VAYLE VENTNOR, PRIVATE.
THE music wandered off from
Flowtow to nearer home, playing the " Star-Spangled Banner" in bold breezy
bursts. The large, long hall was filled with the sweet sharp shocks of the
cymbals, the bright blowing of the bugles, and the great drum-beats rolling
People let their thoughts flow
forth to meet the music, as suited them best, out upon the piazzas, in the
parlors, or in the large, long hall.
Walking up and down the latter, a
girl voice went singing the first line,
" Oh say, can you see by the
dawn's early light ?" then ceasing, beating her palms together in time with the
striking cymbals, she says,
" Oh, isn't it lovely ?"
lingering in a pretty drawl upon the " lovely."
The gentleman walking beside her
looked down, smiling mischief, as he replied,
" Very lovely, Carlotta, sing it
"Nonsense! I do not mean my
singing. Ah, but you know that I don't!" looking up laughing into the laughing
He bent lower, and more meaningly
returned, "But I mean the singing. I like it better than the band."
" No, no, don't talk so, but
listen—ah, it is divine ! divine ! better than any music in the world. I don't
wonder, listening to it, that soldiers realize all the excitement and not the
danger when they march to the battle-field to such inspiring strains. Raymond,
how did you feel when the men were dropping round you at Manassas ?"
" Oh, as most men feel ; after
the first shock and dread passes the nerves grow steady. Thus easily we get
careless of human lives."
"Ah no, I do not think it is
that; I think the soul rises to the occasion. But will you go again ?"
" If I can get a commission, yes
; if not, no."
" Why will you not go if you do
not get a commission ?"
" Well, I don't like the
associations generally as private. It's too hard work, and if I risk my life I
want to choose the way."
" Yes, I see," she answered,
absently, as if she did not half see."
" You would be glad to have me
go, Carlotta ?" bending again, with eager interest. She knew what he meant, and
a little color of crimson fused into the faint pink cheek, and she unfurled her
fan with a quick, nervous slide, as she replied,
"I would be glad for every man to
go that can, specially those without wives and children."
"They may have mothers ; you
forget that," he said, with an irritated, jeering sort of a laugh.
But she was very serious, almost
solemn, as she returned,
"Yes, that is very true ; I
didn't forget. My brother went, you know ; and he goes again, with our mother's
"I know." That was all he said,
but it was said in softer accents, under conviction.
Then in a moment more he began,
"And the tie of a lover,
Carlotta." A little tinkling clash, and the pretty pearl fan was lying broken
upon the floor, making grievous interruption. Swinging it to and fro, it had
swung far out, and fell at a gentleman's feet who was sitting on one of the side
couches. He brought it to her, and received a little airy "Thank you," and a
smile of which her companion looked envious.
"I wonder who he is?" she
exclaimed, watching the " gentleman" as he returned down the hall. " I've
noticed him sitting there all the evening."
"Have you?" with satiric
emphasis, to which she paid no attention, but went on heedlessly:
"Yes; and did you see what an air
he has—how loftily he carries his head ? Military, too, do you notice ? He must
be a new arrival."
" Very likely," was the reply,
crossly enough now, and snapping two or three more sticks of the fan he had
taken from her. Whereupon such a cunning little smile went flashing whiter
pearls than he held into view, and a pair of merry brown eyes dropped their
white curtains, for modesty's sake.
The gentleman who had been the
innocent cause of all this, from his place on one of the side couches, observed
the pantomime of the conversation with an odd senile curling his heavy mustache.
It was evident that he understood.
On the next morning Miss Carlotta
Delevan-in other words, Miss Charlotte, the sweet Spanish rendering being the
work of her Cuban nurse—might have been seen, somewhere after breakfast, when
the halls are mostly vacant, running her little finger down the list of
arrivals, as she leaned over the office-desk.
There were Smiths, and Smythes,
and aristocratic Howards, and Vans, and the Parisian De', but only one military
Captain Jones; and following this, making it more noticeable from the sharp
contrast of euphony, was one name, the last, Vayle Ventnor.
"Vayle Ventnor!" She ran it over
in her mind. The oddest name in the world. But she had found what she sought;
her military hero of the lofty carriage was Captain Jones. So, satisfied, she
went sauntering out upon the piazza and met the military hero, " Captain Jones,"
sauntering too. She drooped her pretty head in pretty remembrance, and received
a most graceful "reverence" in return; then with gentlemanly courtesy he turned
off from his walk, leaving her alone.
So she sauntered slowly,
thinking, " There's something fine about the man—not so handsome though as
Raymond Mays; horrid name too, 'Jones!' Heigh-ho !" yawning, "I wish I had the
morning's paper. Ah ! there comes Raymond ; I'll ask him. Raymond," nodding and
smiling her greeting, "is that the paper you have? Yes? Thank you !" nodding
again, and dropping into a chair to unfold and look it over, talking meanwhile
to Raymond, who seated himself near.
Looking down a list of soldiers,
what should she come upon but those two names again. First, among the officers,
"Jeremiah Jones, Captain ;" then, lower down, " Vayle Ventnor, Private."