“Oh,” Francis laughed, “you incomprehensible Celts!”
“Incomprehensible, indeed!” she said. “Incomprehensible!”
A singing voice broke the talk, rolling strongly, vibrantly through the leaves, a lawless, insistent voice, and Dermott McDermott, with the reins loosened on his horse’s neck, and his ardent eyes looking upward to heaven’s blue, rode by the other side of the privet hedge:
dogs are we,
Fighters in every clime,
Fillers of trench and grave,
Mockers be-mocked by time.
War dogs hungry and gray,
Gnawing a naked bone,
Fighting in every clime
Every cause but our own.’”
“Katrine,” Frank said, as they listened to the singing die away, “what is Dermott McDermott doing in the Carolinas? That story of the Mainwaring titles is nonsense. He is here on some other business.”
“I am not sure,” she answered. “I cannot be certain, but I think it has something to do with Ravenel. I think it has to do with you.”
“With me?” Frank sat erect. “Do you know,” he said, after some thought, “absurd as it may seem, Katrine, I think so, too.”
* * * * *
The sun was far behind the pines when he rose to leave, flattered, softened, with the remembrance of caressing gray eyes, of a voice full of strange cadence, and speech with quaint humor and dramatic turns to the sentences.
“Good-bye,” he said, standing by the boxwood arch. “I am your debtor, Miss Dulany, for one perfectly happy day.”
“My debtor!” she repeated, looking at him through sudden tears. “I’ve known rich men before now, men richer than you, Mr. Ravenel; and great men, though none greater than yourself; and handsome men as well, though here”—and the mutinous humor of her showed in the speech—“I can’t truthfully say I’ve ever seen any handsomer than you are this minute, as you stand looking down at me. It’s your eyes, or something in your nature, perhaps, that sets you apart from others in your looks. But be that all as it may, it’s neither your riches nor your birth nor your good looks that I am thinking about, but your kind heart. I shall never forget you, never in all my life, for what you’ve done for me; and if the time ever comes when you need a friend, for sometimes a man needs the help that only a woman can give, will you remember me then, for I’ll come from the ends of the earth to serve you?” And before he was aware of such an intention, in an ecstasy of gratitude, she raised his hand to her lips and kissed it.
FRANK FALLS FURTHER UNDER KATRINE’S INFLUENCE
When Frank came out on the porch the next morning at Ravenel, he found Patrick Dulany waiting on horse by the main steps. It was the first time the two men had met in daylight, and with the keenest interest Mr. Ravenel inspected his strange overseer; for in the week since his return he had heard much of his wit and his ability.