Part 3 out of 7
Prytania street--"the one sane thing to do," insisted the growingly
profane lads to their elders, and assented the secretly pained elders to
them, "the one thing that, if only for shame's sake, ought to have been
done long ago, was to _knock_ Fort Pickens to HELL with SHELL!" Sadly
often they added the tritest three-monosyllabled expletive known to
Charlie--mm-mm! how he could rip it out! Sam Gibbs, our veritable Sam,
sergeant of the boy's gun, "Roaring Betsy," privately remarked to the
Captain what a blank-blank shame it was, not for its trivial self, of
course, but in view of the corruptions to which it opened the way. And
the blithe commander, in the seclusion of his tent, standing over the
lad and holding him tenderly by both pretty ears, preached to him of his
sister and grandmother until with mute rage the youngster burned as red
as his jacket facings; and then of the Callenders--"who gave us our
guns, and one of whom is the godmother of our flag, Charlie"--until the
tears filled Charlie's eyes, and he said:
"I'll try, Captain, but it's--oh, it's no use! If anything could make me
swear _worse_"--he smiled despairingly--"it would be the hope of being
hauled up again for another talk like this!"
One Sunday, three days after the going of the Zouaves, while out in
Jackson Square "Roaring Betsy" sang a solo of harrowing thunder-claps,
the Callenders and Valcours, under the cathedral's roof, saw consecrated
in its sacred nave the splendid standard of the Chasseurs-a-Pied.
Armed guards, keeping the rabble out, passed the ladies in before the
procession had appeared in the old Rue Conde. But now here it came, its
music swelling, the crowd--shabbier than last month and more vacant of
face--parting before it. Carrying their sabres, but on foot and without
their pieces, heading the column as escort of honor, lo, Kincaid's
Battery; rearmost the Chasseurs, masses and masses of them; and in
between, a silver crucifix lifted high above a body of acolytes in white
lace over purple, ranks of black-gowned priests, a succession of
cloth-of-gold ecclesiastics, and in their midst the mitred archbishop.
But the battery! What a change since last February! Every man as spruce
as ever, but with an added air of tested capability that inspired all
beholders. Only their German musicians still seemed fresh from the mint,
and oh! in what unlucky taste, considering the ecclesiastics, the song
they brayed forth in jaunty staccato.
"They're offering us that hand of theirs again," murmured Anna to
Constance, standing in a side pew; but suddenly the strain ceased, she
heard Hilary's voice of command turning the column, and presently,
through a lane made by his men, the Chasseurs marched in to the nave,
packed densely and halted. Then in close order the battery itself
followed and stood. Now the loud commands were in here. Strange it was
to hear them ring through the holy place (French to the Chasseurs,
English to the battery), and the crashing musket-butts smite the paved
floor as one weapon, to the flash of a hundred sabres.
So said to itself the diary on the afternoon of the next day, and there
hurriedly left off. Not because of a dull rumble reaching the writer's
ear from the Lake, where Kincaid and his lieutenants were testing
new-siege-guns, for that was what she was at this desk and window to
hear; but because of the L.S.C.A., about to meet in the drawing-room
below and be met by a friend of the family, a famed pulpit orator and
greater potentate, in many eyes, than even the Catholic archbishop.
He came, and later, in the battery camp with the Callenders, Valcours,
and Victorine, the soldiers clamoring for a speech, ran them wild
reminding them with what unique honor and peculiar responsibility they
were the champions of their six splendid guns. In a jostling crowd, yet
with a fine decorum, they brought out their standard and--not to be
outdone by any Chasseurs under the sky--obliged Anna to stand beside its
sergeant, Maxime, and with him hold it while the man of God invoked
Heaven to bless it and bless all who should follow it afield or pray for
it at home. So dazed was she that only at the "amen" did she perceive
how perfectly the tables had been turned on her. For only then did she
discover that Hilary Kincaid had joined the throng exactly in time to
see the whole tableau.
Every officer of the camp called that evening, to say graceful things,
Kincaid last. As he was leaving he wanted to come to the same old point,
but she would not let him. Oh! how could she, a scant six hours after
such a _bid_ from herself? He ought to have seen she couldn't--and
wouldn't! But he never saw anything--of that sort. Ladies' man indeed!
He couldn't read a girl's mind even when she wanted it read. He went
away looking so haggard--and yet so tender--and still so determined--she
could not sleep for hours. Nevertheless--
"I can't help his looks, Con, he's got to wait! I owe that to all
womanhood! He's got to practise to me what he preaches to his men. Why,
Connie, if _I'm_ willing to wait, why shouldn't he be? Why--?"
Next day, dining with Doctor Sevier, said the Doctor, "That chap's
working himself to death, Anna," and gave his fair guest such a stern
white look that she had to answer flippantly.
She and Hilary were paired at table and talked of Flora, he telling how
good a friend to her Flora was. The topic was easier, between them, than
at any other time since the loss of the gold. Always before, she had
felt him thinking of that loss and trying to guess something about her;
but now she did not, for on Sunday, in the cathedral, Flora had told her
at last, ever so gratefully and circumstantially, that she had repaid
the Captain everything! yes, the same day on which she had first told
Anna of the loss; and there was nothing now left to do but for her to
reimburse Anna the moment she could.
Hilary spoke of Adolphe's devotion to Flora--hoped he would win. Told
with great amusement how really well his cousin had done with her
government claim--sold it to his Uncle Brodnax! And Flora--how
picturesque everything she did!--had put--? yes, they both knew the
secret--had put the proceeds into one of those beautiful towboats that
were being fitted up as privateers! Hilary laughed with delight. Yes, it
was for that sort of thing the boys were so fond of her. But when Anna
avowed a frank envy he laughed with a peculiar tenderness that thrilled
both him and her, and murmured:
"The dove might as well envy the mocking-bird."
"If I were a dove I certainly should," she said.
"Well, you are, and you shouldn't!" said he.
All of which Flora caught; if not the words, so truly the spirit that
the words were no matter.
"Just as we were starting home," soliloquized, that night, our diary,
"the newsboys came crying all around, that General Beauregard had opened
fire on Fort Sumter, and the war has begun. Poor Constance! it's little
she'll sleep to-night."
SWIFT GOING, DOWN STREAM
Strangely slow travelled news in '61. After thirty hours' bombardment
Fort Sumter had fallen before any person in New Orleans was sure the
attack had been made. When five days later a yet more stupendous though
quieter thing occurred, the tidings reached Kincaid's Battery only on
the afternoon of the next one in fair time to be read at the close of
dress parade. But then what shoutings! The wondering Callenders were
just starting for a drive up-town. At the grove gate their horses were
frightened out of all propriety by an opening peal, down in the camp,
from "Roaring Betsy." And listen!
The black driver drew in. From Jackson Square came distant thunders and
across the great bend of the river they could see the white puff of each
discharge. What _could_ it mean?
"Oh, Nan, the Abolitionists must have sued for peace!" exclaimed the
"No-no!" cried Miranda. "Hark!"
Behind them the battery band had begun--
"O, carry me back to old Vir--"
"Virginia!" sang the three. "Virginia is out! Oh, Virginia is out!" They
clapped their mitted hands and squeezed each other's and laughed with
tears and told the coachman and said it over and over.
In Canal Street lo! it was true. Across the Neutral Ground they saw a
strange sight; General Brodnax bareheaded! bareheaded yet in splendid
uniform, riding quietly through the crowd in a brilliantly mounted group
that included Irby and Kincaid, while everybody told everybody, with
admiring laughter, how the old Virginian, dining at the St. Charles
Hotel, had sallied into the street cheering, whooping, and weeping,
thrown his beautiful cap into the air, jumped on it as it fell, and
kicked it before him up to one corner and down again to the other. Now
he and his cavalcade came round the Clay statue and passed the carriage
saluting. What glory was in their eyes! How could our trio help but wave
or the crowd hold back its cheers!
Up at Odd Fellows' Hall a large company was organizing a great military
fair. There the Callenders were awaited by Flora and Madame, thither
they came, and there reappeared the General and his train. There, too,
things had been so admirably cut and dried that in a few minutes the
workers were sorted and busy all over the hall like classes in a
The Callenders, Valcours, and Victorine were a committee by themselves
and could meet at Callender House. So when Kincaid and Irby introduced a
naval lieutenant whose amazingly swift despatch-boat was bound on a
short errand a bend or so below English Turn, it was agreed with him in
a twinkling--a few twinklings, mainly Miranda's--to dismiss horses, take
the trip, and on the return be set ashore at Camp Callender by early
They went aboard at the head of Canal Street. The river was at a fair
stage, yet how few craft were at either long landing, "upper" or
"lower," where so lately there had been scant room for their crowding
prows. How few drays and floats came and went on the white, shell-paved
levees! How little freight was to be seen except what lay vainly begging
for export--sugar, molasses, rice; not even much cotton; it had gone to
the yards and presses. That natty regiment, the Orleans Guards, was
drilling (in French, superbly) on the smooth, empty ground where both to
Anna's and to Flora's silent notice all the up-river foodstuffs--corn,
bacon, pork, meal, flour--were so staringly absent, while down in yonder
streets their lack was beginning to be felt by a hundred and twenty-five
Backing out into mid-stream brought them near an anchored steamer lately
razeed and now being fitted for a cloud of canvas on three lofty masts
instead of the two small sticks she had been content with while she
brought plantains, guava jelly, coffee, and cigars from Havana. The
_Sumter_ she was to be, and was designed to deliver some of the many
agile counter-thrusts we should have to make against that "blockade" for
which the Yankee frigates were already hovering off Ship Island. So said
the Lieutenant, but Constance explained to him (Captain Mandeville
having explained to her) what a farce that blockade was going to be.
How good were these long breaths of air off the sea marshes, enlivened
by the speed of the craft! But how unpopulous the harbor! What a crowd
of steamboats were laid up along the "Algiers" shore, and of Morgan's
Texas steamers, that huddled, with boilers cold, under Slaughter-House
Point, while all the dry-docks stood empty. How bare the ship wharves;
hardly a score of vessels along the miles of city front. About as many
more, the lieutenant said, were at the river's mouth waiting to put to
sea, but the towboats were all up here being turned into gunboats or
awaiting letters of marque and reprisal in order to nab those very ships
the moment they should reach good salt water. Constance and Miranda
tingled to tell him of their brave Flora's investment, but dared not, it
was such a secret!
On a quarter of the deck where they stood alone, what a striking pair
were Flora and Irby as side by side they faced the ruffling air, softly
discussing matters alien to the gliding scene and giving it only a
dissimulative show of attention. Now with her parasol he pointed to the
sunlight in the tree tops of a river grove where it gilded the windows
of the Ursulines' Convent.
"Hum!" playfully murmured Kincaid to Anna, "he motions as naturally as
if that was what they were talking about."
"It's a lovely picture," argued Anna.
"Miss Anna, when a fellow's trying to read the book of his fate he
doesn't care for the pictures."
"How do you know that's what he's doing?"
"He's always doing it!" laughed Hilary.
The word was truer than he meant. The Irby-value of things was all that
ever seriously engaged the ever serious cousin. Just now his eyes had
left the shore, where Flora's lingered, and he was speaking of Kincaid.
"I see," he said, "what you think: that although no one of these
things--uncle Brodnax's nonsense, Greenleaf's claims, Hilary's own
preaching against--against, eh--"
"Making brides to-day and widows to-morrow?"
"Yes, that while none of these is large enough in his view to stop him
by itself, yet combined they--"
"All working together they do it," said the girl. Really she had no such
belief, but Irby's poor wits were so nearly useless to her that she
found amusement in misleading them.
"Hilary tells me they do," he replied, "but the more he says it the less
I believe him. Miss Flora, the fate of all my uncle holds dear is
hanging by a thread, a spider's web, a young girl's freak! If ever she
gives him a certain turn of the hand, the right glance of her eye, he'll
be at her feet and every hope I cherish--"
"Captain Irby," Flora softly asked with her tinge of accent, "is not
this the third time?"
"Yes, if you mean again that--"
"That Anna, she is my dear, dear frien'! The fate of nothing, of nobody,
not even of me--or of--you--" she let that pronoun catch in her
throat--"can make me to do anything--oh! or even to wish anything--not
the very, very best for her!"
"Yet I thought it was our understanding--"
"Captain: There is bitwin us no understanding excep'"--the voice grew
tender--"that there is no understanding bitwin us." But she let her eyes
so meltingly avow the very partnership her words denied, that Irby felt
himself the richest, in understandings, of all men alive.
"What is that they are looking?" asked his idol, watching Anna and
Hilary. The old battle ground had been passed. Anna, gazing back toward
its townward edge, was shading her eyes from the burnished water, and
Hilary was helping her make out the earthwork from behind which peered
the tents of Kincaid's Battery while beyond both crouched low against
the bright west the trees and roof of Callender House--as straight in
line from here, Flora took note, as any shot or shell might ever fly.
HARD GOING, UP STREAM
Very pleasant it was to stand thus on the tremulous deck of the swiftest
craft in the whole Confederate service. Pleasant to see on either hand
the flat landscape with all its signs of safety and plenty; its orange
groves, its greening fields of young sugar-cane, its pillared and
magnolia-shaded plantation houses, its white lines of slave cabins in
rows of banana trees, and its wide wet plains swarming with wild birds;
pleasant to see it swing slowly, majestically back and melt into a
skyline as low and level as the ocean's.
Anna and Kincaid went inside to see the upper and more shining portions
of the boat's beautiful machinery. No one had yet made rods, cranks, and
gauge-dials sing anthems; but she knew it was Hilary and an artisan or
two in his foundry whose audacity in the remaking of these gliding,
plunging, turning, vanishing, and returning members had given them their
fine new speed-making power, and as he stood at her side and pointed
from part to part they took on a living charm that was reflected into
him. Pleasant it was, also, to hear two or three droll tales about his
battery boys; the personal traits, propensities, and soldierly value of
many named by name, and the composite character and temper that
distinguished the battery as a command; this specific quality of each
particular organic unit, fighting body, among their troops being as
needful for commanders to know as what to count on in the individual
man. So explained the artillerist while the pair idled back to the open
deck. With hidden vividness Anna liked the topic. Had not she a right,
the right of a silent partner? A secret joy of the bond settled on her
like dew on the marshes, as she stood at his side.
Hilary loved the theme. The lives of those boys were in his hands; at
times to be hoarded, at times to be spent, in sudden awful junctures to
be furiously squandered. He did not say this, but the thought was in
both of them and drew them closer, though neither moved. The boat
rounded to, her engines stopped, an officer came aboard from a skiff,
and now she was under way again and speeding up stream on her return,
but Hilary and Anna barely knew it. He began to talk of the boys'
sweethearts. Of many of their tender affairs he was confidentially
informed. Yes, to be frank, he confessed he had prompted some fellows to
let their hearts lead them, and to pitch in and win while--
"Oh! certainly!" murmured Anna in compassion, "some of them."
"Yes," said their captain, "but they are chaps--like Charlie--whose
hearts won't keep unless they're salted down and barrelled, and I give
the advice not in the sweethearts' interest but--"
"Why not? Why shouldn't a--" The word hung back.
"Yes. Why shouldn't he confess himself in _her_ interest? That needn't
"Oh! do you think that would be fair?"
"Well, now--take an actual case. Do you think the mere fact that Adolphe
truly and stick-to-it-ively loves Miss Flora gives her a right to know
"I do, and to know it a long, long time before he can have any right to
"Hum! while he goes where glory waits him--?"
"And lets time--?"
"And absence and distance and rumor try his unsupported constancy?"
With tight lips the soldier drew breath. "You know my uncle expects now
to be sent to Virginia at once?"
"Adolphe, of course, goes with him."
"Yet you think--the great principle of so-much-for-so-much to the
contrary notwithstanding--he really owes it to her to--"
Anna moved a step forward. She was thinking what a sweet babe she was,
thus to accept the surface of things. How did she know that this
laughing, light-spoken gallant, seemingly so open and artless--oh! more
infantile than her very self!--was not deep and complex? Or that it was
not _he_ and Flora on whose case she was being lured to speculate? The
boat, of whose large breathings and pulsings she became growingly aware,
offered no reply. Presently from the right shore, off before them, came
a strain of band music out of Camp Callender.
"What hosts of stars!" said she. "How hoveringly they follow us."
The lover waited. The ship seemed to breathe deeper--to glide faster. He
spoke again: "May I tell you a secret?"
"Doesn't the boat appear to you to tremble more than ever?" was the sole
"Yes, she's running up-stream. So am I. Anna, we're off this time--sure
shot--with the General--to Virginia. The boys don't know it yet,
Over in the unseen camp the strain was once more--
"I'd offer thee this hand of mine--"
"We're turning in to be landed, are we not?" asked Anna as the stars
began to wheel.
"Yes. Do you really believe, Anna, that that song is not the true word
for a true lover and true soldier, like Adolphe, for instance--to say to
himself, of course, not to _her_?"
"Oh, Captain Kincaid, what does it matter?"
"Worlds to me. Anna, if I should turn that song into a solemn avowal--to
"Please don't!--Oh, I mean--I don't mean--I--I mean--"
"Ah, I know your meaning. But if I love you, profoundly, abidingly,
consumingly--as I do, Anna Callender, as I do!--and am glad to pledge my
soul to you knowing perfectly that you have nothing to confess to me--"
"Oh, don't, Captain Kincaid, don't! You are not fair to me. You make me
appear--oh--we were speaking only of your cousin's special case. I don't
want your confession. I'm not ready for--for anybody's! You mustn't make
"It's made, Anna Callender, and it makes me fair to you at last."
"I know that matters little to you--"
"Oh, but you're farther from fair than ever, Captain Kincaid; you got my
word for one thing and have used it for another!" She turned and they
tardily followed their friends, bound for the gangway. A torch-basket of
pine-knots blazing under the bow covered flood and land with crimson
light and inky shadows. The engines had stopped. The boat swept the
shore. A single stage-plank lay thrust half out from her forward
quarter. A sailor stood on its free end with a coil of small line. The
crouching earthwork and its fierce guns glided toward them. Knots of
idle cannoneers stood along its crest. A few came down to the water's
edge, to whom Anna and Hilary, still paired alone, were a compelling
sight. They lifted their smart red caps. Charlie ventured a query: "It's
true, Captain, isn't it, that Virginia's out?"
"I've not seen her," was the solemn reply, and his comrades tittered.
"Yes!" called Constance and Miranda, "she's out!"
"Miss Anna," murmured Hilary with a meekness it would have avenged
Charlie to hear, "I've only given you the right you claim for every
"Oh, Captain Kincaid, I didn't say every woman! I took particular--I--I
"If it's any one's right it's yours."
"I don't want it!--I mean--I mean--"
"You mean, do you not? that I've no right to say what can only distress
"Do _you_ think you have?--Oh, Lieutenant, it's been a perfectly lovely
trip! I don't know when the stars have seemed so bright!"
"They're not like us dull men, Miss Callender," was the sailor's unlucky
reply, "they can rise to any occasion a lady can make."
"Ladies don't _make_ occasions, Lieutenant."
"Oh, don't they!" laughed the sea-dog to Hilary. But duty called. "No,
no, Miss Val--! Don't try that plank alone! Captain Kincaid, will you
give--? That's right, sir.... Now, Captain Irby, you and Miss
Seventh and last went the frail old lady, led by Kincaid. She would have
none other. She kept his arm with definite design while all seven waved
the departing vessel good-by. Then for the walk to the house she shared
Irby with Anna and gave Flora to Hilary, with Miranda and Constance in
front outmanoeuvred by a sleight of hand so fleeting and affable that
even you or I would not have seen it.
THE CUP OF TANTALUS
Queer world. Can you be sure the next pair you meet walking together of
a summer eve are as starry as they look? Lo, Constance and Miranda. Did
the bride herself realize what a hunger of loneliness was hers? Or Anna
and Irby, with Madame between them. Could you, maybe, have guessed the
veritable tempest beneath the maiden's serenity, or his inward gnashings
against whatever it was that had blighted his hour with the elusive
Or can any one say, in these lives of a thousand concealments and
restraints, _when_ things _are_ happening and when not, within us or
without, or how near we are _now_ to the unexpected--to fate? See, Flora
and Hilary. He gave no outward show that he was burning to flee the spot
and swing his fists and howl and tear the ground.
Yet Flora knew; knew by herself; by a cold rage in her own fair bosom,
where every faculty stood gayly alert for each least turn of incident,
to foil or use it, while they talked lightly of Virginia's great step,
or of the night's loveliness, counting the stars. "How small they look,"
she said, "how calm how still."
"Yes, and then to think what they really are! so fearfully far from
small--or cold--or still!"
"Like ourselves," she prompted.
"Yes!" cried the transparent soldier. "At our smallest the smallest
thing in us is that we should feel small. And how deep down are we calm
or cold? Miss Flora, I once knew a girl--fine outside, inside. Lovers
-she had to keep a turnstile. I knew a pair of them. To hear those two
fellows separately tell what she was like, you couldn't have believed
them speaking of the same person. The second one thought the first
had--sort o'--charted her harbor for him; but when he came to sail in,
'pon my soul, if every shoal on the chart wasn't deep water, and every
deep water a fortified shore--ha, ha, ha!"
Flora's smile was lambent. "Yes," she said, "that sweet Anna she's very
intric-ate." Hilary flamed and caught his breath, but she met his eyes
with the placidity of the sky above them.
Suddenly he laughed: "Now I know what I am! Miss Flora, I--I wish you'd
be my pilot."
She gave one resenting sparkle, but then shook her averted head
tenderly, murmured "Impossible," and smiled.
"You think there's no harbor there?"
"Listen," she said.
"Yes, I hear it, a horse."
"For dear Anna's sake _and_ yours, shall I be that little bit your
pilot, to say--?"
"What! to say. Don't see her to-night?"
Flora's brow sank.
"May I go with you, then, and learn why?" The words were hurried, for a
horseman was in front and the others had so slackened pace that all were
again in group. Anna caught Flora's reply:
"No, your cousin will be there. But to-morrow evening, bif-ore--"
"Yes," he echoed, "before anything else. I'll come. Why!"--a whinny of
recognition came from the road--"why, that's my horse!"
The horseman dragged in his rein. Constance gasped and Kincaid
exclaimed, "Well! since when and from where, Steve Mandeville?"
The rider sprang clanking to the ground and whipped out a document. All
pressed round him. He gave his bride two furious kisses, held her in one
arm and handed the missive to Kincaid:
"With the compliment of General Brodnax!"
Irby edged toward Flora, drawn by a look.
Hilary spoke: "Miss Anna, please hold this paper open for me while
I--Thank you." He struck a match. The horse's neck was some shelter and
the two pressed close to make more, yet the match flared. The others
listened to Mandeville:
"And 'twas me dizcover' that tranzportation, juz' chanzing to arrive by
"Any one got a newspaper?" called Hilary. "Steve--yes, let's have a wisp
The paper burned and Hilary read. "Always the man of the moment, me!"
said Mandeville. "And also 't is thangs to me you are the firs' inform',
and if you are likewise the firs' to ripport--"
"Thank you!" cried Kincaid, letting out a stirrup leather. "Adolphe,
will you take that despatch on to Bartleson?" He hurried to the other
"_Tell him no!_" whispered Flora, but in vain, so quickly had Anna
handed Irby the order.
"Good-night, all!" cried Hilary, mounting. He wheeled, swung his cap and
"Hear him!" laughed Miranda to Flora, and from up the dim way his song
"'I can't stand the wilderness
But a few days, a few days.'"
Still swinging his cap he groaned to himself and dropped his head, then
lifted it high, shook his locks like a swimmer, and with a soft word to
his horse sped faster.
"Yo' pardon, sir," said Mandeville to Irby, declining the despatch, "I
wou'n't touch it. For why he di'n' h-ask me? But my stable is juz
yondeh. Go, borrow you a horse--all night 'f you like."
Thence Irby galloped to Bartleson's tent, returned to Callender House,
dismounted and came up the steps. There stood Anna, flushed and eager,
twining arms with the placid Flora. "Ah," said the latter, as he offered
her his escort home, "but grandma and me, we--"
Anna broke in: "They're going to stay here all night so that you may
ride at once to General Brodnax. Even we girls, Captain Irby, must do
all we can to help your cousin get away with the battery, the one wish
of his heart!" She listened, untwined and glided into the house.
Instantly Flora spoke: "Go, Adolphe Irby, go! Ah, _snatch_ your luck,
you lucky--man! Get him away to-night, cost what cost!" Her fingers
pushed him. He kissed them. She murmured approvingly, but tore them
away: "Go, go, go-o!"
Anna, pacing her chamber, with every gesture of self-arraignment and
distress, heard him gallop. Then standing in her opened window she
looked off across the veranda's balustrade and down into the camp, where
at lines of mess-fires like strings of burning beads the boys were
cooking three days' rations. A tap came on her door. She snatched up a
toilet brush: "Come in?"
She was glad it was only Flora. "Cherie," tinkled the visitor, "they
have permit' me!"
Anna beamed. "I was coming down," she recklessly replied, touching her
temples at the mirror.
"Yes," said the messenger, "'cause Mandeville he was biggening to tell
about Fort Sumter, and I asked them to wait--ah"--she took Anna's late
pose in the window--"how plain the camp!"
"Yes," responded Anna with studied abstraction, "when the window happens
to be up. It's so warm to-night, I--"
"What, dear?" In secret panic Anna came and looked out at Flora's side
"At last," playfully sighed the Creole, "'tis good-by, Kincaid's
Battery. Good-by, you hun'red good fellows, with yo' hun'red horses and
yo' hun'red wheels and yo' hun'red hurras."
"And hundred brave, true hearts!" said Anna.
"Yes, and good-by, Bartleson, good-by, Tracy, good-by ladies' man!--my
dear, tell me once more! For him why always that name?" Both laughed.
"I don't know, unless it's because--well--isn't it--because every lady
has a piece of his heart and--no one wants all of it?"
"Ah! no one?--when so many?--"
"Now, Flora, suppose some one did! What of it, if he can't, himself,
get his whole heart together to give it to any one?" The arguer offered
to laugh again, but Flora was sad:
"You bil-ieve he's that way--Hilary Kincaid?"
"There are men that way, Flora. It's hard for us women to realize, but
"Ah, but for him! For him that's a dreadful!"
"Why, no, dear, I fancy he's happiest that way."
"But not best, no! And there's another thing--his uncle! You know ab-out
that, I su'pose?"
"Yes, but he--come, they'll be sending--"
"No,--no! a moment! Anna! Ah, Anna, you are too wise for me! Anna, do
you think"--the pair stood in the room with the inquirer's eyes on the
floor--"you think his cousin is like that?"
Anna kissed her temples, one in pity, the other in joy: "No, dear, he's
not--Adolphe Irby is not."
On the way downstairs Flora seized her hands: "Oh, Anna, like
always--this is just bit-win us? Ah, yes. And, oh, I wish you'd try not
to bil-ieve that way--ab-out _his_ cousin! Me, I hope no! And yet--"
"Yet what, love?" (Another panic.)
"Nothing, but--ah, he's so ki-ind to my brother! And his cousin
Adolphe," she whispered as they moved on down, "I don't know, but I fear
perchanze he don't like his cousin Adolphe--his cousin Adolphe--on the
outside, same as the General, rough--'t is a wondrous how his cousin
Adolphe is fond of him!"
Poor Anna. She led the way into the family group actually wheedled into
the belief that however she had blundered with her lover, with Flora she
had been clever. And now they heard the only true account of how
Captain Beauregard and General Steve had taken Fort Sumter. At the same
time every hearer kept one ear alert toward the great open windows. Yet
nothing came to explain that Kincaid's detention up-town was his fond
cousin's contriving, and Sumter's story was at its end when all started
at once and then subsided with relief as first the drums and then the
bugles sounded--no alarm, but only, drowsily, "taps," as if to say to
Callender House as well as to the camp, "Go to slee-eep ... Go to
slee-eep ... Go to bed, go to bed, go to slee-eep ... Go to slee-eep, go
to slee-eep ... Go to slee-ee-eep."
[Illustration: "'Tis good-by, Kincaid's Battery"]
A CASTAWAY ROSE
Gone to sleep the camp except its sentinels, and all Callender House
save one soul. Not Miranda, not the Mandevilles, nor Madame Valcour, nor
any domestic. Flora knew, though it was not Flora. In her slumbers she
Two of the morning. Had the leader, the idol of Kincaid's Battery,
failed in his endeavor? Anna, on her bed, half disrobed, but sleepless
yet, still prayed he might not succeed. Just this one time, oh, Lord!
this one time! With Thee are not all things possible? Canst Thou not so
order all things that a day or two's delay of Kincaid's Battery need
work no evil to the Cause nor any such rending to any heart as must be
hers if Kincaid's Battery should go to-night? Softly the stair clock
boomed three. She lifted her head and for a full three minutes harkened
toward the camp. Still no sound there, thank God! She turned upon her
But--what! Could that be the clock again, and had she slumbered? "Three,
four," murmured the clock. She slipped from her bed and stole to the
window. Just above the low, dim parapet, without a twinkle, the morning
star shone large, its slender, mile-long radiance shimmering on the
gliding river. In all the scented landscape was yet no first stir of
dawn, but only clearness enough to show the outlines of the camp ground.
She stared. She stared again! Not a tent was standing. Oh! and oh!
through what bugling, what rolling of drums and noise of hoofs, wheels,
and riders had she lain oblivious at last? None, really; by order of the
commanding general--on a private suggestion of Irby's, please notice,
that the practice would be of value--camp had been struck in silence.
But to her the sole fact in reach was that all its life was gone!
Sole fact? Gone? All gone? What was this long band of darkness where the
gray road should be, in the dull shadow of the levee? Oh, God of mercy,
it was the column! the whole of Kincaid's Battery, in the saddle and on
the chests, waiting for the word to march! Ah, thou ladies' man! Thus to
steal away! Is this your profound--abiding--consuming love? The whisper
was only in her heart, but it had almost reached her lips, when she
caught her breath, her whole form in a tremor. She clenched the
window-frame, she clasped her heaving side.
For as though in reply, approaching from behind the house as if already
the producer had nearly made its circuit, there sounded close under the
balustrade the walking of a horse. God grant no other ear had noted it!
Now just beneath the window it ceased. Hilary Kincaid! She could not
see, but as sure as sight she knew. Her warrior, her knight, her emperor
now at last, utterly and forever, she his, he hers, yet the last moment
of opportunity flitting by and she here helpless to speak the one word
of surrender and possession. Again she shrank and trembled. Something
had dropped in at the window. There it lay, small and dark, on the
floor. She snatched it up. Its scant tie of ribbon, her touch told her,
was a bit of the one she had that other time thrown down to him, and the
thing it tied and that looked so black in the dusk was a red, red rose.
She pressed it to her lips. With quaking fingers that only tangled the
true-love knot and bled on the thorns, she stripped the ribbon off and
lifted a hand high to cast it forth, but smote the sash and dropped the
emblem at her own feet. In pain and fear she caught it up, straightened,
and glanced to her door, the knot in one hand, the rose in the other,
and her lips apart. For at some unknown moment the door had opened, and
in it stood Flora Valcour.
Furtively into a corner fluttered rose and ribbon while the emptied
hands extended a counterfeit welcome and beckoned the visitor's aid to
close the window. As the broad sash came down, Anna's heart, in final
despair, sunk like lead, or like the despairing heart of her disowned
lover in the garden, Flora's heart the meantime rising like a recovered
kite. They moved from the window with their four hands joined, the
dejected girl dissembling elation, the elated one dejection.
"I don't see," twittered Anna, "how I should have closed it! How chilly
it gets toward--"
"Ah!" tremulously assented the subtler one. "And such a dream! I was
oblige' to escape to you!"
"And did just right!" whispered and beamed poor Anna. "What did you
"I dremp the battery was going! and going to a battle! and with the res'
my brother! And now--"
"Now it's but a dream!" said her comforter.
"Anna!" the dreamer flashed a joy that seemed almost fierce. She fondly
pressed the hands she held and drew their owner toward the ill-used
rose. "Dearest, behold me! a thief, yet innocent!"
Anna smiled fondly, but her heart had stopped, her feet moved haltingly.
A mask of self-censure poorly veiled Flora's joy, yet such as it was it
was needed. Up from the garden, barely audible to ears straining for it,
yet surging through those two minds like a stifling smoke, sounded the
tread of the departing horseman.
"Yes," murmured Anna, hoping to drown the footfall, and with a double
meaning though with sincere tenderness, "you are stealing now, not
"Now?" whispered the other, "how can that be?" though she knew. "Ah, if
I could steal now your heart al-_so_! But I've stolen, I fear,
only--your--confidenze!" Between the words she loosed one hand, stooped
and lifted the flower. Each tried to press it to the other's bosom, but
it was Anna who yielded.
"I'd make you take it," she protested as Flora pinned it on, "if I
hadn't thrown it away."
"Dearest," cooed the other, "that would make me a thief ag-ain, and
this time guilty."
"Can't I give a castaway rose to whom I please?"
"Not this one. Ah, sweet, a thousand thousand pardon!"--the speaker bent
to her hearer's ear--"I saw you when you kiss' it--and before."
Anna's face went into her hands, and face and hands to Flora's shoulder;
but in the next breath she clutched the shoulder and threw up her head,
while the far strain of a bugle faintly called, "Head of column to the
The cadence died. "Flora! your dream is true and that's the battery!
It's going, Flora. It's gone! Your brother's gone! Your brother, Flora,
your brother! Charlie! he's _gone_." So crying Anna sprang to the window
and with unconscious ease threw it up.
The pair stood in it. With a bound like the girl's own, clear day had
come. Palely the river purpled and silvered. No sound was anywhere, no
human sign on vacant camp ground, levee, or highroad. "Ah!"--Flora made
a well pretended gesture of discovery and distress--"'tis true! That
bugl' muz' have meant us good-by."
"Oh, then it was cruel!" exclaimed Anna. "To you, dear, cruel to you to
steal off in that way. Run! dress for the carriage!"
Flora played at hesitation: "Ah, love, if perchanze that bugl' was to
"My dear! how could even _he_--the 'ladies' man,' ha, ha!--_imagine_ any
true woman would come to the call of a bugle? Go! while I order the
They had left the window. The hostess lifted her hand toward a
bell-cord but the visitor stayed it, absently staring while letting
herself be pressed toward the door, thrilled with a longing as wild as
Anna's and for the same sight, yet cunningly pondering. Nay, waiting,
rather, on instinct, which the next instant told her that Anna would
inevitably go herself, no matter who stayed.
"You'll come al-long too?" she pleadingly asked.
"No, dear, I cannot! Your grandmother will, of course, and Miranda." The
bell-cord was pulled.
"Anna, you _must_ go, else me, I will not!"
"Ah, how can I? Dear, dear, you're wasting such _golden_ moments! Well,
I'll go with you! Only _make_ haste while I call the others--stop!"
Their arms fell lightly about each other's neck. "You'll never tell on
me?... Not even to Miranda?... Nor h-his--his uncle?... Nor"--the
petitioner pressed closer with brightening eyes--"nor his--cousin?"
Softly Flora's face went into her hands, and face and hands to Anna's
shoulder, as neat a reduplication as ever was. But suddenly there were
hoof-beats again. Yes, coming at an easy gallop. Now they trotted
through the front gate. The eyes of the two stared. "A courier,"
whispered Anna, "to Captain Mandeville!" though all her soul hoped
Only a courier it was. So said the maid who came in reply to the late
ring, but received no command. The two girls, shut in together, Anna
losing moments more golden than ever, heard the rider at the veranda
steps accost the old coachman and so soon after greet Mandeville that it
was plain the captain had already been up and dressing.
"It's Charlie!" breathed Anna, and Flora nodded.
Now Charlie trotted off again, and now galloped beyond hearing, while
Mandeville's booted tread reascended to his wife's room. And now came
Constance: "Nan, where on earth is Fl--? Oh, of course! News, Nan! Good
news, Flora! The battery, you know--?"
"Yes," said Anna, with her dryest smile, "it's sneaked off in the dark."
"Nan, you're mean! It's marching up-town now, Flora. At least the guns
and caissons are, so as to be got onto the train at once. And oh, girls,
those poor, dear boys! the train--from end to end it's to be nothing but
a freight train!"
"Hoh!" laughed the heartless Anna, "that's better than staying here."
The sister put out her chin and turned again to Flora. "But just now,"
she said, "the main command are to wait and rest in Congo Square, and
about ten o'clock they're to be joined by all the companies of the
Chasseurs that haven't gone to Pensacola and by the whole regiment of
the Orleans Guards, as an escort of honor, and march in that way to the
depot, led by General Brodnax and his staff--and Steve! And every one
who wants to bid them good-by must do it there. Of course there'll be a
perfect jam, and so Miranda's ordering breakfast at seven and the
carriage at eight, and Steve--he didn't tell even me last night
because--" Her words stuck in her throat, her tears glistened, she
gnawed her lips. Anna laid tender hands on her.
"Why, what, Connie, dear?"
"Is Steve going with them to Virginia?"
The face of Constance went into her hands, and face and hands to Anna's
shoulder. Meditatively smiling, Flora slipped away to dress.
GOOD-BY, KINCAID'S BATTERY
At one end of a St. Charles Hotel parlor a group of natty officers stood
lightly chatting while they covertly listened. At the other end, with
Irby and Mandeville at his two elbows, General Brodnax conversed with
Kincaid and Bartleson, the weather-faded red and gray of whose uniforms
showed in odd contrast to the smartness all about them.
Now he gave their words a frowning attention, and now answered abruptly:
"Humph! That looks tremendously modest in you, gentlemen,--what?...
Well, then, in your whole command if it's their notion. But it's vanity
at last, sirs, pure vanity. Kincaid's Battery 'doesn't want to parade
its dinginess till it's done something'--pure vanity! 'Shortest
way'--nonsense! The shortest way to the train isn't the point! The point
is to make so inspiring a show of you as to shame the damned
"You'll par-ade," broke in the flaming Mandeville. "worse' dress than
presently, when you rit-urn conqueror'!" But that wearied the General
"Oh, hell," he mumbled. "Captain Kincaid, eh--" He led that officer
alone to a window and spoke low: "About my girl, Hilary,--and me. I'd
like to decide that matter before you show your heels. You,
eh,--default, I suppose?"
"No, uncle, she does that. I do only the hopeless loving."
"The wha-at? Great Lord! You don't tell me you--?"
"Yes, I caved in last night; told her I loved her. Oh, I didn't do it
just in this ashes-of-roses tone of voice, but"--the nephew smiled--the
General scowled--"you should have seen me, uncle. You'd have thought it
was Mandeville. I made a gorgeous botch of it."
"You don't mean she--?"
"Yes, sir, adjourned me _sine die_. Oh, it's no use to look at me." He
laughed. "The calf's run over me. My fat's in the fire."
The General softly swore and continued his gaze. "I believe," he slowly
said, "that's why you wanted to slink out of town the back way."
"Oh, no, it's not. Or at least--well, anyhow, uncle, now you can decide
in favor of Adolphe."
The uncle swore so audibly that the staff heard and exchanged smiles: "I
neither can nor will decide--for either of you--yet! You understand? I
_don't do it_. Go, bring your battery."
The city was taken by surprise. Congo Square was void of soldiers before
half Canal street's new red-white-and-red bunting could be thrown to the
air. In column of fours--escort leading and the giant in the bearskin
hat leading it--they came up Rampart street. On their right hardly did
time suffice for boys to climb the trees that in four rows shaded its
noisome canal; on their left not a second too many was there for the
people to crowd the doorsteps, fill windows and garden gates, line the
banquettes and silently gather breath and ardor while the escort moved
by, before the moment was come in which to cheer and cheer and cheer, as
with a hundred flashing sabres at shoulder the dismounted,
heavy-knapsacked, camp-worn battery, Kincaid's Battery--you could read
the name on the flag--Kincaid's Battery! came and came and passed. In
Canal street and in St. Charles there showed a fierceness of pain in the
cheers, and the march was by platoons. At the hotel General Brodnax and
staff joined and led it--up St. Charles, around Tivoli Circle, and so at
last into Calliope street.
Meantime far away and sadly belated, with the Valcours cunningly to
blame and their confiding hostesses generously making light of it, up
Love street hurried the Callenders' carriage. Up the way of Love and
athwart the oddest tangle of streets in New Orleans,--Frenchmen and
Casacalvo, Greatmen, History, Victory, Peace, Arts, Poet, Music,
Bagatelle, Craps, and Mysterious--across Elysian Fields not too Elysian,
past the green, high-fenced gardens of Esplanade and Rampart flecked
red-white-and-red with the oleander, the magnolia, and the rose, spun
the wheels, spanked the high-trotters. The sun was high and hot, shadows
were scant and sharp, here a fence and there a wall were as blinding
white as the towering fair-weather clouds, gowns were gauze and the
parasols were six, for up beside the old coachman sat Victorine. She it
was who first saw that Congo Square was empty and then that the crowds
were gone from Canal street. It was she who first suggested Dryads
street for a short cut and at Triton Walk was first to hear, on before,
the music,--ah, those horn-bursting Dutchmen! could they never, never
hit it right?--
"When other lips and other hearts
Their tale of love shall tell--"
and it was she who, as they crossed Calliope street, first espied the
rear of the procession, in column of fours again, it was she who flashed
tears of joy as they whirled into Erato street to overtake the van and
she was first to alight at the station.
The General and his staff were just reaching it. Far down behind them
shone the armed host. The march ceased, the music--"then you'll
rememb'"--broke off short. The column rested. "Mon Dieu!" said even the
Orleans Guards, "quel chaleur! Is it not a terrib', thad sun!" Hundreds
of their blue kepis, hundreds of gray shakos in the Confederate Guards,
were lifted to wipe streaming necks and throats, while away down beyond
our ladies' ken all the drummers of the double escort, forty by count,
silently came back and moved in between the battery and its band to make
the last music the very bravest. Was that Kincaid, the crowd asked, one
of another; he of the thick black locks, tired cheek and brow, and eyes
that danced now as he smiled and talked? "Phew! me, I shou'n' love to be
tall like that, going to be shot at, no! ha, ha! But thad's no wonder
they are call' the ladies' man batt'rie!"
"Hah! they are not call' so because him, but because themse'v's! Every
one he is that, and they didn' got the name in Circus street neither,
ha, ha!--although--Hello, Chahlie Valcour. Good-by, Chahlie. Don't ged
shoot in the back--ha, ha!--"
A command! How eternally different from the voice of prattle. The crowd
huddled back to either sidewalk, forced by the opening lines of the
escort backed against it, till the long, shelled wagon-way gleamed white
and bare. Oh, Heaven! oh, home! oh, love! oh, war! For hundreds,
hundreds--beat Anna's heart--the awful hour had come, had come! She and
her five companions could see clear down both bayonet-crested living
walls--blue half the sun-tortured way, gray the other half--to where in
red kepis and with shimmering sabres, behind their tall captain,
stretched the dense platoons and came and came, to the crash of horns,
the boys, the boys, the dear, dear boys who with him, with him must go,
"Don't cry, Connie dear," she whispered, though stubborn drops were
salting her own lips, "it will make it harder for Steve."
"Harder!" moaned the doting bride, "you don't know him!"
"Oh, let any woman cry who can," laughed Flora, "I wish I could!" and
verily spoke the truth. Anna meltingly pressed her hand but gave her no
glance. All eyes, dry or wet, were fixed on the nearing mass, all ears
drank the rising peal and roar of its horns and drums. How superbly
rigorous its single, two-hundred-footed step. With what splendid
rigidity the escorts' burnished lines walled in its oncome.
But suddenly there was a change. Whether it began in the music, which
turned into a tune every Tom, Dick, and Harry now had by heart, or
whether a moment before among the blue-caps or gray-shakos, neither
Anna nor the crowd could tell. Some father in those side ranks lawlessly
cried out to his red-capped boy as the passing lad brushed close against
him, "Good-by, my son!" and as the son gave him only a sidelong glance
he seized and shook the sabre arm, and all that long, bristling lane of
bayonets went out of plumb, out of shape and order, and a thousand
brass-buttoned throats shouted good-by and hurrah. Shakos waved,
shoulders were snatched and hugged, blue kepis and red were knocked
awry, beards were kissed and mad tears let flow. And still, with a rigor
the superbest yet because the new tune was so perfect to march by, fell
the unshaken tread of the cannoneers, and every onlooker laughed and
wept and cheered as the brass rent out to the deafening drums, and the
drums roared back to the piercing brass,--
De black-snake love' de blackbird' nes',
De baby love' his mamy's bres',
An' raggy-tag, aw spick-an'-span,
De ladies loves de ladies' man.
I loves to roll my eyes to de ladies!
I loves to sympathize wid de ladies!
As long as eveh I knows sugah f'om san'
I's bound to be a ladies' man.
So the black-hatted giant with the silver staff strode into the wide
shed, the puffy-cheeked band reading their music and feeling for
foothold as they followed, and just yonder behind them, in the middle of
the white way, untouched by all those fathers, unhailed by any brother
of his own, came Hilary Kincaid with all the battery at his neat heels,
its files tightly serried but its platoons in open order, each flashing
its sabres to a "present" on nearing the General and back to a "carry"
when he was passed, and then lengthening into column of files to enter
the blessed shade of the station.
In beside them surged a privileged throng of near kin, every one calling
over every one's head, "Good-by!" "Good-by!" "Here's your mother,
Johnnie!" and, "Here's your wife, Achille!" Midmost went the Callenders,
the Valcours, and Victorine, willy-nilly, topsy-turvy, swept away,
smothering, twisting, laughing, stumbling, staggering, yet saved alive
by that man of the moment Mandeville, until half-way down the shed and
the long box-car train they brought up on a pile of ordnance stores and
clung like drift in a flood. And at every twist and stagger Anna said in
her heart a speech she had been saying over and over ever since the
start from Callender House; a poor commonplace speech that must be
spoken though she perished for shame of it; that must be darted out just
at the right last instant if such an instant Heaven would only send: "I
take back what I said last night and I'm glad you spoke as you did!"
Here now the moment seemed at hand. For here was the officers' box-car
and here with sword in sheath Kincaid also had stopped, in conference
with the conductor, while his lieutenants marched the column on, now
halted it along the train's full length, now faced it against the open
cars and now gave final command to break ranks. In comic confusion the
fellows clambered aboard stormed by their friends' fond laughter at the
awkwardness of loaded knapsacks, and their retorting mirth drowned in a
new flood of good-bys and adieus, fresh waving of hats and
handkerchiefs, and made-over smiles from eyes that had wept themselves
dry. The tear-dimmed Victorine called gay injunctions to her father, the
undimmed Flora to her brother, and Anna laughed and laughed and waved hi
all directions save one. There Mandeville had joined Kincaid and the
conductor and amid the wide downpour and swirl of words and cries was
debating with them whether it were safer to leave the shed slowly or
swiftly; and there every now and then Anna's glance flitted near enough
for Hilary to have caught it as easily as did Bartleson, Tracy, every
lieutenant and sergeant of the command, busy as they were warning the
throng back from the cars; yet by him it was never caught.
The debate had ended. He gave the conductor a dismissing nod that sent
him, with a signalling hand thrown high, smartly away toward the
locomotive. The universal clatter and flutter redoubled. The bell was
sounding and Mandeville was hotly shaking hands with Flora, Miranda,
all. The train stirred, groaned, crept, faltered, crept on--on--one's
brain tingled to the cheers, and women were crying again.
Kincaid's eyes ran far and near in final summing up. The reluctant train
gave a dogged joggle and jerk, hung back, dragged on, moved a trifle
quicker; and still the only proof that he knew she was here--here within
three steps of him--was the careful failure of those eyes ever to light
on her. Oh, heart, heart, heart! would it be so to the very end and
vanishment of all?
"I take back--I take--" was there going to be no chance to begin it? Was
he grief blind? or was he scorn blind? No matter! what she had sown she
would reap if she had to do it under the very thundercloud of his frown.
All or any, the blame of estrangement should be his, not hers! Oh,
Connie, Connie! Mandeville had clutched Constance and was kissing her on
lips and head and cheeks. He wheeled, caught a hand from the nearest
car, and sprang in. Kincaid stood alone. The conductor made him an eager
sign. The wheels of the train clicked briskly. He glanced up and down
it, then sprang to Miranda, seized her hand, cried "Good-by!" snatched
Madame's, Flora's, Victorine's, Connie's,--"Good-by--Good-by!"--and came
And did she instantly begin, "I take--?" Not at all! She gave her hand,
both hands, but her lips stood helplessly apart. Flora, Madame,
Victorine, Constance, Miranda, Charlie from a car's top, the three
lieutenants, the battery's whole hundred, saw Hilary's gaze pour into
hers, hers into his. Only the eyes of the tumultuous crowd still
followed the train and its living freight. A woman darted to a car's
open door and gleaned one last wild kiss. Two, ten, twenty others, while
the conductor ran waving, ordering, thrusting them away, repeated the
splendid theft, and who last of all and with a double booty but
Constance! Anna beheld the action, though with eyes still captive. With
captive eyes, and with lips now shut and now apart again as she vainly
strove for speech, she saw still plainer his speech fail also. His hands
tightened on hers, hers in his.
"Good-by!" they cried together and were dumb again; but in their mutual
gaze--more vehement than their voices joined--louder than all the din
about them--confession so answered worship that he snatched her to his
breast; yet when he dared bend to lay a kiss upon her brow he failed
once more, for she leaped and caught it on her lips.
Dishevelled, liberated, and burning with blushes, she watched the end of
the train shrink away. On its last iron ladder the conductor swung aside
to make room for Kincaid's stalwart spring. So! It gained one handhold,
one foothold. But the foot slipped, the soldier's cap tumbled to the
ground, and every onlooker drew a gasp. No, the conductor held him, and
erect and secure, with bare locks ruffling in the wind of the train, he
looked back, waved, and so passed from sight.
Archly, in fond Spanish, "How do you feel now?" asked Madame of her
scintillant granddaughter as with their friends and the dissolving
throng they moved to the carriage; and in the same tongue Flora, with a
caressing smile, rejoined, "I feel like swinging you round by the hair."
Anna, inwardly frantic, chattered and laughed. "I don't know what
possessed me!" she cried.
But Constance was all earnestness: "Nan, you did it for the Cause--the
flag--the battery--anything but him personally. _He_ knows it. Everybody
saw that. Its very publicity--"
"Yes?" soothingly interposed Madame, "'t was a so verrie pewblic that--"
"Why, Flora," continued the well-meaning sister, "Steve says when he
came back into Charleston from Fort Sumter the ladies--"
"Of course!" said Flora, sparkling afresh. "Even Steve understands
that, grandma." Her foot was on a step of the carriage. A child plucked
her flowing sleeve:
"Misses! Mom-a say'"--he pressed into her grasp something made of
broadcloth, very red and golden--"here yo' husband's cap."
VIRGINIA GIRLS AND LOUISIANA BOYS
Thanks are due to Mr. Richard Thorndyke Smith for the loan of his copy
of a slender and now extremely rare work which at this moment lies
before me. "A History of Kincaid's Battery," it is called, "From Its
Origin to the Present Day," although it runs only to February, '62, and
was printed (so well printed, on such flimsy, coarse paper) just before
the dreadful days of Shiloh and the fall of New Orleans.
Let us never paint war too fair; but this small volume tells of little
beyond the gold-laced year of 'Sixty-one, nor of much beyond Virginia,
even over whose later war-years the color effects of reminiscence show
blue and green and sun-lit despite all the scarlet of carnage, the black
and crimson of burning, and the grim hues of sickness, squalor, and
semi-starvation; show green and blue in the sunlight of victory,
contrasted with those of the states west and south of her.
It tells--this book compiled largely from correspondence of persons well
known to you and me--of the first "eight-days' crawl" that conveyed the
chaffing, chafing command up through Mississippi, across East Tennessee
into southeast Virginia and so on through Lynchburg to lovely Richmond;
tells how never a house was passed in town or country but handkerchiefs,
neckerchiefs, snatched-off sunbonnets, and Confederate flags wafted them
on. It tells of the uncounted railway stations where swarmed the girls
in white muslin aprons and red-white-and-red bows, who waved them, in as
they came, and unconsciously squinted and made faces at them in the
intense sunlight. It tells how the maidens gave them dainties and sweet
glances, and boutonnieres of tuberoses and violets, and bloodthirsty
adjurations, and blarney for blarney; gave them seven wild well-believed
rumors for as many impromptu canards, and in their soft plantation drawl
asked which was the one paramount "ladies' man," and were assured by
every lad of the hundred that it was himself. It tells how, having heard
in advance that the more authentic one was black-haired, handsome, and
overtowering, they singled out the drum-major, were set right only by
the roaring laughter, and huddled backward like caged quails from
Kincaid's brazen smile, yet waved again as the train finally jogged on
with the band playing from the roof of the rear car,--
"I'd offer thee this hand of mine
If I could love thee less!"
To Anna that part seemed not so killingly funny or so very interesting,
but she was not one of the book's editors.
Two or three pages told of a week in camp just outside the Virginian
capital, where by day, by night, on its rocky bed sang James river; of
the business quarter, noisy with army wagons--"rattling o'er the stony
street," says the page; of colonels, generals, and statesmen by
name--Hampton, Wigfall, the fiery Toombs, the knightly Lee, the wise
Lamar; of such and such headquarters, of sentinelled warehouses, glowing
ironworks, galloping aides-de-camp and couriers and arriving and
departing columns, some as trig (almost) as Kincaid's Battery, with
their black servants following in grotesque herds along the sidewalks;
and some rudely accoutred, shaggy, staring, dust-begrimed, in baggy
butternut jeans, bearing flint-lock muskets and trudging
round-shouldered after fifes and drums that squealed and boomed out the
strains of their forgotten ancestors: "The Campbells are coming,"
"Johnnie was a piper's son," or--
"My heart is ever turning back
To the girl I left behind me."
"You should have seen the girls," laughs the book.
But there were girls not of the mountains or sand-hills, whom also you
should have seen, at battery manoeuvres or in the tulip-tree and maple
shade of proud Franklin street, or in its rose-embowered homes by night;
girls whom few could dance with, or even sit long beside in the
honeysuckle vines of their porticos, without risk of acute heart
trouble, testifies the callow volume. They treated every lad in the
battery like a lieutenant, and the "ladies' man" like a king. You should
have seen him waltz them or in quadrille or cotillon swing, balance, and
change them, their eyes brightening and feet quickening whenever the
"Ole mahs' love' wine, ole mis' love' silk,
De piggies, dey loves buttehmilk."
Great week! tarheel camp-sentries and sand-hill street-patrols mistaking
the boys for officers, saluting as they passed and always getting an
officer's salute in return! Hilary seen every day with men high and
mighty, who were as quick as the girls to make merry with him, yet
always in their merriment seeming, he and they alike, exceptionally
upright, downright, heartright, and busy. It kept the boys straight and
Close after came a month or so on the Yorktown peninsula with that
master of strategic ruse, Magruder, but solely in the dreariest
hardships of war, minus all the grander sorts that yield glory; rains,
bad food, ill-chosen camps, freshets, terrible roads, horses sick and
raw-boned, chills, jaundice, emaciation, barely an occasional bang at
the enemy on reconnoissances and picketings, and marches and
countermarches through blistering noons and skyless nights, with men,
teams, and guns trying to see which could stagger the worst, along with
columns of infantry mutinously weary of forever fortifying and never
fighting. Which things the book bravely makes light of, Hilary
maintaining that the battery boys had a spirit to bear them better than
most commands did, and the boys reporting--not to boast the special
kindness everywhere of ladies for ladies' men--that Hilary himself,
oftenest by sunny, but sometimes by cyclonic, treatment of commissaries,
quartermasters, surgeons, and citizens, made their burdens trivial.
So we, too, lightly pass them. After all, the things most important here
are matters not military of which the book does not tell. Of such
Victorine, assistant editor to Miranda, learned richly from Anna--who
merely lent letters--without Anna knowing it. Yet Flora drew little from
Victorine, who was as Latin as Flora, truly loved Anna, and through
Charlie was a better reader of Flora's Latin than he or Flora or any one
For a moment more, however, let us stay with the chronicle. At last,
when all was suffered, the infuriated boys missed Ben Butler and Big
Bethel! One day soon after that engagement, returning through Richmond
in new uniforms--of a sort--with scoured faces, undusty locks, full
ranks, fresh horses, new harness and shining pieces, and with every
gun-carriage, limber, and caisson freshly painted, they told their wrath
to Franklin street girls while drinking their dippers of water.
"'I'd offer thee this hand of mine--'"
They were bound northward to join their own Creole Beauregard at a
railway junction called--.
Femininely enough, our little borrowed book, Miranda's and Victorine's
compilation of letters from the front, gives no more than a few lines to
the first great battle of the war.
Fred Greenleaf was one of its wounded prisoners. Hilary cared for him
and sought his exchange; but owing to some invisible wire-pulling by
Flora Valcour, done while with equal privacy she showed the captive much
graciousness, he was still in the Parish Prison, New Orleans, in
February, '62, when the book was about to be made, though recovered of
wounds and prison ills and twice or thrice out on his parole, after dusk
and in civilian's dress, at Callender House.
The Callenders had heard the combat's proud story often, of course, not
only from battery lads bringing home dead comrades, or coming to get
well of their own hurts, or never to get well of them, but also from
gold-sleeved, gray-breasted new suitors of Anna (over-staying their
furloughs), whom she kept from tenderer themes by sprightly queries that
never tired and constantly brought forth what seemed totally unsought
mentions of the battery. And she had gathered the tale from Greenleaf as
well. Constance, to scandalized intimates, marvelled at her sister's
tolerance of his outrageous version; but Miranda remembered how easy it
is to bear with patience (on any matter but one) a rejected lover who
has remained faithful, and Flora, to grandma, smiled contentedly.
Anna's own private version (sum of all), though never written even in
her diary, was illustrated, mind-pictured. Into her reveries had
gradually come a tableau of the great field. Inaccurate it may have
been, incomplete, even grotesquely unfair; but to her it was at least
clear. Here--through the middle of her blue-skied, pensive
contemplation, so to speak--flowed Bull Run. High above it, circling in
eagle majesty under still, white clouds, the hungry buzzard, vainly as
yet, scanned the green acres of meadow and wood merry with the lark, the
thrush, the cardinal. Here she discerned the untried gray
brigades--atom-small on nature's face, but with Ewell, Early,
Longstreet, and other such to lead them--holding the frequent fords,
from Union Mills up to Lewis's. Here near Mitchell's, on a lonesome
roadside, stood Kincaid's Battery, fated there to stay for hours yet, in
hateful idleness and a fierce July sun, watching white smoke-lines of
crackling infantry multiply in the landscape or bursting shells make
white smoke-rings in the bright air, and to listen helplessly to the
boom, hurtle and boom of other artilleries and the far away cheering and
counter-cheering of friend and foe. Yonder in the far east glimmered
Centerville, its hitherward roads, already in the sabbath sunrise, full
of brave bluecoats choking with Virginia dust and throwing away their
hot blankets as they came. Here she made out Stone Bridge, guarded by a
brigade called Jackson's; here, crossing it east and west, the Warrenton
turnpike, and yonder north of them that rise of dust above the trees
which meant a flanking Federal column and crept westward as Evans
watched it, toward Sudley Springs, ford, mill, and church, where already
much blue infantry had stolen round by night from Centerville. Here,
leading south from these, she descried the sunken Sudley road, that with
a dip and a rise crossed the turnpike and Young's Branch. There eastward
of it the branch turned north-east and then southeast between those
sloping fields beyond which Evans and Wheat were presently fighting
Burnside; through which Bee, among bursting shells, pressed to their aid
against such as Keyes and Sherman, and back over which, after a long,
hot struggle, she could see--could hear--the aiders and the aided swept
in one torn, depleted tumult, shattered, confounded, and made the more
impotent by their own clamor. Here was the many-ravined, tree-dotted,
southward rise by which, in concave line, the Northern brigades and
batteries, pressing across the bends of the branch, advanced to the
famed Henry house plateau--that key of victory where by midday fell all
the horrid weight of the battle; where the guns of Ricketts and Griffen
for the North and of Walton and Imboden for the South crashed and mowed,
and across and across which the opposing infantries volleyed and bled,
screamed, groaned, swayed, and drove each other, staggered, panted,
rallied, cheered, and fell or fought on among the fallen. Here cried Bee
to the dazed crowd, "Look at Jackson's brigade standing like a stone
wall." Here Beauregard and Johnson formed their new front of half a
dozen states on Alabama's colours, and here a bit later the Creole
general's horse was shot under him. Northward here, down the slope and
over the branch, rolled the conflict, and there on the opposite rise,
among his routed blues, was Greenleaf disabled and taken.
All these, I say, were in Anna's changing picture. Here from the left,
out of the sunken road, came Howard, Heintzelman, and their like, and
here in the oak wood that lay across it the blue and gray lines spent
long terms of agony mangling each other. Here early in that part of the
struggle--sent for at last by Beauregard himself, they say--came
Kincaid's Battery, whirling, shouting, whip-cracking, sweating, with
Hilary well ahead of them and Mandeville at his side, to the ground
behind the Henry house when it had been lost and retaken and all but
lost again. Here Hilary, spurring on away from his bounding guns to
choose them a vantage ground, broke into a horrid melee alone and was
for a moment made prisoner, but in the next had handed his captors over
to fresh graycoats charging; and here, sweeping into action with all the
grace and precision of the drill-ground at Camp Callender, came his
battery, his and hers! Here rode Bartleson, here Villeneuve, Maxime with
the colors, Tracy, Sam Gibbs; and here from the chests sprang Violett,
Rareshide, Charlie and their scores of fellows, unlimbered, sighted,
blazed, sponged, reloaded, pealed again, sent havoc into the enemy and
got havoc from them. Here one and another groaned, and another and
another dumbly fell. Here McStea, and St. Ange, Converse, Fusilier,
Avendano, Ned Ferry and others limbered up for closer work, galloped,
raced, plunged, reared, and stumbled, gained the new ground and made it
a worse slaughter-pen than the first, yet held on and blazed, pealed,
and smoked on, begrimed and gory. Here was Tracy borne away to field
hospital leaving Avendano and McStea groveling in anguish under the
wheels, and brave Converse and young Willie Calder, hot-headed Fusilier
and dear madcap Jules St. Ange lying near them out of pain forever. Yet
here their fellows blazed on and on, black, shattered, decimated, short
of horses, one caisson blown up, and finally dragged away to bivouac,
proud holders of all their six Callender guns, their silken flag
shot-torn but unsoiled and furled only when shells could no longer reach
the flying foe.
Hardly any part of this picture had come to Anna from Hilary himself.
Yes, they were in correspondence--after a fashion. That signified
nothing, she would have had you understand; so were Charlie and
Victorine, so were--oh!--every girl wrote to somebody at the front; one
could not do less and be a patriot. Some girl patriots had a dozen on
their list. Some lads had a dozen on theirs.
Ah, me! those swan-white, sky-blue, rose-pink maidens who in every town
and on every plantation from Memphis to Charleston, from Richmond to New
Orleans, despatched their billets by the forlornly precarious post only
when they could not send them by the "urbanity" of such or such a one!
Could you have contrasted with them the homeless, shelterless,
pencil-borrowing, elbow-scratching, musty, fusty tatterdemalions who
stretched out on the turfless ground beside their mess fires to extort
or answer those cautious or incautious missives, or who for the fortieth
time drew them from hiding to reread into their guarded or unguarded
lines meanings never dreamed by their writers, you could not have
laughed without a feeling of tears, or felt the tears without smiling.
Many a chap's epistle was scrawled, many a one even rhymed, in a
rifle-pit with the enemy's shells bursting over. Many a one was feebly
dictated to some blessed, unskilled volunteer nurse in a barn or
smoke-house or in some cannon-shattered church. From the like of that
who with a woman's heart could withhold reply? Yes, Anna and Hilary were
So were Flora and Irby. So were Hilary and Flora. Was not Flora Anna's
particular friend and Hilary's "pilot"? She had accepted the office on
condition that, in his own heart's interest, their dear Anna should not
know of it.
"The better part of life"--she wrote--"is it not made up of such loving
And as he read the words in his tent he smilingly thought, "That looks
true even if it isn't!"
Her letters were much more frequent than Anna's and always told of Anna
fondly, often with sweet praises--not so sweet to him--of her impartial
graciousness to her semicircle of brass-buttoned worshippers. Lately
Flora had mentioned Greenleaf in a modified way especially disturbing.
If Anna could have made any one a full confidante such might have been
Flora, but to do so was not in her nature. She could trust without
stint. Distrust, as we know, was intolerable to her. She could not doubt
her friends, but neither could she unveil her soul. Nevertheless, more
than once, as the two exchanged--in a purely academical way--their
criticisms of life, some query raised by Anna showed just what had been
passing between her and Hilary and enabled Flora to keep them steered
No hard task, the times being so highly calculated to make the course of
true love a "hard road to travel," as the singing soldier boys called
"Jordan." Letters, at any time, are sufficiently promotive of
misunderstandings, but in the Confederacy they drifted from camp to
camp, from pocket to pocket, like letters in bottles committed to the
sea. The times being such, I say, and Hilary and Anna as they were: he a
winner of men, yes! but by nature, not art; to men and women equally, a
grown up, barely grown up, boy. That is why women could afford to like
him so frankly. The art of courtship--of men or women--was not in him.
Otherwise the battery--every gun of which, they say, counted for two as
long as he was by--must have lost him through promotion before that
first year was half out. The moment he became a conscious suitor, to man
or woman, even by proxy, his power went from him; from pen, from tongue,
from countenance. And Anna--I may have shown the fact awkwardly, but
certainly you see--Anna was incurably difficult.
Too much else awaits our telling to allow here a recital of their
hearts' war while love--and love's foes--hid in winter quarters, as it
were. That is to say, from the season of that mad kiss which she had
never forgiven herself (much less repented), to the day of Beauregard's
appeal, early in '62, to all the plantations and churches in Dixie's
Land to give him their bells, bells, bells--every bit of bronze or brass
they could rake up or break off--to be cast into cannon; and to his own
Louisiana in particular to send him, hot speed, five thousand more men
to help him and Albert Sidney Johnston drive Buel and Grant out of
Before the battery had got half way to Virginia Hilary had written back
to Anna his inevitable rhapsody over that amazing performance of hers,
taking it as patent and seal of her final, utter, absolute
self-bestowal. And indeed this it might have turned out to be had he but
approached it by a discreet circuit through the simplest feminine
essentials of negative make-believe. But to spring out upon it in that
straightforward manner--! From May to February her answer to this was
the only prompt reply he ever received from her. It crowds our story
backward for a moment, for it came on one of those early Peninsula days
previous to Manassas, happening, oddly, to reach him--by the hand of
Villeneuve--as he stood, mounted, behind the battery, under a smart
skirmish fire. With a heart leaping in joyous assurance he opened the
small missive and bent his eyes upon its first lines.
As he did so a hostile shell, first that had ever come so near, burst
just in front of his guns. A big lump of metal struck one of them on the
chase, glanced, clipped off half the low top of his forage-cap and
struck in the trunk of an oak behind him, and as his good horse flinched
and quivered he looked unwillingly from the page toward a puff of white
smoke on a distant hill, and with a broad smile said--a mere nonsense
word; but the humor of such things has an absurd valuation and
persistency in camps, and for months afterward, "Ah-r?--indeed!" was
the battery's gay response to every startling sound. He had luck in
catchwords, this Hilary. He fought the scrimmage through with those
unread pages folded slim between a thumb and forefinger, often using
them to point out things, and when after it he had reopened them and
read them through--and through again--to their dizzying close, the
battery surgeon came murmuring privately--
"Cap, what's wrong; bad news?"
"Oh!" said Hilary, looking up from a third reading, "what, this? No-o!
nothing wrong in this. I was wrong. I'm all right now."
"No, you're not, Captain. You come along now and lie down. The windage
of that chunk of iron has--"
"Why, Doc, I shouldn't wonder! If you'll just keep everybody away from
me awhile, yourself included, I will lie down," said the unnerved
commander, and presently, alone and supine, softly asked himself with
grim humor, "Which chunk of iron?"
The actual text of Anna's chunk was never divulged, even to Flora. We do
not need it. Neither did Flora. One of its later effects was to give the
slender correspondence which crawled after it much more historical value
to the battery and the battery's beloved home city than otherwise it
might have had. From Virginia it told spiritedly of men, policies, and
movements; sketched cabinet officers, the president, and the great
leaders and subleaders in the field--Stuart, Gordon, Fitzhugh Lee. It
gave droll, picturesque accounts of the artillerist's daily life; of the
hard, scant fare and the lucky feast now and then on a rabbit or a
squirrel, turtles' eggs, or wild strawberries. It depicted moonlight
rides to dance with Shenandoah girls; the playing of camp charades; and
the singing of war, home, and love songs around the late camp fire,
timed to the antic banjo or the sentimental guitar. Drolly, yet with
tenderness for others, it portrayed mountain storm, valley freshet, and
heart-breaking night marches beside tottering guns in the straining,
sucking, leaden-heavy, red clay, and then, raptly, the glories of
sunrise and sunset over the contours of the Blue Ridge. And it explained
the countless things which happily enable a commander to keep himself as
busy as a mud-dauber, however idle the camp or however torn his own
From Anna's side came such stories as that of a flag presentation to the
_Sumter_, wherein she had taken some minor part; of seeing that slim
terror glide down by Callender House for a safe escape through the
blockading fleet to the high seas and a world-wide fame; of Flora's
towboat privateer sending in one large but empty prize whose sale did
not pay expenses, and then being itself captured by the blockaders; of
"Hamlet" given by amateurs at the St. Charles Theatre; of great distress
among the poor, all sorts of gayeties for their benefit, bad money, bad
management, a grand concert for the army in Arkansas, women in mourning
as numerous as men in uniform, and both men and women breaking down in
body and mind under the universal strain.
Historically valuable, you see. Yet through all this impersonal
interchange love shone out to love like lamplight through the blinds of
two opposite closed windows, and every heart-hiding letter bore enough
interlinear revealment of mind and character to keep mutual admiration
glowing and growing. We might very justly fancy either correspondent
saying at any time in those ten months to impatient or compassionate
Cupid what Hilary is reported to have said on one of the greatest days
between Manassas and Shiloh, in the midst of a two-sided carnage: "Yes,
General, hard hit, but please don't put us out of action."
A FREE-GIFT BAZAAR
Again it was February. The flag of Louisiana whose lone star and red and
yellow stripes still hovered benignly over the Ionic marble porch of the
city hall, was a year old. A new general, young and active, was in
command of all the city's forces, which again on the great Twenty-second
paraded. Feebly, however; see letters to Irby and Mandeville under
Brodnax in Tennessee, or to Kincaid's Battery and its commander in
Virginia. For a third time the regimental standards were of a new sort.
They were the battle-flag now. Its need had been learned at Manassas;
eleven stars on St. Andrew's Cross, a field blood red, and the cross
spanning all the field!
Again marched Continentals, Chasseurs, and so on. Yet not as before; all
their ranks were of new men; the too old, the too frail, the too young,
they of helpless families, and the "British subjects." Natives of France
made a whole separate "French Legion," in red kepis, blue frocks, and
trousers shaped like inverted tenpins, as though New Orleans were Paris
itself. The whole aspect of things was alert, anxious, spent.
But it was only now this spent look had come. Until lately you might
have seen entire brigades of stout-hearted men in camps near by: Camps
Benjamin, Walker, Pulaski and, up in the low pine hills of Tangipahoa,
Camp Moore. From Camp Lewis alone, in November, on that plain where
Kincaid's Battery had drilled before it was Kincaid's, the Bienville,
Crescent City and many similar "Guards," Miles' Artillery, the Orleans
Light Horse, the Orleans Howitzers, the Orleans Guards, the Tirailleurs
d'Orleans, etc., had passed in front of Governor Moore and half a dozen
generals, twenty-four thousand strong.
Now these were mostly gone--to Bragg--to Price--to Lee and Joe Johnston,
or to Albert Sidney Johnston and Beauregard. For the foe swarmed there,
refusing to stay "hurled back." True he was here also, and not merely by
scores as battle captives, but alarmingly near, in arms and by
thousands. Terrible Ship Island, occupied by the boys in gray and
fortified, anathematized for its horrid isolation and torrid sands, had
at length been evacuated, and on New Year's Day twenty-four of the
enemy's ships were there disembarking bluecoats on its gleaming white
dunes. Fair Carrollton was fortified (on those lines laid out by
Hilary), and down at Camp Callender the siege-guns were manned by new
cannoneers; persistently and indolently new and without field-pieces or
brass music or carriage company.
The spent look was still gallant, but under it was a feeling of having
awfully miscalculated: flour twelve dollars a barrel and soon to be
twenty. With news in abundance the papers had ceased their evening
issues, so scarce was paper, and morning editions told of Atlantic
seaports lost, of Johnston's retreat from Kentucky, the fall of Fort
Donelson with its fifteen thousand men, the evacuation of Columbus (one
of the Mississippi River's "Gibraltars") and of Nashville, which had
come so near being Dixie's capital. And yet the newspapers--
"'We see no cause for despondency,'" read Constance at the late
breakfast table--"oh, Miranda, don't you see that with that spirit we
can never be subjugated?" She flourished the brave pages, for which Anna
"Yes!" said Anna, "but find the report of the Bazaar!"--while Constance
read on: "'Reverses, instead of disheartening, have aroused our people
to the highest pitch of animation, and their resolution to conquer is
"Oh, how true! and ah, dearie!"--she pressed her sister's hand amid the
silver and porcelain on the old mahogany--"that news (some item read
earlier, about the battery), why, Miranda, just that is a sign of
impending victory! Straws tell! and Kincaid's Battery is the--"
"Biggest straw in Dixie!" jeered Anna, grasping the paper, which
Constance half yielded with her eye still skimming its columns.
"Here it is!" cried both, and rose together.
'"Final Figures of the St. Louis Hotel Free-Gift Lottery and Bazaar'!"
called Constance, while Anna's eyes flew over the lines.
"What are they?" exclaimed Miranda.
"Oh, come and see! Just think, Nan: last May, in Odd-Fellows' Hall, how
proud we were of barely thirteen thousand, and here are sixty-eight
Anna pointed Miranda to a line, and Miranda, with their cheeks together,
read out: "'Is there no end to the liberality of the Crescent City?'"
"No-o!" cried gesturing Constance, "not while one house stands on
another! Why, 'Randa, though every hall and hotel from here to
Anna beamingly laid her fingers on the lips of the enthusiast:
"Con!--Miranda!--_we_ can have a bazaar right in this house! Every
friend we've got, and every friend of the bat'--Oh, come in, Flora
Valcour! you're just in the nick o' time--a second Kirby Smith at
Thus came the free-gift lottery and bazaar of Callender House. For her
own worth as well as to enlist certain valuable folk from Mobile, Flora
was, there and then--in caucus, as it were--nominated chairman of
everything. "Oh, no, no, no!"--"Oh, yes, yes, yes!"--she "yielded at
last to overpowering numbers."
But between this first rapturous inception and an all-forenoon
argumentation on its when, who, how, what, and for what, other matters
claimed notice. "Further news from Charlie! How was his wound? What! a
letter from his own hand--with full account of--what was this one? not a
pitched battle, but--?"
"Anyhow a victory!" cried Constance.
"You know, Flora, don't you," asked Miranda, "that the battery's ordered
away across to Tennessee?"
Flora was genuinely surprised.
"Yes," put in Constance, "to rejoin Beauregard--and Brodnax!"
Flora turned to Anna: "You have that by letter?"
"No!" was the too eager reply, "It's here in the morning paper." They
read the item. The visitor flashed as she dropped the sheet.
"Now I see!" she sorely cried, and tapped Charlie's folded letter. "My
God! Anna, wounded like that, Hilary Kincaid is letting my brother go
"Oh-h-h!" exclaimed the other two, "but--my dear! if he's so much better
that he can be allowed--"
"Allowed!--and in those box-car'!--and with that
snow--rain--gangrene--lockjaw--my God! And when 'twas already _arrange_'
to bring him home!"
Slow Callenders! not to notice the word "bring" in place of "send": "Ah,
good, Flora! ah, fine! You'll see! The dear boy's coming that far with
the battery only on his way home to us!"
"H-m-m!" Flora nodded in sore irony, but then smiled with recovered
poise: "From Tennessee who will bring him--before they have firs' fight
another battle?--and he--my brother?"--her smile grew droll.
"Your brother sure to be in it!" gasped Anna. The Callenders looked
heart-wrung, but Flora smiled on as she thought what comfort it would be
to give each of them some life-long disfigurement.
Suddenly Constance cheered up: "Flora, I've guessed something! Yes, I've
guessed who was intending--and, maybe, still intends--to bring him!"
Flora turned prettily to Anna: "Have you?"
Quite as prettily Anna laughed. "Connie does the guessing for the
family," she said.
Flora sparkled: "But don't you _know_--perchanze?"
Anna laughed again and blushed to the throat as she retorted, "What has
that to do with our bazaar?"
It had much to do with it.
THE "SISTERS OF KINCAID'S BATTERY"
A week or two ran by, and now again it was March. Never an earlier
twelvemonth had the women of New Orleans--nor of any town or time--the
gentlewomen--spent in more unselfish or arduous toil.
At any rate so were flutteringly construed the crisp declarations of our
pale friend of old, Doctor Sevier, as in Callender House he stood (with
Anna seated half behind him as near as flounced crinoline would allow)
beside a small table whose fragile beauty shared with hers the
enthralled contemplation of every member of a numerous flock that
nevertheless hung upon the Doctor's words; such a knack have women of
giving their undivided attention to several things at once. Flora was
getting her share.
This, he said, was a women's--a gentlewomen's--war.
"Ah!" A stir of assent ran through all the gathering. The long married,
the newly wed, the affianced, the suspected, the debutantes, the
post-marriageable, every one approved. Yes, a gentlewomen's war--for the
salvation of society!
Hardly had this utterance thrilled round, however, when the speaker fell
into an error which compelled Anna softly to interrupt, her amazed eyes
and protesting smile causing a general hum of amusement and quickening
of fans. "No-o!" she whispered to him, "she was not chairman of the
L.S.C.A., but only one small secretary of that vast body, and chairman
pro tem.--nothing more!--of this mere contingent of it, these 'Sisters
of Kincaid's Battery.'"
Pro tem., nothing more! But that is how--silly little Victorine leading
the hue and cry which suddenly overwhelmed all counter-suggestion as a
levee crevasse sweeps away sand-bags--that is how the permanent and
combined chairmanship of Sisters and Bazaar came to be forcibly thrust
upon Anna instead of Flora.
Experienced after Odd-Fellows' Hall and St. Louis Hotel, the ladies were
able to take up this affair as experts. Especially they had learned how
to use men; to make them as handy as--"as hairpins," prompted Miranda,
to whom Anna had whispered it; and of men they needed all they could
rally, to catch the first impact of the vast and chaotic miscellany of
things which would be poured into their laps, so to speak, and upon
their heads: bronzes, cutlery, blankets, watches, thousands of brick
(orders on the brick-yards for them, that is), engravings, pianos,
paintings, books, cosmetics, marbles, building lots (their titles),
laces, porcelain, glass, alabaster, bales of cotton, big bank checks,
hair flowers, barouches, bonds, shawls, carvings, shell-work boxes,
jewellery, silks, ancestral relics, curios from half round the world,
wax fruits, tapestries, and loose sapphires, diamonds, rubies, and
pearls. The Callenders and Valcours could see, in fancy, all the first
chaos of it and all the fair creation that was to arise from it.
What joy of planning! The grove should be ruddy with pine-knot flares
perched high, and be full of luminous tents stocked with stuffs for sale
at the most patriotic prices by Zingaras, Fatimas, and Scheherazades.
All the walks of the garden would be canopied with bunting and gemmed
with candles blinking like the fireflies round that bower of roses by
Bendermere's stream. The verandas would be enclosed in canvas and be
rich in wares, textiles, and works of art. Armed sentries from that
splendid command, the Crescent Regiment, would be everywhere in the
paved and latticed basement (gorged with wealth), and throughout the
first and second floors. The centrepiece in the arrangement of the
double drawing-rooms would be a great field-piece, one of Hilary's
casting, on its carriage, bright as gold, and flanked with stacks of
muskets. The leading item in the hall would be an allegorical
painting--by a famous Creole artist of nearly sixty years
earlier--Louisiana Refusing to Enter the Union. Glass cases borrowed of
merchants, milliners and apothecaries would receive the carefully
classified smaller gifts of rare value, and a committee of goldsmiths,
art critics, and auctioneers, would set their prices. If one of those
torrential hurricanes--however, there came none.
How much, now, could they hope to clear? Well, the women of Alabama, to
build a gun-boat, had raised two hundred thousand dollars, and--
"They will 'ave to raise mo'," twittered Madame Valcour, "if New Orleans
"She will not fall," remarked Anna from the chair, and there was great
applause, as great as lace mitts could make.
Speaking of that smaller stronghold, Flora had a capital suggestion:
Let this enterprise be named "for the common defence." Then, in the
barely conceivable event of the city's fall, should the proceeds still
be in women's hands--and it might be best to keep them so--let them go
to the defence of Mobile!
Another idea--Miranda's and Victorine's--quite as gladly accepted, and
they two elected to carry it out--was, to compile, from everybody's
letters, a history of the battery, to be sold at the bazaar. The large
price per copy which that work commanded was small compared with what it
would bring now.
THUNDER-CLOUD AND SUNBURST
Could they have known half the toil, care, and trial the preparation of
this Bazaar was to cost their friends, apologized the Callenders as it
neared completion, they would never have dared propose it.
But the smiling reply was Spartan: "Oh! what are such trifles when we
think how our own fathers, husbands, and brothers have suffered--even in
victory!" The "Sisters" were still living on last summer's glory, and
only by such indirections alluded to defeats.
Anna smiled as brightly as any, while through her mind flitted spectral
visions of the secondary and so needless carnage in those awful
field-hospitals behind the battles, and of the storms so likely to
follow the fights, when the midnight rain came down in sheets on the
wounded still lying among the dead. On all the teeming, bleeding front
no father, husband, or brother was hers, but amid the multitudinous
exploits and agonies her thoughts were ever on him who, by no tie but
the heart's, had in the past year grown to be father, mother, sister,
and brother to the superb hundred whom she so tenderly knew, who so
worshipingly knew her, and still whose lives, at every chance, he was
hurling at the foe as stones from a sling.
"After all, in these terrible time'," remarked Miss Valcour in committee
of the whole--last session before the public opening--"any toil, even
look' at selfishly, is better than to be idle."
"As if you ever looked at anything selfishly!" said a matron, and there
was a patter of hands.
"Or as if she were ever in danger of being idle!" fondly put in a young
As these two rattled and crashed homeward in a deafening omnibus they
shouted further comments to each other on this same subject. It was
strange, they agreed, to see Miss Valcour, right through the midst of
these terrible times, grow daily handsomer. Concerning Anna, they were
of two opinions. The matron thought that at moments Anna seemed to have
aged three years in one, while, to the girl it appeared that her
beauty--Anna's--had actually increased; taken a deeper tone, "or
something." This huge bazaar business, they screamed, was something a
girl like Anna should never have been allowed to undertake.
"And yet," said the matron on second thought, "it may really have helped
her to bear up."
"Oh,--all our general disturbance and distress, but the battery's in
particular. You know its very guns are, as we may say, hers, and
everything that happens around them, or to any one who belongs to them
in field, camp, or hospital, happens, in her feeling, to her."
The girl interrupted with a knowing touch: "You realize there's
something else, don't you?"
Her companion showed pain: "Yes, but--I hoped you hadn't heard of it. I
can't bear to talk about it. I know how common it is for men and girls
to trifle with each other, but for such as he--who had the faith of all
of us, yes, and of all his men, that he wasn't as other men are--for
Hilary Kincaid to dawdle with Anna--with Anna Callender--"
"Oh!" broke in the girl, a hot blush betraying her own heart, "I don't
think you've got the thing right at all. Why, it's Anna who's making the
trouble! The dawdling is all hers! Oh, I have it from the best
authority, though I'm not at liberty--"
"My dear girl, you've been misled. The fault is all his. I know it from
one who can't be mistaken."
The damsel blushed worse. "Well, at any rate," she said, "the case
doesn't in any slightest way involve Miss Valcour."
"Oh, I know that!" was the cocksure reply as they alighted in Canal
Street to take an up-town mule-car.
Could Madame and Flora have overheard, how they would have smiled to
With now a wary forward step and now a long pause, and now another short
step and another pause, Hilary, in his letters to Anna, despite Flora's
often successful contrivings, had ventured back toward that
understanding for which the souls of both were starving, until at
length he had sent one which seemed, itself, to kneel, for him, at her
feet--would have seemed, had it not miscarried. But, by no one's craft,