“Indeed, I have much joy that I was given the opportunity to know the very beautiful Madam Whitworth at so early a time in my life in America,” I made answer to her question in words as I bent also over her hand for a kiss of salutation.
And then I had a great amusement at the skill with which that Madam Whitworth brought it to pass that I walked with her from that gate and left the three new and lovely friends I had made looking after me with affection and regret at my departure.
“Of course, it was horrid of me to snatch you like that from those infants, but—I really had the claim to have you for a little time to hear your impressions of Hayesville, now, didn’t I?—you boy with eyes as beautiful as a girl’s!” she said to me as I walked down the wide street beside her.
“I hope you will always make such claims of me, Madam,” I made answer with the great sweetness with which I was determined for the time to keep covered the steel knife.
“I know how to claim—and also to reward,” she answered me with a warmth that gave me a great discomfort. “And how did you escape from the General into feminine society on your very first day? Wasn’t there work for you at the Capitol? I understand that they are expecting that French Commissioner very soon now.” She asked the question with an indifference that I knew to be false.
“I think it is that I am allowed to get my—what you say in English?—land legs,” I answered with much unconcern.
“Speaking of that Frenchman who is coming down for the mule contracts, of which by this time you have doubtless heard, I wonder why it is that the Count of Lasselles, your friend, is sending one of his lieutenants instead of coming himself. Did he say anything of coming down later? I wish he would, for to my mind he is one of your greatest soldiers and I would like to look into his face. That portrait in the Review is one of the most interesting I have almost ever seen. Is there any chance of his coming down?” And I was of a great curiosity at the anxiety in her face about the movements of my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
“He told me only that he would go to the grain fields of English Canada, Madam,” I answered her by guardedly telling her no more than my words upon that train had revealed to her.
“If he writes to you, you must tell me about it,” she said with great friendliness. “I am interested in everything that happens to him.”
“I will do that, with thanks for your interest,” I answered to her with an air of great devotion. “And behold, is it not the Twin Oaks of my Uncle I see across the street?” I asked as I stopped in front of that fine old home that was now mine.
“Come on down the street to my home and I’ll give you a cup of tea,” she invited me with very evident desire for my company for more questioning.
“I give many thanks, but that is not possible to me, as I must write notes to my Pierre and old Nannette for the evening railroad. I bid you good day, beautiful Madam,” and again I bent over her hand in a salutation of departure.