“And then, boy, you’ll slip on the thin ice when you least expect it,” came in the deep voice of the Gouverneur Faulkner from a shadow at my elbow. “I sometimes think that they love us just to double-cross our life’s ambitions, but don’t you begin to suspect that for years to come.”
“A man’s life must be rooted in the heart of a woman if it would bear fruit, Monsieur le Gouverneur,” I found myself saying as in the person of the Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, I drew myself to my full height with pride in defense of my own sex. “A man doubts that to his own dishonor.”
“Yes, but it must be a pure heart that nourishes a man to his full fruitage—and, boy, don’t you take even a sip—until you are sure there are such founts of refreshment.”
“I would that you could look into my heart, my Gouverneur Faulkner,” I said as I raised my hand and laid it against the raven garment that covered my soft breast that was rent with pain at the sadness of his voice and his deep eyes. “There you would see the heart of one—” Suddenly I stopped in the deepest dismay and the daredevil quaked in her trousers.
“I would probably see the heart of—shall I say, Galahad Junior? God bless you, boy, you are refreshing.” And he laughed as he laid his strong hands on my shoulder and gave to me a good shake.
“Are you my comrade Launcelot?” I asked him with a sudden fierce pain again in my breast under the raven coat at the thought of what that Queen of the yellow hair had done to that brave Knight of the Round Table of King Arthur.
“I don’t think I’ll answer your—your impertinence, boy. Just keep foxing with Sue and Belle and the rest of the posy girls and—and keep away from the pools—of—of other eyes.” And after another shaking he turned me towards the door of that ballroom of lights and music.
At the command of the Gouverneur Faulkner there was nothing I could do but go back to the ballroom and to float for more minutes in the land of cloud with the “girl bunch,” as my friend that Buzz has named them; but at supper I took my seat at the table with that beautiful Madam Whitworth and her husband of the very drooping black mustache and eyes that looked at all places except into those of the person addressing him. And at that moment I made this resolve to myself: “That Gouverneur Launcelot may ride far out of the white road, but I intend to run at his stirrup.” And I found that it required swift running, for the road led—shall I say—into “tall timbers.”
It is with a burning of countenance that arises from a hot shame, which I do not even to this moment exactly understand, that I recall to my mind that half hour which Mr. Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye spent with the beautiful Madam Patricia Whitworth in one of the deep windows that looked from the private study of His Excellency of the State of Harpeth, over into the great hills that surround the city. Things happened in this wise: That Madam Whitworth made