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