“Good-by!” they cried together and were dumb again; but in their mutual gaze—more vehement than their voices joined—louder than all the din about them—confession so answered worship that he snatched her to his breast; yet when he dared bend to lay a kiss upon her brow he failed once more, for she leaped and caught it on her lips.
Dishevelled, liberated, and burning with blushes, she watched the end of the train shrink away. On its last iron ladder the conductor swung aside to make room for Kincaid’s stalwart spring. So! It gained one handhold, one foothold. But the foot slipped, the soldier’s cap tumbled to the ground, and every onlooker drew a gasp. No, the conductor held him, and erect and secure, with bare locks ruffling in the wind of the train, he looked back, waved, and so passed from sight.
Archly, in fond Spanish, “How do you feel now?” asked Madame of her scintillant granddaughter as with their friends and the dissolving throng they moved to the carriage; and in the same tongue Flora, with a caressing smile, rejoined, “I feel like swinging you round by the hair.”
Anna, inwardly frantic, chattered and laughed. “I don’t know what possessed me!” she cried.
But Constance was all earnestness: “Nan, you did it for the Cause—the flag—the battery—anything but him personally. He knows it. Everybody saw that. Its very publicity—”
“Yes?” soothingly interposed Madame, “’t was a so verrie pewblic that—”
“Why, Flora,” continued the well-meaning sister, “Steve says when he came back into Charleston from Fort Sumter the ladies—”
“Of course!” said Flora, sparkling afresh. “Even Steve understands that, grandma.” Her foot was on a step of the carriage. A child plucked her flowing sleeve:
“Misses! Mom-a say’”—he pressed into her grasp something made of broadcloth, very red and golden—“here yo’ husband’s cap.”
VIRGINIA GIRLS AND LOUISIANA BOYS
Thanks are due to Mr. Richard Thorndyke Smith for the loan of his copy of a slender and now extremely rare work which at this moment lies before me. “A History of Kincaid’s Battery,” it is called, “From Its Origin to the Present Day,” although it runs only to February, ’62, and was printed (so well printed, on such flimsy, coarse paper) just before the dreadful days of Shiloh and the fall of New Orleans.
Let us never paint war too fair; but this small volume tells of little beyond the gold-laced year of ’Sixty-one, nor of much beyond Virginia, even over whose later war-years the color effects of reminiscence show blue and green and sun-lit despite all the scarlet of carnage, the black and crimson of burning, and the grim hues of sickness, squalor, and semi-starvation; show green and blue in the sunlight of victory, contrasted with those of the states west and south of her.