Part 2 out of 7
grist-mills, saw-mills, and I'm damned if I draw sword either way! Am I
a madman, to risk all this? Am I a common fool, to chance anything now?
Do they think me in my dotage? Indeed, sir, if I drew blade, if I as
much as raised a finger, both sides would come swarming all over
us--rebels a-looting and a-shooting, Indians whooping off my cattle,
firing my barns, scalping my tenants--rebels at heart every one, and I'd
not care tuppence who scalped 'em but that they pay me rent!"
He clinched his fat fists and beat the air angrily.
"I'm lord of this manor!" he bawled. "I'm Patroon Varick, and I'll do as
Amazed and mortified at his gross frankness, I sat silent, not knowing
what to say. Interest alone swayed him; the right and wrong of this
quarrel were nothing to him; he did not even take the trouble to pay a
hypocrite's tribute to principle ere he turned his back on it;
selfishness alone ruled, and he boasted of it, waving his short, fat
arms in anger, or struggling to extend them heavenward, in protest
against these people who dared urge him to declare himself and stand or
fall with the cause he might embrace.
A faint disgust stirred my pulse. We Ormonds had as much to lose as he,
but yelled it not to the skies, nor clamored of gain and loss in such
unseemly fashion, ignoring higher motive.
"Sir Lupus," I said, "if we can remain neutral with honor, that surely
is wisest. But can we?"
"Remain neutral! Of course we can!" he shouted.
"Eh? Where's honor in this mob-rule that breaks out in Boston to spot
the whole land with a scurvy irruption! Honor? Where is it in this vile
distemper which sets old neighbors here a-itching to cut each other's
throats? One says, 'You're a Tory! Take that!' and slips a knife into
him. T'other says, 'You're a rebel!' Bang!--and blows his head off!
He removed his wig to wipe his damp and shiny pate, then set the wig on
askew and glared at me out of his small, ruddy eyes.
"I'm for peace," he said, "and I care not who knows it. Then, whether
Tory or rebel win the day, here am I, holding to my own with both hands
and caring nothing which rag flies overhead, so that it brings peace and
plenty to honest folk. And, mark me, then we shall live to see these
plumed and gold-laced glory-mongers slinking round to beg their bread at
our back doors. Dammy, let 'em bellow now! Let 'em shout for war! I'll
keep my mills busy and my agent walking the old rent-beat. If they can
fill their bellies with a mess of glory I'll not grudge them what they
can snatch; but I'll fill mine with food less spiced, and we'll see
which of us thrives best--these sons of Mars or the old patroon who
stays at home and dips his nose into nothing worse than old Madeira!"
He gave me a cunning look, pushed his wig partly straight, and lay back,
puffing quietly at his pipe.
I hesitated, choosing my words ere I spoke; and at first he listened
contentedly, nodding approval, and pushing fresh tobacco into his clay
with a fat forefinger.
I pointed out that it was my desire to save my lands from ravage, ruin,
and ultimate confiscation by the victors; that for this reason he had
summoned me, and I had come to confer with him and with other branches
of our family, seeking how best this might be done.
I reminded him that, from his letters to me, I had acquired a fair
knowledge of the estates endangered; that I understood that Sir John
Johnson owned enormous tracts in Tryon County which his great father,
Sir William, had left him when he died; that Colonel Claus, Guy Johnson,
the Butlers, father and son, and the Varicks, all held estates of
greatest value; and that these estates were menaced, now by Tory, now by
rebel, and the lords of these broad manors were alternately solicited
and threatened by the warring factions now so bloodily embroiled.
"We Ormonds can comprehend your dismay, your distress, your doubts," I
said. "Our indigo grows almost within gunshot of the British outpost at
New Smyrna; our oranges, our lemons, our cane, our cotton, must wither
at a blast from the cannon of Saint Augustine. The rebels in Georgia
threaten us, the Tories at Pensacola warn us, the Seminoles are
gathering, the Minorcans are arming, the blacks in the Carolinas watch
us, and the British regiments at Augustine are all itching to ravage and
plunder and drive us into the sea if we declare not for the King who
Sir Lupus nodded, winked, and fell to slicing tobacco with a small, gold
"We're all Quakers in these days--eh, George? We can't fight--no, we
really can't! It's wrong, George,--oh, very wrong." And he fell
a-chuckling, so that his paunch shook like a jelly.
"I think you do not understand me," I said.
He looked up quickly.
"We Ormonds are only waiting to draw sword."
"Draw sword!" he cried. "What d'ye mean?"
"I mean that, once convinced our honor demands it, we cannot choose but
"Don't be an ass!" he shouted. "Have I not told you that there's no
honor in this bloody squabble? Lord save the lad, he's mad as
"Sir Lupus," I said, angrily, "is a man an ass to defend his own land?"
"He is when it's not necessary! Lie snug; nobody is going to harm you.
Lie snug, with both arms around your own land."
"I meant my own native land, not the miserable acres my slaves plant to
feed and clothe me."
He glared, twisting his long pipe till the stem broke short.
"Well, which land do you mean to defend, England or these colonies?" he
"That is what I desire to learn, sir," I said, respectfully. "That is
why I came North. With us in Florida, all is, so far, faction and
jealousy, selfish intrigue and prejudiced dispute. The truth, the vital
truth, is obscured; the right is hidden in a petty storm where local
tyrants fill the air with dust, striving each to blind the other."
I leaned forward earnestly. "There must be right and wrong in this
dispute; Truth stands naked somewhere in the world. It is for us to find
her. Why, mark me, Sir Lupus, men cannot sit and blink at villany, nor
look with indifference on a struggle to the death. One side is right,
t'other wrong. And we must learn how matters stand."
"And what will it advance us to learn how matters stand?" he said, still
staring, as though I were some persistent fool vexing him with
unleavened babble. "Suppose these rebels are right--and, dammy, but I
think they are--and suppose our King's troops are roundly trouncing
them--and I think they are, too--do you mean to say you'd draw sword and
go a-prowling, seeking for some obliging enemy to knock you in the head
or hang you for a rebel to your neighbor's apple-tree?"
"Something of that sort," I said, good-humoredly.
"Oh, Don Quixote once more, eh?" he sneered, too mad to raise his voice
to the more convenient bellow which seemed to soothe him as much as it
distressed his listener. "Well, you've got a fool's mate in Sir George
Covert, the insufferable dandy! And all you two need is a pair o' Panzas
and a brace of windmills. Bah!" He grew angrier. "Bah, I say!" He broke
out: "Damnation, sir! Go to the devil!"
I said, calmly: "Sir Lupus, I hear your observation with patience; I
naturally receive your admonition with respect, but your bearing towards
me I resent. Pray, sir, remember that I am under your roof now, but when
I quit it I am free to call you to account."
"What! You'd fight me?"
"Scarcely, sir; but I should expect somebody to make your words good."
"Bah! Who? Ruyven? He's a lad! Dorothy is the only one to--" He broke
out into a hoarse laugh. "Oh, you Ormonds! I might have saved myself the
pains. And now you want to flesh your sword, it matters not in
whom--Tory, rebel, neutral folk, they're all one to you, so that you
fight! George, don't take offence; I naturally swear at those I differ
with. I may love 'em and yet curse 'em like a sailor! Know me better,
George! Bear with me; let me swear at you, lad! It's all I can do."
He spread out his fat hands imploringly, recrossing his enormous legs on
the card-table. "I can't fight, George; I would gladly, but I'm too fat.
Don't grudge me a few kindly oaths now and then. It's all I can do."
I was seized with a fit of laughter, utterly uncontrollable. Sir Lupus
observed me peevishly, twiddling his broken pipe, and I saw he longed to
launch it at my head, which made me laugh till his large, round, red
face grew grayer and foggier through the mirth-mist in my eyes.
"Am I so droll?" he snapped.
"Oh yes, yes, Sir Lupus," I cried, weakly. "Don't grudge me this laugh.
It is all I can do."
A grim smile came over his broad face.
"Touched!" he said. "I've a fine pair on my hands now--you and Sir
George Covert--to plague me and prick me with your wit, like mosquitoes
round a drowsy man. A fine family conference we shall have, with Sir
John Johnson and the Butlers shooting one way, you and Sir George Covert
firing t'other, and me betwixt you, singing psalms and getting all your
arrows in me, fore and aft."
"Who is Sir George Covert?" I asked.
"One o' the Calverts, Lord Baltimore's kin, a sort of cousin of the
Ormond-Butlers, a supercilious dandy, a languid macaroni; plagues me,
damn his impudence, but I can't hate him--no! Hate him? Faith, I owe him
more than any man on earth ... and love him for it--which is strange!"
"Has he an estate in jeopardy?" I inquired.
"Yes. He has a mansion in Albany, too, which he leases. He bought a mile
on the great Vlaic and lives there all alone, shooting, fishing, playing
the guitar o' moony nights, which they say sets the wild-cats wilder.
Mark me, George, a petty mile square and a shooting shanty, and this
languid ass says he means to fight for it. Lord help the man! I told him
I'd buy him out to save him from embroiling us all, and what d' ye
think? He stared at me through his lorgnons as though I had been some
queer, new bird, and, says he, 'Lud!' says he,' there's a world o'
harmless sport in you yet, Sir Lupus, but you don't spell your title
right,' says he. 'Change the a to an o and add an ell for good measure,
and there you have it,' says he, a-drawling. With which he minced off,
dusting his nose with his lace handkerchief, and I'm damned if I see the
joke yet in spelling patroon with an o for the a and an ell for
He paused, out of breath, to pour himself some spirits. "Joke?" he
muttered. "Where the devil is it? I see no wit in that." And he picked
up a fresh pipe from the rack on the table and moistened the clay with
his fat tongue.
We sat in silence for a while. That this Sir George Covert should call
the patroon a poltroon hurt me, for he was kin to us both; yet it seemed
that there might be truth in the insolent fling, for selfishness and
poltroonery are too often linked.
I raised my eyes and looked almost furtively at my cousin Varick. He had
no neck; the spot where his bullet head joined his body was marked only
by a narrow and soiled stock. His eyes alone relieved the monotony of a
stolid countenance; all else was fat.
Sunk in my own reflections, lying back in my arm-chair, I watched
dreamily the smoke pouring from the patroon's pipe, floating away, to
hang wavering across the room, now lifting, now curling downward, as
though drawn by a hidden current towards the unwaxed oaken floor.
No, there was no Ormond in him; he was all Varick, all Dutch, all
I had never seen any man like him save once, when a red-faced Albany
merchant came a-waddling to the sea-islands looking for cotton and
indigo, and we all despised him for the eagerness with which he trimmed
his shillings at the Augustine taverns. Thrift is a word abused, and
serves too often as a mask for avarice.
As I sat there fashioning wise saws and proverbs in my busy mind, the
hall door opened and the first guest was announced--Sir George Covert.
And in he came, a well-built, lazy gentleman of forty, swinging
gracefully on a pair o' legs no man need take shame in; ruffles on cuff
and stock, hair perfumed, powdered, and rolled twice in French puffs,
and on his hand a brilliant that sparkled purest fire. Under one arm he
bore his gold-edged hat, and as he strolled forward, peering coolly
about him through his quizzing glass, I thought I had never seen such
graceful assurance, nor such insolently handsome eyes, marred by the
faint shadows of dissipation.
Sir Lupus nodded a welcome and blew a great cloud of smoke into the air.
"Ah," observed Sir George, languidly, "Vesuvius in irruption?"
"How de do," said Sir Lupus, suspiciously.
"The mountain welcomes Mohammed," commented Sir George. "Mohammed
greets the mountain! How de do, Sir Lupus! Ah!" He turned gracefully
towards me, bowing. "Pray present me, Sir Lupus."
"My cousin, George Ormond," said Sir Lupus. "George first, George
second," he added, with a sneer.
"No relation to George III., I trust, sir?" inquired Sir George,
anxiously, offering his cool, well-kept hand.
"No," said I, laughing at his serious countenance and returning his
"That's well, that's well," murmured Sir George, apparently vastly
relieved, and invited me to take snuff with him.
We had scarcely exchanged a civil word or two ere the servant announced
Captain Walter Butler, and I turned curiously, to see a dark, graceful
young man enter and stand for a moment staring haughtily straight at me.
He wore a very elegant black-and-orange uniform, without gorget; a black
military cloak hung from his shoulders, caught up in his sword-knot.
With a quick movement he raised his hand and removed his officer's hat,
and I saw on his gauntlets of fine doeskin the Ormond arms, heavily
embroidered. Instantly the affectation displeased me.
"Come to the mountain, brother prophet," said Sir George, waving his
hand towards the seated patroon. He came, lightly as a panther, his
dark, well-cut features softening a trifle; and I thought him handsome
in his uniform, wearing his own dark hair unpowdered, tied in a short
queue; but when he turned full face to greet Sir George Covert, I was
astonished to see the cruelty in his almost perfect features, which were
smooth as a woman's, and lighted by a pair of clear, dark-golden eyes.
Ah, those wonderful eyes of Walter Butler--ever-changing eyes, now
almost black, glimmering with ardent fire, now veiled and amber, now
suddenly a shallow yellow, round, staring, blank as the eyes of a caged
eagle; and, still again, piercing, glittering, narrowing to a slit.
Terrible mad eyes, that I have never forgotten--never, never can forget.
As Sir Lupus named me, Walter Butler dropped Sir George's hand and
grasped mine, too eagerly to please me.
"Ormond and Ormond-Butler need no friends to recommend them each to the
other," he said. And straightway fell a-talking of the greatness of the
Arrans and the Ormonds, and of that duke who, attainted, fled to France
to save his neck.
I strove to be civil, yet he embarrassed me before the others, babbling
of petty matters interesting only to those whose taste invites them to
go burrowing in parish records and ill-smelling volumes written by some
toad-eater to his patron.
For me, I am an Ormond, and I know that it would be shameful if I turned
rascal and besmirched my name. As to the rest--the dukes, the glory, the
greatness--I hold it concerns nobody but the dead, and it is a
foolishness to plague folks' ears by boasting of deeds done by those you
never knew, like a Seminole chanting ere he strikes the painted post.
Also, this Captain Walter Butler was overlarding his phrases with
"Cousin Ormond," so that I was soon cloyed, and nigh ready to damn the
relationship to his face.
Sir Lupus, who had managed to rise by this time, waddled off into the
drawing-room across the hallway, motioning us to follow; and barely in
time, too, for there came, shortly, Sir John Johnson with a company of
ladies and gentlemen, very gay in their damasks, brocades, and velvets,
which the folds of their foot-mantles, capuchins, and cardinals
The gentlemen had come a-horseback, and all wore very elegant uniforms
under their sober cloaks, which were linked with gold chains at the
throat; the ladies, prettily powdered and patched, appeared a trifle
over-colored, and their necks and shoulders, innocent of buffonts,
gleamed pearl-tinted above their gay breast-knots. And they made a
sparkling bevy as they fluttered up the staircase to their cloak-room,
while Sir John entered the drawing-room, followed by the other
gentlemen, and stood in careless conversation with the patroon, while
old Cato disembarrassed him of cloak and hat.
Sir John Johnson, son of the great Sir William, as I first saw him was a
man of less than middle age, flabby, cold-eyed, heavy of foot and hand.
On his light-colored hair he wore no powder; the rather long queue was
tied with a green hair-ribbon; the thick, whitish folds of his double
chin rested on a buckled stock.
For the rest, he wore a green-and-gold uniform of very elegant
cut--green being the garb of his regiment, the Royal Greens, as I
learned afterwards--and his buff-topped boots and his metals were
brilliant and plainly new.
When the patroon named me to him he turned his lack-lustre eyes on me
and offered me a large, damp hand.
In turn I was made acquainted with the several officers in his
suite--Colonel John Butler, father of Captain Walter Butler, broad and
squat, a withered prophecy of what the son might one day be; Colonel
Daniel Claus, a rather merry and battered Indian fighter; Colonel Guy
Johnson, of Guy Park, dark and taciturn; a Captain Campbell, and a
Captain McDonald of Perth.
All wore the green uniform save the Butlers; all greeted me with
particular civility and conducted like the respectable company they
appeared to be, politely engaging me in pleasant conversation, desiring
news from Florida, or complimenting me upon my courtesy, which, they
vowed, had alone induced me to travel a thousand miles for the sake of
permitting my kinsmen the pleasure of welcoming me.
One by one the gentlemen retired to exchange their spurred top-boots for
white silk stockings and silken pumps, and to arrange their hair or
stick a patch here and there, and rinse their hands in rose-water to
cleanse them of the bridle's odor.
They were still thronging the gun-room, and I stood alone in the
drawing-room with Sir George Covert, when a lady entered and courtesied
low as we bowed together.
And truly she was a beauty, with her skin of rose-ivory, her powdered
hair a-gleam with brilliants, her eyes of purest violet, a friendly
smile hovering on her fresh, scarlet mouth.
"Well, sir," she said, "do you not know me?" And to Sir George: "I vow,
he takes me for a guest in my own house!"
And then I knew my cousin Dorothy Varick.
[Illustration: "SHE SUFFERED US TO SALUTE HER HAND".]
She suffered us to salute her hand, gazing the while about her
indifferently; and, as I released her slender fingers and raised my
head, she, rounded arm still extended as though forgotten, snapped her
thumb and forefinger together in vexation with a "Plague on it! There's
that odious Sir John!"
"Is Sir John Johnson so offensive to your ladyship?" inquired Sir
"Offensive! Have you not heard how the beast drank wine from my slipper!
Never mind! I cannot endure him. Sir George, you must sit by me at
table--and you, too, Cousin Ormond, or he'll come bothering." She
glanced at the open door of the gun-room, a frown on her white brow.
"Oh, they're all here, I see. Sparks will fly ere sun-up. There's
Campbell, and McDonald, too, wi' the memory of Glencoe still stewing
betwixt them; and there's Guy Johnson, with a price on his head--and
plenty to sell it for him in County Tryon, gentlemen! And there's young
Walter Butler, cursing poor Cato that he touched his spur in drawing off
his boots--if he strikes Cato I'll strike him! And where are their fine
ladies, Sir George? Still primping at the mirror? Oh, la!" She stepped
back, laughing, raising her lovely arms a little. "Look at me. Am I well
laced, with nobody to aid me save Cecile, poor child, and Benny to hold
the candles--he being young enough for the office?"
"Happy, happy Benny!" murmured Sir George, inspecting her through his
quizzing-glass from head to toe.
"If you think it a happy office you may fill it yourself in future, Sir
George," she said. "I never knew an ass who failed to bray in ecstasy at
mention of a pair o' stays."
Sir George stared, and said, "Aha! clever--very, very clever!" in so
patronizing a tone that Dorothy reddened and bit her lip in vexation.
"That is ever your way," she said, "when I parry you to your confusion.
Take your eyes from me, Sir George! Cousin Ormond, am I dressed to your
taste or not?"
She stood there in her gown of brocade, beautifully flowered in peach
color, dainty, confident, challenging me to note one fault. Nor could I,
from the gold hair-pegs in her hair to the tip of her slim, pompadour
shoes peeping from the lace of her petticoat, which she lifted a trifle
to show her silken, flowered hose.
And--"There!" she cried, "I gowned myself, and I wear no paint. I wish
you would tell them as much when they laugh at me."
Now came the ladies, rustling down the stairway, and the gentlemen,
strolling in from their toilet and stirrup-cups in the gun-room, and I
noted that all wore service-swords, and laid their pistols on the table
in the drawing-room.
"Do they fear a surprise?" I whispered to Sir George Covert.
"Oh yes; Jack Mount and the Stoners are abroad. But Sir John has a troop
of his cut-throat horsemen picketed out around us. You see, Sir John
broke his parole, and Walter Butler is attainted, and it might go hard
with some of these gentlemen if General Schuyler's dragoons caught them
here, plotting nose to nose."
"Who is this Jack Mount?" I asked, curiously, remembering my companion
of the Albany road.
"One of Cresap's riflemen," he drawled, "sent back here from Boston to
raise the country against the invasion. They say he was a highwayman
once, but we Tories"--he laughed shamelessly--"say many things in these
days which may not help us at the judgment day. Wait, there's that
little rosebud, Claire Putnam, Sir John's flame. Take her in to table;
she's a pretty little plaything. Lady Johnson, who was Polly Watts, is
in Montreal, you see." He made a languid gesture with outspread
The girl he indicated, Mistress Claire Putnam, was a fragile, willowy
creature, over-thin, perhaps, yet wonderfully attractive and pretty, and
there was much of good in her face, and a tinge of pathos, too, for all
her bright vivacity.
"If Sir John Johnson put her away when he wedded Miss Watts," said Sir
George, coolly, "I think he did it from interest and selfish
calculation, not because he ceased to love her in his bloodless, fishy
fashion. And now that Lady Johnson has fled to Canada, Sir John makes
no pretence of hiding his amours in the society which he haunts; nor
does that society take umbrage at the notorious relationship so
impudently renewed. We're a shameless lot, Mr. Ormond."
At that moment I heard Sir John Johnson, at my elbow, saying to Sir
Lupus: "Do you know what these damned rebels have had the impudence to
do? I can scarce credit it myself, but it is said that their Congress
has adopted a flag of thirteen stripes and thirteen stars on a blue
field, and I'm cursed if I don't believe they mean to hoist the filthy
rag in our very faces!"
A NIGHT AT THE PATROON'S
Under a flare of yellow candle-light we entered the dining-hall and
seated ourselves before a table loaded with flowers and silver, and the
most beautiful Flemish glass that I have ever seen; though they say that
Sir William Johnson's was finer.
The square windows of the hall were closed, the dusty curtains closely
drawn; the air, though fresh, was heavily saturated with perfume.
Between each window, and higher up, small, square loop-holes pierced the
solid walls. The wooden flap-hoods of these were open; through them
poured the fresh night air, stirring the clustered flowers and the
jewelled aigrets in the ladies' hair.
The spectacle was pretty, even beautiful; at every lady's cover lay a
gift from the patroon, a crystal bosom-glass, mounted in silver
filigree, filled with roses in scented water; and, at the sight, a gust
of hand-clapping swept around the table, like the rattle of December
winds through dry palmettos.
In a distant corner, slaves, dressed fancifully and turbaned like
Barbary blackamoors, played on fiddles and guitars, and the music was
such as I should have enjoyed, loving all melody as I do, yet could
scarcely hear it in the flutter and chatter rising around me as the
ladies placed the bosom-bottles in their stomachers and opened their
Marlborough fans to set them waving all like restless wings.
Yet, under this surface elegance and display, one could scarcely choose
but note how everywhere an amazing shiftlessness reigned in the
patroon's house. Cobwebs canopied the ceiling-beams with their silvery,
ragged banners afloat in the candle's heat; dust, like a velvet mantle,
lay over the Dutch plates and teapots, ranged on shelves against the
panelled wall midway 'twixt ceiling and unwaxed floor; the gaudy yellow
liveries of the black servants were soiled and tarnished and ill
fitting, and all wore slovenly rolls, tied to imitate scratch-wigs, the
effect of which was amazing. The passion for cleanliness in the Dutch
lies not in their men folk; a Dutch mistress of this manor house had
died o' shame long since--or died o' scrubbing.
I felt mean and ungracious to sit there spying at my host's table, and
strove to forget it, yet was forced to wipe furtively spoon and fork
upon the napkin on my knees ere I durst acquaint them with my mouth; and
so did others, as I saw; but they did it openly and without pretence of
concealment, and nobody took offence.
Sir Lupus cared nothing for precedence at table, and said so when he
seated us, which brought a sneer to Sir John Johnson's mouth and a scowl
to Walter Butler's brow; but this provincial boorishness appeared to be
forgotten ere the decanters had slopped the cloth twice, and fair faces
flushed, and voices grew gayer, and the rattle of silver assaulting
china and the mellow ring of glasses swelled into a steady, melodious
din which stirred the blood to my cheeks.
We Ormonds love gayety--I choose the mildest phrase I know. Yet, take us
at our worst, Irish that we are, and if there be a taint of license to
our revels, and if we drink the devil's toast to the devil's own
undoing, the vital spring of our people remains unpolluted, the nation's
strength and purity unsoiled, guarded forever by the chastity of
Savoring my claret, I glanced askance at my neighbors; on my left sat my
cousin Dorothy Varick, frankly absorbed in a roasted pigeon, yet
wielding knife and fork with much grace and address; on my right
Magdalen Brant, step-cousin to Sir John, a lovely, soft-voiced girl,
with velvety eyes and the faintest dusky tint, which showed the Indian
blood through the carmine in her fresh, curved cheeks.
I started to speak to her, but there came a call from the end of the
table, and we raised our glasses to Sir Lupus, for which civility he
expressed his thanks and gave us the ladies, which we drank standing,
and reversed our glasses with a cheer.
Then Walter Butler gave us "The Ormonds and the Earls of Arran," an
amazing vanity, which shamed me so that I sat biting my lip, furious to
see Sir John wink at Colonel Claus, and itching to fling my glass at the
head of this young fool whose brain seemed cracked with brooding on
Meat was served ere I was called on, but later, a delicious Burgundy
being decanted, all called me with a persistent clamor, so that I was
obliged to ask permission of Sir Lupus, then rise, still tingling with
the memory of the silly toast offered by Walter Butler.
"I give you," I said, "a republic where self-respect balances the
coronet, where there is no monarch, no high-priest, but only a clean
altar, served by the parliament of a united people. Gentlemen, raise
your glasses to the colonies of America and their ancient liberties!"
And, amazed at what I had said, and knowing that I had not meant to say
it, I lifted my glass and drained it.
Astonishment altered every face. Walter Butler mechanically raised his
glass, then set it down, then raised it once more, gazing blankly at me;
and I saw others hesitate, as though striving to recollect the exact
terms of my toast. But, after a second's hesitation, all drank sitting.
Then each looked inquiringly at me, at neighbors, puzzled, yet already
"Gad!" said Colonel Claus, bluntly, "I thought at first that Burgundy
smacked somewhat of Boston tea."
"The Burgundy's sound enough," said Colonel John Butler, grimly.
"So is the toast," bawled Sir Lupus. "It's a pacific toast, a soothing
sentiment, neither one thing not t'other. Dammy, it's a toast no Quaker
"Sir Lupus, your permission!" broke out Captain Campbell. "Gentlemen, it
is strange that not one of his Majesty's officers has proposed the
King!" He looked straight at me and said, without turning his head: "All
loyal at this table will fill. Ladies, gentlemen, I give you his Majesty
The toast was finished amid cheers. I drained my glass and turned it
down with a bow to Captain Campbell, who bowed to me as though
The fiddles, bassoons, and guitars were playing and the slaves singing
when the noise of the cheering died away; and I heard Dorothy beside me
humming the air and tapping the floor with her silken shoe, while she
moistened macaroons in a glass of Madeira and nibbled them with serene
"You appear to be happy," I whispered.
"Perfectly. I adore sweets. Will you try a dish of cinnamon cake? Sop it
in Burgundy; they harmonize to a most heavenly taste.... Look at
Magdalen Brant, is she not sweet? Her cousin is Molly Brant, old Sir
William's sweetheart, fled to Canada.... She follows this week with
Betty Austin, that black-eyed little mischief-maker on Sir John's right,
who owes her diamonds to Guy Johnson. La! What a gossip I grow! But
it's county talk, and all know it, and nobody cares save the Albany
blue-noses and the Van Cortlandts, who fall backward with standing too
"Dorothy," I said, sharply, "a blunted innocence is better than none,
but it's a pity you know so much!"
"How can I help it?" she asked, calmly, dipping another macaroon into
"It's a pity, all the same," I said.
"Dew on a duck's back, my friend," she observed, serenely. "Cousin, if I
were fashioned for evil I had been tainted long since."
She sat up straight and swept the table with a heavy-lidded, insolent
glance, eyebrows raised. The cold purity of her profile, the undimmed
innocence, the childish beauty of the curved cheek, touched me to the
quick. Ah! the white flower to nourish here amid unconcealed corruption,
with petals stainless, with bloom undimmed, with all its exquisite
fragrance still fresh and wholesome in an air heavy with wine and the
odor of dying roses.
I looked around me. Guy Johnson, red in the face, was bending too
closely beside his neighbor, Betty Austin. Colonel Claus talked loudly
across the table to Captain McDonald, and swore fashionable oaths which
the gaunt captain echoed obsequiously. Claire Putnam coquetted with her
paddle-stick fan, defending her roses from Sir George Covert, while Sir
John Johnson stared at them in cold disapproval; and I saw Magdalen
Brant, chin propped on her clasped hands, close her eyes and breathe
deeply while the wine burned her face, setting torches aflame in either
cheek. Later, when I spoke to her, she laughed pitifully, saying that
her ears hummed like bee-hives. Then she said that she meant to go, but
made no movement; and presently her dark eyes closed again, and I saw
the fever pulse beating in her neck.
Some one had overturned a silver basin full of flowers, and a servant,
sopping up the water, had brushed Walter Butler so that he flew into a
passion and flung a glass at the terrified black, which set Sir Lupus
laughing till he choked, but which enraged me that he should so conduct
in the presence of his host's daughter.
Yet if Sir Lupus could not only overlook it, but laugh at it, I, certes,
had no right to rebuke what to me seemed a gross insult.
Toasts flew fast now, and there was a punch in a silver bowl as large as
a bushel--and spirits, too, which was strange, seeing that the ladies
remained at table.
Then Captain Campbell would have all to drink the Royal Greens, standing
on chairs, one foot on the table, which appeared to be his regiment's
mess custom, and we did so, the ladies laughing and protesting, but
finally planting their dainty shoes on the edge of the table; and
Magdalen Brant nigh fell off her chair--for lack of balance, as Sir
George Covert protested, one foot alone being too small to sustain her.
"That Cinderella compliment at our expense!" cried Betty Austin, but Sir
Lupus cried: "Silence all, and keep one foot on the table!" And a little
black slave lad, scarce more than a babe, appeared, dressed in a
lynx-skin, bearing a basket of pretty boxes woven out of scented grass
and embroidered with silk flowers.
At every corner he laid a box, all exclaiming and wondering what the
surprise might be, until the little black, arching his back, fetched a
yowl like a lynx and ran out on all fours.
"The gentlemen will open the boxes! Ladies, keep one foot on the table!"
bawled Sir Lupus. We bent to open the boxes; Magdalen Brant and Dorothy
Varick, each resting a hand on my shoulder to steady them, peeped
curiously down to see. And, "Oh!" cried everybody, as the lifted
box-lids discovered snow-white pigeons sitting on great gilt eggs.
The white pigeons fluttered out, some to the table, where they craned
their necks and ruffled their snowy plumes; others flapped up to the
loop-holes, where they sat and watched us.
"Break the eggs!" cried the patroon.
I broke mine; inside was a pair of shoe-roses, each set with a pearl and
clasped with a gold pin.
Betty Austin clapped her hands in delight; Dorothy bent double, tore off
the silken roses from each shoe in turn, and I pinned on the new
jewelled roses amid a gale of laughter.
"A health to the patroon!" cried Sir George Covert, and we gave it with
a will, glasses down. Then all settled to our seats once more to hear
Sir George sing a song.
A slave passed him a guitar; he touched the strings and sang with good
taste a song in questionable taste:
"Jeanneton prend sa faucille."
A delicate melody and neatly done; yet the verse--
"Le deuxieme plus habile
L'embrassant sous le menton"--
made me redden, and the envoi nigh burned me alive
with blushes, yet was rapturously applauded, and the
patroon fell a-choking with his gross laughter.
Then Walter Butler would sing, and, I confess, did
it well, though the song was sad and the words too
melancholy to please.
"I know a rebel song," cried Colonel Claus. "Here,
give me that fiddle and I'll fiddle it, dammy if I don't--ay,
and sing it, too!"
In a shower of gibes and laughter the fiddle was
fetched, and the Indian fighter seized the bow and drew
a most distressful strain, singing in a whining voice:
"Come hearken to a bloody tale,
Of how the soldiery
Did murder men in Boston,
As you full soon shall see.
It came to pass on March the fifth
A regiment, the twenty-ninth.
Provoked a sad affray!"
"Chorus!" shouted Captain Campbell, beating time:
Provoked a sad affray!"
"That's not in the song!" protested Colonel Claus, but everybody sang it
in whining tones.
"Continue!" cried Captain Campbell, amid a burst of laughter. And Claus
gravely drew his fiddle-bow across the strings and sang:
"In King Street, by the Butcher's Hall
The soldiers on us fell,
Likewise before their barracks
(It is the truth I tell).
And such a dreadful carnage
In Boston ne'er was known;
They killed Samuel Maverick--
He gave a piteous groan."
And, "Fol-de-rol!" roared Captain Campbell, "He gave a piteous groan!"
"John Clark he was wounded,
On him they did fire;
James Caldwell and Crispus Attucks
Lay bleeding in the mire;
Their regiment, the twenty-ninth,
Killed Monk and Sam I Gray,
While Patrick Carr lay cold in death
And could not flee away--
"Oh, tally!" broke out Sir John; "are we to listen to such stuff all
More laughter; and Sir George Covert said that he feared Sir John
Johnson had no sense of humor.
"I have heard that before," said Sir John, turning his cold eyes on Sir
George. "But if we've got to sing at wine, in Heaven's name let us sing
"No, no!" bawled Claus. "This is the abode of folly to-night!" And he
sang a catch from "Pills to Purge Melancholy," as broad a verse as I
cared to hear in such company.
"Cheer up, Sir John!" cried Betty Austin; "there are other slippers to
Sir John stood up, exasperated, but could not face the storm of
laughter, nor could Dorothy, silent and white in her anger; and she rose
to go, but seemed to think better of it and resumed her seat, disdainful
eyes sweeping the table.
"Face the fools," I whispered. "Your confusion is their victory."
Captain McDonald, stirring the punch, filled all glasses, crying out
that we should drink to our sweethearts in bumpers.
"Drink 'em in wine," protested Captain Campbell, thickly. "Who but a
feckless McDonald wud drink his leddy in poonch?"
"I said poonch!" retorted McDonald, sternly. "If ye wish wine, drink it;
but I'm thinkin' the Argyle Campbells are better judges o' blood than
of red wine.
"Stop that clan-feud!" bawled the patroon, angrily.
But the old clan-feud blazed up, kindled from the ever-smouldering
embers of Glencoe, which the massacre of a whole clan had not
extinguished in all these years.
"And why should an Argyle Campbell judge blood?" cried Captain Campbell,
in a menacing voice.
"And why not?" retorted McDonald. "Breadalbane spilled enough to teach
"Teach you!--and the whole breed o' black Campbells from Perth to Galway
and Fonda's Bush, which ye dub Broadalbin. I had rather be a Monteith
and have the betrayal of Wallace cast in my face than be a Campbell of
Argyle wi' the memory o' Glencoe to follow me to hell."
"Silence!" roared the patroon, struggling to his feet. Sir George Covert
caught at Captain Campbell's sleeve as he rose; Sir John Johnson stood
up, livid with anger.
"Let this end now!" he said, sternly. "Do officers of the Royal Greens
conduct like yokels at a fair? Answer me, Captain Campbell! And you,
Captain McDonald! Take your seat, sir; and if I hear that cursed word
'Glencoe' 'again, the first who utters it faces a court-martial!"
Partly sobered, the Campbell glared mutely at the McDonald; the latter
also appeared to have recovered a portion of his senses and resumed his
seat in silence, glowering at the empty glasses before him.
"Now be sensible, gentlemen," said Colonel Claus, with a jovial nod to
the patroon; "let pass, let pass. This is no time to raise the fiery
cross in the hills. Gad, there's a new pibroch to march to these days--
"Pibroch o' Hirokoue!
Pibroch o' Hirokonue!"
he hummed, deliberately, but nobody laughed, and the grave, pale faces
of the women turned questioningly one to the other.
Enemies or allies, there was terror in the name of "Iroquois." But
Walter Butler looked up from his gloomy meditation and raised his glass
with a ghastly laugh.
"I drink to our red allies," he said, slowly drained his glass till but
a color remained in it, then dipped his finger in the dregs and drew
upon the white table-cloth a blood-red cross.
"There's your clan-sign, you Campbells, you McDonalds," he said, with a
terrifying smile which none could misinterpret.
Then Sir George Covert said: "Sir William Johnson knew best. Had he
lived, there had been no talk of the Iroquois as allies or as enemies."
I said, looking straight at Walter Butler: "Can there be any serious
talk of turning these wild beasts loose against the settlers of
"Against rebels," observed Sir John Johnson, coldly. "No loyal man need
fear our Mohawks."
A dead silence followed. Servants, clearing the round table of silver,
flowers, cloth--all, save glasses and decanters--stepped noiselessly,
and I knew the terror of the Iroquois name had sharpened their dull
ears. Then came old Cato, tricked out in flame-colored plush, bearing
the staff of major-domo; and the servants in their tarnished liveries
marshalled behind him and filed out, leaving us seated before a bare
table, with only our glasses and bottles to break the expanse of
polished mahogany and soiled cloth.
Captain McDonald rose, lifted the steaming kettle from the hob, and set
it on a great, blue tile, and the gentlemen mixed their spirits
thoughtfully, or lighted long, clay pipes.
The patroon, wreathed in smoke, lay back in his great chair and rattled
his toddy-stick for attention--an unnecessary noise, for all were
watching him, and even Walter Butler's gloomy gaze constantly reverted
to that gross, red face, almost buried in thick tobacco-smoke, like the
head of some intemperate and grotesquely swollen Jupiter crowned
The plea of the patroon for neutrality in the war now sweeping towards
the Mohawk Valley I had heard before. So, doubtless, had those present.
He waxed pathetic over the danger to his vast estate; he pointed out the
conservative attitude of the great patroons and lords of the manors of
Livingston, Cosby, Phillipse, Van Rensselaer, and Van Cortlandt.
"What about Schuyler?" I asked.
"Schuyler's a fool!" he retorted, angrily. "Any landed proprietor here
can become a rebel general in exchange for his estate! A fine bargain! A
thrifty dicker! Let Philip Schuyler enjoy his brief reign in Albany.
What's the market value of the glory he exchanged for his broad acres?
Can you appraise it, Sir John?"
Then Sir John Johnson arose, and, for the only moment in his career, he
stood upon a principle--a fallacious one, but still a principle; and for
that I respected him, and have never quite forgotten it, even through
the terrible years when he razed and burned and murdered among a people
who can never forget the red atrocities of his devastations.
Glancing slowly around the table, with his pale, cold eyes contracting
in the candle's glare, he spoke in a voice absolutely passionless, yet
which carried the conviction to all that what he uttered was
"Sir Lupus complains that he hazards all, should he cast his fortunes
with his King. Yet I have done that thing. I am to-day a man with a
price set on my head by these rebels of my own country. My lands, if not
already confiscated by rebel commissioners, are occupied by rebels; my
manor-houses, my forts, my mills, my tenants' farms are held by the
rebels and my revenues denied me. I was confined on parole within the
limits of Johnson Hall. They say I broke my parole, but they lie. It was
only when I had certain news that the Boston rebels were coming to seize
my person and violate a sacred convention that I retired to Canada."
He paused. The explanation was not enough to satisfy me, and I expected
him to justify the arming of Johnson Hall and his discovered intrigues
with the Mohawks which set the rebels on the march to seize his person.
He gave none, resuming quietly:
"I have hazarded a vast estate, vaster than yours, Sir Lupus, greater
than the estates of all these gentlemen combined. I do it because I owe
obedience to the King who has honored me, and for no other reason on
earth. Yet I do it in fullest confidence and belief that my lands will
be restored to me when this rebellion is stamped on and trodden out to
the last miserable spark."
He hesitated, wiped his thin mouth with his laced handkerchief, and
turned directly towards the patroon.
"You ask me to remain neutral. You promise me that, even at this late
hour, my surrender and oath of neutrality will restore me my estates and
guarantee me a peaceful, industrious life betwixt two tempests. It may
be so, Sir Lupus. I think it would be so. But, my friend, to fail my
King when he has need of me is a villainy I am incapable of. The
fortunes of his Majesty are my fortunes; I stand or fall with him. This
is my duty as I see it. And, gentlemen, I shall follow it while life
He resumed his seat amid absolute silence. Presently the patroon raised
his eyes and looked at Colonel John Butler.
"May we hear from you, sir?" he asked, gravely.
"I trust that all may, one day, hear from Butler's Rangers," he said.
"And I swear they shall," broke in Walter Butler, his dark eyes burning
like golden coals.
"I think the Royal Greens may make some little noise in the world," said
Captain Campbell, with an oath.
Guy Johnson waved his thin, brown hand towards the patroon: "I hold my
King's commission as intendant of Indian affairs for North America. That
is enough for me. Though they rob me of Guy Park and every acre, I shall
redeem my lands in a manner no man can ever forget!"
"Gentlemen," added Colonel Claus, in his bluff way, "you all make great
merit of risking property and life in this wretched teapot tempest; you
all take credit for unchaining the Mohawks. But you give them no credit.
What have the Iroquois to gain by aiding us? Why do they dig up the
hatchet, hazarding the only thing they have--their lives? Because they
are led by a man who told the rebel Congress that the covenant chain
which the King gave to the Mohawks is still unspotted by dishonor,
unrusted by treachery, unbroken, intact, without one link missing!
Gentlemen, I give you Joseph Brant, war-chief of the Mohawk
All filled and drank--save three--Sir George Covert, Dorothy Varick, and
I felt Walter Butler's glowing eyes upon me, and they seemed to burn out
the last vestige of my patience.
"Don't rise! Don't speak now!" whispered Dorothy, her hand closing on my
"I must speak," I said, aloud, and all heard me and turned on me their
"Speak out, in God's name!" said Sir George Covert, and I rose,
repeating, "In God's name, then!"
"Give no offence to Walter Butler, I beg of you," whispered Dorothy.
I scarcely heard her; through the candle-light I saw the ring of eyes
shining, all watching me.
"I applaud the loyal sentiments expressed by Sir John Johnson," I said,
slowly. "Devotion to principle is respected by all men of honor. They
tell me that our King has taxed a commonwealth against its will. You
admit his Majesty's right to do so. That ranges you on one side.
Gentlemen," I said, deliberately, "I deny the right of Englishmen to
take away the liberties of Englishmen. That ranges me on the
A profound silence ensued. The ring of eyes glowed.
"And now," said I, gravely, "that we stand arrayed, each on his proper
side, honestly, loyally differing one from the other, let us, if we can,
strive to avert a last resort to arms. And if we cannot, let us draw
honorably, and trust to God and a stainless blade!"
I bent my eyes on Walter Butler; he met them with a vacant glare.
"Captain Butler," I said, "if our swords be to-day stainless, he who
first dares employ a savage to do his work forfeits the right to bear
the arms and title of a soldier."
"Mr. Ormond! Mr. Ormond!" broke in Colonel Claus. "Do you impeach Lord
"I care not whom I impeach!" I said, hotly. "If Lord George Germaine
counsels the employment of Indians against Englishmen, rebels though
they be, he is a monstrous villain and a fool!"
"Fool!" shouted Colonel Campbell, choking with rage. "He'd be a fool to
let these rebels win over the Iroquois before we did!"
"What rebel has sought to employ the Indians?" I asked. "If any in
authority have dreamed of such a horror, they are guilty as though
already judged and damned!"
"Mr. Ormond," cut in Guy Johnson, fairly trembling with fury, "you deal
very freely in damnation. Do you perhaps assume the divine right which
you deny your King?"
"And do you find merit in crass treason, sir?" burst out McDonald,
striking the table with clinched fist.
"Treason," cut in Sir John Johnson, "was the undoing of a certain noble
duke in Queen Anne's time."
"You are in error," I said, calmly.
"Was James, Duke of Ormond, not impeached by Mr. Stanhope in open
Parliament?" shouted Captain McDonald.
"The House of Commons," I replied, calmly, "dishonored itself and its
traditions by bringing a bill of attainder against the Duke of Ormond.
That could not make him a traitor."
"He was not a traitor," broke out Walter Butler, white to the lips, "but
"A lie," I said.
With the awful hue of death stamped on his face, Walter Butler rose and
faced me; and though they dragged us to our seats, shouting and
exclaiming in the uproar made by falling chairs and the rush of feet, he
still kept his eyes on me, shallow, yellow, depthless, terrible eyes.
"A nice scene to pass in women's presence!" roared the patroon. "Dammy,
Captain Butler, the fault lies first with you! Withdraw that word
'traitor,' which touches us all!"
"He has so named himself," said Walter Butler, "Withdraw it! You foul
your own nest, sir!"
A moment passed. "I withdraw it," motioned Butler, with parched lips.
"Then I withdraw the lie," I said, watching him.
"That is well," roared the patroon. "That is as it should be. Shall
kinsmen quarrel at such a time? Offer your hand, Captain Butler. Offer
"No," I said, and gazed mildly at the patroon.
Sir George Covert rose and sauntered over to my chair. Under cover of
the hubbub, not yet subsided, he said: "I fancy you will shortly require
a discreet friend."
"Not at all, sir," I replied, aloud. "If the war spares Mr. Butler and
myself, then I shall call on you. I've another quarrel first." All
turned to look at me, and I added, "A quarrel touching the liberties of
Englishmen." Sir John Johnson sneered, and it was hard to swallow, being
the sword-master that I am.
But the patroon broke out furiously. "Mr. Ormond honors himself. If any
here so much as looks the word 'coward,' he will answer to me--old and
fat as I am! I've no previous engagement; I care not who prevails, King
or Congress. I care nothing so they leave me my own! I'm free to resent
a word, a look, a breath--ay, the flutter of a lid, Sir John!"
"Thanks, uncle," I said, touched to the quick. "These gentlemen are not
fools, and only a fool could dream an Ormond coward."
"Ay, a fool!" cried Walter Butler. "I am an Ormond! There is no
cowardice in the blood. He shall have his own time; he is an Ormond!"
Dorothy Varick raised her bare, white arm and pointed straight at Walter
Butler. "See that your sword remains unspotted, sir," she said, in a
clear voice. "For if you hire the Iroquois to do your work you stand
dishonored, and no true man will meet you on the field you forfeit!"
"What's that?" cried Sir John, astonished, and Sir George Covert cried:
"Brava! Bravissima! There speaks the Ormond through the Varick!"
Walter Butler leaned forward, staring at me. "You refuse to meet me if I
use our Mohawks?"
And Dorothy, her voice trembling a little, picked up the word from his
grinning teeth. "Mohawks understand the word 'honor' better than do you,
Captain Butler, if you are found fighting in their ranks!"
She laid her hand on my arm, still facing him.
"My cousin shall not cross blade with a soiled blade! He dare not--if
only for my own poor honor's sake!"
Then Colonel Claus rose, thumping violently on the table, and, "Here's a
pretty rumpus!" he bawled, "with all right and all wrong, and nobody to
snuff out the spreading flame, but every one a-flinging tallow in a fire
we all may rue! My God! Are we not all kinsmen here, gathered to decent
council how best to save our bacon in this pot a-boiling over? If Mr.
Ormond and Captain Butler must tickle sword-points one day, that is no
cause for dolorous looks or hot words--no! Rather is it a family trick,
a good, old-fashioned game that all boys play, and no harm, either. Have
I not played it, too? Has any gentleman present not pinked or been
pinked on that debatable land we call the field of honor? Come, kinsmen,
we have all had too much wine--or too little."
"Too little!" protested Captain Campbell, with a forced laugh; and Betty
Austin loosed her tongue for the first time to cry out that her mouth
was parched wi' swallowing so many words all piping-hot. Whereat one or
two laughed, and Colonel John Butler said:
Neither Mr. Ormond nor Sir George Covert are rebels. They differ from us
in this matter touching on the Iroquois. If they think we soil our hands
with war-paint, let them keep their own wristbands clean, but fight for
their King as sturdily as shall we this time next month."
"That is a very pleasant view to take," observed Sir George, with a
"A sensible view," suggested Campbell.
"Amiable," said Sir George, blandly.
"Oh, let us fill to the family!" broke in McDonald, impatiently. "It's
dry work cursing your friends! Fill up, Campbell, and I'll forget
Glencoe ... while I'm drinking."
"Mr. Ormond," said Walter Butler, in a low voice, "I cannot credit ill
of a man of your name. You are young and hot-blooded, and you perhaps
lack as yet a capacity for reflection. I shall look for you among us
when the time comes. No Ormond can desert his King."
"Let it rest so, Captain Butler," I said, soberly. "I will say this:
when I rose I had not meant to say all that I said. But I believe it to
be the truth, though I chose the wrong moment to express it. If I change
this belief I will say so."
And so the outburst of passion sank to ashes; and if the fire was not
wholly extinguished, it at least lay covered, like the heart of a
Seminole council-fire after the sachems have risen and departed with
Drinking began again. The ladies gathered in a group, whispering and
laughing their relief at the turn affairs were taking--all save Dorothy,
who sat serenely beside me, picking the kernels from walnut-shells and
sipping a glass of port.
Sir John Johnson found a coal in the embers on the hearth, and, leaning
half over the table, began to draw on the table-cloth a rude map of
"All know," he said, "that the province of New York is the key to the
rebel strength. While they hold West Point and Albany and Stanwix, they
hold Tryon County by the throat. Let them occupy Philadelphia. Who
cares? We can take it when we choose. Let them hold their dirty Boston;
let the rebel Washington sneak around the Jerseys. Who cares? There'll
be the finer hunting for us later. Gentlemen, as you know, the invasion
of New York is at hand--has already begun. And that's no secret from the
rebels, either; they may turn and twist and double here in New York
province, but they can't escape the trap, though they saw it long ago."
He raised his head and glanced at me.
"Here is a triangle," he said; "that triangle is New York province. Here
is Albany, the objective of our three armies, the gate of Tryon County,
the plague-spot we are to cleanse, and the military centre. Now mark!
Burgoyne moves through the lakes, south, reducing Ticonderoga and
Edward, routing the rats out of Saratoga, and approaches Albany--so.
Clinton moves north along the Hudson to meet him--so--forcing the
Highlands at Peekskill, taking West Point or leaving it for later
punishment. Nothing can stop him; he meets Burgoyne here, at Albany."
Again he looked at me. "You see, sir, that from two angles of the
triangle converging armies depart towards a common objective."
"I see," I said.
"Now," he resumed, "the third force, under Colonel Barry St. Leger--to
which my regiment and the regiment of Colonel Butler have the honor to
be attached--embarks from Canada, sails up the St. Lawrence, disembarks
at Oswego, on Lake Erie, marches straight on Stanwix, reduces it, and
joins the armies of Clinton and Burgoyne at Albany."
He stood up, casting his bit of wood-coal on the cloth before him.
"That, sir," he said to me, "is the plan of campaign, which the rebels
know and cannot prevent. That means the invasion of New York, the
scouring out of every plague-spot, the capture and destruction of every
rebel between Albany and the Jerseys."
He turned with a cold smile to Colonel Butler. "I think my estates will
not remain long in rebel hands," he said.
"Do you not understand, Mr. Ormond?" cried Captain Campbell, twitching
me by the sleeve, an impertinence I passed, considering him overflushed
with wine. "Do you not comprehend how hopeless is this rebellion now?"
"How hopeless?" drawled Sir George, looking over my shoulder, and, as
though by accident, drawing Campbell's presumptuous hand through his
"How hopeless?" echoed Campbell. "Why, here are three armies of his
Majesty's troops concentrating on the heart of Tryon County. What can
the rebels do?"
"The patroons are with us, or have withdrawn from the contest," said Sir
John; "the great folk, military men, and we of the landed gentry are for
the King. What remains to defy his authority?"
"Of what kidney are these Tryon County men?" I asked, quietly. Sir John
Johnson misunderstood me.
"Mr. Ormond," said Sir John, "Tryon County is habited by four races.
First, the Scotch-Irish, many of them rebels, I admit, but many also
loyal. Balance these against my Highlanders, and cross quits. Second,
the Palatines--those men whose ancestors came hither to escape the
armies of Louis XIV. when they devastated the Palatinate. And again I
admit these to be rebels. Third, those of Dutch blood, descended from
brave ancestors, like our worthy patroon here. And once more I will
admit that many of these also are tainted with rebel heresies. Fourth,
the English, three-quarters of whom are Tories. And now I ask you, can
these separate handfuls of mixed descent unite? And, if that were
possible, can they stand for one day, one hour, against the trained
troops of England?"
"God knows," I said.
I had stepped from the dining-hall out to the gun-room. Clocks in the
house were striking midnight. In the dining-room the company had now
taken to drinking in earnest, cheering and singing loyal songs, and
through the open door whirled gusts of women's laughter, and I heard the
thud of guitar-strings echo the song's gay words.
All was cool and dark in the body of the house as I walked to the front
door and opened it to bathe my face in the freshening night. I heard the
whippoorwill in the thicket, and the drumming of the dew on the porch
roof, and far away a sound like ocean stirring--the winds in the pines.
The Maker of all things has set in me a love for whatsoever He has
fashioned in His handiwork, whether it be furry beast or pretty bird, or
a spray of April willow, or the tiny insect-creature that pursues its
dumb, blind way through this our common world. So come I by my love for
the voices of the night, and the eyes of the stars, and the whisper of
growing things, and the spice in the air where, unseen, a million tiny
blossoms hold up white cups for dew, or for the misty-winged things that
woo them for their honey.
Now, in the face of this dark, soothing truce that we call night, which
is a buckler interposed between the arrows of two angry suns, I stood
thinking of war and the wrong of it. And all around me in the darkness
insects sang, and delicate, gauzy creatures chirked and throbbed and
strummed in cadence, while the star's light faintly silvered the still
trees, and distant monotones of the forest made a sustained and steady
rushing sound like the settling ebb of shallow seas. That to my
conscience I stood committed, I could not doubt. I must draw sword, and
draw it soon, too--not for Tory or rebel, not for King or Congress, not
for my estates nor for my kin, but for the ancient liberties of
Englishmen, which England menaced to destroy.
That meant time lost in a return to my own home; and yet--why? Here in
this county of Tryon one might stand for liberty of thought and action
as stanchly as at home. Here was a people with no tie or sympathy to
weld them save that common love of liberty--a scattered handful of
races, without leaders, without resources, menaced by three armies,
menaced, by the five nations of the great confederacy--the Iroquois.
To return to the sea islands on the Halifax and fight for my own acres
was useless if through New York the British armies entered to the heart
of the rebellion, splitting the thirteen colonies with a flaming wedge.
At home I had no kin to defend; my elder brother had sailed to England,
my superintendent, my overseers, my clerks were all Tory; my slaves
would join the Minorcans or the blacks in Georgia, and I, single-handed,
could not lift a finger to restrain them.
But here, in the dire need of Tryon County, I might be of use. Here was
the very forefront of battle where, beyond the horizon, invasion,
uncoiling hydra folds, already raised three horrid, threatening crests.
Ugh!--the butcher's work that promised if the Iroquois were uncaged! It
made me shudder, for I knew something of that kind of war, having seen a
slight service against the Seminoles in my seventeenth year, and
against the Chehaws and Tallassies a few months later. Also in November
of 1775 I accompanied Governor Tonyn to Picolata, but when I learned
that our mission was the shameful one of securing the Indians as British
allies I resigned my captaincy in the Royal Rangers and returned to the
Halifax to wait and watch events.
And now, thoughtful, sad, wondering a little how it all would end, I
paced to and fro across the porch. The steady patter of the dew was like
the long roll beating--low, incessant, imperious--and my heart leaped
responsive to the summons, till I found myself standing rigid, staring
into the darkness with fevered eyes.
The smothered, double drumming of a guitar from the distant revel
assailed my ears, and a fresh, sweet voice, singing:
"As at my door I chanced to be
A grenadier he winked at me
As at my door I chanced to be
A grenadier he winked at me.
And now my song's begun, you see!
"My grenadier he said to me.
'We tax the tea, but love is free,
My grenadier he said to me,
'We tax the tea, but love is free!'
And so my song it ends, you see,
I listened angrily; the voice was Dorothy Varick's, and I wondered that
she had the heart to sing such foolishness for men whose grip was
already on her people's throats.
In the dining-hall somebody blew the view-halloo on a hunting-horn, and
I heard cheers and the dulled roar of a chorus:
"--Rally your men!
Campbell and Cameron,
Follow the Jacobite back to his den!
Run with the runaway rogue to his runway,
Gallop to Galway,
Back to Broadalbin and double to Perth;
Ride! for the rebel is running to earth!"
And the shrill, fierce Highland cry, "Gralloch him!" echoed the infamous
catch, till the night air rang faintly in the starlight.
"Cruachan!" shouted Captain Campbell; "the wild myrtle to clan Campbell,
the heather to the McDonalds! An't--Arm, chlanna!"
And a great shout answered him: "The army! Sons of the army!"
Sullen and troubled and restless, I paced the porch, and at length sat
down on the steps to cool my hot forehead in my hands.
And as I sat, there came my cousin Dorothy to the porch to look for me,
fanning her flushed face with a great, plumy fan, the warm odor of roses
still clinging to her silken skirts.
"Have they ended?" I asked, none too graciously.
"They are beginning," she said, with a laugh, then drew a deep breath
and waved her fan slowly. "Ah, the sweet May night!" she murmured, eyes
fixed on the north star. "Can you believe that men could dream of war
in this quiet paradise of silence?"
I made no answer, and she went on, fanning her hot cheeks: "They're off
to Oswego by dawn, the whole company, gallant and baggage." She laughed
wickedly. "I don't mean their ladies, cousin."
"How could you?" I protested, grimly.
"Their wagons," she said, "started to-day at sundown from Tribes Hill;
Sir John, the Butlers, and the Glencoe gentlemen follow at dawn. There
are post-chaises for the ladies out yonder, and an escort, too. But
nobody would stop them; they're as safe as Catrine Montour."
"Dorothy, who is this Catrine Montour?" I asked.
"A woman, cousin; a terrible hag who runs through the woods, and none
dare stop her."
"A real hag? You mean a ghost?"
"No, no; a real hag, with black locks hanging, and long arms that could
choke an ox."
"Why does she run through the woods?" I asked, amused.
"Why? Who knows? She is always seen running."
"Where does she run to?"
"I don't know. Once Henry Stoner, the hunter, followed her, and they say
no one but Jack Mount can outrun him; but she ran and ran, and he after
her, till the day fell down, and he fell gasping like a foundered horse.
But she ran on."
"Oh, tally," I said; "do you believe that?"
"Why, I know it is true," she replied, ceasing her fanning to stare at
me with calm, wide eyes. "Do you doubt it?"
"How can I?" said I, laughing. "Who is this busy hag, Catrine Montour?"
"They say," said Dorothy, waving her fan thoughtfully, "that her father
was that Count Frontenac who long ago governed the Canadas, and that her
mother was a Huron woman. Many believe her to be a witch. I don't know.
Milk curdles in the pans when she is running through the forest ... they
say. Once it rained blood on our front porch."
"Those red drops fall from flocks of butterflies," I said, laughing. "I
have seen red showers in Florida."
"I should like to be sure of that," said Dorothy, musing. Then, raising
her starry eyes, she caught me laughing.
"Tease me," she smiled. "I don't care. You may even make love to me if
"Make love to you!" I repeated, reddening.
"Why not? It amuses--and you're only a cousin."
Astonishment was followed by annoyance as she coolly disqualified me
with a careless wave of her fan, wafting the word "cousin" into my
"Suppose I paid court to you and gained your affections?" I said.
"You have them," she replied, serenely.
"I mean your heart?"
"You have it."
"I mean your--love, Dorothy?"
"Ah," she said, with a faint smile, "I wish you could--I wish somebody
I was silent.
"And I never shall love; I know it, I feel it--here!" She pressed her
side with a languid sigh that nigh set me into fits o' laughter, yet I
swallowed my mirth till it choked me, and looked at the stars.
"Perhaps," said I, "the gentle passion might be awakened with
patience ... and practice."
"Ah, no," she said.
"May I touch your hand?"
Indolently fanning, she extended her fingers. I took them in my hands.
"I am about to begin," I said.
"Begin," she said.
So, her hand resting in mine, I told her that she had robbed the skies
and set two stars in violets for her eyes; that nature's one miracle was
wrought when in her cheeks roses bloomed beneath the snow; that the
frosted gold she called her hair had been spun from December sunbeams,
and that her voice was but the melodies stolen from breeze and brook and
"For all those pretty words," she said, "love still lies sleeping."
"Perhaps my arm around your waist--"
And, after a silence:
"Has love stirred?"
"Love sleeps the sounder."
"And if I touched your lips?"
"I'm sure that love would yawn."
Chilled, for unconsciously I had begun to find in this child-play an
interest unexpected, I dropped her unresisting fingers.
"Upon my word," I said, almost irritably, "I can believe you when you
say you never mean to wed."
"But I don't say it," she protested.
"What? You have a mind to wed?"
"Nor did I say that, either," she said, laughing.
"Then what the deuce do you say?"
"Nothing, unless I'm entreated politely."
"I entreat you, cousin, most politely," I said.
"Then I may tell you that, though I trouble my head nothing as to
wedlock, I am betrothed."
"Betrothed!" I repeated, angrily disappointed, yet I could not think
"To a man, silly."
"With two legs, two arms, and a head, cousin."
"You ... love him?"
"No," she said, serenely. "It's only to wed and settle down some day."
"You don't love him?"
"No," she repeated, a trifle impatiently.
"And you mean to wed him?"
"Listen to the boy!" she exclaimed. "I've told him ten times that I am
betrothed, which means a wedding. I am not one of those who
"Oh ... you are now free on parole."
"Prisoner on parole," she said, lightly. "I'm to name the day o'
punishment, and I promise you it will not be soon."
"Dorothy," I said, "suppose in the mean time you fell in love?"
"I'd like to," she said, sincerely.
"But--but what would you do then?"
"And ... marry?"
"Marry him whom I have promised."
"But you would be wretched!"
"Why? I can't fancy wedding one I love. I should be ashamed, I think.
I--if I loved I should not want the man I loved to touch me--not
"You little fool!" I said. "You don't know what you say."
"Yes, I do!" she cried, hotly. "Once there was a captain from Boston; I
adored him. And once he kissed my hand and I hated him!"
"I wish I'd been there," I muttered.
She, waving her fan to and fro, continued: "I often think of splendid
men, and, dreaming in the sunshine, sometimes I adore them. But always
these day-dream heroes keep their distance; and we talk and talk, and
plan to do great good in the world, until I fall a-napping.... Heigho!
I'm yawning now." She covered her face with her fan and leaned back
against a pillar, crossing her feet. "Tell me about London," she said.
But I knew no more than she.
"I'd be a belle there," she observed. "I'd have a train o' beaux and
macaronis at my heels, I warrant you! The foppier, the more it would
please me. Think, cousin--ranks of them all a-simper, ogling me through
a hundred quizzing-glasses! Heigho! There's doubtless some deviltry in
me, as Sir Lupus says."
She yawned again, looked up at the stars, then fell to twisting her fan
with idle fingers.
"I suppose," she said, more to herself than to me, "that Sir John is now
close to the table's edge, and Colonel Claus is under it.... Hark to
their song, all off the key! But who cares?... so that they quarrel
not.... Like those twin brawlers of Glencoe, ... brooding on feuds nigh
a hundred years old.... I have no patience with a brooder, one who
treasures wrongs, ... like Walter Butler." She looked up at me.
"I warned you," she said.
"It is not easy to avoid insulting him," I replied.
"I warned you of that, too. Now you've a quarrel, and a reckoning in
"The reckoning is far off," I retorted, ill-humoredly.
"Far off--yes. Further away than you know. You will never cross swords
with Walter Butler."
"And why not?"
"He means to use the Iroquois."
I was silent.
"For the honor of your women, you cannot fight such a man," she added,
"I wish I had the right to protect your honor," I said, so suddenly and
so bitterly that I surprised myself.
"Have you not?" she asked, gravely. "I am your kinswoman."
"Yes, yes, I know," I muttered, and fell to plucking at the lace on my
The dawn's chill was in the air, the dawn's silence, too, and I saw the
calm morning star on the horizon, watching the dark world--the dark, sad
world, lying so still, so patient, under the ancient sky.
That melancholy--which is an omen, too--left me benumbed, adrift in a
sort of pained contentment which alternately soothed and troubled, so
that at moments I almost drowsed, and at moments I heard my heart
stirring, as though in dull expectancy of beatitudes undreamed of.
Dorothy, too, sat listless, pensive, and in her eyes a sombre shadow,
such as falls on children's eyes at moments, leaving their
Once in the false dawn a cock crowed, and the shrill, far cry left the
raw air emptier and the silence more profound. I looked wistfully at the
maid beside me, chary of intrusion into the intimacy of her silence.
Presently her vague eyes met mine, and, as though I had spoken, she
said: "What is it?"
"Only this: I am sorry you are pledged."
"It is unfair."
"To you. Bid him undo it and release you."
"What matters it?" she said, dully.
"To wed, one should love," I muttered.
"I cannot," she answered, without moving. "I would I could. This night
has witched me to wish for love--to desire it; and I sit here
a-thinking, a-thinking.... If love ever came to me I should think it
would come now--ere the dawn; here, where all is so dark and quiet and
close to God.... Cousin, this night, for the first moment in all my
life, I have desired love."
"To be loved?"
"No, ... to love."
I do not know how long our silence lasted; the faintest hint of silver
touched the sky above the eastern forest; a bird awoke, sleepily
twittering; another piped out fresh and clear, another, another; and, as
the pallid tint spread in the east, all the woodlands burst out ringing
In the house a door opened and a hoarse voice muttered thickly. Dorothy
paid no heed, but I rose and stepped into the hallway, where servants
were guiding the patroon to bed, and a man hung to the bronze-cannon
post, swaying and mumbling threats--Colonel Claus, wig awry, stock
unbuckled, and one shoe gone. Faugh! the stale, sour air sickened me.
Then a company of gentlemen issued from the dining-hall, and, as I
stepped back to the porch to give them room, their gray faces were
turned to me with meaningless smiles or blank inquiry.
"Where's my orderly?" hiccoughed Sir John Johnson. "Here, you, call my
rascals; get the chaises up! Dammy, I want my post-chaise, d' ye hear?"
Captain Campbell stumbled out to the lawn and fumbled about his lips
with a whistle, which he finally succeeded in blowing. This
accomplished, he gravely examined the sky.
"There they are," said Dorothy, quietly; and I saw, in the dim morning
light, a dozen horsemen stirring in the shadows of the stockade. And
presently the horses were brought up, followed by two post-chaises, with
sleepy post-boys sitting their saddles and men afoot trailing rifles.
Colonel Butler came out of the door with Magdalen Brant, who was half
asleep, and aided her to a chaise. Guy Johnson followed with Betty
Austin, his arm around her, and climbed in after her. Then Sir John
brought Claire Putnam to the other chaise, entering it himself behind
her. And the post-boys wheeled their horses out through the stockade,
followed at a gallop by the shadowy horsemen.
And now the Butlers, father and son, set toe to stirrup; and I saw
Walter Butler kick the servant who held his stirrup--why, I do not know,
unless the poor, tired fellow's hands shook.
Up into their saddles popped the Glencoe captains; then Campbell swore
an oath and dismounted to look for Colonel Claus; and presently two
blacks carried him out and set him in his saddle, which he clung to,
swaying like a ship in distress, his riding-boots slung around his neck,
stockinged toes clutching the stirrups.
Away they went, followed at a trot by the armed men on foot; fainter and
fainter sounded the clink, clink of their horses' hoofs, then died away.
In the silence, the east reddened to a flame tint. I turned to the open
doorway; Dorothy was gone, but old Cato stood there, withered hands
clasped, peaceful eyes on me.
"Mawnin', suh," he said, sweetly. "Yaas, suh, de night done gone and de
sun mos' up. H'it dat-a-way, Mars' George, suh, h'it jess natch'ly
dat-a-way in dishyere world--day, night, mo' day. What de Bible say?
Life, def, mo' life, suh. When we's daid we'll sho' find it dat-a-way."
Cato at my bedside with basin, towel, and razor, a tub of water on the
floor, and the sun shining on my chamber wall. These, and a stale taste
on my tongue, greeted me as I awoke.
First to wash teeth and mouth with orris, then to bathe, half asleep
still; and yet again to lie a-thinking in my arm-chair, robed in a
banyan, cheeks all suds and nose sniffing the scented water in the
chin-basin which I held none too steady; and I said, peevishly, "What a
fool a man is to play the fool! Do you hear me, Cato?"
He said that he marked my words, and I bade him hold his tongue and tell
me the hour.
"Then I'll sleep again," I muttered, but could not, and after the
morning draught felt better. Chocolate and bread, new butter and new
eggs, put me in a kinder humor. Cato, burrowing in my boxes, drew out a
soft, new suit of doeskin with new points, new girdle, and new
"Oh," said I, watching him, "am I to go forest-running to-day?"
"Mars' Varick gwine ride de boun's," he announced, cheerfully.
"Ride to hounds?" I repeated, astonished. "In May?"
"No, suh! Ride de boun's, suh."
"Oh, ride the boundaries?"
"Oh, very well. What time does he start?"
"'Bout noontide, suh."
The old man strove to straighten my short queue, but found it hopeless,
so tied it close and dusted on the French powder.
"Curly head, curly head," he muttered to himself. "Dess lak yo'
pap's!... an' Miss Dorry's. Law's sakes, dishyere hair wuf mo'n
"You think my hair worth more than eight dollars?" I asked, amused.
"H'it sho'ly am, suh."
"But why eight dollars, Cato?"
"Das what the redcoats say; eight dollars fo' one rebel scalp, suh."
I sat up, horrified. "Who told you that?" I demanded.
"All de gemmen done say so--Mars' Varick, Mars' Johnsing, Cap'in
"Bah! they said it to plague you, Cato," I muttered; but as I said it I
saw the old slave's eyes and knew that he had told the truth.
Sobered, I dressed me in my forest dress, absently lacing the
hunting-shirt and tying knee-points, while the old man polished hatchet
and knife and slipped them into the beaded scabbards swinging on
Then I went out, noiselessly descending the stairway, and came all
unawares upon the young folk and the children gathered on the sunny
porch, busy with their morning tasks.
They neither saw nor heard me; I leaned against the doorway to see the
pretty picture at my ease. The children, Sam and Benny, sat all hunched
up, scowling over their books.
Close to a fluted pillar, Dorothy Varick reclined in a chair,
embroidering her initials on a pair of white silk hose, using the
Rosemary stitch. And as her delicate fingers flew, her gold thimble
flashed like a fire-fly in the sun.
At her feet, cross-legged, sat Cecile Butler, velvet eyes intent on a
silken petticoat which she was embroidering with pale sprays of flowers.
Ruyven and Harry, near by, dipped their brushes into pans of brilliant
French colors, the one to paint marvellous birds on a silken fan, the
other to decorate a pair of white satin shoes with little pink blossoms
nodding on a vine.
Loath to disturb them, I stood smiling, silent; and presently Dorothy,
without raising her eyes, called on Samuel to read his morning lesson,
and he began, breathing heavily:
"I know that God is wroth at me
For I was born in sin;
My heart is so exceeding vile
Damnation dwells therein;
Awake I sin, asleep I sin,
I sin with every breath,
When Adam fell he went to hell
And damned us all to death!"
He stopped short, scowling, partly from fright, I think.
"That teaches us to obey God," said Ruyven, severely, dipping his brush
into the pink paint-cake.
"What's the good of obeying God if we're all to go to hell?" asked
"We're not all going to hell," said Dorothy, calmly. "God saves His
"Who are the elect?" demanded Samuel, faintly hopeful.
"Nobody knows," replied Cecile, grimly; "but I guess--"
"Benny," broke in Dorothy, "read your lesson! Cecile, stop your
chatter!" And Benny, cheerful and sceptical, read his lines:
"When by thpectators I behold
What beauty doth adorn me,
Or in a glath when I behold
How thweetly God did form me.
Hath God thuch comeliness bethowed
And on me made to dwell?--
What pity thuch a pretty maid
Ath I thoud go to hell!"
And Benny giggled.
"Benjamin," said Cecile, in an awful voice, "are you not terrified at
what you read?"
"Huh!" said Benny, "I'm not a 'pretty maid'; I'm a boy."
"It's all the same, little dunce!" insisted Cecile.
"Doeth God thay little boyth are born to be damned?" he asked, uneasily.
"No, no," interrupted Dorothy; "God saves His elect, I tell you. Don't
you remember what He says?
"'You sinners are, and such a share
As sinners may expect;
Such you shall have; for I do save
None but my own elect.'
"And you see," she added, confidently, "I think we all are elect, and
there's nothing to be afraid of. Benny, stop sniffing!"
"Are you sure?" asked Cecile, gloomily.
Dorothy, stitching serenely, answered: "I am sure God is fair."
"Oh, everybody knows that," observed Cecile. "What we want to know is,
what does He mean to do with us."
"If we're good," added Samuel, fervently.
"He will damn us, perhaps," said Ruyven, sucking his paint-brush and
looking critically at his work.
"Damn us? Why?" inquired Dorothy, raising her eyes.
"Oh, for all that sin we were born in," said Ruyven, absently.
"But that's not fair," said Dorothy.
"Are you smarter than a clergyman?" sneered Ruyven.
Dorothy spread the white silk stocking over one knee. "I don't know,"
she sighed, "sometimes I think I am."
"Pride," commented Cecile, complacently. "Pride is sin, so there you
"There you are, Dorothy!" said I, laughing from the doorway; and, "Oh,
Cousin Ormond!" they all chorused, scrambling up to greet me.
"Have a care!" cried Dorothy. "That is my wedding petticoat! Oh, he's
slopped water on it! Benny, you dreadful villain!"
"No, he hasn't," said I, coming out to greet her and Cecile, with Samuel
and Benny hanging to my belt, and Harry fast hold of one arm. "And
what's all this about wedding finery? Is there a bride in this
Dorothy held out a stocking. "A bride's white silken hose," she said,
"Embroidered on the knee with the bride's initials," added Cecile,
"Yours, Dorothy?" I demanded.
"Yes, but I shall not wear them for ages and ages. I told you so last
"But I thought Dorothy had best make ready," remarked Cecile. "Dorothy
is to carry that fan and wear those slippers and this petticoat and the
white silk stockings when she weds Sir George."
"Sir George who?" I asked, bluntly.
"Why, Sir George Covert. Didn't you know?"
I looked at Dorothy, incensed without a reason.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked, ungraciously.
"Why didn't you ask me?" she replied, a trifle hurt.
I was silent.
Cecile said: "I hope that Dorothy will marry him soon. I want to see how
she looks in this petticoat."
"Ho!" sneered Harry, "you just want to wear one like it and be a
bridesmaid and primp and give yourself airs. I know you!"
"Sir George Covert is a good fellow," remarked Ruyven, with a
patronizing nod at Dorothy; "but I always said he was too old for you.
You should see how gray are his temples when he wears no powder."
"He has fine eyes," murmured Cecile.
"He's too old; he's forty," repeated Ruyven.
"His legs are shapely," added Cecile, sentimentally.
Dorothy gave a despairing upward glance at me. "Are these children not
silly?" she said, with a little shrug.
"We may be children, and we may be silly," said Ruyven, "but if we were
you we'd wed our cousin Ormond."
"All of you together?" inquired Dorothy.
"You know what I mean," he snapped.
"Why don't you?" demanded Harry, vaguely, twitching Dorothy by the
"Wed our cousin Ormond."