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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
call you?"

"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
carriage."

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
differently.

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?"

"St - Ste - Steve - "

"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.




XXX


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
stay-at-homes!"

"You'll par-ade," broke in the flaming Mandeville. "worse' dress than
presently, when you rit-urn conqueror'!" But that wearied the General
more.

"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 képis, 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 képis 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,
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 képis 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
to Anna.

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."




XXXI


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 boutonnières 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
tune became -

"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
strong.

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,


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