"They're so like his very word o' mouth," said he, "they bring him right back here among us. Yes, and the whole theatre of action with him. They draw it about us so closely and relate it all to us so vitally that it--"Miranda retold the splendid antic he had cut in St. Charles Street the day Virginia seceded. Steve recounted how the aged warrior had regained strength from Chickamauga's triumph and lost it again after Chattanooga. Two or three recalled how he had suffered when Banks' Red River Expedition desolated his fair estate and "forever lured away" his half-a-thousand "deluded people." He must have succumbed then, they said, had not the whole "invasion" come to grief and been driven back into New Orleans. New Orleans! younger sister of little Mobile, yet toward which Mobile now looked in a daily torture of apprehension. And then Hilary's beloved Bartleson put in what Anna sat wishing some one would say.
But the negro instantly brought it without the coffee and placed it on the table with a delicate flourish, shuffled a step back and bowed low:With mingled rapture and distress, with a heart standing as still as his feet, as still as his lifted head and shining eyes, he listened and heard again. Swiftly, though not with the speed he would have chosen, he sprang toward the call; sped softly through the brush, softly and without voice, lest he draw the enemy's fire; softly and mutely, with futile backward wavings and frowning and imploring whispers to Flora as in a dishevelled glow that doubled her beauty she glided after him."All day nothing but good luck, and at the end--this!" (the treasure chest).
- "Why, what, Connie, dear?"
- "Miss Anna," said the soldier again, "I've come--I've come to tell you something. It's mighty hard to tell. It's harder than I thought it would be. For, honestly, Miss Anna, you--from the first time I ever saw you, you--you--Were you going to speak?"
- XX THE FIGHT FOR THE STANDARD
- The boat crept southward into the cloud, where only Gaines was dimly visible, flashing and howling landward. Irby was in that flashing. Steve was back yonder in Powell with Kincaid's Battery. Through Steve, present at the reading of a will made at Vicksburg the day after Hilary's capture there, Irby had just notified Anna, for Hilary, that their uncle had left everything to him, Adolphe. She hoped it was true, but for once in her life had doubts without discomfort. How idly the mind can drift in fateful moments. The bell tapped for six. As it did so the two watchers descried through a rift in the smoke the Tennessee signaling her grim litter, and the four crawling forward to meet the ships. Again the smoke closed in, but the small boat stole through it and hovered at its edge while the minutes passed and the foe came on. How plain to be seen was each pair, how familiar some of those taller shapes!
- "Ah, but when they see--oh, they'll never dare face even the Manassas--the 'little turtle,' ha-ha!--much less the great Louisiana!"
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