“They can dance the figure, General.”
“Take them in.”
Bartleson, watching, had mounted drivers and cannoneers before Kincaid could spur near enough to call, “Column, forward!” and turn again toward the General and the uproar beyond. The column had barely stretched out when, looking back on it as he quickened pace, Hilary’s cry was, “Battery, trot, march!” So the six guns had come by the general: first Hilary, sword out, pistols in belt; then his adjutant; then bugler and guidon, and then Bartleson and the boys; horses striding out—ah, there were the Callenders’ own span!—whips cracking, carriages thumping and rumbling, guns powder-blackened and brown, their wheels, trails, and limbers chipped and bitten, and their own bronze pock-pitted by the flying iron and lead of other fights, and the heroes in saddle and on chests—with faces as war-worn as the wood and metal and brute life under them—cheering as they passed. Six clouds of dust in one was all the limping straggler had seen when he called his glad warning, for a tall hedge lined half the cross-road up which the whirlwind came; but a hundred yards or so short of the main way the whole battery, still shunning the field because of spongy ground, swept into full view at a furious gallop. Yet only as a single mass was it observed, and despite all its thunder of wheels was seen only, not heard. Around the Callenders was a blindfold of dust and vehicles, of shouting and smoke, and out in the field the roar of musketry and howling and bursting of shell. Even Flora, in her ambulance close beyond both roads, watching for the return of a galloping messenger and seeing Hilary swing round into the highway, low bent over his charger at full run, knew him only as he vanished down it hidden by the tempest of hoofs, wheels, and bronze that whirled after him.
At Anna’s side among the rearing, trembling teams a mounted officer, a surgeon, Flora’s messenger, was commanding and imploring her to follow Constance and Miranda into the wagon which had wrecked their conveyance. And so, alas! all but trampling her down, yet unseeing and unseen though with her in every leap of his heart, he who despite her own prayers was more to her than a country’s cause or a city’s deliverance flashed by, while in the dust and thunder of the human avalanche that followed she stood asking whose battery was this and with drowned voice crying, as she stared spell-bound, “Oh, God! is it only Bartleson’s? Oh, God of mercy! where is Hilary Kincaid?” A storm of shell burst directly overhead. Men and beasts in the whirling battery, and men and beasts close about her wailed, groaned, fell. Anna was tossed into the wagon, the plunging guns, dragging their stricken horses, swept out across the field, the riot of teams, many with traces cut, whipped madly away, and still, thrown about furiously in the flying wagon, she gazed from her knees and mutely prayed, but saw no Hilary because while she looked for a rider his horse lay fallen.