After many months in which came to me cruel pain and a long hard fight for the honor of my beloved, I cannot but remember that feeling of gratitude that came over me as I went into sleep on that narrow shelf under which lay the beauty of that Madam Patricia Whitworth.
In the eight years that I had become all of life to my father we had made many travels into distant lands and had seen all of beauty that the Old World had to offer seekers after it, but nowhere had I seen the majestic wonder of this, his own land, that I beheld pass by like a series of great pictures wrought by a master. All of the morning I could but sit and gaze with eyes that sometimes dimmed with tears for him as faster and faster I was carried down into his own land of the Valley of Harpeth, which he had given up for love of my Mother and from the cruelness of my wicked Uncle who would not welcome her to his home. When the great Harpeth hills, in their spring flush from the rosiness of what I afterwards learned was their honeysuckle and laurel, shot with the iridescent fire of the pale yellow and green and purple of redbud and dogwood and maple leaf, all veiled in a creamy mist over their radiance, came into view, as we arrived nearer and nearer to Hayesville my hand went forth and grasped closely the hand of Madam Whitworth. That Mr. G. Slade had left the train before my awakening and I felt relief from the absence of his eyes and could express to the beautiful lady the joy that was in my heart.
“And the small homes in the valley, Madam, with the sheep and cattle and grain and children surrounded, they need never fear the fire of shell and the roar of the cruel guns. This valley is a fold in the garment across the breast of the good God Himself and it has His cherishing. Is it that there will be a home for me in its peace and for the small Pierre and the old and faithful Nannette?”
“A home and—and other things, boy—when you ask for them,” she answered me with a very beautiful look of affection that while it pleased me greatly also made for me an unreasonable embarrassment.
“Is it that you think I will obtain the affection of my Uncle, the General Robert Carruthers, Madam Whitworth?” I asked of her with a great wistfulness, for I had told her of his summons to me and she knew already the story of his hardness of heart against my mother.
“The General is a very difficult person,” she made answer to me, and I saw that softness of her beautiful mouth become as steel as she spoke of him. “To a woman he is impossible, as I have found to my cost, but all men adore him and follow him madly, so I suppose his attitude towards them is different from his attitude towards women. My husband and I disagree utterly about the General. In fact, the old gentleman and I are at daggers’ points just now and I am afraid—afraid that he will make it difficult for you to be—be friends with me as I—I want you to be.”
“Neither the General Carruthers nor any man, Madam, dictates in matters of the heart to the Marquise de—that is, to Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye, if that is the way I must so name myself now,” I answered in the manner of the old Marquis of Flanders, tinged with the grande dame manner of the beautiful young Marquise of Grez and Bye whom I had murdered and left in that room of the great hotel of Ritz-Carlton in New York.