To-night Colonel Talbot Rutter of Moorlands, direct descendant of the house of De Ruyter, with an ancestry dating back to the Spanish Invasion, was to bid official welcome to a daughter of the house of Seymour, equally distinguished by flood and field in the service of its king. These two—God be thanked—loved each other, and now that the young heir to Moorlands was to bring home his affianced bride, soon to become his wedded wife, no honor could be too great, no expense too lavish, no welcome too joyful.
Moreover, that this young princess of the blood might be accorded all the honors due her birth, lineage, and rank, the colonel’s own coach-and-four, with two postilions and old Matthew on the box—twenty years in the service—his whip tied with forget-me-nots, the horses’ ears streaming with white ribbons—each flank as smooth as satin and each panel bright as a mirror—had been trundled off to Kennedy Square, there to receive the fairest of all her daughters, together with such other members of her royal suite—including His Supreme Excellency the Honorable Prim—not forgetting, of course, Kate’s old black mammy, Henny, who was as much a part of the fair lady’s belongings when she went afield as her ostrich-plume fan, her white gloves, or the wee slippers that covered her enchanting feet.
Every detail of harness, wheel, and brake—even the horn itself—had passed under the colonel’s personal supervision; Matthew on the box straight as a hitching-post and bursting with pride, reins gathered, whip balanced, the leaders steady and the wheel horses in line. Then the word had been given, and away they had swept round the circle and so on down the long driveway to the outer gate and Kennedy Square. Ten miles an hour were the colonel’s orders and ten miles an hour must Matthew make, including the loading and unloading of his fair passenger and her companions, or there would be the devil to pay on his return.
And the inside of the house offered no less a welcome. Drawn up in the wide hall, under the direct command of old Alec, the head butler, were the house servants;—mulatto maids in caps, snuff-colored second butlers in livery, jet-black mammies in new bandannas and white aprons—all in a flutter of excitement, and each one determined to get the first glimpse of Marse Harry’s young lady, no matter at what risk.
Alec himself was a joy to look upon—eyeballs and teeth gleaming, his face one wide, encircling smile. Marse Harry was the apple of his eye, and had been ever since the day of his birth. He had carried him on his back when a boy; had taught him to fish and hunt and to ride to hounds; had nursed him when he fell ill at the University in his college days, and would gladly have laid down his life for him had any such necessity arisen. To-night, in honor of the occasion, he was rigged out in a new bottle-green coat with shiny brass buttons, white waistcoat, white gloves three sizes too big for him, and a huge