“Adolphe, of course, goes with him.”
“Yet you think—the great principle of so-much-for-so-much to the contrary notwithstanding—he really owes it to her to—”
Anna moved a step forward. She was thinking what a sweet babe she was, thus to accept the surface of things. How did she know that this laughing, light-spoken gallant, seemingly so open and artless—oh! more infantile than her very self!—was not deep and complex? Or that it was not he and Flora on whose case she was being lured to speculate? The boat, of whose large breathings and pulsings she became growingly aware, offered no reply. Presently from the right shore, off before them, came a strain of band music out of Camp Callender.
“What hosts of stars!” said she. “How hoveringly they follow us.”
The lover waited. The ship seemed to breathe deeper—to glide faster. He spoke again: “May I tell you a secret?”
“Doesn’t the boat appear to you to tremble more than ever?” was the sole response.
“Yes, she’s running up-stream. So am I. Anna, we’re off this time—sure shot—with the General—to Virginia. The boys don’t know it yet, but—listen.”
Over in the unseen camp the strain was once more—
“I’d offer thee this hand of mine—”
“We’re turning in to be landed, are we not?” asked Anna as the stars began to wheel.
“Yes. Do you really believe, Anna, that that song is not the true word for a true lover and true soldier, like Adolphe, for instance—to say to himself, of course, not to her?”
“Oh, Captain Kincaid, what does it matter?”
“Worlds to me. Anna, if I should turn that song into a solemn avowal—to you—”
“Please don’t!—Oh, I mean—I don’t mean—I—I mean—”
“Ah, I know your meaning. But if I love you, profoundly, abidingly, consumingly—as I do, Anna Callender, as I do!—and am glad to pledge my soul to you knowing perfectly that you have nothing to confess to me—”
“Oh, don’t, Captain Kincaid, don’t! You are not fair to me. You make me appear—oh—we were speaking only of your cousin’s special case. I don’t want your confession. I’m not ready for—for anybody’s! You mustn’t make it! You—you—”
“It’s made, Anna Callender, and it makes me fair to you at last.”
“I know that matters little to you—”
“Oh, but you’re farther from fair than ever, Captain Kincaid; you got my word for one thing and have used it for another!” She turned and they tardily followed their friends, bound for the gangway. A torch-basket of pine-knots blazing under the bow covered flood and land with crimson light and inky shadows. The engines had stopped. The boat swept the shore. A single stage-plank lay thrust half out from her forward quarter. A sailor stood on its free end with a coil of small line. The crouching earthwork and its fierce guns glided toward them. Knots of idle cannoneers stood along its crest. A few came down to the water’s edge, to whom Anna and Hilary, still paired alone, were a compelling sight. They lifted their smart red caps. Charlie ventured a query: “It’s true, Captain, isn’t it, that Virginia’s out?”