XII: From the Bedside
Next morning when I saw the weltering sky I resigned myself to a day of dullness; yet before its end I had caught a bright new glimpse of John Mayrant’s abilities, and also had come, through tribulation, to a further understanding of the South; so that I do not, to-day, regret the tribulation. As the rain disappointed me of two outdoor expeditions, to which I had been for some little while looking forward, I dedicated most of my long morning to a sadly neglected correspondence, and trusted that the expeditions, as soon as the next fine weather visited Kings Port, would still be in store for me. Not only everybody in town here, but Aunt Carola, up in the North also, had assured me that to miss the sight of Live Oaks when the azaleas in the gardens of that country seat were in flower would be to lose one of the rarest and most beautiful things which could be seen anywhere; and so I looked out of my window at the furious storm, hoping that it might not strip the bushes at Live Oaks of their bloom, which recent tourists at Mrs. Trevise’s had described as drawing near the zenith of its luxuriance. The other excursion to Udolpho with John Mayrant was not so likely to fall through. Udolpho was a sort of hunting lodge or country club near Tern Creek and an old colonial church, so old that it bore the royal arms upon a shield still preserved as a sign of its colonial origin. A note from Mayrant, received at breakfast, informed me that the rain would take all pleasure from such an excursion, and that he should seize the earliest opportunity the weather might afford to hold me to my promise. The wet gale, even as I sat writing, was beating down some of the full-blown flowers in the garden next Mrs. Trevise’s house, and as the morning wore on I watched the paths grow more strewn with broken twigs and leaves.
I filled my correspondence with accounts of Daddy Ben and his grandson, the carpenter, doubtless from some pride in my part in that, but also because it had become, through thinking it over, even more interesting to-day than it had been at the moment of its occurrence; and in replying to a sort of postscript of Aunt Carola’s in which she hurriedly wrote that she had forgotten to say she had heard the La Heu family in South Carolina was related to the Bombos, and should be obliged to me if I would make inquiries about this, I told her that it would be easy, and then described to her the Teuton, plying his “antiquity” trade externally while internally cherishing his collected skulls and nursing his scientific rage. All my letters were the more abundant concerning these adventures of mine from my having kept entirely silent upon them at Mrs. Trevise’s tea-table. I dreaded Juno when let loose upon the negro question; and the fact that I was beginning to understand her feelings did not at all make me wish to be deafened by them. Neither Juno, therefore, nor any of them learned a word from me about the kettle-supporter incident. What I did take pains to inform the assembled company was my gratification that the report of Mr. Mayrant’s engagement being broken was unfounded; and this caused Juno to observe that in that case Miss Rieppe must have the most imperative reasons for uniting herself to such a young man.