The crimson had faded, the twilight was altogether come, but the little noiseless breeze was blowing still; and as we left the quiet tombs behind us, and gained Worship Street, I could not help looking back where slept that older Kings Port about which I had heard and had said so much. Over the graves I saw the roses, nodding and moving, as if in acquiescent revery.
“Which of them is idealizing?” This was the question that I asked myself, next morning, in my boarding-house, as I dressed for breakfast; the next morning is—at least I have always found it so—an excellent time for searching questions; and to-day I had waked up no longer beneath the strong, gentle spell of the churchyard. A bright sun was shining over the eastern waters of the town, I could see from my upper veranda the thousand flashes of the waves; the steam yacht rode placidly and competently among them, while a coastwise steamer was sailing by her, out to sea, to Savannah, or New York; the general world was going on, and— which of them was idealizing? It mightn’t be so bad, after all. Hadn’t I, perhaps, over-sentimentalized to myself the case of John Mayrant? Hadn’t I imagined for him ever so much more anxiety than the boy actually felt? For people can idealize down just as readily as they can idealize up. Of Miss Hortense Rieppe I had now two partial portraits—one by the displeased aunts, the other by their chivalric nephew; in both she held between her experienced lips, a cigarette; there the similarity ceased. And then, there was the toboggan fire-escape. Well, I must meet the living original before I could decide whether (for me, at any rate) she was the “brute” as seen by the eyes of Mrs. Gregory St. Michael, or the “really nice girl” who was going to marry John Mayrant on Wednesday week. Just at this point my thoughts brought up hard again at the cake. No; I couldn’t swallow that any better this morning than yesterday afternoon! Allow the gentleman to pay for the feast! Better to have omitted all feast; nothing simpler, and it would have been at least dignified, even if arid. But then, there was the lady (a cousin or an aunt—I couldn’t remember which this morning) who had told me she wasn’t solicitous. What did she mean by that? And she had looked quite queer when she spoke about the phosphates. Oh, yes, to be sure, she was his intimate aunt! Where, by the way, was Miss Rieppe?
By the time I had eaten my breakfast and walked up Worship Street to the post-office I was full of it all again; my searching thoughts hadn’t simplified a single point. I always called for my mail at the post-office, because I got it sooner; it didn’t come to the boarding-house before I had departed on my quest for royal blood, whereas, this way, I simply got my letters at the corner of Court and Worship streets and walked diagonally across and down Court a few steps to my researches, which I could vary and alleviate by reading and answering news from home.