“Walk right in, sir,” said old Cato to me as he gave a low bow of very great courtesy. Then he looked with eyes of great keenness into my stormy face. “Make a cross on the floor with that hoodoo in your shoe, little mas’, ef you git in danger or need of luck,” he whispered to me, coming very close. And as he directed I so performed at the very entrance of the audience chamber of the great Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth. Then, with a fine relief on his face, good Cato flung open the door and announced me with great ceremony.
In that room I found my Uncle, the General Robert, and the Gouverneur Faulkner in deep consultation and they both turned towards me with anxiety in their faces.
“What did you make of the letters, boy?” asked my Uncle, the General Robert, with keen anxiety. The great Gouverneur was silent and for the first time since I had looked into his face my eyes did not glance in his direction.
“They both announce the arrival on Tuesday of the Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon, to sign the contracts concerning the mules to be sold by the State of Harpeth to the Republique of France, sir,” I answered in a cold and formal voice and then stood at an attention for any more questions.
“The devil they do!” exclaimed my Uncle, the General Robert, while still the Gouverneur Faulkner was silent. “Do they give no excuse for being nearly ten days ahead of time, sir?”
“No, honored Uncle,” I answered. “Madam Whitworth said to me that the Gouverneur Faulkner had set that date for the arrival of the Commission, and had so informed her; and I think that to be the reason for absence of such excuses.” And as I made that answer, which was one of great impertinence from a secretary to a chief who was a great gouverneur, I looked with cold calmness into the dark star eyes under their black lashes, which were darting lightnings of anger at my words.
“God!” exclaimed my Uncle, the General Robert Carruthers, and he turned white with a trembling as he faced the lightning in those eyes of the stars. But it was not to his Secretary of State that the great Gouverneur Faulkner made his denial but to his humble secretary, Robert Carruthers, who looked without fear into the very depths of those lightnings.
“This is the first time I have heard of a change of date for the arrival of the commission, Robert,” he said in a calm voice as for a second his eyes held mine, a second which was sufficient for a truth to pass from his heart and still the storm in mine. I did not understand all that his eyes said of a great hurt but I knew that what he spoke was true and would always be.
“And what were you doing gossiping with that lying hussy, sir?” demanded my Uncle, the General Robert, with instant belief in the word of that Gouverneur Faulkner, turning his anger upon me, who stood and took it with such a joy in my heart from the truth that had come into it from those eyes of the night stars, that I did not even feel its violence.