And then its seclusion:—while its neighbors—the Temple mansion among them—had been placed boldly out to the full building line where they could see and be seen, the Seymours, with that spirit of aloofness which had marked the family for generations, had set their dwelling back ten paces, thrown up a hedge of sweet-smelling box to screen the inmates from the gaze of passers-by, planted three or four big trees as protection for the upper windows, and, to insure still greater privacy, had put up a swinging wooden gate, kept shut by a ball and chain, its clang announcing the entrance of each and every visitor.
And this same spirit was manifest the moment you stepped into the wide hall, glanced at the old family portraits marching steadily, one after another, up the side of the spacious stairs (revarnished every other year)—entered the great drawing-room hung with yellow satin and decorated with quaint mirrors, and took a scat in one of the all-embracing arm-chairs, there to await the arrival of either the master of the house or his charming daughter.
If it were the master to whom you wished to pay your respects, one glance at the Honorable Howard Douglass Seymour would have convinced you that he was precisely the kind of man who should have had charge of so well-ordered a home: so well brushed was he—so clean-shaven—so immaculately upholstered—the two points of his collar pinching his cheeks at the same precise angle; his faultless black stock fitting to perfection, the lapels of his high-rolled coat matching exactly. And then the correct parting of the thin gray hair and the two little gray brush-tails of lovelocks that were combed in front of his ears, there to become a part of the two little dabs of gray whiskers that stretched from his temples to his bleached cheekbones. Yes—a most carefully preserved, prim, and well-ordered person was Kate’s father.
As to the great man’s career, apart from his service in the legislature, which won him his title, there was no other act of his life which marked him apart from his fellows. Suffice it to say that he was born a gentleman without a penny to his name; that he married Kate’s mother when she was twenty and he forty (and here is another story, and a sad one)—she the belle of her time—and sole heir to the estate of her grandfather, Captain Hugh Barkeley, the rich ship-owner—and that the alliance had made him a gentleman of unlimited leisure, she, at her death, having left all her property to her daughter Kate, with the Honorable Prim as custodian.
And this trust, to his credit be it said—for Seymour was of Scotch descent, a point in his favor with old Captain Barkeley, who was Scotch on his mother’s side, and, therefore, somewhat canny—was most religiously kept, he living within his ample means—or Kate’s, which was the same thing—discharging the duties of father, citizen, and friend, with the regularity of a clock—so many hours with his daughter, so many hours at his club, so many hours at his office; the intermediate minutes being given over to resting, dressing, breakfasting, dining, sleeping, and no doubt praying; the precise moment that marked the beginning and ending of each task having been fixed years in advance by this most exemplary, highly respectable, and utterly colorless old gentleman of sixty.