I did not send my poem to Aunt Carola, but I wrote her a letter, even there and then, couched in terms which I believe were altogether respectful. I deplored my lack of success in discovering the link that was missing between me and king’s blood; I intimated my conviction that further effort on my part would still be met with failure; and I renounced with fitting expressions of disappointment my candidateship for the Scions thanking Aunt Carola for her generosity, by which I must now no longer profit. I added that I should remain in Kings Port for the present, as I was finding the climate of decided benefit to my health, and the courtesy of the people an education in itself.
Whatever pain at missing the glory of becoming a Scion may have lingered with me after this was much assuaged in a few days by my reading an article in a New York paper, which gave an account of a meeting of my Aunt’s Society, held in that city. My attention was attracted to this article by the prominent heading given to it: They wore their crowns. This in very conspicuous Roman capitals, caused me to sit up. There must have been truth in some of it, because the food eaten by the Scions was mentioned as consisting of sandwiches, sherry and croquettes; yet I think that the statement that the members present addressed each other according to the royal families from which they severally traced descent, as, for example, Brother Guelph and Sister Plantagenet, can scarce have beers aught but an exaggeration; nevertheless, the article brought me undeniable consolation for my disappointment.
After finishing my letter to Aunt Carola I should have hastened out to post it and escape from Cowpens, had I not remembered that John Mayrant had more or less promised to meet me here. Now, there was but a slender chance that he boy would speak to me on the subject of his late encounter; this I must learn from other sources; but he might speak to me about something that would open a way for my hostile preparations against Miss Rieppe. So far he had not touched upon his impending marriage in any way, but this reserve concerning a fact generally known among the people whom I was seeing could hardly go on long without becoming ridiculous. If he should shun mention of it to-day, I would take this as a plain sign that he did not look forward to it with the enthusiasm which a lover ought to feel for his approaching bliss; and on such silence from him I would begin, if I could, to undermine his intention of keeping an engagement of the heart when the heart no longer entered into it.
While my thoughts continued to be busied over this lover and his concerns, I noticed the works of William Shakespeare close beside me upon a shelf; and although it was with no special purpose in mind that I took out one of the volumes and sat down with it to wait for John Mayrant, in a little while an inspiration came to me from its pages, so that I was more anxious than ever the boy should not fail to meet me here in the Library.