Yet in the midst of the graveyard rites there broke out on the unseen lines near by, northward, an uproar of attack, and one or two shells burst in plain view, frightening the teams. The company leaped into the vehicles any way they could and started townward over a miserable road with the contest resounding on their right. As they jostled along the edge of a wood that lay between them and the firing some mishap to the front team caused all to alight, whereupon a shell, faultily timed, came tearing through the tree-tops and exploded in the remains of a fence close beyond them. Amid thunder, smoke, and brute and human terror the remounting groups whirled away and had entirely left the scene before that was asked which none could tell: Where was Anna?
Anna herself did not know, could not inquire of her own mind. With a consciousness wholly disembodied she was mainly aware of a great pain that seemed to fill all the region and atmosphere, an atmosphere charged with mysterious dim green light and full of great boomings amid a crackle of smaller ones; of shouts and cheers and of a placid quaking of myriad leaves; all of which things might be things or only divers manifestations of her undefinable self.
By and by through the pain came a dream of some one like her living in a certain heaven of comfort and beauty, peace, joy, and love named “Callender House”; but the pain persisted and the dream passed into a horrible daytime darkness that brought a sense of vast changes near and far; a sense of many having gone from that house, and of many having most forbiddenly come to it; a sense of herself spending years and years, and passing from world to world, in quest of one Hilary, Hilary Kincaid, whom all others believed to be dead or false, or both, but who would and should and must be found, and when found would be alive and hale and true; a sense of having, with companions, been all at once frightfully close to a rending of the sky, and of having tripped as she fled, of having fallen and lain in a thunderous storm of invisible hail, and of having after a time risen again and staggered on, an incalculable distance, among countless growing things, fleeing down-hill, too weak to turn up-hill, till suddenly the whole world seemed to strike hard against something that sent it reeling backward.
And now her senses began feebly to regather within truer limits and to tell her she was lying on the rooty ground of a thicket. Dimly she thought to be up and gone once more, but could get no farther than the thought although behind her closed lids glimmered a memory of deadly combat. Its din had passed, but there still sounded, just beyond this covert, fierce commands of new preparation, and hurried movements in response—a sending and bringing, dismissing, and summoning of men and things to rear or front, left or right, in a fury of supply and demand.
Ah, what! water? in her face? Her eyes opened wildly. A man was kneeling beside her. He held a canteen; an armed officer in the foe’s blue. With lips parting to cry out she strove to rise and fly, but his silent beseechings showed him too badly hurt below the knees to offer aid or hindrance, and as she gained her feet she let him plead with stifled eagerness for her succor from risks of a captivity which, in starving Vicksburg and in such plight, would be death.