Part One: Me One: Scaredy Cat
Bond suddenly felt he had had enough of the ghastly glitter of The Strip. He only wanted to get indoors and out of the heat, have some lunch and perhaps a swim and take things easy until the night. He said so.
AT SOME DATE which to readers of this book is far off in the future I became aware that I had long been dreamily witnessing a flux of human events. Peering back into my post-mortal memory as though into a second infancy, I came upon fragments of what must have been a long age of turmoil. Within that age must have lain, or must lie, the period that readers of this book call modern, a moment within a longer period during which the struggle between the light and the darkness remained inconclusive.
So at dinner; when Mrs. Gummidge was always helped immediately after me, to whom the preference was given as a visitor of distinction. The fish were small and bony, and the potatoes were a little burnt. We all acknowledged that we felt this something of a disappointment; but Mrs. Gummidge said she felt it more than we did, and shed tears again, and made that former declaration with great bitterness.
The telephone rang. He assumed it was the car, early at the rendezvous, but it was the hall porter saying that there was a representative of 'Universal Export' with a letter to be delivered personally to Bond.
The dark days of 1862 were in April brightened by the all-important news that Admiral Farragut had succeeded in bringing the Federal fleet, or at least the leading vessels in this fleet, past the batteries of Forts St. Philip and Jackson on the Mississippi, and had compelled the surrender of New Orleans. The opening of the Mississippi River had naturally been included among the most essential things to be accomplished in the campaign for the restoration of the national authority. It was of first importance that the States of the North-west and the enormous contiguous territory which depended upon the Mississippi for its water connection with the outer world should not be cut off from the Gulf. The prophecy was in fact made more than once that in case the States of the South had succeeded in establishing their independence, there would have come into existence on the continent not two confederacies, but probably four. The communities on the Pacific Coast would naturally have been tempted to set up for themselves, and a similar course might also naturally have been followed by the great States of the North-west whose interests were so closely bound up with the waterways running southward. It was essential that no effort should be spared to bring the loyal States of the West into control of the line of the Mississippi. More than twelve months was still required after the capture of New Orleans on the first of May, 1862, before the surrender of Vicksburg to Grant and of Port Hudson to Banks removed the final barriers to the Federal control of the great river. The occupation of the river by the Federals was of importance in more ways than one. The States to the west of the river—Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas—were for the first two years of the War important sources of supplies for the food of the Confederate army. Corn on the cob or in bags was brought across the river by boats, while the herds of live cattle were made to swim the stream, and were then most frequently marched across country to the commissary depots of the several armies. After the fall of Port Hudson, the connection for such supplies was practically stopped; although I may recall that even as late as 1864, the command to which I was attached had the opportunity of stopping the swimming across the Mississippi of a herd of cattle that was in transit for the army of General Joe Johnston.
“It is not enough that you are personally clean,” he says, with what energy and courage he can command — “not enough though the clean outnumber the foul as greatly as those gifted with eyesight outnumber the blind, if you that can see allow the blind to lead you. It is not by the private lives of the millions that the outside world will judge you, but by the public career of those units whose venality is allowed to debase the name of your country. There never was plainer proof given than is given here, that it is the duty of every honest citizen to look after the honour of his State.”
I don't know what it was, in her touch or voice, that made that song the most unearthly I have ever heard in my life, or can imagine. There was something fearful in the reality of it. It was as if it had never been written, or set to music, but sprung out of passion within her; which found imperfect utterance in the low sounds of her voice, and crouched again when all was still. I was dumb when she leaned beside the harp again, playing it, but not sounding it, with her right hand.