They, of course, had not built it. The late Judge had acquired it from the descendants of a planter of indigo and coffee who in the oldest Creole days had here made his home and lived his life as thoroughly in the ancient baronial spirit as if the Mississippi had been the mediaeval Rhine. Only its perfect repair was the Judge’s touch, a touch so modestly true as to give it a charm of age and story which the youth and beauty of the Callender ladies only enhanced, enhancing it the more through their lack of a male protector—because of which they were always going to move into town, but never moved.
Here, some nine or ten days after Greenleaf’s flight, Hilary Kincaid, in uniform at last, was one of two evening visitors, the other being Mandeville. In the meantime our lover of nonsense had received a “hard jolt.” So he admitted in a letter to his friend, boasting, however, that it was unattended by any “internal injury.” In the circuit of a single week, happening to be thrown daily and busily into “her” society, “the harpoon had struck.”
He chose the phrase as an honest yet delicate reminder of the compact made when last the two chums had ridden together.
All three of the Callenders were in the evening group, and the five talked about an illumination of the city, set for the following night. In the business centre the front of every building was already being hung with fittings from sidewalk to cornice. So was to be celebrated the glorious fact (Constance and Mandeville’s adjective) that in the previous month Louisiana had seized all the forts and lighthouses in her borders and withdrawn from the federal union by a solemn ordinance signed in tears. This great lighting up, said Hilary, was to be the smile of fortitude after the tears. Over the city hall now floated daily the new flag of the state, with the colors of its stripes—
“Reverted to those of old Spain,” murmured Anna, mainly to herself yet somewhat to Hilary. Judge Callender had died a Whig, and politics interested the merest girls those days.
Even at the piano, where Anna played and Hilary hovered, in pauses between this of Mozart and that of Mendelssohn, there was much for her to ask and him to tell about; for instance, the new “Confederate States,” a bare fortnight old! Would Virginia come into them? Eventually, yes.
“Oh, yes, yes, yes!” cried Constance, overhearing. (Whatever did not begin with oh, those times, began with ah.)
“And must war follow?” The question was Anna’s again, and Hilary sat down closer to answer confidentially:
“Yes, the war was already a fact.”
“And might not the Abolitionists send their ships and soldiers against New Orleans?”
“Yes, the case was supposable.”
“And might not Jackson’s battlefield of 1815, in close view from these windows, become a new one?”