The news reached Colonel Pendleton late one afternoon while he was sitting on his porch—pipe in mouth and with a forbidden mint julep within easy reach. He had felt the reticence of Gray’s letters, he knew that the boy was keeping back some important secret from him as long as he could, and now, in answer to his own kind, frank letter Gray had, without excuse or apology, told the truth, and what he had not told the colonel fathomed with ease. He had hardly made up his mind to go at once to Gray, or send for him, when a negro boy galloped up to the stile and brought him a note from Marjorie’s mother to come to her at once—and the colonel scented further trouble in the air.
There had been a turmoil that afternoon at Mrs. Pendleton’s. Marjorie had come home a little while before with Jason Hawn and, sitting in the hallway, Mrs. Pendleton had seen Jason on the stile, with his hat in one hand and his bridle reins in the other, and Marjorie halting suddenly on her way to the house and wheeling impetuously back toward him. To the mother’s amazement and dismay she saw that they were quarrelling—quarrelling as only lovers can. The girl’s face was flushed with anger, and her red lips were winging out low, swift, bitter words. The boy stood straight, white, courteous, and unanswering. He lifted his chin a little when she finished, and unanswering turned to his horse and rode away. The mother saw her daughter’s face pale quickly. She saw tears as Marjorie came up the walk, and when she rose in alarm and stood waiting in the doorway, the girl fled past her and rushed weeping upstairs.
Mrs. Pendleton was waiting in the porch when the colonel rode to the stile, and the distress in her face was so plain even that far away, that the colonel hurried up the walk, and there was no greeting between the two: