She shook her head.
“But he says he met you in England.”
She said nothing, and Rice also remained in silence. When he spoke again, it was in the tone of dry statement which he used for presenting cases in court.
“My pistols have hair triggers and go off at a touch. I had a political difference with a gentleman some time ago, and this Dr. Dunlap acted as his second. We were standing ready, but before the word was given, and while the pistol hung down in my hand, it went off, and the ball struck the ground at my feet. Then Dr. Dunlap insisted I had had my shot, and must stand still and be fired at without firing again. His anxiety to have me shot was so plain that my opponent refused to fire, and we made up our difference. That’s the Dr. Dunlap we have here in the Territory, whatever he may have been in England.”
Rice hurried on with her, his motherless little sister, who had been left with kinspeople in Wales because she was too delicate to bear the hardships of the family transplanting. He blamed himself for her exposure and prostration, and held her tenderly, whispering,—
She tried to answer the Welsh caressing name, but her throat gurgled and a warm stream ran out of her mouth, and he knew it was blood.
A FIELD DAY.
The gallery pillars of the Sauciers’ house hung full of fragrant vines. The double doors stood hospitably wide, but no one was visible through the extent of hall, though the sound of harp music filled it, coming from a large darkened room. Angelique was playing for her great-grand-aunt Angelique, the despot of the Saucier family.
This survivor of a past century had her treasures displayed and her throne set up in the state apartment of the house. The Sauciers contented themselves with a smaller drawing-room across the hall. Her throne was a vast valanced, canopied, gilded bed, decorated with down sacks in chintz covers to keep her warm, high pillows set up as a background for her, and a little pillow for every bone which might make a dint in the feather bed. Another such piece of furniture was not to be found in the Territory. It and her ebony chairs, her claw-footed tables, her harp and dower chest, had come with her from France. The harp alone she had already given to Angelique, who was to inherit all she owned.
From childhood the girl had been this aged woman’s constant attendant. Some days the black servants took their orders at the door, and nobody but Angelique was allowed to enter that room. Then the tyrant would unbend, and receive family and neighborhood visits. Though she had lived a spinster’s life, she herself taught Angelique to call her “tante-gra’mere,” and this absurd mixture of names had been taken up by the entire family. So tight a grip did she hold on the growing child that Angelique was educated by half-days at the convent; she never had an entire day free from tante-gra’mere. Madame Saucier often rose against such absorption, and craved the privilege of taking the girl’s place.