“That’s me again. I wish I could read it like Mr. Horn. What a voice—so deep—so musical—like a great organ, or, rather, like one of the big strings on his violin.”
“And what a mind, too, Harry,” rejoined St. George. “Richard is a long way ahead of his time. His head is full of things that few around here understand. They hear him play the violin or read, and some go away calling him a genius, but when he talks to them about the way the railroads are opening up, and the new telegraph this man Morse is at work on, and what is going to come of it—or hear him discuss the development of the country along scientific lines, they shrug their shoulders and tap their foreheads. You want to talk to him every chance you get. That is one reason I am glad they let you permanently into the club, for he is too busy in his work-shop at home to speak to anybody. Nobody will do you so much good—and he likes you, Harry. He said to me only the other night when I was dining with him—the night you were at Mrs. Cheston’s—that he felt sorry for you; that it was not your fault, or the fault of your father—but that you both had been caught in the ebb-tide of a period.”
Harry laughed: “What did he mean by that?”
“I’ll be hanged if I know. You made so good a guess on the Tamerlane, that it’s just occurred to me to try you on this,” and St. George laughed heartily. (St. George was adrift on the ebb-tide himself did he but know it.)
Harry thought earnestly for a moment, pondering upon what the inventor could have had in his mind. It couldn’t have been politics that Mr. Horn meant; nor failure of the crops; nor the way the slaves were treated. None of these things affected him. Indeed none of them did he know anything of. Nor was he an expert on duelling. It must have been Kate. Yes—of course—it was Kate and her treatment of him. The “tide” was what had swept them apart.
“Oh, I know,” he cried in an animated tone. “He meant Kate. Tell me—what did he say about her?” He had searched his books for some parallel from which to draw a conclusion, but none of them had given him any relief. May be Mr. Horn had solved the problem.
“He said she was the first of the flood, though he was mighty sorry for you both; and he said, too, that, as she was the first to strike out for the shore, Kennedy Square ought to build a triumphal arch for her,” and St. George looked quizzically at Harry.
“Well, do you think there is any common sense in that?” blurted out the boy, twisting himself in his chair so he could get a better look at his uncle’s face.
“No—it doesn’t sound like it, but it may be profound wisdom all the same, if you can only see it from Richard’s point of view. Try it. There’s a heap of brains under his cranium.”
Harry fell to tapping the arm of his chair. Queer reasoning this of Mr. Horn’s, he said to himself. He had always thought that he and his father were on the tip-top of any kind of tide, flood or ebb—and as for Kate, she was the white gull that skimmed its crest!