“That’s because you haven’t been here long enough,” he declared.
Over us, gently, from somewhere across the gardens and the walls, came a noiseless water breeze, to which the roses moved and nodded among the tombs. They gave him a fanciful thought. “Look at them! They belong to us, and they know it. They’re saying, ‘Yes; yes; yes,’ all day long. I don’t know why on earth I’m talking in this way to you!” he broke off with vivacity. “But you made me laugh so.”
“Then it was a good laugh, indeed!” I cried heartily.
“Oh, don’t let’s go back to our fine manners!” he begged comically. “We’ve satisfied each other that we have them! I feel so lonely; and my aunt just now—well, never mind about that. But you really must excuse us about Miss Beaufain, and all that sort of thing. I see it, because I’m of the new generation, since the war, and—well, I’ve been to other places, too. But Aunt Eliza, and all of them, you know, can’t see it. And I wouldn’t have them, either! So I don’t ever attempt to explain to them that the world has to go on. They’d say, ‘We don’t see the necessity!’ When slavery stopped, they stopped, you see, just like a clock. Their hand points to 1865—it has never moved a minute since. And some day”— his voice grew suddenly tender—“they’ll go, one by one, to join the still older ones. And I shall miss them very much.”
For a moment I did not speak, but watched the roses nodding and moving. Then I said: “May I say that I shall miss them, too?”
He looked at me. “Miss our old Kings Port people?” He didn’t invite outsiders to do that!
“Don’t you see how it is?” I murmured. “It was the same thing once with us.”
“The same thing—in the North?” His tone still held me off.
“The same sort of dear old people—I mean charming, peppery, refined, courageous people; in Salem, in Boston, in New York, in every place that has been colonial, and has taken a hand in the game.” And, as certain beloved memories of men and women rose in my mind, I continued: “If you knew some of the Boston elder people as I have known them, you would warm with the same admiration that is filling me as I see your people of Kings Port.”
“But politics?” the young Southerner slowly suggested.
“Oh, hang slavery! Hang the war!” I exclaimed. “Of course, we had a family quarrel. But we were a family once, and a fine one, too! We knew each other, we visited each other, we wrote letters, sent presents, kept up relations; we, in short, coherently joined hands from one generation to another; the fibres of the sons tingled with the current from their fathers, back and back to the old beginnings, to Plymouth and Roanoke and Rip Van Winkle! It’s all gone, all done, all over. You have to be a small, well-knit country for that sort of exquisite personal unitedness. There’s