The outside door shut gently and there was a slight movement in the hall behind them, but neither of them noticed it. Kate sat with her head up, her mind at work, her eyes watching the firelight. It was her future she was looking into. She had positive, fixed ideas of what her station in life as a married woman should be;—not what her own or Harry’s birth and position could bring her. With that will-o’-the-wisp she had no sympathy. Her grandfather in his early days had been a plain, seafaring man even if his ancestry did go back to the time of James I, and her mother had been a lady, and that too without the admixture of a single drop of the blood of any Kennedy Square aristocrat. That Harry was well born and well bred was as it should be, but there was something more;—the man himself. That was why she hesitated. Yes—it would “all be over in a minute,” just as Uncle George said, but when would the next break come? And then again there was her mother’s life with all the misery that a broken promise had caused her. Uncle George was not the only young gallant who had been put to bed in her grandfather’s house. Her mother had loved too—just as much as she loved Harry—loved with her whole soul—until grandpa Barkeley put his foot down.
St. George waited in silence as he read her mind. Breaches between most of the boys and girls were easily patched up—a hearty cry, an outstretched hand—“I am so sorry,” and they were in each other’s arms. Not so with Kate. Her reason, as well as her heart, had to be satisfied. This was one of the things that made her different from all the other girls about her, and this too was what had given her first place in the affections and respect of all who knew her. Her heart he saw was uppermost to-night, but reason still lurked in the background.
“What do you think made him do it again?” she murmured at last in a voice barely audible, her fingers tightening in his palm. “He knows how I suffer and he knows too why I suffer. Oh, Uncle George!—won’t you please talk to him! I love him so, and I can’t marry him if he’s like this. I can’t!—I can’t!”
A restrained smile played over St. George’s face. The tide was setting his way.
“It won’t do a bit of good,” he said calmly, smothering his joy. “I’ve talked to him until I’m tired, and the longer I talk the more wild he is to see you. Now it’s your turn and there’s no time to lose. I’ll have him here in five minutes,” and he glanced at the clock. She raised her hand in alarm:
“I don’t want him yet. You must see him first—you must—”
“No, I won’t see him first, and I’m not going to wait a minute. Talk to him yourself; put your arms around him and tell him everything you have told me—now—to-night. I’m going for him,” and he sprang to his feet.
“No!—you must not! You shall not!” she cried, clutching nervously at his arm, but he was out of the room before she could stop him.