Part 4 out of 4
equal to that of the Gouverneur Faulkner. "I sent down into your State
of Harpeth one of my Commission, to whom I gave the direction that
with a lack of annoying publicity he should investigate the
preparedness of the State of Harpeth to deliver those five thousand of
mules to the Republique of France as was being proposed. Behold, a
report that all is well comes to me, but--ah, it is with sorrow and
shame that such a thing could be done by a son of poor France who
struggles for life!--among the sheets of that report was left by
mistake the fragments of a draft of a letter to an American woman,
which made a partial disclosure of an intended falseness of that
statement to me. Immediately I came alone to interview that false
officer and I find him gone from that small town not far from here
into your Capital. I was seeking to rapidly ride alone by directions
into your Capital city to prevent that he make a signature, which I
had given to him the authority to write, to those papers of so great
an importance. I was thus arrested by that man of great wildness,
whose _patois_ I could not understand as he could not comprehend
the English I make use of, and you see me thus. I beg of you to tell
me if that wicked signature has been made."
"The papers have not been signed, thank God, Captain, and your very
impatient lieutenant is being shown some Southern hospitality by the
flower and chivalry of Old Harpeth. And I beg your pardon for allowing
you to be a prisoner a minute longer than necessary," was the answer
made to him by my Gouverneur Faulkner. "Untie the Captain, Jim; he's
all right. And you can bring us a little of your mountain dew while I
clear this table here to use for the papers of our business." And
still my Gouverneur Faulkner did not speak or look at me and in my
heart I then knew that he never would.
"I will make all ready," I said as I lifted a large gun, a horn of a
beast full of powder and several pipes with tobacco, from the table of
rough boards that stood under the window for light.
"Ah, that is a good release! Thank you that you did not make tight
enough for abrasions your cords, my good man," said my Capitaine, the
Count de Lasselles, as he stretched out his arms and then bent to make
a rubbing of his ankle upon which had been the chain.
"I said you warn't no revenue. Here, drink, stranger!" answered the
wild Jim as he handed a bottle of white liquid to my Capitaine, the
Count de Lasselles, and also another to my Gouverneur Faulkner. "That
boy can suck the drippings," he added as he looked at me with humor.
"Get cups and water, Jim," commanded my Gouverneur Faulkner with a
smile. "Don't drink it straight, Captain. It will knock you down."
"I will procure the cups and the water," I said with rapidity, for I
longed to leave that room for a few moments in which to shake from my
eyes some of the tears that were making a mist before them.
"Git a fresh bucket from the spring up the gulch, Bob, while I go beat
the boys outen the bushes with the news that they ain't no revenue.
They'll want to see Bill," was the direction that wild Jim gave to me
as he placed in my hand a rude bucket and pointed up the side of the
hill of great steepness. After so doing he descended around the rock
by the path which we had ascended.
"What is it that you shall do now, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye?"
I wept a question to myself as I dipped that bucket into a clear pool
and made ready to return to the hut. "All is lost to you.
"I do not know," I answered to myself.
And when I had made a safe return to the hut with a small portion of
the water only remaining in the bucket, for the cause of many slides
in the steep descent from the pool, I found my Gouverneur Faulkner and
my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, engaged deeply in a mass of
papers on the table between them and with no thanks to Roberta, the
Marquise of Grez and Bye, when she served to them tin cups of the
water and a liquid that I had ascertained by tasting to be of fire. I
believe it to be thus that in affairs of business, in the minds of men
all women are become drowned.
"Will you write this out for His Excellency, my dear Mademoiselle?"
would request my good Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
"Thank you," would be the reply I received from the Gouverneur
Faulkner of the State of Harpeth, with never one small look into my
eyes that so besought his.
And for all of the hours of that very long afternoon I sat on a low
stool beside the feet of those two great gentlemen and served them in
their communications while the heart in my breast was going into death
by a slow, cruel torture.
The exact meaning of those papers and words of business I did not
know, but once I observed my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, throw
down his pencil and look into the face of the Gouverneur Faulkner with
a great and stern astonishment.
"The work of grafters, Captain Lasselles, with a woman as a tool. But
I yet don't see just how it was that she worked it. My Secretary of
State, General Carruthers, and I have been at work for weeks and we
could not catch the exact fraud," made answer my Gouverneur Faulkner
with a cold sternness.
"I was warned in Paris that beautiful American women were very much
interested in the placing of war contracts, Monsieur le Gouverneur. I
fled upon a tug boat from the ship that I escape some for whom I had
letters of introduction which I could not ignore."
"It was your Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, whom that Madam
Whitworth sought upon the ship, Roberta," I said to myself.
"I think women are alike the world over, Captain, and the discussion
of them and their mental and moral processes is--fruitless," answered
my Gouverneur Faulkner as he again took up his pencil.
"When it happened to me to find the fragment of the letter to the lady
of America from my false lieutenant, I had a deep distress that
tenderness for the sufferings of poor France should fail to be in even
one American woman's heart. And now I am in deep concern. Where am I
to obtain the good strong mules by which to transport through fields
heavy with mud the food to my poor boys in their trenches?"
"Right here, Captain, I feel reasonably sure. I think I see a way to
give you what you want at a better figure; and from it no man shall
reap more than a just wage for honest work. As the Governor of the
State of Harpeth, I can give you at least that assurance." And as he
spoke my Gouverneur Faulkner looked the Capitaine, the Count de
Lasselles, in the eyes with a fine honesty that carried with it the
utmost of conviction.
"I give thanks to _le bon Dieu_," I said with words that were
very soft in my throat, but at which I observed the mouth of that
Gouverneur Faulkner to again become as one straight line of coldness.
"Indeed, thanks to _le bon Dieu_, Mademoiselle," made courteous
answer to me my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles. "But how will you
accomplish that purpose. Monsieur le Gouverneur?"
"As soon as I've done with these figures I'll have in Jim, your
jailer, and then you'll hear some things about the American mountain
mule that you never heard before, I believe." As he spoke, my
Gouverneur Faulkner proceeded with making figures with his pencil, a
fine glow of eagerness added to that of rage in his eyes very deep
under their brows. "Now, I'll go and call in Jim," he said after a few
minutes of waiting, and left the room in which I was then alone with
my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, who came to me with outstretched
"Ah, Mademoiselle Roberta," he exclaimed, "I am in a debt of gratitude
to you for bringing this great gentleman, your friend, to my rescue
and also to the solving of this very strange situation concerning
these contracts. Indeed have you accomplished the mission for which
you enlisted: your 'Friends for France.' But before procedure I must
ask you, little lady, why it was that you made a vanishment from that
hotel of Ritz-Carlton in New York. I sought you. I sought out that
Monsieur Peter Scudder to inquire for you. Behold, he also is in
sorrow over the loss of you and had for me a strange news of a cup of
tea thrown in the face of that Mr. Raines of Saint Louis by a member
of your family who had departed immediately into the south of America.
I said to myself, 'The beautiful child does not know that your heart
is in anxiety for her,' and immediately I intended to seek you in the
city, to which the very fine lady, who had reported that 'tea fight'
as she so spoke of it to her paper, directed me after my finding of
her. It is a great ease to my unhappy heart to find you in the care of
a family and friends. I make compliments on your costume of the ride.
I also observed the custom of attire masculine to be on those plains
of the great West where I sought the wheat."
"It is a great joy to me, _mon Capitaine_, that you give to me
your approval. Much has happened to me in these short weeks since you
left me in loneliness on that great ship that I must tell to you," I
said as a sob rose into my words.
"Poor little girl, it will not be many hours now before I can say to
you the things that have been growing in my heart for you since that
night upon the ship," he said to me in a great tenderness as he raised
my hand and bent to kiss it just as entered the great Gouverneur
Faulkner and the wild Jim.
I had not the courage to gaze upon the face of my Gouverneur Faulkner,
but I felt its coldness strike into my body and turn it to hardness.
For a second I stood as a stone, then a sudden resolve rose in me and
again that daredevil seized upon my thought. I took a piece of that
white paper with caution and also a pencil, and with them slipped from
the room, while that wild Jim seated himself upon my lowly stool
beside the table at which again the two great men were writing.
And out in the soft light that was now slowly fading from the side of
the mountain because of the retirement of the sun, I sat me down upon
the step of the hut and wrote to my Gouverneur Faulkner this small
"Honored Excellency, the Gouverneur Faulkner, of the State of
"I go from you into the trenches of France. If your humble boy
Robert has done for you any small service, I beg of you in
that name that my Uncle, the General Robert, and my friends
never know of my dishonor of lies about my woman's estate, but
believe me to die as a soldier for France as will be the case.
Make all clear for me to my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
It is that all women are not lies.
Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye."
Then I left that letter upon the doorstep, held in place by the weight
of a stone, and very softly slipped out into the shadows of the
twilight and down the mountain by the path up which that morning I had
come with my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner, then my friend. I felt a
certainty that as many as two hours would those men continue in a
consulting with that wild Jim and in that time by going fleetingly I
could gain the place where were tethered the horses, before a complete
darkness had come. From my honored father I had learned the ways of
woods in hunting and also I knew that the good Lightfoot would in
darkness carry me in safety to his stall in the barn of Mr. Bud Bell,
beside which stood my Cherry. From there I could gain the city of
Hayesville in the dead hours of the night and in those same dead hours
depart to France, after obtaining the money I had left in my desk and
which I had earned by my labors and would not be in the act of
stealing from the State of Harpeth. Only one night and day would I be
alone in the forest and I did not care if a death should overtake me.
In my body my heart was dead and why should I desire the life of that
And as I had planned I then accomplished. I discovered that Lightfoot
at pasture and I quickly had placed the saddle upon him and had turned
him down the mountain to choose a safe path for both himself and me. I
did not look upon those cradles of fragrant boughs in which the boy
Robert had lain at rest beside his great friend, the Gouverneur
Faulkner, from whom he had stolen faith and affection.
"Why did not you also steal his pocketbook as he lay asleep beside
you, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye?" I questioned myself with
scorn and torture, as good Lightfoot crashed down from that Camp
Heaven into the dark night.
And on we rode, the large horse with the woman upon his back, for a
long night, through fragrant thickets that caught at my riding
breeches with rose tendril fingers and under thick forests of budding
trees, through whose branches of tender leaves the wise old stars
looked down upon my bitter weeping with nothing of comfort, perhaps
because they had grown of a hardness of heart from having seen so many
tears of women drop in the silence of a lonely night.
Then came a dawn and a noon and a twilight through which I pushed
forward the large horse with great cruelty, only pausing beside
streams to allow that he drink of the water and also to throw myself
down on my face and lap the cool refreshment like do all humble
things. And, when at last the stars were again there to look down upon
me, we arrived behind the barn of that Bud Bell to find all in the
little house at rest. I thought of that small child in sleep in the
arms of that woman, and a great sobbing came from my heart as I threw
myself into my Cherry, after giving a supper to good Lightfoot, and
fled down the long road to the distant city of Hayesville that lay
away in the valley like a great nest of glowworms in a glade of the
leaves of darkness. And among those glowworms I knew that more than a
hundred friends to me were beginning to go into sleep with deep
affection in their hearts for that Robert Carruthers whom wicked
Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, was about to steal from them. I
wept as I turned my Cherry through the back street and into the garage
of my Uncle, the General Robert. Then I paused. All was quiet in the
house and no light burned in the apartments of my beloved protector
and relative. From the watch at my wrist I ascertained the hour to be
half after ten o'clock, and I knew that he was safely in cards at that
Club of Old Hickory, whose lists now bore the added one of another
Robert Carruthers, man of honor and descendant of its founders. Also
there was no light in the rear of the house in the apartment of that
kind Kizzie, in whose affections I had made a large place. A dim light
burned in the hall and I knew that there I would find my faithful
chocolate Bonbon sitting upon a chair by the great door in a deep
sleep. And in a very few minutes I so found him.
"It is hello there, good Bonbon," I greeted him.
"Howdy, Mr. Robert," he answered me by a very large smile with very
white teeth set in his face of extreme blackness. "The Gen'l said to
call him on the 'fome as soon as you come."
"That I will attend to from my apartment," I answered him and then
ascended the wide dark stairway with feet which were as a weight to my
Very slowly I entered that apartment and turned on the bright light.
All was in readiness for me, and on the small table under the glass
case that contained that beflowered robe of state of the dead
Grandmamma Carruthers stood a vase of very fresh and innocent young
"I would that I could remain and fulfill the destiny of a woman of
your house, Madam Grandmamma," I whispered to her lovely and smiling
portrait on the wall opposite. "I am the last of the ladies Carruthers
but I have made a forfeit of that destiny and I must go out in the
night again in man's attire to a death that will tear asunder the
tender flesh that you have borne. Good-bye!"
Then I made a commencement of a very rapid packing, in one of those
bags which I had purchased from the kind gentleman in the City of New
York, of what raiment I knew would be suitable for a man in very
hurried traveling. I put into it the two suits of clothing for wear in
the daytime, but I discarded all of my clothing for the pursuits of
pleasure. The bag was at that moment full and I did not know that it
could be closed. Then I bethought me of that brown coat that had upon
it the blood which I had been allowed to shed for my beloved
Gouverneur Faulkner who was now lost to me.
"That I will take and discard the night raiment, to sleep 'as is' in
the manner spoken of by my friend, that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit," I
counseled myself as I laid aside the silken garments that I did so
like and placed in their stead the bloody coat of many wrinkles.
After all of that was accomplished I went into a hot bath and again
quickly began to assume my man's clothing, while from my eyes dripped
the slow tears that bleed from the heart of a woman.
"You must make a great hurry, thief Roberta, for it draws near
midnight and that is the hour that the train departs to the North," I
cautioned my weeping self. "At that hour you go forth into the world
And then what ensued?
Very suddenly I heard the noise of a car being drawn to the curb in
front of the house and the rapid steps of a man progress along the
pavings of brick to the front door, at which he made a loud ringing.
In not a moment was the good Bonbon at my door with a knocking.
"The Governor is here to see you, Mr. Robert," he informed me.
"What shall you do, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye?" I asked of
myself. "How is it that you can be able to support the cold reproaches
he will give to you while requiring that you stay to bring dishonor to
your Uncle, the General Robert? You are caught in a trap as is an
And then as I cowered there in my agony, very suddenly that terrible
daredevil rose within me and gave to me a very strange counsel. As it
was speaking to me my gaze was fixed upon the robe of state of the
"Very well, then, that great Gouverneur Faulkner can give his
chastisement and lay his commands upon the beautiful and wicked
Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, in proper person, and not have the
privilege of again addressing his faithful and devoted comrade Robert,
who is dead. I, the Marquise Roberta of Grez and Bye, will accord to
him an interview and in the language of this United States it will be
'some' interview!" With which resolve I turned to make an answer to
the faithful Bonbon at the door.
"Where awaits His Excellency, the Gouverneur Faulkner?" I questioned
"In the hall at the bottom of the steps," he made reply to me.
"Attend him into the large drawing room for a waiting and make all of
the lights to burn. Say to him that I will descend in a very small
space of time," I commanded.
"Yes, sir," he made reply and departed.
And then in my wickedness I began to commit a desecration on the
memory of my beautiful and honored Grandmamma Carruthers. I walked to
that glass case in which reposed that gown of the beautiful flowered
silk and took it therefrom and laid it upon a chair above the soiled
riding breeches of corduroy I had so lately discarded. I opened the
carved wooden box on the table underneath and took from it the silver
slippers and the stockings of silk, also the lace fan and the silver
band for the hair. Thereupon I walked to my mirror and commenced to
make a toilet of great care but of a great rapidity.
My first action was to take down that lovelock and with the oil of
roses to lay it in its accustomed place upon my cheek, which burned
with a beautiful rose of shame and at the same moment with some other
emotion that I did not understand; which emotion also made my eyes as
bright as the night stars out in that Camp Heaven. The silver band
held closely the rest of my mop and gave it the appearance of the very
close coiffure which is the fashion of this day, and one very sweet
young rose I put into it just above the curl with an effect of great
and wicked beauty.
The coiffure having been accomplished, the rest of the toilet, from
the slippers of the cloth of silver to the edge of fine old lace, now
the color of rich cream, that rested upon the arch of my bare white
breast was only a matter of a few moments, and then I stood away from
my mirror and beheld myself therein.
"You are as beautiful as you are wicked, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and
Bye, but you go to your death in a manner befitting a _grande
dame_ of your ancient house of France, whose daughters once showed
the rabble how to approach a guillotine, costumed in magnificence.
Descend for that cold knife to your heart!" And so speaking, I picked
up my fan and made my way through the hall to the halfway of the wide
steps. At that point a commotion occurred.
"Lordee! It's the old lady come to ha'nt!" exclaimed my good Bonbon
and with a groan he fled into the darkness in the back regions of the
And it happened that his loud cry brought a response which came to me
before I was quite in readiness for it. As I reached the last step of
the wide staircase, under the bright light I raised my eyes, and
behold, the Gouverneur Faulkner to whom I had descended for the
purpose of mortal combat, stood before me!
And was it that cruel and wicked and cold Gouverneur Faulkner who was
to scourge me and keep me in the house of my Uncle, the General
Robert, for a dishonor? It was not. Before me stood a tall man who was
of a great paleness and a terrible fatigue also, covered with the dust
of a long, hard ride, with eyes that were full of a fear, who stood
and looked at me with not one word of any kind.
Suddenly I bowed my head and stretched out my bare arms, the one of
which bore the red scar from the wound suffered for him, and thus
suppliant I waited to receive the reproaches that were due to me.
And for a long minute I waited and then again for another long period
of time and no word came to me. Then I raised my head!
For all women now in the world who have the love of a man in their
hearts, and for those unborn who will come into that possession, I
pray that they may be given the opportunity to plant in the hearts of
those men of their desire the seed of a fine loyalty and service and
comradeship, and that they may some day look into his eyes and see
that seed slowly expand into a great white flower of mate love, as I
beheld bloom for me in the eyes of my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner.
Long we stood there and looked into the soul of each other and let the
flower grow, drinking from our hearts and the veins of our bodies
until at last it was fully open; and then I went with a love cry into
his arms held out to me, and pressed the heart of my soft woman's body
close against his own.
"I think my heart has always known, though my mind's eyes were blind.
God, if I had lost you into that hell of war, you daredevil!" he
whispered and I tasted the salt of his tears on my lips.
"I am a lie," I whispered back to him.
"You are--myself," he laughed through a sob, and then, while with his
large warm hand he held my throat as a person does the stem of a
flower, he pressed his lips into mine until they reached to the heart
within me. In a moment with my hands I held him back from me.
"I must go, my beloved, even as I have said," I cried to him. "I
cannot stay to my dishonor and to the rage and unhappiness my Uncle,
the General Robert, will experience when he discovers that a girl has
cheated him in his great affection and generosity to her.
"It _is_ going to be hard on the General to have his grandmother
come to life on his hands like this," laughed my Gouverneur Faulkner,
bending and placing upon the creamy lace of my Grandmamma a kiss which
was warm to my heart through the beflowered silk.
"Let me die in those trenches so that he will never know," I pleaded.
"No, sweetheart, that would be too easy. You are going to stay right
here and face the old Forty-Two Centimeter," he made a reply to my
pleading request as he bent and laid his cheek upon the lovelock.
"That curl ought to have opened my eyes when I sat and watched you
open yours day before yesterday morning," was the remark he added to
his cruel command that I stay and face my very dreadful and so very
much beloved Uncle, the General Robert.
"I am afraid," I answered as I clung to him with a trembling.
"Yes, I know you are afraid of him--or anything," laughed my beloved
Gouverneur Faulkner with a shake of my bare shoulders under his strong
hands. "But perhaps these papers I have in my pocket from Captain
Lasselles, who is at the Mansion getting rid of dust, will help you
out after the first explosion, which you will have to stand in a very
few minutes from now, if that hall clock is correct and I know the
General's habits as I think I do."
"Oh, let me ascend and get once again into my trousers!" I exclaimed
as I sought to leave the arms that again held me close.
"Never," said my Gouverneur Faulkner after another kiss upon the lace
on my breast. "You'll just wear this ball gown until you can get some
dimity, Madam, and don't you ever even mention to me--"
But just here an interruption arrived, and I sprang from the arms of
my Gouverneur Faulkner only in time to avoid being discovered therein.
My beloved Uncle, the General Robert, entered the door in a great
hurry, with that much frightened Bonbon following close at his heels.
"What's all this that fool nigger phoned about ghosts walking and--"
Then he stood very still in the spot upon which his feet were placed
and regarded me as I turned from the arms of my Gouverneur Faulkner
and faced him.
"My God, Governor, what has happened to my boy?" he asked, and his
fine old face was of a great whiteness and trembling. "Sam says he's
dead and the ghost--" and then came another pause in which all of the
persons present held for a long minute their breath.
Did I make excuses and explanations and pleadings to my beloved Uncle,
the General Robert, in such suffering over the death of that Robert? I
did not. I opened my strong young arms wide and took him into them
with a tenderness of such great force that it would of a necessity go
into his very heart.
"I am a wicked girl who has come to you in lies as a boy, my Uncle
Robert, but I have a love that is so great for you that I will be in
death if you do not accept of it from me," I said as I pressed my
cheek in its tears against his.
And for still another long minute all of the persons present waited
again and I forced to remain in my throat a sob, while my beloved
Gouverneur Faulkner laid one of his hands on the shoulder of my Uncle,
the General Robert.
And then did come that explosion!
"You young limb of Satan, you! I could shake the life out of you if I
didn't prefer a live girl to a dead boy. I knew just such a thing as
this would happen to me in my old age for a long life of cussedness.
And what's more, I'll wager I'll never be able to give a great husky
thing like you away. You cost as much to feed as a man. Who'd want
But even as he stormed at me I felt his strong old arms cease from
their tremblings and clasp me with a very rough tenderness.
"I do, General," said my Gouverneur Faulkner as he attempted to take
me from that very rough embrace of my Uncle, the General Robert. "I'll
take her off your hands."
"No, sir, I never ask personal favors of my friends," answered my
Uncle, the General Robert, as he held me away from the arms of the
Gouverneur Faulkner with a very great determination.
"General Carruthers," then said my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner as he
drew his beautiful body to all the height that was possible to him,
and looked into the eyes of my beloved Uncle Robert with his own,
which are stars of the dawn, so that all of his heart and soul and
honor shone therefrom in a radiance, "the Marquise of Grez and Bye
went a three days' journey into the wilds of the Harpeth mountains
with me to rescue my honor and for the welfare of this great State and
of France. And because we thought not of ourselves but of the welfare
of Harpeth and of France, and did but what was necessary as two
comrades, God has revealed to us his gift of gifts--love. As you see,
she is returned to you radiant and unharmed. Have I your consent to
try to win her hand in marriage?"
For no more than a long minute my Uncle, the General Robert, gazed
straight into the eyes of my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner, and then a
very beautiful smile did break from under those white swords crossed
above his lips, as he spoke with a great urgency:
"Would you like to take the baggage along with you to-night, Governor?
Don't leave her here. I don't want a woman about my house. I can wake
up the county court clerk for a license," he said with a fine
twinkling of the eye.
"Oh, but all friends must forgive me my deception; and then must not a
courtship of great decorum be made from my Gouverneur Faulkner for the
hand of the lady whom he would make his wife?" I asked with an
uncertainty as I looked from my Uncle, the General Robert, to my
"I'm sorry, sir, but I think the Marquise is right and under the
circumstances I'll have to make a very public courtship, which out of
consideration for you I'll make as ardent and rapid as possible. Only
we three know the wonderful truth and we'll keep it to ourselves." And
as he spoke that great Gouverneur Faulkner bent and laid a kiss of
great ceremony upon the hand of Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye.
"Very well, sir, I'll keep her for a few days and have her fitted out
in a lot of folderols for you, but only for a short period, mind you.
A very short period!" answered my Uncle, the General Robert, with a
smile that showed much delight in me. I flew to him and gave to him an
embrace with my arms and also laid my cheek against his.
"I am for always your most humble and obedient girl, my Uncle Robert,"
I whispered to him.
"Humble and obedient--no woman would know those words if she met them
in her own drawing-room," he answered to me with a great scorn but he
also gave to me a shake that was of a seeming great fierceness, but
that I knew to be a caress.
And into that caress came also another interruption of great hurry. My
Buzz entered the door with a rapidity and this exclamation:
"What's the trouble, General? I just got your phone and--" Then he too
stood in a great and sudden stillness, regarding me as I stood from
the shelter of the arms of my Uncle, the General Robert, and looked
into his eyes of great fright.
"My Buzz," I said to him softly.
"Great heavens!" he exclaimed, with terror in his eyes as he backed
away from me. "I haven't had but one glass of draft beer, General."
"It's all right, Buzz," answered my very wise Gouverneur Faulkner, in
a voice of great soothing. "This is just--just Robert in a--a--"
"Not much Bobby, that," answered my Buzz as he backed farther towards
the door. "I think I'll step outside in the cool air. I haven't felt
well all day. I--" and with which remark my good Buzz turned himself
into the arms of the lovely Mademoiselle Sue entering the door.
"I'm tired of waiting out there in that car, Buzz, and--" And again
came an awful pause of terror. But is it not that women have a wit
that is very much more rapid than is that of men? I think it is so.
"You know, I thought Bobby was a queer kind of man and he is a
perfectly lovely girl," she said as she came towards me with a laugh
and her lovely arms outstretched. "I read about two French girls who
got into Germany in German uniforms, just last night in a magazine.
You are some kind of a French spy about those dreadful mules, aren't
you, Bobby dear?" And as she asked that question of me, my lovely Sue
gave to me a kiss upon my lips that I valued with a great gratitude.
"Please make it that my Buzz also understands," I pleaded to her
within her arms.
"Brace up, Buzz, and be nice to Bobby, even if he is a girl. Just when
did you begin not to like girls, I'd like to know?" questioned my Sue
of him with a great emphasis.
"You see why it is that I cannot go into that business of timber with
you and be married to--" I made a commencement to say to him.
"That will do, L'Aiglon," interrupted my Buzz with a great haste and a
glance in the direction of lovely Sue. "Forget it! It is an awful
shame, for you were one nice youngster and--"
"Be a sport, Buzz, and forgive her and--love her again," said my
Gouverneur Faulkner with a laugh. "That is, as much as Miss Susan
will--" But at this point my Uncle, the General Robert, caused an
interruption in the conversation.
"What are you doing here, sir, when I left you to watch the side-steps
of that French popinjay and the Whitworth woman? Did you hear what all
that powwow was about at her tea fight this afternoon?" he demanded of
fine Buzz, with a great anxiety. "There's been hell to pay, since you
left, Governor, and I think this French scoundrel and Jeff's gang are
preparing to put through some sort of a private steal if you jump the
track on them."
"Madam Pat has got 'em all up at the Club, plotting in a corner at the
little dinner dance we got up when his High-and-Mightiness refused the
rural expedition, as soon as they heard you were not to go, Governor,"
said my Buzz with a great anxiety in his face. "I'd like to see
anybody put out Mrs. Pat's light when she is once lit."
"It's all right, Buzz, and don't worry. Something has arrived to stop
it all. It's up at the Mansion now and is man-sized," answered my
beloved Gouverneur Faulkner with a great soothing.
And after that remark there were many very long explanations that made
a beginning about the crooked back of the wee Pierre, which, in a
letter come to my Uncle, the General Robert, that day, was declared by
that great Doctor Burns to be of a certainty straight within the year,
and that ended in the library where my Uncle, the General Robert, and
my Gouverneur Faulkner, with good Buzz, read and read yet again the
papers that my great Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, had signed for
an honest delivery of the many mules to France. I do not know all that
my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner said to my Uncle, the General Robert,
for I remained in the hall with my Sue in a discussion about the
telling without offense of the departure of Robert Carruthers to my
Belle and other loved ones. And to us soon returned my Buzz of great
"There is no humbleness that I will not perform for their forgiveness,
my Buzz and my Sue," I said to them. "Seek that they grant it to me."
"Oh, it will be so exciting and up-to-date with its spy and war flavor
that everybody will forgive you. You are a lovely darling and they'll
all be glad you are a girl--all the boys especially," said to me my
Sue, with a defiance at my Buzz.
"Sure, Bobbyette, I'll see that you're no wall-flower," he made answer
to her in the person of me, with a return of that defiance. "Come on,
Susan, let me take you home. Good night, old top--no, I mean _belle
Marquise_" and it was a very funny thing to see that Buzz with a
great awkwardness, bend and kiss my hand at a laugh from my Sue as
they left me.
It was not for many moments that I stood alone in the hall after the
departure of my Sue and my Buzz, before there entered my beloved
Uncle, the General Robert, and also my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner,
who came to stand, one upon the one side of me and one upon the other.
"Sure you wouldn't like to take her along with you to-night,
Governor?" again asked my Uncle, the General Robert, with a great
fierceness but also a twinkling of the eye.
"Only as far as your garden for a few minutes, General," answered my
Gouverneur Faulkner with that laugh of a boy I had remarked once
before up in those mountains of Old Harpeth, and he took my hand in
his as if to lead me through one of the tall windows out into the
"All right, take her and don't return her until you have to," remarked
my Uncle, the General Robert, as he handed me in the direction of my
Gouverneur Faulkner and immediately took his departure up the stairs.
And it was under the light of the old moon, in the garden of those
_grande dames_ Carruthers, that Roberta, Marquise of Grez and
Bye, who is the last of their line, walked with the great gentleman
who was and is her lover. Is it that those beautiful dead Grandmammas
each planted her flowers in her own great happiness so that they would
give forth a very tender perfume in which to enfold the wooings of
their daughters then not come into the world? I think it is so, and I
was thus enwrapped in their fragrance as I was in the arms of that
great Gouverneur Faulkner.
"Now I am a truth that I do love you," I made answer to a question
that was pressed upon my lips.
"His woman is God's gift of truth to a man," were the words that were
heard by those listening flowers and Roberta, Marquise of Grez and
Bye, who from a world at war had come home.