And, moreover, the colonel—in colloquial phrase at least—went everywhere. After the six months of comparative seclusion which decency exacted of his widowerhood—and thereby afforded him ample leisure to complete and publish his Lichfield Legislative Papers prior to 1800—the colonel, be it repeated, went everywhere; and people found him no whit the worse company for his black gloves and the somber band stitched to his coatsleeve. So Lichfield again received him gladly, as the social triumph of his generation. Handsome and trim and affable, no imaginable tourist could possibly have divined—for everybody in Lichfield knew, of course—that Rudolph Musgrave had rounded his half-century; and he stayed, as ever, invaluable to Lichfield matrons alike against the entertainment of an “out-of-town” girl, the management of a cotillon, and the prevention of unpleasant pauses among incongruous dinner-companies.
But of Anne Charteris he saw very little nowadays. And, indeed, it was of her own choice that Anne lived apart from Lichfieldian junketings, contented with her dreams and her pride therein, and her remorseful tender memories of the things she might have done for Jack and had not done—lived upon exalted levels nowadays, to which the colonel’s more urbane bereavement did not aspire.
“Charteris” was engraved in large, raised letters upon the granite coping over which Anne stepped to enter the trim burial-plot wherein her dead lay.
The place to-day is one of the “points of interest” in Cedarwood. Tourists, passing through Lichfield, visit it as inevitably as they do the graves of the Presidents, the Southern generals and the many other famous people which the old cemetery contains; and the negro hackmen of Lichfield are already profuse in inaccurate information concerning its occupant. In a phrase, the post card which pictures “E 9436—Grave of John Charteris” is among the seven similar misinterpretations of localities most frequently demanded in Lichfieldian drugstores and news-stands.
Her victoria had paused a trifle farther up the hill, where two big sycamores overhung the roadway. She came into the place alone, walking quickly, for she was unwarrantably flustered by her late encounter. And when she found, of all people, Rudolph Musgrave standing by her husband’s grave, as in a sort of puzzled and yet reverent meditation, she was, and somehow as half-guiltily, assuring herself there was no possible reason for the repugnance—nay, the rage,—which a mere glimpse of trudging, painted and flamboyant Clarice Pendomer had kindled. Yet it must be recorded that Anne had always detested Clarice.
Now Anne spoke, as the phrase runs, before she thought. “She came with you!”
And he answered, as from the depths of an uncalled-for comprehension which was distinctly irritating:
“Yes. And Harry, too, for that matter. Only our talk got somehow to be not quite the sort it would be salutary for him to take an interest in. So we told Harry to walk on slowly to the gate, and be sure not to do any number of things he would never have thought of if we hadn’t suggested them. You know how people are with children——”