“Thy gentle voice my spirit can
Thou art the star—”
What could the balconies do but wave more joyously than ever? The streets hurrahed! The head of the procession was here! The lone horseman reined back, wheeled, cast another vain glance toward Anna, and with an alarming rataplan of slipping and recovering hoofs sped down the column.
But what new rapture was this? Some glorious luck had altered the route, and the whole business swung right into this old rue Royale! Now, now the merry clamor and rush of the crowd righting itself! And behold! this blazing staff and its commanding general—general of division! He first, and then all they, bowed to Flora and her grandmother, bowed to the Callenders, and were bowed to in return. A mounted escort followed. And now—yea, verily! General Brodnax and his staff of brigade! Wave, Valcours, wave Callenders! Irby’s bow to Flora was majestic, and hers to him as gracious as the smell of flowers in the air. And here was Mandeville, most glittering in all the glitter. Flora beamed on him as well, Anna bowed with a gay fondness, Miranda’s dainty nose crimped itself, and Constance, with a blitheness even more vivid, wished all these balconies could know that Captain—he was Lieutenant, but that was away back last week—Captain Etienne Aristide Rofignac de Mandeville was hers, whom, after their marriage, now so near at hand, she was going always to call Steve!
Two overflowing brigades! In the van came red-capped artillery. Not the new battery, though happily known to Flora and the Callenders; the Washington Artillery. Illustrious command! platoons and platoons of the flower of the Crescent City’s youth and worth! They, too, that day received their battle-flag. They have the shot-torn rags of it yet.
Ah, the clanging horns again, and oh, the thundering drums! Another uniform, on a mass of infantry, another band at its head braying another lover’s song reduced to a military tramp, swing, and clangor—
“I’d offer thee this hand
If I could love thee less—”
Every soldier seemed to have become a swain. Hilary and Anna had lately sung this wail together, but not to its end, she had called it “so ungenuine.” How rakishly now it came ripping out. “My fortune is too hard for thee,” it declared, “’twould chill thy dearest joy. I’d rather weep to see thee free,” and ended with “destroy”; but it had the swagger of a bowling-alley.