“Ole mahs’ love’ wine,
ole mis’ love’ silk,
De piggies, dey loves buttehmilk.”
Great week! tarheel camp-sentries and sand-hill street-patrols mistaking the boys for officers, saluting as they passed and always getting an officer’s salute in return! Hilary seen every day with men high and mighty, who were as quick as the girls to make merry with him, yet always in their merriment seeming, he and they alike, exceptionally upright, downright, heartright, and busy. It kept the boys straight and strong.
Close after came a month or so on the Yorktown peninsula with that master of strategic ruse, Magruder, but solely in the dreariest hardships of war, minus all the grander sorts that yield glory; rains, bad food, ill-chosen camps, freshets, terrible roads, horses sick and raw-boned, chills, jaundice, emaciation, barely an occasional bang at the enemy on reconnoissances and picketings, and marches and countermarches through blistering noons and skyless nights, with men, teams, and guns trying to see which could stagger the worst, along with columns of infantry mutinously weary of forever fortifying and never fighting. Which things the book bravely makes light of, Hilary maintaining that the battery boys had a spirit to bear them better than most commands did, and the boys reporting—not to boast the special kindness everywhere of ladies for ladies’ men—that Hilary himself, oftenest by sunny, but sometimes by cyclonic, treatment of commissaries, quartermasters, surgeons, and citizens, made their burdens trivial.
So we, too, lightly pass them. After all, the things most important here are matters not military of which the book does not tell. Of such Victorine, assistant editor to Miranda, learned richly from Anna—who merely lent letters—without Anna knowing it. Yet Flora drew little from Victorine, who was as Latin as Flora, truly loved Anna, and through Charlie was a better reader of Flora’s Latin than he or Flora or any one suspected.
For a moment more, however, let us stay with the chronicle. At last, when all was suffered, the infuriated boys missed Ben Butler and Big Bethel! One day soon after that engagement, returning through Richmond in new uniforms—of a sort—with scoured faces, undusty locks, full ranks, fresh horses, new harness and shining pieces, and with every gun-carriage, limber, and caisson freshly painted, they told their wrath to Franklin street girls while drinking their dippers of water. Also—“Good-by!—
“‘I’d offer thee this hand of mine—’”
They were bound northward to join their own Creole Beauregard at a railway junction called—.
Femininely enough, our little borrowed book, Miranda’s and Victorine’s compilation of letters from the front, gives no more than a few lines to the first great battle of the war.