“Where the devil are those blacks?” said Dorothy, biting off her words with a crisp snap that startled me more than her profanity. “Cato! Where are you, you lazy—”
“Ahm hyah, Miss Dorry,” came a patient voice from the kitchen stairs.
“Then bring something to eat—bring it to the gun-room instantly—something for Captain Ormond—and a bottle of Sir Lupus’s own claret—and two glasses—”
“Three glasses!” cried Ruyven.
“Four!” “Five!” shouted Harry and Cecile.
“Six!” added Samuel; and little Benny piped out, “Theven!”
“Then bring two bottles, Cato,” called out Dorothy.
“I want some small-beer!” protested Benny.
“Oh, go suck your thumbs,” retorted Ruyven, with an elder brother’s brutality; but Dorothy ordered the small-beer, and bade the negro hasten.
“We all mean to bear you company, Cousin,” said Ruyven, cheerfully, patting my arm for my reassurance; and truly I lacked something of assurance among these kinsmen of mine, who appeared to lack none.
“You spoke of me as Captain Ormond,” I said, turning with a smile to Dorothy.
“Oh, it’s all one,” she said, gayly; “if you’re not a captain now, you will be soon, I’ll wager—but I’m not to talk of that before the children—”
“You may talk of it before me,” said Ruyven. “Harry, take Benny and Sam and Cecile out of earshot—”
“Pooh!” cried Harry, “I know all about Sir John’s new regiment—”
“Will you hush your head, you little fool!” cut in Dorothy. “Servants and asses have long ears, and I’ll clip yours if you bray again!”
The jingling of glasses on a tray put an end to the matter; Cato, the black, followed by two more blacks, entered the hall bearing silver salvers, and at a nod from Dorothy we all trooped after them.
“Guests first!” hissed Dorothy, in a fierce whisper, as Ruyven crowded past me, and he slunk back, mortified, while Dorothy, in a languid voice and with the air of a duchess, drawled, “Your arm, cousin,” and slipped her hand into my arm, tossing her head with a heavy-lidded, insolent glance at poor Ruyven.
And thus we entered the gun-room, I with Dorothy Varick on my arm, and behind me, though I was not at first aware of it, Harry, gravely conducting Cecile in a similar manner, followed by Samuel and Benny, arm-in-arm, while Ruyven trudged sulkily by himself.
There was a large, discolored table in the armory, or gun-room, as they called it; and on this, without a cloth, our repast was spread by Cato, while the other servants retired, panting and grinning like over-fat hounds after a pack-run.
And, by Heaven! they lacked nothing for solid silver, my cousins the Varicks, nor yet for fine glass, which I observed without appearance of vulgar curiosity while Cato carved a cold joint of butcher’s roast and cracked the bottles of wine—a claret that perfumed the room like a garden in September.