--dearest--dearest----"

The rear room was Ailsa's; she walked into it and dropped down on
the bed in the darkness. The door between the rooms closed: she
sat perfectly still, her eyes were wide open, staring in front of
her.

Queer little luminous shapes danced through obscurity like the
names from the kerosene torches around the bulletin; her ears still
vibrated with the hoarse alarm of the voices; through her brain
sounded her brother-in-law's words about Steve, repeated
incessantly, stupidly.

Presently she began to undress by sense of touch. The gas in the
bathroom was lighted; she completed her ablutions, turned it off,
and felt her way back to the bed.

Lying there she became aware of sounds from the front room. Celia
was still awake; she distinguished her voice in quick, frightened
exclamation; then the low murmur continued for a while, then
silence fell.

She raised herself on one elbow; the crack of light under the door
was gone; there was no sound, no movement in the house except the
measured tick of the hall clock outside,
tic-toc!--tic-toc!--tic-toc!

And she had been lying there a long, long while, eyes open, before
she realised that the rhythm of the hall clock was but a repetition
of a name which did not concern her in any manner:

"Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!"

How it had crept into her consciousness she could not understand;
she lay still, listening, but the tic-toc seemed to fit the
syllables of his name; and when, annoyed, she made a half
disdainful mental attempt to substitute other syllables, it proved
too much of an effort, and back into its sober, swinging rhythm
slipped the old clock's tic-toe, in wearisome, meaningless
repetition:

"Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!--Berk-ley!"

She was awakened by a rapping at her door and her cousin's
imperative voice:

"I want to talk to you; are you in bed?"

She drew the coverlet to her chin and called out:

"Come in, Steve!"

He came, tremendously excited, clutching the _Herald_ in one hand.

"I've had enough of this rebel newspaper!" he said fiercely. "I
don't want it in the house again, ever. Father says that the
marine news makes it worth taking, but----"

"What on earth are you trying to say, Steve?"

"I'm trying to tell you that we're at war! War, Ailsa! Do you
understand? Father and I've had a fight already----"

"What?"

"They're still firing on Sumter, I tell you, and if the fort
doesn't hold out do you think I'm going to sit around the house
like a pussy cat? Do you think I'm going to business every day as
though nothing was happening to the country I'm living in? I tell
you now--you and mother and father--that I'm not built that way----"

Ailsa rose in bed, snatched the paper from his grasp, and leaning
on one arm gazed down at the flaring head-lines:

THE WAR BEGUN

Very Exciting News from Charleston

Bombardment of Fort Sumter Commenced

Terrible Fire from the Secessionists' Batteries

Brilliant Defence of Maj. Anderson

Reckless Bravery of the Confederate States Troops.

And, scanning it to the end, cried out:

"He hasn't hauled down his flag! What are you so excited about?"

"I--I'm excited, of course! He can't possibly hold out with only
eighty men and nothing to feed them on. Something's got to be
done!" he added, walking up and down the room. "I've made fun of
the militia--like everybody else--but Jimmy Lent is getting ready,
and I'm doing nothing! Do you hear what I'm saying, Ailsa?"

She looked up from the newspaper, sitting there cross-legged under
the coverlet.

"I hear you, Steve. I don't know what you mean by 'something's got
to be done.' Major Anderson is doing what he can--bless him!"

"That's all right, but the thing isn't going to stop there."

"Stop where?"

"At Sumter. They'll begin firing on Fortress Monroe and
Pensacola--I--how do you know they're not already thinking about
bombarding Washington? Virginia is going out of the Union; the
entire South is out, or going. Yesterday, I didn't suppose there
was any use in trying to get them back again. Father did, but I
didn't. I think it's got to be done, now. And the question is,
Ailsa, whose going to do it?"

But she was fiercely absorbed again in the news, leaning close over
the paper, tumbled dull-gold hair falling around her bare
shoulders, breath coming faster and more irregularly as she read
the incredible story and strove to comprehend its cataclysmic
significance.

"If others are going, I am," repeated her cousin sullenly.

"Going where, Steve?--Oh------"

She dropped the paper and looked up, startled; and he looked back
at her, defiant, without a flicker in those characteristic family
eyes of his, clear as azure, steady to punishment given or
taken--good eyes for a boy to inherit. And he inherited them from
his rebel mother.

"Father can't keep me home if other people go," he said.

"Wait until other people go." She reached out and laid a hand on
his arm.

"Things are happening too fast, Steve, too fast for everybody to
quite understand just yet. Everybody will do what is the thing to
do; the family will do what it ought to. . . . Has your mother
seen this?"

"Yes. Neither she nor father have dared speak about it before
us--" He made a gesture of quick despair, walked to the window and
back.

"It's a terrible thing, Ailsa, to have mother feel as she does."

"How could she feel otherwise?"

"I've done my best to explain to her----"

"O Steve! _You_!--when it's a matter between her soul and God!"

He said, reddening: "It's a matter of common-sense--I don't mean to
insult mother--but--good Lord, a nation is a nation, but a state is
only a state! I--hang it all--what's the use of trying to explain
what is born in one----"

"The contrary was born in your mother, Steve. Don't ever talk to
her this way. And--go out, please, I wish to dress."

He went away, saying over his shoulders: "I only wanted to tell you
that I'm not inclined to sit sucking my thumb if other men go, and
you can say so to father, who has forbidden me to mention the
subject to him again until I have his permission."

But he went away to business that morning with his father, as
usual; and when evening came the two men returned, anxious, dead
tired, having passed most of the day standing in the dense throngs
that choked every street around the bulletin boards of the
newspaper offices.

Ailsa had not been out during the day, nor had Mrs. Craig, except
for an hour's drive in the family coupe around the district where
preliminary surveys for the new Prospect Park were being pushed.

They had driven for almost an hour in utter silence. Her
sister-in-law's hand lay clasped in hers, but both looked from the
carriage windows without speaking, and the return from the drive
found them strangely weary and inclined for the quiet of their own
rooms. But Celia Craig could not close her eyes even to feign
sleep to herself.

When husband and son returned at evening, she asked nothing of the
news from them, but her upturned face lingered a second or two
longer as her husband kissed her, and she clung a little to
Stephen, who was inclined to be brief with her.

Dinner was a miserable failure in that family, which usually had
much to compare, much to impart, much badinage and laughter to
distribute. But the men were weary and uncommunicative; Estcourt
Craig went to his club after dinner; Stephen, now possessing a
latch-key, disappeared shortly afterward.

Paige and Marye did embroidery and gossipped together under the big
crystal chandelier while their mother read aloud to them from
"Great Expectations," which was running serially in _Harper's
Weekly_. Later she read in her prayer-book; later still, fully
dressed, she lay across the bed in the alcove staring at the
darkness and listening for the sound of her husband's latch-key in
the front door,

When it sounded, she sprang up and hastily dried her eyes.

"The children and Ailsa are all abed, Curt. How late you are! It
was not very wise of you to go out--being so tired--" She was
hovering near him as though to help his weariness with her small
offices; she took his hat, stood looking at him, then stepped
nearer, laying both hands on his shoulders, and her face against
his.

"I am--already tired of the--war," she sighed. "Is it ended yet,
Curt?"

"There is no more news from Sumter."

"You will--love me--best--anyway. Curt--won't you?"

"Do you doubt it?"

She only drew a deep, frightened breath. For within her heart she
felt the weight of the new apprehension--the clairvoyant
premonition of a rival that she must prepare to encounter--a rival
that menaced her peace of mind--a shape, shadowy as yet, but
terrible, slowly becoming frightfully denned--a Thing that might
one day wean this man from her--husband, and son, too--both
perhaps----.

"Curt," she faltered, "it will all come right in the end. Say it.
I am afraid."

"It will come out all right," he said gently. They kissed, and she
turned to the mirror and silently began preparing for the night.

With the calm notes of church bells floating out across the city,
and an April breeze blowing her lace curtains, Ailsa awoke.
Overhead she heard the trample of Stephen's feet as he moved
leisurely about his bedroom. Outside her windows in the backyard,
early sunshine slanted across shrub and grass and white-washed
fence; the Sunday quiet was absolute, save for the church bells.

She lay there listening and thinking; the church bells ceased; and
after a while, lying there, she began to realise that the silence
was unnatural--became conscious of something ominous in the intense
quiet outside--a far-spread stillness which was more than the hush
of Sabbath.

Whether or not the household was still abed she did not know; no
sound came from Celia's room; nor were Marye and Paige stirring on
the floor above when she rose and stole out barefooted to the
landing, holding a thin silk chamber robe around her. She paused,
listening; the tic-toc of the hall clock accented the silence; the
door that led from Celia's chamber into the hall stood wide open,
and there was nobody in sight. Something drew her to the alcove
window, which was raised; through the lace curtains she saw the
staff of the family flag set in its iron socket at right angles to
the facade--saw the silken folds stirring lazily in the sunshine,
tiptoed to the window and peered out.

As far as her eyes could see, east and west, the street was one
rustling mass of flags.

For a second her heart almost hurt her with its thrilling leap; she
caught her breath; the hard tension in her throat was choking her;
she dropped to her knees by the sill, drew a corner of the flag to
her, and laid her cheek against it.

Her eyes unclosed and she gazed out upon the world of flags; then,
upright, she opened her fingers, and the crinkled edges of the
flag, released, floated leisurely out once more into the April
sunshine.

When she had dressed she found the family in the dining-room--her
sister-in-law, serene but pale, seated behind the coffee urn, Mr.
Craig and Stephen reading the Sunday newspapers, Paige and Marye
whispering together over their oatmeal and cream.

She kissed Celia, dropped the old-fashioned, half-forgotten curtsey
to the others, and stood hesitating a moment, one hand resting on
Celia's shoulder.

"Is the fort holding out?" she asked.

Stephen looked up angrily, made as though to speak, but a deep
flush settled to the roots of his hair and he remained silent.

"Fort Sumter has surrendered," said her brother-in-law quietly.

Celia whispered: "Take your seat now, Honey-bell; your breakfast is
getting cold."

At church that Sunday the Northern clergy prayed in a dazed sort of
way for the Union and for the President; some addressed the Most
High as "The God of Battles." The sun shone brightly; new leaves
were startling on every tree in every Northern city; acres of
starry banners drooped above thousands of departing congregations,
and formed whispering canopies overhead.

Vespers were solemn; April dusk fell over a million roofs and
spires; twinkling gas jets were lighted in street lamps; city,
town, and hamlet drew their curtains and bowed their heads in
darkness. A dreadful silence fell over the North--a stillness that
breeds epochs and the makers of them.

But the first gray pallor of the dawn awoke a nation for the first
time certain of its entity, roaring its comprehension of it from
the Lakes to the Potomac, from sea to sea; and the red sun rose
over twenty States in solid battle line thundering their loyalty to
a Union undivided,

And on that day rang out the first loud call to arms; and the first
battalion of the Northland, seventy-five thousand strong, formed
ranks, cheering their insulted flag.

Then, southward, another flag shot up above the horizon. The world
already knew it as The Stars and Bars. And, beside it, from its
pointed lance, whipped and snapped and fretted another
flag--square, red, crossed by a blue saltier edged with white on
which glittered thirteen stars.

It was the battle flag of the Confederacy flashing the answer to
the Northern cheer.

CHAPTER V

"Burgess!"

"Sir?"

Berkley sat up in bed and viewed his environment with disgust.

"These new lodgings would make a fair kennel, wouldn't they,
Burgess?--if a man isn't too particular about his dog."

The servant entered with a nasty smirk. "Yes, sir; I seen a rat
last night."

"He's not the only one, is he, Burgess," yawned Berkley. "Oh,
hell! I've got to dress. Did you paint that bathtub? I guess you
did, the place reeks like a paint shop. Anyway, it kills less
desirable aromas. Where's the water?"

He swung his symmetrical body to the bed's edge, dropped lightly to
the carpet, unloosed his night robe, and stretched himself.

"Was I very drunk, Burgess?"

"No, sir; you just went to sleep. You haven't got no headache,
have you?"

"No--but it was only corn whisky. I didn't remember what I did
with it. Is there any left?"

"Not much, sir."

The servant, ugly to the verge of deformity, and wearing invariably
the abominable smirk that disgusted others but amused Berkley, went
about his duties.

Berkley blinked at him reflectively, then bathed, dressed, and sat
down to a bowl of chocolate and a bit of bread.

"What the devil was all that row this morning, Burgess?"

"War, sir. The President has called for seventy-five thousand men.
Here it is, sir." And he laid a morning paper beside the cup of
chocolate, which Berkley studied between sips, commenting
occasionally aloud:

"Heavens, Burgess, why, we're a race of patriots! Now who on earth
could have suspected that. . . . Why, we seem to be heroes, too!
What do you think of that, Burgess? You're a hero; I'm a hero;
everybody north of Charleston is an embattled citizen or a hero!
Isn't it funny that nobody realised all this before?" . . . He
turned the paper leisurely sipping his chocolate. . . . "_Of_
course--the 'dear old flag'! That's the cheese, isn't it, Burgess?
Been insulted, hasn't it? And we're all going to Charleston to
punch that wicked Beauregard in the nose. . . . Burgess, you and I
are neglecting our duty as heroes; there's much shouting to be done
yet, much yelling in the streets, much arguing to be done, many,
many cocktails to be firmly and uncompromisingly swallowed. Are
you prepared to face the serious consequences of being a hero?"

"Yes, sir," said Burgess.

"You merit well of the republic! The country needs you. Here's
half a dollar. Do your duty unflinchingly--at the nearest bar!"

Burgess took the coin with a smirk.

"Mr. Berkley, the landlady sent word that times is hard."

"Bless her soul! They _are_ hard, Burgess. Inform her of my
sentiments," said Berkley cordially. "Now, my hat and cane, if you
please. We're a wonderful people, Burgess; we'll beat our
walking-sticks into bayonets if Mr. Beauregard insists on saying
boo to us too many times in succession. . . . And, Burgess?"

"Sir?"

"Now that you have waked up this morning to find yourself a hero, I
think you'd better find yourself another and more spectacular
master. My heroism, for the future, is to be more or less
inconspicuous; in fact, I begin the campaign by inserting my own
studs and cleaning my own clothes, and keeping out of gaol; and the
sooner I go where that kind of glory calls me the sooner my name
will be emblazoned in the bright lexicon of youth where there's no
such word as 'jail.'",

"Sir?"

"In simpler and more archaic phrase, I can't afford you, Burgess,
unless I pilfer for a living."

"I don't eat much, sir."

"No, you don't _eat_ much."

"I could quit drinking, sir."

"_That_ is really touching, Burgess. This alcohol pickled
integument of yours covers a trusting heart. But it won't do.
Heroics in a hall bedroom cut no coupons, my poor friend. Our
paths to glory and the grave part just outside the door-sill
yonder."

"_She_ said I could stay, sir."

"Which _she_?"

"The landlady. I'm to fetch coal and run errants and wait on
table. But you'll get the best cuts, sir. And after hours I can
see to your clothes and linen and boots and hats, and do your
errants same like the usual."

"Now this is nearly as pathetic as our best fiction," said Berkley;
"ruined master, faithful man--_won't_ leave--starves slowly at his
master's feet--tootle music very sneaky--'transformation! Burgess
in heaven, blinking, puzzled, stretching one wing, reflectively
scratching his halo with right hind foot. Angel chorus. Burgess
appears to enjoy it and lights one of my best cigars----"

"Sir?" said Burgess, very red.

Berkley swung around, levelled his walking-stick, and indicated the
pit of his servant's stomach:

"Your face is talking now; wait till _that_ begins to yell. It
will take more than I'm earning to fill it."

He stood a moment, smiling, curious. Then:

"You've been as faithless a valet as any servant who ever watered
wine, lost a gimcrack, or hooked a weed. Studs, neckcloths,
bootjacks, silk socks, pins, underwear--all magically and
eventually faded from my wardrobe, wafted to those silent bournes
of swag that valets wot of. What in hell do you want to stay
_here_ for now, you amusing wastrel?"

"Yes, sir. I'd prefer to stay with you."

"But there'll be no more pleasant pickings, my poor and faithless
steward! If you should convert anything more to your own bank
account I'll be obliged to stroll about naked."

"Yes, sir," muttered Burgess; "I brought back some things last
night--them socks, shirt-pins and studs, and the fob. . . . Yes,
sir; I fetched 'em back, I did--" A sudden and curious gleam of
pride crossed the smirk for an instant;--"I guess my gentleman
ain't agoing to _look_ no worse than the next Fifth Avenue swell he
meets--even if he ain't et no devilled kidneys for breakfast and he
don't dine on no canvas-back at Delmonico's. No, sir."

Berkley sat down on the bed's edge and laughed until he could
scarcely see the man, who observed him in patient annoyance. And
every time Berkley looked at him he went into another fit of
uncontrollable laughter, as he realised the one delightful weakness
in this thorough-paced rogue--pride in the lustre cast upon himself
by the immaculate appearance of a fashionable master. But after
reflection, it did not astonish him too much; the besetting
weakness of rogues is vanity in one form or another. This happened
to be an unusual form.

"Burgess," he said, "I don't care how you go to hell. Go with me
if you like or go it alone."

"Thank you, sir."

"You're welcome," replied Berkley gravely, and, tucking his cane up
under one arm, he went out to business, drawing on a pair of
lemon-coloured kid gloves.

Later he searched his pockets for the cigar he had denied himself
the evening before. It was not there. In fact, at that moment,
Burgess, in the boarding-house backyard, was promenading up and
down, leering at the Swedish scullion, and enjoying the last
expensive cigar that his master was likely to purchase in many a
day.

The street, and avenue were seething with people; people stood at
their windows looking out at the news-boys who swarmed everywhere,
shouting endless extras; people were gathering on corners, in
squares, along park railings, under porticos of hotels, and every
one of them had a newspaper and was reading.

In front of the St. Nicholas Hotel a lank and shabby man had
mounted a cracker box, and was evidently making a speech, but
Berkley could distinguish nothing he said because of the wild
cheering.

Everywhere, threading the throng, hurried boys and men selling
miniature flags, red-white-and-blue rosettes, and tricoloured
cockades; and everybody was purchasing the national colours--the
passing crowd had already become bright with badges; the Union
colours floated in streamers from the throats or sleeves of pretty
girls, glinted in the lapels of dignified old gentlemen, decorated
the hats of the stage-drivers and the blinders of their horses.

"Certainly," said Berkley, buying a badge and pinning it in his
button-hole. "Being a hero, I require the trade-mark. Kindly
permit that I offer a suggestion--" a number of people waiting to
buy badges; were now listening to him--"those gentlemen gathered
there in front of the New York Hotel seem to be without these marks
which distinguish heroes from citizens. No doubt they'll be
delighted to avail themselves of your offered cockades."

A quick laugh broke out from those around, but there was an
undertone of menace in it, because the undecorated gentlemen in
front of the New York Hotel were probably Southerners, and
Secessionists in principles; that hostelry being the rendezvous in
New York of everything Southern.

So, having bestowed his mischievous advice, Berkley strolled on
down Broadway, his destination being the offices of Craig and Son,
City and Country Real Estate, where he had a desk to himself, a
client or two in prospect, and considerable leisure to study the
street, gas, and sewer maps of New York City.

Tiring of this distraction, he was always at liberty to twiddle his
thumbs, twirl his pencil, yawn, blink, and look out of the window
at the City Park across the way, where excited citizens maintained
a steady yelling monotone before the neighbouring newspaper offices
all day long.

He was also free to reflect upon his own personal shortcomings, a
speculation perhaps less damaging than the recent one he had
indulged in; and he thought about it sometimes; and sometimes about
Ailsa Paige, whom he had not again seen since the unaccountable
madness had driven him to trample and destroy the first real
inclination he had ever had for a woman.

This inclination he occasionally found leisure to analyse, but, not
understanding it, never got very far, except that, superficially,
it had been more or less physical. From the moment he saw her he
was conscious that she was different; insensibly the exquisitely
volatile charm of her enveloped him, and he betrayed it, awaking
her, first, to uneasy self-consciousness; then uneasy consciousness
of him; then, imperceptibly, through distrust, alarm, and a
thousand inexplicable psychological emotions, to a wistful interest
that faintly responded to his. Ah! that response!--strange,
childish, ignorant, restless--but still a response; and from
obscure shallows unsuspected, uncomprehended--shallows that had
never before warned her with the echo of an evanescent ripple.

For him to have reflected, reasoned, halted himself, had been
useless from the beginning. The sister-in-law of this girl knew
who and what he was and had been. There was no hope for him. To
let himself drift; to evoke in her, sometimes by hazard, at times
with intent, the delicate response--faint echo--pale shadow of the
virile emotions she evoked in him, that, too, was useless. He knew
it, yet curious to try, intent on developing communication through
those exquisite and impalpable lines that threaded the mystery from
him to her--from her to him.

And then, when the mystery all about them was aquiver, and her
vague eyes met his through the magic, acquiescent under a sorcery
for which she had no name--then, when all things occult breathed
silence--then he had said too much!

It was perhaps as well that he had said it then as later--as well
perhaps that, losing self-control, defeat had moved his tongue to
boast, had fixed the empty eye and stamped the smile he wore with a
confidence dead in him for ever.

He had said that he would come back. He knew that he would not.

It was the pitiful defiance of a boaster hopelessly hurt.

He no longer desired to see her again. Never again would he risk
enduring what she had evoked in him, whatever it was of good or of
evil, of the spiritual or the impure--he did not know he was aware
only of what his eyes had beheld and his heart had begun to desire.

On his way back from the office that evening he met Camilla Lent
and her uncle, the Captain, and would have passed with an amiable
salute, but the girl evinced a decided desire to speak. So he
turned and joined them.

"How do you do, Camilla? How are you, Captain Lent? This
re-conversion of the nation's ploughshares and pruning hooks is a
noisy affair, isn't it?"

"April 18th, 1861!" replied the Captain quickly. "What you hear,
sir, is the attrition consequent upon the grinding together of
certain millstones belonging to the gods."

"I have no doubt of it, Captain Lent; they'll probably make meal of
us all. Are you offering your services, sir."

Camilla said quickly, and with gayest confidence: "Uncle has been
looking about casually. There are so many regiments forming, so
many recruiting stations that we--we haven't decided--have we,
uncle?" And she gave Berkley a wistful, harrowing glance that
enlightened him.

He said gravely: "I suppose the average age of these volunteers
will be about eighteen. And if the militia go, too, it will be
comforting for a defenceless city to know she has men of your
experience to count on, Captain Lent."

"_I_ am going to the front," observed the Captain.

"There may be much to be done in New York, sir."

"Then let the police do it," said Captain Lent calmly. "The Union
must and shall be preserved. If any man attempts to haul down the
American flag, shoot him upon the spot. Et cetera, sir, et cetera."

"Certainly. But it's a question of niggers, too, I believe."

"No, sir. It is _not_ a question of niggers. It is a question of
who's at the wheel, Union or State. I myself never had any doubts
any more than I ever doubted the Unitarian faith! So it is no
question for me, sir. What bothers me is to pick out the regiment
most likely to be sent first."

"We've walked our legs off," said Camilla, aside, "and we've been
in all kinds of frightful places where men are drilling and smoking
and swearing and yelling; and I was dreadfully afraid a gun would
go off or somebody would be impudent to uncle. The dear old
thing," she whispered, "he is perfectly sure they want him and that
he has only to choose a regiment and offer his sword. Oh, dear!
I'm beginning to be terribly unhappy--I'm afraid they won't let him
go and I'm deadly afraid they might! And I'm sure that Jim means
to go. Oh, dear! Have you seen Ailsa Paige lately?"

"No. . . . I hope she is quite well."

"You are not very enthusiastic."

"I have every reason to be. She is a very winsome girl."

"She's a dear. . . . She has spoken of you several times."

"That is most amiable of her, and of you to say so."

"Oh, very," laughed Camilla, tossing her pretty head, "but it
evidently does not interest you very much. In fact--" she glanced
sidewise--"it is understood that no woman ever interests you for
more than forty-eight consecutive hours."

"Pure slander, Camilla. _You_ do."

"Oh--not in the way I mean."

"Well, but you don't expect me to be interested in Mrs. Paige--in
the way _you_ mean do you?"

"Why not?" she asked mischievously.

"Because, to begin properly, Mrs. Paige is not likely ever to
become interested in me."

"I am heartily glad of it," retorted Camilla. "You'd forget her in
a week,"

"That's more than forty-eight hours," he said, laughing. "You're
flattering me now."

"Anyway," said Camilla, "I don't see why everybody that knows her
isn't mad about Ailsa Paige. She has _such_ high principles, such
ideals, such wonderful aspirations--" She clasped her hands
sentimentally: "At times, Phil, she seems too ethereal, scarcely of
earth--and yet I breakfasted with her and she ate twice as much as
I did. _How_ does she keep that glorious figure!"

Plumpness was the bane and terror of Camilla's life. Her smooth,
suave white skin was glossy and tight; distracting curves,
entrancing contours characterised her now; but her full red lips
fairly trembled as she gazed at her parents' portraits in her
bedroom, for they had both been of a florid texture and full habit;
and she had now long refused sugar and the comforts of sweetmeats
dear to the palate of her age and sex. And mostly was this
self-denial practised for the sake of a young and unobservant
friend, one Stephen Craig, who had so far evinced no unusual
inclination for her, or for anything except cigars and masculine
society of his own age and condition.

She managed to get Philip Berkley to talk about Stephen, which
ingenuity soothed her. But Philip was becoming bored, and he
presently escaped to retrace his steps up Broadway, up Fifth
Avenue, and then west to the exceedingly modest lodgings whither
fate and misfortune had wafted him.

On the way he passed Colonel Arran's big double house with a sullen
and sidelong scowl, and continued onward with a shrug. But he
smiled no more to himself.

Burgess was in the room, cross-legged on the floor, ironing out his
master's best coat.

"What the devil are you about," said Philip ungraciously. "Get up.
I need what floor I've got to stand on."

Burgess obediently laid the board and the coat on a trunk and
continued ironing; and Philip scowled at him askance.

"Why don't you enlist?" he said. "Every car-driver, stage-driver,
hackman, and racing-tout can become major-generals if they yell
loud enough."

Burgess continued ironing, then stole a glance at his master.

"Are you thinking of enlisting, sir?"

"No; I can't pass the examination for lung power. By the way," he
added, laughing, "I overlooked the impudence of your question, too.
But now is your time, Burgess. If I wanted you I'd have to put up
with your insolence, I suppose."

"But you don't want me, sir."

"Which restrains you," said Philip, laughing. "Oh, go on, my
friend. Don't say 'sir' to me; it's a badge of servitude pasted
onto the vernacular. Say 'Hi!' if you like."

"Sir?"

"Hell! I say don't behave like a servant to me."

"I _am_ a servant, sir."

"You're not mine."

"Yes, sir, I am. Will you wear this coat this evening, sir?"

"God knows," said the young fellow, sitting down and gazing about
at the melancholy poverty of the place. . . . "Is there any of
that corn whisky?"

"No, sir."

"Damn it, you said there was this morning!"

"No, sir, I didn't."

The man lied placidly; the master looked at him, then laughed.

"Poor old Burgess," he said aloud as though to himself; "there
wasn't a skinful in that bottle. Well, I can't get drunk, I can't
lie here and count from six to midnight and keep my sanity, I can't
smoke--you rascal, where's my cigar? And I certainly can't go out
anywhere because I haven't any money."

"You might take the air on the avenue, sir. Your clothes are in
order."

"Poor Burgess! That was your amusement, wasn't it?--to see me go
out discreetly perfumed, in fine linen and purple, brave as the
best of them in club and hall, in ballroom and supper room, and in
every lesser hell from Crystal Palace cinders to Canal.

"Poor Burgess! Even the seventy-five pretty waitresses at the
Gaities would turn up their seventy-five retrousse noses at a man
with pockets as empty as mine."

"Your clothes are fashionable. So is your figger, sir."

"That settles it?" protested the young fellow, weak with laughter.
"Burgess, _don't_ go! Don't _ever_ go! I do need you. Oh I _do_
want you, Burgess. Because there never will be anybody exactly
like you, and I've only one life in which to observe you, study
you, and mentally digest you. You _won't_ go, will you?"

"No sir," said Burgess with dignity.

CHAPTER VI

There was incipient demoralisation already in the offices of Craig
& Son. Young gentlemen perched on high benches still searched city
maps and explored high-way and by-way with compass and
pencil-point, but their ears were alert to every shout from the
streets, and their interest remained centred in the newspaper
bulletins across the way, where excited crowds clamoured for
details not forthcoming.

All day, just outside the glass doors of the office, Broadway
streamed with people; and here, where the human counter currents
running north and south encountered amid the racket of omnibuses,
carts, carriages, and drays, a vast overflow spread turbulently,
eddying out around the recruiting stations and newspaper offices
which faced the City Park.

Sidewalks swarmed, the park was packed solid. Overhead flags flew
from every flag pole, over every portal, across every alley and
street and square--big nags, little flags, flags of silk, of
cotton, of linen, of bunting, all waving wide in the spring
sunshine, or hanging like great drenched flowers in the winnowing
April rain.

And it was very hard for the young gentlemen in the offices of
Craig & Son to keep their minds on their business.

Berkley had a small room to himself, a chair, a desk, a city map
suspended against the wall, and no clients. Such occasional
commissions as Craig & Son were able to give him constituted his
sole source of income.

He also had every variety of time on his hands--leisure to walk to
the window and walk back again, and then walk all around the
room--leisure to go out and solicit business in a city where
already business was on the edge of chaos and still
sliding--leisure to sit for hours in his chair and reflect upon
anything he chose--leisure to be hungry and satisfy the inclination
with philosophy. He was perfectly at liberty to choose any subject
and think about it. But he spent most of his time in trying to
prevent himself from thinking.

However, from his window, the street views now were usually
interesting; he was an unconvinced spectator of the mob which
started for the _Daily News_ office, hissing, cat-calling, yelling:
"Show your colours!" "Run up your colours!" He saw the mob visit
the _Journal of Commerce_, and then turn on the _Herald_, yelling
insult and bellowing threats which promptly inspired that journal
to execute a political flip-flap that set the entire city smiling.

Stephen, who had conceived a younger man's furtive admiration for
Berkley and his rumoured misdemeanours, often came into his room
when opportunity offered. That morning he chanced in for a moment
and found Berkley at the window chewing the end of a pencil,
perhaps in lieu of the cigar he could no longer afford.

"These are spectacular times," observed the latter, with a gesture
toward the street below. "Observe yonder ladylike warrior in
brand-new regimentals. Apparently, Stephen, he's a votary of Mars
and pants for carnage; but in reality he continues to remain the
sartorial artist whose pants are more politely emitted. He emitted
these--" patting his trousers with a ruler. "On what goose has
this my tailor fed that he hath grown so sightly!"

They stood watching the crowds, once brightened only by the red
shirts of firemen or the blue and brass of a policeman, but now
varied with weird uniforms, or parts of uniforms, constructed on
every known and unknown pattern, military and unmilitary, foreign
and domestic. The immortal army at Coventry was not more
variegated.

"There's a new poster across the street," said Stephen. He
indicated a big advertisement decorated with a flying eagle.

DOWN WITH SECESSION!

The Government Appeals to the
New York Fire Department for One Regiment of Zouaves!

Companies will select their own officers. The roll is
at Engine House 138, West Broadway.

ELSWORTH, COL: ZOUAVES.

"That's a good, regiment to enlist in, isn't it?" said the boy
restlessly.

"Cavalry for me," replied Berkley, unsmiling; "they can run faster."

"I'm serious," said Stephen. "If I had a chance--" He turned on
Berkley: "Why don't you, enlist? There's nothing to stop you, is
there?"

"Nothing except constitutional timidity."

"Then why don't you?"

Berkley laughed. "Well, for one thing, I'm not sure how I'd behave
in battle. I might be intelligent enough to run; I might be ass
enough to fight. The enemy would have to take its chances."

The boy laughed, too, turned to the window, and suddenly caught
Berkley by the arm:

"Look! There's something going on down by the Astor House!"

"A Massachusetts regiment of embattled farmers arrived in this
hamlet last night. I believe they are to pass by here on their way
to Washington," remarked Berkley, opening the window and leaning
out.

Already dense crowds of people were pushing, fighting, forcing
their way past the windows, driven before double lines of police;
already distant volleys of cheers sounded; the throb of drums
became audible; the cheering sounded shriller, nearer.

Past the windows, through Broadway, hordes of ragged street arabs
came running, scattered into night before another heavy escort of
police. And now the on-coming drums could be heard more
distinctly; and now two dusty officers marched into view, a colonel
of Massachusetts infantry attended by a quartermaster of New York
militia.

Behind them tramped the regimental band of the 6th Massachusetts,
instruments slung; behind these, filling the street from gutter to
gutter, surged the sweating drummers, deafening every ear with
their racket; then followed the field and staff, then the Yankee
regiment, wave on wave of bayonets choking the thoroughfare far as
the eye could see, until there seemed no end to their coming, and
the cheering had become an unbroken howl.

Stephen turned to Berkley: "A fellow can't see too much of this
kind of thing and stand it very long. Those soldiers are no older
than I am!"

Berkley's ironical reply was drowned in a renewed uproar as the
Massachusetts soldiers wheeled and began to file into the Astor
House, and the New York militia of the escort swung past hurrahing
for the first Northern troops to leave for the front.

That day Berkley lunched in imagination only, seriously inclined to
exchange his present board and lodgings for a dish of glory and a
cot in barracks.

That evening, too, after a boarding-house banquet, and after
Burgess had done his offices, he took the air instead of other and
more expensive distraction; and tired of it thoroughly, and of the
solitary silver coin remaining in his pocket.

From his clubs he had already resigned; other and less innocent
haunts of his were no longer possible; some desirable people still
retained him on their lists, and their houses were probably open to
him, but the social instinct was sick; he had no desire to go; no
desire even to cross the river for a penny and look again on Ailsa
Paige. So he had, as usual, the evening on his hands, nothing in
his pockets, and a very weary heart, under a last year's evening
coat. And his lodgings were becoming a horror to him; the
landlady's cat had already killed two enormous rats In the hallway;
also cabbage had been cooked in the kitchen that day. Which left
him no other choice than to go out again and take more air.

Before midnight he had no longer any coin in his pockets, and he
was not drunk yet. The situation seemed hopeless, and he found a
policeman and inquired politely for the nearest recruiting station;
but when he got there the station was closed, and his kicks on the
door brought nobody but a prowling Bowery b'hoy, sullenly in quest
of single combat. So Berkley, being at leisure, accommodated him,
picked him up, propped him limply against a doorway, resumed his
own hat and coat, and walked thoughtfully and unsteadily homeward,
where he slept like an infant in spite of rats, cabbage, and a
swollen lip.

Next day, however, matters were less cheerful. He had expected to
realise a little money out of his last salable trinket--a diamond
he had once taken for a debt. But it seemed that the stone
couldn't pass muster, and he bestowed it upon Burgess, breakfasted
on coffee and sour bread, and sauntered downtown quite undisturbed
in the brilliant April sunshine.

However, the prospect of a small commission from Craig & Son buoyed
up his natural cheerfulness. All the way downtown he nourished his
cane; he hummed lively tunes in his office as he studied his maps
and carefully read the real estate reports in the daily papers; and
then he wrote another of the letters which he never mailed,
strolled out to Stephen's desk for a little gossip, reported
himself to Mr. Craig, and finally sallied forth to execute that
gentleman's behest upon an upper Fifth Avenue squatter who had
declined to vacate property recently dedicated to blasting, the
Irish, and general excavation.

In a few moments he found himself involved in the usual crowd. The
8th Massachusetts regiment was passing in the wake of the 6th, its
sister regiment of the day before, and the enthusiasm and noise
were tremendous.

However, he extricated himself and went about his business; found
the squatter, argued with the squatter, gracefully dodged a brick
from the wife of the squatter, laid a laughing complaint before the
proper authorities, and then banqueted in imagination. What a
luncheon he had! He was becoming a Lucullus at mental feasts.

Later, his business affairs and his luncheon terminated, attempting
to enter Broadway at Grand Street, he got into a crowd so rough and
ungovernable that he couldn't get out of it--an unreasonable,
obstinate, struggling mass of men, women, and children so
hysterical that the wild demonstrations of the day previous, and of
the morning, seemed as nothing compared to this dense, far-spread
riot.

Broadway from Fourth to Cortlandt Streets was one tossing mass of
flags overhead; one mad surge of humanity below. Through it
battalions of almost exhausted police relieved each other in
attempting to keep the roadway clear for the passing of the New
York 7th on its way to Washington.

Driven, crushed, hurled back by the played-out police, the crowds
had sagged back into the cross streets. But even here the police
charged them repeatedly, and the bewildered people turned
struggling to escape, stumbled, swayed, became panic-stricken and
lost their heads.

A Broadway stage, stranded in Canal Street, was besieged as a
refuge. Toward it Berkley had been borne in spite of his efforts
to extricate himself, incidentally losing his hat in the confusion.
At the same moment he heard a quiet, unterrified voice pronounce
his name, caught a glimpse of Ailsa Paige swept past on the human
wave, set his shoulders, stemmed the rush from behind, and into the
momentary eddy created, Ailsa was tossed, undismayed, laughing, and
pinned flat against the forward wheel of the stalled stage.

"Climb up!" he said. "Place your right foot on the hub!--now the
left on the tire!--now step on my shoulder!"

There came a brutal rush from behind; he braced his back to it; she
set one foot on the hub, the other on the tire, stepped to his
shoulder, swung herself aloft, and crept up over the roof of the
stage. Here he joined her, offering an arm to steady her as the
stage shook under the impact of the reeling masses below.

"How did you get into this mob?" he asked.

"I was caught," she said calmly, steadying herself by the arm he
offered and glancing down at the peril below. "Celia and I were
shopping in Grand Street at Lord and Taylor's, and I thought I'd
step out of the shop for a moment to see if the 7th was coming, and
I ventured too far--I simply could not get back. . . . And--thank
you for helping me." She had entirely recovered her serenity; she
released his arm and now stood cautiously balanced behind the
driver's empty seat, looking curiously out over the turbulent sea
of people, where already hundreds of newsboys were racing hither
and thither shouting an afternoon extra, which seemed to excite
everybody within hearing to frenzy.

"Can you hear what they are shouting?" she inquired. "It seems to
make people very angry."

"They say that the 6th Massachusetts, which passed through here
yesterday, was attacked by a mob in Baltimore."

"_Our_ soldiers!" she said, incredulous. Then, clenching her small
hands: "If I were Colonel Lefferts of the 7th I'd march my men
through Baltimore to-morrow!"

"I believe they expect to go through," he said, amused. "That is
what they are for."

The rising uproar around was affecting her; the vivid colour in her
lips and cheeks deepened. Berkley looked at her, at the cockade
with its fluttering red-white-and-blue ribbons on her breast, at
the clear, fearless eyes now brilliant with excitement and
indignation.

"Have you thought of enlisting?" she asked abruptly, without
glancing at him.

"Yes," he said, "I've ventured that far. It's perfectly safe to
think about it. You have no idea, Mrs. Paige, what warlike
sentiments I cautiously entertain in my office chair."

She turned nervously, with a sunny glint of gold hair and
fluttering ribbons:

"Are you _never_ perfectly serious, Mr. Berkley? Even at such a
moment as this?"

"Always," he insisted. "I was only philosophising upon these
scenes of inexpensive patriotism which fill even the most urbane
and peaceful among us full of truculence. . . . I recently saw my
tailor wearing a sword, attired in the made-to-measure panoply of
battle."

"Did that strike you as humorous?"

"No, indeed; it fitted; I am only afraid he may find a soldier's
grave before I can settle our sartorial accounts."

There was a levity to his pleasantries which sounded discordant to
her amid the solemnly thrilling circumstances impending. For the
flower of the city's soldiery was going forth to battle--a thousand
gay, thoughtless young fellows summoned from ledger, office, and
counting-house; and all about her a million of their neighbours had
gathered to see them go.

"Applause makes patriots. Why should I enlist when merely by
cheering others I can stand here and create heroes in battalions?"

"I think," she said, "that there was once another scoffer who
remained to pray."

As he did not answer, she sent a swift side glance at him, found
him tranquilly surveying the crowd below where, at the corner of
Canal and Broadway, half a dozen Zouaves, clothed in their
characteristic and brilliant uniforms and wearing hairy knapsacks
trussed up behind, were being vociferously acclaimed by the people
as they passed, bayonets fixed.

"More heroes," he observed, "made immortal while you wait."

And now Ailsa became aware of a steady, sustained sound audible
above the tumult around them; a sound like surf washing on a
distant reef.

"Do you hear that? It's like the roar of the sea," she said. "I
believe they're coming; I think I caught a strain of military music
a moment ago!"

They rose on tiptoe, straining their ears; even the skylarking
gamins who had occupied the stage top behind them, and the driver,
who had reappeared, drunk, and resumed his reins and seat, stood up
to listen.

Above the noise of the cheering, rolling steadily toward them over
the human ocean, came the deadened throbbing of drums. A far, thin
strain of military music rose, was lost, rose again; the double
thudding of the drums sounded nearer; the tempest of cheers became
terrific. Through it, at intervals, they could catch the clear
marching music of the 7th as two platoons of police, sixty strong,
arrived, forcing their way into view, followed by a full company of
Zouaves.

Then pandemonium broke loose as the matchless regiment swung into
sight. The polished instruments of the musicians flashed in the
sun; over the slanting drums the drumsticks rose and fell, but in
the thundering cheers not a sound could be heard from brass or
parchment.

Field and staff passed headed by the colonel; behind jolted two
howitzers; behind them glittered the sabre-bayonets of the
engineers; then, filling the roadway from sidewalk to sidewalk the
perfect ranks of the infantry swept by under burnished bayonets.

They wore their familiar gray and black uniforms, forage caps, and
blue overcoats, and carried knapsacks with heavy blankets rolled on
top. And New York went mad.

What the Household troops are to England the 7th is to America. In
its ranks it carries the best that New York has to offer. The
polished metal gorgets of its officers reflect a past unstained;
its pedigree stretches to the cannon smoke fringing the Revolution.

To America the 7th was always The Guard; and now, in the lurid
obscurity of national disaster, where all things traditional were
crashing down, where doubt, distrust, the agony of indecision
turned government to ridicule and law to anarchy, there was no
doubt, no indecision in The Guard. Above the terrible clamour of
political confusion rolled the drums of the 7th steadily beating
the assembly; out of the dust of catastrophe emerged its
disciplined gray columns. Doubters no longer doubted, uncertainty
became conviction; in a situation without a precedent, the
precedent was established; the _corps d'elite_ of all state
soldiery was answering the national summons; and once more the
associated states of North America understood that they were first
of all a nation indivisible.

Down from window and balcony and roof, sifting among the bayonets,
fluttered an unbroken shower of tokens--gloves, flowers,
handkerchiefs, tricoloured bunches of ribbon; and here and there a
bracelet or some gem-set chain fell flashing through the sun.

Ailsa Craig, like thousands of her sisters, tore the
red-white-and-blue rosette from her breast and flung it down among
the bayonets with a tremulous little cheer.

Everywhere the crowd was breaking into the street; citizens marched
with their hands on the shoulders of the soldiers; old gentlemen
toddled along beside strapping sons; brothers passed arms around
brothers; here and there a mother hung to the chevroned sleeve of
son or husband who was striving to see ahead through blurring eyes;
here and there some fair young girl, badged with the national
colours, stretched out her arms from the crowd and laid her hands

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