With the closing of the door upon her father, Kate threw herself upon her lounge. One by one the salient features of her interview with Harry passed in review: his pleading for some word of comfort; some note of forgiveness with which to cheer the hours of his exile.—“You are the last thing I kiss before I close my eyes.” Then his open defiance of her expressed wishes when they conflicted with his own set purpose of going away and staying away until he made up his mind to return. While the first brought with it a certain contented satisfaction—something she had expected and was glad of—the last aroused only indignation and revolt. Her brow tightened, and the determination of the old seadog—her grandfather Barkeley—played over her countenance. She no longer, then, filled Harry’s life, controlling all his actions; she no longer inspired his hopes. Rather than marry her he would work as a common sailor. Yes—he had said so, and with his head up and his voice ringing brave and clear. She was proud of him for it—she had never been so proud of him—but why no trace of herself in his resolve; except in his allusion to the duel, when he said he would do it again should any one insult her? It was courteous, of course, for him to feel that way, however much she abhorred the system of settling such disputes. But, then, he would do that for any other woman—would, no doubt, for some woman he had not yet seen. In this he was the son of his father and the same Harry—but in everything else he was a changed man—and never more changed than in his attitude toward her.
With these thoughts racking her brain she rose from the lounge and began pacing the floor, peering out between the curtains of her room, her eyes wandering over the park as if she could still see him between the branches. Then her mind cleared and the true situation developed itself:—for months she had hugged to herself the comforting thought that she had only to stretch out her hand and bring him to her feet. He had now looked her full in the face and proclaimed his freedom. It was as if she had caged a bird and found the door open and the prisoner singing in a tree overhead.
That same night she sat by her wood fire in her chamber, her old black mammy—Mammy Henny—bending close, combing out her marvellous hair. She had been studying the coals, watching the little castles pile and fall; the quick smothering of slowly fading sparks under a blanket of gray ashes, and the wavering, flickering light that died on the curling smoke. She had not spoken for a long time, when the old woman roused her.
“Whar was you dis mawnin’, honey chile? Mister Willits done wait mo’n ha’f a hour, den he say he come back an’ fetch his sorrel horse wid him dis arternoon an’ take ye ridin’. But he ain’t come—dat is, Ben done tol’ me so.”
“No, mammy,” she answered wearily—“I sent him word not to—I didn’t feel like riding to-day.”