De squir’l he love’ de hick’ry
De clover love’ de bummle-bee,
De flies, dey loves mullasses, an’—
De ladies loves de ladies’ man.
I loves to be de beau o’ de ladies!
I loves to shake a toe wid de ladies!
Whilse eveh I’m alive, on wateh aw Ian’,
I’s bound to be a ladies’ man.
The General, seeing no reason why Hilary should not pay Anna at least the attentions he very properly paid his “file leader,” endured the song with a smile, but took revenge when he toasted the bride:
“In your prayers to-night, my dear Constance, just thank God your husband is, at any rate, without the sense of humor—Stop, my friends! Let me finish!”
A storm of laughter was falling upon Mandeville, but the stubborn General succeeded after all in diverting it to Hilary, to whom in solemn mirth he pointed as—“that flirtatious devotee of giddiness, without a fault big enough to make him interesting!” ["Hoh!”—“Hoh!”—from men and maidens who could easily have named huge ones.] Silent Anna knew at least two or three; was it not a fault a hundred times too grave to be uninteresting, for a big artillerist to take a little frightened lassie as cruelly at her word as he was doing right here and now?
Interesting to her it was that his levity still remained unsubmerged, failing him only in a final instant: Their hands had clasped in leave-taking and her eyes were lifted to his, when some plea with which “the entire man” seemed overcharged to the very lips was suddenly, subtly, and not this time by disconcertion, but by self-mastery, withheld. Irby put in a stiff good-by, and as he withdrew, Hilary echoed only the same threadbare word more brightly, and was gone; saying to himself as he looked back from the garden’s outmost bound:
“She’s cold; that’s what’s the matter with Anna; cold and cruel!”
Tedious was the month of March. Mandeville devise’ himself a splandid joke on that, to the effect that soon enough there would be months of tedieuse marches—ha, ha, ha!—and contribute’ it to the news-pape’. Yet the tedium persisted. Always something about to occur, nothing ever occurring. Another vast parade, it is true, some two days after the marriage, to welcome from Texas that aged general (friend of the Callenders) who after long suspense to both sides had at last joined the South, and was to take command at New Orleans. Also, consequent upon the bursting of a gun that day in Kincaid’s Battery, the funeral procession of poor, handsome, devil-may-care Felix de Gruy; saxhorns moaning and wailing, drums muttering from their muffled heads, Anna’s ensign furled in black, captain and lieutenants on foot, brows inclined, sabres reversed, and the “Stars and Bars,” new flag of the Confederacy, draping the slow caisson that bore him past the Callenders’ gates in majesty so strange for the gay boy.
Such happenings, of course; but nothing that ever brought those things for which one, wakening in the night, lay and prayed while forced by the songster’s rapture to “listen to the mocking-bird.”