Where is Esmeralda? he asked, peering round the vast room.
Mother Melinda laughed againchuckled, rather.
Before the smart-stepping lamplighters were half done turning off the street lights, before the noisy market-houses all over the town, from Camp Callender to Carrollton, with their basket-bearing thousands of jesting and dickering customers, had quenched their gaslights and candles to dicker and jest by day, or the devotees of early mass had emerged from the churches, Rumor was on the run. With a sort of muffled speed and whisper she came and went, crossed her course and reaffirmed herself, returned to her starting-point and stole forth again, bearing ever the same horrid burden, brief, persistent, unexaggerated: The Foe! The Foe! In five great ships and twice as many lesser ones--counted at Quarantine Station just before the wires were cut--the Foe was hardly twenty leagues away, while barely that many guns of ours crouched between his eight times twenty and our hundred thousand women and children.
The day of the wedding, he said. He turned his head away from her gaze. Shecharged me with it on our wedding-night, andand separated herself from me.