“Amen,” said Anna. At the same moment in one of the doors stood a courier.
“All right!” called Hilary to him. “Tell your colonel we’re coming! Just a second more, Captain Irby, if you please. Soldiers!—I, Hilary, take thee, Anna, to be my lawful wedded wife. And you—”
“I, Anna,” she softly broke in, “take thee, Hilary, to be my—” She spoke the matter through, but he had not waited.
“Therefore!” he cried, “you men of Kincaid’s Battery—and you, sir,—and you,”—nodding right and left to Mandeville and the detective,—“on this our solemn pledge to supply as soon as ever we can all form of law and social usage here omitted which can more fully solemnize this union—do now—”
Up went the detective’s hand and then Mandeville’s and all the boys’, and all together said:
“Pronounce you man and wife.”
“Go!” instantly rang Kincaid to Charlie, and in a sudden flutter of gauzes and clink of trappings, with wringing of soft fingers by hard ones, and in a tender clamor of bass and treble voices, away sprang every cannoneer to knapsacks and sabres in the hall, and down the outer stair into ranks and off under the stars at double-quick. Sisters of the battery, gliding out to the veranda rail, faintly saw and heard them a precious moment longer as they sped up the dusty road. Then Irby stepped quickly out, ran down the steps, mounted and galloped. A far rumble of wheels told the coming of two omnibuses chartered to bear the dancers all, with the Valcours and the detective, to their homes. Now out to the steps came Mandeville. His wife was with him and the maidens kindly went in. There the detective joined them. At a hall door Hilary was parting with Madame, Flora, Miranda. Anna was near him with Flora’s arm about her in melting fondness. Now Constance rejoined the five, and now Hilary and Anna left the other four and passed slowly out to the garden stair alone.
Beneath them there, with welcoming notes, his lone horse trampled about the hitching-rail. Dropping his cap the master folded the bride’s hands in his and pressed on them a long kiss. The pair looked deeply into each other’s eyes. Her brow drooped and he laid a kiss on it also. “Now you must go,” she murmured.
“My own beloved!” was his response. “My soul’s mate!” He tried to draw her, but she held back.
“You must go,” she repeated.
“Yes! kiss me and I fly.” He tried once more to draw her close, but still in vain.
“No, dearest,” she whispered, and trembled. Yet she clutched his imprisoning fingers and kissed them. He hugged her hands to his breast.
“Oh, Hilary,” she added, “I wish I could! But—don’t you know why I can’t? Don’t you see?”
“No, my treasure, not any more. Why, Anna, you’re Anna Kincaid now. You’re my wed’—”
Her start of distress stopped him short. “Don’t call me that,—my—my own,” she faltered.