It has been my good fortune to be one of the guests at many very brilliant receptions of much state in some of the very grand and ancient palaces of the different countries of Europe, but at none of them have I seen a greater brilliancy than at the one given in his Mansion by the Gouverneur Faulkner of the State of Harpeth in America. All of that old Mansion, which has the high ceilings and the decorations of a palace, if not quite the size, was adorned with very large masses of a most lovely and handsome flower, which is of many shades of a pink hue set in dark and shining leaves and which is called the rhododendron. There were many lights and music of a softness I have never heard equaled, because the souls of those black men seem to be formed for a very strange kind of music. Also I had never beheld women of a more loveliness than those of the State of Harpeth, who had come from many small cities near to Hayesville at an invitation of very careful selection for their beauty by my Buzz.
“Let’s give him a genuine dazzle,” he had remarked while making a list for the sending of the cards.
And most beautiful of all those beautiful grande dames was that Madam Patricia Whitworth, who, with her husband, stood at the side of His Excellency, the great Gouverneur Faulkner, for the receiving of his guests. Her eyes of the blue flowers set in the snow of crystals were in a gleaming and the costume that she wore was but a few wisps of gossamer used for the revealing of her radiant body. In my black and stiff attire of the raven I stood near to the other hand of the Gouverneur Faulkner and there was such an anger for her in my heart that it was difficult that I made a return of the smile she cast upon me at every few minutes. Was there a mockery in that smile, that she had discovered my woman’s estate and was using her own beauty for a challenge to me? I could not tell nor could I judge exactly what the smile of boldness which the Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon, cast upon me, might mean. And in doubt and anxiety I stood there in that great salon for many hours to make conversation with the guest of honor easy with those who came to him for presentation, until at last I was so weary that I could not make even a good night to my Uncle, the General Robert, when we entered, long after midnight, the doors of Twin Oaks.
When in my own apartment, alone with the beautiful Grandmamma, I cast myself upon the bed upon which my father had had birth, and wept with all my woman’s heart which beat so hard under that attire of the raven.
“Scarcely one more day and perhaps I must flee in dishonor from all the love of these friends,” I sobbed to myself, but deeper than all that I wept for the picture of that beautiful woman at the side of my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner.
And then suddenly as I lay in my weeping the telephone upon the table beside my bed gave a loud ringing in the darkness that was long after midnight. Very quickly from fear I covered my head with my pillow and waited with a great fluttering of heart.