SAME STORY SLIGHTLY WARPED
Not literally. That evening, yes, an end of it, but not the very next four, did Kincaid spend with Anna. It merely looked so to Flora Valcour.
Even on that first day, after his too prompt forenoon gallop from Callender House to the Valcour apartment had, of course, only insured his finding Flora not at home, all its evening except the very end was passed with her, Flora, in her open balcony overlooking the old Place d’Armes. His head ringing with a swarm of things still to be done and ordered done, he had purposed to remain only long enough to tell his dire news manfully, accept without insistent debate whatever odium it might entail, and decently leave its gentle recipients to their grief and dismay. What steps they should take to secure compensation it were far better they should discuss with Adolphe, who would be here to aid them when he, Kincaid, would be in far Virginia. The only other imperative matter was that of the young schoolma’am’s gold, which must be left in bank. Awkward business, to have to ask for it in scrambling haste at such a moment.
But on a starlit balcony with two such ladies as the Valcours, to do one’s errands, such errands, in scrambling haste proved not even a military possibility. Their greeting inquiries had to be answered:
“Yes, Charlie was well. He would be along soon, with fresh messages from division headquarters. The battery was at last—Pardon?... Yes, the Callenders were well—he supposed! He had seen only Miss Anna, and her only for so brief an instant—”
No, Madame Valcour had merely cleared her throat. “That climate is hard on those throat’.”
He had seen Miss Anna, he resumed, “for so brief an instant—on an errand—that he had not made civil inquiry after the others, but had left good-by for them about as a news-carrier wads and throws in the morning paper!”
It was so pretty, the silvery way the questioning pair laughed to each other—at his simile, if that was the genuine source of their amusement—that he let himself laugh with them.
“But how?” they further asked. “He had left good-by? Good-day, yes! But for what good-by when juz’ returning?”
“Ah, because here to them, also, it must be good-by, and be as brief as there! The battery—he had sent word to them at sunrise, but had just learned that his messenger had missed them—the battery was at last ordered”—etc.
“Mon Dieu!” gasped the old lady as if this was too cruelly sudden, and, “Oh, my brother! Oh, Captain Kincaid!” beautifully sighed Flora, from whom the grandmother had heard the news hours before.
Yet, “Of course any time ’twould have to be sudden,” they had presently so recovered as to say, and Flora, for both, spoke on in accents of loveliest renunciation. She easily got the promise she craved, that no ill should come to Charlie which a commander’s care could avert.