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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 307 pages of information about Kincaid's Battery.
year, was here at hand, an ever-ministering angel to them and to their hero; yet they never included him and Flora in one thought together but to banish it, though with tender reverence.  Behind a labored disguise of inattention they jealously watched lest the faintest blight or languor should mar, in him, the perfect bloom of that invincible faith to, and faith in, the faithless Anna, which alone could satisfy their worship of him.  Care for these watchers brought the two much together, and in every private moment they talked of the third one; Flora still fine in the role of Anna’s devotee and Hilary’s “pilot,” rich in long-thought-out fabrications, but giving forth only what was wrung from her and parting with each word as if it cost her a pang.  Starving and sickening, fighting and falling, the haggard boys watched; yet so faultless was the maiden’s art that when in a fury of affright at the risks of time she one day forced their commander to see her heart’s starvation for him the battery saw nothing, and even to him she yet appeared faultless in modesty and utterly, marvelously, splendidly ignorant of what she had done.

“Guide right!” he mused alone.  “At last, H.K., your nickname’s got a meaning worth living up to!”

While he mused, Flora, enraged both for him and against him, and with the rage burning in her eye and on her brow, stood before her seated grandmother, mutely giving gaze for gaze until the elder knew.

The old woman resumed her needle.  “And all you have for it,” was the first word, “is his pity, eh?”

“Wait!” murmured the girl.  “I will win yet, if I have to lose—­”

“Yes?” skeptically simpered the grandam, “—­have to lose yourself to do it?”

The two gazed again until the maiden quietly nodded and her senior sprang half up: 

“No, no! ah, no-no-no!  There’s a crime awaiting you, but not that!  Oh, no, you are no such fool!”

“No?” The girl came near, bent low and with dancing eyes said, “I’ll be fool enough to lead him on till his sense of honor—­”

“Sense of—­oh, ho, ho!”

“Sense of his honor and mine—­will make him my prisoner.  Or else—!” The speaker’s eyes burned.  Her bosom rose and fell.

“Yes,” said the seated one—­to her needle—­“or else his sense that Charlie—­My God! don’t pinch my ear off!”

“Happy thought,” laughed Flora, letting go, “but a very poor guess.”

LIX

IN A LABYRINTH

For ladies’ funerals, we say, mortars and siege-guns, as a rule, do not pause.  But here at Vicksburg there was an hour near the end of each day when the foe, for some mercy to themselves, ceased to bombard, and in one of these respites that procession ventured forth in which rode the fevered Anna:  a farm wagon, a battered family coach, a carryall or two.

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