“After this, James Hardin, you can consider yourself safe from any of my attentions or intentions,” I laughed to myself, as I turned my face into the pillow, that was faintly scented from the lavender in which Mother had always kept her linen. “I’ve been in Glendale two hours, and one man is on the home base with his fingers crossed. James, you are free! Oh, Jane!”
A FLINT SPARK
The greatest upheavals of nature are those that arrive suddenly, without notifying the world days beforehand of their intentions of splitting the crust of the Universe wide open. One is coming to Glendale by degrees, but the town hasn’t found out about it yet. I’m the only one who sees it, and I’m afraid to tell.
When Old Harpeth, who has been looking down on a nice, peaceful, man ordained, built, and protected world, woke Glendale up the morning after my arrival and found me defiantly alone in the home of my fathers—also of each of my foremothers, by the courtesy of dower—he muttered and drew a veil of mist across his face. Slight showers ensued, but he had to come out in less than an hour from pure curiosity. I found the old garden heavenly in its riot of neglected buds, shoots, and blooms, wet and welcoming with the soft odors of Heaven itself.
It was well I was out early to enjoy it, for that was to be the day of my temptation and sore trial. I am glad I have recorded it all, for I might have forgotten some day how wonderfully my very pliant, feminine attitude rubbed in my masculine intentions as to my life on the blind side of all the forces brought to bear on me to put me back into my predestined place in the scheme of the existence.
“Your Cousin James’s home is the place for you, Evelina, and until he explained to me how you felt last night I was deeply hurt that you hadn’t come straight, with Sallie, to me and to him,” said Cousin Martha, in as severe a voice as was possible for such a placid individual to produce. Cousin Martha is completely lovely, and the Mossback gets his beauty from her. She is also such a perfect dear that her influence is something terrific, even if negatively expressed.
“I have come to help you get your things together, so you can move over before dinner,” she continued with gentle force. “Now, what shall we put in the portmanteau first? I see you have unpacked very little, and I am glad that it confirms me in my feeling that your coming over here for the night was just a dutiful sentiment for your lost loved ones, and not any unmaidenly sense of independence in the matter of choice where it is best for you to live. Of course, such a question as that must be left to your guardian, and of course James will put you under my care.”
“I—I really thought that perhaps Cousin James did not have room for me, Cousin Martha,” I answered meekly. “How many families has he with him now?” I asked with a still further meekness that was the depths of wiliness.