Part 2 out of 4
"Oh, I did like that Madam Whitworth, and I hope that it will be my
pleasure to see her again soon," I said with an ice in my voice as I
caught my breath while Mr. Buzz Clendenning drove between two cars and
a wagon with not so much as an inch to spare on all three sides of the
car. It is as I like to drive when at the wheel, but sitting beside
"You'll see her at the Governor's dinner for you Tuesday, if not
sooner, and just watch her and the General war dance with each other.
He opens his eyes when Mrs. Pat attacks and he imagines he is the
whole Harpeth Valley Militia defending His Excellency of Iceland from
her wiles. Just watch him!" And this time it was three wagons that we
slid between and beyond.
"Why is it that the great Gouverneur Faulkner has such a coldness for
ladies?" I asked of that Mr. Buzz. "I did find him to be of such a
"He's been too much chased. He's got his fingers crossed on them, they
tell me. Just watch him in action at his dinner. He side-steps so
gently that they never know it."
"Why is it then that he gives to me this dinner of honor when he so
dislikes all--that is, I mean to ask of you why is it that I am so
honored by that very great Gouverneur Faulkner of the State of
Harpeth?" I asked, and I had a great fright that I had again so nearly
betrayed Robert Carruthers to be one of the sex so hated by that noble
gentleman, the Gouverneur Faulkner. "I must think of myself as a man
in future," I commanded myself.
"Didn't the General tell you about it? It is to introduce you to the
flower and chivalry of your native land. Believe me, it will be some
dinner dance. The General wanted it to be a stag, but Sue fought to
the last trench, which was tears, and he gave in. These days the
Governor loses no chance to honor his Secretary of State for--for
political reasons," and as he spoke that good Mr. Clendenning looked
at the wheel for steering, and I could see that there was deep concern
in his eyes.
"Is it that--that trouble of mules, Monsieur Clendenning?" I asked of
him softly in a woman's way for administering sympathy for distress
but without the masculine discretion that I was to learn swiftly
thereafter to employ.
"Don't talk about it, for I don't know how much either of us knows or
our chief wants us to know, but Governor Williamson Faulkner is a man
of honor and I'd stake my life on that. He's being pushed hard
and--Gee! Here we are at the General's and I can smell Kizzie's cream
gravy with my mind's nose. I understand that your father was the last
Henry Carruthers of five born up in the old mahogany bedstead that the
General inhabits between the hours of one and five A.M. Some shack,
this of the General's, isn't it? Nothing finer in the State." And as
he spoke that Mr. Buzz Clendenning stopped the car before the home of
my Uncle, the General Robert, and we alighted from it together.
I do not know how it is that I can put into words the beautiful
feeling that rose from the inwardness of me as I stood in front of the
home of my fathers in this far-away America. The entire city of
Hayesville is a city of old homes, I had noticed as I drove in the
gray car so rapidly along with Mr. Buzz Clendenning while he was
speaking to me, but no house had been so beautiful as was this one. It
was old, with almost the vine-covered age of the Chateau de Grez, but
instead of being of gray stone it was of a red brick that was as warm
as the embers of an oak fire with the film of ashes crusting upon it.
Thus it seemed to be both red and gray beneath the vines that were
casting delicate green traceries over its walls. Great white pillars
were to the front of it like at the Mansion of the Gouverneur, and
many wide windows and doors opened out from it. Two old oak trees
which give to it the name of Twin Oaks stood at each side of the old
brick walk that led from the tall gate, and as I walked under them I
felt that I had from a cruel world come home.
THE GIRL BUNCH
And, if I felt in that manner as I entered the house, I felt it to a
still greater degree when I was welcomed by that most lovely old black
slave woman of the high temper and good cookery. She opened the door
for us herself, though a nice boy the color of a chocolate bonbon
stood in waiting to perform that office. She had a spoon in her hand
and upon her head was a spotless white turban, as also was an apron of
an equal spotlessness tied around her very large waist.
"You, Mas' Robert, you done come home from the heathen land to keep my
food waiting jest like yo' father did from the minute I ontied him
from my apron string. Come right into the dining room 'fore my gravy
curdles and the liver wing I done saved for you gits too brown in the
skillet," was all of the introduction or greeting that she gave to me
as she waddled along behind Mr. Buzz Clendenning and myself, driving
us down the hall and into the dining-room. "Mas' Buzz, how is yo'
mother? I 'lowed to git over to see her soon as this ruckus of young
Mas' coming home is over. Now, here's the place fer you both and that
no 'count boy will bring in yo' dinner proper to you or he'll be skunt
alive." With which she departed through a door, from which came an
aroma that led to madness of hunger, and left the bonbon servant to
"Gee, I hope Kizzie killed by the half dozen last night; if there
aren't three chickens apiece you'll be hungry, L'Aiglon," said Mr.
Buzz Clendenning with a laugh as he seated himself beside me and
unfolded his napkin.
"I wish that you might call me Robert, Mr. Clendenning," I said with a
great friendliness as I ate a food that I had not before tasted and
that I did so much like that I was tempted to steal some to put in my
pocket for fear I would come to believe that I had dreamed it to
exist. It is called corn pone and is made of maize, and it will be
found in some form at every meal upon my Uncle, the General Robert's,
table, good Kizzie assured me as I made her a compliment about it.
"Though the name of that son of our great Napoleon is very dear to
me," I added at his quick glance, fearing he might think me offended
at what is called a nickname.
"Sure, Bobbie, and you'll forget that I wouldn't let you kiss me,
won't you?" he answered as he drew back from the table and lit a
cigarette after passing me the case. "Everybody calls me Buzz the
Bumble Bee because of a historic encounter of mine with a whole nest
of bumblebees right out here in the General's garden. It is a title of
heroism and I'd like to have you use it as if we'd been kids together
as we were slated to have been. Gee, I bet you could have beat the
bees down some. You looked all soft to me when I first saw you but you
are so quick and lithe and springy that you must be some steel. What
do you weigh out, stripped?"
"Er--er, about one-thirty," I answered, and I made a resolve not to
blush or show anything of embarrassment, no matter what was to be said
to me in my estate of a young gentleman.
And I make this note to myself that it is a great pleasure and
interest to sit beside a nice young man with a cigarette in his mouth
and one in my hand as if for smoking, which I do not like to do from
its bitterness, and converse with him about matters of good sense
without having in any way to use that coquetry which breaks into small
sections the usual conversation between a man and a woman of
"I tip at one fifty-two, but I'm an inch and a half taller. Do you
run? You're good and deep chested," he further inquired and it was
with difficulty that I again controlled the blush.
"I fence and I'm large of lung," I answered quickly.
"Anything ever foaled," I answered in words I had heard my father use
about my horsemanship.
"Don't like it."
"I play a hurry game myself," he laughed. "Dance?"
"With a greatness of pleasure," I answered.
After that for a time he puffed at his cigarette and I looked around
the long dining room that was almost as large as the dining-hall at
the Chateau de Grez and which was dark and rich and full of old silver
on the sideboard and old portraits on the walls. Finally my Buzz put
out the stub of his cigarette in his saucer and looked me keenly in
the face as I raised my eyes to his.
"Booze?" he asked quietly.
"That's good, old top. Me neither! Say, let's go call on Sue and you
can get a nice little initiation into the girl bunch before the
General stops you by locking you away from them."
"I wish that I might, but I must unpack my bags and write the letters
to small Pierre and my nurse Nannette; also be ready for translations
for my Uncle, the General Robert, when he arrives. Will you persuade
the lovely Mademoiselle Sue that she save one little dance for me on
that evening of Tuesday?" I said as we rose and walked down the long
hall towards the wide door under the budding rose vine.
"She'll dead sure give you one--of mine," he answered me with a laugh,
"but come along with me now, L'Aiglon. The General won't be home until
night. I laid some letters on his desk that will hold him and Governor
Bill until sunset. They'll have pie and milk sent in and work it all
out together. What's the use of having them to watch the affairs of
the State of Harpeth for us if we don't use the time they are on watch
in having some joy life? Come on!"
"I go," I made answer with a great pleasure.
Then we descended to the gray car of much speed and did use that speed
in turning many streets until we came to another very fine old house,
where, I was informed by my Mr. Buzz Clendenning, resides that
Mademoiselle Susan of so much loveliness.
And it is of a truth that I discovered that loveliness to be as great
as was told to me by her true lover. When I raised my head from the
kiss of presentation I gave to her hand I looked into very deep and
very wonderful girl eyes that had in their depths tears that were for
a sympathy for me, I knew. My heart of an exile beat very high in my
own girl's breast that ached for the refuge of her woman's arms, and I
must have partly betrayed my yearning to her, for I saw an expression
of confused question come into her eyes that looked into mine; then
the beautiful thing that had come into my Mr. Buzz Clendenning's eyes
for me came also into hers in place of the question. I saw then in
those eyes a sister born to the boy Robert Carruthers of a great
"I've been thinking about you all morning, Mr. Carruthers, and hoping
Buzz would bring you with him to see me first of all. I wanted to be
the first one of the girls to say, 'Welcome home' to you." And as she
spoke those words of much tenderness I again bent over her hand in
salutation because I could give forth no words from my throat.
"Sue, you are the real sweet thing--and now notice me a bit, will
you?" said my fine Mr. Buzz Clendenning with both emotion and a
teasing in his voice. "I know I haven't got French manners and don't
look like L'Aiglon, but I'm an affectionate rough jewel."
"Please don't mind Buzz, Mr. Carruthers--he just can't help buzzing.
Isn't it great about the dance Tuesday night? I fought hard to save
you from a horrid long banquet with a lot of solemn men. I ought to be
the belle of that ball and you and Buzz will be ungrateful if you
neglect me," and as she made these remarks for laughter, I liked still
more this new friend.
"You are the good, thoughtful little missionary to the foreigner,
Susan. I suppose you wanted to stay at home and tat socks while Bobbie
and I dined and wined--not," was the very unappreciative answer that
was made to her by that Buzz.
"For always I will be your humble slave, Mademoiselle Susan," was the
answer I made into her laughing eyes. "All the evening I will wait in
loneliness for the small crumbs of dance that you throw to me."
"That will do, Robert; you don't know how spoiled Susan is and you're
making trouble for me. Besides, you haven't seen the baby Belle in war
paint yet. Let's go call on her now!" And that Mr. Buzz Clendenning
was in a moment ready for making more new friends for me. "Come on,
Susan, we can tie Prince Bob on the running board."
"Why, there's Belle at the gate now and--yes--it's Mrs. Whitworth with
her. I wonder when she came from New York," said Mademoiselle Susan as
we went to meet the guests approaching, I on the one side of her and
the Mr. Buzz on the other.
IN THE DRESS OF MAGNIFICENCE
"The beautiful Madam Whitworth came down upon the same train which I
occupied," I said as I remembered to raise from my head my hat by that
action on the part of my Mr. Buzz.
"Oh, then you have been presented to L'Aiglon?" said Mr. Buzz to that
Madam Whitworth who stood smiling while I was presented to the very
lovely girl of great blondness, who both blushed and what is called
giggled as I kissed her hand, though in her eyes I found a nice
friendliness to me.
"We are old friends who know all about each other, aren't we, Mr.
Robert Carruthers?" and in her gay answer to that Mr. Buzz I detected
a challenge as her eyes of blue flowers in snow looked into mine with
the keenness of a knife, to detect if I had yet been told aught of her
by my Uncle. And in the answering look of friendliness I gave her was
concealed also a knife of great keenness, which came from a brain with
which I hoped to do to the death that enemy of France. And also I felt
my heart spring to the protection of the honor of great Gouverneur
Faulkner, who had given me a comrade's salute within a few hours past;
and also to the protection of the honor of my house in the person of
my Uncle, the General Robert.
"Indeed, I have much joy that I was given the opportunity to know the
very beautiful Madam Whitworth at so early a time in my life in
America," I made answer to her question in words as I bent also over
her hand for a kiss of salutation.
And then I had a great amusement at the skill with which that Madam
Whitworth brought it to pass that I walked with her from that gate and
left the three new and lovely friends I had made looking after me with
affection and regret at my departure.
"Of course, it was horrid of me to snatch you like that from those
infants, but--I really had the claim to have you for a little time to
hear your impressions of Hayesville, now, didn't I?--you boy with eyes
as beautiful as a girl's!" she said to me as I walked down the wide
street beside her.
"I hope you will always make such claims of me, Madam," I made answer
with the great sweetness with which I was determined for the time to
keep covered the steel knife.
"I know how to claim--and also to reward," she answered me with a
warmth that gave me a great discomfort. "And how did you escape from
the General into feminine society on your very first day? Wasn't there
work for you at the Capitol? I understand that they are expecting that
French Commissioner very soon now." She asked the question with an
indifference that I knew to be false.
"I think it is that I am allowed to get my--what you say in
English?--land legs," I answered with much unconcern.
"Speaking of that Frenchman who is coming down for the mule contracts,
of which by this time you have doubtless heard, I wonder why it is
that the Count of Lasselles, your friend, is sending one of his
lieutenants instead of coming himself. Did he say anything of coming
down later? I wish he would, for to my mind he is one of your greatest
soldiers and I would like to look into his face. That portrait in the
_Review_ is one of the most interesting I have almost ever seen.
Is there any chance of his coming down?" And I was of a great
curiosity at the anxiety in her face about the movements of my
Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
"He told me only that he would go to the grain fields of English
Canada, Madam," I answered her by guardedly telling her no more than
my words upon that train had revealed to her.
"If he writes to you, you must tell me about it," she said with great
friendliness. "I am interested in everything that happens to him."
"I will do that, with thanks for your interest," I answered to her
with an air of great devotion. "And behold, is it not the Twin Oaks of
my Uncle I see across the street?" I asked as I stopped in front of
that fine old home that was now mine.
"Come on down the street to my home and I'll give you a cup of tea,"
she invited me with very evident desire for my company for more
"I give many thanks, but that is not possible to me, as I must write
notes to my Pierre and old Nannette for the evening railroad. I bid
you good day, beautiful Madam," and again I bent over her hand in a
salutation of departure.
"Then I'll see you again soon," she said and smiled at me as I stood
with my hat in my hand as she went away from me down the street.
"_Vive la France_ and Harpeth America!" I said to myself as I
ascended the steps, was admitted by the Bonbon and conducted up the
stairway to my apartments by good Kizzie, whom I met in the wide hall.
And there ensued an hour of the greatest interest to me as the very
good old slave woman led me from one of the rooms in the large house
to another, with many stories of great interest. At last we came to
that room in which had been deposited my bags and my other equipment
for my journey and there we made a very long pause.
"This is your Grandma Carruthers' room, the General's grandma, and she
was the high-headedest lady of the whole family. That am her portrait
over the mantelshelf. You is jest like her as two peas in the pod and
I reckin I'll have to take a stick to you like I did to yo' father
when he was most growed up and stole all the fruitcake I had done
baked in July fer Christmas," she said with a wide smile of great
affection upon her very large mouth.
"I beg that you put under a key that cake, beloved Madam Kizzie," I
made answer to her with also a laugh.
"Never was no key to nothing in this house, chile," she answered to
me. "I 'lowed to the Gener'l that he had oughter git a lock and key
fer this here flowered silk dress in the glass case on the wall dat de
ole Mis' wore at the ball where she met up with Mas' Carruthers, but
they do say that she comes back and walks as a ha'nt all dressed in it
and these here slippers and stockings and folderols in the carved box
on the table here under her picture. Is you 'fraid of ha'nts, honey?"
"I will not be afraid of this beautiful Grandmamma in this dress of so
great magnificence, my good Kizzie," I made answer to her with more of
courage than I at that moment felt.
"Well, it's only in case of a death in the house that she--Lands
alive, am that my cake burning?" With which exclamation the good
Kizzie left me to the company of the beautiful Grandmamma.
After having unpacked and nicely put away all of the apparel from my
two large bags, the fine Bonbon retired below to answer a summons from
good Kizzie, and left me alone for the first time since I had opened
my eyes that morning while being whirled in the railway train down
into the State of Harpeth. I looked at the hunting watch strapped to
my wrist, which I had worn while traveling, and saw that it was after
five o'clock, and I felt that I must sleep before dining, if for only
Thereupon I immediately climbed slowly and awkwardly out of that gray
tweed suit of clothes. I did so wonder what could be the best method
of releasing one's self from trousers. It is a feat of balance to
stand on one foot and remove one portion of the two sides of the
trousers, and yet it is an entanglement to drop the two portions upon
the floor and attempt to step out of them with the shoes upon your
feet. Having succeeded in getting out of them the last night when
prone upon the sleeping shelf of the railroad train, without injury to
them, I again prostrated myself upon the huge bed in my room and
disentangled myself from them while in that position.
After having completely disrobed I took the bath of the temperature of
milk that Nannette is accustomed to administer to me, inserted myself
in the very lovely 'wedding' garments for sleeping that Mr. G. Slade
had so admired, and sank into deep slumber upon the large bed with a
silk covering beflowered like the skirt of a lady's dress upon me.
"Well, well, you young sleepyhead, up and into your clothes, sir. We
are late for the Capitol now," were the words I heard in what seemed
almost the first moment after I had closed my eyes. Behold, my Uncle,
the General Robert, fully dressed, stood beside the bed and a morning
sun was shining through the windows. I had slept through a long night
like a small child upon the bosom of the bed of my beautiful
Grandmamma who smiled down upon me.
"Oh, my Uncle Robert, how much time is it that I have to make my
toilet?" I begged of him as I sat up and made a rubbing of my eyes.
"Less than an hour, sir, to get out of that heathenish toggery that
the men of your generation have substituted for the honest nightshirt,
into proper garments, and eat your breakfast. I'll call you when I am
ready to go."
It was very little more than the hour my Uncle, the General Robert,
had given to me, that I consumed in the accomplishment of a very
difficult toilet in a suit of very beautiful brown cheviot which the
good man in New York from whom I had procured it had said to be for
very especial morning wear. To my good Kizzie I gave a great
uneasiness that I did not consume the very elaborate meal that
resembled a dinner, which she had ready for the Bonbon to serve to me,
and desired only a cup of her coffee and two very small pieces of
white bread called biscuits.
"All the Carruthers men folks is friends with their food, they is,"
she admonished me.
"At luncheon, my Kizzie, just watch me," I said to her in nice United
States words as I departed with my Uncle, the General Robert, to the
Capitol of the State of Harpeth, which is a tall building set on an
equally tall hill.
I found much business awaiting me in the form of making a correct
translation of all of the letters in a very large portfolio, all of
which were pertaining to that very tiresome animal, the mule. But I
made not very much progress, for a very large number of gentlemen came
into the office of my Uncle, the General Robert, and to all of them I
must be presented.
In fact, in all of what remained of that entire week, for most of my
moments in the Capitol I was having very painful shakes of the hand
given to me and receiving assurances of my great resemblance to my
All of which I did greatly enjoy, but nothing was of so much pleasure
to me as the visits I accomplished into the office of that Gouverneur
Faulkner with messages of importance from my Uncle, the General
It was with a very fine and cold smile of friendliness that he at
first received me, as I stood with humble attention before his desk
upon my first mission to him, but with each message I perceived that
the stars in his eyes, so hid beneath his brows, shone upon me with a
And in observing the many heavy burdens that pressed upon his strong
shoulders until at the close of each day a whiteness was over his very
beautiful face, I grew to desire that I could make some little things
for him easier. I sought to so do and I discovered that it was
possible to beguile many very heavy persons to tell to me what it was
they wished to impose upon him.
I took upon a long ride in the car of my Uncle, the General Robert,
that Road Commissioner, who was making a trouble for my Gouverneur
Faulkner about taking much money from the sum that he desired to be
voted for use on the roads of the State of Harpeth, thus making my
Gouverneur Faulkner not beloved of the people in the country around
the capital city, and when I returned him I had used many beguilements
in the way of flattery about the superiority of the roads of America
to the roads of all of the world, and had also jolted him to such an
extent that he did write a nice letter to my Gouverneur Faulkner
asking that that money be not voted less but even more, so as to "beat
out the world with the roads of Harpeth."
"Good boy," was the reward that I got from my Gouverneur Faulkner for
that feat, and a smile that was of such a loveliness that it lasted me
all of the day.
Also I made a hard work for myself in saving that Gouverneur Faulkner
by much flattery from a large lady who was anxious that he sign a
paper by which all women might vote that no more whiskey for mint
julep should exist. I very willingly put the name of Mr. Robert
Carruthers to the paper, for I do not like those juleps, and I
persuaded the nice large lady that she go in that car of my Uncle, the
General Robert, with me away from the proximity to my chief, the
Gouverneur Faulkner, to a place in the city where we could drink that
ice cream soda water that I do so love.
That lady was very like many other persons who came to see my
Gouverneur and whom I persuaded to make me much exhaustion instead of
him. It was while telling him of the lady and the two very delicious
soda ice creams that he very suddenly interrupted me with a nice smile
that had in it a small warmth like the first glow of a fire, and said:
"Robert, I'm going to ask the General to lend you to me for a couple
of weeks while I am so pressed. Buzz can do more for him than you do
and--and, well, just looking at you and hearing you tell about the
flies you brush from my wearied brow, rests me. Report to me to-morrow
instead of to him. I know it will be all right, for he really needs
Buzz. Now you run home and get ready for one great time at this party
I'm giving to you to-night. And, Robert, remember to tell me
everything the flies say, translated in your United States."
"I will and I go, my Gouverneur Faulkner," I made an answer to him
with a laugh in which I did not show entirely all of the pleasure I
experienced when I discovered I was to be in the place of his
secretary, that fine Buzz Clendenning.
And with much haste I took my departure from the Capitol of the State
of Harpeth to Twin Oaks in the car of my Uncle, the General Robert,
for I knew that upon this evening I must make a new and terrible
toilet and I would require much time thereto.
The good old Nannette and my Governess Madam Fournet have always
taught me that the art of a lovely woman's toilet could not be
performed in less than two hours, and I felt that I had better begin
in the way to which I was accustomed and go as far as I could in that
direction, then finish in the manly manner which would now be of a
necessity to me.
The good Bonbon, whom I now know is called Sam, had laid out my
evening apparel, from the queer dancing shoes with flat heels to a
very stiff and high collar, upon a couch in the huge room, and after
my bath I began to put them upon me with as much rapidity as was
possible to me. For a few moments all went well, even up to having
tucked the fine and very stiff white linen shirt garment into the
silky black cloth trousers, but a trouble arose when I put upon myself
the beautiful long coat that is in the shape of a raven, which the
American gentleman wears for evening toilet. My shoulders were
sufficiently broad to hold it nicely in place and it fell with a
gracefulness upon my hips, but at my waist it collapsed on account of
a slimness in that locality. The fit of the tweed, which had been like
to that of a bag, had been very correct and had not revealed the curve
of waist, but now it was manifest.
"What is it that you must do, Roberta, to disguise your roundness of a
young woman? All is lost!" I said to myself in despair. Then a thought
came to me. I had never been habited in a corset in my life on account
of a prejudice entertained to that garment by my Nannette, but I
bethought me to remove that shirt and also the silk one underneath and
swath about me one of the heavy towels of the bath. Immediately I did
so and fastened it in place with a needle and thread from the
gentleman's traveling case that I found in the pocket of my bag. Over
it I then drew the silk undershirt and then that of fine linen, before
again putting myself into the black raven's dress. Behold, all
roundness and slimness had disappeared and when the collar was added I
could see that I was as beautifully habited as either Mr. Peter
Scudder or that Mr. Saint Louis of the boat.
"Roberta of Grez and Bye," I said to myself as I looked into the tall
mirror, "it is indeed a sorrow to you that you cannot make your
courtesy to that Gouverneur Faulkner habited in the white lace and
tulle garment that is in those trunks which you have lost in that New
York, with your throat that your Russian Cossack has said was like a
lily at the blush of dawn, bare to his eyes, but you are a nice,
clean, upstanding American boy who can be his friend. You must be and
you must play the game."
And in the language of that Mr. Willie Saint Louis, it was "some
"O'ER THE LAND OF THE FREE--"
I have a desire to know if it is into the life of every person there
comes one night which he is never to forget until death and perhaps
even after. I do not know; but I am sure that I shall always keep the
memory of the night upon which Mr. Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye
was introduced to the friends of his ancestors. It is my jewel that
seems a drop of heart's blood that I will wear forever hid in my
At dinner I sat beside the Gouverneur Williamson Faulkner and tears
came into my eyes as he rose from beside me at the head of the table
"Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to drink to the homecoming of Robert
Carruthers, my friend, your friend, and everybody his friends."
And from that long table there came to me such beautiful and loving
smiles over the glasses of champagne that they went to my head instead
of the wine I could not even sip because of the tears in my throat. It
was as that day upon the great ship when I saw fulfilled before my
eyes my vow to my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles: "Friends for
France." I sat still for a long minute; then I rose to my feet with my
glass in my hand.
"I cannot make to you a speech, but I beg that I may say to you words
that were of the first taught to my infant tongue and which I last
repeated in an old convent close to the trenches in France."
Then in the rich voice which has come to me from the deep singing of
my mother I repeated very quietly:
"Oh--say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there--"
through to the last words which had fallen from my lips as I had taken
my father's dying kiss:
"O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Though I had not told them of it, I do believe there was not a heart
among those kind people which did not know of that last moment in the
old convent and I could see it in tears dashed aside as they all rose
and sang the last strain of the American song, with the musicians in
the anteroom leading them.
And as they sang that most wonderful song, Gouverneur Faulkner laid
his arm across my shoulder, and the comfort of its strength gave to me
the courage to send back all the smiles that were sent to me, as that
funny Mr. Buzz Clendenning said while they seated themselves:
"Gee, but L'Aiglon is the real un-hyphenated brand of old Uncle Sam,
"Thank God that firebrand isn't a girl," I heard my Uncle, the General
Robert, say to most lovely Mademoiselle Susan, in a corn-colored gown
of fine line, who sat at his side.
"I'm so grateful to you, General, that he is a boy," I heard her say
in the deepest respect and regard for my Uncle, the General Robert.
"I don't doubt at all, Madam, that you will succeed in making me wish
that he had been born a girl or not at all," was the kind reply that
he made to her nicely spoken gratitude as we laughed into each other's
eyes across the table.
"I hope so," was the answer with which Mademoiselle Sue comforted him.
"And now what have you to say to me, boy, the oldest friend you've got
in America, who hasn't seen you for days--that have been too long,"
said that Madam Whitworth, who was seated at my side, and as she spoke
she turned one lovely bare shoulder in the direction of my Uncle, the
General Robert, and the beautiful Mademoiselle Sue and also Buzz, as
if to shut them away from her and me in a little space of world just
for two people.
"I can say with truth, Madam, that your loveliness to-night is but the
flowering of my suspicions of it that morning upon the railroad
train," I answered her in words that were a very nice translation of
what that fine young Cossack had once said to me at the Chateau de
Grez of my own flowering into rose chiffon after an afternoon's
hunting with him in corduroys. And in truth I spoke no falsehood to
that Madam Whitworth, for she was of a very great beauty of body, very
much of which was in view from a scantiness of bodice that I had never
seen excelled in any ballroom in France.
"I knew you for a poet from that adorable black mop which I see you
have very nicely plastered in an exact imitation of Buzz Clendenning's
red one," she answered me with a laugh. "Follow me from the ballroom
just after supper at midnight for a half hour's chat alone in a place
I know; and don't let either the General or the Governor see you," she
then said in an undertone as the Gouverneur Faulkner bent forward and
began a laughing conversation with her.
"I will," I answered her under my breath, and I leaned back in my
chair so that the Gouverneur Faulkner could more conveniently converse
with her. And to that end he placed his arm across the back of my
chair, and thus I sat in his embrace with my shoulder pressed into
I do not know exactly what it was that happened in the depths of me,
but suddenly the daredevil rose from those depths and knew herself for
a very strong woman filled to the brim with a primitive, savage
cunning with which to fight the beautiful woman at my side for the
honor of the man whose strong heart I could feel beating against my
woman's breast strapped down under its garment of man's attire. And
that cunning showed me that I would have a hundredfold better
opportunity to do her and her schemes against him and against France
to the death in my garments and character of a man, than I could have
had if I had come into his and her world as the beautiful young
Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye. Then for those hated garments of a
raven my heart beat so high with gratitude that I moved again forward
from the arm of His Excellency for fear that he might feel the tumult
even through that strong towel of the bath which I had sewed above it,
and be in wonderment as to its cause.
"Here's to your first duel with a woman in which you use a man's
weapons, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, and see that you
score--for him--and for France!" I said to myself as we rose from the
table and with the other men I bowed the ladies from the room.
"At midnight," I whispered while I bent for a second to kiss the hand
of the beautiful Madam Whitworth as she left the room. As I raised my
head from the salutation I encountered the eyes of the Gouverneur
Faulkner, which looked into mine with an expression of calm question.
And for a moment I let the woman rise superior to the raven attire and
I looked back into those eyes, in which I saw the mystery of the dawn
star, as would have gazed Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, had she
been attired in the white tulle and lace abandoned in that New York;
then I beat her back down into my heart and gave him the smile of
fealty that was his due from Robert Carruthers, his friend, along with
one similar, to the fine young Buzz Clendenning, who at that moment
came to my side and claimed my attention.
"You score with Sue. I'm to be the gracious little home city host and
give up any dances your Marquisity may choose with her. Sue foxes like
she was born in a fox hole under a hollow log, but she tangoes like
the original Emperor Tang himself, so go ahead and suit yourself.
Don't mind me. I'm the loving little playmate."
"That Mademoiselle Sue is so much of a peach that I am inclined to
request the receptacle of cream that I may devour her," I then made
answer to him in as many of the words of enthusiasm over a nice lady
as I could remember that Mr. George Slade of Detroit to have used over
the "skirt" in Louisville in the Country of Kentucky.
"Good, Bobby! I'll have to go tell Sue that before she is two minutes
older. I wouldn't want her to live five minutes longer without having
heard it. Sue's dead sure to tell the rest of the girl bunch, so I
hope you have a supply where that came from, for they'll all cry for
'em. There's the Governor making towards the door and Mrs. Pat, who is
always waiting at the gate for him, so come, let me lead you to the
dance." With which my nice Buzz and I followed the Gouverneur Faulkner
and the other gentlemen across the hall into the long salon of the
Mansion, whose floors were polished like unto a lake of ice, for
In Touraine it is said that a nice lady fairy comes for a visit of
inspection at the _berceau_--in America it is cradle--of each
small human that is born, and gives to it a beautiful gift if
propitiations are made for it to please her. To that end sweetmeats
and nice presents are placed beside the small infant with which to
beguile the good opinion of that fairy. I would I could be that
exalted person and able to visit every small infant born a female in
all of the world. And the gift I would give to her, there in her
sleep, would be to one time in her life attend a ball in the raven
attire of a man in the city of Hayesville of America. I could bestow
no greater gift.
The hours that followed my entry into the ballroom in the Mansion of
the exalted Gouverneur Faulkner were like minutes of time that dropped
from a golden clock of joy. I danced on feet that were strong wings to
glide over a floor that was a many colored cloud from the reflection
of the soft lights and the silken skirts which ruffled over it. And,
what was most enjoyable to me in this case, I glided in whatever
direction pleased me and took with me the armful of cloud, which was
the girl with whom I was dancing, on long swoops of my own will,
instead of being led in my flights by another as had always before
been the case with my dancing. It was the most of a joy that I had
ever experienced. And as I so enjoyed that freedom I did not know how
it was that I should have such a feeling of dissatisfaction when I
beheld that beautiful Madam Whitworth dancing within the arms of the
Gouverneur Williamson Faulkner. I blushed that I should be so
unworthy, with such an unreasonable fury in my heart, and I looked
away so that I seemed not to see the smile that he sent to me over the
head of the very sweet Belle girl in blue ruffles and silver slippers
I was guiding past him in the trot of a fox.
"Yes, Sue Tomlinson _is_ as lovely as a ripe peach, isn't she?"
asked Mademoiselle Blue Cloud of me as I lowered her almost to the
floor over my arm, slid her four steps to the left then trotted her
two back and two forward; and her tone had a very sweet demand of
wistfulness in it as she looked up into my eyes and pressed very close
to that protecting towel of the bath.
For an instant I could not think of one single bonbon of compliment to
offer the lady and I wished I had sat up all of the night to talk to
that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit in the railroad train and had had my nice
gray lady friend in the Ritz-Carlton there with her notebook to
transcribe the many pleasing things he reported himself to have said
to the ladies whom he called "skirts." Then nice Lord Chisholm came
all the way from England into my memory to assist me in my difficulty.
I translated from him freely in this manner:
"Aw, on me word, you _are_ a ripping good sort and I could take
you on for the whole evening if you'd let me. What?"
"I wish I could," she answered and by that time I had thought out a
nice little squeeze for her very pretty waist in its silver girdle
under my arm. Then I had to put her into the arms of a nice young man
named Miles Menefee. To get my breath and to think up some more of the
compliments that had been given to me for my pleasure in the past, I
made my retreat behind a very large palm that was in the corner of the
room, and out upon a wide balcony which hung over a moonlit garden
across which I could see dim hills in the moonlight.
"Girls of all nations are granddaughters of the same Monsieur Satan, I
suspect," I made remark to myself as I inhaled the perfume of the
flower garments of the spring garden below. "I must take a great care
that I do not--"
"And then, boy, you'll slip on the thin ice when you least expect it,"
came in the deep voice of the Gouverneur Faulkner from a shadow at my
elbow. "I sometimes think that they love us just to double-cross our
life's ambitions, but don't you begin to suspect that for years to
"A man's life must be rooted in the heart of a woman if it would bear
fruit, Monsieur le Gouverneur," I found myself saying as in the person
of the Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, I drew myself to my full
height with pride in defense of my own sex. "A man doubts that to his
"Yes, but it must be a pure heart that nourishes a man to his full
fruitage--and, boy, don't you take even a sip--until you are sure
there are such founts of refreshment."
"I would that you could look into my heart, my Gouverneur Faulkner," I
said as I raised my hand and laid it against the raven garment that
covered my soft breast that was rent with pain at the sadness of his
voice and his deep eyes. "There you would see the heart of one--"
Suddenly I stopped in the deepest dismay and the daredevil quaked in
"I would probably see the heart of--shall I say, Galahad Junior? God
bless you, boy, you are refreshing." And he laughed as he laid his
strong hands on my shoulder and gave to me a good shake.
"Are you my comrade Launcelot?" I asked him with a sudden fierce pain
again in my breast under the raven coat at the thought of what that
Queen of the yellow hair had done to that brave Knight of the Round
Table of King Arthur.
"I don't think I'll answer your--your impertinence, boy. Just keep
foxing with Sue and Belle and the rest of the posy girls and--and keep
away from the pools--of--of other eyes." And after another shaking he
turned me towards the door of that ballroom of lights and music.
At the command of the Gouverneur Faulkner there was nothing I could do
but go back to the ballroom and to float for more minutes in the land
of cloud with the "girl bunch," as my friend that Buzz has named them;
but at supper I took my seat at the table with that beautiful Madam
Whitworth and her husband of the very drooping black mustache and eyes
that looked at all places except into those of the person addressing
him. And at that moment I made this resolve to myself: "That
Gouverneur Launcelot may ride far out of the white road, but I intend
to run at his stirrup." And I found that it required swift running,
for the road led--shall I say--into "tall timbers."
It is with a burning of countenance that arises from a hot shame,
which I do not even to this moment exactly understand, that I recall
to my mind that half hour which Mr. Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye
spent with the beautiful Madam Patricia Whitworth in one of the deep
windows that looked from the private study of His Excellency of the
State of Harpeth, over into the great hills that surround the city.
Things happened in this wise: That Madam Whitworth made the
commencement of our duel of intelligences by assuming that I was a
simple French infant before whom she could dangle the very sweet
bonbon of affection and take away from it a treasure that it held in
the hollow of its hand as a sacred trust. That Madam Whitworth did not
realize that instead of a very small young boy from gay Paris, whose
eyes were closed like those of a very young cat, she was dealing with
the very wicked girl who placed the word "devil" behind the word
"dare," speaking in the language of that Mr. Willie Saint Louis when
he informed me that he was the man who had so placed the "go" behind
Chicago while on a visit to that city. I was that girl.
VITRIOL AND THE HOODOO
"I suppose it is absurd for a staid old matron like myself to be
jealous, really jealous, at seeing a child like you being consumed
alive by a lot of simpering misses in pink and blue chiffon pinafores,
who ought to be in their nursery cots asleep, but I have been and am,
boy. Did you forget that I was your oldest friend while Sue Tomlinson
fed you sweets out of her hand?" And as she spoke she seated herself
in the exact center of the window seat and motioned me to place myself
in the portion of the left side that remained. I inserted myself into
the space that was so indicated and laid my arm along the window ledge
behind her very much undressed back, so that I might give to my lungs
space to expand for air. I think that arrangement made very much for
the comfort of the beautiful Madam Patricia, for she immediately
appropriated that arm as a cushion for her undraped shoulders. We
being thus comfortably wedged, the warfare began.
"All week I've been thinking about you, you wonderful boy, and
wondering just what you have been doing and what has been doing
to you. The General is so--so incomprehensible in his attitude
towards you and yours. All these years he has been"--and as she
spoke she looked up into my eyes and pressed slightly towards
me--"uncompromising, hasn't he?"
"Yes, Madam, I do find my Uncle, the General Robert, to be, as you
say, uncompromising," I answered as I looked down at her with a smile.
"But you are not like that, are you, beautiful Madam Whitworth? You
will compromise yourself, will you not?"
"Don't use English words so carelessly, my dear, until you are less
ignorant of their meaning," she reproved me as she sat erect and gave
to my lungs an inch more breathing space. I had heard that large lady
of the State of Cincinnati on the ship say that a nice lady from a
place called Kansas, and whom everyone gave the title of Mrs. Grass
because of a disagreeable husband who was not dead, "compromised"
herself with a very much drinking gentleman from Boston because she
sat in a small space with him behind the chimney for smoke from the
engine, and I thought it was a nice word to fit into the conversation
with Madam Whitworth at that time. And I think it did fit better than
I had quite intended that it should. I saw offense and I hastened to
make a peace so that I should learn all that I wanted to know from her
while letting her learn all that I did not know from me.
"I beg that you pardon me, beautiful Madam, and teach me the English
words to say that will express all of--of the most wonderful things
that I think of you. What is the one word that expresses the beauty of
the blue flowers in crystal that I said your eyes to be, to myself,
the first time I looked into them upon that railroad train when you
rescued me from the black taffeta lady?" And as I was at that moment
speaking the exact truth I spoke with a great ardor.
"I rather think that offsets Sue Tomlinson's 'cream jug'
compliment--and you _are_ a dear," she answered as she again
diminished the space for my lung action. "I hear the dear General has
turned you over to the Governor completely. What do you think of him?"
she asked as if to manufacture conversation.
"Yes, I was made a gift to him last week, and I do not think very much
of that Gouverneur," I made answer with excellent falseness, because I
had had no thoughts since my presentation to that Gouverneur Faulkner
that were not of him. I had obtained the uncomplimentary remark upon
the ship, from the lady of Cincinnati, who said it about the doctor of
the seasickness from which she suffered.
"Between you and me, boy--if anything, even an opinion, can be wedged
between us--I think the Governor is a great, overrated stupid,
encouraged in his denseness by the dear General whose ideas
have--have--er--rather solidified with age. I rather pity you for
having to have all of your opinions and policies of life moulded by
them. Yes, it is a pity." And she sighed very near to my cheek.
"Will you not mould me to some extent yourself, beautiful flower-eyed
Madam?" I asked of her with great gentleness, and did administer a
nice little pressure to her shoulders like I had adventured upon the
waist of the beautiful Belle in blue and silver dress which Madam
Whitworth had named a pinafore.
"You are a perfect dear, and I will help you all I can. Just come and
tell me all of your difficulties and I'll try and smooth them away for
you. I suppose you will find it easy to translate their French
documents for them about this very boring mule deal. I have had to do
it and I am glad to turn the burden of it all over to you. You may
have some trouble with the English technicalities and perhaps you had
best bring them in to me and I'll run over them to see that you get
them straight. Only don't let the General know that I am helping you,
for I verily believe the old dear thinks I am a nihilist ready to blow
the Governor or any of his other old mules into a thousand bits."
"I thank you, beautiful Madam Whitworth, for your offer of assistance,
and I will avail myself of it at the first opportunity. Is it at your
house that we can be alone?" I questioned with a daring smile that
would serve both for a purpose of coquetry and also to ascertain if I
would encounter in a call upon her that very disagreeable appearing
gentleman, Mr. Jefferson Whitworth, who is the husband to his very
"Come any afternoon at four o'clock and telephone me before you come
so that I can get rid of anybody who happens to be around. And be sure
to bring any work you have for me to help you with. That's the only
way I can excuse an ancient matron like myself for keeping you even
for a few minutes away from the pinafores." And she looked into my
eyes with a sigh for her antiquity. In the language of that Mr. Willie
Saint Louis I knew it was "up to me," and I "handed the dame one."
"In my country, beautiful Madam, the fruit is much more regarded than
the bud," is what I presented to her.
"You are delicious," she laughed as she again diminished my breathing
space. "I cannot see why the dear General has been so violent in his
prejudice against all things from France. You must try to win him
over, especially as he is letting his prejudice to France, if you can
call downright hatred that, stand in the way of lending his aid in
doing a great service to your poor, struggling, brave army, while at
the same time reaping a profit to his own State. Has he told you
anything of this mule deal he is forcing Governor Faulkner to hold up
on some others who want to do a service to France?" As she questioned
me, the beautiful Madam's eyes became much narrower and I could
observe that she watched me with intentness for any sign of
intelligence. I gave her none.
"Will you not tell me, my Madam of the blue flower eyes, about all of
the matter? It will be of great benefit to me to understand it all
from you, for my Uncle the General Robert is a man of few words and I
am not a man of much business intelligence." And as I spoke I regarded
her with a great and beseeching humility.
And there, in the Mansion of the Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth
himself, that lovely woman did unfold to me the most wonderful plan
for the most enormous robbery of both her own government and mine--or
should I say of both of my governments?--that it could be in the power
of mortal mind to conceive. It was a beautiful, reasonable, generous,
patriotic, sympathetic drama of the gigantic war mule and it had only
one tiny, hidden obscure line in one of its verses, but in that line
lay all of dishonor that could come to a man and a State who should
allow a smaller nation fighting for its life and its honor to be
defrauded of one of the supplies which were of a deadly necessity for
its success. I think I even saw the dastardly scheme more plainly than
did my Uncle, the General Robert, for I had listened with more than
one ear while my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, explained to wee
Pierre some of the details of supplying the army of the Republique. I
think he had talked of things that the little one could not understand
just to make an ease of the pressure of all of his business upon his
troubled mind and breaking heart. And as Madam Whitworth talked I
could hear my Pierre's brave voice as he always gave assurances to his
"All of plenty is in America, and she will give to France."
And here sat great strong Roberta, the Marquise of Grez and Bye,
holding in the hollow of her arm a beautiful American woman who had
herself contrived a monstrous plan to let a quantity of the lifeblood
of France to turn into gold for her own vain uses. If to throttle her
then and there with my bare strong hands had insured the great big
needful mules to France, and saved the honor of my Gouverneur of the
State of Harpeth, and my Uncle, the General Robert, I think I might
have had a great temptation to administer that death to her; but
instead I held her now closer in my arm and I began to plot her to
death in any other way I could discover, so that her intrigue should
die with her.
"Of a truth, beautiful Madam, the poor old Uncle, the General Robert,
must not be allowed to interfere with such a beautiful plan as you
have for supplying those very fine strong mules from the State of
Harpeth to poor struggling France, and I will join with you in
convincing the stupid Gouverneur Faulkner that such must not be the
case. You will direct me, will you not? I am very young and I have but
so lately come to this land that I do not know--I do not feel exactly
what you call at home." And I spoke again with beseeching humility.
"We'll do it for France together, boy," she whispered as she turned in
my arm and pressed herself against my raven attire above my heart held
in restraint by that towel of the bath. "And then you can claim from
Just at this lovely moment, when the beautiful Madam Whitworth had
thrown herself into my arms and I had been obliged by my cunning to
hold her there instead of flinging her to the floor as I naturally
desired, there arrived at the door of the room which we were occupying
with our plotting, my tall and awful Uncle, the General Robert, and
looked down upon us with the lightnings of a storm in his eyes. Then,
before I could make exclamation and betray his presence to the lady in
my arms, whose back was turned in his direction, he had disappeared.
Did I betray that presence to the lady? I did not. I decided that it
would be much to the advantage of the affair to have the lady in
ignorance of his knowledge.
"You must go now, boy," she said at about the moment in which I could
no longer keep my dissembling alive. "Send the Governor in here to me,
for it is about the time I had promised to dance with him. I want to
talk with him and try to make him see some at least of this matter in
the right light. Go; and come to me to-morrow at four--for--for
I went and it was with much joy in the going. I stopped at a tall
window to get into my lungs a very deep supply of atmosphere and also
to take counsel with myself.
"Mr. Robert Carruthers," I said to myself, "you are in what that Mr.
G. Slade of Detroit said to be a 'hell of a fix' when the nice aunt of
that beautiful and refined 'skirt' of Saint Joseph, Missouri,
discovered her to be in his embrace of farewell. I cannot tell to my
Uncle, the General Robert, that it is that I, a woman of honor, have
planned for myself, a man of dishonor, to betray a woman into his
hands, and I shall receive from him what that Buzz Clendenning calls
to be a 'dressing down.' But I must go to send to Madam Delilah now
the great Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth and for what she does to
him that is unholy she will answer to Robert Carruthers or--or
Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye." And then immediately I went to
deliver the summons of Madam Whitworth to the Gouverneur Faulkner and
I did not look into his face as I spoke the words, but waited with my
eyes cast down to the floor until he dismissed me.
Then after that very painful hour of intrigue I allowed to Mr. Robert
Carruthers another of very delightful gayety with all of the "chiffon
pinafore" ladies upon the ballroom floor. I have in my blood that
gayety which led some of my ancestors to laugh and compliment each
other and play piquet up even to the edge of the guillotine, and I
refused to see the countenance of my Uncle, the General Robert,
regarding me from the door in the end of the ballroom. I considered
that an hour of pleasure was a sacred thing not to be interfered with,
and I danced with that sweet Sue Tomlinson right past the edge of his
toes while I could feel the delicious giggle within her, which was
answering that within me, at his fierce regard of us both.
"He'll eat you up before daylight, Mr. Carruthers," she said as she
cast a sweet and loving glance at my Uncle, the General Robert, which,
I could see as I lowered her over my arm and slid away from him, was
giving to him much nice fury.
"I will request that Madam black Kizzie to make a good cream gravy to
me," I made answer to her with merriment. "I am very tender," I added
with audacity that I was learning with such a rapidity that I trembled
for the reputation of Mr. Robert Carruthers, and as I spoke the words
I gave to her a little embrace in a turn of the dance. It should not
have been done, but if that sweet Sue had known that a very lonely
girl danced in that raven garb of a man, who wanted to hold her close
for her comforting, she would have forgiven it, I feel sure. That Sue
is a young woman of such a good sense that I must forever cherish her.
"Don't do that again, Bobby Carruthers," she said, looking up at me
with a lovely seriousness in her honest young eyes. "I know you are
French, and queer, but--but don't--" After a little she added: "We are
going to be grand friends, aren't we?" "Yes, lovely Sue, and I beg of
you pardon," I answered her with all of the friendliness of Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye, in my eyes and voice, which seemed to give
to her a beautiful satisfaction.
"Good! I'll tell you what let's do. You come by for me to-morrow
afternoon and I'll go with you to the Capitol and I'll beard the
General Lion in his den and ask him to let us be friends, and then
we'll take him out to the Confederate Soldiers' Home for 'flags
down'--it mellowed him so once, when I was about ten, that he let me
trot home beside him holding his hand, though he didn't speak to me
for a week after. Want to?" I did enjoy the mischief in those merry
eyes that I laughed into.
"I'll steal his big car and come and help you--what do you
say?--kidnap my Uncle, the General Robert," I answered her with
delight as I released her into the arms of that Buzz Clendenning
before the fox had been more than half trotted.
"Go pick roses out of your own garden, L'Aiglon," he said as he slid
her away from me.
And for the reason that I was very slightly fatigued and also slightly
warm from being obliged to dance in the very heavy swathings of a
gentleman, when I had been accustomed to the coolness of chiffon and
tulle and thin lace of a lady, I went again into the broad hall and to
the wide window that looked away to those comforting blue hills. Below
me the garden was coming out of a veil of mist as the moon, which was
now very old, came slowly up from behind the dim ridge of hills that
my Uncle the General Robert had told me to be called Paradise Ridge.
All the spring flowers below me seemed to be sending up to me
greetings of perfumes and the tall purple and white lilac flowers
waved plumes of friendliness at me, while large round pink blossoms
that I think are called peonies, nodded and beckoned to me with sweet
countenances. I felt that they were flower friends who in their turn
were saying messages of welcome to the lonely girl who had come across
the dark waters to them and in my throat I began to hum that "Say can
you see--" Star Spangled hymn to them, and was just preparing to step
from the window onto a balcony and descend to them, when a movement of
human beings caught my eye upon the side of that balcony and I paused
in the darkness of the window curtain. What did I see?
A man stood at the rail of the balcony in the dim moonlight and he was
speaking to a woman whom his broad shoulders hid from me. The man was
the Gouverneur Faulkner of the State of Harpeth and in a moment I
discovered the identity of the lady with him.
"And now, can't you see, you great big stupid man, what an opportunity
I have procured for all of you?" was the question that came in the
soft voice of the beautiful Madam Patricia Whitworth. "All my life I
have worked just to get a little ease and comfort, carrying the burden
of Jeff in his incompetency strapped to my shoulders, and now you, who
know how I've suffered and slaved, are going to take it all from me
when it is just within my reach, and all from no earthly reason than a
fancied scruple of honor which that old doddering woman-hater imposes
on you. I cannot believe that you would so treat me." And there were
sobs in her words that were wooing and compelling.
"I cannot do a thing that my Secretary of State and his lawyers
declare unconstitutional, Patricia," answered the voice of the
Gouverneur Faulkner, in which were notes of pain. "You know how it
pains me--my God, don't tempt me to--" His voice shook as I saw the
beautiful, bare white arms of Madam Whitworth raise themselves and go
about his neck like great white grappling hooks from which he was
unable to defend himself.
"Am I to have nothing from life--no ease or luxury and no--love or--"
Her voice ended in sobs as she pressed her head down into his shoulder
as his arm folded about her to prevent that she should fall.
"Patricia--" the deep voice of the strong man was beginning to say as
I was starting to spring forward in his defense and to do--I do not
know what--when a firm grasp was laid upon my shoulder and I was
turned away from the window into the light of the wide hall and found
my Uncle, the General Robert, looking down into my flashing eyes with
a great and very cool calmness.
"Young man," he said as he gave to me a very powerful shake, "all
women are poison but some are vitriol and others just--Oh, well,
paregoric. Go out there and take another dose of that soothing
syrup labeled Susan Tomlinson, before I take you home, and
head. Vitriol, mind you!" With which command my Uncle, the General
Robert, strode down the hall in the direction of the smoking room and
left me blinking in the lights of the wide hall.
"Little Mas' Robert," came in a soft voice at my elbow as I stood
tottering, "is you got a picture of yo' mudder you could show Cato
some day when the General ain't lookin'. 'Fore I dies I wants to set
my eyes on de woman dat drawed little Mas' Henry away from us all. Dey
_is_ such a thing in dis hard old world as love what you goes
'crost many waters' to git, and he shorely got it." And I looked into
the eyes of that old black man to find a truth that all the white
humans about me, myself included, were acting in the terms of a lie.
Before I could answer the old man, in through the window came the
Gouverneur Faulkner and the beautiful Madam Whitworth, and from his
white face set in sternness and hers with its smile of the opening
rose upon its red mouth I could not tell whether his honor had been
slain or had been spared for another round.
"I'll want you in my office at the Capitol at eleven to-morrow,
Robert," he said to me, and there was a cold sternness in his glance
as they passed by me and the old Cato into the ballroom.
"At four," murmured the beautiful Madam Whitworth as she swept past me
with a soft smile but in a tone of voice too low for any ears save my
own and I think of the old Cato's.
For a very short moment the old black man detained me as he searched
one of the pockets of his long gray coat and then he handed to me a
tiny flat parcel apparently folded in some kind of thin red cloth.
"Wear that in your left shoe, honey, day and night. You'll need it if
she's got her eye on you," he said as he hurried away from me into the
After disrobing that night, or rather in the early morning of the
following day, I investigated the contents of that package. In it were
a gray feather off of an apparently very nice chicken, a very old and
rusty pin bent in two places and a flat little black seed I had never
I gazed at the package for several long moments, then I put back upon
my left foot the silk sock I had removed, placed the token of old Cato
within it under my heel, dived into that large bed of my ancestors and
in the darkness covered up my head tightly with the silk comforter.
BUSINESS AND PIE
That Mr. Buzz Clendenning has in the composition of his nature a very
large portion of nice foolishness which makes the heart of a lonely
person most comfortable. He decided, upon that very first day of our
introduction, that I was to be as a small brother to him who was much
loved but also to be much joked about a quaintness which he chose to
call "French greenness," and for which I was most grateful because
with that excuse I could cover all mistakes that arose from my being a
girl who was ignorant of the exact methods of being a man. And, also,
that nice attitude towards me was of quite a contagion, for all of the
young ladies and gentlemen of the city of Hayesville became the same
to me and all of the time my heart was warm and rejoiced at their
affection shown in banter and jokes.
The morning after that very much enjoyed dinner dance, with which the
Governor Faulkner complimented my Uncle, the General Robert, through
me, I was standing in front of the mirror in my room without my coat
or my collar, endeavoring to reduce the wave in my black hair to the
sleekness of that of my beloved Buzz, which had a difficulty because
of one lock over my temple whose waywardness I had for the last few
years trained to fall upon my cheek for purposes of coquetry and which
would persist in trying still to fulfill that unworthy function. And
right in the center of my punishment of that lovelock with the stiff
brush without a handle, which was twins with another that had come
with the gentleman's traveling bag which I had purchased in New York
of the nice fat gentleman in the store of clothing for men, into my
room came that Buzz without any ceremony save a rap upon my door which
did not allow sufficient time for any response from me. I blushed with
alarm at the thought that his entrance might have come at a much
earlier stage of my toilet and I made a resolve to lock the door tight
in future, at the same time turning to greet him with a fine and great
"Say, Bobby, are you in for side-stepping the chiefs at eleven-thirty
and going with me to take a nice bunch of calicoes out to the Country
Club for a little midday sandwich dance? You can eat a thin ham and
fox trot at the same time. Sue and Belle and Kate Keith all want to
get on to that long slide you've brought over direct from Paree. It
stuck in their systems last evening and they want more. Want to go?"
"With a greatness of pleasure, but His Excellency has commanded me at
eleven o'clock and will I be through the tasks at the hour for
escorting those calicoes out to your Club for a dance?" I asked with
great delight as I continued my operations with the brush upon the
"You'll have time if you stop that primping and hustle into your
collar and coat. Here, let me show you how to doctor that place where
the cow licked you. Why don't you take both brushes to it? Like this!"
With which Mr. Buzz took from my hand the one brush and from the high
dressing table the other, for which my ignorance had discovered no
use, and did then commence a vigorous assault on my enemy the curl.
"What was it you said of a cow, my Buzz?" I questioned him as I made a
squirming under the vigor of his attack upon my hair.
"When hair acts up like this we call it a cowlick in United States
language. See here, L'Aiglon, old boy, this hair looks as if it had at
one time been curled. Did you wear it that way in Paris?" And as he
asked the question he gave that side of my hair one more vigorous
sweep and stood off to admire his work.
"No, my Buzz, I assure you that it was the cruelty of that cow you
mention, while I was at a very tender age," I answered with a laugh
into his eyes that covered nicely the blush that rose to my cheek at
his accusation concerning the lovelock.
"Well, knot that tie now in a jiffy and climb into your coat. Let's
get to the Capitol and give the old boys as little of our attention as
they'll stand for, and then beat it for the girls. Bet my chief growls
blue blazes at me over the way Sue ragged him about you last night.
He'll issue a command at the point of the bayonet to me to keep you
away from the bunch, and I'll agree just so as to make the slide from
under easy. Come on." And while he spoke to me, that Buzz raced me
down the hall of my ancestors and out into his very slim, fast car
before I could get breath for speaking.
"But suppose His Excellency the Gouverneur Faulkner requires my
presence beyond that half hour after eleven o'clock, my Buzz, is it
that you will await me for a few short minutes?" I asked of him as we
ascended the steps of the Capitol of the State of Harpeth.
"Oh, Bill won't keep you any longer than that. He'll have twenty other
interviews on the string for to-day. Fifteen minutes will be about
right for you; you wait for me in the General's anteroom. I'll have to
get heroics before instructions. I always do. Now beat it." With which
words my Buzz left me in the wide hall of the great Capitol before a
door marked: "Office of the Governor."
Upon that door I knocked and it was immediately opened to me by fine
black Cato, whose eyes shone in recognition of me.
"Got it in yo' shoe?" he demanded in a whisper.
"Yes, my good Cato," I responded also in a low tone of voice.
"Den pass on in to de Governor; he am waitin' fer you. You's safe,
chile." And he escorted me past several gentlemen seated and standing
in groups, to another door, which he opened for me and through which
he motioned me to pass.
"Mr. Robert Carruthers," he announced me with the greatest ceremony.
"Go in, honey," he said softly and I passed into the room whose door
he closed quietly behind me.
"Good morning, Robert," said the Gouverneur Faulkner to me as I came
and stood opposite him at the edge of his wide desk. And he smiled at
me with a great gentleness that had also humor playing into it from
the corners of his eyes and mouth. "I'm afraid that you've landed in
the midst of a genuine case of American hustle this 'morning after.'
Here are two lists of specifications, one in English weights and
measurements and the other in French. I want you to compare them
carefully, checking them as you go and then re-checking them. I want
to be sure they are the same. Also make a good literal translation of
any notes that may be in French and compare them with the notes in
English. Do you think it can be done for me by three o'clock, in time
for a conference I have at that hour?" With which request he, the
Gouverneur Faulkner, handed me two large sheets of paper down which
were many long columns of figures.
"_Mon Dieu_," I said to myself under my breath, for always I have
had to count out the pieces of money necessary to give to Nannette for
the washer of the linen at the Chateau de Grez, upon the fingers of my
hands, which often seemed too few to furnish me sufficient aid. But in
a small instant I had recovered my courage, which brought with it a
determination to do that task if it meant my death.
"Yes, Your Excellency," I answered him with a great composure in the
face of the tragedy.
"You'll find the small office between my office and that of General
Carruthers empty. A ring of the bell under the desk means for you to
come to me. I'll try not to interrupt you. Two rings means to go to
the General. That is about all." With a wave of his hand the
Gouverneur Faulkner dismissed me to my death.
With my head up in the air I turned from him and prepared to retire to
my prison from which I could see no release, when again I heard his
summons. He had risen and was standing beside his desk and as I turned
he held out his hand into which I laid mine as he drew me near to him.
"Youngster," he said and the smile which all persons call cold was all
of gentleness into my eyes, "these are going to be some hard days for
us all, these next ten, and if I drive you too hard, balk, will you?"
"To the death for you I'll go, my Gouverneur Faulkner," I answered
him, looking straight into his tired eyes that were so deep under the
black, silver-tipped wings of his brows. I did not mean that death I
had threatened myself from the mathematics in the paper, but in my
heart there was something that rose and answered the sadness in his
eyes with again all that savageness of a barbarian.
"Then I'll take you to the point of demise--almost--if I need you," he
answered me with a laugh that hid a quiver of emotion in his voice as
something that was like unto a spark shot from the depths of his eyes
into the depths of mine. "Go get the papers verified and let me know
when you have finished." And this time I was in reality dismissed. I
went; but in my heart was a strange smoulder that the spark had
In the small room that opened off of that of the Gouverneur Faulkner,
with a door that I knew to lead into the room of my Uncle, the General
Robert, I seated myself at a table by a window which looked down upon
the city spread at the foot of the Capitol hill lying shimmering in
the young spring mists that drifted across its housetops. I laid down
the papers, took a pencil from a tray close beside my hand and then
faced the most dreadful of any situation that I had ever brought down
upon my own head. I also faced at the same time the smiling
countenance of my Buzz, who looked into the door from the room of my
Uncle, the General Robert, slipped through that door and closed it
gently behind him.
"Safe on first base! The old boy of the bayonets has been called to
the Governor and he'll not be back before they both have luncheon sent
in to them. I have taken his letters and now I'm off. What did Bill
"Death and also destruction," I answered in an expletive often used by
my father in times of a catastrophe, and with those words I showed to
my Buzz the two long papers.
"Shoo, that's no big job. I looked over and verified this one myself
yesterday in ten minutes. Hello, this other one is in French. Just run
it through and if it is to tally, call it; and I'll hold this one. We
can do it in fifteen minutes. Go ahead from the top line across." And
my Buzz held the paper in his hand as he seated himself in readiness
upon the corner of my desk beside me.
"Oh, my Buzz, I have such a mortification that I cannot add one to
another of these long figures. When I place one number to another I
must use my fingers, and in this case you see that it is impossible."
Tears I did not allow in my eyes, but they were in my voice, and I
looked into the eyes of my Buzz with a great terror. "What is it that
I shall do? I am in disgrace."
"You complete edition of a kid, you, don't you know I can do it for
you? That is, if you know what all these kilo things stand for in
English. Do you?" As he spoke, that kind Buzz put his hand on my
shoulder with a nice rough shake.
"I do know from my governess, Madam Fournet, and I will write it all
down for you, my Buzz, for whom I feel so much gratitude for help," I
answered with quickness.
"Stow the gratitude and write 'em all out. It will take us about an
hour but it is good to keep calicoes waiting occasionally," he said,
and did thereupon seat himself beside the table and draw to himself
the two sheets of paper, while I quickly wrote out the table of French
weights and measurements translated into English.
I did very much enjoy that hour in which my Buzz labored with a pencil
and a great industry while I called to him the list of long figures
and then verified as he showed me the units upon the page in the
French language. He made jokes at me between workings while he
attended his cigarette and we, together, had much laughter.
"There are just three places where these figures disagree and I have
marked them carefully, L'Aiglon," he said as at last he laid down both
pieces of the paper. "These French specifications and figures that
floored you, represent the ideal mule in bulk and these United States
figures promise the same multitude in scrub. I thought as much. You
just run in there to Bill with them and then forget you ever saw them,
and we'll be on our way to the girls in ten minutes. Bobby, I mean it
when I say that men in your and my positions of trust just forget
facts and figures the minute we get out of sight of our chiefs. And we
forget the chiefs too, believe me. Now run along and come out to the
car on the same trot."
"Is it of honor not to tell to the Gouverneur Faulkner that you
assisted me in this task, my Buzz?" I asked of him with anxiety.
"No need to tell him--it's all in the same office and will come to me
for filing. Don't say anything that will bring on talk that keeps us
from Sue and the gang. Just run!" With which advice my kind Buzz
disappeared through the door into the office of my Uncle, the General
Robert, as I softly opened the door of the room of the Gouverneur
Faulkner and entered into his presence. And in that presence I found
also my Uncle, the General Robert, in a very grave consultation with
the Gouverneur Faulkner.
"The papers completed, Your Excellency," I said in a very low and meek
tone of my voice as I laid the papers beside him on the table and
prepared to take the running departure that my Buzz had commanded of
"Bless my soul, are you here and at work, young man? I thought you
were asleep after all that gallivanting, and was just preparing to
blow you up out of bed over the telephone," exclaimed my Uncle, the
General Robert, with great fierceness of manner but also a great
pleasure of eyes at the sight of me in the character of such a nice
Secretary to the Gouverneur of Harpeth.
"Robert arrived five minutes after I did and ten minutes before you
came into the building, General," said that Gouverneur Faulkner, with
a twinkle of great enjoyment in his eyes. "He's done a day's work
before we have begun. Will you have your luncheon sent up from the
restaurant with ours, Robert? Just order the usual things for us and
any kind of frills you care for. Shall I say snails?"
"I thank Your Excellency deeply but I am engaged that I luncheon and
dance with Mr. Buzz Clendenning in his club in the country if I may be
given permission to go," I answered as I laid my fingers with
affection on the arm of my Uncle, the General Robert, as I stood
"Nonsense, sir! You'll not join those jackanapes in their gambols
during business hours. Order yourself up a slice of pie and a glass of
buttermilk along with mine and sit down here to listen to matters of
business by which you can profit. Luncheon and dancing! No, pie and
business, I say, pie and business!" And the fierceness of my Uncle,
the General Robert, made me retire several feet away from him in
astonishment and in the direction of the Gouverneur Faulkner.
"Now, General, don't tie the boy down to pie and the company of two
musty old gentlemen like ourselves. He's earned a dance. You may go,
Robert, and I wish--I wish my heels were light enough to go with
yours," that kind Gouverneur said in my behalf.
"Light heels, light head! And I say he shall--" And another explosion
of fierceness was about to arrive from my Uncle, the General Robert,
when I said with great and real humility:
"It will be my great pleasure to sit at the feet of you and His
Excellency, which are not light for dancing, my Uncle Robert, and eat
a large piece of pie and also milk." I spoke with a sincerity, for
suddenly I knew that there would be nothing at that dance of girls in
the club of my Buzz that I would so desire as to sit near to that
Gouverneur Faulkner, in whose eyes came that sadness when he spoke of
the dance for which he had not the light feet, and eat with him and my
Uncle, the General Robert, a piece of that American pie of which I had
heard my father speak many times.
"Why, he means it, General," said the Gouverneur Faulkner with a great
softness in his eyes that answered the affection that was in mine that
pleaded for the pie and a place at his side. "Run, youngster, run,
before the General says another word. You are dismissed. Go!" And with
a great laugh the Gouverneur Faulkner rose, put his arm around my
shoulder and put me out of that room before my Uncle, the General
Robert, could begin any more words of remonstrance. And I ran away
from that door to my Buzz in the waiting car with both light and
The two hours that I spent with my Buzz at his club in the country
with what he called in front of their very faces, bunches of calico,
passed with such a rapidity that I felt I must grasp each minute and
remonstrate with them for their fleetness. That Mademoiselle Sue was
even much more lovely in her gray costume of golf with a tie the color
of the one worn by my Buzz, than she had been in her chiffon of the
dinner dance, and the beautiful Belle was much the same, with an added
gayety and charm, while I discovered a very sweet Kate Keith and a
Mildred Summers who was not of a great beauty but of many interesting
remarks which induced much laughing. With them were that Miles Menefee
whom my Buzz had recommended to me, and also several young gentlemen
of America whom I liked exceedingly. One Mr. Phillips Taylor took me
by my heart with a great force when, as we were all seated on the
steps of the wide porch eating the promised sandwich and consuming
breath for another dance in a very few minutes, he said to me:
"Say, Mr. Robert Carruthers, my mater wants to see you over in the
east card room directly. She says she had it on with your father in
their dancing school days and it was only by the intervention of some
sort of love ruckus that you and I are not brothers or maybe what
would be worse, brother and sister. If that had happened you would
have had to be it. I wouldn't. But that's not our quarrel."
"You couldn't have been a woman unless you had received a much better
finishing polish before being sent to bless the earth, Phil, dear,"
said that funny Mademoiselle Mildred Summers, and that Mr. Phillips
Taylor returned the insult by lifting her off of her feet and gliding
her halfway across the porch verandah in the beginning of one tango
dance to the music that was again to be heard from the hall within the
"Mildred and Phil fight like aborigines, and their love for combat
will lead to matrimony in their early youth if they are not reconciled
to each other soon," said lovely Sue as she fitted herself into my
arms for our tango.
"After this dance with you will you lead me to that Madam Taylor, the
friend of my father, beautiful Sue?" I asked of her. "It makes happy
my heart to see one who loved him." And as I spoke, the longing for my
father that will ever be in my heart made a sadness in my voice and a
dimness in my eyes.
"I think everybody loved him just as we are all beginning to--to like
you, Bobby dear," said that sweet girl as she smiled up at me in a way
that sent the dimness in my eyes back to my heart.
"I am very grateful that you like me, lovely Sue," I said with great
humility. "I will endeavor to win and deserve more and more of that
liking, until it is with me as if I had been born in a house near to
yours, as is the case with my dear Buzz and also that funny Mildred."
"I couldn't like you any better, Bobby, if you had torn the hair off
of my doll's head or broken my slate a dozen times," she laughed at me
again as we slid together the last slide in the dance. "Now come over
and be introduced to Mrs. Taylor. You have only a few minutes, for you
and Buzz must both be back at the Capitol at two. I feel in honor
bound to the State to send you both back on time." And while she spoke
she led me across the hall of the clubhouse and into a room full of
ladies, who sat at card tables consuming very beautiful food while
also preparing to resume playing the cards.
THE BEAUTIFUL MADAM WHITWORTH
Sue then made for me many introductions and all of those lovely
_grande dames_ gave to me affectionate welcomes. Some of them I
had encountered at the dance of the Gouverneur Faulkner and all of
them had smiles for me.
"Why, boy, you are Henry's very self come back to us after all these
years--only with a lot of added deviltry in the way of French beauty,"
said that Madam Taylor, who was very stately, with white hair and a
very young countenance of sweetness. "The daredevil--it was like him
to send you back to us as--as revenge," she added with something that
almost seemed like anger under the sweetness of her voice.
"It is what my father always named me, Madam, the 'daredevil,' and
will you not accept me for your cherishing?" I spoke those words to
her from an impulse that I could not understand but I saw them soothe
a hurt in her eyes as she laughed and kissed my cheek as I raised my
head from kissing her jeweled hand.
"Yes," she answered me softly.
"Come on, L'Aiglon; it's time to beat it. We are late and Sue is
beginning to shoo," called my Buzz from the door of the card room. "We
are coming home with Phil for supper to-night, Mrs. Taylor, and the
Prince wants an introduction to your custard pie. Yes'm, seven sharp!
Come on, Bob!"
"My Buzz," I said to that Mr. Buzz Clendenning as he raced the slim
car through the country and the city up to the Capitol hill, "you give
to me a life of much joy in only a few days. I would that it could so
"It just will until we are jolly old boys with long white beards and
canes, Bobby," he answered me with an affectionate grin as we rounded
a corner on two wheels of the car. "Say, let's get out of this
politics soon, go in for selling timber lands, marry two of the
calicoes and found families. We'll call the firm Carruthers and
Clendenning and I choose Sue. You can decide about your dame later."
Suddenly something very cold and dead was there in place of my heart
that had danced with happiness. What should I do at that time of
disclosing myself as one large lie to all of these kind friends who
were giving me affection on the account of my honored father and
Uncle, the General Robert? That daredevil in me had led me into this
dishonor, with the excuse, it is true, of fear that the wicked Uncle
would not have mended the hip of small Pierre if I did not obey his
summons as a nephew. And now I must stay to be of service to him and
to the Gouverneur Faulkner but also to be more involved in that lie
and to accept more confidence and affection with thievery.
"I cannot sell the lands of timber with you, my Buzz," I made answer
to him quickly and with fierceness. "As soon as this business of the
mules is settled and my Uncle, the General Robert, no longer requires
my services, I must return and go into the trenches of France." And I
felt as I spoke that my fate was decided, and a great calmness came
over me. "Then I'll go with you," answered me that Buzz with a look of
the steadfast affection which might have grown with years of
comradeship. "I'll go and fight for France with you if you'll come
back and build an American family alongside of mine. Jump out--we are
fifteen minutes late--and watch the General scalp me. Come in through
his office and take a part of it, will you?"
Even in the very short time which I had known my Uncle, the General
Robert, I had discovered that the times at which could be anticipated
explosions, none came, and also the reverse of that fact. When my Buzz
and I entered his office he very hastily concealed a book that had
some variety of richly colored pictures in it in his desk and smiled
with a wink of the eye at my Buzz. Later I should know about that book
to my great joy.
"Here's a letter for you, Robert, and go get to your knitting with
Governor Bill," he said to me with kindness in his smile as he handed
me a large letter and motioned me from the room into the small
anteroom that I now knew to be the place assigned to my Buzz and me
when not wanted in the offices of my Uncle, the General Robert, or the
Gouverneur Faulkner. I made a low bow to my Uncle, the General Robert,
and also to Monsieur the Bumble Bee and departed thence.
On seating myself at my table to await the bell of the Gouverneur
Faulkner, without which ringing my Buzz had instructed me I must never
on pain of extinction as a secretary enter His Excellency's office, I
opened that letter and began to read with difficulty a letter of a few
words from my wee Pierre, now in the hospital of that kind Doctor
Burns. I read not more than one sentence when I leaped to my feet with
a cry of joy and my heart beat very high with happiness. To whom
should I turn to tell of that happiness? I did not pause to answer
that question in my heart but I quickly opened the door of the august
Gouverneur of Harpeth and presented myself to him in a disobedience of
strict orders. And then what befell me?
Seated at his desk was that great and good man, with his head bowed
upon his hands; and at my entrance he raised that head with an alarm.
I could see that his face was heavy and sad with deep pondering and I
was instantly thrown into mortification that I had so interrupted him.
I faltered there beside him and found halting words to exclaim:
"Oh, it is a pardon I ask Your Excellency for intruding into your
door, but it is that my small Pierre has stood upon two feet for
perhaps a whole minute in the hospital of that good Dr. Burns and I
must run to tell you of my joy. Is it quite possible now that Pierre
will no longer be for life crooked in the back?" And as I spoke I held
out to him the letter upon which tears were dripping and one of my
hands I clasped trembling at my breast that shook under that stylish
cheviot bag of a coat I had that morning put upon me for the first
time. And did that great Gouverneur Faulkner repulse his wicked
secretary? He did not.
"God bless you, youngster! Of course you run right to tell me when a
big thing like that happens. Sure that back will be all straight in no
time and we'll have the little maid down, running in and out at her
will in just a few months," and as he spoke that Gouverneur Faulkner
came to my side and took the hand that held the tear-besprinkled
letter and also drew the one from my breast into his own two large and
warm ones. "I've been hearing people's troubles for what seems like an
eternity, boy, but not a single son-of-a-gun has run to me with his
joy until you have. Here, use one corner of my handkerchief while I
use the other," and as he spoke that very large and broad-shouldered
man released one of my hands, dabbed his own eyes that were sparkling
with perhaps a tear, and then handed that handkerchief to me.
And those tears of both of us ended in a large laugh.
"It is my habit that I shed tears when in joy," I said with apology,
as I returned that large white handkerchief to that Gouverneur
"Mind you don't tell anybody that Governor Bill Faulkner does the same
thing," he answered with a laugh.
"I have a feeling that is of longing to rush to small Pierre and to
prostrate myself at the feet of that good Doctor," I said as again the
great joy of that news rushed upon me.
"No, boy, not right now," answered that great Gouverneur Faulkner as
he turned and laid a large warm hand on each of my shoulders. "The
crisis is at hand and I need you here for a little time. I can't
explain it, but--but you seem to feed--feed my faith in myself. In
just a few days I've grown to depend on you to--to--. You ridiculous
boy, you, with your storms and joy sunbursts, get out of here and tell
Cato to send Mr. Whitworth and Mr. Brown into my office immediately."
And with a laugh and a shake of me away from his side, the Gouverneur
Faulkner picked up the two long sheets of paper which had been of so
much labor to my Buzz and me and began to scowl back of his black,
white-tipped eyebrows over them. I departed with great rapidity.
Then with much more calmness I told the great news of the back of
Pierre to my Uncle, the General Robert.
"That's fine--now we can give her away without any trouble. I knew
Burns could do the trick. It's a bargain at two thousand dollars to
get a girl in the shape to give away. She could give us no end of
bother if we had to keep her. Go find that flea, Clendenning, and tell
him to come to me immediately; I think he is buzzing in the telephone
closet to that Susan. And you go get busy yourself to earn your salary
from the State of Harpeth. Telegraph twenty dollars to that fool nurse
to buy a doll for the girl. Now go!" That was the way that my Uncle,
the General Robert, received my news of the improved health of the
back of small Pierre, and with my two eyes I shed a few secret tears
that did roll down into my mouth which was broad from a laugh as I
went in search of my Buzz.
"Bully, old top," said my Bumble Bee as I imparted also my joy to him.
"Say, if that kid is eight years old and is going to walk all right,
we must see to it that she starts in with a good dancing teacher as
soon as she can spin around. We want to make a real winner out of
"I do love you, my Buzz," I answered to him as I clung with both my
hands to his arm across my shoulder.
"That's all right. Prince, but don't talk about it," he answered me
with a laugh and a shake.
"And, say, let's get to work, because at about four o'clock I'll have
something that'll give you a start."
"Oh, but, my Buzz, at four o'clock I must go for tea to the home of
beautiful Madam Whitworth."
"Whe-ee-uh!" whistled my Buzz as he looked at me from the top of my
head to the toe of my shoe.
"It would give me a much greater pleasure to be startled by you, my
Buzz, but this is a promise I did make the last evening," I pleaded to
"Go ahead, sport, but accept it from me that Madam Pat is the genuine
and original pump; so don't let her empty you. Do you want me to come
by and extract you at about fifteen to five? I'm sorry, but I really
must have a business interview with you before six." And my Buzz's
eyes twinkled with something that was of a great pleasure to him I
"It would be of more pleasure to me if you came at the half of five,
my Buzz," I made a hurry to assure him, for I had a great dread of all
of the falsehoods I was to say to that Madam Whitworth that afternoon
for the purpose of extracting perhaps a little wicked truth from her
to help in the defense of my Gouverneur Faulkner.
"I'm on," answered my Buzz promptly. "Beat it! I hear the old boy
growling." And he disappeared behind the door of my Uncle, the General
Robert. I went to the duty of assuring the nice gentleman in very
rough clothing that the Gouverneur would in the morning read the paper
on the subject of making a long road past his property in good
condition by a vote, and I was of a very great success in my efforts,
the good Cato assured me.
"You's got a fine oiled tongue tied in the middle and loose at both
ends, honey. Yo' father had the same," he assured me as he handed me
my hat and walking cane at the hour of four, which ended my duties for
the day. Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, did so long to go into
that room of the Gouverneur Faulkner and receive upon her hand one
nice kiss of good night from him, but Mr. Robert Carruthers walked
down from the Capitol and only paused to lift for a little second his
very handsome hat towards the window of His Excellency's room high up
And the encounter with the beautiful Madam Whitworth was much worse
than I had thought that it would be, though also it was of a very
interesting excitement. She had made armaments for the encounter in
the shape of a very lovely tea apparel of an increditable thinness to
be used for covering, a little low fire in the golden grate, and
curtains of rose to throw somewhat of glow over the situation.
Immediately I was seated beside her on a small divan upon which there
was room for only one and a half persons, and my stupidity was called
into vigorous action.
"I suppose you have spent the day in translating a lot of those long
and tiresome French documents for the General and the Governor. Thank
goodness, that is no longer my task," she remarked as she tipped the
cognac bottle over my tea and handed the cup to me.
"It is of a great fatigue to work upon a matter that one does not at
all understand," I answered her as I sipped at that tea of a very
disagreeable taste because of the cognac.
"Did they give you the two sets of specifications to compare?" she
asked of me with not much of interest apparent in her manner, though
her hand shook as she poured for herself a very small cup of tea,
which was then filled complete with the cognac.
"_Helas_," I answered with a sigh. "And it is impossible for me
to add more figures to each other than my fingers will allow. I cannot
even use my toes."
"Then he didn't get them ready for the conference this afternoon?" she
demanded with a great illumination of joy in her face.
"Oh, indeed, I handed them back completed to His Excellency in a short
space of time. Is not one mule like to another exactly, and why should
a paper make them different?" I questioned with deceit of stupidity.
"You are a dear boy," laughed that Madam Whitworth. "Of course those
specifications agree, for I worked a whole day over them; and I'm glad
you didn't tire your eyes out with them. You know you are really a
very beautiful creature and I think I'll kiss you just once, purely
for the pleasure of it." And I thereupon received a kiss upon my lips
from the curled flower which was the mouth of that beautiful Madam
"Is it that the stupid Gouverneur Faulkner must very soon sign that
paper that sends the many strong mules to carry food to the soldiers
of France fighting in the trenches?" I asked of her as I made her
comfortable in the hollow of my arm.
"If he doesn't sign them in a very few days the deal is all off," she
answered me. "Jeff has got his capital to put up from some Northern
men who are--are restless and--and suspicious. It must go through and
"Then it must be accomplished immediately," I answered her with
"The agent of the French Government will be here on Tuesday and all of
these preliminary papers must be signed before he can close the matter
up finally. I hope that the conference over those specifications this
afternoon will be the last. Are you sure you discovered no flaw over
which the old General or the big stupid Governor can haggle?"
"I discovered not a flaw," I answered her with a great positiveness.
"Do you say that it is soon that those representatives of my
government come to make a last signing of the papers about the
excellent mules to be sent from the great State of Harpeth to France
who is at a war of death? I had not heard of the nearness of the visit
at the Capitol."
"They don't know it--that is, Governor Faulkner does, but has told
only me. He sees things my way but of--of course, he has to keep his
councils from his Secretary of State for the time being. And I'm
telling you all about it, because--because it is for France we plot
and because I--this is the way to say it." And with those wicked
words, which involved the honor of the great Gouverneur Faulkner, she
pressed her body close to mine and her lips upon my mouth.
For that caress of that wicked woman I had not sufficient endurance
and I pushed her from me with roughness and sprang to my feet.
"It is not true, Madam Whitworth, that--" I was exclaiming when I
caught myself in the midst of my own betrayal, just as I was about to
be shown into a plot which it was of much value to know. And as my
words ceased I stood and trembled before her wickedness.
"Do you know, Mr. Robert Carruthers, I do not entirely understand
you," she said with a great and beautiful calmness as she lighted a
cigarette and looked at me trembling before her. "You are a very bold
young cavalier but you have the shrinking nature of--shall I say?--a
As she spoke those words, which began in sarcasm but ended in a queer
uncertain tone of suspicion, as if she had blundered on a reason to
soothe her vanity for the recoil of my lips from hers, an ugly gleam
shot from under her lowered lashes.
"I am the son of the house of Carruthers as well as of Grez and Bye,
beautiful Madam, and I cannot endure that you put upon my very good
Uncle, the General Carruthers, an unfriendliness to France," I
exclaimed with a quickness of my brain that I had not before
discovered. "On points of honor I have that sensitiveness that you say
to be--be of a woman."
"Oh, my darling boy, I didn't mean to hurt you about that absurd old
feud of--" And as she spoke the beautiful Madam Patricia rose and came
upon me with outstretched arms for another abhorred embrace, which it
was to my good fortune to have interrupted. But I had a fear of that
suspicion I had seen flashed into her mind even though lulled by my
fine assumption of the attitude of a man of honor.
"Lovely and beautiful Madam," I made a beginning to say, when--
"Oh, yes, Mr. Carruthers is here, for I have an appointment to call
for him," an interruption came in the voice of my Buzz in remonstrance
with the black maid of Madam Whitworth in the hall of her house.
"Come in, Buzz, dear," called that beautiful Madam Whitworth as in one
small instant she changed both her position with arms on my shoulder
and her countenance of anger and anxiety. She was a very wise and
beautiful and much experienced woman, was that Madam Whitworth, but
she had given to me, unlessoned as I was in the art of politics, the
fact that I most wanted: that the two papers containing the
specifications concerning the mules had been mistranslated by her.
"Put a shawl around you, Madam Pat, and come out here to the street a
minute to see what is going to happen to the Prince of Carruthers,"
said my rescuer as he inserted his head into the room for one little
minute and beckoned us to follow him.
And what did I find out there upon that street?
BROTHERS BY BLOODSHED
I then experienced a surprise that gave to me a very great pleasure
and which made my heart to expand until it almost burst the restraint
of that towel of the bath under the bag of my brown cheviot coat.
Before the door of the house of the beautiful Madam Whitworth stood
the gray racing car of my Buzz, and before it stood a slim car of a
similar make, only it was of the darkest amethyst that seemed to be
almost a black, while behind it stood one of equal if not superior
elegance of shape which had the beautiful blackness of jet. That was
not all! Across the street stood also a car of a golden brown and to
the front of it one of the red of a very dark cherry.
"There you are," said my Buzz with a wave of his hand. "Pick one, with
the compliments of the General. I think the amethyst is a jewel."
"Oh, it is not possible to me to accept a present of such delight from
my good Uncle, the General Robert. I must go to him and say that I am
not worthy!" I exclaimed with a large faltering in my voice.
"All right; just jump into the one you like best and drive on down to
the Old Hickory Club and say it to him. Sorry that you can't come