This was not the first time the great house had rendered a like service to the little house, and so Katy did not blush when she explained how her mother wanted Morris’ forks, and saltcellars, and spoons, and would he be kind enough to bring the castor over himself, and come to dinner to-morrow at two o’clock?—and would he go after Mr. Cameron? The forks, and saltcellars, and spoons, and castor were cheerfully promised, while Morris consented to go for the guest; and then Katy came to the rest of her errand, the part distasteful to her, inasmuch as it might look like throwing disrespect upon Uncle Ephraim—honest, unsophisticated Uncle Ephraim—who would come to the table in his shirt sleeves. This was the burden of her grief—the one thing she dreaded most, inasmuch as she knew by experience how such an act was looked upon by Mr. Cameron, who, never having lived in the country a day in his life, except as he was either guest or traveler, could not make due allowance for these little departures from refinement, so obnoxious to people of his training.
“What is it, Katy?” Morris asked, as he saw how she hesitated, and guessed her errand was not done.
“I hope you will not think me foolish or wicked,” Katy began, her eyes filling with tears, as she felt that she might be doing Uncle Ephraim a wrong by even admitting that in any way he could be improved. “I certainly love Uncle Ephraim dearly, and I do not mind his ways, but Mr. Cameron may—that is, oh, Cousin Morris! did you ever notice how Uncle Ephraim will persist in coming to the table in his shirt sleeves.”
“Persist is hardly the word to use,” Morris replied, smiling comically, as he readily understood Katy’s misgivings. “Persist would imply his having been often remonstrated with for that breach of etiquette; whereas I doubt much whether the idea that it was not in strict accordance with politeness was ever suggested to him.”
“Maybe not,” Katy answered. “It was never necessary till now, and I feel so disturbed, for I want Mr. Cameron to like him, and if he does that I am sure he won’t.”
“Why do you think so?” Morris asked, and Katy replied: “He is so particular, and was so very angry at a little hotel between Lakes George and Champlain, where we took our dinner before going on the boat. There was a man along—a real good-natured man, too, so kind to everybody—and, as the day was warm, he carried his coat on his arm, and sat down to the table that way, right opposite me. Mr. Cameron was so indignant, and said such harsh things, which the man heard, I am sure, for he put on his coat directly; and I saw him afterward on the boat, sweating like rain, and looking sorry as if he had done something wrong. I am sure, though, he had not?”