“Yes, my Uncle Robert,” I answered with a great sadness but also some amusement. In my heart I prayed that always when I had left him he would think that blood to be the good red blood of a man of honor and not of a woman of lies. It might be that some day he would be proud that still another man of his house had died in battle for France and—never know.
It was while my eyes were covered with a mist of tears that I heard the great railway train approaching, which was perhaps to bring me my dishonor, and I drew those tears back into my heart and stepped forward to the steps of the car from which I could see a very slight and short but very distinguished looking Frenchman about to descend.
“I thank the good God I have never before encountered him,” I said in my heart as I stood in front of him.
“Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon, I make you welcome to the State of Harpeth, in the name of my Uncle, the Secretary of that State,” I said to him in the language of his own country as I clapped together my heels and gave to him the bow from the waist of a French gentleman who is not a soldier. “Will you permit that I lead you to that Uncle?”
“Many thanks, Monsieur, is it Carruthers I name you after your distinguished relative?” he made answer to me as he returned my bow with first one of its kind and then a military salute.
“Robert Carruthers, sir, and at your service,” I made answer to him with a great formality. And as I spoke I saw that he gave to me a glance of great curiosity and would have asked a question but at that moment my Uncle, the General Robert, stood beside us.
“I present to you the General Carruthers, Secretary of the State of Harpeth, Monsieur the Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon of the forty-fourth Chasseurs of the Republique of France.” I said with again a great ceremony and a very deep bow.
“I’m mighty glad to welcome you to Old Harpeth, Count. How did you make the trip down? said my Uncle, the General Robert, as he held out his large and beautiful old hand and gave to the Count Edouard de Bourdon such a clasp that must have been to him most painful. And as I beheld that very tall grand old soldier of that Lost Cause look down upon that very polished and small representative of the French army, that American eagle began a flapping of his wings against the strings of my heart where I had not before discovered him to reside.
“But he is not as my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles,” I said in reproof to that eagle, which made a quiet in my heart so that I could listen to the words returned by the man of France to the man of America.
“I thank you, Monsieur the Secretary of Harpeth; my journey was of great pleasure and comfort,” were the words which he returned in very nice English.
“Then we’ll go right up and see Governor Faulkner at the Capitol before lunch, Count, if that suits you,” my Uncle, the General Robert, said with a very evident relief at those words of English coming from that French mouth. “Here’s my car over this way and this is Mr. Clendenning, who’ll look after the rest of the gentlemen in your party and bring them on up to the Capitol.”