Part 1 out of 7
GEORGE W. CABLE
[Illustration: "If anyone alive," he cried, "knows any cause why this
thing should not be."]
I. Carrollton Gardens
II. Carriage Company
III. The General's Choice
V. Hilary?--Yes, Uncle?
VI. Messrs. Smellemout and Ketchem
VII. By Starlight
VIII. One Killed
IX. Her Harpoon Strikes
X. Sylvia Sighs
XI. In Column of Platoons
XII. Mandeville Bleeds
XIII. Things Anna Could Not Write
XIV. Flora Taps Grandma's Cheek
XV. The Long Month of March
XVI. Constance Tries to Help
XVII. "Oh, Connie, Dear--Nothing--Go On"
XVIII. Flora Tells the Truth!
XIX. Flora Romances
XX. The Fight for the Standard
XXI. Constance Cross-Examines
XXII. Same Story Slightly Warped
XXIV. A Parked Battery Can Raise a Dust
XXV. "He Must Wait," Says Anna
XXVI. Swift Going, Down Stream
XXVII. Hard Going, Up Stream
XXVIII. The Cup of Tantalus
XXIX. A Castaway Rose
XXX. Good-by, Kincaid's Battery
XXXI. Virginia Girls and Louisiana Boys
XXXIV. A Free-Gift Bazaar
XXXV. The "Sisters of Kincaid's Battery"
XXXVI. Thunder-Cloud and Sunburst
XXXVII. "Till He Said, 'I'm Come Hame, My Love'"
XXXVIII. Anna's Old Jewels
XXXIX. Tight Pinch
XL. The License, The Dagger
XLI. For an Emergency
XLII. "Victory! I Heard it as PI'--"
XLIII. That Sabbath at Shiloh
XLIV. "They Were all Four Together"
XLVI. The School of Suspense
XLVII. From the Burial Squad
XLIX. A City in Terror
L. Anna Amazes Herself
LI. The Callender Horses Enlist
LII. Here They Come
LIII. Ships, Shells, and Letters
LIV. Same April Day Twice
LV. In Darkest Dixie and Out
LVI. Between the Millstones
LVII. Gates of Hell and Glory
LIX. In a Labyrinth
LX. Hilary's Ghost
LXI. The Flag-of-Truce Boat
LXII. Farewell, Jane!
LXIII. The Iron-clad Oath
LXIV. "Now, Mr. Brick-Mason--"
LXV. Flora's Last Throw
LXVI. "When I Hands in My Checks"
LXVIII. By the Dawn's Early Light
LXIX. Southern Cross and Northern Star
LXX. Gains and Losses
LXXI. Soldiers of Peace
"If any one alive," he cried, "knows any cause why this thing should not
"'Tis good-by, Kincaid's Battery"
And the next instant she was in his arms
"No! not under this roof--nor in sight of _these things_."
"You 'ave no ri-ight to leave me! _Ah, you shall not_!"
She dropped into a seat, staring like one demented.
For the scene of this narrative please take into mind a wide
quarter-circle of country, such as any of the pretty women we are to
know in it might have covered on the map with her half-opened fan.
Let its northernmost corner be Vicksburg, the famous, on the
Mississippi. Let the easternmost be Mobile, and let the most southerly
and by far the most important, that pivotal corner of the fan from which
all its folds radiate and where the whole pictured thing opens and
shuts, be New Orleans. Then let the grave moment that gently ushers us
in be a long-ago afternoon in the Louisiana Delta.
Throughout that land of water and sky the willow clumps dotting the
bosom of every sea-marsh and fringing every rush-rimmed lake were yellow
and green in the full flush of a new year, the war year, 'Sixty-one.
Though rife with warm sunlight, the moist air gave distance and poetic
charm to the nearest and humblest things. At the edges of the great
timbered swamps thickets of young winter-bare cypresses were budding yet
more vividly than the willows, while in the depths of those overflowed
forests, near and far down their lofty gray colonnades, the dwarfed
swamp-maple drooped the winged fruit of its limp bush in pink and
flame-yellow and rose-red masses until it touched its own image in the
That which is now only the "sixth district" of greater New Orleans was
then the small separate town of Carrollton. There the vast Mississippi,
leaving the sugar and rice fields of St. Charles and St. John Baptist
parishes and still seeking the Gulf of Mexico, turns from east to south
before it sweeps northward and southeast again to give to the Creole
capital its graceful surname of the "Crescent City." Mile-wide, brimful,
head-on and boiling and writhing twenty fathoms deep, you could easily
have seen, that afternoon, why its turfed levee had to be eighteen feet
high and broad in proportion. So swollen was the flood that from any
deck of a steamboat touching there one might have looked down upon the
whole fair still suburb.
Widely it hovered in its nest of rose gardens, orange groves, avenues of
water-oaks, and towering moss-draped pecans. A few hundred yards from
the levee a slender railway, coming from the city, with a highway on
either side, led into its station-house; but mainly the eye would have
dwelt on that which filled the interval between the nearer high road and
the levee--the "Carrollton Gardens."
At a corner of these grounds closest to the railway station stood a
quiet hotel from whose eastern veranda it was but a step to the centre
of a sunny shell-paved court where two fountains danced and tinkled to
each other. Along its farther bound ran a vine-clad fence where a row of
small tables dumbly invited the flushed visitor to be inwardly cooled.
By a narrow gate in this fence, near its townward end, a shelled walk
lured on into a musky air of verdurous alleys that led and misled,
crossed, doubled, and mazed among flowering shrubs from bower to bower.
Out of sight in there the loiterer came at startling moments face to
face with banks of splendid bloom in ravishing negligee--Diana disrobed,
as it were, while that untiring sensation-hunter, the mocking-bird,
leaped and sang and clapped his wings in a riot of scandalous mirth.
In the ground-floor dining-room of that unanimated hotel sat an old
gentleman named Brodnax, once of the regular army, a retired veteran of
the Mexican war, and very consciously possessed of large means. He sat
quite alone, in fine dress thirty years out of fashion, finishing a late
lunch and reading a newspaper; a trim, hale man not to be called old in
his own hearing. He had read everything intended for news or
entertainment and was now wandering in the desert of the advertising
columns, with his mind nine miles away, at the other end of New Orleans.
Although not that person whom numerous men of his acquaintance had begun
affectionately to handicap with the perilous nickname of "the ladies'
man," he was thinking of no less than five ladies; two of one name and
three of another. Flora Valcour and her French grandmother (as well as
her brother of nineteen, already agog to be off in the war) had but
lately come to New Orleans, from Mobile. On a hilly border of that
smaller Creole city stood the home they had left, too isolated, with war
threatening, for women to occupy alone. Mrs. Callender was the young
widow of this old bachelor's life-long friend, the noted judge of that
name, then some two years deceased. Constance and Anna were her
step-daughters, the latter (if you would believe him) a counterpart of
her long-lost, beautiful mother, whose rejection of the soldier's suit,
when he was a mere lieutenant, was the well-known cause of his
singleness. These Callender ladies, prompted by him and with a sweet
modesty of quietness, had just armed a new field battery with its six
splendid brass guns, and it was around these three Callenders that his
ponderings now hung; especially around Anna and in reference to his much
overprized property and two nephews: Adolphe Irby, for whom he had
obtained the command of this battery, which he was to see him drill this
afternoon, and Hilary Kincaid, who had himself cast the guns and who was
to help the senior cousin conduct these evolutions.
The lone reader's glance loitered down a long row of slim paragraphs,
each beginning with the same wee picture of a steamboat whether it
proclaimed the _Grand Duke_ or the _Louis d'Or_, the _Ingomar_ bound for
the "Lower Coast," or the _Natchez_ for "Vicksburg and the Bends."
Shifting the page, he read of the Swiss Bell-Ringers as back again
"after a six years' absence," and at the next item really knew what he
read. It was of John Owens' appearance, every night, as _Caleb Plummer_
in "Dot," "performance to begin at seven o'clock." Was it there Adolphe
would this evening take his party, of which the dazzling Flora would be
one and Anna, he hoped, another? He had proposed this party to Adolphe,
agreeing to bear its whole cost if the nephew would manage to include in
it Anna and Hilary. And Irby had duly reported complete success and
drawn on him, but the old soldier still told his doubts to the
"Adolphe has habits," he meditated, "but success is not one of them."
Up and down a perpendicular procession on the page he every now and then
mentally returned the salute of the one little musketeer of the same
height as the steamboat's chimneys, whether the Attention he challenged
was that of the Continentals, the Louisiana Grays, Orleans Cadets,
Crescent Blues or some other body of blithe invincibles. Yet his thought
was still of Anna. When Adolphe, last year, had courted her, and the
hopeful uncle had tried non-intervention, she had declined him--"and oh,
how wisely!" For then back to his native city came Kincaid after years
away at a Northern military school and one year across the ocean, and
the moment the uncle saw him he was glad Adolphe had failed. But now if
she was going to find Hilary as light-headed and cloying as Adolphe was
thick-headed and sour, or if she must see Hilary go soft on the slim
Mobile girl--whom Adolphe was already so torpidly enamored
Two young men who had tied their horses behind the hotel crossed the
white court toward the garden. They also were in civil dress, yet wore
an air that goes only with military training. The taller was Hilary
Kincaid, the other his old-time, Northern-born-and-bred school chum,
Fred Greenleaf. Kincaid, coming home, had found him in New Orleans, on
duty at Jackson Barracks, and for some weeks they had enjoyed cronying.
Now they had been a day or two apart and had chanced to meet again at
this spot. Kincaid, it seems, had been looking at a point hard by with a
view to its fortification. Their manner was frankly masterful though
they spoke in guarded tones.
"No," said Kincaid, "you come with me to this drill. Nobody'll take
"Nor will you ever teach your cousin to handle a battery," replied
Greenleaf, with a sedate smile.
"Well, he knows things we'll never learn. Come with me, Fred, else I
can't see you till theatre's out--if I go there with her--and you say--"
"Yes, I want you to go with her," murmured Greenleaf, so solemnly that
Kincaid laughed outright.
"But, after the show, of course," said the laugher, "you and I'll ride,
eh?" and then warily, "You've taken your initials off all your stuff?...
Yes, and Jerry's got your ticket. He'll go down with your things, check
them all and start off on the ticket himself. Then, as soon as you--"
"But will they allow a slave to do so?"
"With my pass, yes; 'Let my black man, Jerry--'"
The garden took the pair into its depths a moment too soon for the old
soldier to see them as he came out upon the side veranda with a cloud on
his brow that showed he had heard his nephew's laugh.
Bareheaded the uncle crossed the fountained court, sat down at a table
and read again. In the veranda a negro, his own slave, hired to this
hotel, held up an elegant military cap, struck an inquiring attitude,
and called softly, "Gen'al?"
"Bring it with the coffee."
But the negro instantly brought it without the coffee and placed it on
the table with a delicate flourish, shuffled a step back and bowed low:
"Coffee black, Gen'al, o' co'se?"
"Black as your grandmother."
The servant tittered: "Yas, suh, so whah it flop up-siden de cup it
leave a lemon-yalleh sta-ain."
He capered away, leaving the General to the little steamboats and to a
blessed ignorance of times to be when at "Vicksburg and the Bends" this
same waiter would bring his coffee made of corn-meal bran and muddy
water, with which to wash down scant snacks of mule meat. The listless
eye still roamed the arid page as the slave returned with the fragrant
pot and cup, but now the sitter laid it by, lighted a cigar and mused:--
In this impending war the South would win, of course--oh, God is just!
But this muser could only expect to fall at the front. Then his large
estate, all lands and slaves, five hundred souls--who would inherit that
and hold it together? Held together it must be! Any partition of it
would break no end of sacredly humble household and family ties and
work spiritual havoc incalculable. There must be but one heir. Who?
Hilary's mother had been in heaven these many years, the mother of
Adolphe eighteen months; months quite enough to show the lone brother
how vast a loss is the absence of the right mistress from such very
human interests as those of a great plantation. Not only must there be
but one heir, but he _must have the right wife_.
The schemer sipped. So it was Anna for Hilary if he could bring it
about. So, too, it must be Hilary for his adjutant-general, to keep him
near enough to teach him the management of the fortune coming to him if
he, Hilary, would only treat his kind uncle's wishes--reasonably. With
the cup half lifted he harkened. From a hidden walk and bower close on
the garden side of this vine-mantled fence sounded footsteps and voices:
"But, Fred! where on earth did she get--let's sit in here--get that
rich, belated, gradual smile?"
A memory thrilled the listening General. "From her mother," thought he,
and listened on.
"It's like," continued his nephew--"I'll tell you what it's like. It's
like--Now, let me alone! You see, one has to _learn_ her beauty--by
degrees. You know, there _is_ a sort of beauty that flashes on you at
first sight, like--like the blaze of a ball-room. I was just now
thinking of a striking instance--"
"From Mobile? You always are."
"No such thing! Say, Fred, I'll tell you what Miss Anna's smile is like.
It's as if you were trying--say in a telescope--for a focus, and at last
all at once it comes and--there's your star!"
The Northerner softly assented.
"Fred! Fancy Flora Valcour with that smile!"
"No! Hilary Kincaid, I think you were born to believe in every feminine
creature God ever made. No wonder they nickname you as they do. Now,
some girls are quite too feminine for me."
In his own smoke the General's eyes opened aggressively. But hark! His
nephew spoke again:
"Fred, if you knew all that girl has done for that boy and that
grandmother--It may sound like an overstatement, but you must have
"That she's a sort of overstatement herself?"
"Go to grass! _Your_ young lady's not even an understatement; she's only
a profound pause. See here! what time is it? I prom--"
On the uncle's side of the fence a quick step brought a newcomer, a
Creole of maybe twenty-nine years, member of his new staff, in bright
"Ah, General, yo' moze ob-edient! Never less al-lone then when al-lone?
'T is the way with myseff--"
He seemed not unrefined, though of almost too mettlesome an eye; in
length of leg showing just the lack, in girth of waist just the excess,
to imply a better dignity on horseback and to allow a proud tailor to
prove how much art can overcome. Out on the road a liveried black
coachman had halted an open carriage, in which this soldier had arrived
with two ladies. Now these bowed delightedly from it to the General,
while Kincaid and his friend stood close hid and listened agape, equally
amused and dismayed.
"How are you, Mandeville?" said the General. "I am not nearly as much
alone as I seem, sir!"
A voice just beyond the green-veiled fence cast a light on this reply
and brought a flush to the Creole's very brows. "Alas! Greenleaf," it
cried, "we search in vain! He is not here! We are even more alone than
we seem! Ah! where is that peerless chevalier, my beloved, accomplished,
blameless, sagacious, just, valiant and amiable uncle? Come let us press
on. Let not the fair sex find him first and snatch him from us forever!"
The General's scorn showed only in his eyes as they met the blaze of
Mandeville's. "You were about to remark--?" he began, but rose and
started toward the carriage.
There not many minutes later you might have seen the four men amicably
gathered and vying in clever speeches to pretty Mrs. Callender and her
yet fairer though less scintillant step-daughter Anna.
THE GENERAL'S CHOICE
Anna Callender. In the midst of the gay skirmish and while she yielded
Greenleaf her chief attention, Hilary observed her anew.
What he thought he saw was a golden-brown profusion of hair with a
peculiar richness in its platted coils, an unconsciously faultless poise
of head, and, equally unconscious, a dreamy softness of sweeping lashes.
As she laughed with the General her student noted further what seemed to
him a rare silkiness in the tresses, a vapory lightness in the short
strands that played over the outlines of temple and forehead, and the
unstudied daintiness with which they gathered into the merest mist of a
short curl before her exquisite ear.
But when now she spoke with him these charms became forgettable as he
discovered, or fancied he did, in her self-oblivious eyes, a depth of
thought and feeling not in the orbs alone but also in the brows and
lids, and between upper and under lashes as he glimpsed them in profile
while she turned to Mandeville. And now, unless his own insight misled
him, he observed how unlike those eyes, and yet how subtly mated with
them, was her mouth; the delicate rising curve of the upper lip, and the
floral tenderness with which it so faintly overhung the nether,
wherefrom it seemed ever about to part yet parted only when she spoke or
"A child's mouth and a woman's eyes," he mused.
When her smiles came the mouth remained as young as before,
yet suddenly, as truly as the eyes, showed--showed him at
least--steadfastness of purpose, while the eyes, where fully
half the smile was, still unwittingly revealed their depths of truth.
"Poor Fred!" he pondered as the General and Mandeville entered the
carriage and it turned away.
A mile or two from Carrollton down the river and toward the city lay the
old unfenced fields where Hilary had agreed with Irby to help him
manoeuvre his very new command. Along the inland edge of this plain the
railway and the common road still ran side by side, but the river veered
a mile off. So Mandeville pointed out to the two ladies as they, he, and
the General drove up to the spot with Kincaid and Greenleaf as
outriders. The chosen ground was a level stretch of wild turf maybe a
thousand yards in breadth, sparsely dotted with shoulder-high acacias.
No military body was yet here, and the carriage halted at the first good
Mrs. Callender, the only member of her family who was of Northern birth
and rearing, was a small slim woman whose smile came whenever she spoke
and whose dainty nose went all to merry wrinkles whenever she smiled. It
did so now, in the shelter of her diminutive sunshade opened flat
against its jointed handle to fend off the strong afternoon beams, while
she explained to Greenleaf--dismounted beside the wheels with
Mandeville--that Constance, Anna's elder sister, would arrive by and by
with Flora Valcour. "Connie", she said, had been left behind in the
clutches of the dressmaker!
"Flora," she continued, crinkling her nose ever so kind-heartedly at
Greenleaf, "is Lieutenant Mandeville's cousin, you know. Didn't he tell
you something back yonder in Carrollton?"
Greenleaf smiled an admission and her happy eyes closed to mere chinks.
What had been told was that Constance had yesterday accepted Mandeville.
"Yes," jovially put in the lucky man, "I have divulge' him that, and he
seem' almoze as glad as the young lady herseff!"
Even to this the sweet widow's misplaced wrinkles faintly replied, while
Greenleaf asked, "Does the Lieutenant's good fortune account for
the--'clutches of the dressmaker'?"
It did. The Lieutenant hourly expecting to be ordered to the front, this
wedding, like so many others, would be at the earliest day possible. "A
great concession," the lady said, turning her piquant wrinkles this time
upon Mandeville. But just here the General engrossed attention. His
voice had warmed sentimentally and his kindled eye was passing back and
forth between Anna seated by him and Hilary close at hand in the saddle.
He waved wide:
"This all-pervading haze and perfume, dew and dream," he was saying, "is
what makes this the Lalla Rookh's land it is!" He smiled at himself and
confessed that Carrollton Gardens always went to his head. "Anna, did
you ever hear your mother sing--
"'There's a bower of roses--'?"
She lighted up to say yes, but the light was all he needed to be lured
on through a whole stanza, and a tender sight--Ocean silvering to
brown-haired Cynthia--were the two, as he so innocently strove to
recreate out of his own lost youth, for her and his nephew, this
atmosphere of poetry.
"'To sit in the roses and hear the bird's song!'"
he suavely ended--"I used to make Hilary sing that for me when he was a
"Doesn't he sing it yet?" asked Mrs. Callender.
"My God, madame, since I found him addicted to comic songs I've never
Kincaid led the laugh and the talk became lively. Anna was merrily
accused by Miranda (Mrs. Callender) of sharing the General's abhorrence
of facetious song. First she pleaded guilty and then reversed her plea
with an absurd tangle of laughing provisos delightful even to herself.
At the same time the General withdrew from his nephew all imputation of
a frivolous mind, though the nephew avowed himself nonsensical from
birth and destined to die so. It was a merry moment, so merry that
Kincaid's bare mention of Mandeville as Mandy made even the General
smile and every one else laugh. The Creole, to whom any mention of
himself, (whether it called for gratitude or for pistols and coffee,)
was always welcome, laughed longest. If he was Mandy, he hurried to
rejoin, the absent Constance "muz be Candy--ha, ha, ha!" And when Anna
said Miranda should always thenceforth be Randy, and Mrs. Callender said
Anna ought to be Andy, and the very General was seduced into suggesting
that then Hilary would be Handy, and when every one read in every one's
eye, the old man's included, that Brodnax would naturally be Brandy, the
Creole bent and wept with mirth, counting all that fine wit exclusively
"But, no!" he suddenly said, "Hilary he would be Dandy, bic-ause he's
call' the ladies' man!"
"No, sir!" cried the General. "Hil--" He turned upon his nephew, but
finding him engaged with Anna, faced round to his chum: "For Heaven's
sake, Greenleaf, does he allow--?"
"He can't help it now," laughed his friend, "he's tagged it on himself
by one of his songs."
"Oh, by Jove, Hilary, it serves you right for singing them!"
Hilary laughed to the skies, the rest echoing.
"A ladies' man!" the uncle scoffed on. "Of all things on God's earth!"
But there he broke into lordly mirth: "Don't you believe _that_ of him,
ladies, at any rate. If only for my sake, Anna, don't you _ever_
believe a breath of it!"
The ladies laughed again, but now Kincaid found them a distraction.
Following his glance cityward they espied a broad dust-cloud floating
off toward the river. He turned to Anna and softly cried, "Here come
your guns, trying to beat the train!"
The ladies stood up to see. An unseen locomotive whistled for a brief
stop. The dust-cloud drew nearer. The engine whistled to start again,
and they could hear its bell and quickening puff. But the dust-cloud
came on and on, and all at once the whole six-gun battery--six horses
to each piece and six to each caisson--captain, buglers, guidon,
lieutenants, sergeants and drivers in the saddle, cannoneers on the
chests--swept at full trot, thumping, swaying, and rebounding, up the
highway and off it, and, forming sections, swung out upon the field in
double column, while the roaring train rolled by it and slowed up to the
little frame box of Buerthe's Station with passengers cheering from
The Callenders' carriage horses were greatly taxed in their nerves, yet
they kept their discretion. Kept it even when now the battery flashed
from column into line and bore down upon them, the train meanwhile
whooping on toward Carrollton. And what an elated flock of brightly
dressed citizens and citizenesses had alighted from the cars--many of
them on the moment's impulse--to see these dear lads, with their
romantically acquired battery, train for the holiday task of scaring the
dastard foe back to their frozen homes! How we loved the moment's
impulse those days!
What a gay show! And among the very prettiest and most fetchingly
arrayed newcomers you would quickly have noticed three with whom this
carriage group exchanged signals. Kincaid spurred off to meet them while
Greenleaf and Mandeville helped Anna and Miranda to the ground. "There's
Constance," said the General.
"Yes," Mrs. Callender replied, "and Flora and Charlie Valcour!" as if
that were the gleefulest good luck of all.
Captain Irby, strong, shapely, well clad, auburn-haired, left his halted
command and came into the carriage group, while from the train
approached his cousin and the lithe and picturesque Miss Valcour.
The tallish girl always looked her best beside some manly form of
unusual stature, and because that form now was Hilary's Irby was
aggrieved. All their days his cousin had been getting into his light,
and this realization still shaded his brow as Kincaid yielded Flora to
him and returned to Anna to talk of things too light for record.
Not so light were the thoughts Anna kept unuttered. Here again, she
reflected, was he who (according to Greenleaf) had declined to command
her guns in order to let Irby have them. Why? In kindness to his cousin,
or in mild dislike of a woman's battery? If intuition was worth while,
this man was soon to be a captain somewhere. Here was that rare find for
which even maidens' eyes were alert those days--a born leader. No
ladies' man this--"of all things on God's earth!" A men's man! And
yet--nay, _therefore_--a man for some unparagoned woman some day to
yield her heart and life to, and to have for her very own, herself his
consummate adornment. She cast a glance at Flora.
But her next was to him as they talked on. How nearly black was the
waving abundance of his hair. How placid his brow, above eyes whose long
lashes would have made them meltingly tender had they not been so large
with mirth: "A boy's eyes," thought she while he remembered what he had
just called hers. She noted his mouth, how gently firm: "A man's mouth!"
Charlie Valcour broke in between them: "Is there not going to be any
drill, after all?"
"Tell Captain Irby you can't wait any longer," replied Kincaid with a
mock frown and gave Anna yet gayer attention a minute more. Then he
walked beside his cousin toward the command, his horse close at his
back. The group, by pairs, chose view points. Only Miss Valcour stayed
in the carriage with the General, bent on effecting a change in his
mind. In Mobile Flora had been easily first in any social set to which
she condescended. In New Orleans, brought into the Callenders' circles by
her cousin Mandeville, she had found herself quietly ranked second to
Anna, and Anna now yet more pointedly outshining her through the brazen
splendor of this patriotic gift of guns. For this reason and others yet
to appear she had planned a strategy and begun a campaign, one of whose
earliest manoeuvres must be to get Irby, not Kincaid, made their uncle's
adjutant-general, and therefore to persuade the uncle that to give
Kincaid the battery would endear him to Anna and so crown with victory
the old man's perfectly obvious plan.
Greenleaf left his horse tied and walked apart with Anna. This, he
murmured, was the last time they would be together for years.
"Yes," she replied with a disheartening composure, although from under
the parasol with which he shaded her she met his eyes so kindly that his
heart beat quicker. But before he could speak on she looked away to his
fretting horse and then across to the battery, where a growing laugh was
running through the whole undisciplined command. "What is it about?" she
playfully inquired, but then saw. In response to the neigh of
Greenleaf's steed Hilary's had paused an instant and turned his head,
but now followed on again, while the laughter ended in the clapping of a
hundred hands; for Kincaid's horse had the bridle free on his neck and
was following his master as a dog follows. Irby scowled, the General set
his jaws, and Hilary took his horse's bridle and led him on.
"That's what _I_ want to do every time I look at him!" called Charlie to
"Then look the other way!" carolled back the slender beauty. To whom
Anna smiled across in her belated way, and wondered if the impulse to
follow Hilary Kincaid ever came to women.
But now out yonder the two cousins were in the saddle, Irby's sabre was
out, and soon the manoeuvres were fully under way. Flora, at the
General's side, missed nothing of them, yet her nimble eye kept her well
aware that across here in this open seclusion the desperate Greenleaf's
words to Anna were rarely explanatory of the drill.
"And now," proclaimed Mandeville, "you'll see them form into line fazed
to the rear!" And Flora, seeing and applauding, saw also Anna turn to
her suitor a glance, half pity for him, half pleading for his pity.
"I say unless--" Greenleaf persisted--
"There is no 'unless.' There can't ever be any."
"But may I not at least say--?"
"I'd so much rather you would not," she begged.
"At present, you mean?"
"Or in the future," said Anna, and, having done perfectly thus far,
spoiled all by declaring she would "never marry!" Her gaze rested far
across the field on the quietly clad figure of Kincaid riding to and fro
and pointing hither and yon to his gold-laced cousin. Off here on the
left she heard Mandeville announcing:
"Now they'll form batt'rie to the front by throwing caisson' to the
rear--look--look!... Ah, ha! was not that a prettie?"
Pretty it was declared to be on all sides. Flora called it "a
beautiful." Part of her charm was a Creole accent much too dainty for
print. Anna and Greenleaf and the other couples regathered about the
carriage, and Miss Valcour from her high seat smiled her enthusiasm down
among them, exalting theirs. And now as a new movement of the battery
followed, and now another, her glow heightened, and she called musically
to Constance, Mrs. Callender and Anna, by turns, to behold and admire.
For one telling moment she was, and felt herself, the focus of her
group, the centre of its living picture. Out afield yet another
manoeuvre was on, and while Anna and her suitor stood close below her
helplessly becalmed each by each, Flora rose to her feet and caught a
great breath of delight. Her gaze was on the glittering mass of men,
horses, and brazen guns that came thundering across the plain in double
column--Irby at its head, Kincaid alone on the flank--and sweeping right
and left deployed into battery to the front with cannoneers springing to
their posts for action.
"Pretties' of all!" she cried, and stood, a gentle air stirring her
light draperies, until the boys at the empty guns were red-browed and
short of breath in their fierce pretence of loading and firing. Suddenly
the guns were limbered up and went bounding over the field, caissons in
front. And now pieces passed their caissons, and now they were in line,
then in double column, and presently were gleaming in battery again,
faced to the rear. And now at command the tired lads dropped to the
ground to rest, or sauntered from one lounging squad to another, to chat
and chaff and puff cigarettes. Kincaid and Irby lent their horses to
Mandeville and Charlie, who rode to the battery while the lenders joined
Once more Hilary yielded Flora and sought Anna; but with kinder thought
for Flora Anna pressed herself upon Irby, to the open chagrin of his
uncle. So Kincaid cheerfully paired with Flora. But thus both he and
Anna unwittingly put the finishing touch upon that change of heart in
the General which Flora, by every subtlety of indirection, this hour and
more in the carriage, had been bringing about.
A query: With Kincaid and Irby the chief figures in their social arena
and Hilary so palpably his cousin's better in looks, in bearing,
talents, and character, is it not strange that Flora, having conquest
for her ruling passion, should strive so to relate Anna to Hilary as to
give her, Anna, every advantage for the higher prize? Maybe it is, but
she liked strangeness--and a stiff game.
Second half as well as first, the drill was ended. The low acacias and
great live-oaks were casting their longest shadows. The great plain
rested from the trample and whirl of hoofs, guns, and simulated battle.
A whiff of dust showed where the battery ambled townward among roadside
gardens, the Callender carriage spinning by it to hurry its three ladies
and Mandeville far away to the city's lower end. At the column's head
rode Irby in good spirits, having got large solace of Flora's society
since we last saw her paired with Kincaid. Now beside the tiny railway
station Hilary was with her once more as she and Charlie awaited the
train from town. Out afield were left only General Brodnax and
Greenleaf, dismounted between the Northerner's horse and Hilary's. Now
Kincaid came across the turf.
"Greenleaf," said the old soldier, "why does Hilary forever walk as
though he were bringing the best joke of the season? Can't you make him
The nephew joined them: "Uncle, if you'd like to borrow my horse I can
go by train."
That _was_ a joke. "H-m-m! I see! No, Greenleaf's going by train. Would
you like to ride with me?"
"Well, eh--ha! Why, uncle, I--why, of course, if Fred really--" They
mounted and went.
"How is it now? Like my girl any better?"
"Why--yes! Oh, she's fine! And yet I--"
"You must say? What must you say?"
"Nothing much; only that she's not the kind to seem like the owner of a
field battery. My goodness! uncle, if she had half Miss Flora's tang--"
"She hasn't the least need of it! She's the quiet kind, sir, that fools
who love 'tang' overlook!"
"Yes," laughed Hilary, "she's quiet; quiet as a fortification by
moonlight! Poor Fred! I wish--"
"Well, thank God you wish in vain! That's just been settled. I asked
him--oh, don't look surprised at _me_. Good Lord! hadn't I the right to
The two rode some way in silence. "I wish," mused the nephew aloud, "it
could be as he wants it."
The uncle's smile was satirical: "Did you ever, my boy, wish anything
could be as _I_ want it?"
"Now, uncle, there's a big difference--"
"DAMN THE DIFFERENCE! I'm going to try you. I'm going to make Adolphe my
adjutant-general. Then if you hanker for this battery as it hankers for
"Mary, Queen of Scots!" rejoiced Hilary. "That'll suit us both to the
bone! And if it suits you too--"
"Well it doesn't! You know I've never wanted Adolphe about me. But
you've got me all snarled up, the whole kit of you. What's more, I
don't want him for my heir nor any girl with 'tang' for mistress of my
lands and people. Hilary, I swear! if you've got the sand to want Anna
and she's got the grace to take you, then, adjutant-general or not, I'll
leave you my whole fortune! Well, what amuses you now?"
"Why, uncle, all the cotton in New Orleans couldn't tempt me to marry
the girl I wouldn't take dry so without a continental cent."
"But your own present poverty might hold you back even from the girl you
wanted, mightn't it?"
"No!" laughed the nephew, "nothing would!"
"Good God! Well, if you'll want Anna I'll make it easy for you to ask
for her. If not, I'll make it as hard as I can for you to get any one
Still Hilary laughed: "H-oh, uncle, if I loved any girl, I'd rather have
her without your estate than with it." Suddenly he sobered and glowed:
"I wish you'd leave it to Adolphe! He's a heap-sight better business man
than I. Besides, being older, he feels he has the better right to it.
You know you always counted on leaving it to him."
The General looked black: "You actually decline the gift?"
"No. No, I don't. I want to please you. But of my own free choice I
wouldn't have it. I'm no abolitionist, but I don't want that kind of
property. I don't want the life that has to go with it. I know other
sorts that are so much better. I'm not thinking only of the moral
"By--! sir, I am!"
"I know you are, and I honor you for it."
"Bah!... Hilary, I--I'm much obliged to you for your company, but--"
"You've had enough," laughed the good-natured young man. "Good-evening,
sir." He took a cross-street.
"Good-evening, my boy." The tone was so kind that Hilary cast a look
back. But the General's eyes were straight before him.
Greenleaf accompanied the Valcours to their door. Charlie, who disliked
him, and whose admiration for his own sister was privately cynical, had
left them to themselves in the train. There, wholly undetected by the
very man who had said some women were too feminine and she was one, she
had played her sex against his with an energy veiled only by its
intellectual nimbleness and its utterly dispassionate design. Charlie
detected achievement in her voice as she twittered good-by to the
departing soldier from their street door.
MESSRS. SMELLEMOUT AND KETCHEM
Night came, all stars. The old St. Charles Theatre filled to overflowing
with the city's best, the hours melted away while Maggie Mitchell played
_Fanchon_, and now, in the bright gas-light of the narrow thoroughfare,
here were Adolphe and Hilary helping their three ladies into a carriage.
All about them the feasted audience was pouring forth into the mild
The smallest of the three women was aged. That the other two were young
and beautiful we know already. At eighteen the old lady, the
Bohemian-glass one, had been one of those royalist refugees of the
French Revolution whose butterfly endeavors to colonize in Alabama and
become bees make so pathetic a chapter in history. When one knew that,
he could hardly resent her being heavily enamelled. Irby pressed into
the coach after the three and shut the door, Kincaid uncovered, and the
carriage sped off.
Hilary turned, glanced easily over the heads of the throng, and espied
Greenleaf beckoning with a slender cane. Together they crossed the way
and entered the office of a public stable.
"Our nags again," said Kincaid to one of a seated group, and passed into
a room beyond. Thence he re-issued with his dress modified for the
saddle, and the two friends awaited their mounts under an arch. "Dost
perceive, Frederic," said the facetious Hilary, "yon modestly arrayed
pair of palpable gents hieing hitherward yet pretending not to descry
us? They be detectives. Oh--eh--gentlemen!"
The strangers halted inquiringly and then came forward. The hair of one
was black, of the other gray. Hilary brightened upon them: "I was just
telling my friend who you are. You know me, don't you?" A challenging
glint came into his eye.
But the gray man showed a twinkle to match it: "Why--by sight--yes--what
there is of you."
Hilary smiled again: "I saw you this morning in the office of the
Committee of Public Safety, where I was giving my word that this friend
of mine should leave the city within twenty-four hours." He introduced
him: "Lieutenant Greenleaf, gentleman, United States Army. Fred, these
are Messrs. Smellemout and Ketchem, a leading firm in the bottling
Greenleaf and the firm expressed their pleasure. "We hang out at the
corner of Poet and Good-Children Streets," said the black-haired man,
but made his eyes big to imply that this was romance.
Greenleaf lifted his brows: "Streets named for yourselves, I judge."
"Aye. Poet for each, Good-Children for both."
Kincaid laughed out. "The Lieutenant and I," he said as he moved toward
their approaching horses, "live on Love street exactly half-way between
Piety and Desire." His eyes widened, too. Suddenly he stepped between
Greenleaf and the others: "See here, let's begin to tell the truth! You
know Kincaid's Foundry? It was my father's--"
"And his father's before him," said the gray man.
"And I've come home to go into this war," Hilary went on.
"And just at present," said Gray, "you're casting shot and shell and now
and then a cannon; good for you! You want to give us your guarantee--?"
"That my friend and I will be together every moment till he leaves
to-morrow morning on the Jackson Railroad, bound for the North without a
"To go into this war on the other side!"
"Why, of course!" said the smiling Kincaid. "Now, that's all, isn't it?
I fear we're keeping you."
"Oh, no." The gray man's crow's-feet deepened playfully. "If you think
you need us we'll stick by you all night."
"No," laughed Kincaid, "there's no call for you to be so sticky as all
that." The horsemen mounted.
"Better us than the Patriots' League," said the younger detective to
Hilary as Greenleaf moved off. "They've got your friend down in their
Send-'em-to-hell book and are after him now. That's how come we to be--"
"I perceive," replied Hilary, and smiled in meditation. "Why--thank you,
"Oh, you go right along, Mr. Kincaid. We'll be at the depot to-morrow
ourselves, and to-night we'll see that they don't touch neither one of
Hilary's smile grew: "Why--thank you again! That will make it more
comfortable for them. Good-night."
The two friends rode to a corner, turned into Poydras Street, crossed
Magazine and Tchoupitoulas and presently, out from among the echoing
fronts of unlighted warehouses, issued upon the wide, white Levee.
"Wait," murmured Greenleaf, as they halted to view the scene. From their
far right came the vast, brimming river, turbid, swift, silent, its
billows every now and then rising and looking back as if they fled from
implacable pursuers; sweeping by long, slumbering ranks of ships and
steamboats; swinging in majestic breadth around the bend a mile or more
below; and at the city's end, still beyond, gliding into mystic
oblivion. Overhead swarmed the stars and across the flood came faintly
the breath of orange-groves, sea-marshes and prairies.
Greenleaf faced across the wide bend at his left. In that quarter, quite
hidden in live-oaks and magnolias, as both well knew, were the low, red
towers of Jackson Barracks. But it was not for them the evicted young
soldier claimed this last gaze. It was for a large dwelling hard by
them, a fine old plantation house with wide verandas, though it also was
shut from view, in its ancient grove.
"Fred," said Hilary, "didn't she tell you why?"
"No," replied the lover when they had turned away and were moving up the
harbor front, "except that it isn't because I'm for the Union."
Hilary's eyes went wide: "That's wonderful, old man! But I don't believe
she likes a soldier of any sort. If I were a woman I'd be doggoned if
I'd ever marry a soldier!"
"Yet the man who gets her," said Greenleaf, "ought to be a soldier in
every drop of his blood. You don't know her yet; but you soon will, and
"Now, why so? I can't ever please her enough to be pleased with her. I'm
too confounded frivolous! I love nonsense, doggon it, for its own sake!
I love to get out under a sky like this and just reel and whoop in the
pure joy of standing on a world that's whirling round!"
"But you do please her. She's told me so."
"Don't you believe her! I don't. I can't. I tell you, Fred, I could
never trust a girl that forever looks so trustworthy! S'pose I should
fall in love with her! Would you--begrudge her to me?"
"I bequeath her to you."
"Ah! you know I haven't the ghost of a chance! She's not for po' little
Hil'ry. I never did like small women, anyhow!"
"My boy! If ever you like this one she'll no more seem small than the
"I suppose," mused Hilary, "that's what makes it all the harder to let
go. If a girl has a soul so petty that she can sit and hear you through
to the last word your heart can bleed, you can turn away from her with
some comfort of resentment, as if you still had a remnant of your own
"Precisely!" said the lover. "But when she's too large-hearted to let
you speak, and yet answers your unspoken word, once for all, with a
compassion so modest that it seems as if it were you having compassion
on her, she's harder to give up than--"
"Doggon her, Fred, I wouldn't give her up!"
"Ah, this war, Hilary! I may never see her again. There's just one man
in this world whom--"
"Oh, get out!"
"I mean what I say. To you I leave her."
"Ha, ha! No, you don't! It's only to her you leave me. Old boy, promise
me! If you ever come back and she's still in the ring, you'll go for her
again no matter who else is bidding, your humble servant not excepted."
"Why--yes--I--I promise that. Now, will you promise me?"
"What! let myself--?"
"Ho-o, not by a jug-full! If ever I feel her harpoon in me I'll fight
like a whale! But I promise you this, and warn you, too: That when it
comes to that, a whole platoon of Fred Greenleafs between her and me
won't make a pinch of difference."
To that Greenleaf agreed, and the subject was changed. With shipping
ever on their left and cotton-yards and warehouses for tobacco and for
salt on their right their horses' feet clinked leisurely over the cobble
pavements, between thousands of cotton-bales headed upon the unsheltered
wharves and only fewer thousands on the narrow sidewalks.
So passed the better part of an hour before they were made aware, by
unmistakable odors, that they were nearing the Stock-Landing. There,
while they were yet just a trifle too far away to catch its echoes, had
occurred an incident--a fracas, in fact--some of whose results belong
with this narrative to its end. While they amble toward the spot let us
reconnoitre it. Happily it has long been wiped out, this blot on the
city's scutcheon. Its half-dozen streets were unspeakable mud, its air
was stenches, its buildings were incredibly foul slaughter-houses and
shedded pens of swine, sheep, beeves, cows, calves, and mustang ponies.
The plank footways were enclosed by stout rails to guard against the
chargings of long-horned cattle chased through the thoroughfares by
lasso-whirling "bull-drivers" as wild as they. In the middle of the
river-front was a ferry, whence Louisiana Avenue, broad, treeless,
grassy, and thinly lined with slaughter-houses, led across the plain.
Down this untidy plaisance a grimy little street-car, every half-hour,
jogged out to the Carrollton railway and returned. This street and the
water-front were lighted--twilighted--with lard-oil lamps; the rest of
the place was dark. At each of the two corners facing the ferry was a
"coffee-house"--dram-shop, that is to say.
Messrs. Sam Gibbs and Maxime Lafontaine were president and
vice-president of that Patriots' League against whose machinations our
two young men had been warned by the detectives in St. Charles Street.
They had just now arrived at the Stock-Landing. Naturally, on so
important an occasion they were far from sober; yet on reaching the spot
they had lost no time in levying on a Gascon butcher for a bucket of tar
and a pillow of feathers, on an Italian luggerman for a hurried supper
of raw oysters, and on the keeper of one of the "coffee-houses" for
drinks for the four.
"Us four and no more!" sang the gleeful Gibbs; right number to manage a
delicate case. The four glasses emptied, he had explained that all
charges must be collected, of course, from the alien gentleman for whom
the plumage and fixative were destined. Hence a loud war of words, which
the barkeeper had almost smoothed out when the light-hearted Gibbs
suddenly decreed that the four should sing, march, pat and "cut the
pigeon-wing" to the new song (given nightly by Christy's Minstrels)
entitled "Dixie's Land."
Hot threats recurring, Gascony had turned to go, Maxime had headed him
off, Italy's hand had started into his flannel shirt, and "bing! bang!
pop!" rang Gibbs's repeater and one of Maxime's little derringers--shot
off from inside his sack-coat pocket. A whirlwind of epithets filled the
place. Out into the stinking dark leaped Naples and Gascony, and after
them darted their whooping assailants. The shutters of both barrooms
clapped to, over the way a pair of bull-drivers rushed to their
mustangs, there was a patter of hoofs there and of boots here and all
inner lights vanished. A watchman's rattle buzzed remotely. Then silence
Now Sam and Maxime, deeming the incident closed, were walking up the
levee road beyond the stock-pens, in the new and more sympathetic
company of the two mounted bull-drivers, to whose love of patriotic
adventure they had appealed successfully. A few yards beyond a roadside
pool backed by willow bushes they set down tar-bucket and pillow, and
under a low, vast live-oak bough turned and waited. A gibbous moon had
set, and presently a fog rolled down the river, blotting out landscape
and stars and making even these willows dim and unreal. Ideal
conditions! Now if their guest of honor, with or without his friend,
would but stop at this pool to wash the Stock-Landing muck from his
horse's shins--but even luck has its limits.
Nevertheless, that is what occurred. A hum of voices--a tread of
hoofs--and the very man hoped for--he and Hilary Kincaid--recognized by
their voices--dismounted at the pool's margin. Sam and Maxime stole
The newcomers' talk, as they crouched busily over their horses' feet,
was on random themes: Dan Rice, John Owens, Adelina and Carlotta Patti,
the comparative merits of Victor's and Moreau's restaur'--hah! Greenleaf
snatched up his light cane, sprang erect, and gazed close into the mild
eyes of Maxime. Gibbs's more wanton regard had no such encounter; Hilary
gave him a mere upward glance while his hands continued their task.
"Good-evening," remarked Gibbs.
"Good-morning," chirped Hilary, and scrubbed on. "Do you happen to be
Mr. Samuel Gibbs?--Don't stop, Fred, Maxime won't object to your working
"Yes, he will!" swore Gibbs, "and so will I!"
Still Hilary scrubbed: "Why so, Mr. Gibbs?"
"Bic-ause," put in Maxime, "he's got to go back through the same mud he
"Why, then," laughed Hilary, "I may as well knock off, too," and began
to wash his hands.
"No," growled Gibbs, "you'll ride on; we're not here for you."
"You can't have either of us without the other, Mr. Gibbs," playfully
remarked Kincaid. The bull-drivers loomed out of the fog. Hilary
leisurely rose and moved to draw a handkerchief.
"None o' that!" cried Gibbs, whipping his repeater into Kincaid's face.
Yet the handkerchief came forth, its owner smiling playfully and drying
his fingers while Mr. Gibbs went on blasphemously to declare himself
"Oh, no," laughed Hilary, "none of us is quite that. But did you ever
really study--_boxing?_" At the last word Gibbs reeled under a blow in
the face; his revolver, going off harmlessly, was snatched from him,
Maxime's derringer missed also, and Gibbs swayed, bleeding and
sightless, from Hilary's blows with the butt of the revolver. Presently
down he lurched insensible, Hilary going half-way with him but
recovering and turning to the aid of his friend. Maxime tore loose from
his opponent, beseeching the bull-drivers to attack, but beseeching in
vain. Squawking and chattering like parrot and monkey, they spurred
forward, whirled back, gathered lassos, cursed frantically as Sam fell,
sped off into the fog, spurred back again, and now reined their ponies
to their haunches, while Kincaid halted Maxime with Gibbs's revolver,
and Greenleaf sprang to the bits of his own and Hilary's terrified
horses. For two other men, the Gascon and the Italian, had glided into
the scene from the willows, and the Gascon was showing Greenleaf two big
knives, one of which he fiercely begged him to accept.
"Take it, Fred!" cried Hilary while he advanced on the defiantly
retreating Maxime; but as he spoke a new cry of the drovers turned his
glance another way. Gibbs had risen to his knees unaware that the
Italian, with yet another knife, was close behind him. At a bound Hilary
arrested the lifted blade and hurled its wielder aside, who in the next
breath seemed to spring past him head first, fell prone across the
prostrate Gibbs, turned face upward, and slid on and away--lassoed.
Both bull-drivers clattered off up the road.
"Hang to the nags, Fred!" cried Hilary, and let Maxime leap to Gibbs's
side, but seized the Gascon as with murderous intent he sprang after
him. It took Kincaid's strength to hold him, and Gibbs and his partner
would have edged away, but--"Stand!" called Hilary, and they stood,
Gibbs weak and dazed, yet still spouting curses. The Gascon begged in
vain to be allowed to follow the bull-drivers.
"Stay here!" said Hilary in French, and the butcher tarried. Hilary
passed the revolver to his friend, mounted and dashed up the highway.
The Gascon stayed with a lively purpose which the enfeebled Gibbs was
the first to see. "Stand back, you hell-hound!" cried the latter, and
with fresh oaths bade Greenleaf "keep him off!"
Maxime put Gibbs on Greenleaf's horse (as bidden), and was about to lead
him, when Kincaid galloped back.
"Fred," exclaimed Hilary, "they've killed the poor chap." He wheeled.
"Come, all hands," he continued, and to Greenleaf added as they went,
"He's lying up here in the road with--"
Greenleaf picked up something. "Humph!" said Hilary, receiving it,
"knives by the great gross. He must have used this trying to cut the
lasso; the one he had back yonder flew into the pond." He reined in:
"Here's where they--Why, Fred--why, I'll swear! They've come back
and--Stop! there was a skiff"--he moved to the levee and peered
The case was plain, and while from Greenleaf's saddle Gibbs broke into
frantic revilings of the fugitives for deserting him and Maxime to sink
their dead in the mid-current of the fog-bound river, Kincaid and his
friend held soft counsel. Evidently the drovers had turned their horses
loose, knowing they would go to their stable. No despatch to stop
Greenleaf could be sent by anyone up the railroad till the Committee of
Public Safety had authorized it, so Hilary would drop them a line out of
his pocket note-book, and by daybreak these prisoners could go free.
"Mr. Gibbs"--he said as he wrote--"I have the sprout of a notion that
you and Mr. Lafontaine would be an ornament to a field-battery I'm about
to take command of. I'd like to talk with you about that presently." He
tore out the page he had written and beckoned the Gascon aside:
"_Mon ami_"--he showed a roll of "city money" and continued in
French--"do you want to make a hundred dollars--fifty now and fifty when
you bring me an answer to this?"
The man nodded and took the missive.
The old "Jackson Railroad" avoided Carrollton and touched the river for
a moment only, a short way beyond, at a small bunch of flimsy clapboard
houses called Kennerville. Here was the first stop of its early morning
outbound train, and here a dozen or so passengers always poked their
heads out of the windows. This morning they saw an oldish black man step
off, doff his hat delightedly to two young men waiting at the platform's
edge, pass them a ticket, and move across to a pair of saddled horses.
The smaller of the pair stepped upon the last coach, but kept his
companion's hand till the train had again started.
"Good-by, Tony," cried the one left behind.
"Good-by, Jake," called the other, and waved. His friend watched the
train vanish into the forest. Then, as his horse was brought, he mounted
and moved back toward the city.
Presently the negro, on the other horse, came up almost abreast of him.
"Mahs' Hil'ry?" he ventured.
"Well, uncle Jerry?"
"Dat's a pow'ful good-lookin' suit o' clo'es what L'tenant Greenfeel got
"Jerry! you cut me to the heart!"
The negro tittered: "Oh, as to dat, I don't 'spute but yone is betteh."
The master heaved a comforted sigh. The servant tittered again, but
suddenly again was grave. "I on'y wish to Gawd," he slowly said, "dat de
next time you an' him meet--"
"Well--next time we meet--what then?"
"Dat you bofe be in de same sawt o' clo'es like you got on now."
HER HARPOON STRIKES
The home of the Callenders was an old Creole colonial plantation-house,
large, square, strong, of two stories over a stoutly piered basement,
and surrounded by two broad verandas, one at each story, beneath a great
hip roof gracefully upheld on Doric columns. It bore that air of
uncostly refinement which is one of the most pleasing outward features
of the aloof civilization to which it, though not the Callenders,
Inside, its aspect was exceptional. There the inornate beauty of its
finish, the quiet abundance of its delicate woodwork, and the high
spaciousness and continuity of its rooms for entertainment won
admiration and fame. A worthy setting, it was called, for the gentle
manners with which the Callenders made it alluring.
They, of course, had not built it. The late Judge had acquired it from
the descendants of a planter of indigo and coffee who in the oldest
Creole days had here made his home and lived his life as thoroughly in
the ancient baronial spirit as if the Mississippi had been the mediaeval
Rhine. Only its perfect repair was the Judge's touch, a touch so
modestly true as to give it a charm of age and story which the youth and
beauty of the Callender ladies only enhanced, enhancing it the more
through their lack of a male protector--because of which they were
always going to move into town, but never moved.
Here, some nine or ten days after Greenleaf's flight, Hilary Kincaid, in
uniform at last, was one of two evening visitors, the other being
Mandeville. In the meantime our lover of nonsense had received a "hard
jolt." So he admitted in a letter to his friend, boasting, however, that
it was unattended by any "internal injury." In the circuit of a single
week, happening to be thrown daily and busily into "her" society, "the
harpoon had struck."
He chose the phrase as an honest yet delicate reminder of the compact
made when last the two chums had ridden together.
All three of the Callenders were in the evening group, and the five
talked about an illumination of the city, set for the following night.
In the business centre the front of every building was already being
hung with fittings from sidewalk to cornice. So was to be celebrated the
glorious fact (Constance and Mandeville's adjective) that in the
previous month Louisiana had seized all the forts and lighthouses in her
borders and withdrawn from the federal union by a solemn ordinance
signed in tears. This great lighting up, said Hilary, was to be the
smile of fortitude after the tears. Over the city hall now floated daily
the new flag of the state, with the colors of its stripes--
"Reverted to those of old Spain," murmured Anna, mainly to herself yet
somewhat to Hilary. Judge Callender had died a Whig, and politics
interested the merest girls those days.
Even at the piano, where Anna played and Hilary hovered, in pauses
between this of Mozart and that of Mendelssohn, there was much for her
to ask and him to tell about; for instance, the new "Confederate
States," a bare fortnight old! Would Virginia come into them?
"Oh, yes, yes, yes!" cried Constance, overhearing. (Whatever did not
begin with oh, those times, began with ah.)
"And _must_ war follow?" The question was Anna's again, and Hilary sat
down closer to answer confidentially:
"Yes, the war was already a fact."
"And might not the Abolitionists send their ships and soldiers against
"Yes, the case was supposable."
"And might not Jackson's battlefield of 1815, in close view from these
windows, become a new one?"
To avoid confessing that old battlefields have that tendency the Captain
rose and took up a guitar; but when he would have laid it on her knee
she pushed it away and asked the song of him; asked with something
intimate in her smiling undertone that thrilled him, yet on the next
instant seemed pure dream stuff. The others broke in and Constance
begged a song of the new patriotism; but Miranda, the pretty stepmother,
spoke rather for something a thousand miles and months away from the
troubles and heroics of the hour; and when Anna seconded this motion by
one fugitive glance worth all their beseechings Hilary, as he stood,
gayly threw open his smart jacket lest his brass buttons mar the
instrument, and sang with a sudden fervor that startled and delighted
all the group:
"Drink to me only with thine eyes."
In the midst of which Constance lifted a knowing look across to Miranda,
and Miranda sent it back.
There was never an evening that did not have to end, and at last the
gentlemen began to make a show of leaving. But then came a lively chat,
all standing in a bunch. To-morrow's procession, the visitors said,
would form in Canal Street, move up St. Charles, return down Camp Street
into Canal, pass through it into Rampart, take the Bayou Road and march
to a grand review away out in the new camp of instruction at the Creole
Race-Course. Intermediately, from a certain Canal Street balcony, Flora
would present the flag! the gorgeous golden, silken, satin battle
standard which the Callenders and others had helped her to make. So
The last parting was with Mandeville, at the levee-road gate, just below
which he lived in what, during the indigo-planter's life, had been the
overseer's cottage. At a fine stride our artillerist started townward,
his horse being stabled near by in that direction. But presently he
halted, harkened after the Creole's receding step, thought long, softly
called himself names, and then did a small thing which, although it
resulted in nothing tragic at the time, marked a turning point in his
life. He leapt the grove fence, returned to the shadows of the garden,
and silently made his way to its eastern, down-river side. Already the
dwelling's lower lights were going out while none yet shone above, and
he paused in deep shade far enough away to see, over its upper veranda's
edge, the tops of its chamber windows.
The house was of brick. So being, in a land where most dwellings are of
wood, it had gathered beauty from time and dignity from tried strength,
and with satisfying grace joined itself to its grounds, whose abundance
and variety of flowering, broad-leaved evergreens lent, in turn, a
poetic authenticity to its Greek columns and to the Roman arches of its
doors and windows. Especially in these mild, fragrant, blue nights was
this charm potent, and the fair home seemed to its hidden beholder
forever set apart from the discords and distresses of a turbulent world.
And now an upper window brightened, its sash went up, and at the
veranda's balustrade Anna stood outlined against the inner glow.
She may have intended but one look at the stars, but they and the spiced
air were enchanting, and in confidence that no earthly eye was on her
she tarried, gazing out to the farthest gleam of the river where it
swung southward round the English Turn.
Down in the garden a mirthful ecstasy ran through all the blood of her
culprit observer and he drank to her only with his eyes. Against the
window's brightness her dark outline showed true, and every smallest
strand of her hair that played along the contours of brow and head
changed his merriment to reverence and bade his heart recognize how
infinitely distant from his was her thought. Hilary Kincaid! can you
read no better than that?
Her thought was of him. Her mind's eye saw him on his homeward ride. It
marked the erectness of his frame, the gayety of his mien, the dance of
his locks. By her inner ear she heard his horse's tread passing up the
narrow round-stone pavements of the Creole Quarter, presently to echo in
old St. Peter Street under the windows of Pontalba Row--one of which was
Flora's. Would it ring straight on, or would it pause between that
window and the orange and myrtle shades of Jackson Square? Constance had
said that day to Miranda--for this star-gazer to overhear--that she did
not believe Kincaid loved Flora, and the hearer had longed to ask her
why, but knew she could not tell. Why is a man's word. "They're as
helpless without it," the muser recalled having very lately written on a
secret page, "as women are before it. And yet a girl can be very hungry,
at times, for a why. They say he's as brave as a lion--why is he never
brave to me?"
So futilely ended the strain on the remembered page, but while his
unsuspected gaze abode on her lifted eyes her thought prolonged the
note: "If he meant love to-night, why did he not stand to his meaning
when I laughed it away? Was that for his friend's sake, or is he only
not brave enough to make one wild guess at me? Ah, I bless Heaven he's
the kind that cannot! And still--oh, Hilary Kincaid, if you were the
girl and I the man! I shouldn't be on my way home; I'd be down in this
garden--." She slowly withdrew.
Hilary, stepping back to keep her in sight, was suddenly aware of the
family coachman close at his side. Together they moved warily a few
"You mus' escuse me, Cap'n," the negro amiably whispered. "You all
right, o' co'se! Yit dese days, wid no white gen'leman apputtainin' onto
"Old man!" panted Hilary, "you've saved my life!"
"Oh, my Lawd, no! Cap'n, I--"
"Yes, you have! I was just going into fits! Now step in and fetch me out
here--" He shaped his arms fantastically and twiddled his fingers.
Bending with noiseless laughter the negro nodded and went.
Just within her window, Anna, still in reverie, sat down at a slender
desk, unlocked a drawer, then a second one inside it, and drew forth--no
mere secret page but--a whole diary! "To Anna, from Miranda, Christmas,
1860." Slowly she took up a pen, as gradually laid it by again, and
opposite various dates let her eyes rest on--not this, though it was
"The more we see of Flora, the more we like her."
Nor this: "Heard a great, but awful, sermon on the duty of resisting
But this: "Connie thinks he 'inclines' to me. Ho! all he's ever said has
been for his far-away friend. I wish he would incline, or else go ten
times as far away! Only not to the war--God forbid! Ah, me, how I long
for his inclining! And while I long he laughs, and the more he laughs
the more I long, for I never, never so doted on any one's laugh. Oh,
shame! to love before--"
What sound was that below? No mocking-bird note, no south wind in the
foliage, but the kiss of fingers on strings! Warily it stole in at the
window, while softly as an acacia the diary closed its leaves. The bent
head stirred not, but a thrill answered through the hearer's frame as a
second cadence ventured up and in and a voice followed it in song.
Tremblingly the book slid into the drawer, inner and outer lock clicked
whisperingly, and gliding to a door she harkened for any step of the
household, while she drank the strains, her bosom heaving with equal
alarm and rapture.
If any song is good which serves a lover's ends we need claim no more
for the one that rose to Anna on the odors of the garden and drove her
about the room, darting, clinging, fluttering, returning, like her own
terrified bird above her in its cage.
When Sylvia sighs
And veils the worshipped wonder
Of her blue eyes
Their sacred curtains under,
Naught can so nigh please me as my tender anguish.
Only grief can ease me while those lashes languish.
Woe best beguiles;
Mirth, wait thou other whiles;
Thou shalt borrow all my sorrow
When Sylvia smiles.
But what a strange effect! Could this be that Anna. Callender who "would
no more ever again seem small, than the ocean?" Is this that maiden of
the "belated, gradual smile" whom the singer himself so lately named "a
profound pause?" Your eyes, fair girl, could hardly be more dilated if
they saw riot, fire, or shipwreck. Nor now could your brow show more
exaltation responsive to angels singing in the sun; nor now your frame
show more affright though soldiers were breaking in your door. Anna,
Anna! your fingers are clenched in your palms, and in your heart one
frenzy implores the singer to forbear, while another bids him sing on
though the heavens fall. Anna Callender! do you not know this? You have
dropped into a chair, you grip the corners of your desk. Now you are up
again, trembling and putting out your lights. And now you seek to
relight them, but cannot remember the place or direction of anything,
and when you have found out what you were looking for, do not know how
much time has flown, except that the song is still in its first stanza.
Are you aware that your groping hand has seized and rumpled into its
palm a long strand of slender ribbon lately unwound from your throat?
A coy tap sounds on her door and she glides to it. "Who--who?" But in
spite of her it opens to the bearer of a lamp, her sister Constance.
"Who--who--?" she mocks in soft glee. "That's the question! 'Who is
"Don't try to come in! I--I--the floor is all strewn with matches!"
The sister's mirth vanishes: "Why, Nan! what is the matter?"
"Do-on't whisper so loud! He's right out there!"
"But, dearie! it's nothing but a serenade."
"It's an outrage, Con! How did he ever know--how did he dare to
know--this was my window? Oh, put out that lamp or he'll think I lighted
it--No! no! don't put it out, he'll think I did that, too!"
"Why, Nan! you never in your life--"
"Now, Connie, that isn't fair! I won't stay with you!" The speaker fled.
Constance put out the light.
A few steps down and across a hall a soft sound broke, and Anna stood in
Miranda's doorway wearing her most self-contained smile: "Dearie!" she
quietly said, "isn't it _too_ ridiculous!"
Miranda crinkled a smile so rife with love and insight that Anna's eyes
suddenly ran full and she glided to her knees by the seated one and into
her arms, murmuring, "You ought both of you to be ashamed of yourselves!
You're totally mistaken!"
Presently, back in the dusk of her own room, an audible breathing
betrayed her return, and Constance endeavoured to slip out, but Anna
clung: "You sha'n't go! You sha'--" Yet the fugitive easily got away.
Down among the roses a stanza had just ended. Anna tiptoed out half
across the dim veranda, tossed her crumpled ribbon over the rail,
flitted back, bent an ear, and knew by a brief hush of the strings that
the token had drifted home.
The die was cast. From brow and heart fled all perturbation and once
more into her eyes came their wonted serenity--with a tinge of
exultation--while the strings sounded again, and again rose the song:
When Sylvia smiles
Her eyes to mine inclining,
Like azure isles
In seas of lovelight shining,
With a merry madness find I endless pleasure--
Till she sighs--then sadness is my only treasure.
Woe best beguiles;
Mirth, wait thou other whiles,
Thou shalt borrow all my sorrow
When Sylvia smiles.
IN COLUMN OF PLATOONS
Love's war was declared. From hour to hour of that night and the next
morning, in bed, at board, dressing for the thronged city, spinning with
Constance and Miranda up Love Street across Piety and Desire and on into
the town's centre, Anna, outwardly all peace, planned that war's
defensive strategy. Splendidly maidenly it should be, harrowingly
arduous to the proud invader, and long drawn out. Constance should see
what a man can be put through. But oh, but oh, if, after all, the
invasion should not come!
In those days New Orleans paved her favorite streets, when she paved
them at all, with big blocks of granite two feet by one. They came from
the North as ballast in those innumerable wide-armed ships whose cloud
of masts and cordage inspiringly darkened the sky of that far-winding
river-front where we lately saw Hilary Kincaid and Fred Greenleaf ride.
Beginning at the great steamboat landing, half a mile of Canal Street
had such a pavement on either side of its broad grassy "neutral ground."
So had the main streets that led from it at right angles. Long
afterward, even as late as when the Nineteenth Century died, some of
those streets were at the funeral, clad in those same old pavements,
worn as smooth and ragged as a gentleman-beggar's coat. St. Charles
Street was one. Another was the old Rue Royale, its squat ground-floor
domiciles drooping their mossy eaves half across the pinched sidewalks
and confusedly trying to alternate and align themselves with tall brick
houses and shops whose ample two-and three-story balconies were upheld,
balustraded, and overhung by slender garlandries of iron openwork as
graceful and feminine as a lace mantilla. With here and there the flag
of a foreign consul hanging out and down, such is the attire the old
street was vain of in that golden time when a large square sign on every
telegraph pole bade you get your shirts at S.N. Moody's, corner of Canal
and Royal Streets.
At this corner, on the day after the serenade, there was a dense,
waiting crowd. On the other corner of Royal, where the show-windows of
Hyde & Goodrich blazed with diamonds, and their loftily nested gold
pelican forever fed her young from her bleeding breast, stood an equal
throng. Across Canal Street, where St. Charles opens narrowly southward,
were similar masses, and midway between the four corners the rising
circles of stone steps about the high bronze figure of Henry Clay were
hidden by men and boys packed as close as they could sit or stand. A
great procession had gone up-town and would by and by return. Near and
far banners and pennons rose and fell on the luxurious air, and the
ranks and ranks of broad and narrow balconies were so many gardens of
dames and girls, parasols, and diaphanous gowns. Near the front of the
lowest Hyde & Goodrich balcony, close by the gilded pelican, sat the
Callenders, all gladness, holding mute dialogues with Flora and Madame
Valcour here on the balcony of Moody's corner. It was the birthday of
Not of him, however, did Flora and her grandmother softly converse in
Spanish amid the surrounding babel of English and French. Their theme
was our battery drill of some ten days before, a subject urged upon
Flora by the mosquito-like probings of Madame's musically whined
queries. Better to be bled of almost any information by the antique
little dame than to have her light on it some other way, as she had an
amazing knack of doing. Her _acted_ part of things Flora kept untold;
but grandma's spirit of divination could unfailingly supply that, and
her pencilled brows, stiff as they were, could tell the narrator she had
Thus now, Flora gave no hint of the beautiful skill and quick success
with which, on her homeward railway trip with Greenleaf that evening,
she had bettered his impressions of her. By no more than a gentle play
of light and shade in her smile and an undulating melody of
voice--without a word that touched the wound itself, but with a timid
glow of compassionate admiration--she had soothed the torture of a heart
whose last hope Anna had that same hour put to death.
"But before he took the train with you," murmured the mosquito to the
butterfly, "when he said the General was going to take Irby upon his
staff and give the battery to Kincaid, what did you talk of?"
"Talk of? Charlie. He said I ought to make Charlie join the battery."
"Ah? For what? To secure Kincaid's protection of your dear little
"Yes, 'twas so he put it," replied Flora, while the old lady's eyebrows
"You sly bird! will you impute _all_ your own words to that Yankee, and
his to yourself?"
Which is just what Flora continued to do as the grandma tinkled: "And
"I said if I couldn't keep him at home I ought to get him into the
cavalry. You know, dear, in the infantry the marches are so cruel, the
"But in the artillery," piped the small dame, "they ride, eh?" (It was a
trap she was setting, but in vain was the net spread.)
"No," said the serene girl, "they, too, go afoot. Often they must help
the horses drag the guns through the mire. Only on parade they ride, or
when rushing to and fro in battle, whips cracking, horses plunging, the
hills smoking and shaking!" The rare creature sparkled frankly, seeing
the battery whirling into action with its standard on the wind--this
very flag she expected presently to bestow.
"And with Kincaid at the head!" softly cried the antique.
The girl put on a fondness which suddenly became a withering droop of
the eyes: "Don't mince your smile so, grannie dear, I can hear the paint
The wee relic flashed, yet instantly was bland again: "You were about to
say, however, that in the artillery--?"
"The risks are the deadliest of all."
"Ah, yes!" sang the mosquito, "and for a sister to push her boy brother
into a battery under such a commander would be too much like murder!"
The maiden felt the same start as when Greenleaf had ventured almost
those words. "Yes," she beamingly rejoined, "that's what I told the
"With a blush?"
"No," carelessly said the slender beauty, and exchanged happy signals
with the Callenders.
"You tricksy wretch!" muttered the grandmother to herself. For though
Charlie was in the battery by his own choice, Hilary would have kept him
out had not the sister begged to have him let in.
Suddenly there was a glad stoppage of all by-play in the swarming
streets. Down St. Charles from LaFayette Square came the shock of
saluting artillery, and up Royal from Jackson Square rolled back
"Grandma!" softly cried Flora, as if sharing the general elation, but
had begun again to tell of Greenleaf, when from far over in Camp Street
her subtle ear caught a faint stray sigh of saxhorns.
"Well? well? about the Yankee--?" urged Madame.
"Oh, a trifle! He was to go that night, and thinking he might some day
return in very different fashion and we be glad to make use of him, I--"
The speaker's lithe form straightened and her gaze went off to the left.
"Here they come!" she said, and out where Camp Street emerges, a glint
of steel, a gleam of brass, a swarming of the people that way, and again
a shimmer of brass and steel, affirmed her word that the long, plumed,
bristling column had got back to the arms of its darling Canal Street.
"Yes," cried many, "they're turning this way!"
"Well?--Well?" insisted the old lady amid the rising din. "And so
"Be more careful," murmured the girl. "I told him that our
convictions--about this war--yours and mine--not Charlie's--_are the
same as his_."
A charming sight she was, even in that moment of public enthusiasm and
spectacle, holding the wondering stare of her companion with a gayety
that seemed ready to break into laughter. The dainty Madame went limp,
and in words as slow and soft as her smile, sighed, "You are a genius!"
"No, only the last thing you would suspect--a good housekeeper. I have
put him up in sugar."
The distant martial strains became more coherent. In remote balconies
handkerchiefs fluttered wildly, and under nearer and nearer ones the
people began to pack closer and choose their footing along the curb.
Presently from the approaching column came who but Hilary Kincaid,
galloping easily over the slippery pavements. Anna saw his eyes sweep
the bank of human flowers (with its occasional male caterpillar) on
Moody's balcony and light upon Flora. He lifted his kepi and halted. One
could read his soft questions.
"All right? All ready? Where are the others?--Ah!" He sent an eager
salutation to the Callenders, and two joyfully bowed, but Anna gave no
sign. With great dignity her gaze was bent beyond him on the nearing
host, and when Constance plucked her arm she tardily looked three wrong
The rider could not wait. The police were pressing back the jubilant
masses, swarms of ladies on the rear forms were standing up, and Flora,
still seated, had leaned down beamingly and was using every resource of
voice and fan to send him some word through the tumult of plaudits and
drums. He spurred close. In a favoring hush--drum-corps inviting the
band--she bent low and with an arch air of bafflement tried once more,
but an outburst of brazen harmonies tore her speech to threads.
"Ever of thee I'm fondly dreaming--"
pealed the cornets, pumped the trombones, whipping it out, cracking it
off, with a rigor of rhythm to shame all peace-time languishments--
"Thy gentle voice my spirit can cheer.
Thou art the star--"
What could the balconies do but wave more joyously than ever? The
streets hurrahed! The head of the procession was here! The lone horseman
reined back, wheeled, cast another vain glance toward Anna, and with an
alarming rataplan of slipping and recovering hoofs sped down the column.
But what new rapture was this? Some glorious luck had altered the route,
and the whole business swung right into this old rue Royale! Now, now
the merry clamor and rush of the crowd righting itself! And behold! this
blazing staff and its commanding general--general of division! He
first, and then all they, bowed to Flora and her grandmother, bowed to
the Callenders, and were bowed to in return. A mounted escort followed.
And now--yea, verily! General Brodnax and his staff of brigade! Wave,
Valcours, wave Callenders! Irby's bow to Flora was majestic, and hers to
him as gracious as the smell of flowers in the air. And here was
Mandeville, most glittering in all the glitter. Flora beamed on him as
well, Anna bowed with a gay fondness, Miranda's dainty nose crimped
itself, and Constance, with a blitheness even more vivid, wished all
these balconies could know that Captain--he _was_ Lieutenant, but that
was away back last week--Captain Etienne Aristide Rofignac de Mandeville
was _hers_, whom, after their marriage, now _so_ near at hand, she was
going always to call Steve!
Two overflowing brigades! In the van came red-capped artillery. Not the
new battery, though happily known to Flora and the Callenders; the
Washington Artillery. Illustrious command! platoons and platoons of the
flower of the Crescent City's youth and worth! They, too, that day
received their battle-flag. They have the shot-torn rags of it yet.
Ah, the clanging horns again, and oh, the thundering drums! Another
uniform, on a mass of infantry, another band at its head braying another
lover's song reduced to a military tramp, swing, and clangor--
"I'd offer thee this hand of mine
If I could love thee less--"
Every soldier seemed to have become a swain. Hilary and Anna had lately
sung this wail together, but not to its end, she had called it "so
ungenuine." How rakishly now it came ripping out. "My fortune is too
hard for thee," it declared, "'twould chill thy dearest joy. I'd rather
weep to see thee free," and ended with "destroy"; but it had the swagger
of a bowling-alley.
All the old organizations, some dating back to '12-'15, had lately grown
to amazing numbers, while many new ones had been so perfectly uniformed,
armed, accoutred and drilled six nights a week that the ladies, in their
unmilitary innocence, could not tell the new from the old. Except in two
cases: Even Anna was aware that the "Continentals," in tasseled
top-boots, were of earlier times, although they had changed their buff
knee-breeches and three-cornered hats for a smart uniform of blue and
gray; while these red-and-blue-flannel Zouaves, drawing swarms of boys
as dray-loads of sugar-hogsheads drew flies, were as modern as 1861
itself. But oh, ah, one _knew_ so many young men! It was wave, bow,
smile and bow, smile and wave, till the whole frame was gloriously
Near Anna prattled a Creole girl of sixteen with whom she now and then
enjoyed a word or so: Victorine Lafontaine, daughter of our friend
"Louisiana Foot-Rifles--ah! but their true name," she protested, "are
the Chasseurs-a-Pied! 'Twas to them my papa billong' biffo' he join'
hisseff on the batt'rie of Captain Kincaid, and there he's now a
What jaunty fellows they were! and as their faultless ranks came close,
their glad, buskined feet beating as perfect music for the roaring drums
as the drums beat for them, Anna, in fond ardor, bent low over the rail
and waved, exhorting Miranda and Constance to wave with her. So marched
the chasseurs by, but the wide applause persisted as yet other hosts,
with deafening music and perfect step and with bayonets back-slanted
like the porcupine's, came on and on, and passed and passed, ignoring in
grand self-restraint their very loves who leaned from the banquettes'
edges and from balustraded heights and laughed and boasted and
Finally artillery again! every man in it loved by some one--or dozen--in
these glad throngs. Clap! call! wave! Oh, gallant sight! These do not
enter Royal Street. They keep Canal, obliquing to that side of the way
farthest from the balconies--
"To make room," cries Victorine, "to form line pritty soon off horses,
in front those cannon'."
At the head rides Kincaid. Then, each in his place, lieutenants,
sergeants, drivers, the six-horse teams leaning on the firm traces, the
big wheels clucking, the long Napoleons shining like gold, and the
cannoneers--oh, God bless the lads!--planted on limbers and caissons,
with arms tight folded and backs as plumb as the meridian. Now three of
the pieces, half the battery, have gone by and--
"Well, well, if there isn't Sam Gibbs, sergeant of a gun! It is, I tell
you, it is! Sam Gibbs, made over new, as sure as a certain monosyllable!
and what could be surer, for Sam Gibbs?"
So laugh the sidewalks; but society, overhead, cares not for a made-over
Gibbs while round about him are sixty or seventy young heroes who need
no making over. Anna, Anna! what a brave and happy half-and-half of
Creoles and "Americans" do your moist eyes beam down upon: here a
Canonge and there an Ogden--a Zacherie--a Fontennette--Willie
Geddes--Tom Norton--a Fusilier! Nat Frellsen--a Tramontana--a
Grandissime!--and a Grandissime again! Percy Chilton--a Dudley--Arthur
Puig y Puig--a De Armas--MacKnight--Violett--Avendano--Rob Rareshide--
Guy Palfrey--a Morse, a Bien, a Fuentes--a Grandissme once more! Aleck
Moise--Ralph Fenner--Ned Ferry!--and lo! a Raoul Innerarity, image of
his grandfather's portrait--and a Jules St. Ange! a Converse--Jack
Eustis--two Frowenfelds! a Mossy! a Hennen--Bartie Sloo--McVey, McStea,
a De Lavillebuevre--a Thorndyke-Smith and a Grandissime again!
And ah! see yonder young cannoneer half-way between these two balconies
and the statue beyond; that foppish boy with his hair in a hundred curls
and his eyes wild with wayward ardor! "Ah, Charlie Valcour!" thinks
Anna; "oh, your poor sister!" while the eyes of Victorine take him in
secretly and her voice is still for a whole minute. Hark! From the head
of the column is wafted back a bugle-note, and everything stands.
Now the trim lads relax, the balcony dames in the rear rows sit down,
there are nods and becks and wafted whispers to a Calder and an Avery,
to tall Numa, Dolhonde and short Eugene Chopin, to George Wood and Dick
Penn and Fenner and Bouligny and Pilcher and L'Hommedieu; and Charlie
sends up bows and smiles, and wipes the beautiful brow he so openly and
wilfully loves best on earth. Anna smiles back, but Constance bids her
look at Maxime, Victorine's father, whom neither his long white
moustaches nor weight of years nor the lawless past revealed in his
daring eyes can rob of his youth. So Anna looks, and when she turns
again to Charlie she finds him sending a glance rife with conquest--not
his first--up to Victorine, who, without meeting it, replies--as she has
done to each one before it--with a dreamy smile into vacancy, and a
faint narrowing of her almond eyes.
Captain Kincaid comes ambling back, and right here in the throat of
Royal Street faces the command. The matter is explained to Madame
Valcour by a stranger:
"Now at the captain's word all the cannoneers will spring down, leaving
only guns, teams and drivers at their back, and line up facing us. The
captain will dismount and ascend to the balcony, and there he and the
young lady, whoever she is--" He waits, hoping Madame will say who the
young lady is, but Madame only smiles for him to proceed--"The captain
and she will confront each other, she will present the colors, he,
replying, will receive them, and--ah, after all!" The thing had been
done without their seeing it, and there stood the whole magnificent
double line. Captain Kincaid dismounted and had just turned from his
horse when there galloped up Royal Street from the vanished
procession--Mandeville. Slipping and clattering, he reined up and
saluted: "How soon can Kincaid's Battery be completely ready to go into
"Now, if necessary."
"It will receive orders to move at seven to-morrow morning!" The
Creole's fervor amuses the rabble, and when Hilary smiles his
earnestness waxes to a frown. Kincaid replies lightly and the rider
bends the rein to wheel away, but the slippery stones have their victim
at last. The horse's feet spread and scrabble, his haunches go low.
Constance snatches both Anna's hands. Ah! by good luck the beast is up
again! Yet again the hoofs slip, the rider reels, and Charlie and a
comrade dart out to catch him, but he recovers. Then the horse makes
another plunge and goes clear down with a slam and a slide that hurl his
master to the very sidewalk and make a hundred pale women cry out.
Constance and her two companions bend wildly from the balustrade, a
sight for a painter. Across the way Flora, holding back her grandmother,
silently leans out, another picture. In the ranks near Charlie a
disarray continues even after Kincaid has got the battered Mandeville
again into the saddle, and while Mandeville is rejecting sympathy with a
begrimed yet haughty smile.
"Keep back, ladies!" pleads Madame's late informant, holding off two or
three bodily. "Ladies, sit down! Will you please to keep back!" Flora
still leans out. Some one is melodiously calling:
"Captain Kincaid!" It is Mrs. Callender. "Captain!" she repeats.
He smiles up and at last meets Anna's eyes. Flora sees their
glances--angels ascending and descending--and a wee loop of ribbon that
peeps from his tightly buttoned breast. Otherwise another sight,
elsewhere, could not have escaped her, though it still escapes many.
"Poor boy!" it causes two women behind her to exclaim, "poor boy!" but
Flora pays no heed, for Hilary is speaking to the Callenders.