“I guess you won’t do nothin’ o’ the sort,” declared David. “Tom’s all hitched to take you over, an’ when you’re ready jest ring the bell.”
“You’re awfully kind,” said John gratefully, “but I don’t know when I shall be coming home.”
“Come back when you git a good ready,” said Mr. Harum. “If you keep him an’ the hoss waitin’ a spell, I guess they won’t take cold this weather.”
The Verjoos house, of old red brick, stands about a hundred feet back from the north side of the Lake Road, on the south shore of the lake. Since its original construction a porte cochere has been built upon the front. A very broad hall, from which rises the stairway with a double turn and landing, divides the main body of the house through the middle. On the left, as one enters, is the great drawing room; on the right a parlor opening into a library; and beyond, the dining room, which looks out over the lake. The hall opens in the rear upon a broad, covered veranda, facing the lake, with a flight of steps to a lawn which slopes down to the lake shore, a distance of some hundred and fifty yards.
John had to pass through a little flock of young people who stood near and about the entrance to the drawing room, and having given his package of music to the maid in waiting, with a request that it be put upon the piano, he mounted the stairs to deposit his hat and coat, and then went down.
In the south end of the drawing room were some twenty people sitting and standing about, most of them the elders of the families who constituted society in Homeville, many of whom John had met, and nearly all of whom he knew by sight and name. On the edge of the group, and halfway down the room, were Mrs. Verjoos and her younger daughter, who gave him a cordial greeting; and the elder lady was kind enough to repeat her daughter’s morning assurances of regret that they were out on the occasion of his call.
“I trust you have been as good as your word,” said Miss Clara, “and brought some music.”
“Yes, it is on the piano,” he replied, looking across the room to where the instrument stood.
The girl laughed. “I wish,” she said, “you could have heard what Mr. Harum said this morning about your singing, particularly his description of The Lost Chord, and I wish that I could repeat it just as he gave it.”
“It’s about a feller sittin’ one day by the org’n,” came a voice from behind John’s shoulder, so like David’s as fairly to startle him, “an’ not feelin’ exac’ly right—kind o’ tired an’ out o’ sorts, an’ not knowin’ jest where he was drivin’ at—jest joggin’ along with a loose rein fer quite a piece, an’ so on; an’ then, by an’ by, strikin’ right into his gait an’ goin’ on stronger an’ stronger, an’ fin’ly finishin’ up with an A—men that carries him quarter way ’round the track ’fore he c’n pull up.” They all laughed except Miss Verjoos, whose gravity was unbroken, save that behind the dusky windows of her eyes, as she looked at John, there was for an instant a gleam of mischievous drollery.