“I s’pose we might as well get her room ready,” he suggested. “She may come, anyway, you know.”
Miss Chris looked up with a laugh from the delicate saucer she was wiping.
“I know it,” she admitted; “and I’ll see to her room. But your letter was positive, I hope?”
“Y-e-s,” answered the general lamely, and he returned to the Richmond papers with an eager flush in his face.
The next day when Eugenia reached Kingsborough she found the dilapidated carriage awaiting her, with Sampson upon the driver’s seat. With an impetuous flutter she threw her arms about the necks of the old horses. “Why, you dear things!” she cried; then she held out her hand to Sampson. “I’m glad to see you, Sampson,” she said. “But why didn’t papa come to meet me?”
Her animated eyes glanced joyously from side to side and her lips were brimming with the delight of homecoming.
Sampson turned the wheel for her as she got into the carriage, and gave her the linen lap-robe.
“You sho is growed, Miss Eugeny,” he observed, and then in reply to her question, “Marse Tom hev got pow’ful stiff-jinted recentelly. Hit seems like he’d ruther sot right still den ease hisse’f outer his cheer. Sence Ole Miss Grissel done drop down dead uv er political stroke, he ain’ step ‘roun’ mo’n he bleeged ter.”
The carriage jolted through Kingsborough, and Eugenia bowed smilingly to her acquaintances. Once she stopped to shake hands with the rector and again to kiss Sally Burwell, who flew into her arms.
“Why, Eugie! you—you beauty!” she cried. Eugenia laughed delightedly, her black eyes glowing.
“Am I good-looking?” she asked. “I’m so glad. But I’ll never be as pretty as you, you dear, sweet thing. I’m too big.”
They laughed and kissed again, and Eugenia stepped from the carriage to greet the judge, who was passing.
“This is a sight for sore eyes, my dear,” said the judge, his fine old face wreathed in smiles. Then, as his gaze ran over her full, straight figure, “they make fine women these days,” he added. “You’re as tall as your father—though you’re your mother’s child. Yes, I can see Amelia Tucker in your eyes.”
“Thank you—thank you,” said the girl in a throaty voice. There was a glow, a warmth, a fervour in her face which harmonised the chill black and white of her colouring. Her expression was as a lamp to illumine the mask of her features.
“I couldn’t stay away,” she went on breathlessly. “I love Kingsborough better than the whole world.”
“And Kingsborough loves you,” returned the judge. “Yes, it is a good old town and well worth dying in, after all.”
He assisted Eugenia into the carriage, shook hands again, and the lumbering old vehicle jogged on its way. In a moment another halt was called, and Mrs. Webb came from her gate to give the girl welcome.
“This is a surprise,” she said as she kissed her. “I dined at Battle Hall last week, and they didn’t tell me you were coming.”