She had judged wisely. Indeed she might have waited for days for some such moment and not found so favorable an opportunity. His Honor had already left the bench and was then slowly making his way toward where she stood, hugging the sidewalk trees the better to shade him from the increasing heat. As the day had promised to be an unusually warm one, he had attired himself in a full suit of yellow nankeen, with palm-leaf fan and wide straw hat—a combination which so matched the color and texture of his placid, kindly face that Kate could hardly keep from laughing outright. Instead she quickened her steps until she stood beside him, her lovely, fresh color heightened by her walk, her eyes sparkling, her face wreathed in smiles.
“You are lookin’ mighty cute, my Lady Kate, in yo’ Paisley shawl and sarsanet pelisse,” he called out in his hearty, cheery way. “Has Peggy seen ’em? I’ve been tryin’ to get her some just like ’em, only my co’t duties are so pressin’. Goodness, gracious me!—but it’s gettin’ hot!” Here he stopped and mopped his face, then his eyes fell upon her again: “Bless my soul, child!—you do look pretty this mornin’—jest like yo’ mother! Where did you get all those pink and white apple-blossoms in yo’ cheeks?”
“Do you remember her, Mr. Coston?” she rejoined, ignoring his compliment.
“Do I remember her! The belle of fo’ counties, my dear—eve’ybody at her feet; five or six gentlemen co’tin’ her at once; old Captain Barkeley, cross as a bear—wouldn’t let her marry this one or that one—kep’ her guessin’ night and day, till one of ’em blew his brains out, and then she fainted dead away. Pretty soon yo’ father co’ted her, and bein’ Scotch, like the old captain and sober as an owl and about as cunnin’, it wasn’t long befo’ everything was settled. Very nice man, yo’ father—got to have things mighty partic’lar; we young bucks used to say he slept in a bag of lavender and powdered his cheeks every mornin’ to make him look fresh, while most of us were soakin’ wet in the duck-blinds—but that was only our joke. That’s long befo’ you were born, child. But yo’ mother didn’t live long—they said her heart was broken ’bout the other fellow, but there wasn’t a word of truth in that foolishness—couldn’t be. I used to see her and yo’ father together long after that, and she was mighty good to him, and he was to her. Yes—all comes back to me. Stand still, child, and let me look at you—yes—you’re plumper than yo’ mother and a good deal rosier, and you don’t look so slender and white as she did, like one of those pale Indian pipes she used to hunt in the woods. It’s the Seymour in you that’s done that, I reckon.”
Kate walked on in silence. It was not the first time that some of her mother’s old friends had told her practically the same story—not so clearly, perhaps, because few had the simple, outspoken candor of the old fellow, but enough to let her know that her father was not her mother’s first love.