“Oh, no, it’s not. Or at least—well, anyhow, uncle, now you can decide in favor of Adolphe.”
The uncle swore so audibly that the staff heard and exchanged smiles: “I neither can nor will decide—for either of you—yet! You understand? I don’t do it. Go, bring your battery.”
The city was taken by surprise. Congo Square was void of soldiers before half Canal street’s new red-white-and-red bunting could be thrown to the air. In column of fours—escort leading and the giant in the bearskin hat leading it—they came up Rampart street. On their right hardly did time suffice for boys to climb the trees that in four rows shaded its noisome canal; on their left not a second too many was there for the people to crowd the doorsteps, fill windows and garden gates, line the banquettes and silently gather breath and ardor while the escort moved by, before the moment was come in which to cheer and cheer and cheer, as with a hundred flashing sabres at shoulder the dismounted, heavy-knapsacked, camp-worn battery, Kincaid’s Battery—you could read the name on the flag—Kincaid’s Battery! came and came and passed. In Canal street and in St. Charles there showed a fierceness of pain in the cheers, and the march was by platoons. At the hotel General Brodnax and staff joined and led it—up St. Charles, around Tivoli Circle, and so at last into Calliope street.
Meantime far away and sadly belated, with the Valcours cunningly to blame and their confiding hostesses generously making light of it, up Love street hurried the Callenders’ carriage. Up the way of Love and athwart the oddest tangle of streets in New Orleans,—Frenchmen and Casacalvo, Greatmen, History, Victory, Peace, Arts, Poet, Music, Bagatelle, Craps, and Mysterious—across Elysian Fields not too Elysian, past the green, high-fenced gardens of Esplanade and Rampart flecked red-white-and-red with the oleander, the magnolia, and the rose, spun the wheels, spanked the high-trotters. The sun was high and hot, shadows were scant and sharp, here a fence and there a wall were as blinding white as the towering fair-weather clouds, gowns were gauze and the parasols were six, for up beside the old coachman sat Victorine. She it was who first saw that Congo Square was empty and then that the crowds were gone from Canal street. It was she who first suggested Dryads street for a short cut and at Triton Walk was first to hear, on before, the music,—ah, those horn-bursting Dutchmen! could they never, never hit it right?—
“When other lips and other hearts
Their tale of love shall tell—”
and it was she who, as they crossed Calliope street, first espied the rear of the procession, in column of fours again, it was she who flashed tears of joy as they whirled into Erato street to overtake the van and she was first to alight at the station.