“Ours?” melodiously asked the smiling girl, “they are not ours, they are mine. And they are—at the least”—she dropped to her senior’s footstool and spoke caressingly low—“a clean thousand! Is not that sweet enough music to the ear of a venerable”—she whispered—“cormorant?” She sparkled anew.
“I am sorry,” came the mild reply, “you are in such torture you have to call me names. But it is, of course, entirely concerning—the house—ahem!”
Flora rose, walked to a window, and, as she gazed out across the old plaza, said measuredly in a hard voice: “Never mind! Never mind her—or him either. I will take care of the two of them!”
A low laugh tinkled from the ancestress: “Ha, ha! you thought the fool would be scandalized, and instead he is only the more enamored.”
The girl flinched but kept her face to the window: “He is not the fool.”
“No? We can hardly tell, when we are—in love.”
Flora wheeled and flared, but caught herself, musingly crossed the room, returned half-way, and with frank design resumed the stool warily vacated by the unslippered foot; whose owner was mincing on, just enough fluttered to play defiance while shifting her attack—
“Home, sweet home! For our ravished one you will, I suppose, permit his beloved country to pay—in its new paper money at ’most any discount—and call it square, eh?” Half the bitterness of her tone was in its sweetness.
In a sudden white heat the granddaughter clutched one aged knee with both hands: “Wait! If I don’t get seven times all it was ever worth, the Yankees shall!” Then with an odd gladness in her eyes she added, “And she shall pay her share!”
“You mean—his?” asked the absorbed embroiderer. But on her last word she stiffened upward with a low cry of agony, shut her eyes and swung her head as if about to faint. Flora had risen.
“Oh-h-h!” the girl softly laughed, “was that your foot?”
With what innocent openness did we do everything in ’61! “Children and fools” could not tell the truth any faster or farther than did our newspapers—Picayune, Delta, True Delta, Crescent, L’Abeille, and L’Estafette du Sud. After every military review the exact number in line and the name of every command and commander were hurried into print. When at last we began to cast siege guns, the very first one was defiantly proclaimed to all the Confederacy’s enemies: an eight-inch Dahlgren, we would have them to know. Kincaid and his foundry were given full credit, and the defence named where the “iron monster” was to go, if not the very embrasure designated into which you must fire to dismount it.
The ladies, God bless them, were always free to pass the guard on the city side of that small camp and earthwork, where with the ladies’ guns “the ladies’ man” had worn the grass off all the plain and the zest of novelty out of all his nicknamers, daily hammering—he and his only less merciful lieutenants—at their everlasting drill.