* * * * *
“But really, Nan, you know,” said Constance that evening in their home, “you used to believe that yourself! The day Steve left you said almost exact—”
“Con—? Ah, Con! I think the sister who could remind a sister of that—!” The sufferer went slowly up to her room, where half an hour later she was found by Miranda drying her bathed eyes at a mirror and instantly pretending that her care was for any other part of her face instead.
“Singular,” she remarked, “what a dust that battery can raise!”
“HE MUST WAIT,” SAYS ANNA
About the middle of the first week in April—when the men left in the stores of Common, Gravier, Poydras, or Tchoupitoulas street could do nothing but buy the same goods back and forth in speculation; loathed by all who did not do it, or whittle their chairs on the shedded sidewalks and swap and swallow flaming rumors and imprecate the universal inaction and mis-management—there embarked for Pensacola—
“What? Kincaid’s Bat—?”
“No-o, the Zouaves! Infantry! when the one only sane thing to do,” cried every cannoneer of Camp Callender—in its white lanes or on three-hours’ leave at home on Bayou Road or Coliseum Square or Elysian Fields or Prytania street—“the one sane thing to do,” insisted the growingly profane lads to their elders, and assented the secretly pained elders to them, “the one thing that, if only for shame’s sake, ought to have been done long ago, was to knock Fort Pickens to HELL with SHELL!” Sadly often they added the tritest three-monosyllabled expletive known to red-hot English.
Charlie—mm-mm! how he could rip it out! Sam Gibbs, our veritable Sam, sergeant of the boy’s gun, “Roaring Betsy,” privately remarked to the Captain what a blank-blank shame it was, not for its trivial self, of course, but in view of the corruptions to which it opened the way. And the blithe commander, in the seclusion of his tent, standing over the lad and holding him tenderly by both pretty ears, preached to him of his sister and grandmother until with mute rage the youngster burned as red as his jacket facings; and then of the Callenders—“who gave us our guns, and one of whom is the godmother of our flag, Charlie”—until the tears filled Charlie’s eyes, and he said:
“I’ll try, Captain, but it’s—oh, it’s no use! If anything could make me swear worse”—he smiled despairingly—“it would be the hope of being hauled up again for another talk like this!”
One Sunday, three days after the going of the Zouaves, while out in Jackson Square “Roaring Betsy” sang a solo of harrowing thunder-claps, the Callenders and Valcours, under the cathedral’s roof, saw consecrated in its sacred nave the splendid standard of the Chasseurs-a-Pied.