She stopped; but I took her up. “Did I understand you to say that his love was genuine at the lime?”
“Oh, he thinks it is now—insists it is now! That is just precisely what would make him—do you not see?—stick to his colors all the closer.”
“Goodness!” I murmured. “What a predicament!”
But my hostess nodded easily. “Oh, no. You will see. They will all see.”
I rose to take my leave; my visit, indeed, had been, for very interest, prolonged beyond the limits of formality—my hostess had attended quite thoroughly to my being entertained. And at this point the other, the more severe and elderly lady, made her contribution to my entertainment. She had kept silence, I now felt sure, because gossip was neither her habit nor to her liking. Possibly she may have also felt that her displeasure had been too manifest; at any rate, she spoke out of her silence in cold, yet rich, symmetrical tones.
“This, I understand, is your first visit to Kings Port?”
I told her that it was.
She laid down her exquisite embroidery. “It has been thought a place worth seeing. There is no town of such historic interest at the North.”
Standing by my chair, I assured her that I did not think there could be.
“I heard you allude to my half-sister-in-law, Mrs. Weguelin St. Michael. It was at the house where she now lives that the famous Miss Beaufain (as she was then) put the Earl of Mainridge in his place, at the reception which her father gave the English visitor in 1840. The Earl conducted himself as so many Englishmen seem to think they can in this country; and on her asking him how he liked America, he replied, very well, except for the people, who were so vulgar.
“‘What can you expect?’ said Miss Beaufain; ’we’re descended from the English.’”
“But I suppose you will tell me that your Northern beauties can easily outmatch such wit.”
I hastened to disclaim any such pretension; and having expressed my appreciation of the anecdote, I moved to the door as the stately lady resumed her embroidery.
My hostess had a last word for me. “Do not let the cake worry you.”
Outside the handsome old iron gate I looked at my watch and found that for this day I could spend no more time upon visiting.
IV: THE GIRL BEHIND THE COUNTER—I
I fear—no; to say one “fears” that one has stepped aside from the narrow path of duty, when one knows perfectly well that one has done so, is a ridiculous half-dodging of the truth; let me dismiss from my service such a cowardly circumlocution, and squarely say that I neglected the Cowpens during certain days which now followed. Nay, more; I totally deserted them. Although I feel quite sure that to discover one is a real king’s descendant must bring an exultation of no mean order to the heart, there’s no exultation whatever in failing to