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Kincaids battery


The Project Gutenberg eBook, Kincaid's Battery, by George W. Cable,
IllustratedbyAlonzoKimball
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Title:Kincaid'sBattery
Author:GeorgeW.Cable
ReleaseDate:March25,2004[eBook#11719]
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:iso-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK KINCAID'S
BATTERY***

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Ifanyonealive...



KINCAID'SBATTERY
BY


GEORGEW.CABLE
1908
ILLUSTRATEDBY
ALONZOKIMBALL

To
E.C.S.C.


CONTENTS
ILLUSTRATIONS
ICarroltonGardens
IICarriageCompany
IIITheGeneral'sChoice
IVManoeuvres
VHilary?--Yes,Uncle?
VIMessrs.SmellemoutandKethem
VIIByStarlight
VIIIOneKilled
IXHerHarpoonStrikes
XSylviaSighs
XIInColumnofPlatoons
XIIMandevilleBleeds
XIIIThingsAnnaCouldNotWrite
XIVFloraTapsGrandma'sCheek
XVTheLongMonthofMarch
XVIConstanceTriestoHelp
XVII"Oh,Connie,Dear--Nothing--GoOn"
XVIIIFloraTellstheTruth!
XIXFloraRomances
XXTheFightfortheStandard
XXIConstanceCross-Examines
XXIISameStorySlightlyWarped
XXIII"Soldiers!"


XXIVAParkedBatteryCanRaiseaDust
XXV"HeMustWait,"SaysAnna
XXVISwiftGoing,DownStream
XXVIIHardGoing,UpStream
XXVIIITheCupofTantalus
XXIXACastawayRose
XXXGood-by,Kincaid'sBattery
XXXIVirginiaGirlsandLouisianaBoys
XXXIIManassas
XXXIIILetters


XXXIVAFree-GiftBazaar
XXXVThe"SistersofKincaid'sBattery"
XXXVIThunder-CloudandSunburst
XXXVII"TillHeSaid,'I'mComeHame,MyLove'"
XXXVIIIAnna'sOldJewels
XXXIXTightPinch
XLTheLicense,TheDagger
XLIForanEmergency
XLII"Victory!IHearditasPI'--"
XLIIIThatSabbathatShiloh
XLIV"TheyWereallFourTogether"
XLVSteve--Maxime--Charlie-XLVITheSchoolofSuspense
XLVIIFromtheBurialSquad
XLVIIIFarragut
XLIXACityinTerror
LAnnaAmazesHerself
LITheCallenderHorsesEnlist
LIIHereTheyCome
LIIIShips,Shells,andLetters
LIVSameAprilDayTwice
LVInDarkestDixieandOut
LVIBetweentheMillstones
LVIIGatesofHellandGlory
LVIIIArachne
LIXInaLabyrinth
LXHilary'sGhost
LXITheFlag-of-TruceBoat
LXIIFarewell,Jane!
LXIIITheIron-cladOath
LXIV"Now,Mr.Brick-Mason--"
LXVFlora'sLastThrow
LXVI"WhenIHandsinMyChecks"
LXVIIMobile
LXVIIIBytheDawn'sEarlyLight
LXIXSouthernCrossandNorthernStar
LXXGainsandLosses
LXXISoldiersofPeace
OTHERBOOKSBYMR.CABLE





ILLUSTRATIONS
"Ifanyonealive,"hecried,"knowsanycausewhythisthingshouldnotbe"
Anna
"'Tisgood-by,Kincaid'sBattery"
Andthenextinstantshewasinhisarms
"No!notunderthisroof--norinsightofthesethings."
"You'avenori-ighttoleaveme!Ah,youshallnot!"
Shedroppedintoaseat,staringlikeonedemented.


Kincaid'sBattery




I
CARROLLTONGARDENS
Forthesceneofthisnarrativepleasetakeintomindawidequarter-circleof
country, such as any of the pretty women we are to know in it might have
coveredonthemapwithherhalf-openedfan.
LetitsnorthernmostcornerbeVicksburg,thefamous,ontheMississippi.Let
the easternmost be Mobile, and let the most southerly and by far the most
important, that pivotal corner of the fan from which all its folds radiate and
wherethewholepicturedthingopensandshuts,beNewOrleans.Thenletthe
gravemomentthatgentlyushersusinbealong-agoafternoonintheLouisiana
Delta.
Throughoutthatlandofwaterandskythewillowclumpsdottingthebosom
ofeverysea-marshandfringingeveryrush-rimmedlakewereyellowandgreen
inthefullflushofanewyear,thewaryear,'Sixty-one.
Thoughrifewithwarmsunlight,themoistairgavedistanceandpoeticcharm
tothenearestandhumblestthings.Attheedgesofthegreattimberedswamps
thicketsofyoungwinter-barecypresseswerebuddingyetmorevividlythanthe
willows,whileinthedepthsofthoseoverflowedforests,nearandfardowntheir
loftygraycolonnades,thedwarfedswamp-mapledroopedthewingedfruitofits
limpbushinpinkandflame-yellowandrose-redmassesuntilittoucheditsown
imageinthestillflood.
Thatwhichisnowonlythe"sixthdistrict"ofgreaterNewOrleanswasthen
the small separate town of Carrollton. There the vast Mississippi, leaving the
sugarandricefieldsofSt.CharlesandSt.JohnBaptistparishesandstillseeking
the Gulf of Mexico, turns from east to south before it sweeps northward and
southeast again to give to the Creole capital its graceful surname of the
"Crescent City." Mile-wide, brimful, head-on and boiling and writhing twenty
fathoms deep, you could easily have seen, that afternoon, why its turfed levee
hadtobeeighteenfeethighandbroadinproportion.Soswollenwastheflood
thatfromanydeckofasteamboattouchingthereonemighthavelookeddown
uponthewholefairstillsuburb.


Widelyithoveredinitsnestofrosegardens,orangegroves,avenuesofwateroaks,andtoweringmoss-drapedpecans.Afewhundredyardsfromtheleveea
slenderrailway,comingfromthecity,withahighwayoneitherside,ledintoits
station-house; but mainly the eye would have dwelt on that which filled the
intervalbetweenthenearerhighroadandthelevee--the"CarrolltonGardens."
Atacornerofthesegroundsclosesttotherailwaystationstoodaquiethotel
fromwhoseeasternverandaitwasbutasteptothecentreofasunnyshell-paved
court where two fountains danced and tinkled to each other. Along its farther
bound ran a vine-clad fence where a row of small tables dumbly invited the
flushed visitor to be inwardly cooled. By a narrow gate in this fence, near its
townwardend,ashelledwalkluredonintoamuskyairofverdurousalleysthat
led and misled, crossed, doubled, and mazed among flowering shrubs from
bowertobower.Outofsightintheretheloiterercameatstartlingmomentsface
tofacewithbanksofsplendidbloominravishingnegligee--Dianadisrobed,asit
were, while that untiring sensation-hunter, the mocking-bird, leaped and sang
andclappedhiswingsinariotofscandalousmirth.
Intheground-floordining-roomofthatunanimatedhotelsatanoldgentleman
namedBrodnax,onceoftheregulararmy,aretiredveteranoftheMexicanwar,
andveryconsciouslypossessedoflargemeans.Hesatquitealone,infinedress
thirty years out of fashion, finishing a late lunch and reading a newspaper; a
trim,halemannottobecalledoldinhisownhearing.Hehadreadeverything
intendedfornewsorentertainmentandwasnowwanderinginthedesertofthe
advertising columns, with his mind nine miles away, at the other end of New
Orleans.
Althoughnotthatpersonwhomnumerousmenofhisacquaintancehadbegun
affectionately to handicap with the perilous nickname of "the ladies' man," he
wasthinkingofnolessthanfiveladies;twoofonenameandthreeofanother.
Flora Valcour and her French grandmother (as well as her brother of nineteen,
already agog to be off in the war) had but lately come to New Orleans, from
Mobile. On a hilly border of that smaller Creole city stood the home they had
left, too isolated, with war threatening, for women to occupy alone. Mrs.
Callenderwastheyoungwidowofthisoldbachelor'slife-longfriend,thenoted
judge of that name, then some two years deceased. Constance and Anna were
her step-daughters, the latter (if you would believe him) a counterpart of her
long-lost,beautifulmother,whoserejectionofthesoldier'ssuit,whenhewasa
mere lieutenant, was the well-known cause of his singleness. These Callender
ladies,promptedbyhimandwithasweetmodestyofquietness,hadjustarmeda


newfieldbatterywithitssixsplendidbrassguns,anditwasaroundthesethree
Callenders that his ponderings now hung; especially around Anna and in
referencetohismuchoverprizedpropertyandtwonephews:AdolpheIrby,for
whom he had obtained the command of this battery, which he was to see him
drillthisafternoon,andHilaryKincaid,whohadhimselfcastthegunsandwho
wastohelptheseniorcousinconducttheseevolutions.
The lone reader's glance loitered down a long row of slim paragraphs, each
beginningwiththe samewee picture of asteamboatwhetheritproclaimedthe
GrandDukeortheLouisd'Or,theIngomarboundforthe"LowerCoast,"orthe
Natchezfor"VicksburgandtheBends."Shiftingthepage,hereadoftheSwiss
Bell-Ringers as back again "after a six years' absence," and at the next item
really knew what he read. It was of John Owens' appearance, every night, as
CalebPlummerin"Dot,""performancetobeginatseveno'clock."Wasitthere
Adolphewouldthiseveningtakehisparty,ofwhichthedazzlingFlorawouldbe
one and Anna, he hoped, another? He had proposed this party to Adolphe,
agreeingtobearitswholecostifthenephewwouldmanagetoincludeinitAnna
andHilary.AndIrbyhaddulyreportedcompletesuccessanddrawnonhim,but
theoldsoldierstilltoldhisdoubtstothenewspaper.
"Adolphehashabits,"hemeditated,"butsuccessisnotoneofthem."
Upanddownaperpendicularprocessiononthepageheeverynowandthen
mentallyreturnedthesaluteoftheonelittlemusketeerofthesameheightasthe
steamboat's chimneys, whether the Attention he challenged was that of the
Continentals,theLouisianaGrays,OrleansCadets,CrescentBluesorsomeother
bodyofblitheinvincibles.YethisthoughtwasstillofAnna.WhenAdolphe,last
year,hadcourtedher,andthehopefulunclehadtriednon-intervention,shehad
declined him--"and oh, how wisely!" For then back to his native city came
KincaidafteryearsawayataNorthernmilitaryschoolandoneyearacrossthe
ocean,andthemomenttheunclesawhimhewasgladAdolphehadfailed.But
nowifshewasgoingtofindHilaryaslight-headedandcloyingasAdolphewas
thick-headedandsour,orifshemustseeHilarygosoftontheslimMobilegirl-whomAdolphewasalreadysotorpidlyenamoredof--"H-m-m-m!"
Twoyoungmenwhohadtiedtheirhorsesbehindthehotelcrossedthewhite
courttowardthegarden.Theyalsowereincivildress,yetworeanairthatgoes
onlywithmilitarytraining.ThetallerwasHilaryKincaid,theotherhisold-time,
Northern-born-and-bred school chum, Fred Greenleaf. Kincaid, coming home,
had found him in New Orleans, on duty at Jackson Barracks, and for some


weekstheyhadenjoyedcronying.Nowtheyhadbeenadayortwoapartandhad
chancedtomeetagainatthisspot.Kincaid,itseems,hadbeenlookingatapoint
hard by with a view to its fortification. Their manner was frankly masterful
thoughtheyspokeinguardedtones.
"No,"saidKincaid,"youcomewithmetothisdrill.Nobody'lltakeoffence."
"Norwillyoueverteachyourcousintohandleabattery,"repliedGreenleaf,
withasedatesmile.
"Well,heknowsthingswe'llneverlearn.Comewithme,Fred,elseIcan'tsee
youtilltheatre'sout--ifIgotherewithher--andyousay--"
"Yes, I want you to go with her," murmured Greenleaf, so solemnly that
Kincaidlaughedoutright.
"But,aftertheshow,ofcourse,"saidthelaugher,"youandI'llride,eh?"and
thenwarily,"You'vetakenyourinitialsoffallyourstuff?...Yes,andJerry'sgot
yourticket.He'llgodownwithyourthings,checkthemallandstartoffonthe
tickethimself.Then,assoonasyou--"
"Butwilltheyallowaslavetodoso?"
"Withmypass,yes;'Letmyblackman,Jerry--'"
Thegardentookthepairintoitsdepthsamomenttoosoonfortheoldsoldier
toseethemashecameoutuponthesideverandawithacloudonhisbrowthat
showedhehadheardhisnephew'slaugh.


II
CARRIAGECOMPANY
Bareheaded the uncle crossed the fountained court, sat down at a table and
readagain.Intheverandaanegro,hisownslave,hiredtothishotel,heldupan
elegantmilitarycap,struckaninquiringattitude,andcalledsoftly,"Gen'al?"
"Bringitwiththecoffee."
Butthenegroinstantlybroughtitwithoutthecoffeeandplaceditonthetable
withadelicateflourish,shuffledastepbackandbowedlow:
"Coffeeblack,Gen'al,o'co'se?"
"Blackasyourgrandmother."
The servant tittered: "Yas, suh, so whah it flop up-siden de cup it leave a
lemon-yallehsta-ain."
Hecaperedaway,leavingtheGeneraltothelittlesteamboatsandtoablessed
ignorance of times to be when at "Vicksburg and the Bends" this same waiter
wouldbringhiscoffeemadeofcorn-mealbranandmuddywater,withwhichto
washdownscantsnacksofmulemeat.Thelistlesseyestillroamedthearidpage
astheslavereturnedwiththefragrantpotandcup,butnowthesitterlaiditby,
lightedacigarandmused:-In this impending war the South would win, of course--oh, God is just! But
thismusercouldonlyexpecttofallatthefront.Thenhislargeestate,alllands
andslaves,fivehundredsouls--whowouldinheritthatandholdittogether?Held
togetheritmustbe!Anypartitionofitwouldbreaknoendofsacredlyhumble
householdandfamilytiesandworkspiritualhavocincalculable.Theremustbe
but one heir. Who? Hilary's mother had been in heaven these many years, the
mother of Adolphe eighteen months; months quite enough to show the lone
brother how vast a loss is the absence of the right mistress from such very
human interests as those of a great plantation. Not only must there be but one
heir,buthemusthavetherightwife.
Theschemersipped.SoitwasAnnaforHilaryifhecouldbringitabout.So,


too,itmustbeHilaryforhisadjutant-general,tokeephimnearenoughtoteach
himthemanagementofthefortunecomingtohimifhe,Hilary,wouldonlytreat
hiskinduncle'swishes--reasonably.Withthecuphalfliftedheharkened.Froma
hidden walk and bower close on the garden side of this vine-mantled fence
soundedfootstepsandvoices:
"But,Fred!whereonearthdidsheget--let'ssitinhere--getthatrich,belated,
gradualsmile?"
AmemorythrilledthelisteningGeneral."Fromhermother,"thoughthe,and
listenedon.
"It'slike,"continuedhisnephew--"I'lltellyouwhatit'slike.It'slike--Now,let
mealone!Yousee,onehastolearnherbeauty--bydegrees.Youknow,thereisa
sort of beauty that flashes on you at first sight, like--like the blaze of a ballroom.Iwasjustnowthinkingofastrikinginstance--"
"FromMobile?Youalwaysare."
"Nosuchthing!Say,Fred,I'lltellyouwhatMissAnna'ssmileislike.It'sasif
youweretrying--sayinatelescope--forafocus,andatlastallatonceitcomes
and--there'syourstar!"
TheNorthernersoftlyassented.
"Fred!FancyFloraValcourwiththatsmile!"
"No! Hilary Kincaid, I think you were born to believe in every feminine
creatureGodevermade.Nowondertheynicknameyouastheydo.Now,some
girlsarequitetoofeminineforme."
In his own smoke the General's eyes opened aggressively. But hark! His
nephewspokeagain:
"Fred,ifyouknewallthatgirlhasdoneforthatboyandthatgrandmother--It
maysoundlikeanoverstatement,butyoumusthaveobserved--"
"Thatshe'sasortofoverstatementherself?"
"Go to grass! Your young lady's not even an understatement; she's only a
profoundpause.Seehere!whattimeisit?Iprom--"
Ontheuncle'ssideofthefenceaquickstepbroughtanewcomer,aCreoleof


maybetwenty-nineyears,memberofhisnewstaff,inbrightuniform:
"Ah,Général,yo'mozeob-edient!Neverlessal-lonethenwhenal-lone?'Tis
thewaywithmyseff--"
Heseemednotunrefined,thoughofalmosttoomettlesomeaneye;inlength
oflegshowingjustthelack,ingirthofwaistjusttheexcess,toimplyabetter
dignity on horseback and to allow a proud tailor to prove how much art can
overcome. Out on the road a liveried black coachman had halted an open
carriage, in which this soldier had arrived with two ladies. Now these bowed
delightedlyfromittotheGeneral,whileKincaidandhisfriendstoodclosehid
andlistenedagape,equallyamusedanddismayed.
"Howareyou,Mandeville?"saidtheGeneral."Iamnotnearlyasmuchalone
asIseem,sir!"
A voice just beyond the green-veiled fence cast a light on this reply and
brought a flush to the Creole's very brows. "Alas! Greenleaf," it cried, "we
searchinvain!Heisnothere!Weareevenmorealonethanweseem!Ah!where
isthatpeerlesschevalier,mybeloved,accomplished,blameless,sagacious,just,
valiantandamiable uncle? Comeletuspresson.Letnotthefairsexfindhim
firstandsnatchhimfromusforever!"
The General's scorn showed only in his eyes as they met the blaze of
Mandeville's. "You were about to remark--?" he began, but rose and started
towardthecarriage.
There not many minutes later you might have seen the four men amicably
gatheredandvyingincleverspeechestoprettyMrs.Callenderandheryetfairer
thoughlessscintillantstep-daughterAnna.


III
THEGENERAL'SCHOICE
Anna Callender. In the midst of the gay skirmish and while she yielded
Greenleafherchiefattention,Hilaryobservedheranew.
Whathethoughthesawwasagolden-brownprofusionofhairwithapeculiar
richness in its platted coils, an unconsciously faultless poise of head, and,
equallyunconscious,adreamysoftnessofsweepinglashes.Asshelaughedwith
theGeneralherstudentnotedfurtherwhatseemedtohimararesilkinessinthe
tresses, a vapory lightness in the short strands that played over the outlines of
templeandforehead,andtheunstudieddaintinesswithwhichtheygatheredinto
themerestmistofashortcurlbeforeherexquisiteear.
Anna
But when now she spoke with him these charms became forgettable as he
discovered,orfanciedhedid,inherself-obliviouseyes,adepthofthoughtand
feelingnotintheorbsalonebutalsointhebrowsandlids,andbetweenupper
andunderlashesasheglimpsedtheminprofilewhilesheturnedtoMandeville.
Andnow,unlesshisowninsightmisledhim,heobservedhowunlikethoseeyes,
andyethowsubtlymatedwiththem,washermouth;thedelicaterisingcurveof
the upper lip, and the floral tenderness with which it so faintly overhung the
nether,wherefromitseemedeverabouttopartyetpartedonlywhenshespoke
orsmiled.
"Achild'smouthandawoman'seyes,"hemused.
Whenhersmilescamethemouthremainedasyoungasbefore,yetsuddenly,
as truly as the eyes, showed--showed him at least--steadfastness of purpose,
while the eyes, where fully half the smile was, still unwittingly revealed their
depthsoftruth.
"PoorFred!"heponderedastheGeneralandMandevilleenteredthecarriage
anditturnedaway.
AmileortwofromCarrolltondowntheriverandtowardthecitylaytheold


unfenced fields where Hilary had agreed with Irby to help him manoeuvre his
very new command. Along the inland edge of this plain the railway and the
common road still ran side by side, but the river veered a mile off. So
Mandevillepointedouttothetwoladiesasthey,he,andtheGeneraldroveupto
thespotwithKincaidandGreenleafasoutriders.Thechosengroundwasalevel
stretch of wild turf maybe a thousand yards in breadth, sparsely dotted with
shoulder-highacacias.Nomilitarybodywasyethere,andthecarriagehaltedat
thefirstgoodviewpoint.
Mrs.Callender,theonlymemberofherfamilywhowasofNorthernbirthand
rearing, was a small slim woman whose smile came whenever she spoke and
whose dainty nose went all to merry wrinkles whenever she smiled. It did so
now, in the shelter of her diminutive sunshade opened flat against its jointed
handletofendoffthestrongafternoonbeams,whilesheexplainedtoGreenleaf-dismounted beside the wheels with Mandeville--that Constance, Anna's elder
sister,wouldarrivebyandbywithFloraValcour."Connie",shesaid,hadbeen
leftbehindintheclutchesofthedressmaker!
"Flora,"shecontinued,crinklinghernoseeversokind-heartedlyatGreenleaf,
"isLieutenantMandeville'scousin,youknow.Didn'thetellyousomethingback
yonderinCarrollton?"
Greenleaf smiled an admission and her happy eyes closed to mere chinks.
WhathadbeentoldwasthatConstancehadyesterdayacceptedMandeville.
"Yes,"joviallyputintheluckyman,"Ihavedivulge'himthat,andheseem'
almozeasgladastheyoungladyherseff!"
Even to this the sweet widow's misplaced wrinkles faintly replied, while
Greenleafasked,"DoestheLieutenant'sgoodfortuneaccountforthe--'clutches
ofthedressmaker'?"
It did. The Lieutenant hourly expecting to be ordered to the front, this
wedding, like so many others, would be at the earliest day possible. "A great
concession," the lady said, turning her piquant wrinkles this time upon
Mandeville. But just here the General engrossed attention. His voice had
warmedsentimentallyandhiskindledeyewaspassingbackandforthbetween
AnnaseatedbyhimandHilarycloseathandinthesaddle.Hewavedwide:
"This all-pervading haze and perfume, dew and dream," he was saying, "is
what makes this the Lalla Rookh's land it is!" He smiled at himself and


confessedthatCarrolltonGardensalwayswenttohishead."Anna,didyouever
hearyourmothersing-"'There'sabowerofroses--'?"
She lighted up to say yes, but the light was all he needed to be lured on
through a whole stanza, and a tender sight--Ocean silvering to brown-haired
Cynthia--werethetwo,ashesoinnocentlystrovetorecreateoutofhisownlost
youth,forherandhisnephew,thisatmosphereofpoetry.
"'Tositintherosesandhearthebird'ssong!'"
he suavely ended--"I used to make Hilary sing that for me when he was a
boy."
"Doesn'thesingityet?"askedMrs.Callender.
"My God, madame, since I found him addicted to comic songs I've never
askedhim!"
Kincaidledthelaughandthetalkbecamelively.Annawasmerrilyaccused
by Miranda (Mrs. Callender) of sharing the General's abhorrence of facetious
song.Firstshepleadedguiltyandthenreversedherpleawithanabsurdtangleof
laughing provisos delightful even to herself. At the same time the General
withdrew from his nephew all imputation of a frivolous mind, though the
nephewavowedhimselfnonsensicalfrombirthanddestinedtodieso.Itwasa
merry moment, so merry that Kincaid's bare mention of Mandeville as Mandy
madeeventheGeneralsmileandeveryoneelselaugh.TheCreole,towhomany
mentionofhimself,(whetheritcalledforgratitudeorforpistolsandcoffee,)was
always welcome, laughed longest. If he was Mandy, he hurried to rejoin, the
absent Constance "muz be Candy--ha, ha, ha!" And when Anna said Miranda
shouldalwaysthenceforthbeRandy,andMrs.CallendersaidAnnaoughttobe
Andy,andtheveryGeneralwasseducedintosuggestingthatthenHilarywould
beHandy,andwheneveryonereadineveryone'seye,theoldman'sincluded,
that Brodnax would naturally be Brandy, the Creole bent and wept with mirth,
countingallthatfinewitexclusivelyhis.
"But,no!"hesuddenlysaid,"HilaryhewouldbeDandy,bic-ausehe'scall'the
ladies'man!"
"No,sir!"criedtheGeneral."Hil--"Heturneduponhisnephew,butfinding
him engaged with Anna, faced round to his chum: "For Heaven's sake,


Greenleaf,doesheallow--?"
"Hecan'thelpitnow,"laughedhisfriend,"he'staggeditonhimselfbyoneof
hissongs."
"Oh,byJove,Hilary,itservesyourightforsingingthem!"
Hilarylaughedtotheskies,therestechoing.
"Aladies'man!"theunclescoffedon."OfallthingsonGod'searth!"Butthere
hebrokeintolordlymirth:"Don'tyoubelievethatofhim,ladies,atanyrate.If
onlyformysake,Anna,don'tyoueverbelieveabreathofit!"
The ladies laughed again, but now Kincaid found them a distraction.
Followinghisglancecitywardtheyespiedabroaddust-cloudfloatingofftoward
theriver.HeturnedtoAnnaandsoftlycried,"Herecomeyourguns,tryingto
beatthetrain!"
The ladies stood up to see. An unseen locomotive whistled for a brief stop.
Thedust-clouddrewnearer.Theenginewhistledtostartagain,andtheycould
hearitsbellandquickeningpuff.Butthedust-cloudcameonandon,andallat
oncethewholesix-gunbattery--sixhorsestoeachpieceandsixtoeachcaisson-captain, buglers, guidon, lieutenants, sergeants and drivers in the saddle,
cannoneersonthechests--sweptatfulltrot,thumping,swaying,andrebounding,
up the highway and off it, and, forming sections, swung out upon the field in
double column, while the roaring train rolled by it and slowed up to the little
frameboxofBuerthe'sStationwithpassengerscheeringfromeverywindow.
The Callenders' carriage horses were greatly taxed in their nerves, yet they
kept their discretion. Kept it even when now the battery flashed from column
into line and bore down upon them, the train meanwhile whooping on toward
Carrollton.Andwhatanelatedflockofbrightlydressedcitizensandcitizenesses
hadalightedfromthecars--manyofthemonthemoment'simpulse--toseethese
dearlads,withtheirromanticallyacquiredbattery,trainfortheholidaytaskof
scaringthedastardfoebacktotheirfrozenhomes!Howwelovedthemoment's
impulsethosedays!
Whatagayshow!Andamongtheveryprettiestandmostfetchinglyarrayed
newcomersyouwouldquicklyhavenoticedthreewithwhomthiscarriagegroup
exchanged signals. Kincaid spurred off to meet them while Greenleaf and
MandevillehelpedAnnaandMirandatotheground."There'sConstance,"said


theGeneral.
"Yes,"Mrs.Callenderreplied,"andFloraandCharlieValcour!"asifthatwere
thegleefulestgoodluckofall.


IV
MANOEUVRES
Captain Irby, strong, shapely, well clad, auburn-haired, left his halted
commandandcameintothecarriagegroup,whilefromthetrainapproachedhis
cousinandthelitheandpicturesqueMissValcour.
The tallish girl always looked her best beside some manly form of unusual
stature, and because that form now was Hilary's Irby was aggrieved. All their
days his cousin had been getting into his light, and this realization still shaded
hisbrowasKincaidyieldedFloratohimandreturnedtoAnnatotalkofthings
toolightforrecord.
NotsolightwerethethoughtsAnnakeptunuttered.Hereagain,shereflected,
washewho(accordingtoGreenleaf)haddeclinedtocommandhergunsinorder
to let Irby have them. Why? In kindness to his cousin, or in mild dislike of a
woman'sbattery?Ifintuitionwasworthwhile,thismanwassoontobeacaptain
somewhere. Here was that rare find for which even maidens' eyes were alert
thosedays--abornleader.Noladies'manthis--"ofallthingsonGod'searth!"A
men'sman!Andyet--nay,therefore--amanforsomeunparagonedwomansome
day to yield her heart and life to, and to have for her very own, herself his
consummateadornment.ShecastaglanceatFlora.
Buthernextwastohimastheytalkedon.Hownearlyblackwasthewaving
abundance of his hair. How placid his brow, above eyes whose long lashes
wouldhavemadethemmeltinglytenderhadtheynotbeensolargewithmirth:
"Aboy'seyes,"thoughtshewhileherememberedwhathehadjustcalledhers.
Shenotedhismouth,howgentlyfirm:"Aman'smouth!"
Charlie Valcour broke in between them: "Is there not going to be any drill,
afterall?"
"Tell Captain Irby you can't wait any longer," replied Kincaid with a mock
frownandgaveAnnayetgayerattentionaminutemore.Thenhewalkedbeside
hiscousintowardthecommand,hishorsecloseathisback.Thegroup,bypairs,
chose view points. Only Miss Valcour stayed in the carriage with the General,
bentoneffectingachangeinhismind.InMobileFlorahadbeeneasilyfirstin


any social set to which she condescended. In New Orleans, brought into the
Callenders' circles by her cousin Mandeville, she had found herself quietly
ranked second to Anna, and Anna now yet more pointedly outshining her
through the brazen splendor of this patriotic gift of guns. For this reason and
others yet to appear she had planned a strategy and begun a campaign, one of
whoseearliestmanoeuvresmustbetogetIrby,notKincaid,madetheiruncle's
adjutant-general, and therefore to persuade the uncle that to give Kincaid the
battery would endear him to Anna and so crown with victory the old man's
perfectlyobviousplan.
GreenleaflefthishorsetiedandwalkedapartwithAnna.This,hemurmured,
wasthelasttimetheywouldbetogetherforyears.
"Yes," she replied with a disheartening composure, although from under the
parasolwithwhichheshadedhershemethiseyessokindlythathisheartbeat
quicker.Butbeforehecouldspeakonshelookedawaytohisfrettinghorseand
thenacrosstothebattery,whereagrowinglaughwasrunningthroughthewhole
undisciplinedcommand."Whatisitabout?"sheplayfullyinquired,butthensaw.
InresponsetotheneighofGreenleaf'ssteedHilary'shadpausedaninstantand
turned his head, but now followed on again, while the laughter ended in the
clappingofahundredhands;forKincaid'shorsehadthebridlefreeonhisneck
andwasfollowinghismasterasadogfollows.Irbyscowled,theGeneralsethis
jaws,andHilarytookhishorse'sbridleandledhimon.
"That's what I want to do every time I look at him!" called Charlie to his
sister.
"Thenlooktheotherway!"carolledbacktheslenderbeauty.TowhomAnna
smiledacrossinherbelatedway,andwonderediftheimpulsetofollowHilary
Kincaidevercametowomen.
Butnowoutyonderthetwocousinswereinthesaddle,Irby'ssabrewasout,
and soon the manoeuvres were fully under way. Flora, at the General's side,
missednothingofthem,yethernimbleeyekeptherwellawarethatacrosshere
in this open seclusion the desperate Greenleaf's words to Anna were rarely
explanatoryofthedrill.
"And now," proclaimed Mandeville, "you'll see them form into line fazed to
therear!"AndFlora,seeingandapplauding,sawalsoAnnaturntohersuitora
glance,halfpityforhim,halfpleadingforhispity.


"Isayunless--"Greenleafpersisted-"Thereisno'unless.'Therecan'teverbeany."
"ButmayInotatleastsay--?"
"I'dsomuchratheryouwouldnot,"shebegged.
"Atpresent,youmean?"
"Orinthefuture,"saidAnna,and,havingdoneperfectlythusfar,spoiledall
bydeclaringshewould"nevermarry!"Hergazerestedfaracrossthefieldonthe
quietlycladfigureofKincaidridingtoandfroandpointinghitherandyontohis
gold-lacedcousin.OffhereontheleftsheheardMandevilleannouncing:
"Nowthey'llformbatt'rietothefrontbythrowingcaisson'totherear--look-look!...Ah,ha!wasnotthataprettie?"
Prettyitwasdeclaredtobeonallsides.Floracalledit"abeautiful."Partof
her charm was a Creole accent much too dainty for print. Anna and Greenleaf
andtheothercouplesregatheredaboutthecarriage,andMissValcourfromher
highseatsmiledherenthusiasmdownamongthem,exaltingtheirs.Andnowas
anewmovementofthebatteryfollowed,andnowanother,herglowheightened,
and she called musically to Constance, Mrs. Callender and Anna, by turns, to
beholdandadmire.Foronetellingmomentshewas,andfeltherself,thefocusof
hergroup,thecentreofitslivingpicture.Outafieldyetanothermanoeuvrewas
on, and while Anna and her suitor stood close below her helplessly becalmed
eachbyeach,Florarosetoherfeetandcaughtagreatbreathofdelight.Hergaze
wasontheglitteringmassofmen,horses,andbrazengunsthatcamethundering
acrosstheplainindoublecolumn--Irbyatitshead,Kincaidaloneontheflank-and sweeping right and left deployed into battery to the front with cannoneers
springingtotheirpostsforaction.
"Pretties'ofall!"shecried,andstood,agentleairstirringherlightdraperies,
until the boys at the empty guns were red-browed and short of breath in their
fierce pretence of loading and firing. Suddenly the guns were limbered up and
went bounding over the field, caissons in front. And now pieces passed their
caissons,andnowtheywereinline,thenindoublecolumn,andpresentlywere
gleaminginbatteryagain,facedtotherear.Andnowatcommandthetiredlads
droppedtothegroundtorest,orsaunteredfromoneloungingsquadtoanother,
to chat and chaff and puff cigarettes. Kincaid and Irby lent their horses to


Mandeville and Charlie, who rode to the battery while the lenders joined the
ladies.
OncemoreHilaryyieldedFloraandsoughtAnna;butwithkinderthoughtfor
Flora Anna pressed herself upon Irby, to the open chagrin of his uncle. So
KincaidcheerfullypairedwithFlora.ButthusbothheandAnnaunwittinglyput
the finishing touch upon that change of heart in the General which Flora, by
every subtlety of indirection, this hour and more in the carriage, had been
bringingabout.
A query: With Kincaid and Irby the chief figures in their social arena and
Hilarysopalpablyhiscousin'sbetterinlooks,inbearing,talents,andcharacter,
isitnotstrangethatFlora,havingconquestforherrulingpassion,shouldstrive
sotorelateAnnatoHilaryastogiveher,Anna,everyadvantageforthehigher
prize?Maybeitis,butshelikedstrangeness--andastiffgame.


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