He discovered that, somehow, the three had finished supper; and, somehow, he presently discovered himself in his study, where eight o’clock had found him every evening for the last ten years, when he was not about his social diversions. An old custom, you will observe, is not lightly broken.
Subsequently: “I have never approved of these international marriages,” said Colonel Musgrave, with heat. “It stands to reason, she is simply marrying the fellow for his title. (The will of Jeremiah Brown, dated 29 November, 1690, recorded 2 February, 1690-1, mentions his wife Eliza Brown and appoints her his executrix.) She can’t possibly care for him. (This, then, was the second wife of Edward Osborne of Henrico, who, marrying him 15 June, 1694, died before January, 1696-7.) But they are all flibbertigibbets, every one of them. (She had apparently no children by either marriage—) And I dare say she is no better than the rest.”
Came a tap on the door. Followed a vision of soft white folds and furbelows and semi-transparencies and purple eyes and a pouting mouth.
“I am become like a pelican in the wilderness, Olaf,” the owner of these vanities complained. “Are you very busy? Cousin Agatha is about her housekeeping, and I have read the afternoon paper all through,—even the list of undelivered letters and the woman’s page,—and I just want to see the Gilbert Stuart picture,” she concluded,—exercising, one is afraid, a certain economy in regard to the truth.
This was a little too much. If a man’s working-hours are not to be respected—if his privacy is to be thus invaded on the flimsiest of pretexts,—why, then, one may very reasonably look for chaos to come again. This, Rudolph Musgrave decided, was a case demanding firm and instant action. Here was a young person who needed taking down a peg or two, and that at once.
But he made the mistake of looking at her first. And after that, he lied glibly. “Good Lord, no! I am not in the least busy now. In fact, I was just about to look you two up.”
“I was rather afraid of disturbing you.” She hesitated; and a lucent mischief woke in her eyes. “You are so patriarchal, Olaf,” she lamented. “I felt like a lion venturing into a den of Daniels. But if you cross your heart you aren’t really busy—why, then, you can show me the Stuart, Olaf.”
It is widely conceded that Gilbert Stuart never in his after work surpassed the painting which hung then in Rudolph Musgrave’s study,—the portrait of the young Gerald Musgrave, afterward the friend of Jefferson and Henry, and, still later, the author of divers bulky tomes, pertaining for the most part to ethnology. The boy smiles at you from the canvas, smiles ambiguously,—smiles with a woman’s mouth, set above a resolute chin, however,—and with a sort of humorous sadness in his eyes. These latter are of a dark shade of blue—purple, if you will,—and his hair is tinged with red.