Whereupon one member of the group got up and addressed himself to the door. It was Japheth Pettigrass; and what he said was said to the starlit night outside.
“My Lord! that ther’ boy was lyin’ to me, after all! I didn’t believe hit that night when he r’ared and took on so to me and ’lowed to chunk me with a rock, and I don’t want to believe hit now. But Lordy gracious! hit do look mighty bad, with him a-buyin’ all that outfit and loadin’ hit in his pappy’s buggy; hit do, for shore!”
A half-hour later, Brother Japheth, trudging back to Deer Trace on the pike, saw the light in the long-deserted cabin back of the new foundry plant; saw this and was overtaken at the Woodlawn gates by Thomas Jefferson with Longfellow and the buggy. And he could not well help observing that the buggy had been lightened of its burden of household supplies.
Tom turned the horse over to William Henry Harrison and went in to his belated dinner somberly reflective. He was not sorry to find that his mother and father had gone over to the manor-house. Solitude was grateful at the moment; he was glad of the chance to try to think himself uninterruptedly out of the snarl of misunderstanding in which his impulsiveness had entangled him.
The pointing of the thought was to see Ardea and have it out with her at once. Reconsidered, it appeared the part of prudence to wait a little. The muddiest pool will settle if time and freedom from ill-judged disturbance be given it. But we, who have known Thomas Jefferson from his beginnings, may be sure that it was the action-thought that triumphed. They also serve who only stand and wait, was meaningless comfort to him; and when he had finished his solitary dinner and had changed his clothes, he strode across the double lawns and rang the manor-house bell.
The Deer Trace family and the two guests from Woodlawn were in the music-room when Tom was admitted, with Ardea at the piano playing war songs for the pleasuring of her grandfather and the ex-artilleryman. Under cover of the music, Tom slipped into the circle of listeners and went to sit beside his mother. There was a courteous hand-wave of welcome from Major Dabney, but Miss Euphrasia seemed not to see him. He saw and understood, and was obstinately impervious to the chilling east wind in that quarter. It was with Ardea that he must make his peace, and he settled himself to wait for his opportunity.
It bade fair to be a long time coming. Ardea’s repertoire was apparently inexhaustible, and at the end of an added hour he began to suspect that she knew what was in store for her and was willing to postpone the afflictive moment. From the battle hymns of the Confederacy to the militant revival melodies best loved by Martha Gordon the transition was easy; and from these she drifted through a Beethoven sonata to Mozart, and from Mozart to Chopin.