“A Happy New Year to you,” said Kitty, in a tone of gayety which she was far from feeling. “I ran over to give greeting to grandma, and as I came my petticoat gave way; let me mount to your chamber and fasten it before I go to grandma’s.”
“Certainly,” said Betty, and seizing hands both girls ran rapidly up the staircase. Inside the small chamber, Kitty closed the door, and set her back against it.
“The petticoat is fast enough, Betty, but I have something grave to say. Oliver is still in the city—he goes to the De Lanceys’ to-night—I was to warn you.”
“In what disguise?” asked Betty breathlessly.
“Indeed, I know not, except that he will represent Mynheer Diedrich Gansevoort, from Albany; oh, Betty, I am sore afraid.”
“Nay, wherefore?” and Betty’s eyes sparkled as her color rose. “We Wolcotts are not wont to fail, and I am now too accustomed to Oliver’s hairbreadth escapes for fright.”
“You were well alarmed at the servants’ dance; oh, how rash he is!”
“We spare nothing in our country’s cause,” said Betty, with a proud little toss of her head; “but, Kitty, forgive me if I appear intrusive—I am puzzled to know how and where you and Oliver”—
“You should have known long ago,” interrupted Kitty, blushing deeply, “but, somehow, I never could approach near enough to your heart to confess that Oliver and I are trothplighted though my mother’s consent is lacking. We met in Albany—again at West Point, and oh, Betty, how I have longed to tell you. I have seen you look at me with eyes so like his; with such scornful glance when I laugh and jest with those hateful redcoats, such kindly smile when I showed you that I am at heart a patriot. Forgive me, dear, and let us do all we can to help Oliver to-night, for he is determined to be at the De Lanceys’ as by going there he can obtain certain important information for the cause of freedom.”
Betty threw her arms around Kitty; why did she feel as if the innocent words stabbed her? Had the “hateful redcoats” ceased to be hateful to her?
“Trothplighted,” she whispered, with wide-open eyes of delight; “I hoped as much—how happy my father will be when Oliver”—
“Nay, nay,” cried blushing Kitty, “you go too fast; think of madam, my mother, and her antipathy to the ‘rebels,’ as she calls them, quite forgetting that my aunt (where I made my home in Albany for three years) is one, as well as her naughty daughter. Good lack! my fortunes were told long ago had I but bowed to her wishes; and at the moment, Betty,—to let you into a profound secret,—the most desirable husband for me in her eyes is Captain Yorke.”
“Indeed!” said Betty coldly, but Kitty was too engrossed in her own discourse to notice.
“Not that he has such an idea, mind you; he loves to dance and jest with me, as a score of others do. But, Betty, your confidence in Oliver is well sustained so far, and it lightens my heart. Beside, there is no one here who would be apt to recognize him except you and me; though for the matter of that why Clarissa did not see and know his shadow at the servants’ dance I have not yet ceased to marvel.”