时间：<2020-06-04 05:17:53 作者：X1lq2 浏览量：9777
Music: --oh! oh!One thing! Bid him, on exchange or escape--if Heaven should grant the latter--find again Flora, and in her companionship, at last unhindered, choose! Yes, that would be justice and wisdom, mercy and true love, all in one. But could she do it, say it? She sprang up in bed to answer, "No-o-o!" no, she was no bloodless fool, she was a woman! Oh, God of mercy and true love, no! For reasons invincible, no! but most of all for one reason, one doubt, vile jealousy's cure and despair's antidote, slow to take form but growing as her strength revived, clear at last and all-sufficing; a doubt infinitely easier, simpler, kinder, and more blessed than to doubt true love. Nay, no doubt, but a belief! the rational, life-restoring belief, that in that awful hour of twilight between the hosts, of twilight and delirium, what she had seemed to see she had but seemed to see. Not all, ah, no, not all! Hilary alive again and grappling with death to come at her call had been real, proved real; the rest a spectre of her fevered brain! Meeting him now--and, oh, to meet him now!--there should be no questionings or explainings, but while he poured forth a love unsullied and unshaken she, scarce harkening, would with battle haste tell him, her life's commander, the one thing of value, outvaluing all mere lovers' love: The fact that behind a chimney-panel of Callender House, in its old trivial disguise, lay yet that long-lost fund pledged to Mobile's defense--by themselves as lovers, by poor war-wasted Kincaid's Battery, and by all its scattered sisters; the fund which must, as nearly on the instant as his and her daring could contrive, be recovered and borne thither for the unlocking of larger, fate-compelling resources of deliverance.
"Adolphe, where's your man--the minister? Where in the--three parishes--?" and others were echoing, "The minister! where's the minister?"
He ceased and listened. Certainly, somewhere, some one had moaned. Sounds throughout the house were growing, as if final orders had set many in motion at once. For some cause unrelated to him or to Anna, to Flora or the silent boat, bugles and drums were assembling the encamped brigade. Suddenly, not knowing why, he flashed round. Flora was within half a step of him with her right arm upthrown. He seized it, but vain was the sparring skill that had won at the willow pond. Her brow was on his breast, the knife was in her left hand, she struck with thrice her natural power, an evil chance favored her, and, hot as lightning, deep, deep, the steel plunged in. He gulped a great breath, his eyes flamed, but no cry came from him or her. With his big right hand crushing her slim fingers as they clung to the hilt, he dragged the weapon forth and hurled her off."English! oh, pass the English!" he said, he "knew how bad that was." What he wanted her criticism on was--"its matter--its spirit--whichever it was, matter or spirit!" How comical that sounded! They took pains that their laugh should be noticed behind them. Flora observed both the laugh and the painstaking.
LXVIII BY THE DAWN'S EARLY LIGHTXXXI VIRGINIA GIRLS AND LOUISIANA BOYS"The little mother saint of your flag, boys!" he explained to a knot of them later, "the little godmother of your guns!" The Callenders were out of New Orleans, banished as "registered enemies."
"From Mobile? Just now, almost. You don't sup--"
"One more word," he said. "You're sick of the drill-ground. Well, the man that's spoiling for a fight and yet has no belly for drill--he--oh, he belongs to the cavalry by birth! We love these guns. We're mighty dogg--we're extremely proud of them. Through thick and thin, through fire and carnage and agony, remembering where we got them, we propose to keep them; and some proud day, when the trouble's all over, say two years hence, and those of us who are spared come home, we propose to come with these same guns unstained by the touch of a foe's hand, a virgin battery still. Well, only two things can win that: infernal fighting and perpetual toil. So, as you love honor and your country's cause, wait. Wait in self-respectful patience. Wait and work, and you shall be at the front--the foremost front!--the very first day and hour my best licks can get you there. That's all.""When I hands in my checks--"
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--"Flora, Flora!" was all Anna, in the shame of her rebuked conjectures, could cry, and all she might have cried had she known the very truth: That every dollar, picayune, and other resource had disappeared gradually in the grist-mill of daily need and indulgence, and never one of them been near the powder-mill, the poor old man or any of his devices.
"Let Adolphe and Flora keep the old estate and be as happy on it, and in it, as Heaven will let them; they've got each other to be happy with. The world still wants cotton, and if they'll stand for the old South's cotton we'll stand for a new South and iron; iron and a new South, Nan, my Nannie; a new and better South and even a new and better New Orl--see where we are! Right yonder the Tennessee--"When Sylvia sighs
So passed the better part of an hour before they were made aware, by unmistakable odors, that they were nearing the Stock-Landing. There, while they were yet just a trifle too far away to catch its echoes, had occurred an incident--a fracas, in fact--some of whose results belong with this narrative to its end. While they amble toward the spot let us reconnoitre it. Happily it has long been wiped out, this blot on the city's scutcheon. Its half-dozen streets were unspeakable mud, its air was stenches, its buildings were incredibly foul slaughter-houses and shedded pens of swine, sheep, beeves, cows, calves, and mustang ponies. The plank footways were enclosed by stout rails to guard against the chargings of long-horned cattle chased through the thoroughfares by lasso-whirling "bull-drivers" as wild as they. In the middle of the river-front was a ferry, whence Louisiana Avenue, broad, treeless, grassy, and thinly lined with slaughter-houses, led across the plain. Down this untidy plaisance a grimy little street-car, every half-hour, jogged out to the Carrollton railway and returned. This street and the water-front were lighted--twilighted--with lard-oil lamps; the rest of the place was dark. At each of the two corners facing the ferry was a "coffee-house"--dram-shop, that is to say.Two of the morning. Had the leader, the idol of Kincaid's Battery, failed in his endeavor? Anna, on her bed, half disrobed, but sleepless yet, still prayed he might not succeed. Just this one time, oh, Lord! this one time! With Thee are not all things possible? Canst Thou not so order all things that a day or two's delay of Kincaid's Battery need work no evil to the Cause nor any such rending to any heart as must be hers if Kincaid's Battery should go to-night? Softly the stair clock boomed three. She lifted her head and for a full three minutes harkened toward the camp. Still no sound there, thank God! She turned upon her pillow.
What jaunty fellows they were! and as their faultless ranks came close, their glad, buskined feet beating as perfect music for the roaring drums as the drums beat for them, Anna, in fond ardor, bent low over the rail and waved, exhorting Miranda and Constance to wave with her. So marched the chasseurs by, but the wide applause persisted as yet other hosts, with deafening music and perfect step and with bayonets back-slanted like the porcupine's, came on and on, and passed and passed, ignoring in grand self-restraint their very loves who leaned from the banquettes' edges and from balustraded heights and laughed and boasted and worshipped."My God, Hilary Kincaid, you are in denger to be hanged a spy! Thiz minute you 'ave hide yo' dizguise in that panel!"