Flora replied from a mirror with her back turned: “I’ll thing ab-out it. And maybee—yes! Ezpecially if you would do uz that one favor, lazd thing when you are going to bed the night we are married. Yez, if you would—ahem!—juz’ blow yo’ gas without turning it?”
That evening, when the accepted Irby, more nearly happy than ever before in his life, said good-night to his love they did not kiss. At the first stir of proffer Flora drew back with a shudder that reddened his brow. But when he demanded, “Why not?” her radiant shake of the head was purely bewitching as she replied, “No, I haven’ fall’ that low yet.”
When after a day or so he pressed for immediate marriage and was coyly referred to Madame, the old lady affectionately—though reluctantly—consented. With a condition: If the North should win the war his inheritance would be “confiz-cate’” and there would be nothing to begin life on but the poor child’s burned down home behind Mobile, unless, for mutual protection, nothing else,—except “one dollar and other valuable considerations,”—he should preconvey the Brodnax estate to the poor child, who, at least, had never been “foun’ out” to have done anything to subject property of hers to confiscation.
This transfer Irby, with silent reservations, quietly executed, and the day, hour and place, the cathedral, were named. A keen social flutter ensued and presently the wedding came off—stop! That is not all. Instantly upon the close of the ceremony the bride had to be more lifted than led to her carriage and so to her room and couch, whence she sent loving messages to the bridegroom that she would surely be well enough to see him next day. But he had no such fortune, and here claims record a fact even more wonderful than Anna’s presentiment as to Hilary that morning in Mobile Bay. The day after his wedding Irby found his parole revoked and himself, with others, back in prison and invited to take the oath and go free—stand up in the war-worn gray and forswear it—or stay where they were to the war’s end. Every man of them took it—when the war was over; but until then? not one. Not even the bridegroom robbed of his bride. Every week or so she came and saw him, among his fellows, and bade him hold out! stand fast! It roused their great admiration, but not their wonder. The wonder was in a fact of which they knew nothing: That the night before her marriage Flora had specifically, minutely prophesied this whole matter to her grandmother, whose only response was that same marveling note of nearly four years earlier—
“You are a genius!”
SOLDIERS OF PEACE
In March, ’Sixty-five, the Confederacy lay dying. While yet in Virginia and the Carolinas, at Mobile and elsewhere her armies daily, nightly strove on, bled on, a stricken quiet and great languor had come over her, a quiet with which the quiet ending of this tale is only in reverent keeping.