The Heart's Highway eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 222 pages of information about The Heart's Highway.
reassure them, the door clapped to with a bang like a pistol-shot, and my horse danced about so that I could scarcely mount.  Then I rode away, something wondering within myself, since I had been taken for the devil, how many others might have been, and whether men made their own devils and their own witches, instead of the Prince of Evil having a hand in it, and yet that happened which I have related, and I have told the truth.

XII

Such a blaze of light as was the governor’s mansion house that night I never saw, and I heard the music of violins, and hautboys, and viola da gambas coming from within, and a silvery babble of women’s tongues, with a deeper undertone of men’s, and the tread of dancing feet, and the stamping of horses outside, with the whoas of the negro boys in attendance, and through the broad gleam of the moonlight came the flare and smoke of the torches.  It seemed as if the whole colony was either dancing at the governor’s ball or standing outside on tiptoe with interest.  I sat waiting for some time, holding my restive horse as best I might, but there coming no cessation in the music, I dismounted, and seeing one of Madam Cavendish’s black men, gave him the bridle to hold, and went up to the house and entered, though not in my plum-coloured velvet, and, indeed, being not only in my ordinary clothes, but somewhat splashed with mire from my mad gallop through the woods.  But I judged rightly that in so much of a crowd I should pass unnoticed both as to myself and my apparel.  I stood in the great room near the door and watched the dance, and ’twas as brilliant a scene as ever I had seen anywhere even in England.  The musicians in the gallery were sawing away for their lives on violins, and working breathlessly at the hautboys, and all that gay company of Virginia’s best, spinning about in a country dance of old England.  Such a brave show of velvet coats, and breeches, and flowered brocade waistcoats, and powdered wigs, and feathers, and laces, and ribbons, and rich flaunts of petticoats revealing in the whirl of the dance clocked hose on slender ankles, and high-heeled satin shoes, would have done no discredit to the court.  But of them all, Mistress Mary Cavendish was the belle and the star.  She was dancing with my Lord Estes when I entered, and such a goodly couple they were, that I heard many an exclamation of delight from the spectators, who stood thickly about the walls, the windows even being filled with faces of black and white servants.  My Lord Estes was a handsome dark man, handsomer and older than Sir Humphrey Hyde, who, though dancing with the governor’s daughter Cate, had, I could see, a rueful eye of watchfulness toward Mary Cavendish.  As he and Cate Culpeper swung past me, Sir Humphrey’s eyes fell on my face and he gave a start and blush, and presently, when the dance was over and his partner seated, came up to me with hand extended, as if I had been the noblest guest there.  “Harry, Harry,” he whispered eagerly, “she hath danced with me three times tonight, and hath promised again, and Harry, saw you ever any one so beautiful as she in that blue dress?”

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The Heart's Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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