So throughout that year Anna had been to Greenleaf the veiled widow of his lost friend, not often or long, and never blithely met; loved more ardently than ever, more reverently; his devotion holding itself in a fancied concealment transparent to all; he defending and befriending her, yet only as he could without her knowledge, and incurring-a certain stigma from his associates and superiors, if not an actual distrust. A whole history of itself would be the daily, nightly, monthly war of passions between him, her, Flora, and those around them, but time flies.
One day Greenleaf, returning from a week-long circuit of outposts, found awaiting him a letter bearing Northern imprints of mailing and forwarding, from Hilary Kincaid, written long before in prison and telling another whole history, of a kind so common in war that we have already gone by it; a story of being left for dead in the long stupor of a brain hurt; of a hairbreadth escape from living burial; of weeks in hospital unidentified, all sense of identity lost; and of a daring feat of surgery, with swift mental, not so swift bodily, recovery. Inside the letter was one to Anna. But Anna was gone. Two days earlier, without warning, the Callenders—as much to Flora’s affright as to their relief, and “as much for Fred’s good as for anything,” said his obdurate general when Flora in feigned pity pleaded for their stay—had been deported into the Confederacy.
“Let me carry it to her,” cried Flora to Greenleaf, rapturously clasping the letter and smiling heroically. “We can overtague them, me and my gran’mama! And then, thanks be to God! my brother we can bring him back! Maybe also—ah! maybee! I can obtain yo’ generals some uzeful news!”
After some delay the pair were allowed to go. At the nearest gray outpost, in a sudden shower of the first true news for a week—the Mississippi crossed, Grant victorious at Port Gibson and joined by Sherman at Grand Gulf—Flora learned, to her further joy, that the Callenders, misled by report that Brodnax’s brigade was at Mobile, had gone eastward, as straight away from Brodnax and the battery as Gulf-shore roads could take them, across a hundred-mile stretch of townless pine-barrens with neither railway nor telegraph.