It did. The Lieutenant hourly expecting to be ordered to the front, this wedding, like so many others, would be at the earliest day possible. “A great concession,” the lady said, turning her piquant wrinkles this time upon Mandeville. But just here the General engrossed attention. His voice had warmed sentimentally and his kindled eye was passing back and forth between Anna seated by him and Hilary close at hand in the saddle. He waved wide:
“This all-pervading haze and perfume, dew and dream,” he was saying, “is what makes this the Lalla Rookh’s land it is!” He smiled at himself and confessed that Carrollton Gardens always went to his head. “Anna, did you ever hear your mother sing—
“’There’s a bower of roses—’?”
She lighted up to say yes, but the light was all he needed to be lured on through a whole stanza, and a tender sight—Ocean silvering to brown-haired Cynthia—were the two, as he so innocently strove to recreate out of his own lost youth, for her and his nephew, this atmosphere of poetry.
“‘To sit in the roses and hear the bird’s song!’”
he suavely ended—“I used to make Hilary sing that for me when he was a boy.”
“Doesn’t he sing it yet?” asked Mrs. Callender.
“My God, madame, since I found him addicted to comic songs I’ve never asked him!”
Kincaid led the laugh and the talk became lively. Anna was merrily accused by Miranda (Mrs. Callender) of sharing the General’s abhorrence of facetious song. First she pleaded guilty and then reversed her plea with an absurd tangle of laughing provisos delightful even to herself. At the same time the General withdrew from his nephew all imputation of a frivolous mind, though the nephew avowed himself nonsensical from birth and destined to die so. It was a merry moment, so merry that Kincaid’s bare mention of Mandeville as Mandy made even the General smile and every one else laugh. The Creole, to whom any mention of himself, (whether it called for gratitude or for pistols and coffee,) was always welcome, laughed longest. If he was Mandy, he hurried to rejoin, the absent Constance “muz be Candy—ha, ha, ha!” And when Anna said Miranda should always thenceforth be Randy, and Mrs. Callender said Anna ought to be Andy, and the very General was seduced into suggesting that then Hilary would be Handy, and when every one read in every one’s eye, the old man’s included, that Brodnax would naturally be Brandy, the Creole bent and wept with mirth, counting all that fine wit exclusively his.
“But, no!” he suddenly said, “Hilary he would be Dandy, bic-ause he’s call’ the ladies’ man!”
“No, sir!” cried the General. “Hil—” He turned upon his nephew, but finding him engaged with Anna, faced round to his chum: “For Heaven’s sake, Greenleaf, does he allow—?”
“He can’t help it now,” laughed his friend, “he’s tagged it on himself by one of his songs.”
“Oh, by Jove, Hilary, it serves you right for singing them!”