Then there was another thing which added to the twilight of these cheerful days, and this Kate could scarcely understand, because she could see no reason why it should affect her. The Governor, whom they frequently met in the course of the pleasant social functions of the town, looked troubled, and was not the genial gentleman he used to be. Of course he had a right to his own private perplexities and annoyances, but it grieved Kate to see the change in him. He had always been so cordial and so cheerful; he was now just as kind as ever, perhaps a little more so, in his manner, but he was not cheerful.
Kate mentioned to her uncle the changed demeanour of the Governor, but he could give no explanation; he had heard of no political troubles, but supposed that family matters might easily have saddened the good man.
He himself was not very cheerful, for day after day brought nearer the time when that uncertain Stede Bonnet might arrive in Jamaica, and what would happen after that no man could tell. One thing he greatly feared, and that was, that his dear niece, Kate, might be taken away from him. Dame Charter was not so very cheerful either. Only in one way did she believe in Stede Bonnet, and that was, that after some fashion or another he would come between her and her bright dreams for her dear Dickory.
And so there were some people in Spanish Town who were not as happy as they had been.
Still there were dinners and little parties, and society made itself very pleasant; and in the midst of them all a ship came in from Barbadoes, bringing a letter from Martin Newcombe.
A strange thing about this letter was that it was addressed to Mr. Delaplaine and not to Miss Kate Bonnet. This, of course, proved the letter must be on business; and, although he was with his little family when he opened his letter, he thought it well to glance at it before reading it aloud. The first few lines showed him that it was indeed a business letter, for it told of the death of Madam Bonnet, and how the writer, Martin Newcombe, as a neighbour and friend of the family, had been called in to take temporary charge of her effects, and, having done so, he hastened to inform Mr. Delaplaine of his proceedings and to ask advice. This letter he now read aloud, and Kate and the others were greatly interested therein, although they cautiously forbore the expression of any opinion which might rise in their minds regarding this turn of affairs.
Having finished these business details, Mr. Delaplaine went on and read aloud, and in the succeeding portion of the letter Mr. Newcombe begged Mr. Delaplaine to believe that it was the hardest duty of his whole life to write what he was now obliged to write, but that he knew he must do it, and therefore would not hesitate. At this the reader looked at his niece and stopped.
“Go on,” cried Kate, her face a little flushed, “go on!”
The face of Mr. Delaplaine was pale, and for a moment he hesitated, then, with a sudden jerk, he nerved himself to the effort and read on; he had seen enough to make him understand that the duty before him was to read on.