Everybody was on the porch to meet us when we drove up, and Miss Susanna gave him such a gracious welcome, and was so sweet and stately and quaint and lovely in her white dotted Swiss muslin dress which Miss Araminta Armstrong says she has been wearing for six summers, and which has the dearest little darns in it, that Father’s face got real flushed, and once I really believe there were tears in his eyes. He might have been an ambassador at some court who was being received, for at no court in Europe could a lady bow as Mrs. General Gaines bows, and she gave her best to Father when he was presented. I don’t like her, but she certainly is an old swell. And then Isham (he’s Uncle Henson and Aunt Mandy’s grandson, and totes water all day long from the well up into the house, when he isn’t playing a Jew’s-harp in the sun) came out and got Father’s bags and things and took them up-stairs, and a little later Uncle Henson brought up on a silver tray one of those mint juleps, about which Father told Mr. Willie Prince, who made it, that the half could never be told, and at eight o’clock we had breakfast. Usually Father doesn’t take anything at home but grape-fruit and coffee, but that morning, and every morning he was here, he ate waffles, and batter-bread, and beaten biscuits, and everything else Miss Susanna would urge him to try, and he said he couldn’t understand how he could eat so much. I didn’t tell him, but I think it was because of the juleps. They’re the best things for poor appetites ever invented yet, Major Hairston says, and he ought to know, being over seventy and never having missed taking two a day since he could fix them for himself. After breakfast we talked for a while on the porch, and then I took Father out to show him the town.
I wouldn’t have taken him out if the day had been hot, but it wasn’t hot. It was one of those gorgeous days that sometimes come in summer after a thunder-storm and which have the feel and taste of early October; and being in the mountains it was cooler on that account, and I could see Father breathe deep, and the tiredness began to go away as we walked and talked. That is, I talked. He tried to at first, and then gave up. Everybody in town knew he was coming—I had told them—and they came down from their porches and shook hands with him, and said they were so glad to see him and they hoped he was going to stay some time, and that they would call as soon as he was rested, and a whole lot of other nice things, so that Father almost got flurried, he was so pleased and warmed up. At home he is always hurrying in the morning to get to the office, and at night hurrying to get away, and of course we don’t have neighbors, and it was so queer to find everybody so friendly and interested that by the time we got back to Rose Hill he looked like another man.