“And he ought to be mad—raging mad! He’s only got one daughter, and she the proudest and loveliest thing on earth, and that one he intends to give to you”—Harry looked up in surprise—“Yes—he told me so. And here you are breaking her heart before he has announced it to the world. It’s worse than damnable, Harry—it’s a crime!”
For some minutes he continued his walk, stopping to look out of the window, his eyes on the mare who, with head up and restless eyes, was on the watch for her master’s return; then he picked up his pipe from the table, threw himself into his chair again, and broke into one of his ringing laughs.
“I reckon it’s because you’re twenty, Harry, I forgot that. Hot blood—hot temper,—madcap dare-devil that you are—not a grain of common-sense. But what can you expect?—I was just like you at your age. Come, now, what shall we do first?”
The young fellow rose and a smile of intense relief crept over his face. He had had many such overhaulings from his uncle, and always with this ending. Whenever St. George let out one of those big, spontaneous, bubbling laughs straight from his heart, the trouble, no matter how serious, was over. What some men gained by anger and invective St. George gained by good humor, ranging from the faint smile of toleration to the roar of merriment. One reason why he had so few enemies—none, practically—was that he could invariably disarm an adversary with a laugh. It was a fine old blade that he wielded; only a few times in his life had he been called upon to use any other—when some under-dog was maltreated, or his own good name or that of a friend was traduced, or some wrong had to be righted—then his face would become as hot steel and there would belch out a flame of denunciation that would scorch and blind in its intensity. None of these fiercer moods did the boy know;—what he knew was his uncle’s merry side—his sympathetic, loving side,—and so, following up his advantage, he strode across the room, settled down on the arm of his uncle’s chair, and put his arm about his shoulders.
“Won’t you go and see her, please?” he pleaded, patting his back, affectionately.
“What good will that do? Hand me a match, Harry.”
“Everything—that’s what I came for.”
“Not with Kate! She isn’t a child—she’s a woman,” he echoed back between the puffs, his indignation again on the rise. “And she is different from the girls about here,” he added, tossing the burned match in the fire. “When she once makes up her mind it stays made up.”
“Don’t let her make it up! Go and see her and tell her how I love her and how miserable I am. Tell her I’ll never break another promise to her as long as I live. Nobody ever holds out against you. Please, Uncle George! I’ll never come to you for anything else in the world if you’ll help me this time. And I won’t drink another drop of anything you don’t want me to drink—I don’t care what