“Katrine, little Katrine, where are you?” a voice cried, thickly and uncertainly, as a man came from under the gloom of the trees. There was not a moment’s hesitation. The child rose and put her arms around the figure with a divine, womanly gesture, as though to shield him and his infirmities from the whole world. It was the action of one ashamed to be ashamed.
“Daddy,” she said, laying her head against his shoulder, “this is Mr. Ravenel!”
A KINDNESS WITH MIXED MOTIVES
In the walk home through the gloom of the night Frank Ravenel thought of many things not hitherto considered in his philosophy. The women whom he had known had presented few complexities to him. That he should be giving a second thought to Katrine Dulany seemed humorous; but the more he resolved to put her from his thoughts the more vivid the memory of her became. He recalled his emotion when their eyes first met, and the remembrance brought again the tightening of the throat which he had on the hilltop. He could feel the clinging pressure of the slender hand, could hear again the voice like a caress, and her words, “You are good—good—good!” kept repeating themselves somewhere in the recesses of his brain to the tune of an old song.
“Good!” he ejaculated. “God, if she only knew!”
He had stated to his mother at the outset of the walk that he had no plans; but in reality his summer had been fairly well arranged before his return, lacking only a few set dates to fill the time till October. The party at Ravenel would be over in a fortnight, and then—the thought of another woman who loved him and a certain husband yachting on the Mediterranean crossed his mind for an instant with annoyance and a little shame.
The girl on the hill had had a more disturbing effect than any one that ever came into his life before. Looking down the vista of probable events, he saw nothing but trouble for her if he remained at Ravenel—saw it as reasonably and as logically as though he were contemplating the temptation of another. An affair with the daughter of his overseer, a very young person, was a manifest impossibility for him, Francis Ravenel; his pride and such honor as he had where women were concerned forbade it. But even as he reached this decision the voice of gold came back to him:
“And the night for love
Darling, come to me!”
How she could love a man! He recalled her gesture when she said: “I will tell you everything”! The glance through the lashes—“I’ve a fancy for my own way”! the forgetting of his presence for the song-singing and the sunset, coming back to talk with him; a pleading child!
By the lake he paused, and, looking into the moonlit water, came to his conclusions sanely enough. He would see her no more. There would be many people for the next fortnight to occupy his time; the coming folks were interesting. Anne Lennox would be there; the time would pass; he would leave Ravenel; but as he dropped asleep a voice seemed to call to him through the pines, and he knew he would not go.