With a smile she crossed the room to where, upon the side-board (a side-board is an adjunct of all well-regulated libraries in old Kentucky), a snowy damask cloth concealed glorious somethings. With a graceful sweep she took it from them and revealed three juleps in their glory of green-crowns. “Look, Colonel!”
“Three! Great heavens!” the Colonel cried, delighted. He took one and disposed of it in haste.
“I mixed them myself,” Miss ’Lethe said.
The Colonel drank another, but less rapidly.
“Remember,” she said, warningly, “three and no more!”
“Yes, yes,” he granted. “I must save the other one.” It was difficult to sip it, for Miss Alathea’s juleps were like nectar to his thirsty palate, but he restrained himself and drank of this last ambrosial glass with great deliberation, trying to make it last as long as possible.
“What are all those bundles, Colonel?” asked Miss Alathea, pointing to the packages which old Neb had brought in.
“They’re for Madge. She bought them yesterday.” He sighed. “Ah, will you ever forget yesterday?”
“Oh, don’t speak of it!”
“Can’t help it.” The Colonel waxed enthusiastic at the mere memory of the great occasion. “Whoopee!” he cried. “What a race it was!”
“To think,” said Miss Alathea, “that I—I—should enter a race-track!”
“To think that I—should stay out of one!”
“It was all your fault, Colonel,” said Miss Alathea. “In your excitement after the race you grasped my hand and I was compelled to follow.”
“How strange!” exclaimed the Colonel, slowly, with a slight smile tickling at the corners of his mouth. “At times I fancied you were in the lead, I following.”
“Colonel,” said the lady slowly, “perhaps I might as well confess. I’ve made a discovery. The sin isn’t so much in looking at the horses run—it’s in betting on them. That’s where souls are lost.”
“And likewise money,” said the Colonel, nodding, gravely.
“So, Colonel, if you’ll promise not to bet, I’ve no objection to your attending the races in moderation.”
In delighted amazement the Colonel forgot that that last julep could be brought to a quick end by hurried management and took a hasty and a mammoth swallow. “What!” he cried. “Can I believe it? Miss ’Lethe, you’re an angel! It’s the last drop in my cup of happiness!”
Miss Alathea shyly smiled—smiled, indeed, a bit shame-facedly. “There’s one condition, Colonel—that you take me along—yes, to watch over you.”
“Take you with me?” said the Colonel. He paused in puzzled contemplation of her for an instant. “Oh, I catch on. You’ll go with the children to see the animals!” He laughed. “You rather like it.” He became enthusiastic. “No more knot-holes or trees for us! At last—two souls with but a single thought, two hearts that beat when Queen Bess won! Here’s to our future happiness!”