I assented. “And women—you’ll agree?—are always simple when they’re not!”
She finished her sums. “Well, I think he’s foolish!” she frankly stated. “Didn’t Aunt Josephine think so, too?”
“Miss Josephine St. Michael—my greet-aunt—the lady who embroidered. She brought me here from the plantation.”
“No, she wouldn’t talk about it. But don’t you think it is your turn now?”
“I’ve taken my turn!”
“Oh, not much. To say you think he’s foolish isn’t much. You’ve seen him since?”
“Seen him? Since when?”
“Here. Since the postponement. I take it he came himself about it.”
“Yes, he came. You don’t suppose we discussed the reasons, do you?”
“My dear young lady, I suppose nothing, except that you certainly must have seen how he looked (he can blush, you know, handsomely), and that you may have some knowledge or some guess—”
“Some guess why it’s not to be until Wednesday week? Of course he said why. Her poor, dear father, the General, isn’t very well.”
“That, indeed, must be an anxiety for Johnny,” I remarked.
This led her to indulge in some more merriment. “But he does,” she then said, “seem anxious about something.”
“Ah,” I exclaimed. “Then you admit it, too!”
She resorted again to the bland, inquiring stare.
“What he won’t admit,” I explained, “even to his intimate Aunt, because he’s so honorable.”
“He certainly is simple,” she commented, in soft and pensive tones.
“Isn’t there some one,” I asked, “who could—not too directly, of course—suggest that to him?”
“I think I prefer men to be simple,” she returned somewhat quickly.
“Especially when they’re in love,” I reminded her somewhat slowly.
“Do you want some Lady Baltimore to-day?” she inquired in the official Exchange tone.
I rose obediently. “You’re quite right, I should have gone back to the battle of Cowpens long ago, and I’ll just say this—since you asked me what I thought of him—that if he’s descended from that John Mayrant who fought the Serapes under Paul Jones—”
“He is!” she broke in eagerly.
“Then there’s not a name in South Carolina that I’d rather have for my own.”
I intended that thrust to strike home, but she turned it off most competently. “Oh, you mustn’t accept us because of our ancestors. That’s how we’ve been accepting ourselves, and only look where we are in the race!”
“Ah!” I said, as a parting attempt, “don’t pretend you’re not perfectly satisfied—all of you—as to where you are in the race!”
“We don’t pretend anything!” she flashed back.
V: The Boy of the Cake
One is unthankful, I suppose, to call a day so dreary when one has lunched under the circumstances that I have attempted to indicate; the bright spot ought to shine over the whole. But you haven’t an idea what a nightmare in the daytime Cowpens was beginning to be.