“Adolphe has habits,” he meditated, “but success is not one of them.”
Up and down a perpendicular procession on the page he every now and then mentally returned the salute of the one little musketeer of the same height as the steamboat’s chimneys, whether the Attention he challenged was that of the Continentals, the Louisiana Grays, Orleans Cadets, Crescent Blues or some other body of blithe invincibles. Yet his thought was still of Anna. When Adolphe, last year, had courted her, and the hopeful uncle had tried non-intervention, she had declined him—“and oh, how wisely!” For then back to his native city came Kincaid after years away at a Northern military school and one year across the ocean, and the moment the uncle saw him he was glad Adolphe had failed. But now if she was going to find Hilary as light-headed and cloying as Adolphe was thick-headed and sour, or if she must see Hilary go soft on the slim Mobile girl—whom Adolphe was already so torpidly enamored of—“H-m-m-m!”
Two young men who had tied their horses behind the hotel crossed the white court toward the garden. They also were in civil dress, yet wore an air that goes only with military training. The taller was Hilary Kincaid, the other his old-time, Northern-born-and-bred school chum, Fred Greenleaf. Kincaid, coming home, had found him in New Orleans, on duty at Jackson Barracks, and for some weeks they had enjoyed cronying. Now they had been a day or two apart and had chanced to meet again at this spot. Kincaid, it seems, had been looking at a point hard by with a view to its fortification. Their manner was frankly masterful though they spoke in guarded tones.
“No,” said Kincaid, “you come with me to this drill. Nobody’ll take offence.”
“Nor will you ever teach your cousin to handle a battery,” replied Greenleaf, with a sedate smile.
“Well, he knows things we’ll never learn. Come with me, Fred, else I can’t see you till theatre’s out—if I go there with her—and you say—”
“Yes, I want you to go with her,” murmured Greenleaf, so solemnly that Kincaid laughed outright.
“But, after the show, of course,” said the laugher, “you and I’ll ride, eh?” and then warily, “You’ve taken your initials off all your stuff?... Yes, and Jerry’s got your ticket. He’ll go down with your things, check them all and start off on the ticket himself. Then, as soon as you—”
“But will they allow a slave to do so?”
“With my pass, yes; ‘Let my black man, Jerry—’”
The garden took the pair into its depths a moment too soon for the old soldier to see them as he came out upon the side veranda with a cloud on his brow that showed he had heard his nephew’s laugh.
Bareheaded the uncle crossed the fountained court, sat down at a table and read again. In the veranda a negro, his own slave, hired to this hotel, held up an elegant military cap, struck an inquiring attitude, and called softly, “Gen’al?”