Soon after the Paris visit, Frank heard, through Anne Lennox, of the death of Madame de Nemours. The letter reiterated, as well, that Katrine had sung to England’s good old Queen. Before this confirmation Frank had doubted this statement as one of the outputs of Dermott’s oriental imagination.
In August, having had no letter from Katrine or his mother for over a month, he accepted Nick van Rensselaer’s invitation to Waring-on-the-Sea, with no knowledge whatever as to the other members of the party. As he was driven up the carriageway, under great New England pines, and saw the shining sea and the far-off Magnolia hills, he thought, for the first time, of other guests who would probably be there, and recalled with annoyance how one meets the same people everywhere. After he had dressed for dinner, he stood looking from the balcony of his room into the twilight thinking of Katrine, and wondering why her monthly letter had not arrived.
At the foot of the stairs he encountered Sally Porter, whom he had not met since she had been his mother’s guest at Ravenel, three years before.
“Why, Frank Ravenel!” she cried, at sight of him. “I thought you were in—where did we hear he was, mother?”
“Several places, my dear,” her mother responded, placidly.
“Java, Japan, or Jupiter,” Nick van Rensselaer broke in, coming forward with outstretched hand. “How are you, old man!”
As Frank returned the grip he looked over Nick’s shoulder to a merry group which stood near the entrance to the music-room, and his amazed eyes rested upon Katrine Dulany. A new Katrine, yet still the old. She wore white lace. Her black hair was parted and rippled over the ears into a low coil. There was even more the look of an August peach to her than he remembered: dusky pink with decided yellow in the curve of her chin, as he had once laughingly asserted. But the softness and uplifted expression of the misty blue eyes were the same, and added to all was the repose of manner which comes only from the consciousness of power or of sorrows lived beyond.
For a moment he seemed unable to make any effort to go to her, and then came to him an intense consciousness of himself, of her, and their mutual past. As their eyes met, however, he discovered that whatever embarrassment existed was his own, for Katrine saw him, seemed to make sure that her eyes did not deceive her, and with a glad smile stretched both hands toward him.
“Why, it’s Mr. Ravenel!” she cried.
Her eyes rested in his as she spoke. “It has been three, oh, so many years, since we have met,” she began, with a smile.
“Don’t,” he answered, holding her hands. “It was only yesterday.”
“Three yesterdays,” she said, with the old “make-believe” look in her eyes. “Half a week. Somehow it seems longer, doesn’t it?”
“I was sorry to miss seeing you in Paris last May,” Frank said. “I wanted so much to congratulate you; but congratulations would have been an old story even at that time.”