The smoke from his uncle’s pipe was coming freer now—most of it escaping up the throat of the chimney with a gentle swoop.
“When do you want me to go?” He had already surrendered. When had he ever held out when a love affair was to be patched up?
“Now, right away.”
“No,—I’ll go to-night,—she will be at home then,” he said at last, as if he had just made up his mind, the pipe having helped—“and do you come in about nine and—let me know when you are there, or—better still, wait in the hall until I come for you.”
“But couldn’t I steal in while you are talking?”
“No—you do just as I tell you. Not a sound out of you, remember, until I call you.”
“But how am I to know? She might go out the other door and—”
“You’ll know when I come for you.”
“And you think it will be all right, don’t you?” he pleaded. “You’ll tell her what an awful time I’ve had, won’t you, Uncle George?”
“Yes, every word of it.”
“And that I haven’t slept a wink since—”
“Yes—and that you are going to drown yourself and blow your head off and swallow poison. Now off with you and let me think how I am to begin straightening out this idiotic mess. Nine o’clock, remember, and in the hall until I come for you.”
“Yes—nine o’clock! Oh!—you good Uncle George! I’ll never forget you for it,” and with a grasp of St. George’s hand and another outpouring of gratitude, the young fellow swung wide the door, clattered down the steps, threw his leg over Spitfire, and dashed up the street.
If Kate’s ancestors had wasted any part of their substance in too lavish a hospitality, after the manner of the spendthrift whose extravagances were recounted in the preceding chapter, there was nothing to indicate it in the home of their descendants. No loose shutters, crumbling chimneys, or blistered woodwork defaced the Seymour mansion:—the touch of the restorer was too apparent. No sooner did a shutter sag or a hinge give way than away it went to the carpenter or the blacksmith; no sooner did a banister wabble, or a table crack, or an andiron lose a leg, than up came somebody with a kit, or a bag, or a box of tools, and they were as good as new before you could wink your eye. Indeed, so great was the desire to keep things up that it was only necessary (so a wag said) to scratch a match on old Seymour’s front door to have its panels repainted the next morning.