When I went down to the dinner-table, Juno sat in her best clothes, still discussing the Daughters of Dixie.
I can’t say that I took much more heed of this at dinner than I had done at tea; but I was interested to hear Juno mention that she, too, intended to call upon Hortense Rieppe. Kings Port, she said, must take a consistent position; and for her part, so far as behavior went, she didn’t see much to choose between the couple. “As to whether Mr. Mayrant had really concealed the discovery of his fortune,” she continued, “I asked Miss Josephine—in a perfectly nice way, of course. But old Mr. St. Michael Beaugarcon, who has always had the estate in charge, did that. It is only a life estate, unless Mr. Mayrant has lawful issue. Well, he will have that now, and all that money will be his to squander.”
Aunt Carola had written me again this morning, but I had been in no haste to open her letter; my neglect of the Bombos did not weigh too heavily upon me, I fear, but I certainly did put off reading what I expected to be a reprimand. And concerning this I was right; her first words betokened reprimand at once. “My dear nephew Augustus,” she began, in her fine, elegant handwriting. That was always her mode of address to me when something was coming, while at other times it would be, less portentously, “My dear Augustus,” or “My dear nephew “; but whenever my name and my relationship to her occurred conjointly, I took the communication away with me to some corner, and opened it in solitude.
It wasn’t about the Bombos, though; and for what she took me to task I was able to defend myself, I think, quite adequately. She found fault with me for liking the South too much, and this she based upon the enthusiastic accounts of Kings Port and its people that I had written to her; nor had she at all approved of my remarks on the subject of the negro, called forth by Daddy Ben and his grandson Charles Cotesworth.
“When I sent you (wrote Aunt Carola) to admire Kings Port good-breeding, I did not send you to forget your country. Remember that those people were its mortal enemies; that besides their treatment of our prisoners in Libby and Andersonville (which killed my brother Alexander) they displayed in their dealings, both social and political, an arrogance in success and a childish petulance at opposition, which we who saw and suffered can never forget, any more than we can forget our loved ones who laid down their lives for this cause.”