Anna beamingly laid her fingers on the lips of the enthusiast: “Con!—Miranda!—we can have a bazaar right in this house! Every friend we’ve got, and every friend of the bat’—Oh, come in, Flora Valcour! you’re just in the nick o’ time—a second Kirby Smith at Manassas!”
Thus came the free-gift lottery and bazaar of Callender House. For her own worth as well as to enlist certain valuable folk from Mobile, Flora was, there and then—in caucus, as it were—nominated chairman of everything. “Oh, no, no, no!”—“Oh, yes, yes, yes!”—she “yielded at last to overpowering numbers.”
But between this first rapturous inception and an all-forenoon argumentation on its when, who, how, what, and for what, other matters claimed notice. “Further news from Charlie! How was his wound? What! a letter from his own hand—with full account of—what was this one? not a pitched battle, but—?”
“Anyhow a victory!” cried Constance.
“You know, Flora, don’t you,” asked Miranda, “that the battery’s ordered away across to Tennessee?”
Flora was genuinely surprised.
“Yes,” put in Constance, “to rejoin Beauregard—and Brodnax!”
Flora turned to Anna: “You have that by letter?”
“No!” was the too eager reply, “It’s here in the morning paper.” They read the item. The visitor flashed as she dropped the sheet.
“Now I see!” she sorely cried, and tapped Charlie’s folded letter. “My God! Anna, wounded like that, Hilary Kincaid is letting my brother go with them!”
“Oh-h-h!” exclaimed the other two, “but—my dear! if he’s so much better that he can be allowed—”
“Allowed!—and in those box-car’!—and with that snow—rain—gangrene—lockjaw—my God! And when ‘twas already arrange’ to bring him home!”
Slow Callenders! not to notice the word “bring” in place of “send”: “Ah, good, Flora! ah, fine! You’ll see! The dear boy’s coming that far with the battery only on his way home to us!”
“H-m-m!” Flora nodded in sore irony, but then smiled with recovered poise: “From Tennessee who will bring him—before they have firs’ fight another battle?—and he—my brother?”—her smile grew droll.
“Your brother sure to be in it!” gasped Anna. The Callenders looked heart-wrung, but Flora smiled on as she thought what comfort it would be to give each of them some life-long disfigurement.
Suddenly Constance cheered up: “Flora, I’ve guessed something! Yes, I’ve guessed who was intending—and, maybe, still intends—to bring him!”
Flora turned prettily to Anna: “Have you?”
Quite as prettily Anna laughed. “Connie does the guessing for the family,” she said.
Flora sparkled: “But don’t you know—perchanze?”
Anna laughed again and blushed to the throat as she retorted, “What has that to do with our bazaar?”
It had much to do with it.