I was determined not to be provoked, so I answered nothing. But Miss Elspeth opened her eyes and smiled sweetly upon the speaker.
“La, Mr. Grey, I protest you are too severe. Busybody—well, it may be. I have found Mr. Garvald very busy in other folks’ affairs. But I do assure you he is no house-keeper, I have seen him in desperate conflict with savage men, and even with His Majesty’s redcoats. If trouble ever comes to Virginia, you will find him, I doubt not, a very bold moss-trooper.”
It was the, light, laughing tone I remembered well, but now it did not vex me. Nothing that she could say or do could break the spell that had fallen on my heart, “I pray it may be so,” said Mr. Grey as he turned aside.
By this time the Governor had come forward, and I saw that my presence was no longer desired. I wanted to get back to Shalah and solitude. The cold bed on the shore would be warmed for me by happy dreams. So I found my host, and thanked him for my entertainment. He gave me good-evening hastily, as if he were glad to be rid of me.
At the hall door some one tapped me on the shoulder, and I turned to find my silken cavalier.
“It seems you are a gentleman, sir,” he said, “so I desire a word with you. Your manners at table deserved a whipping, but I will condescend to forget them. But a second offence shall be duly punished.” He spoke in a high, lisping voice, which was the latest London importation.
I looked him square in the eyes. He was maybe an inch taller than me, a handsome fellow, with a flushed, petulant face and an overweening pride in his arched brows.
“By all means let us understand each other,” I said. “I have no wish to quarrel with you. Go your way and I will go mine, and there need be no trouble.”
“That is precisely the point,” said he. “I do not choose that your way should take you again to the side of Miss Elspeth Blair. If it does, we shall quarrel.”
It was the height of flattery. At last I had found a fine gentleman who did me the honour to regard me with jealous eyes. I laughed loudly with delight.
He turned and strolled back to the company. Still laughing, I passed from the house, lit my lantern, and plunged into the sombre woods.
GRAVITY OUT OF BED.
A week later I had a visit from old Mercer. He came to my house in the evening just after the closing of the store. First of all, he paid out to me the gold I had lost from my ship at Accomac, with all the gravity in the world, as if it had been an ordinary merchant’s bargain. Then he produced some papers, and putting on big horn spectacles, proceeded to instruct me in them. They were lists, fuller than those I had already got, of men up and down the country whom Lawrence trusted. Some I had met, many I knew of, but two or three gave me a start. There was a planter in Henricus who had treated me like dirt, and some names from Essex county that I did not expect. Especially there were several in James Town itself—one a lawyer body I had thought the obedient serf of the London merchants, one the schoolmaster, and another a drunken skipper of a river boat. But what struck me most was the name of Colonel Beverley.