When Flora the next evening stole a passing glance at the ugly trinket in its place she was pleased to note how well it retained its soilure of clay. For she had that day used it to free the panel, behind which she had found a small recess so fitted to her want that she had only to replace panel and tool and await some chance in the closing hours of the show. Pleased she was, too, to observe that the old jewels lay in a careless heap. Now to conceal all interest and to divert all eyes, even grandmama’s! Thus, however, night after night an odd fact eluded her: That Anna and her hero, always singly, and themselves careful to lure others away, glimpsed that disordered look of the gems and unmolested air of the knife with a content as purposeful as her own. Which fact meant, when came the final evening, that at last every sham jewel in the knife’s sheath had exchanged places with a real one from the loose heap, while, nestling between two layers of the sheath’s material, reposed, payable to bearer, a check on London for thousands of pounds sterling. Very proud was Anna of her lover’s tremendous versatility and craftsmanship.
From Camp Villere, close below small Camp Callender, one more last regiment—Creoles—was to have gone that afternoon to the Jackson Railroad Station and take train to join their Creole Beauregard for the defence of their own New Orleans.
More than a day’s and a night’s journey away was “Corinth,” the village around which he had gathered his forces, but every New Orleans man and boy among them knew, and every mother and sister here in New Orleans knew, that as much with those men and boys as with any one anywhere, lay the defence and deliverance of this dear Crescent City. With Grant swept back from the Tennessee, and the gunboats that threatened Island Ten and Memphis sunk, blown up; or driven back into the Ohio, New Orleans, they believed, could jeer at Farragut down at the Passes and at Butler out on horrid Ship Island. “And so can Mobile,” said the Callenders to the Valcours.
“The fortunes of our two cities are one!” cried Constance, and the smiling Valcours were inwardly glad to assent, believing New Orleans doomed, and remembering their Mobile home burned for the defence of the two cities of one fortune.
However, the Camp Villere regiment had not got off, but would move at midnight. On the train with them Hilary was sending recruits to the battery, younger brothers of those who had gone the year before. He had expected to conduct, not send, them, but important work justified—as Anna told Flora—his lingering until his uncle should bid him come. Which bidding Irby might easily have incited, by telegraph, had Flora let him. But Flora’s heart was too hopelessly entangled to release Hilary even for the gain of separating him from Anna; and because it was so entangled (and with her power to plot caught in the tangle), she was learning to hate with a distemper of passion that awed even herself.