“And, believing that Ravenel did not belong to Mr. Ravenel,” she continued, “you encouraged him to build the railroad?”
“I neither encouraged nor discouraged that enterprise,” Dermott answered. “Fate steered, and did it well.”
“And Mrs. Ravenel?” The name, as she spoke it, was a remonstrance.
“Mademoiselle Dulany,” Dermott answered, “indeed you’ve a wrong conception of the matter. There is to be no stage play or newspaper work in the case. It will be quietly adjusted. The Ravenels are not people to permit any publicity. There will be compromises. Mrs. Ravenel, I hope, need never know the facts in the case. There is none need ever know, save Frank.”
“You have never liked him, have you, Dermott?” Katrine asked, with directness.
“Never,” Dermott answered, with a frankness matching her own.
“Faith, and there are three excellent reasons,” Dermott returned, with something of his old manner: “He was himself; I was myself; and a third,” he paused, with all the power of his personality in his great gray eyes, “a third,” he repeated, “which I hope some time to explain to you at great length, little Katrine.”
THE INFLUENCE OF WORK
Of Francis Ravenel at this time much could be written. In the first months of his separation from Katrine, during all of the period of his mother’s illness, he remained firm in the intention expressed in the unsent letter to visit her in Paris, ask her forgiveness, and make her a formal offer of marriage. But quick on the heels of his return to New York had followed the railroad business, to which Dermott McDermott’s insolence had added new reason for making the enterprise a successful one.
But underneath the several postponements of visiting Katrine, the real cause of them all, in fact, was a fear of the well-merited rebuff which he might receive from her. He understood her pride well; and although he believed that she had not ceased to love him, he doubted if he held her respect, and many times, when instinct bade him go to her, he had recalled the pleading tones of her voice in that last interview, when she had cried: “We may never meet again! Ah, please God, we may never meet again!”
Katrine’s letters, which came to him with perfect regularity, kept him closely in touch with her daily life in Paris. He looked anxiously in them for any variation in her sentiments toward himself, but found none.
Reading one night in Firdousi, he discovered a passage which described Katrine so perfectly to him that he put a marker between the pages of the book, and kept it by his bedside to read at night as a pious person might have kept the confession of his faith.