Then, too, Patricia would have preferred to have been rid of the old mulatto woman Virginia, because it was through Virginia that Miss Agatha furtively procured intoxicants. But Rudolph Musgrave would not consider Virginia’s leaving. “Virginia’s faithfulness has been proven by too many years of faithful service” was the formula with which he dismissed the suggestion ... Afterward Patricia learned from Miss Agatha of the wrong that had been done Virginia by Olaf’s uncle, Senator Edward Musgrave, the noted ante-bellum orator, and understood that Olaf—without, of course, conceding it to himself, because that was Olaf’s way—was trying to make reparation. Patricia respected the sentiment, and continued to fret under its manifestation.
Miss Agatha also told Patricia of how the son of Virginia and Senator Musgrave had come to a disastrous end—“lynched in Texas, I believe, only it may not have been Texas. And indeed when I come to think of it, I don’t believe it was, because I know we first heard of it on a Monday, and Virginia couldn’t do the washing that week and I had to send it out. And for the usual crime, of course. It simply shows you how much better off the darkies were before the War,” Miss Agatha said.
Patricia refrained from comment, not being willing to consider the deduction strained. For love is a contagious infection; and loving Rudolph Musgrave so much, Patricia must perforce love any person whom he loved as conscientiously as she would have strangled any person with whom he had flirted.
And yet, to Patricia, it was beginning to seem that Patricia Musgrave was not living, altogether, in that Lichfield which John Charteris has made immortal—“that nursery of Free Principles” (according to the Lichfield Courier-Herald) “wherein so many statesmen, lieutenants-general and orators were trained to further the faith of their fathers, to thrill the listening senates, draft constitutions, and bruise the paws of the British lion.”
It may be remembered that Lichfield had asked long ago, “But who, pray, are the Stapyltons?” It was characteristic of Colonel Musgrave that he went about answering the question without delay. The Stapletons—for “Stapylton” was a happy innovation of Roger Stapylton’s dead wife—the colonel knew to have been farmers in Brummell County, and Brummell Courthouse is within an hour’s ride, by rail, of Lichfield.
So he set about his labor of love.
And in it he excelled himself. The records of Brummell date back to 1750 and are voluminous; but Rudolph Musgrave did not overlook an item in any Will Book, or in any Orders of the Court, that pertained, however remotely, to the Stapletons. Then he renewed his labors at the courthouse of the older county from which Brummell was formed in 1750, and through many fragmentary, evil-odored and unindexed volumes indefatigably pursued the family’s fortune back to the immigration of its American progenitor in 1619,—and, by the happiest fatality, upon the same Bona Nova which enabled the first American Musgrave to grace the Colony of Virginia with his presence. It could no longer be said that the wife of a Musgrave of Matocton lacked an authentic and tolerably ancient pedigree.