It came. As if all its millions of big drops raced for one prize the deluge fell on city, harbor, and fleet and on the woe-smitten land from horizon to horizon, while in the same moment the line of battle dropped anchor in mid-stream. With a swirling mist wetting her fair head she waved in dainty welcome Irby’s letter and then pressed it to her lips; not for his sake—hah!—but for his rueful word, that once more his loathed cousin, Anna’s Hilary! was riding at the head of Kincaid’s Battery.
SAME APRIL DAY TWICE
Black was that Friday for the daughters of Dixie. Farragut demanded surrender, Lovell declined. The mayor, the council, the Committee of Public Safety declined.
On Saturday the two sides parleyed while Lovell withdrew his forces. On Sunday the Foreign Legion preserved order of a sort highly displeasing to “a plain sailor,” as Farragut, on the Hartford, called himself, and to all the plain sailors of his fleet—who by that time may have been hard to please. On Monday the “plain sailor” bade the mayor, who had once been a plain stevedore, remove the city’s women and children within forty-eight hours. But on Tuesday, in wiser mood, he sent his own blue-jackets, cutlasses, muskets and hand-dragged howitzers, lowered the red-and-yellow-striped flag of one star and on mint and custom-house ran up the stars and stripes. Constance and Miranda, from their distant roof, saw the emblem soar to the breeze, and persuaded Anna to an act which cost her as many hours as it need have taken minutes—the destruction of the diary. That was on the twenty-ninth of April.
Let us not get dates confused. “On the twenty-ninth of April,” says Grant, “the troops were at Hard Times (Arkansas), and the fleet (another fleet), under Admiral Porter, made an attack upon Grand Gulf (Mississippi), while I reconnoitered.” But that twenty-ninth was a year later, when New Orleans for three hundred and sixty-five separate soul-torturing days had been sitting in the twilight of her captivity, often writhing and raving in it, starved to madness for news of Lee’s and Stonewall’s victories and of her boys, her ragged, gaunt, superb, bleeding, dying, on-pressing boys, and getting only such dubious crumbs of rumor as could be smuggled in, or such tainted bad news as her captors delighted to offer her through the bars of a confiscated press. No? did the treatment she was getting merely—as Irby, with much truth, on that twenty-ninth remarked in a group about a headquarters camp-fire near Grand Gulf—did it merely seem so bad to poor New Orleans?