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ELLINGHAM. I was smoking on the lawn, and glanced up at the window; my eyes may have deceived me, and I must move cautiously in the matter; but it couldn't have been imagination; the shadow of Edward Thornton's face and head appeared upon the curtain.
KERCHIVAL. Whew! The devil!
ELLINGHAM. Just at that moment I, too, heard the stifled scream.
_Enter_ EDWARD THORNTON.
ELLINGHAM. Your name was just on my tongue, Mr. Thornton.
THORNTON. I thought I heard it, but you are welcome to it. Miss Gertrude has asked me to ride over to Mrs. Pinckney's with her, to learn if there is any further news from the batteries. I am very glad the time to attack Fort Sumter has come at last!
ELLINGHAM. I do not share your pleasure.
THORNTON. You are a Southern gentleman.
ELLINGHAM. And you are a Northern "gentleman."
THORNTON. A Southerner by choice; I shall join the cause.
ELLINGHAM. We native Southerners will defend our own rights, sir; you may leave them in our keeping. It is my wish, Mr. Thornton, that you do not accompany my sister.
ELLINGHAM. Her groom, alone, will be sufficient.
THORNTON. As you please, sir. Kindly offer my excuses to Miss Gertrude. You and I can chat over the subject later in the day, when we are alone. [_Moving up stage._
ELLINGHAM. By all means, and another subject, also, perhaps.
THORNTON. I shall be entirely at your service.
[_Exit and down on veranda._
ELLINGHAM. Kerchival, I shall learn the whole truth, if possible, to-day. If it is what I suspect--what I almost know--I will settle with him myself. He has insulted our Colonel's wife and outraged the hospitality of my friends. [_Walking right._
KERCHIVAL. [_Walking left._] I think it ought to be my quarrel. I'm sure I'm mixed up in it enough.
MADELINE. [_Without, calling._] Kerchival!
ELLINGHAM. Madeline. [_Aside, starting_, KERCHIVAL _looks across at him sharply._
KERCHIVAL. [_Aside._] I distinctly saw Bob give a start when he heard Madeline. Now, what can there be about my sister's voice to make a man jump like that?
GERTRUDE. [_Without._] Brother Robert!
KERCHIVAL. Gertrude! [_Aside, starting,_ ELLINGHAM _looks at him sharply._] How the tones of a woman's voice thrill through a man's soul!
MADELINE. Oh, Kerchival--here you are.
_Enter_ GERTRUDE _from apartment, in a riding habit, with whip, etc._
GERTRUDE. Robert, dear! [_Coming down to_ ROBERT, _they converse in dumb show._
MADELINE. Where are your field-gla.s.ses? I've been rummaging all through your clothes, and swords, and sashes, and things. I've turned everything in your room upside down.
KERCHIVAL. Have you?
MADELINE. I can't find your gla.s.ses anywhere. I want to look at the forts. Another rocket went up just now. [_Runs and stands on piazza, looking off right._
KERCHIVAL. A sister has all the privileges of a wife to upset a man's things, without her legal obligation to put them straight again.
[_Glances at_ GERTRUDE.] I wish Bob's sister had the same privileges in my room that my own has.
GERTRUDE. Mr. Thornton isn't going with me, you say?
ELLINGHAM. He requested me to offer you his apologies.
KERCHIVAL. May I accompany you? [ELLINGHAM _turns to window._
GERTRUDE. My groom, old Pete, will be with me, of course; there's no particular need of anyone else. But you may go along, if you like.
I've got my hands full of sugar-plums for Jack. Dear old Jack--he always has his share when we have company. I'm going over to Mrs.
Pinckney's to see if she's had any more news from General Beauregard; her son is on the General's staff.
MADELINE. [_Looking off right_.] There's another rocket from Fort Johnson; and it is answered from Fort Moultrie. Ah! [_Angrily._]
General Beauregard is a bad, wicked man! [_Coming down._
GERTRUDE. Oh! Madeline! You are a bad, wicked Northern girl to say such a thing.
MADELINE. I _am_ a Northern girl.
GERTRUDE. And I am a Southern girl. [_They face each other._
KERCHIVAL. The war has begun. [_Dropping into chair._
ELLINGHAM _has turned from window; he strolls across, watching the girls._
GERTRUDE. General Beauregard is a patriot.
MADELINE. He is a Rebel.
GERTRUDE. So am I.