And so with these occupations, studies, investigations, and social pleasures—she never missing a ball or party (Willits always managing to be with her)—and the spending of the summer months at the Red Sulphur, where she had been pursued by half a dozen admirers—one a titled Englishman—had the days and hours of the years of Harry’s absence passed slowly away.
At the end of the second winter a slight change occurred in the monotony of her life. Her constant, unwavering devotee, Langdon Willits, fell ill and had to be taken to the Eastern Shore, where the same old lot of bandages—that is of the same pattern—and the same loyal sister were impressed into service to nurse him back to health. The furrow Harry’s bullet had ploughed in his head still troubled him at times, especially in the hot weather, and a horseback ride beside Kate one August day, with the heat in the nineties, had started the subsoil of his cranium to aching with such vehemence that Teackle had promptly packed it in ice and ten days later its owner in blankets and had put them both aboard the bay boat bound for the Eastern Shore.
Whether this new irritant—and everything seemed to annoy her now—had begun to tell on our beautiful Kate, or whether the gayety of the winter both at home and in Washington, where she had spent some weeks during the season, had tired her out, certain it was that when the spring came the life had gone out of her step and the color from her cheeks. Mammy Henny had noticed it and had coddled her the more, crooning and petting her; and her father had noticed it and had begun to be anxious, and at last St. George had stalked in and cried out in that breezy, joyous way of his that nothing daunted:
“Here, you sweetheart!—what have you been doing to your cheeks—all the roses out of them and pale as two lilies—and you never out of bed until twelve o’clock in the day and looking then as if you hadn’t had a wink of sleep all night. Not a word out of you, Seymour, until I’ve finished. I’m going to take Kate down to Tom Coston’s and keep her there till she gets well. Too many stuffy balls—too many late suppers—oyster roasts and high doings. None of that at Tom’s. Up at six and to bed at ten. I’ve just had a letter from him and dear Peggy is crazy to have us come. Take your mare along, Kate, and you won’t lack fresh air. Now what do you say, Seymour?”
Of course the Honorable Prim bobbed his honorable head and said he had been worried himself over Kate’s loss of appetite, and that if Temple would, etc., etc.—he would—etc., etc.—and so Mammy Henny began to get pink and white and other fluffy things together, and Ben, with Todd to help, led Joan, her own beloved saddle horse, down to the dock and saw that she was safely lodged between decks, and then up came a coach (all this was two days later) and my lady drove off with two hair trunks in front and a French bonnet box behind—St. George beside her, and fat Mammy Henny in white kerchief and red bandanna, opposite, and Todd in one of St. George’s old shooting-jackets on the box next the driver, with his feet on two of the dogs, the others having been loaned to a friend.