“No, no!” he called as she moved away, and again, with a darkening brow, “no, no!”
But, “Yes, yes,” she brightly insisted as she rejoined Miranda. “Yes!”
For the horses’ sake the ladies went that afternoon only to “Frascati,” lower limit of the Shell Road, where, in a small hour of the night Anna heard the sudden boom and long rumble that told the end of Fort Powell and salvation of its garrison.
That Gaines held out a few days, Morgan a few weeks, are heroic facts of history, which, with a much too academic shrug, it calls “magnifique, mais—!” Their splendid armament and all their priceless men fell into their besiegers’ hands. Irby, haughtily declining the strictly formal courtesies of Fred Greenleaf, went to prison in New Orleans. What a New Orleans! The mailed clutch on her throat (to speak as she felt) had grown less ferocious, but everywhere the Unionist civilian—the once brow-beaten and still loathed “Northern sympathizer,” with grudges to pay and losses to recoup and re-recoup—was in petty authority. Confiscation was swallowing up not industrial and commercial properties merely, but private homes; espionage peeped round every street corner and into every back window, and “A. Ward’s” ante-bellum jest, that “a white man was as good as a nigger as long as he behaved himself,” was a jest no more. Miss Flora Valcour, that ever faithful and daring Southerner, was believed by all the city’s socially best to be living—barely living—under “the infamous Greenleaf’s” year-long threat of Ship Island for having helped Anna Callender to escape to Mobile. Hence her haunted look and pathetic loss of bloom. Now, however, with him away and with General Canby ruling in place of Banks, she and her dear fragile old grandmother could breathe a little.
They breathed much. We need not repeat that the younger was a gifted borrower. She did other things equally well; resumed a sagacious activity, a two-sided tact, and got Irby paroled. On the anniversary of the day Hilary had played brick-mason a city paper (Unionist) joyfully proclaimed the long-delayed confiscation of Kincaid’s Foundry and of Callender House, and announced that “the infamous Kincaid” himself had been stripped of his commission by a “rebel” court-martial. Irby promptly brought the sheet to the Valcours’ lodgings, but Flora was out. When she came in, before she could lay off her pretty hat:—
“You’ve heard it!” cried the excited grandam. “But why so dead-alive? Once more the luck is yours! Play your knave! play Irby! He’s just been here! He will return! He will propose this evening if you allow him! Let him do it! Let him! Mobile may fall any day! If you dilly-dally till those accursed Callenders get back, asking, for instance, for their—ha, ha!—their totally evaporated chest of plate—gr-r-r! Take him! He has just shown me his uncle’s will—as he calls it: a staring forgery, but you, h-you won’t mind that, and the ‘ladies’ man’—ah, the ‘ladies’ man,’ once you are his cousin, he’ll never let on. Take Irby! he is, as you say, a nincompoop”—she had dropped into English—“and seldom sober, mais take him! ‘t is the las’ call of the auctioneer, yo’ fav-oreet auctioneer—with the pointed ears and the forked black tail.”