The House of Seymour was particularly in the dark. The Honorable Prim, in his dense ignorance, had even asked St. George to join in one of his commercial enterprises—the building of a new clipper ship—while Kate, who had never waited five minutes in all her life for anything that a dollar could buy, had begged a subscription for a charity she was managing, and which she received with a kiss and a laugh, and without a moment’s hesitation, from a purse shrinking steadily by the hour.
Only when some idle jest or well-meant inquiry diverted his mind to the chain of events leading up to Harry’s exile was his insistent cheerfulness under his fast accumulating misfortunes ever checked.
Todd was the cruel disturber on this particular day, with a bit of information which, by reason of its source, St. George judged must be true, and which because of its import brought him infinite pain.
“Purty soon we won’t hab ’nough spoons to stir a toddy wid,” Todd had begun. “I tell ye, Marse George, dey ain’t none o’ dem gwine down in dere pockets till de constable gits ’em. I jes’ wish Marse Harry was yere—he’d fix ’em. ‘Fo’ dey knowed whar dey wuz he’d hab ’em full o’ holes. Dat red-haided, no-count gemman what’s a-makin up to Miss Kate is gwineter git her fo’ sho—”
It was here that St. George had raised his head, his heart in his mouth.
“How do you know, Todd?” he asked in a serious tone. He had long since ceased correcting Todd for his oustpoken reflections on Kate’s suitor as a useless expenditure of time.
“‘Cause Mammy Henny done tol’ Aunt Jemima so—an’ she purty nigh cried her eyes out when she said it. Ye ain’t heared nothin’ ’bout Marse Harry comin’ home, is ye?”
“No—not a word—not for many months, Todd. He’s up in the mountains, so his mother tells me.”
Whereupon Todd had gulped down an imprecation expressive of his feelings and had gone about his duties, while St. George had buried himself in his easy-chair, his eyes fixed on vacancy, his soul all the more a-hungered for the boy he loved. He wondered where the lad was—why he hadn’t written. Whether the fever had overtaken him and he laid up in some filthy hospital. Almost every week his mother had either come herself or sent in for news, accompanied by messages expressing some new phase of her anxiety. Or had he grown and broadened out and become big and