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      As the rearmost ship was passing the house Anna, her comeliness restored, half rose from her bed, where Miranda stood trying to keep her. From all the far side of the house remotely sounded the smart tramp and shuffle of servants clearing away wreckage, and the din of their makeshift repairs. She was "all right again," she said as she sat, but the abstraction of her eyes and the harkening droop of her head showed that inwardly she still saw and heard the death-struck boy.

      All at once he saw! Throwing away her hands he caught her head between his big palms. Her arms flew round his neck, her lips went to his, and for three heart-throbs they clung like bee and flower. Then he sprang down the stair, swung into the saddle, and fled after his men.

      The abashed craven turned his hand to Flora, but with a gentle promptness Anna stepped between: "No, Flora dear, see; he hasn't a red scratch on him. Oh, sir, go--eat! If hunger stifles courage, eat! But eat as you ride, and ride like mad back to duty and honor! No! not under this roof--nor in sight of these things--can any man be a ladies' man, who is missing from the front, at the rear."

      Oh, go away, said Esmeralda. You know that I know that you only want to steal away and talk to the boys; I heard some of them in the wood a little while ago. Go and stay as long as you like, and she turned her head away and closed her eyes.

      The duke sat and sipped his thin claret with an air of perfect felicity. He had not noticed anything wrong in Esmeraldas expression or manner, and that he was thinking of her beauty and queenliness was evident from the remark which he made to Trafford.

      She felt neither hope nor fear; she had no distinct consciousness of what had happened.


      If it is money they want, said Esmeralda, I would give them what they asked. I am not anxious or afraid about myself, but I know what trouble they will be in at Three Star. Her voice faltered for the first time, and she turned her head aside. Go and tell them what I say.


      Youd best lie down, said the woman; and she pointed to a rough bed in the corner.


      CHAPTER XXXVIII.All the more a believer was he because while other faithfuls were making their loyalty earn big money off the government this genteel pair reminding him, that they might yet have to risk themselves inside the gray lines again to extricate Charlie, had kept their loyalty as gracefully hidden as of old except from a general or two. Preoccupied Greenleaf, amiable generals, not to see that a loyalist in New Orleans stood socially at absolute zero, whereas to stand at the social ebullition point was more to the Valcours than fifty unions, a hundred Dixies and heaven beside. It was that fact, more than any other, save one, which lent intrepidity to Flora's perpetual, ever quickening dance on the tight-rope of intrigue; a performance in which her bonny face had begun to betray her discovery that she could neither slow down nor dance backward. However, every face had come to betray some cruel strain; Constance's, Anna's, even Victorine's almond eyes and Miranda's baby wrinkles. Yes, the Valcours, too, had, nevertheless, their monetary gains, but these were quiet and exclusively from their ever dear, however guilty, "rebel" friends, who could not help making presents to Madame when brave Flora, spurning all rewards but their love, got for them, by some spell they could not work, Federal indulgences; got them through those one or two generals, who--odd coincidence!--always knew the "rebel" city's latest "rebel" news and often made stern use of it.