Kincaid's Battery eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 413 pages of information about Kincaid's Battery.
fearfully true persisted the enemy’s aim.  To home-guards, rightly hopeless of their case and never before in action, every hostile shot was like a volcano’s eruption, and their own fire rapidly fell off.  But on the veranda, amid a weeping, prattling, squealing and gesturing of women and children, Anna could not distinguish the bursting of the foe’s shells from the answering thunder of Confederate guns, and when in a bare ten minutes unarmed soldiers began to come out of the smoke and to hurry through the grove, while riders of harnessed horses and mules—­harnessed to nothing—­lashed up the levee road at full run, and Isaac and Ben proudly cried that one was Mahs’ Chahlie and that the animals were theirs of Callender House, she still asked over the balustrade how the fight had gone.

For reply despairing hands pointed her back toward the river, and there, as she and her groaning servants gazed, the great black masts and yards, with headway resumed and every ensign floating, loomed silently forth and began to pass the veranda.  Down in the intervening garden, brightly self-contained among the pale stragglers there, appeared the one-armed reporter, with a younger brother in the weather-worn gray and red of Kincaid’s Battery.  They waved a pocket-soiled letter and asked how to get in and up to her; but before she could do more than toss them a key there came, not from the ships but from close overhead under a blackening sky, one last, hideous roar and ear-splitting howl.  The beautiful treasure-laden home heaved, quivered, lurched and settled again, the women shrieked and crouched or fell prone with covered heads, and a huge shell, sent by some pain-crazed fugitive from a gun across the river, and which had entered at the roof, exploded in the basement with a harrowing peal and filled every corner of the dwelling with blinding smoke and stifling dust.

Constance and Miranda met Anna groping and staggering out of the chaos.  Unharmed, herself, and no one badly hurt?  Ah, hear the sudden wail of that battery boy as he finds his one-armed brother!  Anna kneels with him over the writhing form while women fly for the surgeon, and men, at her cry, hasten to improvise a litter.  No idle song haunts her now, yet a clamoring whisper times itself with every pulsation of her bosom:  “The letter? the letter?”

Pity kept it from her lips, even from her weeping eyes; yet somehow the fallen boy heard, but when he tried to answer she hushed him.  “Oh, never mind that,” she said, wiping away the sweat of his agony, “it isn’t important at all.”

“Dropped it,” he gasped, and had dropped it where the shell had buried it forever.

Each for the other’s sake the lads rejected the hospital, with its risk of capture.  The younger had the stricken one hurried off toward the railway and a refugee mother in the hills, Constance tenderly protesting until the surgeon murmured the truth: 

“It’ll be all one to him by to-morrow.”

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Kincaid's Battery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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