The sister put out her chin and turned again to Flora. “But just now,” she said, “the main command are to wait and rest in Congo Square, and about ten o’clock they’re to be joined by all the companies of the Chasseurs that haven’t gone to Pensacola and by the whole regiment of the Orleans Guards, as an escort of honor, and march in that way to the depot, led by General Brodnax and his staff—and Steve! And every one who wants to bid them good-by must do it there. Of course there’ll be a perfect jam, and so Miranda’s ordering breakfast at seven and the carriage at eight, and Steve—he didn’t tell even me last night because—” Her words stuck in her throat, her tears glistened, she gnawed her lips. Anna laid tender hands on her.
“Why, what, Connie, dear?”
“Is Steve going with them to Virginia?”
The face of Constance went into her hands, and face and hands to Anna’s shoulder. Meditatively smiling, Flora slipped away to dress.
GOOD-BY, KINCAID’S BATTERY
At one end of a St. Charles Hotel parlor a group of natty officers stood lightly chatting while they covertly listened. At the other end, with Irby and Mandeville at his two elbows, General Brodnax conversed with Kincaid and Bartleson, the weather-faded red and gray of whose uniforms showed in odd contrast to the smartness all about them.
Now he gave their words a frowning attention, and now answered abruptly: “Humph! That looks tremendously modest in you, gentlemen,—what?... Well, then, in your whole command if it’s their notion. But it’s vanity at last, sirs, pure vanity. Kincaid’s Battery ’doesn’t want to parade its dinginess till it’s done something’—pure vanity! ’Shortest way’—nonsense! The shortest way to the train isn’t the point! The point is to make so inspiring a show of you as to shame the damned stay-at-homes!”
“You’ll par-ade,” broke in the flaming Mandeville. “worse’ dress than presently, when you rit-urn conqueror’!” But that wearied the General more.
“Oh, hell,” he mumbled. “Captain Kincaid, eh—” He led that officer alone to a window and spoke low: “About my girl, Hilary,—and me. I’d like to decide that matter before you show your heels. You, eh,—default, I suppose?”
“No, uncle, she does that. I do only the hopeless loving.”
“The wha-at? Great Lord! You don’t tell me you—?”
“Yes, I caved in last night; told her I loved her. Oh, I didn’t do it just in this ashes-of-roses tone of voice, but”—the nephew smiled—the General scowled—“you should have seen me, uncle. You’d have thought it was Mandeville. I made a gorgeous botch of it.”
“You don’t mean she—?”
“Yes, sir, adjourned me sine die. Oh, it’s no use to look at me.” He laughed. “The calf’s run over me. My fat’s in the fire.”
The General softly swore and continued his gaze. “I believe,” he slowly said, “that’s why you wanted to slink out of town the back way.”