“We’re to dine at eight! Everybody is dressing; come on, Dorothy!” cried Cecile. “Mr. Clavarack vowed he’d perish if I kept him waiting—”
“You should see the escort!” said Ruyven to me. “Dragoons, cousin, in leather helmets and jack-boots, and all wearing new sabres taken from the Hessian cavalry. They’re in the quarters with Tim Murphy, of Morgan’s, and, Lord! how thirsty they appear to be!”
“There’s the handsomest man I ever saw,” murmured Cecile to Dorothy, “Captain O’Neil, of the New York line. He’s dying to see you; he said so to Mr. Clavarack, and I heard him.”
Dorothy looked up with heightened color.
“Will you walk the minuet with me, Dorothy?” I whispered.
She looked down, faintly smiling:
“Perhaps,” she said.
“That is no answer,” I retorted, surprised and hurt.
“I know it,” she said, demurely.
“Then answer me, Dorothy!”
She looked at me so gravely that I could not be certain whether it was pretence or earnest.
“I am hostess,” she said; “I belong to my guests. If my duties prevent my walking the minuet with you, I shall find a suitable partner for you, cousin.”
“And no doubt for yourself,” I retorted, irritated to rudeness.
Surprise and disdain were in her eyes. Her raised brows and cool smile boded me no good.
“I thought I was free to choose,” she said, serenely.
“You are, and so am I,” I said. “Will you have me for the minuet?”
We paused in the hallway, facing each other.
She gave me a dangerous glance, biting her lip in silence.
And, the devil possessing me, I said, “For the last time, will you take me?”
“No!” she said, under her breath. “You have your answer now.”
“I have my answer,” I repeated, setting my teeth.
I had bathed and dressed me in my best suit of pale-lilac silk, with flapped waistcoat of primrose stiff with gold, and Cato was powdering my hair; when Sir Lupus waddled in, magnificent in scarlet and white, and smelling to heaven of French perfume and pomatum.
“George!” he cried, in his brusque, explosive fashion, “I like Schuyler, and I care not who knows it! Dammy! I was cool enough with him and his lady when they arrived, but he played Valentine to my Orson till I gave up; yes, I did, George, I capitulated. Says he, ’Sir Lupus, if a painful misunderstanding has kept us old neighbors from an exchange of civilities, I trust differences may be forgotten in this graver crisis. In our social stratum there is but one great line of cleavage now, opened by the convulsions of war, sir.”
“‘Damn the convulsions of war, sir!’ says I.
“‘Quite right,’ says he, mildly; ‘war is always damnable, Sir Lupus.’
“‘General Schuyler,’ says I, ’there is no nonsense about me. You and Lady Schuyler are under my roof, and you are welcome, whatever opinion you entertain of me and my fashion of living. I understand perfectly that this visit is not a visit of ceremony from a neighbor, but a military necessity.’