Now these were mostly gone—to Bragg—to Price—to Lee and Joe Johnston, or to Albert Sidney Johnston and Beauregard. For the foe swarmed there, refusing to stay “hurled back.” True he was here also, and not merely by scores as battle captives, but alarmingly near, in arms and by thousands. Terrible Ship Island, occupied by the boys in gray and fortified, anathematized for its horrid isolation and torrid sands, had at length been evacuated, and on New Year’s Day twenty-four of the enemy’s ships were there disembarking bluecoats on its gleaming white dunes. Fair Carrollton was fortified (on those lines laid out by Hilary), and down at Camp Callender the siege-guns were manned by new cannoneers; persistently and indolently new and without field-pieces or brass music or carriage company.
The spent look was still gallant, but under it was a feeling of having awfully miscalculated: flour twelve dollars a barrel and soon to be twenty. With news in abundance the papers had ceased their evening issues, so scarce was paper, and morning editions told of Atlantic seaports lost, of Johnston’s retreat from Kentucky, the fall of Fort Donelson with its fifteen thousand men, the evacuation of Columbus (one of the Mississippi River’s “Gibraltars”) and of Nashville, which had come so near being Dixie’s capital. And yet the newspapers—
“‘We see no cause for despondency,’” read Constance at the late breakfast table—“oh, Miranda, don’t you see that with that spirit we can never be subjugated?” She flourished the brave pages, for which Anna vainly reached.
“Yes!” said Anna, “but find the report of the Bazaar!”—while Constance read on: “’Reverses, instead of disheartening, have aroused our people to the highest pitch of animation, and their resolution to conquer is invincible.’”
“Oh, how true! and ah, dearie!”—she pressed her sister’s hand amid the silver and porcelain on the old mahogany—“that news (some item read earlier, about the battery), why, Miranda, just that is a sign of impending victory! Straws tell! and Kincaid’s Battery is the—”
“Biggest straw in Dixie!” jeered Anna, grasping the paper, which Constance half yielded with her eye still skimming its columns.
“Here it is!” cried both, and rose together.
’"Final Figures of the St. Louis Hotel Free-Gift Lottery and Bazaar’!” called Constance, while Anna’s eyes flew over the lines.
“What are they?” exclaimed Miranda.
“Oh, come and see! Just think, Nan: last May, in Odd-Fellows’ Hall, how proud we were of barely thirteen thousand, and here are sixty-eight thousand dollars!”
Anna pointed Miranda to a line, and Miranda, with their cheeks together, read out: “‘Is there no end to the liberality of the Crescent City?’”
“No-o!” cried gesturing Constance, “not while one house stands on another! Why, ’Randa, though every hall and hotel from here to Carrollton—”