Road To Resaca
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
For seven days Rocky Face Mountain echoed the rattling fire. Milk Mountain behind also threw it back, and Horn Mountain behind Milk. Crow Valley saw hard fighting, and Mill Creek Gap and Trail Gap. Alabama troops were posted above the last two and on the top of the Chattoogata Ridge. Here they laid in line huge stones, ready for the throwing down when the pass below should darken with the blue. They made also slight breastworks and rifle-pits. At Dug Gap were stationed two regiments of Arkansas and a brigade of Kentucky cavalry. On the eighth, Hooker attacked these in force. Kentucky fought dismounted; Kentucky and Arkansas together did mightily. Johnston sent to Hardee to dispatch aid to this point. Up to Dug Gap came Patrick Cleburne with Lowrey's and Granbury's brigades. Cleburne came at a double-quick, through the intense heat, up the rough mountain-side. The woods rang with fighting until the dark came down. Then Geary rested in the valley below and Cleburne on the heights above, and the stars shone on both. Stewart's and Stevenson's divisions held Rocky Face Mountain. Old Rocky Face saw tense fighting, stubborn as its own make-up. Skirmish upon skirmish occupied the hours. Here, too, were breastworks and rifle-pits, and the blue advanced against them, and the blue went back again, and came again, and went back again. All the time the batteries kept up a galling, raking fire. Pettus's Alabama brigade was at the top of the mountain, at the signal station. Brown and Reynolds and Cumming were lower down, toward the valley. And on the floor of the valley, here visible in square or roughly circular clearings, here hidden by the thick woods, was a host of the enemy. Morning, noon, and afternoon went on the skirmishing. On the ninth occurred a determined assault upon Pettus's line. There was a bloody, protracted struggle, and while the mountain flamed and thundered, the blue sharpshooters paid deadly attention to the brigades below of Cumming and Reynolds. The Alabamians on Rocky Face repelled the assault; down, down it sank to the floor of the valley. After an interval a line of battle appeared before Cumming. The Georgian threw forward skirmish-ers. There was a battalion of artillery — Major John William Johnston's battalion. Cherokee Artillery, Stephens's Light Artillery, Tennessee Battery, all came into action. The major commanding — once the captain of the Botetourt Artillery, of the "homesick battery" of Chickasaw Bayou and Port Gibson — placed his guns with skill and saw them served well and double well. Together with Cumming's skirmishers the battalion checked the blue advance along this line.
Hour after hour, day after day, continued the skirmishing to the west of Dalton. Now and again, among the slighter notes, struck the full chord of a more or less heavy engagement. But there came no general and far-flung battle. There was loss of life, but not great loss, and all the attacks were repelled. Joseph E. Johnston watched with his steady face.
On the afternoon of the ninth came the first indication that the blue, behind the long cover of the mountains, were moving south-ward toward Snake Creek Gap, halfway between Dalton and Resaca. Hood with three divisions was at once ordered upon the road to Resaca, where was already Cantey's brigade, come in the day before. Observing the grey movement, the blue advance by Snake Creek drew back for the moment. The air around Dalton continued smoky, the rifles to ring. The blue made a night attack, thoroughly repulsed by Bates's division. On the eleventh arrived at Resaca from Mississippi Leonidas Polk with Loring's division. On this day Cantey sent a courier to General Johnston. Sherman's was certainly a turning movement, a steady blue flood rolling south by Snake Creek Pass, between Milk and Horn Mountains.
Before break of day on the twelfth, Johnston sent Wheeler with two thousand cavalry, supported by Hindman, to the northern end of Rocky Face to reconnoitre in force. Was the whole Federal army moving toward Resaca, or not ? Rounding Rocky Face, Wheeler clashed with Stoneman's cavalry. After a sharp engagement, the blue fell back down the western side of Rocky Face. Retiring, they set fire to a great number of their wagons. The smoke arose, thick and dark, but the grey reconnoissance, piercing it, saw enough to assure it that Sherman intended no pitched battle at Dalton. The whole vast blue army was moving southward behind the screen of Rocky Face and the Chattoogata Ridge, south and east upon Resaca and the grey line of communications. Wheeler returned at dusk and reported.
Night fell. The Army of Tennessee, after days of fighting, nights of alarms, lay now, in its various positions, in a world that seemed suddenly, strangely silent. The army, that was by now a philosopher, welcomed the moment with its quiet. It threw itself upon the warm earth and slept with the determination of the dead. Ten o'clock, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock, one o'clock! A bugle blew — another at a distance — another. Drums began to beat. The Army of Tennessee rose to its feet. Marching orders! The road to Resaca? All right!
Grey infantry, grey artillery, grey wagon-train, grey cavalry rear guard, grey stanch generals, grey stanch men, the Army of Tennessee took the starlight road to Resaca, where were already Hood with the three divisions, Cantey's brigade, and Polk with the division of Loring. The night rolled away, the morning wind blew fresh, the streamers of the dawn flared high above the Georgia woods. The Army of Tennessee moved with a light and swinging step. Of this campaign a week had marked itself off, like a bead, half dark, half bright, on a rosary string. At Dalton, Atlanta lay a hundred and twenty miles to the southward. When the army came to Resaca, Atlanta was eighteen miles the nearer.
Back in Dalton, in the house behind the syringas, there was pro-test. Miss Sophia protested with a waxen dignity, Miss Amanda with tears in her eyes. Both were so moved that they came out of the parlour upon the clematis porch where Désirée was supervising the cording of a small hair-trunk. "Follow the Army!" cried Miss Sophia, and "Follow the Army!" echoed Miss Amanda. "Oh, dear Mrs. Cary, are you sure that it's wise —"
"It's the wisdom of Solomon," said Désirée, on her knees. "Of the Song of Solomon. — Now, uncle, that's done! Can you carry it out to the wagon, or shall I help you ?"
The ancient darkey lifted it. "No, 'm. I kin tote it." He went down the path toward the gate and an ancient, springless wagon. Désirée rose. Miss Amanda's tears overflowed, and Miss Sophia was so agitated that she leaned against the doorpost, and her thin old hand trembled where it touched her linsey skirt. "You've been as good as gold to me," said Désirée. "I've loved this little house. I'm going to think of it often. Dear Miss Sophia, dear Miss Amanda, good-bye!"
"Oh, it's not wise," cried Miss Sophia; "I feel that it's not wise!"
"If you'd just quietly wait," said Miss Amanda, "until the army comes back through Dalton."
But Désirée thought that that would be too long. She smiled and broke some purple clematis from the porch to take with her, and then the two ladies went with her to the gate, and she kissed them both, and they said "God bless you!" and she mounted the wagon; and from the place where the road turned southward looked back and waved her hand. The lace handkerchief yard and the syringa bushes and the shingled roof above them sank out of her life.
"I'se gwine tek de duht road," said the negro. "Less ob fool soldiers projeckin' erlong dat one!"
The horse was worn and old, the wagon the same. Out of Dal-ton, over trampled fields, then between wooded hills, went, slowly enough, the wagon, the hair-trunk, Désirée, and the negro. "Don' yo' fret, mistis! I 'se gwine git yo' dar befo' de battle. I 'se gwine git yo' dar befo' midnight ennyhow!"
"What is your name?"
"And the horse ?"
"Dat ar horse name Julius Caesar. He good horse of he had ernough ter eat."
The day was warm, the sky a deep blue, all neighbouring vegetation covered with a tawny felt of dust. Trampling feet and tramp-ling feet of horses and men, wagon wheels and wagon wheels and wagon wheels, had gone over that road. It was a trough of dust, and when the wind blew it up, a sandstorm would not have been more blinding. It seemed clear now of troops — all were withdrawn into the haze to the southward. As for the enemy, he must be moving on the other side of the low mountains, unless, indeed, he were already in force at Resaca — and the grey were going into battle — and the grey were going into battle.
"Julius Caesar goes pretty slow," said Désirée.
There was little débris in the road or by the wayside, no wrecked, left-behind wagons, little or no discarded accoutrement, few broken-down or dying horses, very few ill or wounded men, or mere footsore stragglers. Johnston's movements were as clear-cut as so many cameos. He left no filings behind; he did not believe in blurred edges. He might place an army here today, and the morrow might find it a knight's move or a bishop's or a rook's or a queen's away'; but always it went cleanly, bag and baggage, clean-lined, self-contained, with intention and poise. If his army was in retreat, the road behind him hardly bore witness to the fact.
Horse and wagon crept on toward Resaca. Morning wore to after-noon, very warm, very — "Nebuchadnezzar, what do you make of that dust before us ? I make smoke as well as dust. And now I make firing! Listen!"
"Reckon better tuhn back —"
"No, no! Go on! When it is necessary to stop, we will stop until they let us by. It's rear guard fighting probably —"
The cloud mounted. A few hundred yards and a bullet came and sheared away a leafy twig from the oak under which they were passing. It fell upon Désirée's lap. A few yards farther, a second struck the dusty road in front of the horse. The confused sound down the road swelled into tumult.
"Gawd-er-moughty!" said Nebuchadnezzar. "Mus' git out ob dis! Dey're projeckin' dishyer way!"
"Drive into the bank!" ordered Désirée. "No! there where it is wider! Don't be afraid! Look how steady Julius Caesar stands!"
"Yass, 'm. Think I'll git out en hol' him. — Lawd hab mercy, heah dey come!"
They came like a storm of the desert, two colours, one driving, one giving back, but in so great a cloud of road dust and carbine smoke, and in so rapid motion that which was which and whose were the shouts of triumph was not easy to tell. The horses' hoofs made a thunder; all grew large, enveloped the earth, brought din and suffocation, roared by and were gone. There was a sense that the victorious colour was grey — but all was gone like a blast of the genii. The wagon had been nearly overturned. Some one had ridden violently against it — then there had sounded a shout, "'Ware! A woman ! " and the wild course, pursued and pursuers, ever so slightly swerved. Désirée, thrown to her knees, laid hold of the wagon edge and waited, but not with closed eyes. A colour was in her cheek; she looked in this torrent as she had looked upon the levee, above the Mississippi in anger. The torrent passed, the rage of noise sank, the choking, blinding dust began to settle. Nebuchadnezzar came from the lee side of Julius Caesar. He was ashen, whether with dust or with fear.
"Whoever in dey born days see de like ob dat ? Christian folk actin' de debbil lak dat! Hit er-gwine ter bring er jedgment! Yo' ain' huht, mistis ?"
"No," said Désirée. "I felt as though something were bearing down upon me out of `Paradise Lost.'"
"What dat blood on yo' ahm ?"
Désirée looked. "A bullet must have grazed it. I never felt it. It does n't hurt much now."
They did not get to Resaca that night. Julius Caesar was too tired, the road too heavy, and one of Wheeler's outposts, stopping the wagon, insisted that it was not safe for it to go farther in the darkness. With the first fireflies they turned aside to a "cracker's " cabin in a fold of the hills and asked for hospitality. A tall, lean, elderly woman and her tall, lean daughters gave them rude shelter and rude fare. In the morning the wagon and Julius Caesar and Nebuchadnezzar and Désirée went on again toward Resaca.
Today they overtook more limping soldiers than had been the case on yesterday. The wagon gave "lifts" to several and would have given more but that Julius Caesar was so evidently a weary and worn foot soldier himself. They came upon a bank topped by a pine tree, and under it, his arm overhanging the road, was stretched a soldier overtaken by a fever. His face was flushed and burning hot, his eyes bright and wild. "Point Coupée Artillery!" he said; "Point Coupée Artillery!" over and over again. Désirée made Nebuchadnezzar draw rein. She got out of the wagon, climbed the bank, and knelt beside the man. "Point Coupée Artillery!" he said. "Water! Point Coupée Artillery. Water!" There was no spring anywhere near. She had had a bottle of water, but had given it all to two soldiers a mile back. Together she and Nebuchadnezzar got the artilleryman into the wagon, where he lay with his head against her knee. "Point Coupée!" she said. "Louisiana!" and her hand lay cool and soft upon the burning forehead. They carried him two miles, until they came to the house of a widow, who took the fevered man in and gave him water and a bed, and could be trusted, Désirée saw, to nurse him. Going on for a mile, they came up with a boy with a badly cut foot and a man with a bandaged head and his trouser leg rolled up to the thigh, bandaged, too, with a bloody cloth. Both were white-lipped with the heat and weariness, and Désirée and Nebuchadnezzar and Julius Cæsar took them on upon the road. Désirée said that she was tired of riding and walked beside the wagon, and when they came to a hill, Nebuchadnezzar, too, got down and walked. The two honest stragglers, though worse for the wear, were cheerful souls and inclined to talk. "Near Resaca ? Yes, ma'am; right near now. It's mighty good of you to give us a lift! Old Joe certainly can't begin the battle till Robin and me get there!"
Robin put in his oar. "Man on horseback came riding along awhile ago and turned off toward the Connesauga, an' he said that Loring met the Yanks yesterday as they were streaming out of Snake Creek Gap, and held them in check for three hours until Hardee and Hood came up and formed, and that then things stopped and were holding their breath on that line when he left —"
"Old Blizzard's a good one! Never 'Il forget him at Fort Pemberton! `Give them blizzards, men!' says he. `Give them blizzards!'
"My husband was at Fort Pemberton. Were you at Vicksburg ? "
"Vicksburg! Should think I was at Vicksburg! Were you, ma'am ?"
"Yes. In a cave down by the —th Redan."
"I was down by the river, back of the Lower Batteries. Vicksburg! We thought that nothing could ever happen any more after Vicksburg! But things just went on happening —"
"Firing ahead of us," said the boy.
It rose and fell in the distance to the left of the road. A turn and they came upon pickets. Followed a parley. "You two want to join your regiment, and the lady wants to get to Resaca? Resaca is n't a big place, ma'am, and the fighting's going to be all around it and maybe through it. Had n't you better —"
"No, I had n't. My husband is Captain Cary of the —th Virginia. I know, sir, that you are going most courteously to let me pass."
When Désirée Gaillard said "most courteously," when she smiled and looked straight and steady with her dark eyes, it was fatal. Nothing short of positive orders to the contrary would have kept those grey pickets from letting her pass. The wagon went on, and, having pierced a skirmish line lying down waiting, came, in the dusty fore-noon, to Stevenson's division, drawn up in two lines across and on either side of the Dalton and Resaca road.
An officer stopped the advance. "There's going to be fighting here in five minutes! You should n't have been let to pass the pickets. You can't go on and you can't go back. They've got their batteries planted and they're coming out of the wood yonder. — There's the first shell!" He looked around him. "Madam, I'll agree that there are n't many safe places in the Confederacy, but I wish that you were in one of them! You two men report to the sergeant there! Uncle, you drive that cart-behind the hill yonder — the one next to the one with the guns on it. When you're there, madam, you'd better lie close to the earth, behind one of those boulders. As soon as we've silenced their fire and the road's clear, you can go on. — Not at all! Not at all! But it is extremely unwise for a lady to be here!"
The eastern side of the hill offered fair shelter. Nebuchadnezzar took the old horse from the wagon and fastened him to a small pine. Désirée sat down in the long cool grass beside a grey boulder. Before her stretched rugged ground, and far and wide she saw grey troops, ready for battle. Johnston had wasted no moment at Resaca. With skill and certitude he flung down his battle line, horseshoe-shaped, Hardee holding the centre, Polk on the left bent down to the Oostenaula, Hood on the right resting on the Connesauga. Earth-works sprang into being, salients for artillery — hardy and ready and in high spirits the Army of Tennessee faced the foe. Throughout the morning there had been general skirmishing, and now a fierce attack was in progress against Hindman's division of Hood's corps. It spread and involved Stevenson. The latter had the brigades of Cumming and Brown in his front line, in his second those of Pettus and Reynolds. All the ground here was rough and tangled, rock-strewn, overlaid with briars and a growth of small bushy pines. The men had made some kind of breastworks with rotted logs and the rails from a demolished fence. What especially annoyed were the blue sharpshooters. There was a ridge in the possession of these, from which they kept up a perpetual enfilading fire, addressed with especial vigour against Cumming's line and against Johnston's battalion ranged upon a long hillside by Cumming.
From the foot of her small adjoining hill, Désirée could see these pieces plainly. Elbow on knee, chin in hand, she sat and watched. Six guns were in action; the others, expectant, waiting their time. The horses were withdrawn below the hill. Here, indifferent, long trained, they stood and cropped the grass in the face of thunder and gathering smoke. The caissons were in line behind the pieces, and from them powder and grape and canister travelled to the fighting guns. They were fighting hard. From each metal bore sprang yel. low-red flowers of death. The hill shook and became wreathed with smoke. Through it she saw the gun detachments, rhythmically moving, and other figures, officers and men, passing rapidly to and fro. Shouted orders came to her, then the thunder of the guns covered all other sound. The antagonist was a blue battery on a shoulder of the ridge and blue infantry somewhere in the thick wood below. This battery's range was poor; most of the shells fell short of the grey hill. But the sharpshooters on the nearer spur were another guess matter. Out of the tops of thick and tall pine trees came death in the shape of pellets of lead — came with frequency, came with a horrible accuracy.
Désirée shuddered as she looked.
"Oh," she cried. "Oh, to be God just one minute!"
She found Nebuchadnezzar beside her. " Gawd ain' mixed up wif dis. Hit's de Debbil. — Dar's ernother one struck! See him spinnin"roue'.... Hit meks me sick."
The battalion commander — twenty-five years old, brown-eyed, warm-hearted, sincere, magnetic, loved by his men — rode rapidly, in the rolling smoke, across the hilltop, from the guns engaged to those that waited. " Forward into battery! On Captain Van den Corput's left."
He turned and rode back to the thundering battery. The smoke parted and he and his grey horse were plainly seen. A minie ball came from the wood and pierced his thigh. "This morning," says General Stevenson's report, "was wounded the brave Major J. W. Johnston." The smoke of battle rolled over the hill and the battalion of artillery, and over the Dalton and Resaca road, and over Stevenson's division.
Later, there was a great movement forward. Wheeler, ordered to discover the position and formation of the blue left, brought Johnston information which resulted in an order to Hood to make a half-change of front and drive the enemy westward. Hood, with the divisions of Stewart and Stevenson and supported by Walker, swept with his wild energy to the task. Stevenson in advance had the hottest fighting, but all fought superbly. At sunset the enemy's extreme left was forced from its position.
From the top of a railroad cut near the Dalton road, Johnston gave an aide an order for Hood. "Prepare to continue movement at daybreak. Let the troops understand that fighting will be renewed." Off galloped the aide and sought through the gathering dusk for General Hood, but missed his road, and after some searching came back to the railroad cut to find General Hood now with General Johnston. Hood was speaking: "The men are in wild spirits! I am, too, sir, if we are going to fight to a finish!"
Two or three prisoners were brought to the cut. Questioned, two refused to answer; a third stated that he belonged to Whittaker's brigade, Stanley's division, Fourth Army Corps; that the blue line of battle ran northeast and southwest, and that the blue army looked for victory. Wheeler rode up, received orders, and in the fading light drew his cavalry out along the railroad. Night was now at hand. Johnston and those with him turned their horses and rode rapidly from the right toward the left, back to headquarters, established in a small house behind Selden's battery. Here they found General Hardee. "All well with us, sir! They tried to storm Cleburne's position, but signally failed! "
" Nothing from the left ? "
" There has been firing. Here comes news now, I think."
Up came an aide, breathless, his horse bleeding. "General Johnston — from General Polk, sir! "
" Yes, yes — "
" They attacked in force, sir, driving in our troops and seizing a hill which commands the Oostenaula bridges. They at once brought cannon up. General Polk is about to move to retake the hill."
"The Oostenaula bridge! . . . The guns now!"
The heavy firing rose and sank, rose again, then finally died in the now full night. The ridge commanding the bridge to the south, held by Dodge and Logan of McPherson's corps, was not retaken. Tidings that it was not came to the group by Selden's battery. And on the heels of this came another breathless messenger. " General — from General Martin! He reports that the enemy have thrown pontoons across the Oostenaula near Calhoun. They crossed two divisions this afternoon."
Silence for a moment, then Johnston spoke crisply. "Very well! If he crosses, I cross. General Hood, the order for the advance at daybreak is revoked." He spoke to an aide. "Get the staff together! - General Walker, you will at once take the road to Calhoun with your division. Is Colonel Prestman here? — Colonel, the engineers are to lay to-night a pontoon bridge across the Oostenaula, a mile above the old bridges. General Hardee — What is it, General Hood ?"
"Not to attack in the morning! General Johnston, do you not think —"
"I do occasionally, sir. At present I think that General Sherman ardently desires to place himself in our rear."
"We rolled them back this afternoon! And if at dawn we accomplish even more —"
"Yes, sir, `if.' You `rolled back,' very gallantly, part of the Fourth Army Corps."
"But, sir, —"
"Circumstances, sir, alter cases. It was General Sherman's intention to place a huge army astride the railroad here at Resaca. That intention was defeated. He proposes now to cross the Oostenaula and cut our lines at Calhoun. It is that movement that demands our attention."
"I only know, sir, that it is expected at Richmond that we take the offensive."
"Yes, sir. Many things are expected at Richmond. — You have your order, General. Now, General Hardee —"
An hour or two later, the commander of the Army of Tennessee returned with Hardee from the left toward which they had ridden. The two were friends as well as superior and subordinate. Johnston had great warmth of nature; he was good lover, good hater. Now he rode quietly, weary, but steadily thinking. The light of the house behind Selden's battery appeared, a yellow point in the thickened air. " How far that little candle . . . Hardee! I've had ten wounds in battle, but before this summer ends I 'm going to have a worse wound than any! "
" I don't know what you mean, General," said Hardee.
" Don't you ? " said Johnston. " Well, well! perhaps I shan't be wounded. The stars are over us all. — Here is the house."
As the two dismounted, an aide came forward. " There is some one waiting here, General, to speak to you. A lady— Mrs. Cary—"
Désirée came into the light from the open door. "Mrs. Cary!" exclaimed Hardee. "How in the world —"
Johnston took her hand in his. It was cold, and the light showed her face. "My dear, what is it —"
"General," said Désirée, "I left Dalton yesterday, and to-day I got by the lines, and this afternoon into Resaca. And awhile ago, when the fighting had stopped, I found where was —'s brigade and the Virginia. And I went there, to headquarters, to find out if my husband was unhurt. His regiment was in the attack on the enemy's left. It was in the advance and it lost heavily. When night came and the troops were withdrawn, they took back with them all their wounded they could gather. But the th was well ahead, and the enemy was reinforced and threatening in its front. When it was ordered back it had to leave its hurt. They are there yet — they are there now. My husband is among the missing.
They were very kind, the colonel and General . They would not let me pass, but they asked for volunteers to go. Some brave men volunteered and went. They brought back a number of the wounded — but they did not bring back my husband. They said they sought everywhere and called as loudly as they dared. They said that if he were living — But I can seek better than they and I am not afraid to call aloud. General said that he would not let me go, and I said that I would bring an order from you that should make him let me go. I have come for it, General."
"The enemy is very close to that front. They will fire at any sound."
"I shall go silently. Do I not want to bring him safely ?" "You would have to have men with you."
"Three of those men said they would go again. But I said no. An old negro brought me in his wagon from Dalton. He is old but strong, and he is willing, and we can manage together."
"If I let you go —"
"I shall love you forever. If you let me go you will do wisely and rightly —"
"It is not a time," said Johnston, "to measure by small standards or weigh with little weights. You may go."
A host of stars looked down on the wooded hills and narrow vales. There was a space of about an acre where, long ago, trees had been girdled and felled. The trunks of some still lay upon the earth, bare of bark, gleaming grey-white, like great bones of an elder age. Else-where there were mere stumps, serried rows of them, with a growth of mullein and blackberry between. There were stones, too, half-buried boulders, and in a corner of the field, pressing close to a rail fence, a thicket of sumach.
Edward Cary lay in this angle. He had fallen at dusk, leading his men in the final charge. It was twilight; the grey wave went on, shouting. He saw and heard another coming, and to avoid tramp-ling he dragged himself aside into this sumach thicket by the fence. He had a bullet through his shoulder, and he was losing blood beside from a deep .wound above the knee. It was this bleeding that brought the roaring in his ears and at last the swoon. He had band-aged it as well as he could, but a bone in his hand was shattered and he could not do it well. He thought, "I shall bleed to death." After a while life and the content of life went to a very great distance — very far off and small like a sandbar in a distant ocean. Time, too, became a thin, remote, and intermittent stream. Once, he had no idea when, he thought that there were voices and movement on the sandbar. He wet his lips and thought that he spoke aloud, but probably it was only in thought. All things vanished for a while, and when he next paid attention the sandbar was very quiet and farther off than ever. The wind was blowing in the sumach on the sandbar, and a star was shining over it. . . . No! it was the light of a lantern. There were hands about his wound, and the sound of tearing cloth, and the feel of a bandage drawn tightly with a bit of forked stick for a tourniquet, and then water with a dash of brandy at his lips — and then an arm beneath his head and a face down bent. "Désirée Gaillard," he breathed.