Out in the bay the fleet, about to anchor, turned and awaited the new onset. By the time it was at hand the Mobile gunboats, one burning, one fled, one captured, counted for nothing, yet on crept the Tennessee, still singling out the Hartford, and here the two Callenders, their boat hovering as near Powell and Gaines as it dared, looked on the titanic melee that fell round her. Like hounds and hunters on a bear robbed of her whelps, seventeen to one, they set upon her so thickly that their trouble was not to destroy one another. Near the beginning one cut her own flag-ship almost to the water-line. The first that smote the quarry—at ten knots speed—glanced and her broadside rolled harmless into the bay, while two guns of her monster adversary let daylight through and through the wooden ship. From the turret of a close-creeping monitor came the four-hundred-and-forty-pound bolt of her fifteen-inch gun, crushing the lone foe terribly yet not quite piercing through. Another wooden ship charged, hit squarely a tearing blow, yet slid off, lay for a moment touching sides with the ironclad, while they lacerated each other like lion and tiger, and then dropped away. The hunted Hartford gave a staggering thrust and futile broadside.
So for an hour went the fight; ships charging, the Tennessee crawling ever after her one picked antagonist, the monitors’ awful guns forever pounding her iron back and sides. But at length her mail began to yield, her best guns went silent, her smokestack was down, her steering-chains were gone, Buchanan lay heavily wounded. Of Farragut’s twenty-seven hundred men more than a seventh had fallen, victims mainly of the bear and her cubs, yet there she weltered, helpless. From her grim disjointed casemate her valorous captain let down the Southern cross, the white flag rose, and instantly, everywhere, God’s thunder and man’s alike ceased, and the merciful heavens smiled white and blue again. But their smile was on the flag of the Union, and mutely standing in each other’s embrace, with hearts as nearly right as they could know, Anna and Miranda gazed on the victorious stars-and-stripes and wept.
What caused Anna to start and glance behind she did not know; but doing so she stared an instant breathless and then, as she clutched Miranda for support, moaned to the tall, wasted, sadly smiling, crutched figure that moved closer—
“Oh, Hilary! Are you Hilary Kincaid?”
GAINS AND LOSSES
It looks strange written and printed, but she did not see how to hold off when he made it so tenderly manful a matter of course after his frank hand-shake with Miranda, and when there seemed so little time for words.
An ambulance drawn by the Callenders’ horses had brought him and two or three others down the West Side. A sail-boat had conveyed them from the nearest beach. Here it was, now, in tow beside the steamboat as she gathered headway toward Fort Powell. He was not so weak or broken but he could point rapidly about with his crutches, the old light of command in his eyes, while with recognized authority he spoke to the boat’s master and these companions.