“I leave all to you, loving you, wishing what you wish, content with what you give—and take—so that you do give and take and keep and hold for life.
“It is very dusky; the lights, red and white, glimmer on every transport. We feel the sea-swell a little. Celia left us, going ashore at Acquia Creek. She takes the cars to Richmond and then to Paigecourt. Letty sits beside me on deck. There were two cases of fever aboard and we went down into a dreadfully ill-smelling cabin to do what we could. Now we are here on deck again. Some officers are talking very gaily with Letty. I am ending my letter to you—wherever you are, my darling, under these big, staring stars that look down at me out of space. I don’t want my ghost to be blown about up there—unless it belongs to you. That is the only fear of death I ever have or ever had—that I might die before you had all of me there is to give.”
Toward the end of June, as Claymore’s new provisional brigade of Sykes’s division, Fitz John Porter’s superb corps d’armee, neared the designated rendezvous, some particularly dirty veteran regiments, bivouacked along the fields, crowded to the roadside, fairly writhing in their scorn and derision.
“Fresh fish! Oh—h! Fresh fi—sh!” they shouted. “My God, boys, just see them pretty red pants! Mother! Come and look. Oh, papa, what are they? Sa—ay, would you gentlemen kindly tell us poor old sodgers what kind ov a hell ov a, dressmaker cut out them pantalettes? I wish I could go out to play with these nice, perlite little boys? Oh, children! why didn’t you bring your nursemaids with you?”
The 3rd Zouaves marched past the jeering veterans, grinding their teeth, but making no effort at retort. They knew well enough by this time that any attempt to retort would be worse than useless.
As the head of the column of the 8th Lancers appeared from the West at the forks of the other road, the dingy veterans fairly danced in malicious delight:
“Excuse us,” they simpered, kissing their dirty finger-tips to the horsemen, “ex-cuse us, please, but do tell us how you left dear old Fift’ Avenoo. Them rocking hosses need a leetle new paint where they sit down, me lords. Hey, you ain’t got any old red silk stockings we can use for guidons, have you? Oh, Alonzo darling! curl my hair an’ wet me with expensive cologne!”
Colonel Egerton’s 20th Dragoons, being in blue and orange, got off easier, though the freshness of their uniforms was tremendously resented; but McDunn’s 10th Flying Battery, in brand new uniforms, ran the full fierce fire of chaff; the indignant cannoneers were begged to disclose the name of the stage line which had supplied their battery horses; and Arthur Wye, driving the showy swing team of No. 6, Left Section, shouted back in his penetrating voice: