时间：<2020-06-04 17:00:31 作者：G2雪花酥Cc8 浏览量：9777
Flora had half started to fly, but while she hung upon Anna's words she let her palms slip under the bestowing hand and the treasure slide into her own fingers."Oh, Connie, dear--nothing--go on."
The girl interrupted with a knowing touch: "You realize there's something else, don't you?"XX THE FIGHT FOR THE STANDARDAlthough not that person whom numerous men of his acquaintance had begun affectionately to handicap with the perilous nickname of "the ladies' man," he was thinking of no less than five ladies; two of one name and three of another. Flora Valcour and her French grandmother (as well as her brother of nineteen, already agog to be off in the war) had but lately come to New Orleans, from Mobile. On a hilly border of that smaller Creole city stood the home they had left, too isolated, with war threatening, for women to occupy alone. Mrs. Callender was the young widow of this old bachelor's life-long friend, the noted judge of that name, then some two years deceased. Constance and Anna were her step-daughters, the latter (if you would believe him) a counterpart of her long-lost, beautiful mother, whose rejection of the soldier's suit, when he was a mere lieutenant, was the well-known cause of his singleness. These Callender ladies, prompted by him and with a sweet modesty of quietness, had just armed a new field battery with its six splendid brass guns, and it was around these three Callenders that his ponderings now hung; especially around Anna and in reference to his much overprized property and two nephews: Adolphe Irby, for whom he had obtained the command of this battery, which he was to see him drill this afternoon, and Hilary Kincaid, who had himself cast the guns and who was to help the senior cousin conduct these evolutions.
Toiling or resting, the Southern slaves were singers. With the pail on his head and with every wearer of shoulder-straps busy giving or obeying some order, it was as normal as cock-crowing that he should raise yet another line of his song and that from the house the diligent bricklayer should reply.
"What! let myself--?""You see they're under way?" asked Anna.
Anna dropped a fervid word to Miranda that set their hostesses agape. "Now, good Lawd, child, ain't you in hahdship and dangeh enough? Not one o' you ain't goin' one step fu'ther this day. Do you want to git shot? Grant's men are a-marchin' into Bolton's Depot right now. Why, honey, you might as well go huntin' a needle in a haystack as to go lookin' fo' Brodnax's brigade to-night. Gen'al Pemberton himself--why, he'd jest send you to his rear, and that's Vicksburg, where they a-bein' shelled by the boats day and night, and the women and child'en a-livin' in caves. You don't want to go there?"
She felt her maid's touch. Charlie was aiming his great gun, and on either side of her Isaac and Ben were repeating their injunctions. She spoke out:
"Yes," she insisted, "--muz' undehstan', and they will surely h-ask me!""It doesn't belittle him," cried Charlie. "That's the joke. It makes him loom larger!"
They went aboard at the head of Canal Street. The river was at a fair stage, yet how few craft were at either long landing, "upper" or "lower," where so lately there had been scant room for their crowding prows. How few drays and floats came and went on the white, shell-paved levees! How little freight was to be seen except what lay vainly begging for export--sugar, molasses, rice; not even much cotton; it had gone to the yards and presses. That natty regiment, the Orleans Guards, was drilling (in French, superbly) on the smooth, empty ground where both to Anna's and to Flora's silent notice all the up-river foodstuffs--corn, bacon, pork, meal, flour--were so staringly absent, while down in yonder streets their lack was beginning to be felt by a hundred and twenty-five thousand consumers.And did she instantly begin, "I take--?" Not at all! She gave her hand, both hands, but her lips stood helplessly apart. Flora, Madame, Victorine, Constance, Miranda, Charlie from a car's top, the three lieutenants, the battery's whole hundred, saw Hilary's gaze pour into hers, hers into his. Only the eyes of the tumultuous crowd still followed the train and its living freight. A woman darted to a car's open door and gleaned one last wild kiss. Two, ten, twenty others, while the conductor ran waving, ordering, thrusting them away, repeated the splendid theft, and who last of all and with a double booty but Constance! Anna beheld the action, though with eyes still captive. With captive eyes, and with lips now shut and now apart again as she vainly strove for speech, she saw still plainer his speech fail also. His hands tightened on hers, hers in his.