“But he is your guest, Harry,” she urged at last, still determined to divert his thoughts from Willits and the loss of the dance—“Our guest,” she went on—“so is everybody else here to-night, and we must do what everybody wants us to, not be selfish about it. Now, my darling—you couldn’t be impolite to anybody—don’t you know you couldn’t? Mrs. Cheston calls you ’My Lord Chesterfield’—I heard her say so to-night.”
“Yes, I know, Kate”—he softened—“that’s what father said about my being polite to him—but all the same I didn’t want Willits invited, and it’s only because father insisted that he’s here. Of course, I’m going to be just as polite to him as I can, but even father would feel differently about him if he had heard what he said to you a minute ago.”
“What did he say?” She knew, but she loved to hear him defend her. This, too, was a way out—in a minute he would be her old Harry again.
“I won’t even repeat it,” he answered doggedly.
“You mean about my being twenty-one? That was rather ungallant, wasn’t it?”
Again that long look from under her eyelids—he would have succumbed at once could he have seen it.
“No, the other part of it. That’s not the way to speak to a lady. That’s what I dislike him for. He never was born a gentleman. He isn’t a gentleman and never can be a gentleman.”
Kate drew herself up—the unreasonableness of the objection jarred upon her. He had touched one of her tender spots—pride of birth was something she detested.
“Don’t talk nonsense, Harry,” she replied in a slightly impatient voice. Moods changed with our Kate as unexpectedly as April showers. “What difference should it make to you or anybody else whether Langdon Willits’s grandmother was a countess or a country girl, so she was honest and a lady?” Her head went up with a toss as she spoke, for this was one of Kate’s pet theories.
“But he’s not of my class, Kate, and he shouldn’t be here. I told father so.”
“Then make him one,” she answered stoutly, “if only for to-night, by being extra polite and courteous to him and never letting him feel that he is outside of what you call ‘your class.’ I like Mr. Willits, and have always liked him. He is invariably polite to me, and he can be very kind and sympathetic at times. Listen! they are calling us, and there goes the music—come along, darling—it’s a schottische and we’ll dance it together.”
Harry sprang up, slipped his arm around Kate’s waist, lifted her to her feet, held her close, and kissed her squarely on the mouth.
“There, you darling! and another one—two—three! Oh, you precious! What do I care about Willits or any other red-headed lower county man that ever lived? He can have fifty grandmothers if he pleases and I won’t say a word—kiss me—kiss me again. Quick now or we’ll lose the dance,” and, utterly oblivious as to whether any one had seen them or not, the two raced down the wide stairs.