“Why, you po’ city child’en!” laughed two sweet unprotected women. “Let these girls bresh you off. You sho’ly got the hafe o’ Hinds County on you ... Pemberton’s men? Law, no; they wuz on Big Black but they right out here, now, on Champion’s Hill, in sight f’om our gin-house ... Brodnax’ bri’—now, how funny! We jess heard o’ them about a’ hour ago, f’om a bran’ new critter company name’ Ferry’s Scouts. Why, Ferry’s f’om yo’ city! Wish you could ‘a’ seen him—oh, all of ’em, they was that slick! But, oh, slick aw shabby, when our men ah fine they ah fine, now, ain’t they! There was a man ridin’ with him—dressed diff’ent—he wuz the batteredest-lookin’, gayest, grandest—he might ‘a’ been a gen’al! when in fact he was only a majo’, an’ it was him we heard say that Brodnax was some’uz on the south side o’ the railroad and couldn’t come up befo’ night ... What, us? no, we on the nawth side. You didn’t notice when you recrossed the track back yondeh? Well, you must ‘a’ been ti-ud!”
Anna dropped a fervid word to Miranda that set their hostesses agape. “Now, good Lawd, child, ain’t you in hahdship and dangeh enough? Not one o’ you ain’t goin’ one step fu’ther this day. Do you want to git shot? Grant’s men are a-marchin’ into Bolton’s Depot right now. Why, honey, you might as well go huntin’ a needle in a haystack as to go lookin’ fo’ Brodnax’s brigade to-night. Gen’al Pemberton himself—why, he’d jest send you to his rear, and that’s Vicksburg, where they a-bein’ shelled by the boats day and night, and the women and child’en a-livin’ in caves. You don’t want to go there?”
“We don’t know,” drolly replied Anna.
“Well, you stay hyuh. That’s what that majo’ told us. Says ’e, ’Ladies, we got to fight a battle here to-morrow, but yo’-all’s quickest way out of it’ll be to stay right hyuh. There’ll be no place like home to-morrow, not even this place,’ says ‘e, with a sort o’ twinkle that made us laugh without seein’ anything to laugh at!”
GATES OF HELL AND GLORY
The next sun rose fair over the green, rolling, open land, rich in half-grown crops of cotton and corn between fence-rows of persimmon and sassafras. Before it was high the eager Callenders were out on a main road. Their Mobile boy had left them and given the reins to an old man, a disabled and paroled soldier bound homeward into Vicksburg. Delays plagued them on every turn. At a cross-road they were compelled to wait for a large body of infantry, followed by its ordnance wagons, to sweep across their path with the long, swift stride of men who had marched for two years and which changed to a double-quick as they went over a hill-top. Or next they had to draw wildly aside into the zigzags of a worm-fence for a column of galloping cavalry and shroud their heads from its stifling dust while their driver hung to his mules’ heads by the bits. More than