Part 1 out of 4
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MARIA THOMPSON DAVIESS
Author of "The Melting of Molly," "Miss Selina Lue," "Over Paradise
Frontispiece from Painting by E. Sophonisba Hergesheimer
Jessie Morson Grahame
Who expects "the best" of me
I SPARKLING WAVES OVER HIGH EXPLOSIVES
II VIVE LA FRANCE!
III THAT MR. G. SLADE OF DETROIT
IV THE IMPOSSIBLE UNCLE ROBERT
V "HERE'S MY BOY, GOVERNOR"
VI "WE BOTH NEED YOU"
VII THE GIRL BUNCH
VIII IN THE DRESS OF MAGNIFICENCE
IX "O'ER THE LAND OF THE FREE--"
X VITRIOL AND THE HOODOO
XI BUSINESS AND PIE
XII THE BEAUTIFUL MADAM WHITWORTH
XIII BROTHERS BY BLOODSHED
XIV TO BEAR MEN AND TO SAVE THEM
XV "BEHOLD, I AM A SPY!"
XVI "IMMEDIATELY I COME TO YOU!"
XVII THE TALL TIMBERS OF OLD HARPETH
XVIII THE CAMP HEAVEN
XIX ALL IS LOST
XX "YOU ARE--MYSELF!"
SPARKLING WAVES OVER HIGH EXPLOSIVES
Was there ever a woman who did not very greatly desire for herself, at
long moments, the doublet and hose of a man, perhaps also his sword,
as well as his attitude in the viewing of life? I think not. To a very
small number of those ladies of great curiosity it has been granted
that they climb to those ramparts of the life of a man; but it was
needful that they be stout of limb and sturdy of heart to sustain
themselves upon that eminence and not be dashed below upon the rocks
of a strange land. I, Roberta, Marquise de Grez and Bye, have obtained
glimpses into a far country and this is what I bring on returning, not
as a spy, but, shall I say, laden with spices and forbidden fruit?
And for me it has been a very fine dash into the wilds of a land of
strangeness, and I do not know that I have yet found myself completely
returned unto my estate of a woman.
I first began to realize that I was set out upon a great journey when
I stood at the rail of the very large ship and watched it plow its way
through the waves which they told us with their splendor hid cruel
mines. I felt the future might be like unto those great waves, and it
might be that it would break in sparkling crests over high explosives.
I found them!
I had seen a fear of those explosives of life come in my dying
father's eyes, and here I stood at his command out on the ocean in
quest of a woman's fate in a strange country.
"Get back to America, Bob, and go straight to your Uncle Robert at
Hayesville in the Harpeth Valley. He cut me loose because he didn't
understand, when I married your mother out of the French opera in
Paris. When I named you Roberta for him he returned the letter I sent
but with a notice of a thousand dollars in Monroe and Company for you.
I didn't tell him when your mother died. God, I've been bitter! But
these German bullets have cut the life out of me and I see more
plainly. Get the money and take Nannette and the kiddie on the first
boat. There's starvation and--maybe worse in Paris for you. Take--the
money--and--get--to--brother Robert. God of America--take--them
And that was all. I held him in my arms for a long time, while old
Nannette and small Pierre wept beside me, and then I laid him upon his
pillow and straightened the little tricolor that the good Sister of
the old gray convent in which he lay had given me to place in his hand
when he had begged for it. My mother's country had meant my mother to
him and he had given his life for her and France in the trenches of
the Vosges. And thus at his bidding I was on the very high seas of
adventure. From this thought of him I was very suddenly recalled by
old Nannette who came upon the deck from below.
"_Le bon Dieu_," she sighed, as she settled herself in her
steamer chair and took out the lace knitting. "Is it not of a goodness
that I have tied in my stocking the necessary francs that we may land
in that America, where all is of such a good fortune? And also by my
skill we have one hundred and fifty francs above that need which must
be almost an hundred of their huge and wasteful dollars. All is well
with us." And as she spoke she pulled up the collar of Pierre's soft
blue serge blouse around his pale thin face and eased the cushion
behind his crooked small back.
"Is--is that all which remains of the fifteen hundred dollars we found
to be in that bank, Nannette?" I asked of her with a great
uncertainty. My mother's fortune, descended from her father, the
Marquis de Grez and Bye, and the income of my father from his
government post, had made life easy to live in that old house by the
Quay, where so many from the Faubourg St. Germaine came to hear her
sing after her fortune and children took her from the Opera--and to go
for the summers in the gray old Chateau de Grez--but of the investment
of francs or dollars and cents I had no knowledge, in spite of my
claims to be an American girl of much progress. My mother had laughed
and very greatly adored my assumption of an extreme American manner,
copied as nearly as possible after that of my father, and had failed
to teach to me even that thrift which is a part of the dot of every
French girl from the Faubourg St. Germaine to the Boulevard St.
Michel. But even in my ignorance the information of Nannette as to the
smallness of our fortune gave to me an alarm.
"What will you, Mademoiselle? It was necessary that I purchase the
raiment needful to the young Marquis de Grez according to his state,
and for the Marquise his sister also. It was not to be contemplated
that we should travel except in apartments of the very best in the
ship. Is not gold enough in America even for sending in great sums for
relief of suffering? Have I not seen it given in the streets of Paris?
Is it not there for us? Do you make me reproaches?" And Nannette began
to weep into the fine lawn of her nurse's handkerchief.
"No, no, Nannette; I know it was of a necessity to us to have the
clothes, and of course we had to travel in the first class. Do not
have distress. If we need more money in America I will obtain it." I
made that answer with a gesture of soothing upon her old shoulders
which I could never remember as not bent in an attitude of hovering
over Pierre or me.
"_Eh bien_!" she answered with a perfect satisfaction at my
assumption of all the responsibilities of our three existences.
And as I leaned against the deck rail and looked out into a future as
limitless as that water ahead of us into which the great ship was
plowing, I made a remark to myself that had in it all the wisdom of
those who are ignorant.
"The best of life is not to know what will happen next."
"Ah, that was so extraordinary coming from a woman that you must
pardon me for listening and making exclamation," came an answer in a
nice voice near at my elbow. The words were spoken in as perfect
English as I had learned from my father, but in them I observed to be
an intonation that my French ear detected as Parisian. "Also,
Mademoiselle, are you young women of the new era to be without that
very delightful but often danger-creating quality of curiosity?" As I
turned I looked with startled eyes into the grave face of a man less
than forty years, whose sad eyes were for the moment lighting with a
great tenderness which I did not understand.
"I believe the quality which will be most required of the women of the
era which is mine, is--is courage and then more courage, Monsieur," I
made answer to him as if I had been discussing some question with him
in my father's smoking room at the Chateau de Grez, as I often came in
to do with my father and his friends after the death of my mother when
the evenings seemed too long alone. They had liked that I so came at
times, and the old Count de Breaux once had remarked that feminine
sympathy was the flux with which men made solid their minds into a
unanimous purpose. He had been speaking of that war a few weeks after
Louvaine and I had risen and had stood very tall and very haughty
before him and my father.
"The women of France are to come after this carnage to mold a nation
from what remains to them, Monsieur," I had said to him as I looked
straight into his face. "Is not the courage of women a war supply upon
which to rely?"
"God! what are the young women--such women as she--going to do in the
years that come after the deluge, Henri of America?" he had made a
muttering question to my father as his old eyes smouldered over me in
From the memory of the smoking room at the Chateau de Grez my mind
suddenly returned to the rail of the ship and the Frenchman beside me,
who was looking into my face with the same kindly question as to my
future that had been in the eyes of my old godfather and which had
stirred my father's heart to its American depths and made him send me
back to his own country.
"Ah, yes, that courage is a good weapon with which to adventure in
this America of the Grizzled Bear, Mademoiselle," I found the strange
man saying to me with a nice amusement as well as interest.
"My father had shot seven grizzlies before his twenty-first birthday.
We have the skins, four of them, in the great hall of the Chateau de
Grez--or--or we did have them before--before--" My voice faltered and
I could not continue speaking for the tears that rose in my throat and
Quickly the man at my side turned his broad shoulders so that he
should shield me from the laughing and exclaiming groups of people
upon the deck near us.
"Before Ypres, Mademoiselle?" he asked with tears also in the depths
of his voice.
"Yes," I answered. "And I am now going into the great America with my
crippled brother and his nurse--alone. It is the land of my father and
I have his courage--I _must_ have also that of a French woman. I
have it, Monsieur," and as I spoke I drew myself to my full,
broad-shouldered height, which was almost equal to that of the man
"Mademoiselle, I salute the courage born of an American who fought
before the guns of the Marne and of a French woman who sent him
there!" And as he spoke thus he removed from his head his silk deck
cap and held it at his shoulder in a way that I knew was a salute from
a French officer to the memory of a brother. "And also may I be
permitted to present myself, as it is a sad necessity that you travel
without one from whom I might request the introduction?" he asked of
me with a beautiful reverence.
After a search in his pocket for a few seconds he at last discovered a
case of leather and presented to me a card. As he handed it to me his
color rose up under his black eyes and grave trouble looked from
between their long black lashes. I glanced down at the card and read:
Capitaine, le Count Armond de Lasselles,
44th Chasseurs de le Republique Francaise.
"Monsieur le Count, I know, I know why it is that you go to America!"
I made exclamation as I clasped to my breast my hands and my eyes
shone with excitement. "I have read it in _Le Matin_ just the day
before yesterday. You go to buy grain against the winter of starvation
in the Republique. No man is so great a financier as you and so brave
a soldier, with your wound not healed from the trenches in the Vosges.
Monsieur, I salute you!" and I bent my head and held out my hand to
"We're to expect nimble wits as well as courage of you young--shall I
say _American_ women?" he laughed as he bent over my hand. "Now
shall I not be led for introduction to the small brother and the old
nurse?" he asked with much friendly interest in his kind eyes.
It was a very wonderful thing to observe the wee Pierre listen to the
narration of Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, concerning the actions
of a small boy who had run out of a night of shot and shell into the
heart of his regiment and who had now lived five months in the
trenches with them. Pierre's small face is all of France and in his
heart under his bent chest burns a soul all of France. It is as if in
her death, at his birth, my beautiful mother had stamped her race upon
him with the greater emphasis.
"Is it that the small Gaston is a daredevil like is my Bob?" he
questioned as we all made a laughter at the story of the Count de
Lasselles concerning the sortie of the small idol from the trenches in
the dead of one peaceful night to return with a very wide thick
flannel shirt of one of the _Boches_, which he had caught hanging
upon a temporary laundry line back of the German trenches.
At that English "daredevil" word I was in my mind again back in the
old Chateau de Grez and into my own childhood.
"You young daredevil, you, hold tight to that vine until I get a grip
on your wrist, or you'll dash us both on the rocks below," was the
exact sentence with which my father bestowed my title upon me as he
hung by his heels out of a window of the old vine-covered Chateau de
"It is one large mistake that my _jeune fille_ is born what you
call a boy in heart. _Helas_!" sobbed my beautiful young French
mother as she regarded us from the garden below.
"If you were a boy I'd thrash you within an inch of your life, but as
you are a girl I suppose it is permissible for me to admire your
pluck, Mademoiselle Roberta," said my father as he landed me in the
music room by his side while an exchange of excited sentences went on
between my mother and old Nannette in the garden below. "What were you
doing out on that ledge, anyway? It is more than a hundred feet to the
ground and the rocks."
"I was making the hunt through Yellowstone Park that you have related
to me, father, and I prefer that you give me a boy's punishment. If I
have a boy's what you call 'pluck,' I should have a boy's what you
call 'thrashing.' Monsieur, I make that demand. I am the Marquise de
Grez and Bye, and it may be that as you are an American you do not
understand fully the honor of the house of Grez." I can remember that
as I spoke I drew my ten-year old body up to its full height, which
must have been over that of twelve years, and looked my father
straight in the face with a glance of extreme hauteur as near as was
possible to that of the portrait of the old Marquis de Grez, who died
fighting on the field of Flanders.
"_Eh, la la_, what is it I have produced for you, Henri of
America? It is not a proper _jeune fille_, nor do I know what
punishment to impose upon her; but with you I must laugh," with which
my beautiful mother from the doorway threw herself into the arms of
her young American husband and her laughter of silver mingled with his
deep laugh of a great joy.
"Don't worry, Celeste; Bob is just a clear throw-back to her
great-grandmother, Nancy Donaldson, who shot two Indians and a bear in
defense of her kiddies one afternoon while my maternal grandsire was
in the stockades presiding over the council in which was laid down the
first broad draft for the formation of the Commonwealth of Harpeth.
I'm sorry, dear, that she is so vigorously American that she has to
climb the Rocky Mountains even here in the garden spot of France. Just
now she is French enough to be dealing with me in the terms of that
jolly old boy of Flanders fame in the hall downstairs; but cheer up,
sweetheart, she's a wild, daredevil American and I'm going to send her
back to the plains as soon as she speaks her native tongue with less
French accent. Then the rest of us can be happily French forever
"I will speak as you do, my father, from this moment forth," I
answered him with something that was wild and fierce and free rising
in my child's heart. "I will not be a _grande dame_ of France. I
am a woman of America. I speak only United States." And I clung to my
father's arm as he drew me to him and embraced both my laughing mother
and me, before I was delivered to old Nannette who, with affectionate
French grumblings, led me away to the nursery for repairs.
The scene had become fixed in my memory, for from it had sprung a
friendship of a great closeness with my wonderful American father whom
love had chained in France. When he rode the great hunter that had
come across to him from a friend in Kentucky I demanded to cling
behind him or to sit the saddle in front of him, even at times running
at his side as long as my breath held out, to rise on his stirrup,
like the great terrifying Scotchmen do in battles, and cling as
Kentuck made flight over wall or fence. My very slim and strong hands
could not be kept from the steering wheel of his long blue racing car,
and I could bring down a hare out of the field with any gun he
possessed as unerringly as could he. I lived his life with him hour by
hour, learned to think as he thought, to speak his easy transatlantic
speech, and did equal trencher duty with him at all times, so that
muscle and brawn were packed on my tall, broad woman's body with the
same compactness as it was packed upon his, by the time I had reached
my twenty-first birthday. By that time he and I had been alone
together for eight long years, for my mother had left us with tiny,
misshapen Pierre as a heart burden but with only each other to be
The efforts of some of my mother's distant relatives and friends to
make me into the traditional young French Marquise had resulted in
giving to me a very beautiful _grande dame_ manner to use when I
stood in need of it, which I took a care was not too often. Because I
had been born to a woman's estate I considered I must manage well
beautiful skirts and lacy fans, but no oftener than was necessary, I
decided. I went for the most of my days habited in English
knickerbockers under short corduroy skirts, worn with a many-pocketed
hunting blouse. On the night of my presentation at the salon of my
distant relative, the old Countess de Rochampierre, I had to apologize
to a young Russian attache for searching with desperation for the bit
of lace called a handkerchief, among the laces and ruffles of my
evening gown in the regions where I had been accustomed to find
"And is it possible that Mademoiselle Americaine hunts as well as she
makes the dance?" was his delighted answer to my explanation, which
led into a half-hour description of a raw morning in the field just
three days before in England, where my father and I had gone over for
a week's hunting with Lord Gordon Leigh at Leigholm.
"And then some," I returned answer with delight at his sympathy in my
narration of the sport. I liked very well the American slang that my
father's friends were always glad to teach to me, and that gave to him
both amusement and delight when I used it in his presence.
Also I liked well that young Russian and he came many times to the
Chateau de Grez and Bye before he left to join his regiment of Russian
Cossacks in the Carpathians.
And this time it was from the Carpathians that I returned to the ship
deck to find wee Pierre laughing again over the very small dog that
brought into the French trenches a very large and stupid sheep from
the flock back of the German trenches.
"And your medal of honor, Monsieur le Capitaine; is it permitted that
I lay for a little moment just one finger upon it?" Pierre asked of
him as the great soldier stood tall above the steamer chair and gave
to the little Frenchman the salute of an officer.
Nannette sobbed into her lace and I turned my head away as the tall
man bent and laid the frail little hand against his decoration which
he wore almost entirely hidden under the pocket of his tweed Norfolk
of English manufacture. Only French eyes like wee Pierre's could have
seen it pinned there hidden over his heart. I think he wore it to give
him a large courage for his mission that meant bread or starvation to
so many of his people.
"Ah, Monsieur le Capitaine," I said to him with a softness of tears in
my throat, "I would that there was some little thing that I might do
to serve France. I do so long to go into those awful trenches with
that red cross on my arm, as it is not permitted to me to carry a gun,
which I can use much better than many men now handling them with
bullets against the enemy; but it is necessary that I obey the
commands of my soldier father and take to a safety the small Pierre."
And as we spoke he walked beside me to the prow of the large ship so
that to us was a view of the heavens of blue beyond which lay our
"My child, there is a great service which you can render France," he
answered me as we stopped to watch the great white waves flung aside
from the ship. "France needs friends in America, great powerful
friends who will help her in contracting for food and all other
munitions. A beautiful woman can do much in winning those friends. You
go to your uncle, who is one of those in power in a State in that
fruitful valley of the Mississippi from which I hope that my
lieutenant, Count de Bourdon, whom I sent on that mission, will get
many mules to carry food to the hungry boys in the trenches when mud
is too deep for gasoline. Make of him and everyone your friend and
through you the friend of our struggling country. Tell them of France,
laugh with them for the joy to come when France, all France, with
Alsace and beautiful Lorraine, is free; and make them weep with you
for her struggles. Who knows but that through you may come some
wonderful strength added to your old country from the new, whose blood
runs in your veins as well?"
"All of that I will do, _mon Capitaine_. I so enlist myself." And
as I spoke I drew myself up unto the greatest height possible to me.
"I will be of the army that feeds, rather than of that which kills."
"_Mon Dieu_, child, what is possible to you to do has no limit.
Also, I say to you, watch and be on your guard for aught that may harm
France. In America are spies. I have been warned. Also there are those
who practice deceptions in contracts. It is for the purpose to so
guard that I come to America."
"I also will so guard," I made answer to my Capitaine, the Count de
Lasselles, as we again came in our walk to the side of wee Pierre and
VIVE LA FRANCE
And after that first day there were many hours that the Capitaine, the
Count de Lasselles, spent with little Pierre and the good Nannette, as
she sat knitting always with the sun on the water reddening her round
cheeks, while I had much pleasure with many friends who came to me
upon the ship.
A very fine young man who was named William Raines, from the State of
Saint Louis, instructed me in several beautiful dances, but I do not
think he was held in the esteem which he deserved by another of his
American brothers by the name of Peter Scudder, whose home was in the
town of Philadelphia.
"Dancing with Scudder must be like going to your grandmother's funeral
over the old State Road in a rockaway," was the comment that Mr.
William Raines made upon his friend Mr.
Peter Scudder, and what Mr. Scudder said of him was of the same
"Raines' dancing is extremely like Saint Louis: delightfully rapid but
crude," was his comment.
I should have been regretful of the unkindness between those two very
nice Americans but for a beautiful good to France that was brought
about by the desire of each to please me more than the other.
The many ladies upon the ship had been of exceeding kindness to me
because of the loveliness of small Pierre's dark face and the pity of
his crooked back. Old Nannette was of a very great popularity with all
of those ladies and she spent many hours in recounting the glories of
the old Chateau de Grez and Bye and the family which had inhabited it
since the fourteenth century. So it came about that many friends were
made for France among them.
Now that Mr. William Raines had a very nice idea to invite in my honor
all of the ladies who were friends to me, and many distinguished
gentlemen of politics and of universities and other large affairs, who
were returning from business in Europe to more business in America, to
be present while a young boy of France, who was among those in the
steerage going to the freedom of America with his mother who had been
widowed at Ypres, sang in a very lovely voice many French folk songs
and songs of war to all present. And at that singing many tears flowed
and so much money was put into the hands of the boy that a future for
the very sad little French family was assured in America. And I also
wept. I was taken into the embrace of all of those kind American women
and assured of so much care and affection in that land of my father,
that I felt of a very great richness in spite of the small sum of
money in the heel of Nannette's rough stocking. And as I received all
of these beautiful attentions I perceived the eyes of my Capitaine,
the Count de Lasselles, fixed upon me with a deep gratitude and pride.
It was all of a great pleasure to me except that I did not like very
well to be so distinguished by a young man, which made the French
_grande dame_ in me to shrink.
"_Mais, vive la France_," I murmured to myself and was happy
But, alas! At the joy of all this entertainment there was one sadness.
It was of my dear friend, Mr. Peter Scudder. There was no pleasure,
but great seriousness, in his face during the whole afternoon.
"Don't mind him; poor Pete's chewing a grouch," was what his good
friend Mr. William Raines answered to my lament over his sadness. And
that sadness lasted for three days, up unto the day before we came to
a sight of the Lady of Liberty of America. Then his face found a great
radiance and I perceived that he was full of much business. I found
him with a notebook, in deep consultation with my Capitaine, the Count
de Lasselles, and then in earnest consultation with many of the other
gentlemen. I had much wonder; but at the dinner that night, which was
the last before we made the landing to America, I discovered all of
his good actions. While we were at the last of the coffee, Mr. Peter
Scudder arose and made a bow to the capitaine of the ship, beside whom
I sat, which salutation did not in any way include me, and then turned
to the direction of my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
"Sir," he said in that very nice voice which it is said is of
Philadelphia, "I have the honor to ask you if you will take charge of
a fund of five thousand dollars, which has been given by the
passengers of this boat, to be sent immediately to a field hospital of
France, preferably the nearest in need to the battlefield of the
Marne." And with no more of a speech than that he seated himself and
did not so much as make a glance in my direction when he mentioned the
battlefield on which my father had died. I think that Mr. Peter
Scudder is a very great gentleman and I sat very still and white, with
my head held high and tears rising from the depths of France in my
"My honored friends," answered my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles,
as he rose from his place at the foot of the table and stood tall and
slim in the manner of a great soldier, "it is impossible that I say to
you my gratitude for this expression of your friendship for my
country. So many dollars will bring life and an end of suffering to
many hundreds of my brave boys, but the good will and sympathy it
represents from America to France will do still more. The fund shall
go to the place you request and I now beg to offer to you a toast that
will be of an understanding to you." And at that moment he raised his
glass of champagne and said:
"To the destiny of those born of American and French blood
All those present arose to their feet and drank that toast with loving
looking at me, and I did not know what I should do until that good old
gray boat capitaine patted me upon the shoulder and said across his
"God bless and keep you, child!"
"I thank everybody," I answered as I went into the embrace of my very
large lady friend from the State of Cincinnati, and then into the
embrace of the other ladies.
"I've been knitting all day for two months but I'm going to begin to
sit up at night," sobbed the lady from a queer Keokuk name as I took
her into my embrace on account of her extreme smallness.
It was at a very late hour, just before retiring, that I ascended to
the deck with my Capitaine to view the effect of a very young moon on
the waves of the ocean.
"Is it that you think now your soldier of France has done your command
well, _mon Capitaine_?" I asked of him.
"Most extremely well, and entirely in the mode of a woman. Those two
young men have made of themselves very noble competitors for your
favor, but remember that it is of a truth that only a 'daredevil'
would bring together such high explosives. I salute you!" he made
answer to me with a laugh which ended in a sigh. "Child, little
child," he continued as he bent over my hand to kiss it as he did each
night before he conducted me to the head of the stairs leading down
into my cabin, "above all take unto yourself all that is possible of
joy in the present, for we do not know what the supply will be for the
future. Perhaps it will be like the harvests of France--burned up in a
"Ah, but, _mon Capitaine_, will you not dance with me once
to-night for a joy. It will be our last on the ship before we land
to-morrow. You have never danced with me and to-morrow you are lost
from me into the wilds of that English Canada." And as I spoke I held
out my arms to him and began to hum the music of that remarkable
Chin-Chin fox dance that I had been dancing below with Mr. William
Raines and which the band had just begun to play again. Of course, I
knew that I must be very lovely in that young moonlight in one of the
frocks that Nannette had purchased from her very talented cousin, the
_couturiere_ on Rue Leopold, and I could see no reason why I
should not make a happiness for the great gentleman of France as well
as the young boy from Philadelphia and also the one from Saint Louis.
"You _are_ a daredevil, Mademoiselle, to propose the dance to
powder-stained Armond Lasselles, but the joy of you is of a greatness
and I feel from it a healing in the night of my soul."
And he reached out in the moonlight and took me into his arms and
danced me along that deck with a grace that it would not be possible
for either the one from Philadelphia or the one from Saint Louis to
imitate. That nice but very ponderous lady from the State of
Cincinnati who regarded us from her steamer chair, enjoyed it as much
as did I, and she clapped her large hands as Monsieur le Capitaine
swung me around into the quietness beyond one of the tall chimneys for
smoke from the engine.
"This is good-bye, _mon enfant_, for I leave the ship at dawn
with the tug, so that I do avoid those reporters from newspapers and
the contract conspirators. I have advised Nannette that you go to the
Ritz-Carlton to await your Uncle if he be not upon the dock. I go to
the grain fields of Canada and then to the West of America.... I would
that it could be _au revoir_. Upon a day that shall come,
beautiful lady, perhaps it will be permitted to me to... _Non, vive
la France! A lies vite, cherie _... go while I--I--_Vive la
And tears came across my eyes as I did his bidding and left him--to
France. In my heart was a desire to cling to him in a great fear at
being alone to care for the good Nannette and the small Pierre, but I
knew he must travel fast and far on his quest and that for France I
must let him go without--a backward look. Would I find in the great
land of America such another gallant gentleman to care for the fate of
the small Pierre and Nannette and me? What did I know of this cruel
Uncle? Nothing but his hardness of heart. I dreaded the sight of him
that I should find upon the arrival of the ship at the dock, which
would be an answer to the letter I had sent to him to inform him of my
coming, and I spent my long night in hate of him.
With the arrival of the morning came more mines that exploded for me
under the waves of my life that had danced with so little concern
through the days upon the ship. A rain was falling and my friend of
France was gone from me at the beginning of day in a boat that is
called tug. Upon Nannette had fallen a rheumatism and the small Pierre
was in the midst of shivering chills when we at last were permitted by
the very unpleasant officer of America to go from the ship.
"_Helas_, it was all of the gold that he took from me for an
entry into this savage land where one piece of money is as five of
that of France. There remains but a few sous and a gold piece," sobbed
Nannette as she came from her interview with the immigration officer
while I stood beside Pierre, deposited by a deck steward on a pile of
our steamer blankets.
"Did it take all--all of the money to land, Nannette? Not all!" I
cried as I stretched out my hand to her. I did not know as I now do,
that the money would have been returned to Nannette had she waited
with patience and not made a hurry of returning to her nurslings.
"All, Mademoiselle," were the words with which she answered me, and
for some very long moments I stood dazed and struggled in the waves of
that adventure I had thought to be life.
"I beg your pardon, Marquise, but here is a letter the dock steward
failed to find you to deliver," came in the pleasant voice of that Mr.
William Raines as he raised a very fine hat that made him much better
to look upon than the cap of the steamer, and handed me a large
letter. I took it and came with my head out from under the wave which
had dashed over me.
"Is there anything I can do to help you through the customs?" then
came the nice voice of that Mr. Peter Scudder of Philadelphia from the
other side of me.
"No, with much gratitude to you both; I must wait the arrival of my
Uncle," I made answer to them with my head held very high.
"Then we'll see you at the Ritz for tea at five as per promise," said
Mr. William Raines as he walked away and left Mr. Peter Scudder, who
was assisting the lady from Cincinnati to transport her very lovely
dog to a handsome car which awaited her. She also had I promised to
visit from that great Ritz-Carlton hotel and she smiled in sweet
friendliness to me as I stood with the letter in my hand and watched
all of the friends I had found upon that ship, depart and leave me
with not a place to go. I stood for many minutes motionless and then
my eyes perceived the letter in my hand. Surely it must be opened and
read. It was from the wicked Uncle, I knew, but it might be that it
was not of the cruelty that I had expected. It would excuse him no
doubt from arrival in person for the expected greeting to his
relatives, Pierre and myself.
"Go to it, Bob," I advised myself in the language I had heard Mr.
Saint Louis use when he was forced to ask a nice lady, who danced with
disagreeable heaviness, to trot the fox with him because of a
friendship with his mother.
And this is the letter that my eyes read with astonishment, while both
the good Nannette and small shivering Pierre sat with their eyes fixed
upon my countenance:
"My dear nephew Robert:
"Your arrival in America at this time suits me exactly. I need
you immediately in my business. If you had been the girl,
instead of the little one, I would have had to dispose of you
some way--even murder. I have no use for women. Leave the
little crippled girl and her nurse, who I feel sure is an old
fool, with my good friend Dr. Mason Burns, of 222 South 32nd
St. He has cured more children of hip joint disease than any
man in the world, and he will straighten her out for us and we
can give her away to somebody. I've written him instructions.
Leave her immediately and come down here to me on the first
train. The deal is held up without you. Enclosed is a check
for a thousand dollars. If you are like Henry you'll need it,
but keep away from Broadway and the women. Come on, I say, by
Your uncle, Robert Carruthers.
"The Uncle of America has come to a confusion of the sex between
Pierre and me from a careless memory and the writing of my hand, which
is of a great boldness, but not to be easily read," I explained as I
read the letter aloud to Pierre and Nannette.
It took me just one hour by the clock, sitting there on the pile of
steamer wraps with the small Pierre in the hollow of my arm, to
explain and translate the sense of that letter to old Nannette, and I
feel sure she would have been sitting upon that spot yet immovable
rather than let me depart from her if I had not put all of my time and
force upon the picturing to her of a Pierre who could come down with
her later to me in a condition to run through the gardens of Twin
Oaks, which was the home of his American ancestors. With that vision
constantly before her she let the porter and me insert her into a
taxicab and extract her at the door of the small private hospital of
the good Dr. Burns who was to perform the miracle for the back and hip
of small and radiant Pierre.
"But what is it that I do to permit the _jeune fille_ of my
beloved mistress to depart into this city of wicked savages not
attended by me? I cannot. Do not demand it!" were the words with which
I left her arguing with that very sympathetic and sensible doctor of
America. He had not noticed a confusion of sex was between Pierre and
me and he had sent out the check of my wicked Uncle and procured the
American money for me. Also he had given me a few directions that he
appeared to think of a great sufficiency and had ordered a taxi to be
in readiness for me.
"Nonsense, Nurse," he said to Nannette bruskly but not with unkindness
when I had translated to him Nannette's weeping protests. "A great
strapping girl like that can get down to the Harpeth Valley all right
by herself. Nobody's going to eat her up, and from the size of the
biceps I detect under that chiffon I think she could give a good
account of herself if anybody tried. How like you are to what Henry
was at your age, child, God bless you! I'd go to the station with you
but I've a patient all prepared for an operation. Shall I send a nurse
"No, please, good Doctor, and good-bye," I said, with a great haste as
I hurriedly embraced both Nannette and the small Pierre and departed
down the broad steps into the taxi with the open door.
"Pennsylvania Station! Your train may not leave for hours, but you can
get your baggage together. Good-bye," said that good Doctor as he shut
the door and returned to his pursuit of making human beings either
whole or dead.
"And now, Roberta Carruthers, no longer Marquise of Grez and Bye, you
are in your America, and let's see you do some hustling," as remarked
that Mr. Saint Louis to Mr. Peter Scudder at cards.
And while that very swift taxi conveyed me to the large station that
is as beautiful as a cathedral I did some what I name "tall thinking."
What would be the result of my womanly arrival in that State of
Harpeth of my wicked Uncle? Would he be forced to murder me as his
letter had said? And if in his anger over the mistake he had made from
my letter, written in that very bold and difficult handwriting, he
should turn from me, and the good Nannette and Pierre as well, what
would I then do? All must be enacted that a cure for Pierre be
obtained. With great energy I had been thinking, but I did not know
what it was that I should do to prevent his anger when I arrived to
him as a woman until suddenly the good Doctor Burns' kindness in
marking the resemblance of me to my father in his extreme youth made
an entry into my brain and was received with the greatest welcome by
the daredevil who there resides.
"Very well, Robert Carruthers, who is no longer the beautiful Marquise
of Grez and Bye, you will be that husky nephew to your wicked Uncle in
the State of Harpeth whom he 'needs in his business.' What is it that
you lack of a man's estate save the clothes, which you have money in
your pockets to obtain after you have purchased the ticket upon the
A decision had been made and action upon it had begun in less than a
half hour after the purchase of the ticket for the State of Harpeth
had been accomplished.
As my father had taught me observation in hunting, I had remarked a
large shop for the clothing of men upon the Sixth Avenue near to the
station. I made my way into it and by a very nice fiction of an
invalid brother whom I was taking to the South of America I was able
to buy for a few dollars less than was in my pocket two most
interesting bags of apparel for a handsome young man of fashion. The
man who assisted me to buy was very large, with a head only ornamented
with a drapery of gray hair around the edges, and he spoke much of
what his son deemed suitable to make appearance in the prevailing
"He's at tea at the Ritz-Carlton with a lady friend this afternoon,
and I wish you could have saw him when he left the store to meet her,"
he said as he laid the last of the silk scarfs and hose into one of
the large flat bags I had purchased and which he had packed as I
selected. "He had on the match to these gray tweeds and was fitted out
in lavender from the skin out. Now what are you going to do about
"That I do not know, kind sir," I made answer with a great perplexity.
"I think that the feet of my relative are about the size of those I
"Most women would wear shoes near the size of their brothers' if they
didn't prefer to waddle and limp along with their feet scrouged. Go
over to the shoe department and the clerk will fit you out with what
you need in about two sizes larger than you wear. If they are not
right you can tell just about what will be, and exchange 'em by
special messenger. I'll pack all this shipshape before you come back."
With which direction I left the kind man and made my way to another of
"I have had upon my feet the shoes of my brother when in accidents
while at hunting and fishing, and I think I can ascertain a good
fitting," I made a falsification to the very polite young man who
stood with attention and sympathy to wait upon me.
"We'll make a selection and then try one pair on," he advised me.
And as I gave to him a fine description of the clothing I had
purchased he brought forth in accord many wonderful boots and shoes
for the riding and a walking and also for the dance. I had never
observed that the shoes of men were of such an ugliness; but when one
was upon my foot, in place of the shoe of much beauty which I
discarded, both I and the young man had a fine laugh.
"_Mais_, they are of a great comfort," I further remarked. "And
they feel about as did those of my brother, who is of a small frame."
"Well, if they are not right, send 'em back and I'll change 'em," he
answered with great interest.
After the exchange of much money between us, the young man went with
me to the other kind old man of the white hair, and together they made
places in the two bags for the shoes.
"Just seven hundred dollars all told, and the like of that outfit
couldn't be bought any other place of style in New York for less than
a thousand, Miss," remarked to me the elderly clerk as he closed and
made fast with keys the two bags. "Shall I send 'em special?"
"I'll thank you that you call a taxi for me, Monsieur," I answered,
and as he had mentioned that Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in conversation
earlier, that very wicked daredevil that resides within me awoke at
attention with the large ears of great mischief. I felt in my pocket
that there was still much gold, and the man from whom I had purchased
the ticket to the State of Harpeth had assured me that the train did
not depart until the hour of six in the evening.
"To the Hotel of the Ritz-Carlton," I commanded the man of the taxi as
he made fast the door.
It then transpired that one hour from the time that the young
Mademoiselle Grez, who had registered at that large hotel with all of
her luggage from the steamer while by lies her father was represented
as still engaged with the customs, entered her room, there emerged
young Mr. Robert Carruthers, who, after paying his bill in his room
had a hall boy send his bags on ahead of him to the Pennsylvania
Station while he sauntered into the tea room. I have never again met
with the wonderful dresses I left in that hotel room. I hope the poor
and beautiful domestic, who assisted me in cutting my hair into a
football shortness after the mode of a very beautiful woman dancer
which she said girls of much foolishness in America have affected, was
rewarded with them.
And as I stood in the center of the great room of conversation and
lights and flowers and music I again became the frightened girl upon
the dock of America and I felt as if I must flee, but at that exact
moment I beheld my Mr. William Raines of Saint Louis and my Mr. Peter
Scudder of Philadelphia seated at a table in a very choice corner and
there was a vacant chair between them. Upon each other they were
glaring and before I had a thought I started towards them to prevent
the carnage that had threatened on the boat.
THAT MR. G. SLADE OF DETROIT
A number of moments in the rapid passing of the next few months I have
wondered what would have resulted if I had taken that vacant chair
between very agreeable Mr. William Raines and very proper Mr. Peter
Scudder so evidently reserved for the young, beautiful and charming
Marquise of Grez and Bye. I have decided that in about the half of one
hour young Mr. Robert Carruthers would have been extinct and the
desired and beloved Marquise in her place between them sipping her tea
while making false excuses for forgiveness. I did not take that seat
but I accepted one which a _garcon_ offered me next to them and
did regard them with both fear and wistfulness, also with an intense
attention so that I might acquire as much as possible from them of an
American gentleman's manner.
"I suppose the dame's fussing up for us to the limit, Peter," observed
that Mr. Saint Louis while he emptied a glass of amber liquid and
removed a cherry from its depths with his fingers and devoured it with
the greatest relish. "Gee, but the genuine American cocktail is one
great drink! Have another, Peter. You're so solemn that I am beginning
to believe that _belle Marquise_ did put a dent in your old
Quaker heart after all."
"There was something in that girl's eyes as they followed us, William,
that no cocktail ever shaken could get out of my mind," made answer
the very grave Mr. Peter Scudder of Philadelphia. "Do you suppose her
Uncle got there or that anything happened? I wish I had waited with
"Well, either Uncle did arrive or we'll see her in the Passing Follies
week after next, third from the left, in as little as Comstock allows.
When I've had a good look at bare arms my judgment connects mighty
easily with bare--"
By that moment I had poised in my hand a very fragile cup of nicely
steaming tea and it was a very natural thing that I should hurl its
contents in the face of that Mr. William Raines of the country of
_Voila_! What happened? Did I stay to fight the duel with that,
what I know now to call a cad, and thus be put back into the person of
the Marquise de Grez and Bye for a wicked Uncle to murder. I did not.
I placed upon the table two large pieces of money and I lost myself in
the crowd of persons who had risen and gathered to sympathize with
poor Mr. Saint Louis. No one had remarked my escape, I felt sure, as I
had been very agile, but as I sauntered out into the entresol of the
Hotel of Ritz-Carlton, to which I had given so great a shock in its
stately tea room, a finger was laid upon my arm in its gray tweed
coat. I turned and discovered a very fine and handsome woman standing
beside me and in her hand she had a book of white paper with also a
"I was sitting just back of Willie Raines and I heard what he was
saying about some woman, whom he and Peter Scudder had met on the boat
over, not keeping her appointment with them. Peter is of the
Philadelphia elect and nobody knows why he consorts with the gay
Willie. I saw them come off the boat together this morning and I knew
that the whole Scudder Meeting House would be in a glum over their
being together. Would you mind telling me just why you soused your tea
into his face? It would make a corking story for my morning edition.
Did you know them or did you know the lady or did you do it to be
"I think it must have been for the third of those reasons, Madam, but
I am not sure that I know the word you use," I answered with much
"Launcelot, you know, the boy that was always fussing around over
injured women, in Tennyson or somewhere, just for a love of 'em that
was always perfectly proper. Nice of him but not progressive. Say, do
you mind sitting down in a quiet corner of the tea room and telling me
all about it? Are you French or Russian or Brazilian, and do you
believe in women, or is it just because you like 'em that you threw
the tea? I've got a suffrage article to do and I believe you'd make a
good headline, with your militant tea throwing. Want to tell me all
"I have just one hour before going to the State of Harpeth, many miles
from here, Madam," I made answer with a great politeness. "I thank you
but I must make my regrets."
"Oh, I can find out all I want to know about you in five minutes. Just
come sit down with me and be a good boy. Do you want to give me your
name? I wish you really were _somebody_ that had given Willie
that tea fight." And while making protestations and remonstrances I
was led again into that tea room and seated at a great distance from
the table which had been occupied by that Mr. William Raines and Mr.
Peter Scudder, who had now departed. "If you really were some big gun
it would kill Willie dead."
"Then, Madam, permit me to present myself to you as Robert Carruthers,
Marquis de Grez and Bye, from Paris on my way to visit my Uncle,
General Robert Carruthers, of the State of Harpeth. I would very
willingly by information or a sword kill that Mr. William Raines of
Saint Louis and I regret that--that--" At the beginning of my sentence
I had drawn myself up into the attitude of the old Marquis of Flanders
in the hall of the ruined Chateau de Grez, but when I had got to the
point--of, shall I say, my own sword?--I was forced to collapse and I
could feel my knees under the tea table begin to shake together and
huddle for their accustomed and now missing skirts.
"That's fine and dandy," answered the nice woman as she began to write
rapidly upon the blank paper. "If you'd drawn fifty swords on Willie
and he had knocked you down with the butt end of his teaspoon I'd have
put Willie on the run in my write-up. Willie has handed me several
little blows below the belt that I don't like. Pretends not to have
met me, when Peter Scudder's own sister, whom I knew at the
settlement, introduced him to me; and what he did to Mabel Wright, our
cub on weddings--Oh, well, Mabel is another story. Now--that copy is
ready to turn in when I pad it. I wonder if I will get a favor from
the manager or be turned out of the tea room permanently for reporting
a fight as aristocratic as this in the sacred halls of the
Ritz-Carlton. I'd bet my shoe lacings that fifty people come here
every afternoon for a week hoping it will happen again."
"I do like this America, whose movement is so rapid," I made remark as
I set down my second cup of tea for the afternoon, this one emptied
into my depths instead of the face of Mr. Saint Louis.
"That's good, too," returned my new-found friend with a laugh as she
again wrote a word or two on the nice white paper. Then she placed her
elbow upon the table, leaned her very firm cheek on her hand, and
regarded me with fine and honest and sympathetic eyes. "I wonder what
America is going to do to a beautiful boy like you. I'm glad that you
are going to beat it to the tall timbers of the Harpeth Valley. There
are women in New York who would eat you up alive. There's La Frigeda,
alias Maggie Sullivan from Milwaukee, over there devouring you with
her eyes at this moment, and that pretty little Stuyvesant Blaine
debutante hasn't taken her eyes off of you long enough to eat her
spiced ice. I know 'em both and could land something from either one
if I introduced you in your title and very beautiful clothes."
"Oh, I beg a pardon of you that I have not the time to have an
introduction to your friends," I exclaimed with a very true regret,
because I did like that very nice woman and would have liked much to
have brought advantage to her. "In less than an hour I must 'beat' to
those 'tall timbers of Harpeth' you mention."
"Speaking of the State of Harpeth, I don't know as you'll be so safe
after all, young friend, if that is any sample of the variety of women
that flower in that classic land of the cotton and the magnolia which
I met at Mrs. Creed Payne's war baby tea the other afternoon," mused
my fine friend as I paid the _garcon_ for the very good tea. "She
is in high-up political circles down there in Old Harpeth and from the
bunch of women she was with I make a guess she is taking an interest
in war contracts. She was with that Mrs. Benton, who pulled off that
spectacular deal for desiccated soups for Greece the other day. My
stomach is too delicate to feed soldiers dried dog and rotten cabbage
melted down into glue in a can, but they may like the idea if not the
soup. Anyway, the woman was a beauty, so don't you let her get you."
"I do not entirely understand you, my dear Madam, and I wish that I
might have many days to talk with you about these American customs," I
said as I put into my pocket the exchange money handed to me by the
"Well, it is not exactly an American custom I have been putting you
next to, and I guess I'm patriotically glad that you don't entirely
understand. Now, I'm going to put you on the train for Old Harpeth and
kiss you good-bye for your mother. I'm not trusting Frigeda, and she's
lingering. Come on if your train leaves at six o'clock."
And while she spoke, my interesting and fine woman rose and allowed me
to assist her into her gray coat of tweed that was very like to mine.
It was with regret that I parted from that lady at the door of the
taxicab that had been called for her, and I bent over and kissed her
hand, the first woman that Mr. Robert Carruthers had ever so saluted.
"Good-bye, boy! Remember, the tall timbers of Harpeth are best. Run
right down and get a Southern belle and beauty to settle down and have
a dozen babies for you, just like 'befo' the war.' Good-bye! I'll send
you down a paper to-morrow. I don't suppose the New York journals ever
penetrate the Harpeth Valley. Good-bye again." And then my friend was
gone, leaving me once more alone in New York and very shy of those
tweed trousers, which I immediately put with me into another taxicab
which was directed to the Pennsylvania Station.
At that Pennsylvania Station I remembered to send to my wicked Uncle
an announcement by telegram of my arrival to him and then I got upon
the train just in time for its departure.
I have remarked that life is like high waves of fate that break in
sparkling white crests over buried mines, and I am now led to believe
that many of those mines are but the habitation of mermaids of much
mischief. Are all ripples on life due to women at the bottom of the
matter? I do not know, but it would seem true from the things that
immediately began to befall me. And was it not I, a woman who was
called daredevil, who began it all?
These Pullman cars of America in which to travel great distances, are
very remarkable for their many strange adventures, and I was very much
interested but also perturbed when the black _garcon_ placed my
bag and overcoat upon the floor at the feet of a very prim lady and
left me to stand uncomfortably in the aisle before her.
"Your seat, sir, upper five," he said, and departed with my fifty
centimes, which is called a dime in America.
In the little division which I could see was marked five were two nice
seats that were to each other face to face, but it appeared that
neither of them was vacant for Mr. Robert Carruthers. On one the lady
sat with very stiff black silk skirts projecting from her sides, as
did her thin elbows also in the stiffness of white linen. Beside her,
occupying the rest of her seat, was a hat with large black bows of
equal stiffness with the rest of the lady's apparel and disposition
not to be friendly. On the seat opposite, which from the nature of my
ticket and the case I should have supposed belonged to me, were piled
two large bundles, a shiny black bag, a black silk coat, also stiff
like the lady, an umbrella, two magazines and a basket of fruit. No
place was apparent for me or my bags or my overcoat. It seemed as if
it would be best for me to stand in the middle of the car all the way
to the State of Harpeth so that the lady's stiffness be not
disarranged. I did not know what I should do, and my knees began again
to feel weak in that gray tweed and to be cold for their accustomed
skirts, but the lady looked out of the window and said not a single
word. I did not have any convenient cup of tea in my hand to throw in
that lady's face in a manner that would not be permitted a gentleman,
but if I had had the very lovely lorgnette that has descended to me
from my Great Grandmamma, the wife of the old Flanders grandsire, I
would have settled the matter with very little trouble in an entirely
ladylike manner. As it was, I did not know what to do but stand and
then stand longer. Just at the moment when I began to feel that I
would either be forced to forget that I was a gentleman or to faint as
a lady, a very nice man touched me on the elbow and said:
"Just drop your bag on her feet and come into the smoker. She's got
your game beat," and he passed on down the aisle of that car. I acted
upon that very kind advice and I am glad that from the weight of the
bag I got at least a small action from the stiff lady if only a groan
and a glare. Also I should have been grateful that she had so
discourteously treated me so that I was fortunate to receive the
attention of Mr. George Slade of Detroit as my first experience in
That Mr. Slade of Detroit is a man of remarkable adventures, and he
related to me many of them as he sat with me in the place reserved for
the smoking of gentlemen. They were all about ladies who resided in
the different towns to which he traveled in the pursuit of selling
cigars, and he called them all by the name of "skirts."
"I tell you, Mr. Dago, there is a skirt in Louisville, Kentucky, that
is such a peach that you'd call for the cream jug on sight. It would
pay you to stop off and see her. She's on the level all right, but any
friend that took a line from me would be nuts to her. See?" And he
bestowed upon me a pleasant wink from his eye. To that I made no
response. I could make none.
"Now, Mr. Robert Carruthers," I had said to myself at the beginning of
the first story of "skirts," "you will find yourself obliged to be in
the presence of men as one of their kind and not throw scalding tea in
their faces when they speak of ladies. You are of a great ignorance
about the brute that is known as man and you must learn to know him as
you do the wild hog in hunting." But even for the sake of a larger
education I could not remain, and I fled from that Mr. Slade of
Detroit in one half hour back to the arms of the stiff lady. But when
I arrived there I found she had had me removed from her as far as
possible to the other end of the car, where I found my bags deposited
beside one marked "G. Slade, Detroit."
"Took the liberty of transferring you here above the other gentleman,
sir. The lady is nervous," said the conductor of the car as he handed
me another ticket.
"Right, old top," said that Mr. G. Slade as he stood beside us, having
followed. "If you don't enjoy sleeping rock-a-bye-baby we can put our
togs up and you can bunk in with me. I'm not nervous." And with a
glance at the very stiff black silk back in the front of the car he
made a laugh that I could not prevent myself from sharing. It is then
that the delicacy of a woman is so easily corrupted?
"I beg your pardon, conductor, but upper nine is engaged for my son
who is to get on at Philadelphia. I must have him just opposite my
daughter and me. We are nervous." And as the large and pathetic lady
across the aisle from number nine spoke in a most timid voice, that
Mr. G. Slade gave one glance at the daughter of whom she spoke, who
also must have weighed a great many litre, or what you call in
America, pounds, and fled back to the smoking apartment.
It was a very funny sight to behold that small conductor stand with my
large bags and overcoat and look around at that car full of ladies for
a place in which to deposit me and them, which was not previously
occupied by some female of great nervousness.
"Madam, I will have to use the upper of this section," he finally
turned and said to the occupant of the number of seven with a very
"Certainly, conductor; let me remove my hat and coat," came back the
answer in a voice of very great sweetness as the conductor deposited
me and my bags down in front of the most beautiful lady in all
America, I am sure.
"Thank you for much graciousness, Madam," I said, keeping those gray
tweed knees straight out in front of me and very still to prevent
"Not at all, sir; I only bought the lower half of this section. I am
not at all _nervous_," and I could see her mouth that was curled
like the petals of an opening rose tremble from a mischief as she
regarded the stiff black silk back in the front of the car and the two
huge females on our right whose son and brother was to arrive in
Philadelphia for their protection.
An equally gay mischief rose in my eyes and responded to that in hers
as I responded also by word:
"For which also let us be in gratitude."
Many times in the months that followed have I thought of the lure of
the laughing mischief in those eyes that were like beautiful blue
flowers set in crystal, and how they were to lead me on into the
strange land of men in search of those forbidden fruits. They were the
first to offer me affection, excepting perhaps my fine reporter woman
with the paper and pencil.
And from that moment on I did very much enjoy myself in conversation
with that Madam Mischief, while we together did watch the retirement
of all of the persons in the train. She had many funny remarks to make
and made me merry with them so that the hour of eleven o'clock had
arrived before we had summoned the very black male chamber-maid to
turn our seats into beds. All others were in sleep that was a
confusion of sound from everywhere and we must stand in the aisle
while the beds were being abstracted.
"Shall I take your bag into the dressing room, sah?" said the black
male chamber-maid as if to intimate that I should leave the aisle free
for his operations.
"Many thanks, yes," I answered him. "Good night, Madam, and to you
again much gratitude for the happiness of an evening," and with all
sincerity I directed Mr. Robert Carruthers to bend over her very white
hand and kiss it with much fervor that was resulted from the
loneliness of the poor Marquise of Grez and Bye, who was but a girl in
a strange and large land, although habited in trousers and coat.
"You are a dear boy," she made answer to me with an equal affection as
she disappeared into the curtains of her small room. Then I departed
to that room reserved for the disrobing of gentlemen. It was without
occupation and I opened my large bag and procured the very beautiful
silk night robing that the kind man had sold to me that afternoon. It
was in two pieces that very much resembled the costume in which
gentlemen play tennis, only more ornamented by silk embroidery and
braid and buttons. I was regarding them with joy when into the small
room came that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit. He was appareled in garments
of the same cut only of a very wide red stripe, his hair was very much
in confusion and he had a bottle in his hand in which was a liquid the
color of cognac.
"I've only been awake for two hours listening to that peach of a skirt
trying to make you fuss her a bit, and I thought I would bring you a
nip to pick you up after your fight. Gee, it is as I suspected. You
are off on a wedding tango and that makes you cold to all wiles! My
son, for a wedding garment that thing you have in your hand is a
winner. I can't sleep in silk myself because it makes me feel like a
wet dog, but you'll be so beautiful in them that the bride will be
jealous of you and say that even if you are so pretty now you will
fade early or that you buy your complexion at the corner emporium. Go
on, put 'em on, or was you just looking at 'em for pleasure and going
to save 'em by sleeping 'as is'? Me, I always undress to the skin, but
"I--I was just looking at them with pleasure," I made haste to answer
that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit. "When upon travels I always fear to
disrobe myself. I think that I will now retire," and with a haste that
made my hands tremble I replaced the sleeping garments in the large
bag and prepared to flee down the aisle to the sleeping apartment in
which was the protection of another woman's presence.
"Not even a nip before you go?" he asked me as he held the large
bottle to his lips and threw back his head for a gurgling down his
"No, with much gratitude, and good night," I answered as I rapidly
departed with my cheeks in a flame of scarlet and a fear in my heart.
In my flight I passed by that number of seven and came very near
opening the curtains of the number of five and precipitating myself
upon the bayonets of black taffeta that stood firm from a hat so
placed as to bar my intrusion. From that accident I turned and sought
the kind black male chamber-maid with a request that he show me how to
insert myself into the right place for sleeping.
"Right here, Boss. Climb up on these little steps and then hand me
down your shoes. Soft now; I think the lady am asleep."
"Good night, and I'm not nervous," I heard a laugh of mischief come
from behind a second and short green curtain, that veils the lower of
the sleeping shelves, just as I fell onto my shelf above and lay with
a panting of relief.
THE IMPOSSIBLE UNCLE ROBERT
"Robert," I made remark to myself after I had with difficulty removed
the tweed coat and the tweed trousers and neatly folded them against
ugly wrinkles of to-morrow, "you must become a sport and not climb
down there and tell that other woman the truth of your lady's estate
and ask her to comfort you with affection. You were born a daredevil
and you must remember those two Indians and a bear that the Grandmamma
Madam Donaldson murdered for safety for herself and her children. That
Mr. G. Slade is just one bear and he's not as dangerous to you as if
you wore 'skirts' anyway. And, also, if you are brave and propitiate
the wicked Uncle, in just a few months you can travel to where the
lovely lady with the blue flower eyes resides, of whom in the morning
you must get the address of home, and can then make confession to her
and know the joy of having her sisterly embraces that seem of so much
sweetness to you now.
"But suppose it is that she arises in the night and leaves the train
for her home!" I said to myself as I suddenly sat up in the dark and
precipitated my head against the roof of the sleeping shelf.
"I will call down to her and ask the one simple question," I made
answer to myself. Then I reached down my head over the edge of my
shelf and called very softly:
"Yes?" came a soft question in answer and I felt that she arose and
brought her beautiful head which had the odor of violets in the waves
so heavy and black, up very near to mine. I could feel a comfort from
her breath on my cheek.
"I am in fear, Madam, that you should leave the train before I am
awake," I said in a voice under my breath. "I do not want that I lose
you into this great America."
"Oh, I'm not easily lost."
"I am desolated with loneliness and I must know where it is that you
leave the train, immediately, so that I may sleep."
"At Hayesville, Harpeth, you ridiculous boy. Now don't disturb me
again. Go to sleep."
As I sank back on my pillow, happy with a great relief, I thought I
heard two laughs in the darkness, one in a tone of silver from beneath
me and one of the sound of a choke from opposite me where was reposed
that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit.
"It is a good chance for you, Robert, that you go to sleep your first
night in America with the sound of a nice laugh from two persons of
kindness towards you, one of whom is to be with you for a friend in
the same--what was it the gray lady with the pencil and paper called
it?--'tall timbers of Old Harpeth' where all is of such strangeness to
you." And with this remark to myself I fell asleep, "as is," I think
it was that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit called my state of not being
disrobed further than trousers and coat.
After many months in which came to me cruel pain and a long hard fight
for the honor of my beloved, I cannot but remember that feeling of
gratitude that came over me as I went into sleep on that narrow shelf
under which lay the beauty of that Madam Patricia Whitworth.
In the eight years that I had become all of life to my father we had
made many travels into distant lands and had seen all of beauty that
the Old World had to offer seekers after it, but nowhere had I seen
the majestic wonder of this, his own land, that I beheld pass by like
a series of great pictures wrought by a master. All of the morning I
could but sit and gaze with eyes that sometimes dimmed with tears for
him as faster and faster I was carried down into his own land of the
Valley of Harpeth, which he had given up for love of my Mother and
from the cruelness of my wicked Uncle who would not welcome her to his
home. When the great Harpeth hills, in their spring flush from the
rosiness of what I afterwards learned was their honeysuckle and
laurel, shot with the iridescent fire of the pale yellow and green and
purple of redbud and dogwood and maple leaf, all veiled in a creamy
mist over their radiance, came into view, as we arrived nearer and
nearer to Hayesville my hand went forth and grasped closely the hand
of Madam Whitworth. That Mr. G. Slade had left the train before my
awakening and I felt relief from the absence of his eyes and could
express to the beautiful lady the joy that was in my heart.
"And the small homes in the valley, Madam, with the sheep and cattle
and grain and children surrounded, they need never fear the fire of
shell and the roar of the cruel guns. This valley is a fold in the
garment across the breast of the good God Himself and it has His
cherishing. Is it that there will be a home for me in its peace and
for the small Pierre and the old and faithful Nannette?"
"A home and--and other things, boy--when you ask for them," she
answered me with a very beautiful look of affection that while it
pleased me greatly also made for me an unreasonable embarrassment.
"Is it that you think I will obtain the affection of my Uncle, the
General Robert Carruthers, Madam Whitworth?" I asked of her with a
great wistfulness, for I had told her of his summons to me and she
knew already the story of his hardness of heart against my mother.
"The General is a very difficult person," she made answer to me, and I
saw that softness of her beautiful mouth become as steel as she spoke
of him. "To a woman he is impossible, as I have found to my cost, but
all men adore him and follow him madly, so I suppose his attitude
towards them is different from his attitude towards women. My husband
and I disagree utterly about the General. In fact, the old gentleman
and I are at daggers' points just now and I am afraid--afraid that he
will make it difficult for you to be--be friends with me as I--I want
you to be."
"Neither the General Carruthers nor any man, Madam, dictates in
matters of the heart to the Marquise de--that is, to Robert Carruthers
of Grez and Bye, if that is the way I must so name myself now," I
answered in the manner of the old Marquis of Flanders, tinged with the
_grande dame_ manner of the beautiful young Marquise of Grez and
Bye whom I had murdered and left in that room of the great hotel of
Ritz-Carlton in New York.
"It will be delicious to watch his face as you and I alight from this
train together, boy. It will be worth the trouble of this hurried trip
to New York to be introduced to a person who disappeared suddenly in a
tug boat in the open ocean when he should have landed at the docks
with the propriety that would have been expected of him." And as she
spoke I could see that something had happened in New York which had
brought much irritation to the beautiful Madam Whitworth.
"It would seem that it is one of the customs of these great ships to
send out passengers from them in those very funny small tug boats," I
remarked as I leaned forward to catch a last fleeting glimpse of a
lovely girl standing in the doorway of an ancient farmhouse, giving
food to chickens so near the course of the railroad train that it
would seem we should disperse them with fright. "I wept when I must
see my good friend, Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, depart from our
ship in one of those tug boats. It was a pain in my breast that he
must leave me to go into the wildness of Canada."
"Oh, then he went to Canada first?" exclaimed that Madam Whitworth as
she leaned back on her seat as if relieved from some form of a great
anxiety about the departure of that Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
"Is it that you are also a friend of my Capitaine?" I demanded with a
great eagerness of pleasure if it should be so.
"Oh, no, no, indeed!" exclaimed the beautiful Madam Whitworth. "I was
speaking of my own friend who might have taken a Canadian line instead
of the American. She is so careless about instructions. Now look; we
are beginning to wind down into the very heart of the Harpeth Valley,
and by the time you make very tidy that mop of hair you have on your
head and I powder my nose, we will be in Hayesville to face the
General in all of his glory. Mind you kiss my hand so he can see you!
I want to give him that sensation in payment of a debt I owe him. Now
do go and smooth the mop if it takes a pint of water to do it. That
New York tailor has turned you out wonderfully, but even those very
square English tweeds do not entirely disguise the French cavalier.
You're a beautiful boy and the girls in Hayesville will eat you up--if
the General ever lets them get a sight of you--which he probably
won't. Now go to the mop!"
For many years, since the lonely day just after the death of my
mother, when my father took me into the furthest depths of his sad
heart and told me of his exile from the place in which he had been
born, and about the elder brother who had hated my beautiful mother,
who hated all women, I had spent much time erecting in my mind a
statue that would be the semblance of that wicked and cruel Uncle. I
had taken every disagreeable feature of face and body that I had
beheld in another human, or in a picture, or had read of in the tales
of that remarkable Mr. Dickens, who could so paint in words a
monstrous person to come when the lights are out to haunt the
darkness, and had carefully patched them one upon another so as to
make them into an ideal of an old Uncle of great wickedness. On that
very ship itself I had beheld a man, who came upon the lower deck from
the engine, who had but one eye and a great scar where that other eye
should have been placed. Immediately my image of the General Robert
Carruthers lost one of the wicked eyes I had given him from out the
head of the stepfather who did so cruelly stare at the poor young
David Copperfield, and became a man with only one eye which still held
the malevolence that was hurled at that small David. And with this
squat, crooked, evil image of the General Robert Carruthers in my
heart I alighted from the train into the City of Hayesville, which is
the capital of the great American State of Harpeth. The black man had
swung himself off with my bags and that of the beautiful Madam
Whitworth, who with me was the last of the passengers to descend from
the steps of the car.
"My dear Jeff!" exclaimed my so lovely new friend as she raised her
veil for a very seemly kiss from a tall and quite broad gentleman with
a very wide hat and long mustachios that dropped far down with want of
wax that it is the custom to use for their elevation in France, as I
well know from my father's wrathy remarks to his valet if he made a
too great use of it upon his. "And this is General Carruthers' nephew
who came down on the train with me. My husband, Mr. Carruthers of Grez
and Bye!" with which introduction she confronted me with the
"Glad to know you, young man; glad to know you," he answered as he
took my hand and gave it an embrace of such vigor that I almost made
outcry. "There's the General over there looking for you. Come to see
us sometime. Come on, Patsy!"
"Good-bye, Mr. Carruthers. I'll see you soon," said the beautiful
Madam Whitworth as she held out her hand to me. "Do it now; there
comes the General! Quick, kiss my hand!"
I bent and did as she bade me and as I had promised her to do, and as
I raised myself she slipped away quickly after her husband with a
salutation of great coolness to a person over my shoulder and a "How
do you do, General Carruthers" remark as she went.
Instantly I turned and faced the materialization of the ogre it had
taken me years to build up into my wicked Uncle. And what did I see?
My eyes looked straight into eyes of the greatest kindness and wisdom
I had ever before beheld, and it was with difficulty I restrained
myself from flinging myself and my suit of English tweed straight into
the strong arms and burying my head on the broad deep chest that
confronted me as the huge old gentleman, with as perfect a mop of
white hair as is mine of black, rioting over his large head, towered
"You gallivanting young idiot, where did you pick up that dimity?" he
demanded of me as he laid a large hand with long strong fingers on my
shoulders and gave me a slight shake. "Don't tell me it was over Pat
Whitworth you had that ruckus at the Ritz-Carlton day before
"No, Monsieur, it was not," I answered, looking him straight in the
eyes and feeling as if I was looking into kind eyes that I had seen
close to me forever in the old convent in France, and as I spoke I
could not help it that I raised my arm in its covering of a man's
tweed and let my woman's fingers grasp one of the long fingers on my
shoulder and cling to it as I had done other long fingers just like
them that had guided my first footsteps down the sunny garden paths of
the old Chateau de Grez.
"I'm your Uncle Robert, sonny, and don't you ever forget that, sir,"
he answered as he gave me another shake and I could see a longing for
the embrace, which I so desired, in his keen eyes that had softened
with a veil of mist in the last second. "Lord, I'm glad you're not a
woman! And from now on just stop knowing the creatures exist--Pat
Whitworth and her kind. None of that tea-throwing in Hayesville, sir!
We've got work to do to put out a fire--fire of dishonor and
devastation. No time for tea-fighting here. Come on to my car over
there; we've no time to waste."
"What is it that you say about that throwing of tea which occurred
only the day before yesterday in the City of New York many hundreds of
miles from here? How did that knowledge arrive here, my Uncle Robert?"
"Associated Press, sir. The greatest power in this America. Associated
Press! Full account, you and me, titles and all, printed in this
afternoon's paper. Any money left of that thousand?"
"No, my Uncle Robert," I faltered. "It was necessary that I spend--"
"Don't tell me about it. I sent it to you so you could get as much as
possible out of your system. The hussies! I've got work for you to do
here. Forget 'em! Hop in!" And he motioned me into a very large blue
touring car that stood beside the station platform.
"Drive to the Governor's Mansion and don't sprout grass under your
wheels," he commanded the black chauffeur. "The Governor's Mansion,
private door on Sixth Street."
"HERE'S MY BOY, GOVERNOR"
And it was en route to the mansion of the Gouverneur of the State of
Harpeth that my Uncle, the General Robert, did enlighten me as to the
urgent need of me in his affairs of business.
"It is a question of mules, sir, and of a dishonor to the State that
I'm going to prevent if my hot old head is laid low in doing it, as it
probably will be if I get into the ruckus with Jefferson Whitworth
that now threatens. They have insinuated themselves into the
confidence of Governor Faulkner until they have made it well-nigh
impossible for him to see the matter except as they put it. They will
get his signature to the rental grant of the lands, make a get-away
with the money and let the State crash down upon his head when it
finds out that he has been led into bringing it and himself into
dishonor. Why, damn it, sir, I'd like to have every one of them,
especially Jeff Whitworth, at the end of a halter and feed him a raw
mule, hoof and ears. I'm probably going to be done to death all alone
before the pack of wolves, but I'm going to die hard--for Bill
Faulkner, who holds in his hand the honor of his State and my State,
I'll die hard!" And he spoke the words with such a fierceness that his
white mustache, which was waxed with the propriety of the world,
divided like crossed silver swords beneath his straight nose with its
thin and trembling nostrils.
"It will be that I can help you protect this honor of the Gouverneur
Faulkner and the State of Harpeth, will it not, my Uncle Robert?" I
asked with a great anxiety. "If you must fall on the field of honor it
will be the glory of Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye to fall beside
you, sir. I am a very good sport, my father has said."
"God bless my soul, how like Henry you are, boy!" exclaimed my Uncle,
the General Robert, and he did lay one of his long and very strong
arms across my shoulder and give to me the embrace for which I had so
longed; but for not enough time for me to yield myself to it. "Henry
always wanted to tag 'Brother Bob,' and he too--would--have
died--fighting for me--at my side. I've been hard--and when I heard of
his death--I wanted you, boy, I wanted you more--Now what do you mean,
sir, by making me forget for one moment the fix Bill Faulkner and I
are in?" And my Uncle, the General Robert, gave to me a good shake as
he extracted his very large white handkerchief and blew upon his nose
with such power that the black chauffeur looked around at us and made
the car to jump even as he and I had done.
"And those mules that it would be your wish to feed to that Mr. Jeff
Whitworth, my Uncle Robert, will you not tell me further about them?
In Paris it is said that they are a very good food when made fat after
being old or wounded in the army. I have--"
"That will do, sir. If you've had to eat mule in Paris don't tell me
about it. My constitution wouldn't stand that, though during our war,
just before Vicksburg, I ate--but we won't go into that either. Now
this is the situation, as much as a lad from the wilds of Paris could
understand it. The French Government wants five thousand mules by the
fall of the year, and there are no such mules in the world as this
State produces. They are sending a man over here to try to make a deal
with the State of Harpeth to purchase the mules from private breeders,
graze them on the government lands and deliver them in a lot for
shipment the first of August at Savannah. There is no authority on the
statute book for the State to make such a deal, but Jeff Whitworth has
fixed up a sort of contract, that wouldn't hold water in the courts,
by which the Governor of the State, Williamson Faulkner, grants the
grazing rights on the State's lands to a private company of which he
is to be a member, which, in a way, guarantees the deal. They've made
him believe it to be a good financial thing for the State and he can't
see that they are going to buy cheap stock, fatten it on a low rate
from the State and hand it over to the French Government at a fancy
rake-off--and then leave him with the bag to hold when the time for
settlement and complaint comes. There is a strong Republican party in
this State and they're keeping quiet, but year after next, when Bill
Faulkner comes up for re-election, downright illegality will be
alleged, and he will be defeated in dishonor and with dishonor to the
State. I am his Secretary of State and I'm going to save him if I can.
And you are going to help me, sir!" And as he spoke my Uncle, the
General Robert, gave to me a distinguished shake of the hand that made
my pride to rise in my throat, which gave to my speaking a great
"I will help in the rescue of the honor of that Gouverneur Bill
Faulkner, my Uncle Robert, with the last breath in my body, and I will
also assist to feed mule to that Mr. Jefferson Whitworth, though not
to his beautiful wife whom I do so much admire."
"That's just it; she'll have to eat mule the first one. She's at the
Governor day and night with her wiles, and in my mind it's her dimity
influence that is making him see things with this slant. They say she
put her brand on him in early youth. He's the soul of honor but what
chance has a man's soul-honor got when a woman wants to cash it in for
a fortune with which to lead a gay life? None! None, sir!" And the
countenance of my Uncle, the General Robert, became so fierce that it
was difficult to find words to answer.
"Oh, my Uncle Robert, is it that a woman would make a cheat in giving
the mule animal of not sufficient strength to carry food to poor boys
of France in the trenches when there is too much mud for gasoline!" I
exclaimed with a great horror from knowledge given me by my Capitaine,
the Count de Lasselles.
"Just exactly what she is trying to do, boy. Let those poor chaps with
guns in their hands to defend her civilization as well as theirs, die
for want of a supply train hauled by reliable mules when unreliable
gasoline fails. That's what women are like." And as he spoke I
perceived the depth of dislike that was in the heart of my Uncle, the
General Robert, for all of womankind.
"There are some women who would not so comport themselves, my Uncle
Robert. I give you my word as one--" Then as I hesitated in terror at
the revelation of my woman's estate I had been about to make, my
Uncle, the General Robert, made this remark to me:
"Women are like crows, all black; and the exceptional white one only
makes the rest look blacker. The only way to stop them in their
depredations is to trap them, since the law forbids shooting them."
And as he made this judgment of women I forgot for a moment that we
discussed that Madam Whitworth, whom it was causing me great pain to
discover to be the enemy of France, and I thought of my beautiful
mother, whom he had judged without ever having encountered, and a
great longing rose in my heart so to comport myself that his heart
should learn to trust in me as a man and then discover the honor of
woman through me at some future time. I took a resolve that such
should be the case and to that end I asked of him:
"How is it that I can serve you in these serious troubles, my Uncle
Robert?" And as I asked that question I made also a vow in my heart
against that black crow woman.
"Now that's what I'm coming to. The French Government is sending an
army expert down here to look over the situation and make the
contracts. I can't speak their heathenish tongue or read it, and I
want somebody whom I can trust--trust, mind you--to help me talk with
him and make any necessary translations. That Whitworth hussy has been
translating for us and I don't trust her. Your letter was handed to me
in the Governor's private office and both he and I saw what a help it
would be to have you here when this Frenchie--who is a Count Something
or Other--and his servants and secretaries, what he calls his suite,
arrive. By George, sir, we need your advice in eating and drinking
them! Do you suppose they'll have intelligence enough to eat the manna
of the gods, which is corn pone, and drink the nectar, which is plain
whiskey, or will we be expected to furnish them with snails and
At that I laughed a very large laugh and made this answer to the
perturbation of my Uncle, the General Robert:
"I will tell you after luncheon, my Uncle Robert, because I have not
as yet eaten in this Harpeth country of America."
"All right, we'll talk about it after you've had one of old Kizzie's
fried chicken dinners. Here we are at the Mansion. Remember, you know
the _whole_ situation and are only supposed to know the part that
Governor Bill _thinks_ is the whole. Look at me, boy!" And as the
big car drove up to the curb before a great stone house with tall
pillars on guard of its front, he laid both his hands upon my
shoulders and turned me towards him with force and no gentleness and
then with his keen eyes did he look down into the very soul of me.
"Yes, I see I can trust you, sir. God bless you, boy!" he said after a
very long moment of time.
"Yes, my Uncle Robert," I answered him without turning my eyes from
"Well, then, here we are. I came to the side door so I wouldn't have
to introduce you to any of the boys this morning, for we want to have
a talk with the Governor before dinner and I don't dare keep Kizzie
waiting. It riles her, and a riled woman burns up things: masters,
husbands, cooking or worse. Come on." And as we walked up the broad
side steps of that Mansion of the Gouverneur, my Uncle Robert's hand
was on my arm and I felt that I was being marched up to the mouth of
the gun of Fate and I wished very much I could have been habited in my
corduroy or cheviot skirts, no matter how short or narrow they might
be. A number of gentlemen sat upon the wide verandah smoking pipes or
long cigars under the budding rose vine that trailed from one tall
pillar to another, and more stood and talked in groups beside the
large front door that opened into the wide hall. At the back of the
hall before a closed door stood a very large black man who was very
old and bent and who had tufts of white wool of the aspect of a sheep
upon his head. He was attired in a long gray coat of a military cut
that I afterwards learned was of the late Confederacy, and I soon had
much affection for him because of his reminiscences of that war and
also because of his affection for my noble father, to whom he had told
the same stories' in his early youth.
My Uncle, the General Robert, had not paused to present to me any of
the gentlemen with whom he had exchanged jovial greetings, but he
stopped beside the old black man and said:
"This is Henry's boy, Robert, Cato. Fine young chap, eh?"
"Yes, sir, Mas' Robert," answered Cato as he peered into my face with
the nicest affection in his black eyes set in large spaces of white.
"Like Henry, isn't he?"
"'Fore God, yes, sir!"
"Look after him, Cato. He'll be about considerable."
"Dat I will--Mas' Henry's boy!"
"No lobbying dimity chasing him, Cato!"
"Yes, sir; I understands, sir."
"Is the Governor ready for me?"
"Yes, sir, you's to go right in, Mas' Robert. Mr. Clendenning is with
him jest now, but he'll be out in a turkey's call of time. Jest walk
in, sir, and you, the young marster," and with a bow that almost
allowed that the tails of the long gray coat swept the floor, the old
black man opened the door and motioned us into the room of the
Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth.
It has been given to me in the very short time of my life to be often
in the home of the President of France, to be presented at the court
of England with my father, to the Czar at Petrograd and to the old
Franz Joseph, as well as to the beloved Albert and Elizabeth in
Brussels, where I did go often to play with the young princess, and I
do know very well how to manage skirts whether very tight, or very
wide with ruffles, in the case of such presentations, but my heart
rose very high up and beat so near to the roots of my tongue that it
was impossible for me to speak as I was presented, in the traveling
tweeds of a young man of American fashion, to the very wonderful and
beautiful and fearful Gouverneur Williamson Faulkner of the State of
"Here's my boy, Governor," was all the introduction my Uncle, the
General Robert, administered to me, and I stood and looked into the
face of him whom afterwards I discovered to be the greatest gentleman
in the world, with my heart beating in my throat and yet astir under
my woman's breast in the place it had always before resided.
"WE BOTH NEED YOU"
I do not know how it is that I shall find words in which to write down
the loveliness of that Gouverneur of Old Harpeth. He was not as tall
as my Uncle, the General Robert, and he was slender and lithe as some
wild thing in a forest, but the power in the broadness of his
shoulders and in the strength of his nervous hands was of a greatness
of which to be frightened; that is, I think, of which a man should be
frightened but in which a woman would take much glory. His hair was of
the tarnished gold of a sunset storm and upon his temples was a curved
crest of white that sparkled like the spray of a wave. All of which I
must have seen with some kind of inward eyes, for from the moment my
eyes lifted themselves from contemplating the carpet in embarrassment
over my tweed trousers they were looking into his in a way which at
dawn my eyes have gazed into the morning star rising near to me over
the little wood at the Chateau de Grez. I did not for many days know
whether those eyes were gray or blue or purple, for when I regarded
them I forgot to decide, and also they were so deep and shadowed by
the blackness of their lashes and brows that such a decision was
difficult. At this time I only knew that in them lay the fire of the
lightning over Old Harpeth when the storm breaks, the laugh of the
very small boy who splashes bare feet in the water with glee, and also
a coldness of the stars upon the frost of winter. I was glad that I
came across the dark ocean to flee from the cruel guns into a strange
land to look into those eyes.
"It is good that you have come, Robert Carruthers, for the General and
I both need you," were the words I heard him saying to me in a voice
that was as deep and of as much interest as the eyes, and as he spoke
those words he took one of my hands in both of his strong ones. "And
if you say snails, snails it shall be, if Cato and I have to invade
every rose garden in Hayesville and vicinity and stay up all night to
"I think I shall choose that corn pone and whiskey that my Uncle, the
General Robert, has promised to me from one bad tempered cook at the
time of my luncheon," I found myself saying with a laugh that answered
the bare-footed boy who suddenly looked at me out of the cool eyes.
"I thought I would let him have a try-out with Kizzie before we
decided what to feed the savages," also said my Uncle, the General
Robert, with a laugh. "Besides, he's one himself and I'll have to go
slow and tame him gradually."
"No, he's ours. He's just come back to his own from a strange land,
General, and you'll kill the fatted calf or rooster, whichever Kizzie
decides, with joy at getting him." And this time the star eyes gave to
me the quick sympathy for which I had prayed before the Virgin with
the Infant in her arms in the little chapel of the old convent just
before we had to flee from the shells, leaving my father to the
Sisters to bury after the enemy had come. I think my eyes did tell
that tale to his and the tears ached in my throat.
"I know, boy," he said softly and then turned and presented me to the
Mr. Clendenning who was arranging papers at a desk beside the window.
I do like with my whole heart that funny Buzz Clendenning, who has the
reddest hair, the largest brown speckles on his face and the widest
mouth that I have ever beheld. Also, his laugh is even wider than is
his mouth and overflows the remainder of his face in ripples of what
is called grin. He is not much taller than am I, but of much more
powerful build, as is natural, though he did not at that moment
recognize the reason thereof.
"Shake hands, boys; don't stand looking at each other like young
puppies," said my Uncle, the General Robert, as he clapped his hand on
the back of the Mr. Buzz Clendenning. "You don't have to fight it out.
Your fathers licked each other week about for twenty years."
"Can't I even ask him to take off his coat once, General?" answered
that Mr. Buzz with the grin all over his face and spreading to my
countenance as he took my hand in his to administer one of those
shakes of which I had had so many since my arrival in America. For a
second he looked startled and glanced down at my white hand that he
held in his and from it to my eyes that were looking into his with the
entire friendliness of my heart. Suddenly I had a great fright of
discovery within me and my knees began to again tremble together for
their skirts, but before that fright had reached my eyes quite, I had
born to me an elder brother in the person of that Buzz Clendenning,
and I now know that I can never lose him, even when he knows that--
"I'm no shakes in the duel, Prince, so let's kiss and make up before
you get out your sword," he said as he also, as my Uncle, the General
Robert, had done, laid an arm across my shoulders in an embrace of
affection. It was then I made a discovery in the strange land into
which I was penetrating: Men have much sentiment in their hearts that
it is impossible for a woman to discover from behind a fan. They keep
it entirely for each other as comrades, and I received a large portion
of such an affection when that Mr. Buzz Clendenning adopted me in what
he thought was my foreign weakness, as a small brother to be protected
in his large heart.
"I am very happy to so salute you instead of the duel," I made answer
and did immediately put a kiss on his one cheek, expecting that he
would return it upon my cheeks, first one and then another, as is the
custom of comrades and officers in France.
"Here, help! Don't do that again or I'll call out the police,"
responded that funny Mr. Buzz Clendenning, as he shook me away from
him, while my Uncle, the General Robert, and the great Gouverneur did
both indulge in laughter.
"I am abashed and I beg your pardon for offending against the customs
of your country. I do remember now that my father did not permit such
a salutation from his brother officers, and I will not do so again,
Monsieur Buzz Clendenning," I said as my cheeks became crimson with
mortification and tears would have come over my eyes had my pride
"This is what he meant you to do, Buzz, you duffer. I said good-bye to
twenty-two of my friends this way the day I set sail from old
Heidelberg," and as he spoke, that great and beautiful and exalted
Gouverneur Faulkner did bend his head to mine and give to me the
correct comrade salute of my own country on first one of my cheeks and
then upon the other.
"I thank you, your Excellency," I murmured with gratitude. I wonder
what that Russian Count Estzkerwitch or Mr. Peter Scudder or Lord
Leigholm on those Scotch moors, would have thought to hear Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye, express such gratitude for two small pecks
upon her cheek delivered in America.
"Yes, sir, it's mighty pretty to look at but I reckon the kid had
better stow the habit before he is introduced to Jeff Whitworth and
Miles Menefee and the rest of the bunch," said that Mr. Buzz as he
left off wiping from his cheek with the back of his hand the kiss I
had put there, and administered to me another embrace on my shoulders
with his long arm. "Besides, youngster, there are _girls_ in
Hayesville," he added with a grin that again was reflected on my face
without my will and which did entirely take away my anger and
embarrassment at his repulse.
"Girls! Girls!" exploded my Uncle, the General Robert. "The female
young generally known as girls are about as much use to humanity as a
bunch of pin feathers tied with a pink ribbon would be in the place of
the household feather duster that the Lord lets them grow into after
they reach their years of discretion. Robert has no time to waste with
the unfledged. Don't even suggest it to him, Clendenning. And now you
can take him around to my house and tell Kizzie to begin filling you
both up while I wait for a moment to go over these papers with the
Governor. And both of you avoid the female young, for we've work for
you; mind you, work and no gallivanting. Now go! Depart!"
"The old boy is a forty-two centimeter gun that fires at the mention
of the lovely sex and doesn't stop until the ammunition gives out,"
said Mr. Buzz Clendenning as he slid into the seat of his slim gray
racer beside me and started from the curb on high without a single
kick of the engine. "I'd like to wish a nice girl, whom he couldn't
shake off, onto him for about a week and watch him squirm along to
surrender. Wait until you see Sue Tomlinson get hold of him down on
the street some day. He shuts his eyes and just fires away at her
while she purrs at him, and it is a sight for the gods. Sue's father
died and left her with her invalid mother and not enough money to
invite in the auctioneer, but the General took some old accounts of
the Doctor's, collected and invested them and made up plenty of money
for Sue's grubstake, though he goes around three blocks to get past
her. Sue adores him and approaches him from all sides, but has never
made a landing yet. Say, you'll like Sue. She is pretty enough to eat,
but don't try to bite. It's no use."
"Is it that this lovely Mademoiselle Sue does not like gentlemen save
my Uncle, the General Robert?" I asked with great interest. I was glad
in my heart that I was soon to see and speak with a nice girl even if
it had to be in character of a man.
"Oh, she loves us--all," answered that Mr. Buzz with the greatest
gloom. "_All_ of us--every blamed son-of-a-gun of us."
"Oh, I comprehend now that it is your wish that she love only you, Mr.
Clendenning, and are sad that she does not," I said as I looked at him
with much sympathy.
"That is about it, Prince, but don't say I said so. Everybody chases
Susan. She even wins an occasional ice cream smile from His
Excellency. I bet she'd go up against that august iceberg itself in a
try-out for a 'First Lady of the State' badge if Mrs. Pat Whitworth
hadn't got the whole woman bunch to believe she has a corner on his
ice. Mrs. Pat is some little cornerer, believe me."