“It looks so silly,” as Patricia pointed out.
And, besides, a house-party is the most economical method,—as she also pointed out, being born a Stapylton—of paying off your social obligations, because you can always ask so many people who, you know, have made other plans, and cannot accept.
* * * * *
“So we will invite Judge Allardyce, of course,” said Patricia. “I had forgotten his court met in June. Oh, and Peter Blagden too. It had slipped my mind his uncle was dead....”
“I learned this morning Mrs. Haggage was to lecture in Louisville on the sixteenth. She was reading up in the Library, you see—”
“Rudolph, you are the lodestar of my existence. I will ask her to come on the fourteenth and spend a week. I never could abide the hag, but she has such a—There! I’ve made a big blot right in the middle of ‘darling,’ and spoiled a perfectly good sheet of paper!... You’d better mail it at once, though, because the evening-paper may have something in it about her lecture.”
This was after supper, and Patricia was playing solitaire. Her husband was reading the paper.
“Agatha told me all about Virginia, you know—”
Here Colonel Musgrave frowned. “It is not a pleasant topic.”
“You jay-bird, you behave entirely too much as if you were my grandfather. As I was saying, Agatha told me all about your uncle and Virginia,” Patricia hurried on. “And how she ran away afterwards, and hid in the woods for three days, and came to your father’s plantation, and how your father bought her, and how her son was born, and how her son was lynched—”
“Now, really, Patricia! Surely there are other matters which may be more profitably discussed.”
“Of course. Now, for instance, why is the King of Hearts the only one that hasn’t a moustache?” Patricia peeped to see what cards lay beneath that monarch, and upon reflection moved the King of Spades into the vacant space. She was a devotee of solitaire and invariably cheated at it.
She went on, absently: “But don’t you see? That colored boy was your own first cousin, and he was killed for doing exactly what his father had done. Only they sent the father to the Senate and gave him columns of flubdub and laid him out in state when he died—and they poured kerosene upon the son and burned him alive. And I believe Virginia thinks that wasn’t fair.”
“What do you mean?”
“I honestly believe Virginia hates the Musgraves. She is only a negro, of course, but then she was a mother once—Oh, yes! all I need is a black eight—” Patricia demanded, “Now look at your brother Hector—the awfully dissipated one that died of an overdose of opiates. When it happened wasn’t Virginia taking care of him?”
“Of course. She is an invaluable nurse.”