He looked off at the sky a moment.
Then came his inevitable addendum, which was: “I hed a dam sight more tail ’an he did, thet ’s sartin.”
About ten o’clock we came in sight of our old home. Then we hurried our horses, and came up to the door with a rush. A stranger met us there.
“Are you Captain Bell?” said he, as I got off my horse.
“I am one of your father’s tenants,” he went on. “Ride over the ridge yonder about half a mile, and you will see his house.” I looked at D’ri and he at me. He had grown pale suddenly, and I felt my own surprise turning into alarm.
“Are they well?” I queried.
“Very well, and looking for you,” said he, smiling.
We were up in our saddles, dashing out of the yard in a jiffy. Beyond the ridge a wide mile of smooth country sloped to the river margin. Just off the road a great house lay long and low in fair acres. Its gables were red-roofed, its walls of graystone half hidden by lofty hedges of cedar. We stopped our horses, looking off to the distant woods on each side of us.
“Can’t be,” said D’ri, soberly, his eyes squinting in the sunlight.
“Wonder where they live,” I remarked.
“All looks mighty cur’us,” said he. “‘Tain’ no way nat’ral.”
“Let’s go in there and ask,” I suggested.
We turned in at the big gate and rode silently over a driveway of smooth gravel to the door. In a moment I heard my father’s hearty hello, and then my mother came out in a better gown than ever I had seen her wear. I was out of the saddle and she in my arms before a word was spoken. My father, hardy old Yankee, scolded the stamping horse, while I knew well he was only upbraiding his own weakness.
“Come, Ray; come, Darius,” said my mother, as she wiped her eyes; “I will show you the new house.”
A man took the horses, and we all followed her into the splendid hall, while I was filled with wonder and a mighty longing for the old home.
It was a fine house—that in which I spent many happy years back in my young manhood. Not, indeed, so elegant and so large as this where I am now writing, but comfortable. To me, then, it had an atmosphere of romance and some look of grandeur. Well, in those days I had neither a sated eye, nor gout, nor judgment of good wine. It was I who gave it the name of Fairacres that day when, coming out of the war, we felt its peace and comfort for the first time, and, dumfounded with surprise, heard my mother tell the story of it.