Again Harry dropped into deep thought, shifting his legs now and then in his restless, impatient way. If there was any comfort to be gotten out of this new doctrine he wanted to probe it to the bottom.
“And what does he say of Mr. Poe? Does he think he’s a drunken lunatic, like some of the men at the club?”
“No, he thinks he is one of the greatest literary geniuses the country has yet produced. He has said so for years—ever since he began to write. Willis first became acquainted with Mr. Poe through a letter Richard gave him, and now that the papers are full of him, and everybody is talking about him, these backbiters like Bowdoin want to get into line and say they always thought so. But Richard has never wavered. Of course Poe loses his balance and topples backward once in a while—but he’s getting over it. That is his mistake and it is unfortunate, but it isn’t a crime. I can forgive him anything he does so he keeps to his ideals. If he had had a better bringing up and knew the difference between good rain-water Madeira and bad pump water and worse whiskey he would keep as straight as a church deacon. Too bad he doesn’t.”
“Well,” Harry answered at last, rising from his chair and brushing the ashes of his pipe from his clothes—“I don’t know anything about Mr. Horn’s tides, but he’s right about Mr. Poe—that is, I hope he is. We’ve both, got a ‘Lost Lenore,’” and his voice quivered. All Harry’s roads ended at Kate’s door.
And so with these and other talks, heart-burnings, outings, sports, and long tramps in the country, the dogs scampering ahead, the summer days slipped by.
Such were the soft, balmy conditions in and around the Temple Mansion—conditions bringing only peace and comfort—(heart-aches were kept in check)—when one August morning there came so decided a change of weather that everybody began at once to get in out of the wet. The storm had been brewing for some days up Moorlands way, where all Harry’s storms started, but up to the present moment there had been no indications in and about Kennedy Square of its near approach, or even of its existence.
It was quite early in the day when the big drops began to patter down on Todd’s highly polished knocker. Breakfast had been served and the mail but half opened—containing among other missives a letter from Poe acknowledging one from St. George, in which he wrote that he might soon be in Kennedy Square on his way to Richmond—a piece of news which greatly delighted Harry—and another from Tom Coston, inviting them both to Wesley for the fall shooting, with a postscript to the effect that Willits was “still at the Red Sulphur with the Seymours”—(a piece of news which greatly depressed him)—when Todd answered a thunderous rat-a-tat and immediately thereafter recrossed the hall and opened the dining-room door just wide enough to thrust in first his scared face—then his head—shoulder—arm—and last his hand, on the palm of which lay a small, greasy card bearing the inscription: