Kennedy Square eBook

Francis Hopkinson Smith
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 369 pages of information about Kennedy Square.

Old Mrs. Cheston, however, was more alert; not only had she caught the anger in Harry’s eyes, but she had followed the flight of the torn card as its pieces fell to the floor.  She had once been present at a reception given by a prime minister when a similar fracas had occurred.  Then it was a lady’s glove and not a dancing-card which was thrown in a rival’s face, and it was a rapier that flashed and not a clenched fist.

“What was the matter over there, Talbot?” she demanded, speaking from behind her fan when the colonel came within hearing.

“Nothing!  Some little disagreement about who should lead the Virginia reel with Kate.  I have stopped the music until they fix it up.”

“Don’t talk nonsense, Talbot Rutter, not to me.  There was bad blood over there—­you better look after them.  There’ll be trouble if you don’t.”

The colonel tucked the edge of a rebellious ruffle inside his embroidered waistcoat and with a quiet laugh said:  “St. George is attending to them.”

“St. George is as big a fool as you are about such things.  Go, I tell you, and see what they are doing in there with the door shut.”

“But, my dear Mrs. Cheston,” echoed her host with a deprecating wave of his hand—­“my Harry would no more attack a man under his own roof than you would cut off your right hand.  He’s not born that way—­none of us are.”

“You talk like a perfect idiot, Talbot!” she retorted angrily.  “You seem to have forgotten everything you knew.  These young fellows here are so many tinder boxes.  There will be trouble I tell you—­go out there and find out what is going on,” she reiterated, her voice increasing in intensity.  “They’ve had time enough to fix up a dozen Virginia reels—­and besides, Kate is waiting, and they know it.  Look! there’s some one coming out—­it’s that young Teackle.  Call him over here and find out!”

The doctor, who had halted at the door, was now scrutinizing the faces of the guests as if in search of some one.  Then he moved swiftly to the far side of the room, touched Mark Gilbert, Harry’s most intimate friend, on the shoulder, and the two left the floor.

Kate sat silent, a fixed smile on her face that ill concealed her anxiety.  She had heard every word of the talk between Mrs. Cheston and the colonel, but she did not share the old lady’s alarm as to any actual conflict.  She would trust Uncle George to avoid that.  But what kept Harry?  Why leave her thus abruptly and send no word back?  In her dilemma she leaned forward and touched the colonel’s arm.

“You don’t think anything is the matter, dear colonel, do you?”

“With whom, Kate?”

“Between Harry and Mr. Willits.  Harry might resent it—­he was very angry.”  Her lips were quivering, her eyes strained.  She could hide her anxiety from her immediate companions, but the colonel was Harry’s father.

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Project Gutenberg
Kennedy Square from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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