Yet something must be done. The fugitive must be retaken and retained, the rival deported, and, oh, Hilary Kincaid! as she recalled her last moment with you on that firing-line behind Vicksburg, shame and rage outgrew despair, and her heart beat hot in a passion of chagrin and then hotter, heart and brain, in a frenzy of ownership, as if by spending herself she had bought you, soul and body, and if only for self-vindication would have you from all the universe.
“The last wager and the last card,” she smilingly remarked to her kinswoman, “they sometimes win out,” and as the smile passed added, “I wish I had that bread-knife.”
To Doctor Sevier her cry was, “Oh, yes, yes! Dear Anna! Poor Anna! Yes, before I have to see any one else, even Colonel Greenleave! Ah, please, Doctor, beg him he’ll do me that prizelezz favor, and that for the good God’s sake he’ll keep uz, poor Anna and me, not long waiting!”
Yet long were the Valcours kept. It was the common fate those days. But Flora felt no title to the common fate, and while the bustle of the place went on about them she hiddenly suffered and, mainly for the torment it would give her avaricious companion, told a new reason for the look in her eyes. Only a few nights before she had started wildly out of sleep to find that she had dreamed the cause of Anna’s irreconcilable distress for the loss of the old dagger. The dream was true on its face, a belated perception awakened by bitterness of soul, and Madame, as she sat dumbly marvelling at its tardiness, chafed the more against each minute’s present delay, seeing that now to know if Kincaid, or if Anna, held the treasure was her liveliest hankering.
Meantime the captive Anna was less debarred than they. As Greenleaf and the Doctor, withdrawing, shut her door, and until their steps died away, she had stood by her table, her wide thought burning to know the whereabouts, doings, and plight of him, once more missing, with whom a scant year-and-a-half earlier—if any war-time can be called scant—she had stood on that very spot and sworn the vows of marriage: to know his hazards now, right now! with man; police, informer, patrol, picket, scout; and with nature; the deadly reptiles, insects, and maladies of thicketed swamp and sun-beaten, tide-swept marsh; and how far he had got on the splendid mission which her note, with its words of love and faith and of patriotic abnegation, had laid upon him.
Now eagerly she took her first quick survey of the room she knew so well. Her preoccupied maid was childishly questioning the busy Israel as he and the man out on the basement ladder removed bricks from the edges of the ragged opening between them.