It was not far to the De Nemours’ house. Although very late, it would doubtless be filled with friends congratulating Katrine, and under the circumstances, he reasoned, there could seem no precipitancy in calling immediately to offer congratulations.
He found the house a blaze of light, with servants going back and forth with arms full of flowers. In front there were many carriages and fiacres. By the entrance arch were several newspaper men, one of whom spoke Frank’s name as he passed. Everywhere there was an air of bustle and disorder. On the second floor he saw lights being carried from one room to another, as though hurried preparations were being made.
Giving his card to the French servant, who had ushered him with an important and excited manner into a small reception-room, he waited. His heart throbbed like a school-boy’s with his first love. In a minute he would see her, would hold her hand. In his pocket he carried a letter, one of Katrine’s many letters, to “The Dear Unknown.”
“I have not forgotten this old love,” she had written, “I shall never forget. I never close my eyes without thinking of him nor without a prayer for him upon my lips.”
Suddenly there came a laugh, a jolly, musical sound of real mirth, and he heard Dermott’s voice dominating and directing on the upper floor. Immediately after there came a silence, and then, from the turn in the stairs, he heard the same voice, with a touch of insolence, speaking to the servant to whom he had given the card:
“Say to Mr. Ravenel that Mademoiselle Dulany regrets that it is impossible for her to see him.” And then, with a dramatic note, “Tell him,” the Irishman added, “she leaves within an hour to sing before the Queen.”
FRANK AND KATRINE MEET AT THE VAN RENSSELAER’S
In the three months which followed Katrine’s great success, Frank heard of her constantly, always with a curious self-belittling and a reviewing of his own conduct, fine in its self-depreciation. He had betrayed the great unspoken trust of the finest human being he had ever known, and afterward dallied, for fear of rebuff to his vanity, from squaring the account as well as he could by giving her a chance to refuse him openly. He felt that he could never again be to her what he had been. Three years of such work as she had done would change her ideals much.
He reflected, too, upon the changes in himself, one of the greatest being his recognition of the sound virtues of Dermott McDermott. There had been times when circumvention by this son of Erin had been so masterly, so deft, so unexpected that Frank had felt like extending a congratulating hand. Once he had actually laughed aloud, at a board meeting, over an election which McDermott had dictated. But these things assumed a new importance when he thought of Dermott’s love for Katrine, for the queer Celtic genius was singularly unattuned to failure in anything, and never, in any matter save that of the railroad, could Frank claim a complete victory. And those who believed the railroad issue still unsettled were not wanting.