by Maria Thompson Davies
CHAPTER I. SPARKLING WAVES OVER HIGH EXPLOSIVES
CHAPTER II. VIVE
THAT MR. G.
SLADE OF DETROIT
CHAPTER IV. THE
“HERE'S MY BOY,
CHAPTER VI. “WE
BOTH NEED YOU”
CHAPTER VII. THE
CHAPTER VIII. IN
THE DRESS OF
“O'ER THE LAND
OF THE FREE—“
VITRIOL AND THE
BUSINESS AND PIE
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XIV. TO
BEAR MEN AND TO
“BEHOLD, I AM A
COME TO YOU!”
THE TALL TIMBERS
OF OLD HARPETH
THE CAMP HEAVEN
CHAPTER XIX. ALL
CHAPTER XX. “YOU
MARIA THOMPSON DAVIESS
Author of “The Melting of Molly,” “Miss Selina Lue,” “Over Paradise
Frontispiece from Painting by E. Sophonisba Hergesheimer
To Jessie Morson Grahame Who expects “the best” of me
CHAPTER I. SPARKLING WAVES OVER HIGH
Was there ever a woman who did not very greatly desire for herself,
at long moments, the doublet and hose of a man, perhaps also his sword,
as well as his attitude in the viewing of life? I think not. To a very
small number of those ladies of great curiosity it has been granted
that they climb to those ramparts of the life of a man; but it was
needful that they be stout of limb and sturdy of heart to sustain
themselves upon that eminence and not be dashed below upon the rocks of
a strange land. I, Roberta, Marquise de Grez and Bye, have obtained
glimpses into a far country and this is what I bring on returning, not
as a spy, but, shall I say, laden with spices and forbidden fruit?
And for me it has been a very fine dash into the wilds of a land of
strangeness, and I do not know that I have yet found myself completely
returned unto my estate of a woman.
I first began to realize that I was set out upon a great journey
when I stood at the rail of the very large ship and watched it plow its
way through the waves which they told us with their splendor hid cruel
mines. I felt the future might be like unto those great waves, and it
might be that it would break in sparkling crests over high explosives.
I found them!
I had seen a fear of those explosives of life come in my dying
father's eyes, and here I stood at his command out on the ocean in
quest of a woman's fate in a strange country.
“Get back to America, Bob, and go straight to your Uncle Robert at
Hayesville in the Harpeth Valley. He cut me loose because he didn't
understand, when I married your mother out of the French opera in
Paris. When I named you Roberta for him he returned the letter I sent
but with a notice of a thousand dollars in Monroe and Company for you.
I didn't tell him when your mother died. God, I've been bitter! But
these German bullets have cut the life out of me and I see more
plainly. Get the money and take Nannette and the kiddie on the first
boat. There's starvation and—maybe worse in Paris for you. Take—the
money—and—get—to—brother Robert. God of America—take—them
And that was all. I held him in my arms for a long time, while old
Nannette and small Pierre wept beside me, and then I laid him upon his
pillow and straightened the little tricolor that the good Sister of the
old gray convent in which he lay had given me to place in his hand when
he had begged for it. My mother's country had meant my mother to him
and he had given his life for her and France in the trenches of the
Vosges. And thus at his bidding I was on the very high seas of
adventure. From this thought of him I was very suddenly recalled by old
Nannette who came upon the deck from below.
“Le bon Dieu,” she sighed, as she settled herself in her
steamer chair and took out the lace knitting. “Is it not of a goodness
that I have tied in my stocking the necessary francs that we may land
in that America, where all is of such a good fortune? And also by my
skill we have one hundred and fifty francs above that need which must
be almost an hundred of their huge and wasteful dollars. All is well
with us.” And as she spoke she pulled up the collar of Pierre's soft
blue serge blouse around his pale thin face and eased the cushion
behind his crooked small back.
“Is—is that all which remains of the fifteen hundred dollars we
found to be in that bank, Nannette?” I asked of her with a great
uncertainty. My mother's fortune, descended from her father, the
Marquis de Grez and Bye, and the income of my father from his
government post, had made life easy to live in that old house by the
Quay, where so many from the Faubourg St. Germaine came to hear her
sing after her fortune and children took her from the Opera—and to go
for the summers in the gray old Chateau de Grez—but of the investment
of francs or dollars and cents I had no knowledge, in spite of my
claims to be an American girl of much progress. My mother had laughed
and very greatly adored my assumption of an extreme American manner,
copied as nearly as possible after that of my father, and had failed to
teach to me even that thrift which is a part of the dot of every French
girl from the Faubourg St. Germaine to the Boulevard St. Michel. But
even in my ignorance the information of Nannette as to the smallness of
our fortune gave to me an alarm.
“What will you, Mademoiselle? It was necessary that I purchase the
raiment needful to the young Marquis de Grez according to his state,
and for the Marquise his sister also. It was not to be contemplated
that we should travel except in apartments of the very best in the
ship. Is not gold enough in America even for sending in great sums for
relief of suffering? Have I not seen it given in the streets of Paris?
Is it not there for us? Do you make me reproaches?” And Nannette began
to weep into the fine lawn of her nurse's handkerchief.
“No, no, Nannette; I know it was of a necessity to us to have the
clothes, and of course we had to travel in the first class. Do not have
distress. If we need more money in America I will obtain it.” I made
that answer with a gesture of soothing upon her old shoulders which I
could never remember as not bent in an attitude of hovering over Pierre
“Eh bien!” she answered with a perfect satisfaction at my
assumption of all the responsibilities of our three existences.
And as I leaned against the deck rail and looked out into a future
as limitless as that water ahead of us into which the great ship was
plowing, I made a remark to myself that had in it all the wisdom of
those who are ignorant.
“The best of life is not to know what will happen next.”
“Ah, that was so extraordinary coming from a woman that you must
pardon me for listening and making exclamation,” came an answer in a
nice voice near at my elbow. The words were spoken in as perfect
English as I had learned from my father, but in them I observed to be
an intonation that my French ear detected as Parisian. “Also,
Mademoiselle, are you young women of the new era to be without that
very delightful but often danger-creating quality of curiosity?” As I
turned I looked with startled eyes into the grave face of a man less
than forty years, whose sad eyes were for the moment lighting with a
great tenderness which I did not understand.
“I believe the quality which will be most required of the women of
the era which is mine, is—is courage and then more courage, Monsieur,”
I made answer to him as if I had been discussing some question with him
in my father's smoking room at the Chateau de Grez, as I often came in
to do with my father and his friends after the death of my mother when
the evenings seemed too long alone. They had liked that I so came at
times, and the old Count de Breaux once had remarked that feminine
sympathy was the flux with which men made solid their minds into a
unanimous purpose. He had been speaking of that war a few weeks after
Louvaine and I had risen and had stood very tall and very haughty
before him and my father.
“The women of France are to come after this carnage to mold a nation
from what remains to them, Monsieur,” I had said to him as I looked
straight into his face. “Is not the courage of women a war supply upon
which to rely?”
“God! what are the young women—such women as she—going to do in
the years that come after the deluge, Henri of America?” he had made a
muttering question to my father as his old eyes smouldered over me in
From the memory of the smoking room at the Chateau de Grez my mind
suddenly returned to the rail of the ship and the Frenchman beside me,
who was looking into my face with the same kindly question as to my
future that had been in the eyes of my old godfather and which had
stirred my father's heart to its American depths and made him send me
back to his own country.
“Ah, yes, that courage is a good weapon with which to adventure in
this America of the Grizzled Bear, Mademoiselle,” I found the strange
man saying to me with a nice amusement as well as interest.
“My father had shot seven grizzlies before his twenty-first
birthday. We have the skins, four of them, in the great hall of the
Chateau de Grez—or—or we did have them before—before—” My voice
faltered and I could not continue speaking for the tears that rose in
my throat and eyes.
Quickly the man at my side turned his broad shoulders so that he
should shield me from the laughing and exclaiming groups of people upon
the deck near us.
“Before Ypres, Mademoiselle?” he asked with tears also in the depths
of his voice.
“Yes,” I answered. “And I am now going into the great America with
my crippled brother and his nurse—alone. It is the land of my father
and I have his courage—I must have also that of a French woman.
I have it, Monsieur,” and as I spoke I drew myself to my full,
broad-shouldered height, which was almost equal to that of the man
“Mademoiselle, I salute the courage born of an American who fought
before the guns of the Marne and of a French woman who sent him there!”
And as he spoke thus he removed from his head his silk deck cap and
held it at his shoulder in a way that I knew was a salute from a French
officer to the memory of a brother. “And also may I be permitted to
present myself, as it is a sad necessity that you travel without one
from whom I might request the introduction?” he asked of me with a
After a search in his pocket for a few seconds he at last discovered
a case of leather and presented to me a card. As he handed it to me his
color rose up under his black eyes and grave trouble looked from
between their long black lashes. I glanced down at the card and read:
Capitaine, le Count Armond de Lasselles,
44th Chasseurs de le Republique Francaise.
“Monsieur le Count, I know, I know why it is that you go to
America!” I made exclamation as I clasped to my breast my hands and my
eyes shone with excitement. “I have read it in Le Matin just the
day before yesterday. You go to buy grain against the winter of
starvation in the Republique. No man is so great a financier as you and
so brave a soldier, with your wound not healed from the trenches in the
Vosges. Monsieur, I salute you!” and I bent my head and held out my
hand to him.
“We're to expect nimble wits as well as courage of you young—shall
I say American women?” he laughed as he bent over my hand. “Now
shall I not be led for introduction to the small brother and the old
nurse?” he asked with much friendly interest in his kind eyes.
It was a very wonderful thing to observe the wee Pierre listen to
the narration of Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, concerning the
actions of a small boy who had run out of a night of shot and shell
into the heart of his regiment and who had now lived five months in the
trenches with them. Pierre's small face is all of France and in his
heart under his bent chest burns a soul all of France. It is as if in
her death, at his birth, my beautiful mother had stamped her race upon
him with the greater emphasis.
“Is it that the small Gaston is a daredevil like is my Bob?” he
questioned as we all made a laughter at the story of the Count de
Lasselles concerning the sortie of the small idol from the trenches in
the dead of one peaceful night to return with a very wide thick flannel
shirt of one of the Boches, which he had caught hanging upon a
temporary laundry line back of the German trenches.
At that English “daredevil” word I was in my mind again back in the
old Chateau de Grez and into my own childhood.
“You young daredevil, you, hold tight to that vine until I get a
grip on your wrist, or you'll dash us both on the rocks below,” was the
exact sentence with which my father bestowed my title upon me as he
hung by his heels out of a window of the old vine-covered Chateau de
“It is one large mistake that my jeune fille is born what you
call a boy in heart. Helas!” sobbed my beautiful young French
mother as she regarded us from the garden below.
“If you were a boy I'd thrash you within an inch of your life, but
as you are a girl I suppose it is permissible for me to admire your
pluck, Mademoiselle Roberta,” said my father as he landed me in the
music room by his side while an exchange of excited sentences went on
between my mother and old Nannette in the garden below. “What were you
doing out on that ledge, anyway? It is more than a hundred feet to the
ground and the rocks.”
“I was making the hunt through Yellowstone Park that you have
related to me, father, and I prefer that you give me a boy's
punishment. If I have a boy's what you call 'pluck,' I should have a
boy's what you call 'thrashing.' Monsieur, I make that demand. I am the
Marquise de Grez and Bye, and it may be that as you are an American you
do not understand fully the honor of the house of Grez.” I can remember
that as I spoke I drew my ten-year old body up to its full height,
which must have been over that of twelve years, and looked my father
straight in the face with a glance of extreme hauteur as near as was
possible to that of the portrait of the old Marquis de Grez, who died
fighting on the field of Flanders.
“Eh, la la, what is it I have produced for you, Henri of
America? It is not a proper jeune fille, nor do I know what
punishment to impose upon her; but with you I must laugh,” with which
my beautiful mother from the doorway threw herself into the arms of her
young American husband and her laughter of silver mingled with his deep
laugh of a great joy.
“Don't worry, Celeste; Bob is just a clear throw-back to her
great-grandmother, Nancy Donaldson, who shot two Indians and a bear in
defense of her kiddies one afternoon while my maternal grandsire was in
the stockades presiding over the council in which was laid down the
first broad draft for the formation of the Commonwealth of Harpeth. I'm
sorry, dear, that she is so vigorously American that she has to climb
the Rocky Mountains even here in the garden spot of France. Just now
she is French enough to be dealing with me in the terms of that jolly
old boy of Flanders fame in the hall downstairs; but cheer up,
sweetheart, she's a wild, daredevil American and I'm going to send her
back to the plains as soon as she speaks her native tongue with less
French accent. Then the rest of us can be happily French forever
“I will speak as you do, my father, from this moment forth,” I
answered him with something that was wild and fierce and free rising in
my child's heart. “I will not be a grande dame of France. I am a
woman of America. I speak only United States.” And I clung to my
father's arm as he drew me to him and embraced both my laughing mother
and me, before I was delivered to old Nannette who, with affectionate
French grumblings, led me away to the nursery for repairs.
The scene had become fixed in my memory, for from it had sprung a
friendship of a great closeness with my wonderful American father whom
love had chained in France. When he rode the great hunter that had come
across to him from a friend in Kentucky I demanded to cling behind him
or to sit the saddle in front of him, even at times running at his side
as long as my breath held out, to rise on his stirrup, like the great
terrifying Scotchmen do in battles, and cling as Kentuck made flight
over wall or fence. My very slim and strong hands could not be kept
from the steering wheel of his long blue racing car, and I could bring
down a hare out of the field with any gun he possessed as unerringly as
could he. I lived his life with him hour by hour, learned to think as
he thought, to speak his easy transatlantic speech, and did equal
trencher duty with him at all times, so that muscle and brawn were
packed on my tall, broad woman's body with the same compactness as it
was packed upon his, by the time I had reached my twenty-first
birthday. By that time he and I had been alone together for eight long
years, for my mother had left us with tiny, misshapen Pierre as a heart
burden but with only each other to be companions.
The efforts of some of my mother's distant relatives and friends to
make me into the traditional young French Marquise had resulted in
giving to me a very beautiful grande dame manner to use when I
stood in need of it, which I took a care was not too often. Because I
had been born to a woman's estate I considered I must manage well
beautiful skirts and lacy fans, but no oftener than was necessary, I
decided. I went for the most of my days habited in English
knickerbockers under short corduroy skirts, worn with a many-pocketed
hunting blouse. On the night of my presentation at the salon of my
distant relative, the old Countess de Rochampierre, I had to apologize
to a young Russian attache for searching with desperation for the bit
of lace called a handkerchief, among the laces and ruffles of my
evening gown in the regions where I had been accustomed to find
“And is it possible that Mademoiselle Americaine hunts as well as
she makes the dance?” was his delighted answer to my explanation, which
led into a half-hour description of a raw morning in the field just
three days before in England, where my father and I had gone over for a
week's hunting with Lord Gordon Leigh at Leigholm.
“And then some,” I returned answer with delight at his sympathy in
my narration of the sport. I liked very well the American slang that my
father's friends were always glad to teach to me, and that gave to him
both amusement and delight when I used it in his presence.
Also I liked well that young Russian and he came many times to the
Chateau de Grez and Bye before he left to join his regiment of Russian
Cossacks in the Carpathians.
And this time it was from the Carpathians that I returned to the
ship deck to find wee Pierre laughing again over the very small dog
that brought into the French trenches a very large and stupid sheep
from the flock back of the German trenches.
“And your medal of honor, Monsieur le Capitaine; is it permitted
that I lay for a little moment just one finger upon it?” Pierre asked
of him as the great soldier stood tall above the steamer chair and gave
to the little Frenchman the salute of an officer.
Nannette sobbed into her lace and I turned my head away as the tall
man bent and laid the frail little hand against his decoration which he
wore almost entirely hidden under the pocket of his tweed Norfolk of
English manufacture. Only French eyes like wee Pierre's could have seen
it pinned there hidden over his heart. I think he wore it to give him a
large courage for his mission that meant bread or starvation to so many
of his people.
“Ah, Monsieur le Capitaine,” I said to him with a softness of tears
in my throat, “I would that there was some little thing that I might do
to serve France. I do so long to go into those awful trenches with that
red cross on my arm, as it is not permitted to me to carry a gun, which
I can use much better than many men now handling them with bullets
against the enemy; but it is necessary that I obey the commands of my
soldier father and take to a safety the small Pierre.” And as we spoke
he walked beside me to the prow of the large ship so that to us was a
view of the heavens of blue beyond which lay our America.
“My child, there is a great service which you can render France,” he
answered me as we stopped to watch the great white waves flung aside
from the ship. “France needs friends in America, great powerful friends
who will help her in contracting for food and all other munitions. A
beautiful woman can do much in winning those friends. You go to your
uncle, who is one of those in power in a State in that fruitful valley
of the Mississippi from which I hope that my lieutenant, Count de
Bourdon, whom I sent on that mission, will get many mules to carry food
to the hungry boys in the trenches when mud is too deep for gasoline.
Make of him and everyone your friend and through you the friend of our
struggling country. Tell them of France, laugh with them for the joy to
come when France, all France, with Alsace and beautiful Lorraine, is
free; and make them weep with you for her struggles. Who knows but that
through you may come some wonderful strength added to your old country
from the new, whose blood runs in your veins as well?”
“All of that I will do, mon Capitaine. I so enlist myself.”
And as I spoke I drew myself up unto the greatest height possible to
me. “I will be of the army that feeds, rather than of that which
“Mon Dieu, child, what is possible to you to do has no limit.
Also, I say to you, watch and be on your guard for aught that may harm
France. In America are spies. I have been warned. Also there are those
who practice deceptions in contracts. It is for the purpose to so guard
that I come to America.”
“I also will so guard,” I made answer to my Capitaine, the Count de
Lasselles, as we again came in our walk to the side of wee Pierre and
CHAPTER II. VIVE LA FRANCE
And after that first day there were many hours that the Capitaine,
the Count de Lasselles, spent with little Pierre and the good Nannette,
as she sat knitting always with the sun on the water reddening her
round cheeks, while I had much pleasure with many friends who came to
me upon the ship.
A very fine young man who was named William Raines, from the State
of Saint Louis, instructed me in several beautiful dances, but I do not
think he was held in the esteem which he deserved by another of his
American brothers by the name of Peter Scudder, whose home was in the
town of Philadelphia.
“Dancing with Scudder must be like going to your grandmother's
funeral over the old State Road in a rockaway,” was the comment that
Mr. William Raines made upon his friend Mr.
Peter Scudder, and what Mr. Scudder said of him was of the same
“Raines' dancing is extremely like Saint Louis: delightfully rapid
but crude,” was his comment.
I should have been regretful of the unkindness between those two
very nice Americans but for a beautiful good to France that was brought
about by the desire of each to please me more than the other.
The many ladies upon the ship had been of exceeding kindness to me
because of the loveliness of small Pierre's dark face and the pity of
his crooked back. Old Nannette was of a very great popularity with all
of those ladies and she spent many hours in recounting the glories of
the old Chateau de Grez and Bye and the family which had inhabited it
since the fourteenth century. So it came about that many friends were
made for France among them.
Now that Mr. William Raines had a very nice idea to invite in my
honor all of the ladies who were friends to me, and many distinguished
gentlemen of politics and of universities and other large affairs, who
were returning from business in Europe to more business in America, to
be present while a young boy of France, who was among those in the
steerage going to the freedom of America with his mother who had been
widowed at Ypres, sang in a very lovely voice many French folk songs
and songs of war to all present. And at that singing many tears flowed
and so much money was put into the hands of the boy that a future for
the very sad little French family was assured in America. And I also
wept. I was taken into the embrace of all of those kind American women
and assured of so much care and affection in that land of my father,
that I felt of a very great richness in spite of the small sum of money
in the heel of Nannette's rough stocking. And as I received all of
these beautiful attentions I perceived the eyes of my Capitaine, the
Count de Lasselles, fixed upon me with a deep gratitude and pride. It
was all of a great pleasure to me except that I did not like very well
to be so distinguished by a young man, which made the French grande
dame in me to shrink.
“Mais, vive la France,” I murmured to myself and was happy
But, alas! At the joy of all this entertainment there was one
sadness. It was of my dear friend, Mr. Peter Scudder. There was no
pleasure, but great seriousness, in his face during the whole
“Don't mind him; poor Pete's chewing a grouch,” was what his good
friend Mr. William Raines answered to my lament over his sadness. And
that sadness lasted for three days, up unto the day before we came to a
sight of the Lady of Liberty of America. Then his face found a great
radiance and I perceived that he was full of much business. I found him
with a notebook, in deep consultation with my Capitaine, the Count de
Lasselles, and then in earnest consultation with many of the other
gentlemen. I had much wonder; but at the dinner that night, which was
the last before we made the landing to America, I discovered all of his
good actions. While we were at the last of the coffee, Mr. Peter
Scudder arose and made a bow to the capitaine of the ship, beside whom
I sat, which salutation did not in any way include me, and then turned
to the direction of my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
“Sir,” he said in that very nice voice which it is said is of
Philadelphia, “I have the honor to ask you if you will take charge of a
fund of five thousand dollars, which has been given by the passengers
of this boat, to be sent immediately to a field hospital of France,
preferably the nearest in need to the battlefield of the Marne.” And
with no more of a speech than that he seated himself and did not so
much as make a glance in my direction when he mentioned the battlefield
on which my father had died. I think that Mr. Peter Scudder is a very
great gentleman and I sat very still and white, with my head held high
and tears rising from the depths of France in my heart.
“My honored friends,” answered my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles,
as he rose from his place at the foot of the table and stood tall and
slim in the manner of a great soldier, “it is impossible that I say to
you my gratitude for this expression of your friendship for my country.
So many dollars will bring life and an end of suffering to many
hundreds of my brave boys, but the good will and sympathy it represents
from America to France will do still more. The fund shall go to the
place you request and I now beg to offer to you a toast that will be of
an understanding to you.” And at that moment he raised his glass of
champagne and said:
“To the destiny of those born of American and French blood
All those present arose to their feet and drank that toast with
loving looking at me, and I did not know what I should do until that
good old gray boat capitaine patted me upon the shoulder and said
across his empty glass:
“God bless and keep you, child!”
“I thank everybody,” I answered as I went into the embrace of my
very large lady friend from the State of Cincinnati, and then into the
embrace of the other ladies.
“I've been knitting all day for two months but I'm going to begin to
sit up at night,” sobbed the lady from a queer Keokuk name as I took
her into my embrace on account of her extreme smallness.
It was at a very late hour, just before retiring, that I ascended to
the deck with my Capitaine to view the effect of a very young moon on
the waves of the ocean.
“Is it that you think now your soldier of France has done your
command well, mon Capitaine?” I asked of him.
“Most extremely well, and entirely in the mode of a woman. Those two
young men have made of themselves very noble competitors for your
favor, but remember that it is of a truth that only a 'daredevil' would
bring together such high explosives. I salute you!” he made answer to
me with a laugh which ended in a sigh. “Child, little child,” he
continued as he bent over my hand to kiss it as he did each night
before he conducted me to the head of the stairs leading down into my
cabin, “above all take unto yourself all that is possible of joy in the
present, for we do not know what the supply will be for the future.
Perhaps it will be like the harvests of France—burned up in a
“Ah, but, mon Capitaine, will you not dance with me once
to-night for a joy. It will be our last on the ship before we land
to-morrow. You have never danced with me and to-morrow you are lost
from me into the wilds of that English Canada.” And as I spoke I held
out my arms to him and began to hum the music of that remarkable
Chin-Chin fox dance that I had been dancing below with Mr. William
Raines and which the band had just begun to play again. Of course, I
knew that I must be very lovely in that young moonlight in one of the
frocks that Nannette had purchased from her very talented cousin, the
couturiere on Rue Leopold, and I could see no reason why I should
not make a happiness for the great gentleman of France as well as the
young boy from Philadelphia and also the one from Saint Louis.
“You are a daredevil, Mademoiselle, to propose the dance to
powder-stained Armond Lasselles, but the joy of you is of a greatness
and I feel from it a healing in the night of my soul.”
And he reached out in the moonlight and took me into his arms and
danced me along that deck with a grace that it would not be possible
for either the one from Philadelphia or the one from Saint Louis to
imitate. That nice but very ponderous lady from the State of Cincinnati
who regarded us from her steamer chair, enjoyed it as much as did I,
and she clapped her large hands as Monsieur le Capitaine swung me
around into the quietness beyond one of the tall chimneys for smoke
from the engine.
“This is good-bye, mon enfant, for I leave the ship at dawn
with the tug, so that I do avoid those reporters from newspapers and
the contract conspirators. I have advised Nannette that you go to the
Ritz-Carlton to await your Uncle if he be not upon the dock. I go to
the grain fields of Canada and then to the West of America.... I would
that it could be au revoir. Upon a day that shall come,
beautiful lady, perhaps it will be permitted to me to... Non, vive
la France! A lies vite, cherie ... go while I—I—Vive la France!”
And tears came across my eyes as I did his bidding and left him—to
France. In my heart was a desire to cling to him in a great fear at
being alone to care for the good Nannette and the small Pierre, but I
knew he must travel fast and far on his quest and that for France I
must let him go without—a backward look. Would I find in the great
land of America such another gallant gentleman to care for the fate of
the small Pierre and Nannette and me? What did I know of this cruel
Uncle? Nothing but his hardness of heart. I dreaded the sight of him
that I should find upon the arrival of the ship at the dock, which
would be an answer to the letter I had sent to him to inform him of my
coming, and I spent my long night in hate of him.
With the arrival of the morning came more mines that exploded for me
under the waves of my life that had danced with so little concern
through the days upon the ship. A rain was falling and my friend of
France was gone from me at the beginning of day in a boat that is
called tug. Upon Nannette had fallen a rheumatism and the small Pierre
was in the midst of shivering chills when we at last were permitted by
the very unpleasant officer of America to go from the ship.
“Helas, it was all of the gold that he took from me for an
entry into this savage land where one piece of money is as five of that
of France. There remains but a few sous and a gold piece,” sobbed
Nannette as she came from her interview with the immigration officer
while I stood beside Pierre, deposited by a deck steward on a pile of
our steamer blankets.
“Did it take all—all of the money to land, Nannette? Not all!” I
cried as I stretched out my hand to her. I did not know as I now do,
that the money would have been returned to Nannette had she waited with
patience and not made a hurry of returning to her nurslings.
“All, Mademoiselle,” were the words with which she answered me, and
for some very long moments I stood dazed and struggled in the waves of
that adventure I had thought to be life.
“I beg your pardon, Marquise, but here is a letter the dock steward
failed to find you to deliver,” came in the pleasant voice of that Mr.
William Raines as he raised a very fine hat that made him much better
to look upon than the cap of the steamer, and handed me a large letter.
I took it and came with my head out from under the wave which had
dashed over me.
“Is there anything I can do to help you through the customs?” then
came the nice voice of that Mr. Peter Scudder of Philadelphia from the
other side of me.
“No, with much gratitude to you both; I must wait the arrival of my
Uncle,” I made answer to them with my head held very high.
“Then we'll see you at the Ritz for tea at five as per promise,”
said Mr. William Raines as he walked away and left Mr. Peter Scudder,
who was assisting the lady from Cincinnati to transport her very lovely
dog to a handsome car which awaited her. She also had I promised to
visit from that great Ritz-Carlton hotel and she smiled in sweet
friendliness to me as I stood with the letter in my hand and watched
all of the friends I had found upon that ship, depart and leave me with
not a place to go. I stood for many minutes motionless and then my eyes
perceived the letter in my hand. Surely it must be opened and read. It
was from the wicked Uncle, I knew, but it might be that it was not of
the cruelty that I had expected. It would excuse him no doubt from
arrival in person for the expected greeting to his relatives, Pierre
“Go to it, Bob,” I advised myself in the language I had heard Mr.
Saint Louis use when he was forced to ask a nice lady, who danced with
disagreeable heaviness, to trot the fox with him because of a
friendship with his mother.
And this is the letter that my eyes read with astonishment, while
both the good Nannette and small shivering Pierre sat with their eyes
fixed upon my countenance:
“My dear nephew Robert:
“Your arrival in America at this time suits me exactly. I need
you immediately in my business. If you had been the girl,
instead of the little one, I would have had to dispose of you
some way—even murder. I have no use for women. Leave the
little crippled girl and her nurse, who I feel sure is an old
fool, with my good friend Dr. Mason Burns, of 222 South 32nd
St. He has cured more children of hip joint disease than any
man in the world, and he will straighten her out for us and we
can give her away to somebody. I've written him instructions.
Leave her immediately and come down here to me on the first
train. The deal is held up without you. Enclosed is a check
for a thousand dollars. If you are like Henry you'll need it,
but keep away from Broadway and the women. Come on, I say, by
Your uncle, Robert Carruthers.
“The Uncle of America has come to a confusion of the sex between
Pierre and me from a careless memory and the writing of my hand, which
is of a great boldness, but not to be easily read,” I explained as I
read the letter aloud to Pierre and Nannette.
It took me just one hour by the clock, sitting there on the pile of
steamer wraps with the small Pierre in the hollow of my arm, to explain
and translate the sense of that letter to old Nannette, and I feel sure
she would have been sitting upon that spot yet immovable rather than
let me depart from her if I had not put all of my time and force upon
the picturing to her of a Pierre who could come down with her later to
me in a condition to run through the gardens of Twin Oaks, which was
the home of his American ancestors. With that vision constantly before
her she let the porter and me insert her into a taxicab and extract her
at the door of the small private hospital of the good Dr. Burns who was
to perform the miracle for the back and hip of small and radiant
“But what is it that I do to permit the jeune fille of my
beloved mistress to depart into this city of wicked savages not
attended by me? I cannot. Do not demand it!” were the words with which
I left her arguing with that very sympathetic and sensible doctor of
America. He had not noticed a confusion of sex was between Pierre and
me and he had sent out the check of my wicked Uncle and procured the
American money for me. Also he had given me a few directions that he
appeared to think of a great sufficiency and had ordered a taxi to be
in readiness for me.
“Nonsense, Nurse,” he said to Nannette bruskly but not with
unkindness when I had translated to him Nannette's weeping protests. “A
great strapping girl like that can get down to the Harpeth Valley all
right by herself. Nobody's going to eat her up, and from the size of
the biceps I detect under that chiffon I think she could give a good
account of herself if anybody tried. How like you are to what Henry was
at your age, child, God bless you! I'd go to the station with you but
I've a patient all prepared for an operation. Shall I send a nurse with
“No, please, good Doctor, and good-bye,” I said, with a great haste
as I hurriedly embraced both Nannette and the small Pierre and departed
down the broad steps into the taxi with the open door.
“Pennsylvania Station! Your train may not leave for hours, but you
can get your baggage together. Good-bye,” said that good Doctor as he
shut the door and returned to his pursuit of making human beings either
whole or dead.
“And now, Roberta Carruthers, no longer Marquise of Grez and Bye,
you are in your America, and let's see you do some hustling,” as
remarked that Mr. Saint Louis to Mr. Peter Scudder at cards.
And while that very swift taxi conveyed me to the large station that
is as beautiful as a cathedral I did some what I name “tall thinking.”
What would be the result of my womanly arrival in that State of Harpeth
of my wicked Uncle? Would he be forced to murder me as his letter had
said? And if in his anger over the mistake he had made from my letter,
written in that very bold and difficult handwriting, he should turn
from me, and the good Nannette and Pierre as well, what would I then
do? All must be enacted that a cure for Pierre be obtained. With great
energy I had been thinking, but I did not know what it was that I
should do to prevent his anger when I arrived to him as a woman until
suddenly the good Doctor Burns' kindness in marking the resemblance of
me to my father in his extreme youth made an entry into my brain and
was received with the greatest welcome by the daredevil who there
“Very well, Robert Carruthers, who is no longer the beautiful
Marquise of Grez and Bye, you will be that husky nephew to your wicked
Uncle in the State of Harpeth whom he 'needs in his business.' What is
it that you lack of a man's estate save the clothes, which you have
money in your pockets to obtain after you have purchased the ticket
upon the railway train?”
A decision had been made and action upon it had begun in less than a
half hour after the purchase of the ticket for the State of Harpeth had
As my father had taught me observation in hunting, I had remarked a
large shop for the clothing of men upon the Sixth Avenue near to the
station. I made my way into it and by a very nice fiction of an invalid
brother whom I was taking to the South of America I was able to buy for
a few dollars less than was in my pocket two most interesting bags of
apparel for a handsome young man of fashion. The man who assisted me to
buy was very large, with a head only ornamented with a drapery of gray
hair around the edges, and he spoke much of what his son deemed
suitable to make appearance in the prevailing mode.
“He's at tea at the Ritz-Carlton with a lady friend this afternoon,
and I wish you could have saw him when he left the store to meet her,”
he said as he laid the last of the silk scarfs and hose into one of the
large flat bags I had purchased and which he had packed as I selected.
“He had on the match to these gray tweeds and was fitted out in
lavender from the skin out. Now what are you going to do about shoes,
“That I do not know, kind sir,” I made answer with a great
perplexity. “I think that the feet of my relative are about the size of
those I possess.”
“Most women would wear shoes near the size of their brothers' if
they didn't prefer to waddle and limp along with their feet scrouged.
Go over to the shoe department and the clerk will fit you out with what
you need in about two sizes larger than you wear. If they are not right
you can tell just about what will be, and exchange 'em by special
messenger. I'll pack all this shipshape before you come back.” With
which direction I left the kind man and made my way to another of equal
“I have had upon my feet the shoes of my brother when in accidents
while at hunting and fishing, and I think I can ascertain a good
fitting,” I made a falsification to the very polite young man who stood
with attention and sympathy to wait upon me.
“We'll make a selection and then try one pair on,” he advised me.
And as I gave to him a fine description of the clothing I had
purchased he brought forth in accord many wonderful boots and shoes for
the riding and a walking and also for the dance. I had never observed
that the shoes of men were of such an ugliness; but when one was upon
my foot, in place of the shoe of much beauty which I discarded, both I
and the young man had a fine laugh.
“Mais, they are of a great comfort,” I further remarked. “And
they feel about as did those of my brother, who is of a small frame.”
“Well, if they are not right, send 'em back and I'll change 'em,” he
answered with great interest.
After the exchange of much money between us, the young man went with
me to the other kind old man of the white hair, and together they made
places in the two bags for the shoes.
“Just seven hundred dollars all told, and the like of that outfit
couldn't be bought any other place of style in New York for less than a
thousand, Miss,” remarked to me the elderly clerk as he closed and made
fast with keys the two bags. “Shall I send 'em special?”
“I'll thank you that you call a taxi for me, Monsieur,” I answered,
and as he had mentioned that Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in conversation
earlier, that very wicked daredevil that resides within me awoke at
attention with the large ears of great mischief. I felt in my pocket
that there was still much gold, and the man from whom I had purchased
the ticket to the State of Harpeth had assured me that the train did
not depart until the hour of six in the evening.
“To the Hotel of the Ritz-Carlton,” I commanded the man of the taxi
as he made fast the door.
It then transpired that one hour from the time that the young
Mademoiselle Grez, who had registered at that large hotel with all of
her luggage from the steamer while by lies her father was represented
as still engaged with the customs, entered her room, there emerged
young Mr. Robert Carruthers, who, after paying his bill in his room had
a hall boy send his bags on ahead of him to the Pennsylvania Station
while he sauntered into the tea room. I have never again met with the
wonderful dresses I left in that hotel room. I hope the poor and
beautiful domestic, who assisted me in cutting my hair into a football
shortness after the mode of a very beautiful woman dancer which she
said girls of much foolishness in America have affected, was rewarded
And as I stood in the center of the great room of conversation and
lights and flowers and music I again became the frightened girl upon
the dock of America and I felt as if I must flee, but at that exact
moment I beheld my Mr. William Raines of Saint Louis and my Mr. Peter
Scudder of Philadelphia seated at a table in a very choice corner and
there was a vacant chair between them. Upon each other they were
glaring and before I had a thought I started towards them to prevent
the carnage that had threatened on the boat.
CHAPTER III. THAT MR. G. SLADE OF
A number of moments in the rapid passing of the next few months I
have wondered what would have resulted if I had taken that vacant chair
between very agreeable Mr. William Raines and very proper Mr. Peter
Scudder so evidently reserved for the young, beautiful and charming
Marquise of Grez and Bye. I have decided that in about the half of one
hour young Mr. Robert Carruthers would have been extinct and the
desired and beloved Marquise in her place between them sipping her tea
while making false excuses for forgiveness. I did not take that seat
but I accepted one which a garcon offered me next to them and
did regard them with both fear and wistfulness, also with an intense
attention so that I might acquire as much as possible from them of an
American gentleman's manner.
“I suppose the dame's fussing up for us to the limit, Peter,”
observed that Mr. Saint Louis while he emptied a glass of amber liquid
and removed a cherry from its depths with his fingers and devoured it
with the greatest relish. “Gee, but the genuine American cocktail is
one great drink! Have another, Peter. You're so solemn that I am
beginning to believe that belle Marquise did put a dent in your
old Quaker heart after all.”
“There was something in that girl's eyes as they followed us,
William, that no cocktail ever shaken could get out of my mind,” made
answer the very grave Mr. Peter Scudder of Philadelphia. “Do you
suppose her Uncle got there or that anything happened? I wish I had
waited with her.”
“Well, either Uncle did arrive or we'll see her in the Passing
Follies week after next, third from the left, in as little as Comstock
allows. When I've had a good look at bare arms my judgment connects
mighty easily with bare—”
By that moment I had poised in my hand a very fragile cup of nicely
steaming tea and it was a very natural thing that I should hurl its
contents in the face of that Mr. William Raines of the country of Saint
Voila! What happened? Did I stay to fight the duel with that,
what I know now to call a cad, and thus be put back into the person of
the Marquise de Grez and Bye for a wicked Uncle to murder. I did not. I
placed upon the table two large pieces of money and I lost myself in
the crowd of persons who had risen and gathered to sympathize with poor
Mr. Saint Louis. No one had remarked my escape, I felt sure, as I had
been very agile, but as I sauntered out into the entresol of the Hotel
of Ritz-Carlton, to which I had given so great a shock in its stately
tea room, a finger was laid upon my arm in its gray tweed coat. I
turned and discovered a very fine and handsome woman standing beside me
and in her hand she had a book of white paper with also a pencil.
“I was sitting just back of Willie Raines and I heard what he was
saying about some woman, whom he and Peter Scudder had met on the boat
over, not keeping her appointment with them. Peter is of the
Philadelphia elect and nobody knows why he consorts with the gay
Willie. I saw them come off the boat together this morning and I knew
that the whole Scudder Meeting House would be in a glum over their
being together. Would you mind telling me just why you soused your tea
into his face? It would make a corking story for my morning edition.
Did you know them or did you know the lady or did you do it to be
“I think it must have been for the third of those reasons, Madam,
but I am not sure that I know the word you use,” I answered with much
“Launcelot, you know, the boy that was always fussing around over
injured women, in Tennyson or somewhere, just for a love of 'em that
was always perfectly proper. Nice of him but not progressive. Say, do
you mind sitting down in a quiet corner of the tea room and telling me
all about it? Are you French or Russian or Brazilian, and do you
believe in women, or is it just because you like 'em that you threw the
tea? I've got a suffrage article to do and I believe you'd make a good
headline, with your militant tea throwing. Want to tell me all about
“I have just one hour before going to the State of Harpeth, many
miles from here, Madam,” I made answer with a great politeness. “I
thank you but I must make my regrets.”
“Oh, I can find out all I want to know about you in five minutes.
Just come sit down with me and be a good boy. Do you want to give me
your name? I wish you really were somebody that had given Willie
that tea fight.” And while making protestations and remonstrances I was
led again into that tea room and seated at a great distance from the
table which had been occupied by that Mr. William Raines and Mr. Peter
Scudder, who had now departed. “If you really were some big gun it
would kill Willie dead.”
“Then, Madam, permit me to present myself to you as Robert
Carruthers, Marquis de Grez and Bye, from Paris on my way to visit my
Uncle, General Robert Carruthers, of the State of Harpeth. I would very
willingly by information or a sword kill that Mr. William Raines of
Saint Louis and I regret that—that—” At the beginning of my sentence
I had drawn myself up into the attitude of the old Marquis of Flanders
in the hall of the ruined Chateau de Grez, but when I had got to the
point—of, shall I say, my own sword?—I was forced to collapse and I
could feel my knees under the tea table begin to shake together and
huddle for their accustomed and now missing skirts.
“That's fine and dandy,” answered the nice woman as she began to
write rapidly upon the blank paper. “If you'd drawn fifty swords on
Willie and he had knocked you down with the butt end of his teaspoon
I'd have put Willie on the run in my write-up. Willie has handed me
several little blows below the belt that I don't like. Pretends not to
have met me, when Peter Scudder's own sister, whom I knew at the
settlement, introduced him to me; and what he did to Mabel Wright, our
cub on weddings—Oh, well, Mabel is another story. Now—that copy is
ready to turn in when I pad it. I wonder if I will get a favor from the
manager or be turned out of the tea room permanently for reporting a
fight as aristocratic as this in the sacred halls of the Ritz-Carlton.
I'd bet my shoe lacings that fifty people come here every afternoon for
a week hoping it will happen again.”
“I do like this America, whose movement is so rapid,” I made remark
as I set down my second cup of tea for the afternoon, this one emptied
into my depths instead of the face of Mr. Saint Louis.
“That's good, too,” returned my new-found friend with a laugh as she
again wrote a word or two on the nice white paper. Then she placed her
elbow upon the table, leaned her very firm cheek on her hand, and
regarded me with fine and honest and sympathetic eyes. “I wonder what
America is going to do to a beautiful boy like you. I'm glad that you
are going to beat it to the tall timbers of the Harpeth Valley. There
are women in New York who would eat you up alive. There's La Frigeda,
alias Maggie Sullivan from Milwaukee, over there devouring you with her
eyes at this moment, and that pretty little Stuyvesant Blaine debutante
hasn't taken her eyes off of you long enough to eat her spiced ice. I
know 'em both and could land something from either one if I introduced
you in your title and very beautiful clothes.”
“Oh, I beg a pardon of you that I have not the time to have an
introduction to your friends,” I exclaimed with a very true regret,
because I did like that very nice woman and would have liked much to
have brought advantage to her. “In less than an hour I must 'beat' to
those 'tall timbers of Harpeth' you mention.”
“Speaking of the State of Harpeth, I don't know as you'll be so safe
after all, young friend, if that is any sample of the variety of women
that flower in that classic land of the cotton and the magnolia which I
met at Mrs. Creed Payne's war baby tea the other afternoon,” mused my
fine friend as I paid the garcon for the very good tea. “She is
in high-up political circles down there in Old Harpeth and from the
bunch of women she was with I make a guess she is taking an interest in
war contracts. She was with that Mrs. Benton, who pulled off that
spectacular deal for desiccated soups for Greece the other day. My
stomach is too delicate to feed soldiers dried dog and rotten cabbage
melted down into glue in a can, but they may like the idea if not the
soup. Anyway, the woman was a beauty, so don't you let her get you.”
“I do not entirely understand you, my dear Madam, and I wish that I
might have many days to talk with you about these American customs,” I
said as I put into my pocket the exchange money handed to me by the
“Well, it is not exactly an American custom I have been putting you
next to, and I guess I'm patriotically glad that you don't entirely
understand. Now, I'm going to put you on the train for Old Harpeth and
kiss you good-bye for your mother. I'm not trusting Frigeda, and she's
lingering. Come on if your train leaves at six o'clock.”
And while she spoke, my interesting and fine woman rose and allowed
me to assist her into her gray coat of tweed that was very like to
It was with regret that I parted from that lady at the door of the
taxicab that had been called for her, and I bent over and kissed her
hand, the first woman that Mr. Robert Carruthers had ever so saluted.
“Good-bye, boy! Remember, the tall timbers of Harpeth are best. Run
right down and get a Southern belle and beauty to settle down and have
a dozen babies for you, just like 'befo' the war.' Good-bye! I'll send
you down a paper to-morrow. I don't suppose the New York journals ever
penetrate the Harpeth Valley. Good-bye again.” And then my friend was
gone, leaving me once more alone in New York and very shy of those
tweed trousers, which I immediately put with me into another taxicab
which was directed to the Pennsylvania Station.
At that Pennsylvania Station I remembered to send to my wicked Uncle
an announcement by telegram of my arrival to him and then I got upon
the train just in time for its departure.
I have remarked that life is like high waves of fate that break in
sparkling white crests over buried mines, and I am now led to believe
that many of those mines are but the habitation of mermaids of much
mischief. Are all ripples on life due to women at the bottom of the
matter? I do not know, but it would seem true from the things that
immediately began to befall me. And was it not I, a woman who was
called daredevil, who began it all?
These Pullman cars of America in which to travel great distances,
are very remarkable for their many strange adventures, and I was very
much interested but also perturbed when the black garcon placed
my bag and overcoat upon the floor at the feet of a very prim lady and
left me to stand uncomfortably in the aisle before her.
“Your seat, sir, upper five,” he said, and departed with my fifty
centimes, which is called a dime in America.
In the little division which I could see was marked five were two
nice seats that were to each other face to face, but it appeared that
neither of them was vacant for Mr. Robert Carruthers. On one the lady
sat with very stiff black silk skirts projecting from her sides, as did
her thin elbows also in the stiffness of white linen. Beside her,
occupying the rest of her seat, was a hat with large black bows of
equal stiffness with the rest of the lady's apparel and disposition not
to be friendly. On the seat opposite, which from the nature of my
ticket and the case I should have supposed belonged to me, were piled
two large bundles, a shiny black bag, a black silk coat, also stiff
like the lady, an umbrella, two magazines and a basket of fruit. No
place was apparent for me or my bags or my overcoat. It seemed as if it
would be best for me to stand in the middle of the car all the way to
the State of Harpeth so that the lady's stiffness be not disarranged. I
did not know what I should do, and my knees began again to feel weak in
that gray tweed and to be cold for their accustomed skirts, but the
lady looked out of the window and said not a single word. I did not
have any convenient cup of tea in my hand to throw in that lady's face
in a manner that would not be permitted a gentleman, but if I had had
the very lovely lorgnette that has descended to me from my Great
Grandmamma, the wife of the old Flanders grandsire, I would have
settled the matter with very little trouble in an entirely ladylike
manner. As it was, I did not know what to do but stand and then stand
longer. Just at the moment when I began to feel that I would either be
forced to forget that I was a gentleman or to faint as a lady, a very
nice man touched me on the elbow and said:
“Just drop your bag on her feet and come into the smoker. She's got
your game beat,” and he passed on down the aisle of that car. I acted
upon that very kind advice and I am glad that from the weight of the
bag I got at least a small action from the stiff lady if only a groan
and a glare. Also I should have been grateful that she had so
discourteously treated me so that I was fortunate to receive the
attention of Mr. George Slade of Detroit as my first experience in
That Mr. Slade of Detroit is a man of remarkable adventures, and he
related to me many of them as he sat with me in the place reserved for
the smoking of gentlemen. They were all about ladies who resided in the
different towns to which he traveled in the pursuit of selling cigars,
and he called them all by the name of “skirts.”
“I tell you, Mr. Dago, there is a skirt in Louisville, Kentucky,
that is such a peach that you'd call for the cream jug on sight. It
would pay you to stop off and see her. She's on the level all right,
but any friend that took a line from me would be nuts to her. See?” And
he bestowed upon me a pleasant wink from his eye. To that I made no
response. I could make none.
“Now, Mr. Robert Carruthers,” I had said to myself at the beginning
of the first story of “skirts,” “you will find yourself obliged to be
in the presence of men as one of their kind and not throw scalding tea
in their faces when they speak of ladies. You are of a great ignorance
about the brute that is known as man and you must learn to know him as
you do the wild hog in hunting.” But even for the sake of a larger
education I could not remain, and I fled from that Mr. Slade of Detroit
in one half hour back to the arms of the stiff lady. But when I arrived
there I found she had had me removed from her as far as possible to the
other end of the car, where I found my bags deposited beside one marked
“G. Slade, Detroit.”
“Took the liberty of transferring you here above the other
gentleman, sir. The lady is nervous,” said the conductor of the car as
he handed me another ticket.
“Right, old top,” said that Mr. G. Slade as he stood beside us,
having followed. “If you don't enjoy sleeping rock-a-bye-baby we can
put our togs up and you can bunk in with me. I'm not nervous.” And with
a glance at the very stiff black silk back in the front of the car he
made a laugh that I could not prevent myself from sharing. It is then
that the delicacy of a woman is so easily corrupted?
“I beg your pardon, conductor, but upper nine is engaged for my son
who is to get on at Philadelphia. I must have him just opposite my
daughter and me. We are nervous.” And as the large and pathetic lady
across the aisle from number nine spoke in a most timid voice, that Mr.
G. Slade gave one glance at the daughter of whom she spoke, who also
must have weighed a great many litre, or what you call in America,
pounds, and fled back to the smoking apartment.
It was a very funny sight to behold that small conductor stand with
my large bags and overcoat and look around at that car full of ladies
for a place in which to deposit me and them, which was not previously
occupied by some female of great nervousness.
“Madam, I will have to use the upper of this section,” he finally
turned and said to the occupant of the number of seven with a very fine
“Certainly, conductor; let me remove my hat and coat,” came back the
answer in a voice of very great sweetness as the conductor deposited me
and my bags down in front of the most beautiful lady in all America, I
“Thank you for much graciousness, Madam,” I said, keeping those gray
tweed knees straight out in front of me and very still to prevent
“Not at all, sir; I only bought the lower half of this section. I am
not at all nervous,” and I could see her mouth that was curled
like the petals of an opening rose tremble from a mischief as she
regarded the stiff black silk back in the front of the car and the two
huge females on our right whose son and brother was to arrive in
Philadelphia for their protection.
An equally gay mischief rose in my eyes and responded to that in
hers as I responded also by word:
“For which also let us be in gratitude.”
Many times in the months that followed have I thought of the lure of
the laughing mischief in those eyes that were like beautiful blue
flowers set in crystal, and how they were to lead me on into the
strange land of men in search of those forbidden fruits. They were the
first to offer me affection, excepting perhaps my fine reporter woman
with the paper and pencil.
And from that moment on I did very much enjoy myself in conversation
with that Madam Mischief, while we together did watch the retirement of
all of the persons in the train. She had many funny remarks to make and
made me merry with them so that the hour of eleven o'clock had arrived
before we had summoned the very black male chamber-maid to turn our
seats into beds. All others were in sleep that was a confusion of sound
from everywhere and we must stand in the aisle while the beds were
“Shall I take your bag into the dressing room, sah?” said the black
male chamber-maid as if to intimate that I should leave the aisle free
for his operations.
“Many thanks, yes,” I answered him. “Good night, Madam, and to you
again much gratitude for the happiness of an evening,” and with all
sincerity I directed Mr. Robert Carruthers to bend over her very white
hand and kiss it with much fervor that was resulted from the loneliness
of the poor Marquise of Grez and Bye, who was but a girl in a strange
and large land, although habited in trousers and coat.
“You are a dear boy,” she made answer to me with an equal affection
as she disappeared into the curtains of her small room. Then I departed
to that room reserved for the disrobing of gentlemen. It was without
occupation and I opened my large bag and procured the very beautiful
silk night robing that the kind man had sold to me that afternoon. It
was in two pieces that very much resembled the costume in which
gentlemen play tennis, only more ornamented by silk embroidery and
braid and buttons. I was regarding them with joy when into the small
room came that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit. He was appareled in garments of
the same cut only of a very wide red stripe, his hair was very much in
confusion and he had a bottle in his hand in which was a liquid the
color of cognac.
“I've only been awake for two hours listening to that peach of a
skirt trying to make you fuss her a bit, and I thought I would bring
you a nip to pick you up after your fight. Gee, it is as I suspected.
You are off on a wedding tango and that makes you cold to all wiles! My
son, for a wedding garment that thing you have in your hand is a
winner. I can't sleep in silk myself because it makes me feel like a
wet dog, but you'll be so beautiful in them that the bride will be
jealous of you and say that even if you are so pretty now you will fade
early or that you buy your complexion at the corner emporium. Go on,
put 'em on, or was you just looking at 'em for pleasure and going to
save 'em by sleeping 'as is'? Me, I always undress to the skin, but
“I—I was just looking at them with pleasure,” I made haste to
answer that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit. “When upon travels I always fear
to disrobe myself. I think that I will now retire,” and with a haste
that made my hands tremble I replaced the sleeping garments in the
large bag and prepared to flee down the aisle to the sleeping apartment
in which was the protection of another woman's presence.
“Not even a nip before you go?” he asked me as he held the large
bottle to his lips and threw back his head for a gurgling down his
“No, with much gratitude, and good night,” I answered as I rapidly
departed with my cheeks in a flame of scarlet and a fear in my heart.
In my flight I passed by that number of seven and came very near
opening the curtains of the number of five and precipitating myself
upon the bayonets of black taffeta that stood firm from a hat so placed
as to bar my intrusion. From that accident I turned and sought the kind
black male chamber-maid with a request that he show me how to insert
myself into the right place for sleeping.
“Right here, Boss. Climb up on these little steps and then hand me
down your shoes. Soft now; I think the lady am asleep.”
“Good night, and I'm not nervous,” I heard a laugh of mischief come
from behind a second and short green curtain, that veils the lower of
the sleeping shelves, just as I fell onto my shelf above and lay with a
panting of relief.
CHAPTER IV. THE IMPOSSIBLE UNCLE
“Robert,” I made remark to myself after I had with difficulty
removed the tweed coat and the tweed trousers and neatly folded them
against ugly wrinkles of to-morrow, “you must become a sport and not
climb down there and tell that other woman the truth of your lady's
estate and ask her to comfort you with affection. You were born a
daredevil and you must remember those two Indians and a bear that the
Grandmamma Madam Donaldson murdered for safety for herself and her
children. That Mr. G. Slade is just one bear and he's not as dangerous
to you as if you wore 'skirts' anyway. And, also, if you are brave and
propitiate the wicked Uncle, in just a few months you can travel to
where the lovely lady with the blue flower eyes resides, of whom in the
morning you must get the address of home, and can then make confession
to her and know the joy of having her sisterly embraces that seem of so
much sweetness to you now.
“But suppose it is that she arises in the night and leaves the train
for her home!” I said to myself as I suddenly sat up in the dark and
precipitated my head against the roof of the sleeping shelf.
“I will call down to her and ask the one simple question,” I made
answer to myself. Then I reached down my head over the edge of my shelf
and called very softly:
“Yes?” came a soft question in answer and I felt that she arose and
brought her beautiful head which had the odor of violets in the waves
so heavy and black, up very near to mine. I could feel a comfort from
her breath on my cheek.
“I am in fear, Madam, that you should leave the train before I am
awake,” I said in a voice under my breath. “I do not want that I lose
you into this great America.”
“Oh, I'm not easily lost.”
“I am desolated with loneliness and I must know where it is that you
leave the train, immediately, so that I may sleep.”
“At Hayesville, Harpeth, you ridiculous boy. Now don't disturb me
again. Go to sleep.”
As I sank back on my pillow, happy with a great relief, I thought I
heard two laughs in the darkness, one in a tone of silver from beneath
me and one of the sound of a choke from opposite me where was reposed
that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit.
“It is a good chance for you, Robert, that you go to sleep your
first night in America with the sound of a nice laugh from two persons
of kindness towards you, one of whom is to be with you for a friend in
the same—what was it the gray lady with the pencil and paper called
it?—'tall timbers of Old Harpeth' where all is of such strangeness to
you.” And with this remark to myself I fell asleep, “as is,” I think it
was that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit called my state of not being disrobed
further than trousers and coat.
After many months in which came to me cruel pain and a long hard
fight for the honor of my beloved, I cannot but remember that feeling
of gratitude that came over me as I went into sleep on that narrow
shelf under which lay the beauty of that Madam Patricia Whitworth.
In the eight years that I had become all of life to my father we had
made many travels into distant lands and had seen all of beauty that
the Old World had to offer seekers after it, but nowhere had I seen the
majestic wonder of this, his own land, that I beheld pass by like a
series of great pictures wrought by a master. All of the morning I
could but sit and gaze with eyes that sometimes dimmed with tears for
him as faster and faster I was carried down into his own land of the
Valley of Harpeth, which he had given up for love of my Mother and from
the cruelness of my wicked Uncle who would not welcome her to his home.
When the great Harpeth hills, in their spring flush from the rosiness
of what I afterwards learned was their honeysuckle and laurel, shot
with the iridescent fire of the pale yellow and green and purple of
redbud and dogwood and maple leaf, all veiled in a creamy mist over
their radiance, came into view, as we arrived nearer and nearer to
Hayesville my hand went forth and grasped closely the hand of Madam
Whitworth. That Mr. G. Slade had left the train before my awakening and
I felt relief from the absence of his eyes and could express to the
beautiful lady the joy that was in my heart.
“And the small homes in the valley, Madam, with the sheep and cattle
and grain and children surrounded, they need never fear the fire of
shell and the roar of the cruel guns. This valley is a fold in the
garment across the breast of the good God Himself and it has His
cherishing. Is it that there will be a home for me in its peace and for
the small Pierre and the old and faithful Nannette?”
“A home and—and other things, boy—when you ask for them,” she
answered me with a very beautiful look of affection that while it
pleased me greatly also made for me an unreasonable embarrassment.
“Is it that you think I will obtain the affection of my Uncle, the
General Robert Carruthers, Madam Whitworth?” I asked of her with a
great wistfulness, for I had told her of his summons to me and she knew
already the story of his hardness of heart against my mother.
“The General is a very difficult person,” she made answer to me, and
I saw that softness of her beautiful mouth become as steel as she spoke
of him. “To a woman he is impossible, as I have found to my cost, but
all men adore him and follow him madly, so I suppose his attitude
towards them is different from his attitude towards women. My husband
and I disagree utterly about the General. In fact, the old gentleman
and I are at daggers' points just now and I am afraid—afraid that he
will make it difficult for you to be—be friends with me as I—I want
you to be.”
“Neither the General Carruthers nor any man, Madam, dictates in
matters of the heart to the Marquise de—that is, to Robert Carruthers
of Grez and Bye, if that is the way I must so name myself now,” I
answered in the manner of the old Marquis of Flanders, tinged with the
grande dame manner of the beautiful young Marquise of Grez and Bye
whom I had murdered and left in that room of the great hotel of
Ritz-Carlton in New York.
“It will be delicious to watch his face as you and I alight from
this train together, boy. It will be worth the trouble of this hurried
trip to New York to be introduced to a person who disappeared suddenly
in a tug boat in the open ocean when he should have landed at the docks
with the propriety that would have been expected of him.” And as she
spoke I could see that something had happened in New York which had
brought much irritation to the beautiful Madam Whitworth.
“It would seem that it is one of the customs of these great ships to
send out passengers from them in those very funny small tug boats,” I
remarked as I leaned forward to catch a last fleeting glimpse of a
lovely girl standing in the doorway of an ancient farmhouse, giving
food to chickens so near the course of the railroad train that it would
seem we should disperse them with fright. “I wept when I must see my
good friend, Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, depart from our ship in
one of those tug boats. It was a pain in my breast that he must leave
me to go into the wildness of Canada.”
“Oh, then he went to Canada first?” exclaimed that Madam Whitworth
as she leaned back on her seat as if relieved from some form of a great
anxiety about the departure of that Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
“Is it that you are also a friend of my Capitaine?” I demanded with
a great eagerness of pleasure if it should be so.
“Oh, no, no, indeed!” exclaimed the beautiful Madam Whitworth. “I
was speaking of my own friend who might have taken a Canadian line
instead of the American. She is so careless about instructions. Now
look; we are beginning to wind down into the very heart of the Harpeth
Valley, and by the time you make very tidy that mop of hair you have on
your head and I powder my nose, we will be in Hayesville to face the
General in all of his glory. Mind you kiss my hand so he can see you! I
want to give him that sensation in payment of a debt I owe him. Now do
go and smooth the mop if it takes a pint of water to do it. That New
York tailor has turned you out wonderfully, but even those very square
English tweeds do not entirely disguise the French cavalier. You're a
beautiful boy and the girls in Hayesville will eat you up—if the
General ever lets them get a sight of you—which he probably won't. Now
go to the mop!”
For many years, since the lonely day just after the death of my
mother, when my father took me into the furthest depths of his sad
heart and told me of his exile from the place in which he had been
born, and about the elder brother who had hated my beautiful mother,
who hated all women, I had spent much time erecting in my mind a statue
that would be the semblance of that wicked and cruel Uncle. I had taken
every disagreeable feature of face and body that I had beheld in
another human, or in a picture, or had read of in the tales of that
remarkable Mr. Dickens, who could so paint in words a monstrous person
to come when the lights are out to haunt the darkness, and had
carefully patched them one upon another so as to make them into an
ideal of an old Uncle of great wickedness. On that very ship itself I
had beheld a man, who came upon the lower deck from the engine, who had
but one eye and a great scar where that other eye should have been
placed. Immediately my image of the General Robert Carruthers lost one
of the wicked eyes I had given him from out the head of the stepfather
who did so cruelly stare at the poor young David Copperfield, and
became a man with only one eye which still held the malevolence that
was hurled at that small David. And with this squat, crooked, evil
image of the General Robert Carruthers in my heart I alighted from the
train into the City of Hayesville, which is the capital of the great
American State of Harpeth. The black man had swung himself off with my
bags and that of the beautiful Madam Whitworth, who with me was the
last of the passengers to descend from the steps of the car.
“My dear Jeff!” exclaimed my so lovely new friend as she raised her
veil for a very seemly kiss from a tall and quite broad gentleman with
a very wide hat and long mustachios that dropped far down with want of
wax that it is the custom to use for their elevation in France, as I
well know from my father's wrathy remarks to his valet if he made a too
great use of it upon his. “And this is General Carruthers' nephew who
came down on the train with me. My husband, Mr. Carruthers of Grez and
Bye!” with which introduction she confronted me with the gentleman.
“Glad to know you, young man; glad to know you,” he answered as he
took my hand and gave it an embrace of such vigor that I almost made
outcry. “There's the General over there looking for you. Come to see us
sometime. Come on, Patsy!”
“Good-bye, Mr. Carruthers. I'll see you soon,” said the beautiful
Madam Whitworth as she held out her hand to me. “Do it now; there comes
the General! Quick, kiss my hand!”
I bent and did as she bade me and as I had promised her to do, and
as I raised myself she slipped away quickly after her husband with a
salutation of great coolness to a person over my shoulder and a “How do
you do, General Carruthers” remark as she went.
Instantly I turned and faced the materialization of the ogre it had
taken me years to build up into my wicked Uncle. And what did I see?
My eyes looked straight into eyes of the greatest kindness and
wisdom I had ever before beheld, and it was with difficulty I
restrained myself from flinging myself and my suit of English tweed
straight into the strong arms and burying my head on the broad deep
chest that confronted me as the huge old gentleman, with as perfect a
mop of white hair as is mine of black, rioting over his large head,
towered over me.
“You gallivanting young idiot, where did you pick up that dimity?”
he demanded of me as he laid a large hand with long strong fingers on
my shoulders and gave me a slight shake. “Don't tell me it was over Pat
Whitworth you had that ruckus at the Ritz-Carlton day before
“No, Monsieur, it was not,” I answered, looking him straight in the
eyes and feeling as if I was looking into kind eyes that I had seen
close to me forever in the old convent in France, and as I spoke I
could not help it that I raised my arm in its covering of a man's tweed
and let my woman's fingers grasp one of the long fingers on my shoulder
and cling to it as I had done other long fingers just like them that
had guided my first footsteps down the sunny garden paths of the old
Chateau de Grez.
“I'm your Uncle Robert, sonny, and don't you ever forget that, sir,”
he answered as he gave me another shake and I could see a longing for
the embrace, which I so desired, in his keen eyes that had softened
with a veil of mist in the last second. “Lord, I'm glad you're not a
woman! And from now on just stop knowing the creatures exist—Pat
Whitworth and her kind. None of that tea-throwing in Hayesville, sir!
We've got work to do to put out a fire—fire of dishonor and
devastation. No time for tea-fighting here. Come on to my car over
there; we've no time to waste.”
“What is it that you say about that throwing of tea which occurred
only the day before yesterday in the City of New York many hundreds of
miles from here? How did that knowledge arrive here, my Uncle Robert?”
“Associated Press, sir. The greatest power in this America.
Associated Press! Full account, you and me, titles and all, printed in
this afternoon's paper. Any money left of that thousand?”
“No, my Uncle Robert,” I faltered. “It was necessary that I spend—”
“Don't tell me about it. I sent it to you so you could get as much
as possible out of your system. The hussies! I've got work for you to
do here. Forget 'em! Hop in!” And he motioned me into a very large blue
touring car that stood beside the station platform.
“Drive to the Governor's Mansion and don't sprout grass under your
wheels,” he commanded the black chauffeur. “The Governor's Mansion,
private door on Sixth Street.”
CHAPTER V. “HERE'S MY BOY, GOVERNOR”
And it was en route to the mansion of the Gouverneur of the State of
Harpeth that my Uncle, the General Robert, did enlighten me as to the
urgent need of me in his affairs of business.
“It is a question of mules, sir, and of a dishonor to the State that
I'm going to prevent if my hot old head is laid low in doing it, as it
probably will be if I get into the ruckus with Jefferson Whitworth that
now threatens. They have insinuated themselves into the confidence of
Governor Faulkner until they have made it well-nigh impossible for him
to see the matter except as they put it. They will get his signature to
the rental grant of the lands, make a get-away with the money and let
the State crash down upon his head when it finds out that he has been
led into bringing it and himself into dishonor. Why, damn it, sir, I'd
like to have every one of them, especially Jeff Whitworth, at the end
of a halter and feed him a raw mule, hoof and ears. I'm probably going
to be done to death all alone before the pack of wolves, but I'm going
to die hard—for Bill Faulkner, who holds in his hand the honor of his
State and my State, I'll die hard!” And he spoke the words with such a
fierceness that his white mustache, which was waxed with the propriety
of the world, divided like crossed silver swords beneath his straight
nose with its thin and trembling nostrils.
“It will be that I can help you protect this honor of the Gouverneur
Faulkner and the State of Harpeth, will it not, my Uncle Robert?” I
asked with a great anxiety. “If you must fall on the field of honor it
will be the glory of Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye to fall beside
you, sir. I am a very good sport, my father has said.”
“God bless my soul, how like Henry you are, boy!” exclaimed my
Uncle, the General Robert, and he did lay one of his long and very
strong arms across my shoulder and give to me the embrace for which I
had so longed; but for not enough time for me to yield myself to it.
“Henry always wanted to tag 'Brother Bob,' and he too—would—have
died—fighting for me—at my side. I've been hard—and when I heard of
his death—I wanted you, boy, I wanted you more—Now what do you mean,
sir, by making me forget for one moment the fix Bill Faulkner and I are
in?” And my Uncle, the General Robert, gave to me a good shake as he
extracted his very large white handkerchief and blew upon his nose with
such power that the black chauffeur looked around at us and made the
car to jump even as he and I had done.
“And those mules that it would be your wish to feed to that Mr. Jeff
Whitworth, my Uncle Robert, will you not tell me further about them? In
Paris it is said that they are a very good food when made fat after
being old or wounded in the army. I have—”
“That will do, sir. If you've had to eat mule in Paris don't tell me
about it. My constitution wouldn't stand that, though during our war,
just before Vicksburg, I ate—but we won't go into that either. Now
this is the situation, as much as a lad from the wilds of Paris could
understand it. The French Government wants five thousand mules by the
fall of the year, and there are no such mules in the world as this
State produces. They are sending a man over here to try to make a deal
with the State of Harpeth to purchase the mules from private breeders,
graze them on the government lands and deliver them in a lot for
shipment the first of August at Savannah. There is no authority on the
statute book for the State to make such a deal, but Jeff Whitworth has
fixed up a sort of contract, that wouldn't hold water in the courts, by
which the Governor of the State, Williamson Faulkner, grants the
grazing rights on the State's lands to a private company of which he is
to be a member, which, in a way, guarantees the deal. They've made him
believe it to be a good financial thing for the State and he can't see
that they are going to buy cheap stock, fatten it on a low rate from
the State and hand it over to the French Government at a fancy
rake-off—and then leave him with the bag to hold when the time for
settlement and complaint comes. There is a strong Republican party in
this State and they're keeping quiet, but year after next, when Bill
Faulkner comes up for re-election, downright illegality will be
alleged, and he will be defeated in dishonor and with dishonor to the
State. I am his Secretary of State and I'm going to save him if I can.
And you are going to help me, sir!” And as he spoke my Uncle, the
General Robert, gave to me a distinguished shake of the hand that made
my pride to rise in my throat, which gave to my speaking a great
“I will help in the rescue of the honor of that Gouverneur Bill
Faulkner, my Uncle Robert, with the last breath in my body, and I will
also assist to feed mule to that Mr. Jefferson Whitworth, though not to
his beautiful wife whom I do so much admire.”
“That's just it; she'll have to eat mule the first one. She's at the
Governor day and night with her wiles, and in my mind it's her dimity
influence that is making him see things with this slant. They say she
put her brand on him in early youth. He's the soul of honor but what
chance has a man's soul-honor got when a woman wants to cash it in for
a fortune with which to lead a gay life? None! None, sir!” And the
countenance of my Uncle, the General Robert, became so fierce that it
was difficult to find words to answer.
“Oh, my Uncle Robert, is it that a woman would make a cheat in
giving the mule animal of not sufficient strength to carry food to poor
boys of France in the trenches when there is too much mud for
gasoline!” I exclaimed with a great horror from knowledge given me by
my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles.
“Just exactly what she is trying to do, boy. Let those poor chaps
with guns in their hands to defend her civilization as well as theirs,
die for want of a supply train hauled by reliable mules when unreliable
gasoline fails. That's what women are like.” And as he spoke I
perceived the depth of dislike that was in the heart of my Uncle, the
General Robert, for all of womankind.
“There are some women who would not so comport themselves, my Uncle
Robert. I give you my word as one—” Then as I hesitated in terror at
the revelation of my woman's estate I had been about to make, my Uncle,
the General Robert, made this remark to me:
“Women are like crows, all black; and the exceptional white one only
makes the rest look blacker. The only way to stop them in their
depredations is to trap them, since the law forbids shooting them.” And
as he made this judgment of women I forgot for a moment that we
discussed that Madam Whitworth, whom it was causing me great pain to
discover to be the enemy of France, and I thought of my beautiful
mother, whom he had judged without ever having encountered, and a great
longing rose in my heart so to comport myself that his heart should
learn to trust in me as a man and then discover the honor of woman
through me at some future time. I took a resolve that such should be
the case and to that end I asked of him:
“How is it that I can serve you in these serious troubles, my Uncle
Robert?” And as I asked that question I made also a vow in my heart
against that black crow woman.
“Now that's what I'm coming to. The French Government is sending an
army expert down here to look over the situation and make the
contracts. I can't speak their heathenish tongue or read it, and I want
somebody whom I can trust—trust, mind you—to help me talk with him
and make any necessary translations. That Whitworth hussy has been
translating for us and I don't trust her. Your letter was handed to me
in the Governor's private office and both he and I saw what a help it
would be to have you here when this Frenchie—who is a Count Something
or Other—and his servants and secretaries, what he calls his suite,
arrive. By George, sir, we need your advice in eating and drinking
them! Do you suppose they'll have intelligence enough to eat the manna
of the gods, which is corn pone, and drink the nectar, which is plain
whiskey, or will we be expected to furnish them with snails and
At that I laughed a very large laugh and made this answer to the
perturbation of my Uncle, the General Robert:
“I will tell you after luncheon, my Uncle Robert, because I have not
as yet eaten in this Harpeth country of America.”
“All right, we'll talk about it after you've had one of old Kizzie's
fried chicken dinners. Here we are at the Mansion. Remember, you know
the whole situation and are only supposed to know the part that
Governor Bill thinks is the whole. Look at me, boy!” And as the
big car drove up to the curb before a great stone house with tall
pillars on guard of its front, he laid both his hands upon my shoulders
and turned me towards him with force and no gentleness and then with
his keen eyes did he look down into the very soul of me.
“Yes, I see I can trust you, sir. God bless you, boy!” he said after
a very long moment of time.
“Yes, my Uncle Robert,” I answered him without turning my eyes from
“Well, then, here we are. I came to the side door so I wouldn't have
to introduce you to any of the boys this morning, for we want to have a
talk with the Governor before dinner and I don't dare keep Kizzie
waiting. It riles her, and a riled woman burns up things: masters,
husbands, cooking or worse. Come on.” And as we walked up the broad
side steps of that Mansion of the Gouverneur, my Uncle Robert's hand
was on my arm and I felt that I was being marched up to the mouth of
the gun of Fate and I wished very much I could have been habited in my
corduroy or cheviot skirts, no matter how short or narrow they might
be. A number of gentlemen sat upon the wide verandah smoking pipes or
long cigars under the budding rose vine that trailed from one tall
pillar to another, and more stood and talked in groups beside the large
front door that opened into the wide hall. At the back of the hall
before a closed door stood a very large black man who was very old and
bent and who had tufts of white wool of the aspect of a sheep upon his
head. He was attired in a long gray coat of a military cut that I
afterwards learned was of the late Confederacy, and I soon had much
affection for him because of his reminiscences of that war and also
because of his affection for my noble father, to whom he had told the
same stories' in his early youth.
My Uncle, the General Robert, had not paused to present to me any of
the gentlemen with whom he had exchanged jovial greetings, but he
stopped beside the old black man and said:
“This is Henry's boy, Robert, Cato. Fine young chap, eh?”
“Yes, sir, Mas' Robert,” answered Cato as he peered into my face
with the nicest affection in his black eyes set in large spaces of
“Like Henry, isn't he?”
“'Fore God, yes, sir!”
“Look after him, Cato. He'll be about considerable.”
“Dat I will—Mas' Henry's boy!”
“No lobbying dimity chasing him, Cato!”
“Yes, sir; I understands, sir.”
“Is the Governor ready for me?”
“Yes, sir, you's to go right in, Mas' Robert. Mr. Clendenning is
with him jest now, but he'll be out in a turkey's call of time. Jest
walk in, sir, and you, the young marster,” and with a bow that almost
allowed that the tails of the long gray coat swept the floor, the old
black man opened the door and motioned us into the room of the
Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth.
It has been given to me in the very short time of my life to be
often in the home of the President of France, to be presented at the
court of England with my father, to the Czar at Petrograd and to the
old Franz Joseph, as well as to the beloved Albert and Elizabeth in
Brussels, where I did go often to play with the young princess, and I
do know very well how to manage skirts whether very tight, or very wide
with ruffles, in the case of such presentations, but my heart rose very
high up and beat so near to the roots of my tongue that it was
impossible for me to speak as I was presented, in the traveling tweeds
of a young man of American fashion, to the very wonderful and beautiful
and fearful Gouverneur Williamson Faulkner of the State of Harpeth.
“Here's my boy, Governor,” was all the introduction my Uncle, the
General Robert, administered to me, and I stood and looked into the
face of him whom afterwards I discovered to be the greatest gentleman
in the world, with my heart beating in my throat and yet astir under my
woman's breast in the place it had always before resided.
CHAPTER VI. “WE BOTH NEED YOU”
I do not know how it is that I shall find words in which to write
down the loveliness of that Gouverneur of Old Harpeth. He was not as
tall as my Uncle, the General Robert, and he was slender and lithe as
some wild thing in a forest, but the power in the broadness of his
shoulders and in the strength of his nervous hands was of a greatness
of which to be frightened; that is, I think, of which a man should be
frightened but in which a woman would take much glory. His hair was of
the tarnished gold of a sunset storm and upon his temples was a curved
crest of white that sparkled like the spray of a wave. All of which I
must have seen with some kind of inward eyes, for from the moment my
eyes lifted themselves from contemplating the carpet in embarrassment
over my tweed trousers they were looking into his in a way which at
dawn my eyes have gazed into the morning star rising near to me over
the little wood at the Chateau de Grez. I did not for many days know
whether those eyes were gray or blue or purple, for when I regarded
them I forgot to decide, and also they were so deep and shadowed by the
blackness of their lashes and brows that such a decision was difficult.
At this time I only knew that in them lay the fire of the lightning
over Old Harpeth when the storm breaks, the laugh of the very small boy
who splashes bare feet in the water with glee, and also a coldness of
the stars upon the frost of winter. I was glad that I came across the
dark ocean to flee from the cruel guns into a strange land to look into
“It is good that you have come, Robert Carruthers, for the General
and I both need you,” were the words I heard him saying to me in a
voice that was as deep and of as much interest as the eyes, and as he
spoke those words he took one of my hands in both of his strong ones.
“And if you say snails, snails it shall be, if Cato and I have to
invade every rose garden in Hayesville and vicinity and stay up all
night to catch them.”
“I think I shall choose that corn pone and whiskey that my Uncle,
the General Robert, has promised to me from one bad tempered cook at
the time of my luncheon,” I found myself saying with a laugh that
answered the bare-footed boy who suddenly looked at me out of the cool
“I thought I would let him have a try-out with Kizzie before we
decided what to feed the savages,” also said my Uncle, the General
Robert, with a laugh. “Besides, he's one himself and I'll have to go
slow and tame him gradually.”
“No, he's ours. He's just come back to his own from a strange land,
General, and you'll kill the fatted calf or rooster, whichever Kizzie
decides, with joy at getting him.” And this time the star eyes gave to
me the quick sympathy for which I had prayed before the Virgin with the
Infant in her arms in the little chapel of the old convent just before
we had to flee from the shells, leaving my father to the Sisters to
bury after the enemy had come. I think my eyes did tell that tale to
his and the tears ached in my throat.
“I know, boy,” he said softly and then turned and presented me to
the Mr. Clendenning who was arranging papers at a desk beside the
I do like with my whole heart that funny Buzz Clendenning, who has
the reddest hair, the largest brown speckles on his face and the widest
mouth that I have ever beheld. Also, his laugh is even wider than is
his mouth and overflows the remainder of his face in ripples of what is
called grin. He is not much taller than am I, but of much more powerful
build, as is natural, though he did not at that moment recognize the
“Shake hands, boys; don't stand looking at each other like young
puppies,” said my Uncle, the General Robert, as he clapped his hand on
the back of the Mr. Buzz Clendenning. “You don't have to fight it out.
Your fathers licked each other week about for twenty years.”
“Can't I even ask him to take off his coat once, General?” answered
that Mr. Buzz with the grin all over his face and spreading to my
countenance as he took my hand in his to administer one of those shakes
of which I had had so many since my arrival in America. For a second he
looked startled and glanced down at my white hand that he held in his
and from it to my eyes that were looking into his with the entire
friendliness of my heart. Suddenly I had a great fright of discovery
within me and my knees began to again tremble together for their
skirts, but before that fright had reached my eyes quite, I had born to
me an elder brother in the person of that Buzz Clendenning, and I now
know that I can never lose him, even when he knows that—
“I'm no shakes in the duel, Prince, so let's kiss and make up before
you get out your sword,” he said as he also, as my Uncle, the General
Robert, had done, laid an arm across my shoulders in an embrace of
affection. It was then I made a discovery in the strange land into
which I was penetrating: Men have much sentiment in their hearts that
it is impossible for a woman to discover from behind a fan. They keep
it entirely for each other as comrades, and I received a large portion
of such an affection when that Mr. Buzz Clendenning adopted me in what
he thought was my foreign weakness, as a small brother to be protected
in his large heart.
“I am very happy to so salute you instead of the duel,” I made
answer and did immediately put a kiss on his one cheek, expecting that
he would return it upon my cheeks, first one and then another, as is
the custom of comrades and officers in France.
“Here, help! Don't do that again or I'll call out the police,”
responded that funny Mr. Buzz Clendenning, as he shook me away from
him, while my Uncle, the General Robert, and the great Gouverneur did
both indulge in laughter.
“I am abashed and I beg your pardon for offending against the
customs of your country. I do remember now that my father did not
permit such a salutation from his brother officers, and I will not do
so again, Monsieur Buzz Clendenning,” I said as my cheeks became
crimson with mortification and tears would have come over my eyes had
my pride permitted.
“This is what he meant you to do, Buzz, you duffer. I said good-bye
to twenty-two of my friends this way the day I set sail from old
Heidelberg,” and as he spoke, that great and beautiful and exalted
Gouverneur Faulkner did bend his head to mine and give to me the
correct comrade salute of my own country on first one of my cheeks and
then upon the other.
“I thank you, your Excellency,” I murmured with gratitude. I wonder
what that Russian Count Estzkerwitch or Mr. Peter Scudder or Lord
Leigholm on those Scotch moors, would have thought to hear Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye, express such gratitude for two small pecks
upon her cheek delivered in America.
“Yes, sir, it's mighty pretty to look at but I reckon the kid had
better stow the habit before he is introduced to Jeff Whitworth and
Miles Menefee and the rest of the bunch,” said that Mr. Buzz as he left
off wiping from his cheek with the back of his hand the kiss I had put
there, and administered to me another embrace on my shoulders with his
long arm. “Besides, youngster, there are girls in Hayesville,”
he added with a grin that again was reflected on my face without my
will and which did entirely take away my anger and embarrassment at his
“Girls! Girls!” exploded my Uncle, the General Robert. “The female
young generally known as girls are about as much use to humanity as a
bunch of pin feathers tied with a pink ribbon would be in the place of
the household feather duster that the Lord lets them grow into after
they reach their years of discretion. Robert has no time to waste with
the unfledged. Don't even suggest it to him, Clendenning. And now you
can take him around to my house and tell Kizzie to begin filling you
both up while I wait for a moment to go over these papers with the
Governor. And both of you avoid the female young, for we've work for
you; mind you, work and no gallivanting. Now go! Depart!”
“The old boy is a forty-two centimeter gun that fires at the mention
of the lovely sex and doesn't stop until the ammunition gives out,”
said Mr. Buzz Clendenning as he slid into the seat of his slim gray
racer beside me and started from the curb on high without a single kick
of the engine. “I'd like to wish a nice girl, whom he couldn't shake
off, onto him for about a week and watch him squirm along to surrender.
Wait until you see Sue Tomlinson get hold of him down on the street
some day. He shuts his eyes and just fires away at her while she purrs
at him, and it is a sight for the gods. Sue's father died and left her
with her invalid mother and not enough money to invite in the
auctioneer, but the General took some old accounts of the Doctor's,
collected and invested them and made up plenty of money for Sue's
grubstake, though he goes around three blocks to get past her. Sue
adores him and approaches him from all sides, but has never made a
landing yet. Say, you'll like Sue. She is pretty enough to eat, but
don't try to bite. It's no use.”
“Is it that this lovely Mademoiselle Sue does not like gentlemen
save my Uncle, the General Robert?” I asked with great interest. I was
glad in my heart that I was soon to see and speak with a nice girl even
if it had to be in character of a man.
“Oh, she loves us—all,” answered that Mr. Buzz with the greatest
gloom. “All of us—every blamed son-of-a-gun of us.”
“Oh, I comprehend now that it is your wish that she love only you,
Mr. Clendenning, and are sad that she does not,” I said as I looked at
him with much sympathy.
“That is about it, Prince, but don't say I said so. Everybody chases
Susan. She even wins an occasional ice cream smile from His Excellency.
I bet she'd go up against that august iceberg itself in a try-out for a
'First Lady of the State' badge if Mrs. Pat Whitworth hadn't got the
whole woman bunch to believe she has a corner on his ice. Mrs. Pat is
some little cornerer, believe me.”
“Oh, I did like that Madam Whitworth, and I hope that it will be my
pleasure to see her again soon,” I said with an ice in my voice as I
caught my breath while Mr. Buzz Clendenning drove between two cars and
a wagon with not so much as an inch to spare on all three sides of the
car. It is as I like to drive when at the wheel, but sitting beside
“You'll see her at the Governor's dinner for you Tuesday, if not
sooner, and just watch her and the General war dance with each other.
He opens his eyes when Mrs. Pat attacks and he imagines he is the whole
Harpeth Valley Militia defending His Excellency of Iceland from her
wiles. Just watch him!” And this time it was three wagons that we slid
between and beyond.
“Why is it that the great Gouverneur Faulkner has such a coldness
for ladies?” I asked of that Mr. Buzz. “I did find him to be of such a
“He's been too much chased. He's got his fingers crossed on them,
they tell me. Just watch him in action at his dinner. He side-steps so
gently that they never know it.”
“Why is it then that he gives to me this dinner of honor when he so
dislikes all—that is, I mean to ask of you why is it that I am so
honored by that very great Gouverneur Faulkner of the State of
Harpeth?” I asked, and I had a great fright that I had again so nearly
betrayed Robert Carruthers to be one of the sex so hated by that noble
gentleman, the Gouverneur Faulkner. “I must think of myself as a man in
future,” I commanded myself.
“Didn't the General tell you about it? It is to introduce you to the
flower and chivalry of your native land. Believe me, it will be some
dinner dance. The General wanted it to be a stag, but Sue fought to the
last trench, which was tears, and he gave in. These days the Governor
loses no chance to honor his Secretary of State for—for political
reasons,” and as he spoke that good Mr. Clendenning looked at the wheel
for steering, and I could see that there was deep concern in his eyes.
“Is it that—that trouble of mules, Monsieur Clendenning?” I asked
of him softly in a woman's way for administering sympathy for distress
but without the masculine discretion that I was to learn swiftly
thereafter to employ.
“Don't talk about it, for I don't know how much either of us knows
or our chief wants us to know, but Governor Williamson Faulkner is a
man of honor and I'd stake my life on that. He's being pushed hard
and—Gee! Here we are at the General's and I can smell Kizzie's cream
gravy with my mind's nose. I understand that your father was the last
Henry Carruthers of five born up in the old mahogany bedstead that the
General inhabits between the hours of one and five A.M. Some shack,
this of the General's, isn't it? Nothing finer in the State.” And as he
spoke that Mr. Buzz Clendenning stopped the car before the home of my
Uncle, the General Robert, and we alighted from it together.
I do not know how it is that I can put into words the beautiful
feeling that rose from the inwardness of me as I stood in front of the
home of my fathers in this far-away America. The entire city of
Hayesville is a city of old homes, I had noticed as I drove in the gray
car so rapidly along with Mr. Buzz Clendenning while he was speaking to
me, but no house had been so beautiful as was this one. It was old,
with almost the vine-covered age of the Chateau de Grez, but instead of
being of gray stone it was of a red brick that was as warm as the
embers of an oak fire with the film of ashes crusting upon it. Thus it
seemed to be both red and gray beneath the vines that were casting
delicate green traceries over its walls. Great white pillars were to
the front of it like at the Mansion of the Gouverneur, and many wide
windows and doors opened out from it. Two old oak trees which give to
it the name of Twin Oaks stood at each side of the old brick walk that
led from the tall gate, and as I walked under them I felt that I had
from a cruel world come home.
CHAPTER VII. THE GIRL BUNCH
And, if I felt in that manner as I entered the house, I felt it to a
still greater degree when I was welcomed by that most lovely old black
slave woman of the high temper and good cookery. She opened the door
for us herself, though a nice boy the color of a chocolate bonbon stood
in waiting to perform that office. She had a spoon in her hand and upon
her head was a spotless white turban, as also was an apron of an equal
spotlessness tied around her very large waist.
“You, Mas' Robert, you done come home from the heathen land to keep
my food waiting jest like yo' father did from the minute I ontied him
from my apron string. Come right into the dining room 'fore my gravy
curdles and the liver wing I done saved for you gits too brown in the
skillet,” was all of the introduction or greeting that she gave to me
as she waddled along behind Mr. Buzz Clendenning and myself, driving us
down the hall and into the dining-room. “Mas' Buzz, how is yo' mother?
I 'lowed to git over to see her soon as this ruckus of young Mas'
coming home is over. Now, here's the place fer you both and that no
'count boy will bring in yo' dinner proper to you or he'll be skunt
alive.” With which she departed through a door, from which came an
aroma that led to madness of hunger, and left the bonbon servant to
“Gee, I hope Kizzie killed by the half dozen last night; if there
aren't three chickens apiece you'll be hungry, L'Aiglon,” said Mr. Buzz
Clendenning with a laugh as he seated himself beside me and unfolded
“I wish that you might call me Robert, Mr. Clendenning,” I said with
a great friendliness as I ate a food that I had not before tasted and
that I did so much like that I was tempted to steal some to put in my
pocket for fear I would come to believe that I had dreamed it to exist.
It is called corn pone and is made of maize, and it will be found in
some form at every meal upon my Uncle, the General Robert's, table,
good Kizzie assured me as I made her a compliment about it.
“Though the name of that son of our great Napoleon is very dear to
me,” I added at his quick glance, fearing he might think me offended at
what is called a nickname.
“Sure, Bobbie, and you'll forget that I wouldn't let you kiss me,
won't you?” he answered as he drew back from the table and lit a
cigarette after passing me the case. “Everybody calls me Buzz the
Bumble Bee because of a historic encounter of mine with a whole nest of
bumblebees right out here in the General's garden. It is a title of
heroism and I'd like to have you use it as if we'd been kids together
as we were slated to have been. Gee, I bet you could have beat the bees
down some. You looked all soft to me when I first saw you but you are
so quick and lithe and springy that you must be some steel. What do you
weigh out, stripped?”
“Er—er, about one-thirty,” I answered, and I made a resolve not to
blush or show anything of embarrassment, no matter what was to be said
to me in my estate of a young gentleman.
And I make this note to myself that it is a great pleasure and
interest to sit beside a nice young man with a cigarette in his mouth
and one in my hand as if for smoking, which I do not like to do from
its bitterness, and converse with him about matters of good sense
without having in any way to use that coquetry which breaks into small
sections the usual conversation between a man and a woman of
“I tip at one fifty-two, but I'm an inch and a half taller. Do you
run? You're good and deep chested,” he further inquired and it was with
difficulty that I again controlled the blush.
“I fence and I'm large of lung,” I answered quickly.
“Anything ever foaled,” I answered in words I had heard my father
use about my horsemanship.
“Don't like it.”
“I play a hurry game myself,” he laughed. “Dance?”
“With a greatness of pleasure,” I answered.
After that for a time he puffed at his cigarette and I looked around
the long dining room that was almost as large as the dining-hall at the
Chateau de Grez and which was dark and rich and full of old silver on
the sideboard and old portraits on the walls. Finally my Buzz put out
the stub of his cigarette in his saucer and looked me keenly in the
face as I raised my eyes to his.
“Booze?” he asked quietly.
“That's good, old top. Me neither! Say, let's go call on Sue and you
can get a nice little initiation into the girl bunch before the General
stops you by locking you away from them.”
“I wish that I might, but I must unpack my bags and write the
letters to small Pierre and my nurse Nannette; also be ready for
translations for my Uncle, the General Robert, when he arrives. Will
you persuade the lovely Mademoiselle Sue that she save one little dance
for me on that evening of Tuesday?” I said as we rose and walked down
the long hall towards the wide door under the budding rose vine.
“She'll dead sure give you one—of mine,” he answered me with a
laugh, “but come along with me now, L'Aiglon. The General won't be home
until night. I laid some letters on his desk that will hold him and
Governor Bill until sunset. They'll have pie and milk sent in and work
it all out together. What's the use of having them to watch the affairs
of the State of Harpeth for us if we don't use the time they are on
watch in having some joy life? Come on!”
“I go,” I made answer with a great pleasure.
Then we descended to the gray car of much speed and did use that
speed in turning many streets until we came to another very fine old
house, where, I was informed by my Mr. Buzz Clendenning, resides that
Mademoiselle Susan of so much loveliness.
And it is of a truth that I discovered that loveliness to be as
great as was told to me by her true lover. When I raised my head from
the kiss of presentation I gave to her hand I looked into very deep and
very wonderful girl eyes that had in their depths tears that were for a
sympathy for me, I knew. My heart of an exile beat very high in my own
girl's breast that ached for the refuge of her woman's arms, and I must
have partly betrayed my yearning to her, for I saw an expression of
confused question come into her eyes that looked into mine; then the
beautiful thing that had come into my Mr. Buzz Clendenning's eyes for
me came also into hers in place of the question. I saw then in those
eyes a sister born to the boy Robert Carruthers of a great French
“I've been thinking about you all morning, Mr. Carruthers, and
hoping Buzz would bring you with him to see me first of all. I wanted
to be the first one of the girls to say, 'Welcome home' to you.” And as
she spoke those words of much tenderness I again bent over her hand in
salutation because I could give forth no words from my throat.
“Sue, you are the real sweet thing—and now notice me a bit, will
you?” said my fine Mr. Buzz Clendenning with both emotion and a teasing
in his voice. “I know I haven't got French manners and don't look like
L'Aiglon, but I'm an affectionate rough jewel.”
“Please don't mind Buzz, Mr. Carruthers—he just can't help buzzing.
Isn't it great about the dance Tuesday night? I fought hard to save you
from a horrid long banquet with a lot of solemn men. I ought to be the
belle of that ball and you and Buzz will be ungrateful if you neglect
me,” and as she made these remarks for laughter, I liked still more
this new friend.
“You are the good, thoughtful little missionary to the foreigner,
Susan. I suppose you wanted to stay at home and tat socks while Bobbie
and I dined and wined—not,” was the very unappreciative answer that
was made to her by that Buzz.
“For always I will be your humble slave, Mademoiselle Susan,” was
the answer I made into her laughing eyes. “All the evening I will wait
in loneliness for the small crumbs of dance that you throw to me.”
“That will do, Robert; you don't know how spoiled Susan is and
you're making trouble for me. Besides, you haven't seen the baby Belle
in war paint yet. Let's go call on her now!” And that Mr. Buzz
Clendenning was in a moment ready for making more new friends for me.
“Come on, Susan, we can tie Prince Bob on the running board.”
“Why, there's Belle at the gate now and—yes—it's Mrs. Whitworth
with her. I wonder when she came from New York,” said Mademoiselle
Susan as we went to meet the guests approaching, I on the one side of
her and the Mr. Buzz on the other.
CHAPTER VIII. IN THE DRESS OF
“The beautiful Madam Whitworth came down upon the same train which I
occupied,” I said as I remembered to raise from my head my hat by that
action on the part of my Mr. Buzz.
“Oh, then you have been presented to L'Aiglon?” said Mr. Buzz to
that Madam Whitworth who stood smiling while I was presented to the
very lovely girl of great blondness, who both blushed and what is
called giggled as I kissed her hand, though in her eyes I found a nice
friendliness to me.
“We are old friends who know all about each other, aren't we, Mr.
Robert Carruthers?” and in her gay answer to that Mr. Buzz I detected a
challenge as her eyes of blue flowers in snow looked into mine with the
keenness of a knife, to detect if I had yet been told aught of her by
my Uncle. And in the answering look of friendliness I gave her was
concealed also a knife of great keenness, which came from a brain with
which I hoped to do to the death that enemy of France. And also I felt
my heart spring to the protection of the honor of great Gouverneur
Faulkner, who had given me a comrade's salute within a few hours past;
and also to the protection of the honor of my house in the person of my
Uncle, the General Robert.
“Indeed, I have much joy that I was given the opportunity to know
the very beautiful Madam Whitworth at so early a time in my life in
America,” I made answer to her question in words as I bent also over
her hand for a kiss of salutation.
And then I had a great amusement at the skill with which that Madam
Whitworth brought it to pass that I walked with her from that gate and
left the three new and lovely friends I had made looking after me with
affection and regret at my departure.
“Of course, it was horrid of me to snatch you like that from those
infants, but—I really had the claim to have you for a little time to
hear your impressions of Hayesville, now, didn't I?—you boy with eyes
as beautiful as a girl's!” she said to me as I walked down the wide
street beside her.
“I hope you will always make such claims of me, Madam,” I made
answer with the great sweetness with which I was determined for the
time to keep covered the steel knife.
“I know how to claim—and also to reward,” she answered me with a
warmth that gave me a great discomfort. “And how did you escape from
the General into feminine society on your very first day? Wasn't there
work for you at the Capitol? I understand that they are expecting that
French Commissioner very soon now.” She asked the question with an
indifference that I knew to be false.
“I think it is that I am allowed to get my—what you say in
English?—land legs,” I answered with much unconcern.
“Speaking of that Frenchman who is coming down for the mule
contracts, of which by this time you have doubtless heard, I wonder why
it is that the Count of Lasselles, your friend, is sending one of his
lieutenants instead of coming himself. Did he say anything of coming
down later? I wish he would, for to my mind he is one of your greatest
soldiers and I would like to look into his face. That portrait in the
Review is one of the most interesting I have almost ever seen. Is
there any chance of his coming down?” And I was of a great curiosity at
the anxiety in her face about the movements of my Capitaine, the Count
“He told me only that he would go to the grain fields of English
Canada, Madam,” I answered her by guardedly telling her no more than my
words upon that train had revealed to her.
“If he writes to you, you must tell me about it,” she said with
great friendliness. “I am interested in everything that happens to
“I will do that, with thanks for your interest,” I answered to her
with an air of great devotion. “And behold, is it not the Twin Oaks of
my Uncle I see across the street?” I asked as I stopped in front of
that fine old home that was now mine.
“Come on down the street to my home and I'll give you a cup of tea,”
she invited me with very evident desire for my company for more
“I give many thanks, but that is not possible to me, as I must write
notes to my Pierre and old Nannette for the evening railroad. I bid you
good day, beautiful Madam,” and again I bent over her hand in a
salutation of departure.
“Then I'll see you again soon,” she said and smiled at me as I stood
with my hat in my hand as she went away from me down the street.
“Vive la France and Harpeth America!” I said to myself as I
ascended the steps, was admitted by the Bonbon and conducted up the
stairway to my apartments by good Kizzie, whom I met in the wide hall.
And there ensued an hour of the greatest interest to me as the very
good old slave woman led me from one of the rooms in the large house to
another, with many stories of great interest. At last we came to that
room in which had been deposited my bags and my other equipment for my
journey and there we made a very long pause.
“This is your Grandma Carruthers' room, the General's grandma, and
she was the high-headedest lady of the whole family. That am her
portrait over the mantelshelf. You is jest like her as two peas in the
pod and I reckin I'll have to take a stick to you like I did to yo'
father when he was most growed up and stole all the fruitcake I had
done baked in July fer Christmas,” she said with a wide smile of great
affection upon her very large mouth.
“I beg that you put under a key that cake, beloved Madam Kizzie,” I
made answer to her with also a laugh.
“Never was no key to nothing in this house, chile,” she answered to
me. “I 'lowed to the Gener'l that he had oughter git a lock and key fer
this here flowered silk dress in the glass case on the wall dat de ole
Mis' wore at the ball where she met up with Mas' Carruthers, but they
do say that she comes back and walks as a ha'nt all dressed in it and
these here slippers and stockings and folderols in the carved box on
the table here under her picture. Is you 'fraid of ha'nts, honey?”
“I will not be afraid of this beautiful Grandmamma in this dress of
so great magnificence, my good Kizzie,” I made answer to her with more
of courage than I at that moment felt.
“Well, it's only in case of a death in the house that she—Lands
alive, am that my cake burning?” With which exclamation the good Kizzie
left me to the company of the beautiful Grandmamma.
After having unpacked and nicely put away all of the apparel from my
two large bags, the fine Bonbon retired below to answer a summons from
good Kizzie, and left me alone for the first time since I had opened my
eyes that morning while being whirled in the railway train down into
the State of Harpeth. I looked at the hunting watch strapped to my
wrist, which I had worn while traveling, and saw that it was after five
o'clock, and I felt that I must sleep before dining, if for only a
Thereupon I immediately climbed slowly and awkwardly out of that
gray tweed suit of clothes. I did so wonder what could be the best
method of releasing one's self from trousers. It is a feat of balance
to stand on one foot and remove one portion of the two sides of the
trousers, and yet it is an entanglement to drop the two portions upon
the floor and attempt to step out of them with the shoes upon your
feet. Having succeeded in getting out of them the last night when prone
upon the sleeping shelf of the railroad train, without injury to them,
I again prostrated myself upon the huge bed in my room and disentangled
myself from them while in that position.
After having completely disrobed I took the bath of the temperature
of milk that Nannette is accustomed to administer to me, inserted
myself in the very lovely 'wedding' garments for sleeping that Mr. G.
Slade had so admired, and sank into deep slumber upon the large bed
with a silk covering beflowered like the skirt of a lady's dress upon
“Well, well, you young sleepyhead, up and into your clothes, sir. We
are late for the Capitol now,” were the words I heard in what seemed
almost the first moment after I had closed my eyes. Behold, my Uncle,
the General Robert, fully dressed, stood beside the bed and a morning
sun was shining through the windows. I had slept through a long night
like a small child upon the bosom of the bed of my beautiful Grandmamma
who smiled down upon me.
“Oh, my Uncle Robert, how much time is it that I have to make my
toilet?” I begged of him as I sat up and made a rubbing of my eyes.
“Less than an hour, sir, to get out of that heathenish toggery that
the men of your generation have substituted for the honest nightshirt,
into proper garments, and eat your breakfast. I'll call you when I am
ready to go.”
It was very little more than the hour my Uncle, the General Robert,
had given to me, that I consumed in the accomplishment of a very
difficult toilet in a suit of very beautiful brown cheviot which the
good man in New York from whom I had procured it had said to be for
very especial morning wear. To my good Kizzie I gave a great uneasiness
that I did not consume the very elaborate meal that resembled a dinner,
which she had ready for the Bonbon to serve to me, and desired only a
cup of her coffee and two very small pieces of white bread called
“All the Carruthers men folks is friends with their food, they is,”
she admonished me.
“At luncheon, my Kizzie, just watch me,” I said to her in nice
United States words as I departed with my Uncle, the General Robert, to
the Capitol of the State of Harpeth, which is a tall building set on an
equally tall hill.
I found much business awaiting me in the form of making a correct
translation of all of the letters in a very large portfolio, all of
which were pertaining to that very tiresome animal, the mule. But I
made not very much progress, for a very large number of gentlemen came
into the office of my Uncle, the General Robert, and to all of them I
must be presented.
In fact, in all of what remained of that entire week, for most of my
moments in the Capitol I was having very painful shakes of the hand
given to me and receiving assurances of my great resemblance to my
All of which I did greatly enjoy, but nothing was of so much
pleasure to me as the visits I accomplished into the office of that
Gouverneur Faulkner with messages of importance from my Uncle, the
It was with a very fine and cold smile of friendliness that he at
first received me, as I stood with humble attention before his desk
upon my first mission to him, but with each message I perceived that
the stars in his eyes, so hid beneath his brows, shone upon me with a
And in observing the many heavy burdens that pressed upon his strong
shoulders until at the close of each day a whiteness was over his very
beautiful face, I grew to desire that I could make some little things
for him easier. I sought to so do and I discovered that it was possible
to beguile many very heavy persons to tell to me what it was they
wished to impose upon him.
I took upon a long ride in the car of my Uncle, the General Robert,
that Road Commissioner, who was making a trouble for my Gouverneur
Faulkner about taking much money from the sum that he desired to be
voted for use on the roads of the State of Harpeth, thus making my
Gouverneur Faulkner not beloved of the people in the country around the
capital city, and when I returned him I had used many beguilements in
the way of flattery about the superiority of the roads of America to
the roads of all of the world, and had also jolted him to such an
extent that he did write a nice letter to my Gouverneur Faulkner asking
that that money be not voted less but even more, so as to “beat out the
world with the roads of Harpeth.”
“Good boy,” was the reward that I got from my Gouverneur Faulkner
for that feat, and a smile that was of such a loveliness that it lasted
me all of the day.
Also I made a hard work for myself in saving that Gouverneur
Faulkner by much flattery from a large lady who was anxious that he
sign a paper by which all women might vote that no more whiskey for
mint julep should exist. I very willingly put the name of Mr. Robert
Carruthers to the paper, for I do not like those juleps, and I
persuaded the nice large lady that she go in that car of my Uncle, the
General Robert, with me away from the proximity to my chief, the
Gouverneur Faulkner, to a place in the city where we could drink that
ice cream soda water that I do so love.
That lady was very like many other persons who came to see my
Gouverneur and whom I persuaded to make me much exhaustion instead of
him. It was while telling him of the lady and the two very delicious
soda ice creams that he very suddenly interrupted me with a nice smile
that had in it a small warmth like the first glow of a fire, and said:
“Robert, I'm going to ask the General to lend you to me for a couple
of weeks while I am so pressed. Buzz can do more for him than you do
and—and, well, just looking at you and hearing you tell about the
flies you brush from my wearied brow, rests me. Report to me to-morrow
instead of to him. I know it will be all right, for he really needs
Buzz. Now you run home and get ready for one great time at this party
I'm giving to you to-night. And, Robert, remember to tell me everything
the flies say, translated in your United States.”
“I will and I go, my Gouverneur Faulkner,” I made an answer to him
with a laugh in which I did not show entirely all of the pleasure I
experienced when I discovered I was to be in the place of his
secretary, that fine Buzz Clendenning.
And with much haste I took my departure from the Capitol of the
State of Harpeth to Twin Oaks in the car of my Uncle, the General
Robert, for I knew that upon this evening I must make a new and
terrible toilet and I would require much time thereto.
The good old Nannette and my Governess Madam Fournet have always
taught me that the art of a lovely woman's toilet could not be
performed in less than two hours, and I felt that I had better begin in
the way to which I was accustomed and go as far as I could in that
direction, then finish in the manly manner which would now be of a
necessity to me.
The good Bonbon, whom I now know is called Sam, had laid out my
evening apparel, from the queer dancing shoes with flat heels to a very
stiff and high collar, upon a couch in the huge room, and after my bath
I began to put them upon me with as much rapidity as was possible to
me. For a few moments all went well, even up to having tucked the fine
and very stiff white linen shirt garment into the silky black cloth
trousers, but a trouble arose when I put upon myself the beautiful long
coat that is in the shape of a raven, which the American gentleman
wears for evening toilet. My shoulders were sufficiently broad to hold
it nicely in place and it fell with a gracefulness upon my hips, but at
my waist it collapsed on account of a slimness in that locality. The
fit of the tweed, which had been like to that of a bag, had been very
correct and had not revealed the curve of waist, but now it was
“What is it that you must do, Roberta, to disguise your roundness of
a young woman? All is lost!” I said to myself in despair. Then a
thought came to me. I had never been habited in a corset in my life on
account of a prejudice entertained to that garment by my Nannette, but
I bethought me to remove that shirt and also the silk one underneath
and swath about me one of the heavy towels of the bath. Immediately I
did so and fastened it in place with a needle and thread from the
gentleman's traveling case that I found in the pocket of my bag. Over
it I then drew the silk undershirt and then that of fine linen, before
again putting myself into the black raven's dress. Behold, all
roundness and slimness had disappeared and when the collar was added I
could see that I was as beautifully habited as either Mr. Peter Scudder
or that Mr. Saint Louis of the boat.
“Roberta of Grez and Bye,” I said to myself as I looked into the
tall mirror, “it is indeed a sorrow to you that you cannot make your
courtesy to that Gouverneur Faulkner habited in the white lace and
tulle garment that is in those trunks which you have lost in that New
York, with your throat that your Russian Cossack has said was like a
lily at the blush of dawn, bare to his eyes, but you are a nice, clean,
upstanding American boy who can be his friend. You must be and you must
play the game.”
And in the language of that Mr. Willie Saint Louis, it was “some
CHAPTER IX. “O'ER THE LAND OF THE
I have a desire to know if it is into the life of every person there
comes one night which he is never to forget until death and perhaps
even after. I do not know; but I am sure that I shall always keep the
memory of the night upon which Mr. Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye
was introduced to the friends of his ancestors. It is my jewel that
seems a drop of heart's blood that I will wear forever hid in my
At dinner I sat beside the Gouverneur Williamson Faulkner and tears
came into my eyes as he rose from beside me at the head of the table
“Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to drink to the homecoming of
Robert Carruthers, my friend, your friend, and everybody his friends.”
And from that long table there came to me such beautiful and loving
smiles over the glasses of champagne that they went to my head instead
of the wine I could not even sip because of the tears in my throat. It
was as that day upon the great ship when I saw fulfilled before my eyes
my vow to my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles: “Friends for France.” I
sat still for a long minute; then I rose to my feet with my glass in my
“I cannot make to you a speech, but I beg that I may say to you
words that were of the first taught to my infant tongue and which I
last repeated in an old convent close to the trenches in France.”
Then in the rich voice which has come to me from the deep singing of
my mother I repeated very quietly:
“Oh—say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there—”
through to the last words which had fallen from my lips as I had
taken my father's dying kiss:
“O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Though I had not told them of it, I do believe there was not a heart
among those kind people which did not know of that last moment in the
old convent and I could see it in tears dashed aside as they all rose
and sang the last strain of the American song, with the musicians in
the anteroom leading them.
And as they sang that most wonderful song, Gouverneur Faulkner laid
his arm across my shoulder, and the comfort of its strength gave to me
the courage to send back all the smiles that were sent to me, as that
funny Mr. Buzz Clendenning said while they seated themselves:
“Gee, but L'Aiglon is the real un-hyphenated brand of old Uncle Sam,
“Thank God that firebrand isn't a girl,” I heard my Uncle, the
General Robert, say to most lovely Mademoiselle Susan, in a
corn-colored gown of fine line, who sat at his side.
“I'm so grateful to you, General, that he is a boy,” I heard her say
in the deepest respect and regard for my Uncle, the General Robert.
“I don't doubt at all, Madam, that you will succeed in making me
wish that he had been born a girl or not at all,” was the kind reply
that he made to her nicely spoken gratitude as we laughed into each
other's eyes across the table.
“I hope so,” was the answer with which Mademoiselle Sue comforted
“And now what have you to say to me, boy, the oldest friend you've
got in America, who hasn't seen you for days—that have been too long,”
said that Madam Whitworth, who was seated at my side, and as she spoke
she turned one lovely bare shoulder in the direction of my Uncle, the
General Robert, and the beautiful Mademoiselle Sue and also Buzz, as if
to shut them away from her and me in a little space of world just for
“I can say with truth, Madam, that your loveliness to-night is but
the flowering of my suspicions of it that morning upon the railroad
train,” I answered her in words that were a very nice translation of
what that fine young Cossack had once said to me at the Chateau de Grez
of my own flowering into rose chiffon after an afternoon's hunting with
him in corduroys. And in truth I spoke no falsehood to that Madam
Whitworth, for she was of a very great beauty of body, very much of
which was in view from a scantiness of bodice that I had never seen
excelled in any ballroom in France.
“I knew you for a poet from that adorable black mop which I see you
have very nicely plastered in an exact imitation of Buzz Clendenning's
red one,” she answered me with a laugh. “Follow me from the ballroom
just after supper at midnight for a half hour's chat alone in a place I
know; and don't let either the General or the Governor see you,” she
then said in an undertone as the Gouverneur Faulkner bent forward and
began a laughing conversation with her.
“I will,” I answered her under my breath, and I leaned back in my
chair so that the Gouverneur Faulkner could more conveniently converse
with her. And to that end he placed his arm across the back of my
chair, and thus I sat in his embrace with my shoulder pressed into his.
I do not know exactly what it was that happened in the depths of me,
but suddenly the daredevil rose from those depths and knew herself for
a very strong woman filled to the brim with a primitive, savage cunning
with which to fight the beautiful woman at my side for the honor of the
man whose strong heart I could feel beating against my woman's breast
strapped down under its garment of man's attire. And that cunning
showed me that I would have a hundredfold better opportunity to do her
and her schemes against him and against France to the death in my
garments and character of a man, than I could have had if I had come
into his and her world as the beautiful young Roberta, Marquise of Grez
and Bye. Then for those hated garments of a raven my heart beat so high
with gratitude that I moved again forward from the arm of His
Excellency for fear that he might feel the tumult even through that
strong towel of the bath which I had sewed above it, and be in
wonderment as to its cause.
“Here's to your first duel with a woman in which you use a man's
weapons, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, and see that you score—for
him—and for France!” I said to myself as we rose from the table and
with the other men I bowed the ladies from the room.
“At midnight,” I whispered while I bent for a second to kiss the
hand of the beautiful Madam Whitworth as she left the room. As I raised
my head from the salutation I encountered the eyes of the Gouverneur
Faulkner, which looked into mine with an expression of calm question.
And for a moment I let the woman rise superior to the raven attire and
I looked back into those eyes, in which I saw the mystery of the dawn
star, as would have gazed Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, had she
been attired in the white tulle and lace abandoned in that New York;
then I beat her back down into my heart and gave him the smile of
fealty that was his due from Robert Carruthers, his friend, along with
one similar, to the fine young Buzz Clendenning, who at that moment
came to my side and claimed my attention.
“You score with Sue. I'm to be the gracious little home city host
and give up any dances your Marquisity may choose with her. Sue foxes
like she was born in a fox hole under a hollow log, but she tangoes
like the original Emperor Tang himself, so go ahead and suit yourself.
Don't mind me. I'm the loving little playmate.”
“That Mademoiselle Sue is so much of a peach that I am inclined to
request the receptacle of cream that I may devour her,” I then made
answer to him in as many of the words of enthusiasm over a nice lady as
I could remember that Mr. George Slade of Detroit to have used over the
“skirt” in Louisville in the Country of Kentucky.
“Good, Bobby! I'll have to go tell Sue that before she is two
minutes older. I wouldn't want her to live five minutes longer without
having heard it. Sue's dead sure to tell the rest of the girl bunch, so
I hope you have a supply where that came from, for they'll all cry for
'em. There's the Governor making towards the door and Mrs. Pat, who is
always waiting at the gate for him, so come, let me lead you to the
dance.” With which my nice Buzz and I followed the Gouverneur Faulkner
and the other gentlemen across the hall into the long salon of the
Mansion, whose floors were polished like unto a lake of ice, for
In Touraine it is said that a nice lady fairy comes for a visit of
inspection at the berceau—in America it is cradle—of each
small human that is born, and gives to it a beautiful gift if
propitiations are made for it to please her. To that end sweetmeats and
nice presents are placed beside the small infant with which to beguile
the good opinion of that fairy. I would I could be that exalted person
and able to visit every small infant born a female in all of the world.
And the gift I would give to her, there in her sleep, would be to one
time in her life attend a ball in the raven attire of a man in the city
of Hayesville of America. I could bestow no greater gift.
The hours that followed my entry into the ballroom in the Mansion of
the exalted Gouverneur Faulkner were like minutes of time that dropped
from a golden clock of joy. I danced on feet that were strong wings to
glide over a floor that was a many colored cloud from the reflection of
the soft lights and the silken skirts which ruffled over it. And, what
was most enjoyable to me in this case, I glided in whatever direction
pleased me and took with me the armful of cloud, which was the girl
with whom I was dancing, on long swoops of my own will, instead of
being led in my flights by another as had always before been the case
with my dancing. It was the most of a joy that I had ever experienced.
And as I so enjoyed that freedom I did not know how it was that I
should have such a feeling of dissatisfaction when I beheld that
beautiful Madam Whitworth dancing within the arms of the Gouverneur
Williamson Faulkner. I blushed that I should be so unworthy, with such
an unreasonable fury in my heart, and I looked away so that I seemed
not to see the smile that he sent to me over the head of the very sweet
Belle girl in blue ruffles and silver slippers I was guiding past him
in the trot of a fox.
“Yes, Sue Tomlinson is as lovely as a ripe peach, isn't she?”
asked Mademoiselle Blue Cloud of me as I lowered her almost to the
floor over my arm, slid her four steps to the left then trotted her two
back and two forward; and her tone had a very sweet demand of
wistfulness in it as she looked up into my eyes and pressed very close
to that protecting towel of the bath.
For an instant I could not think of one single bonbon of compliment
to offer the lady and I wished I had sat up all of the night to talk to
that Mr. G. Slade of Detroit in the railroad train and had had my nice
gray lady friend in the Ritz-Carlton there with her notebook to
transcribe the many pleasing things he reported himself to have said to
the ladies whom he called “skirts.” Then nice Lord Chisholm came all
the way from England into my memory to assist me in my difficulty. I
translated from him freely in this manner:
“Aw, on me word, you are a ripping good sort and I could take
you on for the whole evening if you'd let me. What?”
“I wish I could,” she answered and by that time I had thought out a
nice little squeeze for her very pretty waist in its silver girdle
under my arm. Then I had to put her into the arms of a nice young man
named Miles Menefee. To get my breath and to think up some more of the
compliments that had been given to me for my pleasure in the past, I
made my retreat behind a very large palm that was in the corner of the
room, and out upon a wide balcony which hung over a moonlit garden
across which I could see dim hills in the moonlight.
“Girls of all nations are granddaughters of the same Monsieur Satan,
I suspect,” I made remark to myself as I inhaled the perfume of the
flower garments of the spring garden below. “I must take a great care
that I do not—”
“And then, boy, you'll slip on the thin ice when you least expect
it,” came in the deep voice of the Gouverneur Faulkner from a shadow at
my elbow. “I sometimes think that they love us just to double-cross our
life's ambitions, but don't you begin to suspect that for years to
“A man's life must be rooted in the heart of a woman if it would
bear fruit, Monsieur le Gouverneur,” I found myself saying as in the
person of the Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, I drew myself to my
full height with pride in defense of my own sex. “A man doubts that to
his own dishonor.”
“Yes, but it must be a pure heart that nourishes a man to his full
fruitage—and, boy, don't you take even a sip—until you are sure there
are such founts of refreshment.”
“I would that you could look into my heart, my Gouverneur Faulkner,”
I said as I raised my hand and laid it against the raven garment that
covered my soft breast that was rent with pain at the sadness of his
voice and his deep eyes. “There you would see the heart of one—“
Suddenly I stopped in the deepest dismay and the daredevil quaked in
“I would probably see the heart of—shall I say, Galahad Junior? God
bless you, boy, you are refreshing.” And he laughed as he laid his
strong hands on my shoulder and gave to me a good shake.
“Are you my comrade Launcelot?” I asked him with a sudden fierce
pain again in my breast under the raven coat at the thought of what
that Queen of the yellow hair had done to that brave Knight of the
Round Table of King Arthur.
“I don't think I'll answer your—your impertinence, boy. Just keep
foxing with Sue and Belle and the rest of the posy girls and—and keep
away from the pools—of—of other eyes.” And after another shaking he
turned me towards the door of that ballroom of lights and music.
At the command of the Gouverneur Faulkner there was nothing I could
do but go back to the ballroom and to float for more minutes in the
land of cloud with the “girl bunch,” as my friend that Buzz has named
them; but at supper I took my seat at the table with that beautiful
Madam Whitworth and her husband of the very drooping black mustache and
eyes that looked at all places except into those of the person
addressing him. And at that moment I made this resolve to myself: “That
Gouverneur Launcelot may ride far out of the white road, but I intend
to run at his stirrup.” And I found that it required swift running, for
the road led—shall I say—into “tall timbers.”
It is with a burning of countenance that arises from a hot shame,
which I do not even to this moment exactly understand, that I recall to
my mind that half hour which Mr. Robert Carruthers of Grez and Bye
spent with the beautiful Madam Patricia Whitworth in one of the deep
windows that looked from the private study of His Excellency of the
State of Harpeth, over into the great hills that surround the city.
Things happened in this wise: That Madam Whitworth made the
commencement of our duel of intelligences by assuming that I was a
simple French infant before whom she could dangle the very sweet bonbon
of affection and take away from it a treasure that it held in the
hollow of its hand as a sacred trust. That Madam Whitworth did not
realize that instead of a very small young boy from gay Paris, whose
eyes were closed like those of a very young cat, she was dealing with
the very wicked girl who placed the word “devil” behind the word
“dare,” speaking in the language of that Mr. Willie Saint Louis when he
informed me that he was the man who had so placed the “go” behind
Chicago while on a visit to that city. I was that girl.
CHAPTER X. VITRIOL AND THE HOODOO
“I suppose it is absurd for a staid old matron like myself to be
jealous, really jealous, at seeing a child like you being consumed
alive by a lot of simpering misses in pink and blue chiffon pinafores,
who ought to be in their nursery cots asleep, but I have been and am,
boy. Did you forget that I was your oldest friend while Sue Tomlinson
fed you sweets out of her hand?” And as she spoke she seated herself in
the exact center of the window seat and motioned me to place myself in
the portion of the left side that remained. I inserted myself into the
space that was so indicated and laid my arm along the window ledge
behind her very much undressed back, so that I might give to my lungs
space to expand for air. I think that arrangement made very much for
the comfort of the beautiful Madam Patricia, for she immediately
appropriated that arm as a cushion for her undraped shoulders. We being
thus comfortably wedged, the warfare began.
“All week I've been thinking about you, you wonderful boy, and
wondering just what you have been doing and what has been doing to you.
The General is so—so incomprehensible in his attitude towards you and
yours. All these years he has been”—and as she spoke she looked up
into my eyes and pressed slightly towards me—“uncompromising, hasn't
“Yes, Madam, I do find my Uncle, the General Robert, to be, as you
say, uncompromising,” I answered as I looked down at her with a smile.
“But you are not like that, are you, beautiful Madam Whitworth? You
will compromise yourself, will you not?”
“Don't use English words so carelessly, my dear, until you are less
ignorant of their meaning,” she reproved me as she sat erect and gave
to my lungs an inch more breathing space. I had heard that large lady
of the State of Cincinnati on the ship say that a nice lady from a
place called Kansas, and whom everyone gave the title of Mrs. Grass
because of a disagreeable husband who was not dead, “compromised"
herself with a very much drinking gentleman from Boston because she sat
in a small space with him behind the chimney for smoke from the engine,
and I thought it was a nice word to fit into the conversation with
Madam Whitworth at that time. And I think it did fit better than I had
quite intended that it should. I saw offense and I hastened to make a
peace so that I should learn all that I wanted to know from her while
letting her learn all that I did not know from me.
“I beg that you pardon me, beautiful Madam, and teach me the English
words to say that will express all of—of the most wonderful things
that I think of you. What is the one word that expresses the beauty of
the blue flowers in crystal that I said your eyes to be, to myself, the
first time I looked into them upon that railroad train when you rescued
me from the black taffeta lady?” And as I was at that moment speaking
the exact truth I spoke with a great ardor.
“I rather think that offsets Sue Tomlinson's 'cream jug'
compliment—and you are a dear,” she answered as she again
diminished the space for my lung action. “I hear the dear General has
turned you over to the Governor completely. What do you think of him?”
she asked as if to manufacture conversation.
“Yes, I was made a gift to him last week, and I do not think very
much of that Gouverneur,” I made answer with excellent falseness,
because I had had no thoughts since my presentation to that Gouverneur
Faulkner that were not of him. I had obtained the uncomplimentary
remark upon the ship, from the lady of Cincinnati, who said it about
the doctor of the seasickness from which she suffered.
“Between you and me, boy—if anything, even an opinion, can be
wedged between us—I think the Governor is a great, overrated stupid,
encouraged in his denseness by the dear General whose ideas
have—have—er—rather solidified with age. I rather pity you for
having to have all of your opinions and policies of life moulded by
them. Yes, it is a pity.” And she sighed very near to my cheek.
“Will you not mould me to some extent yourself, beautiful
flower-eyed Madam?” I asked of her with great gentleness, and did
administer a nice little pressure to her shoulders like I had
adventured upon the waist of the beautiful Belle in blue and silver
dress which Madam Whitworth had named a pinafore.
“You are a perfect dear, and I will help you all I can. Just come
and tell me all of your difficulties and I'll try and smooth them away
for you. I suppose you will find it easy to translate their French
documents for them about this very boring mule deal. I have had to do
it and I am glad to turn the burden of it all over to you. You may have
some trouble with the English technicalities and perhaps you had best
bring them in to me and I'll run over them to see that you get them
straight. Only don't let the General know that I am helping you, for I
verily believe the old dear thinks I am a nihilist ready to blow the
Governor or any of his other old mules into a thousand bits.”
“I thank you, beautiful Madam Whitworth, for your offer of
assistance, and I will avail myself of it at the first opportunity. Is
it at your house that we can be alone?” I questioned with a daring
smile that would serve both for a purpose of coquetry and also to
ascertain if I would encounter in a call upon her that very
disagreeable appearing gentleman, Mr. Jefferson Whitworth, who is the
husband to his very beautiful wife.
“Come any afternoon at four o'clock and telephone me before you come
so that I can get rid of anybody who happens to be around. And be sure
to bring any work you have for me to help you with. That's the only way
I can excuse an ancient matron like myself for keeping you even for a
few minutes away from the pinafores.” And she looked into my eyes with
a sigh for her antiquity. In the language of that Mr. Willie Saint
Louis I knew it was “up to me,” and I “handed the dame one.”
“In my country, beautiful Madam, the fruit is much more regarded
than the bud,” is what I presented to her.
“You are delicious,” she laughed as she again diminished my
breathing space. “I cannot see why the dear General has been so violent
in his prejudice against all things from France. You must try to win
him over, especially as he is letting his prejudice to France, if you
can call downright hatred that, stand in the way of lending his aid in
doing a great service to your poor, struggling, brave army, while at
the same time reaping a profit to his own State. Has he told you
anything of this mule deal he is forcing Governor Faulkner to hold up
on some others who want to do a service to France?” As she questioned
me, the beautiful Madam's eyes became much narrower and I could observe
that she watched me with intentness for any sign of intelligence. I
gave her none.
“Will you not tell me, my Madam of the blue flower eyes, about all
of the matter? It will be of great benefit to me to understand it all
from you, for my Uncle the General Robert is a man of few words and I
am not a man of much business intelligence.” And as I spoke I regarded
her with a great and beseeching humility.
And there, in the Mansion of the Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth
himself, that lovely woman did unfold to me the most wonderful plan for
the most enormous robbery of both her own government and mine—or
should I say of both of my governments?—that it could be in the power
of mortal mind to conceive. It was a beautiful, reasonable, generous,
patriotic, sympathetic drama of the gigantic war mule and it had only
one tiny, hidden obscure line in one of its verses, but in that line
lay all of dishonor that could come to a man and a State who should
allow a smaller nation fighting for its life and its honor to be
defrauded of one of the supplies which were of a deadly necessity for
its success. I think I even saw the dastardly scheme more plainly than
did my Uncle, the General Robert, for I had listened with more than one
ear while my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, explained to wee Pierre
some of the details of supplying the army of the Republique. I think he
had talked of things that the little one could not understand just to
make an ease of the pressure of all of his business upon his troubled
mind and breaking heart. And as Madam Whitworth talked I could hear my
Pierre's brave voice as he always gave assurances to his sad idol.
“All of plenty is in America, and she will give to France.”
And here sat great strong Roberta, the Marquise of Grez and Bye,
holding in the hollow of her arm a beautiful American woman who had
herself contrived a monstrous plan to let a quantity of the lifeblood
of France to turn into gold for her own vain uses. If to throttle her
then and there with my bare strong hands had insured the great big
needful mules to France, and saved the honor of my Gouverneur of the
State of Harpeth, and my Uncle, the General Robert, I think I might
have had a great temptation to administer that death to her; but
instead I held her now closer in my arm and I began to plot her to
death in any other way I could discover, so that her intrigue should
die with her.
“Of a truth, beautiful Madam, the poor old Uncle, the General
Robert, must not be allowed to interfere with such a beautiful plan as
you have for supplying those very fine strong mules from the State of
Harpeth to poor struggling France, and I will join with you in
convincing the stupid Gouverneur Faulkner that such must not be the
case. You will direct me, will you not? I am very young and I have but
so lately come to this land that I do not know—I do not feel exactly
what you call at home.” And I spoke again with beseeching humility.
“We'll do it for France together, boy,” she whispered as she turned
in my arm and pressed herself against my raven attire above my heart
held in restraint by that towel of the bath. “And then you can claim
from me any—reward—you—”
Just at this lovely moment, when the beautiful Madam Whitworth had
thrown herself into my arms and I had been obliged by my cunning to
hold her there instead of flinging her to the floor as I naturally
desired, there arrived at the door of the room which we were occupying
with our plotting, my tall and awful Uncle, the General Robert, and
looked down upon us with the lightnings of a storm in his eyes. Then,
before I could make exclamation and betray his presence to the lady in
my arms, whose back was turned in his direction, he had disappeared.
Did I betray that presence to the lady? I did not. I decided that it
would be much to the advantage of the affair to have the lady in
ignorance of his knowledge.
“You must go now, boy,” she said at about the moment in which I
could no longer keep my dissembling alive. “Send the Governor in here
to me, for it is about the time I had promised to dance with him. I
want to talk with him and try to make him see some at least of this
matter in the right light. Go; and come to me to-morrow at
I went and it was with much joy in the going. I stopped at a tall
window to get into my lungs a very deep supply of atmosphere and also
to take counsel with myself.
“Mr. Robert Carruthers,” I said to myself, “you are in what that Mr.
G. Slade of Detroit said to be a 'hell of a fix' when the nice aunt of
that beautiful and refined 'skirt' of Saint Joseph, Missouri,
discovered her to be in his embrace of farewell. I cannot tell to my
Uncle, the General Robert, that it is that I, a woman of honor, have
planned for myself, a man of dishonor, to betray a woman into his
hands, and I shall receive from him what that Buzz Clendenning calls to
be a 'dressing down.' But I must go to send to Madam Delilah now the
great Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth and for what she does to him
that is unholy she will answer to Robert Carruthers or—or Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye.” And then immediately I went to deliver the
summons of Madam Whitworth to the Gouverneur Faulkner and I did not
look into his face as I spoke the words, but waited with my eyes cast
down to the floor until he dismissed me.
Then after that very painful hour of intrigue I allowed to Mr.
Robert Carruthers another of very delightful gayety with all of the
“chiffon pinafore” ladies upon the ballroom floor. I have in my blood
that gayety which led some of my ancestors to laugh and compliment each
other and play piquet up even to the edge of the guillotine, and I
refused to see the countenance of my Uncle, the General Robert,
regarding me from the door in the end of the ballroom. I considered
that an hour of pleasure was a sacred thing not to be interfered with,
and I danced with that sweet Sue Tomlinson right past the edge of his
toes while I could feel the delicious giggle within her, which was
answering that within me, at his fierce regard of us both.
“He'll eat you up before daylight, Mr. Carruthers,” she said as she
cast a sweet and loving glance at my Uncle, the General Robert, which,
I could see as I lowered her over my arm and slid away from him, was
giving to him much nice fury.
“I will request that Madam black Kizzie to make a good cream gravy
to me,” I made answer to her with merriment. “I am very tender,” I
added with audacity that I was learning with such a rapidity that I
trembled for the reputation of Mr. Robert Carruthers, and as I spoke
the words I gave to her a little embrace in a turn of the dance. It
should not have been done, but if that sweet Sue had known that a very
lonely girl danced in that raven garb of a man, who wanted to hold her
close for her comforting, she would have forgiven it, I feel sure. That
Sue is a young woman of such a good sense that I must forever cherish
“Don't do that again, Bobby Carruthers,” she said, looking up at me
with a lovely seriousness in her honest young eyes. “I know you are
French, and queer, but—but don't—” After a little she added: “We are
going to be grand friends, aren't we?” “Yes, lovely Sue, and I beg of
you pardon,” I answered her with all of the friendliness of Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye, in my eyes and voice, which seemed to give to
her a beautiful satisfaction.
“Good! I'll tell you what let's do. You come by for me to-morrow
afternoon and I'll go with you to the Capitol and I'll beard the
General Lion in his den and ask him to let us be friends, and then
we'll take him out to the Confederate Soldiers' Home for 'flags
down'—it mellowed him so once, when I was about ten, that he let me
trot home beside him holding his hand, though he didn't speak to me for
a week after. Want to?” I did enjoy the mischief in those merry eyes
that I laughed into.
“I'll steal his big car and come and help you—what do you
say?—kidnap my Uncle, the General Robert,” I answered her with delight
as I released her into the arms of that Buzz Clendenning before the fox
had been more than half trotted.
“Go pick roses out of your own garden, L'Aiglon,” he said as he slid
her away from me.
And for the reason that I was very slightly fatigued and also
slightly warm from being obliged to dance in the very heavy swathings
of a gentleman, when I had been accustomed to the coolness of chiffon
and tulle and thin lace of a lady, I went again into the broad hall and
to the wide window that looked away to those comforting blue hills.
Below me the garden was coming out of a veil of mist as the moon, which
was now very old, came slowly up from behind the dim ridge of hills
that my Uncle the General Robert had told me to be called Paradise
Ridge. All the spring flowers below me seemed to be sending up to me
greetings of perfumes and the tall purple and white lilac flowers waved
plumes of friendliness at me, while large round pink blossoms that I
think are called peonies, nodded and beckoned to me with sweet
countenances. I felt that they were flower friends who in their turn
were saying messages of welcome to the lonely girl who had come across
the dark waters to them and in my throat I began to hum that “Say can
you see—” Star Spangled hymn to them, and was just preparing to step
from the window onto a balcony and descend to them, when a movement of
human beings caught my eye upon the side of that balcony and I paused
in the darkness of the window curtain. What did I see?
A man stood at the rail of the balcony in the dim moonlight and he
was speaking to a woman whom his broad shoulders hid from me. The man
was the Gouverneur Faulkner of the State of Harpeth and in a moment I
discovered the identity of the lady with him.
“And now, can't you see, you great big stupid man, what an
opportunity I have procured for all of you?” was the question that came
in the soft voice of the beautiful Madam Patricia Whitworth. “All my
life I have worked just to get a little ease and comfort, carrying the
burden of Jeff in his incompetency strapped to my shoulders, and now
you, who know how I've suffered and slaved, are going to take it all
from me when it is just within my reach, and all from no earthly reason
than a fancied scruple of honor which that old doddering woman-hater
imposes on you. I cannot believe that you would so treat me.” And there
were sobs in her words that were wooing and compelling.
“I cannot do a thing that my Secretary of State and his lawyers
declare unconstitutional, Patricia,” answered the voice of the
Gouverneur Faulkner, in which were notes of pain. “You know how it
pains me—my God, don't tempt me to—” His voice shook as I saw the
beautiful, bare white arms of Madam Whitworth raise themselves and go
about his neck like great white grappling hooks from which he was
unable to defend himself.
“Am I to have nothing from life—no ease or luxury and no—love
or—” Her voice ended in sobs as she pressed her head down into his
shoulder as his arm folded about her to prevent that she should fall.
“Patricia—” the deep voice of the strong man was beginning to say
as I was starting to spring forward in his defense and to do—I do not
know what—when a firm grasp was laid upon my shoulder and I was turned
away from the window into the light of the wide hall and found my
Uncle, the General Robert, looking down into my flashing eyes with a
great and very cool calmness.
“Young man,” he said as he gave to me a very powerful shake, “all
women are poison but some are vitriol and others just—Oh, well,
paregoric. Go out there and take another dose of that soothing syrup
labeled Susan Tomlinson, before I take you home, and
head. Vitriol, mind you!” With which command my Uncle, the General
Robert, strode down the hall in the direction of the smoking room and
left me blinking in the lights of the wide hall.
“Little Mas' Robert,” came in a soft voice at my elbow as I stood
tottering, “is you got a picture of yo' mudder you could show Cato some
day when the General ain't lookin'. 'Fore I dies I wants to set my eyes
on de woman dat drawed little Mas' Henry away from us all. Dey is
such a thing in dis hard old world as love what you goes 'crost many
waters' to git, and he shorely got it.” And I looked into the eyes of
that old black man to find a truth that all the white humans about me,
myself included, were acting in the terms of a lie.
Before I could answer the old man, in through the window came the
Gouverneur Faulkner and the beautiful Madam Whitworth, and from his
white face set in sternness and hers with its smile of the opening rose
upon its red mouth I could not tell whether his honor had been slain or
had been spared for another round.
“I'll want you in my office at the Capitol at eleven to-morrow,
Robert,” he said to me, and there was a cold sternness in his glance as
they passed by me and the old Cato into the ballroom.
“At four,” murmured the beautiful Madam Whitworth as she swept past
me with a soft smile but in a tone of voice too low for any ears save
my own and I think of the old Cato's.
For a very short moment the old black man detained me as he searched
one of the pockets of his long gray coat and then he handed to me a
tiny flat parcel apparently folded in some kind of thin red cloth.
“Wear that in your left shoe, honey, day and night. You'll need it
if she's got her eye on you,” he said as he hurried away from me into
the smoking room.
After disrobing that night, or rather in the early morning of the
following day, I investigated the contents of that package. In it were
a gray feather off of an apparently very nice chicken, a very old and
rusty pin bent in two places and a flat little black seed I had never
I gazed at the package for several long moments, then I put back
upon my left foot the silk sock I had removed, placed the token of old
Cato within it under my heel, dived into that large bed of my ancestors
and in the darkness covered up my head tightly with the silk comforter.
CHAPTER XI. BUSINESS AND PIE
That Mr. Buzz Clendenning has in the composition of his nature a
very large portion of nice foolishness which makes the heart of a
lonely person most comfortable. He decided, upon that very first day of
our introduction, that I was to be as a small brother to him who was
much loved but also to be much joked about a quaintness which he chose
to call “French greenness,” and for which I was most grateful because
with that excuse I could cover all mistakes that arose from my being a
girl who was ignorant of the exact methods of being a man. And, also,
that nice attitude towards me was of quite a contagion, for all of the
young ladies and gentlemen of the city of Hayesville became the same to
me and all of the time my heart was warm and rejoiced at their
affection shown in banter and jokes.
The morning after that very much enjoyed dinner dance, with which
the Governor Faulkner complimented my Uncle, the General Robert,
through me, I was standing in front of the mirror in my room without my
coat or my collar, endeavoring to reduce the wave in my black hair to
the sleekness of that of my beloved Buzz, which had a difficulty
because of one lock over my temple whose waywardness I had for the last
few years trained to fall upon my cheek for purposes of coquetry and
which would persist in trying still to fulfill that unworthy function.
And right in the center of my punishment of that lovelock with the
stiff brush without a handle, which was twins with another that had
come with the gentleman's traveling bag which I had purchased in New
York of the nice fat gentleman in the store of clothing for men, into
my room came that Buzz without any ceremony save a rap upon my door
which did not allow sufficient time for any response from me. I blushed
with alarm at the thought that his entrance might have come at a much
earlier stage of my toilet and I made a resolve to lock the door tight
in future, at the same time turning to greet him with a fine and great
“Say, Bobby, are you in for side-stepping the chiefs at
eleven-thirty and going with me to take a nice bunch of calicoes out to
the Country Club for a little midday sandwich dance? You can eat a thin
ham and fox trot at the same time. Sue and Belle and Kate Keith all
want to get on to that long slide you've brought over direct from
Paree. It stuck in their systems last evening and they want more. Want
“With a greatness of pleasure, but His Excellency has commanded me
at eleven o'clock and will I be through the tasks at the hour for
escorting those calicoes out to your Club for a dance?” I asked with
great delight as I continued my operations with the brush upon the
“You'll have time if you stop that primping and hustle into your
collar and coat. Here, let me show you how to doctor that place where
the cow licked you. Why don't you take both brushes to it? Like this!”
With which Mr. Buzz took from my hand the one brush and from the high
dressing table the other, for which my ignorance had discovered no use,
and did then commence a vigorous assault on my enemy the curl.
“What was it you said of a cow, my Buzz?” I questioned him as I made
a squirming under the vigor of his attack upon my hair.
“When hair acts up like this we call it a cowlick in United States
language. See here, L'Aiglon, old boy, this hair looks as if it had at
one time been curled. Did you wear it that way in Paris?” And as he
asked the question he gave that side of my hair one more vigorous sweep
and stood off to admire his work.
“No, my Buzz, I assure you that it was the cruelty of that cow you
mention, while I was at a very tender age,” I answered with a laugh
into his eyes that covered nicely the blush that rose to my cheek at
his accusation concerning the lovelock.
“Well, knot that tie now in a jiffy and climb into your coat. Let's
get to the Capitol and give the old boys as little of our attention as
they'll stand for, and then beat it for the girls. Bet my chief growls
blue blazes at me over the way Sue ragged him about you last night.
He'll issue a command at the point of the bayonet to me to keep you
away from the bunch, and I'll agree just so as to make the slide from
under easy. Come on.” And while he spoke to me, that Buzz raced me down
the hall of my ancestors and out into his very slim, fast car before I
could get breath for speaking.
“But suppose His Excellency the Gouverneur Faulkner requires my
presence beyond that half hour after eleven o'clock, my Buzz, is it
that you will await me for a few short minutes?” I asked of him as we
ascended the steps of the Capitol of the State of Harpeth.
“Oh, Bill won't keep you any longer than that. He'll have twenty
other interviews on the string for to-day. Fifteen minutes will be
about right for you; you wait for me in the General's anteroom. I'll
have to get heroics before instructions. I always do. Now beat it.”
With which words my Buzz left me in the wide hall of the great Capitol
before a door marked: “Office of the Governor.”
Upon that door I knocked and it was immediately opened to me by fine
black Cato, whose eyes shone in recognition of me.
“Got it in yo' shoe?” he demanded in a whisper.
“Yes, my good Cato,” I responded also in a low tone of voice.
“Den pass on in to de Governor; he am waitin' fer you. You's safe,
chile.” And he escorted me past several gentlemen seated and standing
in groups, to another door, which he opened for me and through which he
motioned me to pass.
“Mr. Robert Carruthers,” he announced me with the greatest ceremony.
“Go in, honey,” he said softly and I passed into the room whose door he
closed quietly behind me.
“Good morning, Robert,” said the Gouverneur Faulkner to me as I came
and stood opposite him at the edge of his wide desk. And he smiled at
me with a great gentleness that had also humor playing into it from the
corners of his eyes and mouth. “I'm afraid that you've landed in the
midst of a genuine case of American hustle this 'morning after.' Here
are two lists of specifications, one in English weights and
measurements and the other in French. I want you to compare them
carefully, checking them as you go and then re-checking them. I want to
be sure they are the same. Also make a good literal translation of any
notes that may be in French and compare them with the notes in English.
Do you think it can be done for me by three o'clock, in time for a
conference I have at that hour?” With which request he, the Gouverneur
Faulkner, handed me two large sheets of paper down which were many long
columns of figures.
“Mon Dieu,” I said to myself under my breath, for always I
have had to count out the pieces of money necessary to give to Nannette
for the washer of the linen at the Chateau de Grez, upon the fingers of
my hands, which often seemed too few to furnish me sufficient aid. But
in a small instant I had recovered my courage, which brought with it a
determination to do that task if it meant my death.
“Yes, Your Excellency,” I answered him with a great composure in the
face of the tragedy.
“You'll find the small office between my office and that of General
Carruthers empty. A ring of the bell under the desk means for you to
come to me. I'll try not to interrupt you. Two rings means to go to the
General. That is about all.” With a wave of his hand the Gouverneur
Faulkner dismissed me to my death.
With my head up in the air I turned from him and prepared to retire
to my prison from which I could see no release, when again I heard his
summons. He had risen and was standing beside his desk and as I turned
he held out his hand into which I laid mine as he drew me near to him.
“Youngster,” he said and the smile which all persons call cold was
all of gentleness into my eyes, “these are going to be some hard days
for us all, these next ten, and if I drive you too hard, balk, will
“To the death for you I'll go, my Gouverneur Faulkner,” I answered
him, looking straight into his tired eyes that were so deep under the
black, silver-tipped wings of his brows. I did not mean that death I
had threatened myself from the mathematics in the paper, but in my
heart there was something that rose and answered the sadness in his
eyes with again all that savageness of a barbarian.
“Then I'll take you to the point of demise—almost—if I need you,”
he answered me with a laugh that hid a quiver of emotion in his voice
as something that was like unto a spark shot from the depths of his
eyes into the depths of mine. “Go get the papers verified and let me
know when you have finished.” And this time I was in reality dismissed.
I went; but in my heart was a strange smoulder that the spark had
In the small room that opened off of that of the Gouverneur
Faulkner, with a door that I knew to lead into the room of my Uncle,
the General Robert, I seated myself at a table by a window which looked
down upon the city spread at the foot of the Capitol hill lying
shimmering in the young spring mists that drifted across its housetops.
I laid down the papers, took a pencil from a tray close beside my hand
and then faced the most dreadful of any situation that I had ever
brought down upon my own head. I also faced at the same time the
smiling countenance of my Buzz, who looked into the door from the room
of my Uncle, the General Robert, slipped through that door and closed
it gently behind him.
“Safe on first base! The old boy of the bayonets has been called to
the Governor and he'll not be back before they both have luncheon sent
in to them. I have taken his letters and now I'm off. What did Bill
“Death and also destruction,” I answered in an expletive often used
by my father in times of a catastrophe, and with those words I showed
to my Buzz the two long papers.
“Shoo, that's no big job. I looked over and verified this one myself
yesterday in ten minutes. Hello, this other one is in French. Just run
it through and if it is to tally, call it; and I'll hold this one. We
can do it in fifteen minutes. Go ahead from the top line across.” And
my Buzz held the paper in his hand as he seated himself in readiness
upon the corner of my desk beside me.
“Oh, my Buzz, I have such a mortification that I cannot add one to
another of these long figures. When I place one number to another I
must use my fingers, and in this case you see that it is impossible.”
Tears I did not allow in my eyes, but they were in my voice, and I
looked into the eyes of my Buzz with a great terror. “What is it that I
shall do? I am in disgrace.”
“You complete edition of a kid, you, don't you know I can do it for
you? That is, if you know what all these kilo things stand for in
English. Do you?” As he spoke, that kind Buzz put his hand on my
shoulder with a nice rough shake.
“I do know from my governess, Madam Fournet, and I will write it all
down for you, my Buzz, for whom I feel so much gratitude for help,” I
answered with quickness.
“Stow the gratitude and write 'em all out. It will take us about an
hour but it is good to keep calicoes waiting occasionally,” he said,
and did thereupon seat himself beside the table and draw to himself the
two sheets of paper, while I quickly wrote out the table of French
weights and measurements translated into English.
I did very much enjoy that hour in which my Buzz labored with a
pencil and a great industry while I called to him the list of long
figures and then verified as he showed me the units upon the page in
the French language. He made jokes at me between workings while he
attended his cigarette and we, together, had much laughter.
“There are just three places where these figures disagree and I have
marked them carefully, L'Aiglon,” he said as at last he laid down both
pieces of the paper. “These French specifications and figures that
floored you, represent the ideal mule in bulk and these United States
figures promise the same multitude in scrub. I thought as much. You
just run in there to Bill with them and then forget you ever saw them,
and we'll be on our way to the girls in ten minutes. Bobby, I mean it
when I say that men in your and my positions of trust just forget facts
and figures the minute we get out of sight of our chiefs. And we forget
the chiefs too, believe me. Now run along and come out to the car on
the same trot.”
“Is it of honor not to tell to the Gouverneur Faulkner that you
assisted me in this task, my Buzz?” I asked of him with anxiety.
“No need to tell him—it's all in the same office and will come to
me for filing. Don't say anything that will bring on talk that keeps us
from Sue and the gang. Just run!” With which advice my kind Buzz
disappeared through the door into the office of my Uncle, the General
Robert, as I softly opened the door of the room of the Gouverneur
Faulkner and entered into his presence. And in that presence I found
also my Uncle, the General Robert, in a very grave consultation with
the Gouverneur Faulkner.
“The papers completed, Your Excellency,” I said in a very low and
meek tone of my voice as I laid the papers beside him on the table and
prepared to take the running departure that my Buzz had commanded of
“Bless my soul, are you here and at work, young man? I thought you
were asleep after all that gallivanting, and was just preparing to blow
you up out of bed over the telephone,” exclaimed my Uncle, the General
Robert, with great fierceness of manner but also a great pleasure of
eyes at the sight of me in the character of such a nice Secretary to
the Gouverneur of Harpeth.
“Robert arrived five minutes after I did and ten minutes before you
came into the building, General,” said that Gouverneur Faulkner, with a
twinkle of great enjoyment in his eyes. “He's done a day's work before
we have begun. Will you have your luncheon sent up from the restaurant
with ours, Robert? Just order the usual things for us and any kind of
frills you care for. Shall I say snails?”
“I thank Your Excellency deeply but I am engaged that I luncheon and
dance with Mr. Buzz Clendenning in his club in the country if I may be
given permission to go,” I answered as I laid my fingers with affection
on the arm of my Uncle, the General Robert, as I stood beside him.
“Nonsense, sir! You'll not join those jackanapes in their gambols
during business hours. Order yourself up a slice of pie and a glass of
buttermilk along with mine and sit down here to listen to matters of
business by which you can profit. Luncheon and dancing! No, pie and
business, I say, pie and business!” And the fierceness of my Uncle, the
General Robert, made me retire several feet away from him in
astonishment and in the direction of the Gouverneur Faulkner.
“Now, General, don't tie the boy down to pie and the company of two
musty old gentlemen like ourselves. He's earned a dance. You may go,
Robert, and I wish—I wish my heels were light enough to go with
yours,” that kind Gouverneur said in my behalf.
“Light heels, light head! And I say he shall—” And another
explosion of fierceness was about to arrive from my Uncle, the General
Robert, when I said with great and real humility:
“It will be my great pleasure to sit at the feet of you and His
Excellency, which are not light for dancing, my Uncle Robert, and eat a
large piece of pie and also milk.” I spoke with a sincerity, for
suddenly I knew that there would be nothing at that dance of girls in
the club of my Buzz that I would so desire as to sit near to that
Gouverneur Faulkner, in whose eyes came that sadness when he spoke of
the dance for which he had not the light feet, and eat with him and my
Uncle, the General Robert, a piece of that American pie of which I had
heard my father speak many times.
“Why, he means it, General,” said the Gouverneur Faulkner with a
great softness in his eyes that answered the affection that was in mine
that pleaded for the pie and a place at his side. “Run, youngster, run,
before the General says another word. You are dismissed. Go!” And with
a great laugh the Gouverneur Faulkner rose, put his arm around my
shoulder and put me out of that room before my Uncle, the General
Robert, could begin any more words of remonstrance. And I ran away from
that door to my Buzz in the waiting car with both light and reluctant
The two hours that I spent with my Buzz at his club in the country
with what he called in front of their very faces, bunches of calico,
passed with such a rapidity that I felt I must grasp each minute and
remonstrate with them for their fleetness. That Mademoiselle Sue was
even much more lovely in her gray costume of golf with a tie the color
of the one worn by my Buzz, than she had been in her chiffon of the
dinner dance, and the beautiful Belle was much the same, with an added
gayety and charm, while I discovered a very sweet Kate Keith and a
Mildred Summers who was not of a great beauty but of many interesting
remarks which induced much laughing. With them were that Miles Menefee
whom my Buzz had recommended to me, and also several young gentlemen of
America whom I liked exceedingly. One Mr. Phillips Taylor took me by my
heart with a great force when, as we were all seated on the steps of
the wide porch eating the promised sandwich and consuming breath for
another dance in a very few minutes, he said to me:
“Say, Mr. Robert Carruthers, my mater wants to see you over in the
east card room directly. She says she had it on with your father in
their dancing school days and it was only by the intervention of some
sort of love ruckus that you and I are not brothers or maybe what would
be worse, brother and sister. If that had happened you would have had
to be it. I wouldn't. But that's not our quarrel.”
“You couldn't have been a woman unless you had received a much
better finishing polish before being sent to bless the earth, Phil,
dear,” said that funny Mademoiselle Mildred Summers, and that Mr.
Phillips Taylor returned the insult by lifting her off of her feet and
gliding her halfway across the porch verandah in the beginning of one
tango dance to the music that was again to be heard from the hall
within the building.
“Mildred and Phil fight like aborigines, and their love for combat
will lead to matrimony in their early youth if they are not reconciled
to each other soon,” said lovely Sue as she fitted herself into my arms
for our tango.
“After this dance with you will you lead me to that Madam Taylor,
the friend of my father, beautiful Sue?” I asked of her. “It makes
happy my heart to see one who loved him.” And as I spoke, the longing
for my father that will ever be in my heart made a sadness in my voice
and a dimness in my eyes.
“I think everybody loved him just as we are all beginning to—to
like you, Bobby dear,” said that sweet girl as she smiled up at me in a
way that sent the dimness in my eyes back to my heart.
“I am very grateful that you like me, lovely Sue,” I said with great
humility. “I will endeavor to win and deserve more and more of that
liking, until it is with me as if I had been born in a house near to
yours, as is the case with my dear Buzz and also that funny Mildred.”
“I couldn't like you any better, Bobby, if you had torn the hair off
of my doll's head or broken my slate a dozen times,” she laughed at me
again as we slid together the last slide in the dance. “Now come over
and be introduced to Mrs. Taylor. You have only a few minutes, for you
and Buzz must both be back at the Capitol at two. I feel in honor bound
to the State to send you both back on time.” And while she spoke she
led me across the hall of the clubhouse and into a room full of ladies,
who sat at card tables consuming very beautiful food while also
preparing to resume playing the cards.
CHAPTER XII. THE BEAUTIFUL MADAM
Sue then made for me many introductions and all of those lovely
grande dames gave to me affectionate welcomes. Some of them I had
encountered at the dance of the Gouverneur Faulkner and all of them had
smiles for me.
“Why, boy, you are Henry's very self come back to us after all these
years—only with a lot of added deviltry in the way of French beauty,”
said that Madam Taylor, who was very stately, with white hair and a
very young countenance of sweetness. “The daredevil—it was like him to
send you back to us as—as revenge,” she added with something that
almost seemed like anger under the sweetness of her voice.
“It is what my father always named me, Madam, the 'daredevil,' and
will you not accept me for your cherishing?” I spoke those words to her
from an impulse that I could not understand but I saw them soothe a
hurt in her eyes as she laughed and kissed my cheek as I raised my head
from kissing her jeweled hand.
“Yes,” she answered me softly.
“Come on, L'Aiglon; it's time to beat it. We are late and Sue is
beginning to shoo,” called my Buzz from the door of the card room. “We
are coming home with Phil for supper to-night, Mrs. Taylor, and the
Prince wants an introduction to your custard pie. Yes'm, seven sharp!
Come on, Bob!”
“My Buzz,” I said to that Mr. Buzz Clendenning as he raced the slim
car through the country and the city up to the Capitol hill, “you give
to me a life of much joy in only a few days. I would that it could so
“It just will until we are jolly old boys with long white beards and
canes, Bobby,” he answered me with an affectionate grin as we rounded a
corner on two wheels of the car. “Say, let's get out of this politics
soon, go in for selling timber lands, marry two of the calicoes and
found families. We'll call the firm Carruthers and Clendenning and I
choose Sue. You can decide about your dame later.”
Suddenly something very cold and dead was there in place of my heart
that had danced with happiness. What should I do at that time of
disclosing myself as one large lie to all of these kind friends who
were giving me affection on the account of my honored father and Uncle,
the General Robert? That daredevil in me had led me into this dishonor,
with the excuse, it is true, of fear that the wicked Uncle would not
have mended the hip of small Pierre if I did not obey his summons as a
nephew. And now I must stay to be of service to him and to the
Gouverneur Faulkner but also to be more involved in that lie and to
accept more confidence and affection with thievery.
“I cannot sell the lands of timber with you, my Buzz,” I made answer
to him quickly and with fierceness. “As soon as this business of the
mules is settled and my Uncle, the General Robert, no longer requires
my services, I must return and go into the trenches of France.” And I
felt as I spoke that my fate was decided, and a great calmness came
over me. “Then I'll go with you,” answered me that Buzz with a look of
the steadfast affection which might have grown with years of
comradeship. “I'll go and fight for France with you if you'll come back
and build an American family alongside of mine. Jump out—we are
fifteen minutes late—and watch the General scalp me. Come in through
his office and take a part of it, will you?”
Even in the very short time which I had known my Uncle, the General
Robert, I had discovered that the times at which could be anticipated
explosions, none came, and also the reverse of that fact. When my Buzz
and I entered his office he very hastily concealed a book that had some
variety of richly colored pictures in it in his desk and smiled with a
wink of the eye at my Buzz. Later I should know about that book to my
“Here's a letter for you, Robert, and go get to your knitting with
Governor Bill,” he said to me with kindness in his smile as he handed
me a large letter and motioned me from the room into the small anteroom
that I now knew to be the place assigned to my Buzz and me when not
wanted in the offices of my Uncle, the General Robert, or the
Gouverneur Faulkner. I made a low bow to my Uncle, the General Robert,
and also to Monsieur the Bumble Bee and departed thence.
On seating myself at my table to await the bell of the Gouverneur
Faulkner, without which ringing my Buzz had instructed me I must never
on pain of extinction as a secretary enter His Excellency's office, I
opened that letter and began to read with difficulty a letter of a few
words from my wee Pierre, now in the hospital of that kind Doctor
Burns. I read not more than one sentence when I leaped to my feet with
a cry of joy and my heart beat very high with happiness. To whom should
I turn to tell of that happiness? I did not pause to answer that
question in my heart but I quickly opened the door of the august
Gouverneur of Harpeth and presented myself to him in a disobedience of
strict orders. And then what befell me?
Seated at his desk was that great and good man, with his head bowed
upon his hands; and at my entrance he raised that head with an alarm. I
could see that his face was heavy and sad with deep pondering and I was
instantly thrown into mortification that I had so interrupted him. I
faltered there beside him and found halting words to exclaim:
“Oh, it is a pardon I ask Your Excellency for intruding into your
door, but it is that my small Pierre has stood upon two feet for
perhaps a whole minute in the hospital of that good Dr. Burns and I
must run to tell you of my joy. Is it quite possible now that Pierre
will no longer be for life crooked in the back?” And as I spoke I held
out to him the letter upon which tears were dripping and one of my
hands I clasped trembling at my breast that shook under that stylish
cheviot bag of a coat I had that morning put upon me for the first
time. And did that great Gouverneur Faulkner repulse his wicked
secretary? He did not.
“God bless you, youngster! Of course you run right to tell me when a
big thing like that happens. Sure that back will be all straight in no
time and we'll have the little maid down, running in and out at her
will in just a few months,” and as he spoke that Gouverneur Faulkner
came to my side and took the hand that held the tear-besprinkled letter
and also drew the one from my breast into his own two large and warm
ones. “I've been hearing people's troubles for what seems like an
eternity, boy, but not a single son-of-a-gun has run to me with his joy
until you have. Here, use one corner of my handkerchief while I use the
other,” and as he spoke that very large and broad-shouldered man
released one of my hands, dabbed his own eyes that were sparkling with
perhaps a tear, and then handed that handkerchief to me.
And those tears of both of us ended in a large laugh.
“It is my habit that I shed tears when in joy,” I said with apology,
as I returned that large white handkerchief to that Gouverneur
“Mind you don't tell anybody that Governor Bill Faulkner does the
same thing,” he answered with a laugh.
“I have a feeling that is of longing to rush to small Pierre and to
prostrate myself at the feet of that good Doctor,” I said as again the
great joy of that news rushed upon me.
“No, boy, not right now,” answered that great Gouverneur Faulkner as
he turned and laid a large warm hand on each of my shoulders. “The
crisis is at hand and I need you here for a little time. I can't
explain it, but—but you seem to feed—feed my faith in myself. In just
a few days I've grown to depend on you to—to—. You ridiculous boy,
you, with your storms and joy sunbursts, get out of here and tell Cato
to send Mr. Whitworth and Mr. Brown into my office immediately.” And
with a laugh and a shake of me away from his side, the Gouverneur
Faulkner picked up the two long sheets of paper which had been of so
much labor to my Buzz and me and began to scowl back of his black,
white-tipped eyebrows over them. I departed with great rapidity.
Then with much more calmness I told the great news of the back of
Pierre to my Uncle, the General Robert.
“That's fine—now we can give her away without any trouble. I knew
Burns could do the trick. It's a bargain at two thousand dollars to get
a girl in the shape to give away. She could give us no end of bother if
we had to keep her. Go find that flea, Clendenning, and tell him to
come to me immediately; I think he is buzzing in the telephone closet
to that Susan. And you go get busy yourself to earn your salary from
the State of Harpeth. Telegraph twenty dollars to that fool nurse to
buy a doll for the girl. Now go!” That was the way that my Uncle, the
General Robert, received my news of the improved health of the back of
small Pierre, and with my two eyes I shed a few secret tears that did
roll down into my mouth which was broad from a laugh as I went in
search of my Buzz.
“Bully, old top,” said my Bumble Bee as I imparted also my joy to
him. “Say, if that kid is eight years old and is going to walk all
right, we must see to it that she starts in with a good dancing teacher
as soon as she can spin around. We want to make a real winner out of
“I do love you, my Buzz,” I answered to him as I clung with both my
hands to his arm across my shoulder.
“That's all right. Prince, but don't talk about it,” he answered me
with a laugh and a shake.
“And, say, let's get to work, because at about four o'clock I'll
have something that'll give you a start.”
“Oh, but, my Buzz, at four o'clock I must go for tea to the home of
beautiful Madam Whitworth.”
“Whe-ee-uh!” whistled my Buzz as he looked at me from the top of my
head to the toe of my shoe.
“It would give me a much greater pleasure to be startled by you, my
Buzz, but this is a promise I did make the last evening,” I pleaded to
“Go ahead, sport, but accept it from me that Madam Pat is the
genuine and original pump; so don't let her empty you. Do you want me
to come by and extract you at about fifteen to five? I'm sorry, but I
really must have a business interview with you before six.” And my
Buzz's eyes twinkled with something that was of a great pleasure to him
I could observe.
“It would be of more pleasure to me if you came at the half of five,
my Buzz,” I made a hurry to assure him, for I had a great dread of all
of the falsehoods I was to say to that Madam Whitworth that afternoon
for the purpose of extracting perhaps a little wicked truth from her to
help in the defense of my Gouverneur Faulkner.
“I'm on,” answered my Buzz promptly. “Beat it! I hear the old boy
growling.” And he disappeared behind the door of my Uncle, the General
Robert. I went to the duty of assuring the nice gentleman in very rough
clothing that the Gouverneur would in the morning read the paper on the
subject of making a long road past his property in good condition by a
vote, and I was of a very great success in my efforts, the good Cato
“You's got a fine oiled tongue tied in the middle and loose at both
ends, honey. Yo' father had the same,” he assured me as he handed me my
hat and walking cane at the hour of four, which ended my duties for the
day. Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, did so long to go into that
room of the Gouverneur Faulkner and receive upon her hand one nice kiss
of good night from him, but Mr. Robert Carruthers walked down from the
Capitol and only paused to lift for a little second his very handsome
hat towards the window of His Excellency's room high up above.
And the encounter with the beautiful Madam Whitworth was much worse
than I had thought that it would be, though also it was of a very
interesting excitement. She had made armaments for the encounter in the
shape of a very lovely tea apparel of an increditable thinness to be
used for covering, a little low fire in the golden grate, and curtains
of rose to throw somewhat of glow over the situation. Immediately I was
seated beside her on a small divan upon which there was room for only
one and a half persons, and my stupidity was called into vigorous
“I suppose you have spent the day in translating a lot of those long
and tiresome French documents for the General and the Governor. Thank
goodness, that is no longer my task,” she remarked as she tipped the
cognac bottle over my tea and handed the cup to me.
“It is of a great fatigue to work upon a matter that one does not at
all understand,” I answered her as I sipped at that tea of a very
disagreeable taste because of the cognac.
“Did they give you the two sets of specifications to compare?” she
asked of me with not much of interest apparent in her manner, though
her hand shook as she poured for herself a very small cup of tea, which
was then filled complete with the cognac.
“Helas,” I answered with a sigh. “And it is impossible for me
to add more figures to each other than my fingers will allow. I cannot
even use my toes.”
“Then he didn't get them ready for the conference this afternoon?”
she demanded with a great illumination of joy in her face.
“Oh, indeed, I handed them back completed to His Excellency in a
short space of time. Is not one mule like to another exactly, and why
should a paper make them different?” I questioned with deceit of
“You are a dear boy,” laughed that Madam Whitworth. “Of course those
specifications agree, for I worked a whole day over them; and I'm glad
you didn't tire your eyes out with them. You know you are really a very
beautiful creature and I think I'll kiss you just once, purely for the
pleasure of it.” And I thereupon received a kiss upon my lips from the
curled flower which was the mouth of that beautiful Madam Whitworth.
“Is it that the stupid Gouverneur Faulkner must very soon sign that
paper that sends the many strong mules to carry food to the soldiers of
France fighting in the trenches?” I asked of her as I made her
comfortable in the hollow of my arm.
“If he doesn't sign them in a very few days the deal is all off,”
she answered me. “Jeff has got his capital to put up from some Northern
men who are—are restless and—and suspicious. It must go through and
“Then it must be accomplished immediately,” I answered her with
“The agent of the French Government will be here on Tuesday and all
of these preliminary papers must be signed before he can close the
matter up finally. I hope that the conference over those specifications
this afternoon will be the last. Are you sure you discovered no flaw
over which the old General or the big stupid Governor can haggle?”
“I discovered not a flaw,” I answered her with a great positiveness.
“Do you say that it is soon that those representatives of my government
come to make a last signing of the papers about the excellent mules to
be sent from the great State of Harpeth to France who is at a war of
death? I had not heard of the nearness of the visit at the Capitol.”
“They don't know it—that is, Governor Faulkner does, but has told
only me. He sees things my way but of—of course, he has to keep his
councils from his Secretary of State for the time being. And I'm
telling you all about it, because—because it is for France we plot and
because I—this is the way to say it.” And with those wicked words,
which involved the honor of the great Gouverneur Faulkner, she pressed
her body close to mine and her lips upon my mouth.
For that caress of that wicked woman I had not sufficient endurance
and I pushed her from me with roughness and sprang to my feet.
“It is not true, Madam Whitworth, that—” I was exclaiming when I
caught myself in the midst of my own betrayal, just as I was about to
be shown into a plot which it was of much value to know. And as my
words ceased I stood and trembled before her wickedness.
“Do you know, Mr. Robert Carruthers, I do not entirely understand
you,” she said with a great and beautiful calmness as she lighted a
cigarette and looked at me trembling before her. “You are a very bold
young cavalier but you have the shrinking nature of—shall I say?—a
As she spoke those words, which began in sarcasm but ended in a
queer uncertain tone of suspicion, as if she had blundered on a reason
to soothe her vanity for the recoil of my lips from hers, an ugly gleam
shot from under her lowered lashes.
“I am the son of the house of Carruthers as well as of Grez and Bye,
beautiful Madam, and I cannot endure that you put upon my very good
Uncle, the General Carruthers, an unfriendliness to France,” I
exclaimed with a quickness of my brain that I had not before
discovered. “On points of honor I have that sensitiveness that you say
to be—be of a woman.”
“Oh, my darling boy, I didn't mean to hurt you about that absurd old
feud of—” And as she spoke the beautiful Madam Patricia rose and came
upon me with outstretched arms for another abhorred embrace, which it
was to my good fortune to have interrupted. But I had a fear of that
suspicion I had seen flashed into her mind even though lulled by my
fine assumption of the attitude of a man of honor.
“Lovely and beautiful Madam,” I made a beginning to say, when—
“Oh, yes, Mr. Carruthers is here, for I have an appointment to call
for him,” an interruption came in the voice of my Buzz in remonstrance
with the black maid of Madam Whitworth in the hall of her house.
“Come in, Buzz, dear,” called that beautiful Madam Whitworth as in
one small instant she changed both her position with arms on my
shoulder and her countenance of anger and anxiety. She was a very wise
and beautiful and much experienced woman, was that Madam Whitworth, but
she had given to me, unlessoned as I was in the art of politics, the
fact that I most wanted: that the two papers containing the
specifications concerning the mules had been mistranslated by her.
“Put a shawl around you, Madam Pat, and come out here to the street
a minute to see what is going to happen to the Prince of Carruthers,”
said my rescuer as he inserted his head into the room for one little
minute and beckoned us to follow him.
And what did I find out there upon that street?
CHAPTER XIII. BROTHERS BY BLOODSHED
I then experienced a surprise that gave to me a very great pleasure
and which made my heart to expand until it almost burst the restraint
of that towel of the bath under the bag of my brown cheviot coat.
Before the door of the house of the beautiful Madam Whitworth stood the
gray racing car of my Buzz, and before it stood a slim car of a similar
make, only it was of the darkest amethyst that seemed to be almost a
black, while behind it stood one of equal if not superior elegance of
shape which had the beautiful blackness of jet. That was not all!
Across the street stood also a car of a golden brown and to the front
of it one of the red of a very dark cherry.
“There you are,” said my Buzz with a wave of his hand. “Pick one,
with the compliments of the General. I think the amethyst is a jewel.”
“Oh, it is not possible to me to accept a present of such delight
from my good Uncle, the General Robert. I must go to him and say that I
am not worthy!” I exclaimed with a large faltering in my voice.
“All right; just jump into the one you like best and drive on down
to the Old Hickory Club and say it to him. Sorry that you can't come
along, Mrs. Pat, but that glad rag you've got on is too great a beauty
with which to appear in public. Better take it into the house before
you catch a cold in this breeze.”
“Yes, I must run in,” answered Madam Whitworth with a slight
shivering in her gown of great thinness. “They are perfectly wonderful,
boy, and I say choose the brown darling.”
“Governor Bill picked the cherry from the catalogue for us day
before yesterday, but I think the amethyst has got it beat,” answered
my Buzz as he started towards his own car. “Jump into your choice and
lead me on down to hear you refuse it to old Forty-Two Centimeter.”
Then without further remark, I followed him down the steps and got
into that car which was the color of the heart of the cherry and I
raced that Mr. Bumble Bee through the city of Hayesville in a manner
which put to flight a large population thereof. I had not had my hands
on the wheel of a racing car for the many months since my father in his
had left the small Pierre and Nannette and me weeping on the terrace of
the Chateau de Grez when he went to the battlefield of the Marne, and I
drove with all of that accumulated fury within me. And I could see that
my Buzz enjoyed it as much as did I, though in his face was a great
fear as several very large policemen waved their hands at us and then
savagely transcribed the numbers of his car in books from their pockets
when we whirled on with refusal to stop and listen to their remarks.
And this is what my Uncle, the General Robert, answered to me as I
told him of my unworthiness of his gift of the most beautiful cherry
“That is a just return for your consideration for me in being born a
boy, and I hope you'll break the necks of about two dozen young females
in this town before the week's out. Begin on that baggage, Susan, right
away.” And as he spoke, my Uncle, the General Robert, came down the
steps of the great Club of Old Hickory with the Gouverneur Faulkner and
stood beside my Cherry with me.
“He's no better man than I, General, and I've been trying it all
year,” answered my Buzz with one of those delectable grinnings upon his
“Indeed, my much loved Uncle Robert, it is impossible that I accept
your gift in gratitude that I am not a woman, because for the good
reason—” and my honor was about to rise up in arms and betray the
daredevil and her schemes within me when that good and most beloved
Gouverneur Faulkner interrupted me by stepping into the Cherry beside
me with a laugh.
“Thank you, General; this is just what I need in all of my business
with Robert. We'll be back in time to dine with you at seven here at
the Club. Go out to the West End, Robert.” And with his hand on the
spark he started the Cherry, and I was forced to sweep away from my
Buzz and my Uncle, the General Robert, into the traffic and away from
the Club of Old Hickory, which is named for a very great general of
America and is a club of much fashion and some bad behavior, my Buzz
has said to me.
“I really didn't mean to kidnap you and the car, youngster, but I've
had a pain under my left pocket all day, and I have got to operate on
it. A sudden impulse told me that it would be easier if I took you with
me to—to sort of stand by,” said my beautiful Gouverneur Faulkner in a
grave tone of voice as I whirled him out the broad avenue that led to
the west end of the city.
“Oh, my Gouverneur Faulkner, is it that you are ill, perhaps to die
by a knife?” I exclaimed and for a second I let that wild Cherry run in
a very dangerous manner almost upon another large car in the act of
turning into the street.
“No, not that, Robert,” he answered me quickly and he laid his hand
on my arm beside him for an instant as if to give a steadiness to me.
“I want you to take me out to the State Prison. I want to talk face to
face with a man who killed his own brother, in cold blood, it is said.
A pretty powerful influence is at me day and night for a reprieve and
I—I don't know what to do about it. It is a difficult case. If I went
in my official capacity to see the man it might give his friends undue
hopes; and suddenly I felt that I could run away from the whole bunch
at this hour of the day and see the man himself without anybody's
knowing it save the superintendent of the prison and myself. You don't
count, because in this case you are myself.”
“Always I would be yourself to you, my reverenced Gouverneur
Faulkner,” I made reply to him as I raised my eyes to his deep ones
that smiled down into them.
“I wonder if that is as good as it sounds, boy,” asked my Gouverneur
Faulkner gently, as he looked down at me with both a laugh and a
sadness influencing the smile of his mouth. “Sometimes I badly need two
of myself. They are at me from waking to sleeping and I often feel cut
into little bits and I can't even say so. In fact, youngster, I'm
squealing to you more than I've let myself do since I became the chief
executive of this State of Harpeth. Now, turn off into this road and go
straight ahead. The prison is about a mile back there at the foot of
“I—like those squeals,” I answered to his smile as I put my Cherry
against the spring wind and raced down that long road at a great speed
that prevented any more conversation at that moment. My pride bade me
show to that Gouverneur of Harpeth what good driving in a fine car I
was able to accomplish.
Therefore it was not many minutes before we stood within the doors
of that very grim and terrible home of the human beings who have sinned
with a great crime. I know that I am never to forget that hour and am
to carry forever the wound that it inflicted upon my heart as I walked
through the dimness and grayness and stillness of that dark house.
At last, with many unlockings of heavy doors by the director of that
prison, we stood in a room that was as a cage in which to keep the
human animal that crouched down upon a hard bed in one of its corners
and leaned a head shaved bare of any hair upon a very thin and white
“Leave me, Superintendent, for a few minutes. The young man will
stay by the door to let you know when I want you,” said that Gouverneur
Faulkner to the superintendent, who nodded and left the room as I took
a position over beside the heavy iron bars that swung together after
“My man,” said the Gouverneur Faulkner in a voice that was so gentle
as that which a mother uses to a child in severe illness, “I want you
to let me sit down on your cot beside you and talk to you about your
“Got nothing to say, parson. I done it and I want to swing as quick
as the law sends me,” answered the poor human from behind his hands
without even raising his bowed head.
“I am not a minister, and I've come to talk to you because some of
your neighbors and friends think that there may be a reason why you
should not be hanged for the death of your brother. It is my duty to
help them keep you from the penalty of the law, which you may not
deserve even if you desire it. Can you tell me your story as man to
man, with the hope that it will help you to a reprieve?” And as he
spoke I observed a tone of command come into the voice of my Gouverneur
Faulkner, that was as clear and beautiful as the call of the bugle to
men for a battle.
“I done what I had to and I'm ready to die for it. I've got nothing
to say,” answered the man with still more of the determination of
misery in his voice. “My neighbors don't know nothing about it and I
don't want 'em to. Just let them keep quiet and let it all die when the
State swings me.”
“So there is some secret about the matter that you are willing to
die to keep, is there?” asked the Gouverneur Faulkner with a quickness
of command in his voice. “What had your brother done to Mary Brown that
you killed him for doing?”
“Damn you, what's that to you?” snarled the man as he sprang up from
beside the Gouverneur and leaned, crouched and panting, against the
bars of the cage in which the three of us were inclosed. “Who are you
anyway? My State has said I was to swing for killing him and there's no
more to question about it.”
“I am the Governor of your State,” answered that Gouverneur Faulkner
as he rose and stood tall and commanding before the poor human being
who was cowering as a dog that had felt the lash of a whip. “You are my
son because you are a son of the State of Harpeth, and as a
representative of that State I am going to exercise my guardianship and
if possible prevent the State from the crime of taking your life if you
do not deserve punishment.”
“I'm condemned by the laws of the State. You can't go back on that,
Governor or no Governor,” made answer the man, with a panting of misery
in his voice.
“As you know, there are certain unwritten laws which have more
influence in some cases as to the guilt of a murderer than any on the
statute books,” said the Gouverneur Faulkner with a very great
slowness, so that the poor human dog might comprehend him. “If you
killed your brother to save—save Mary Brown from worse than death,
then you have not the right to demand execution from your State to
shelter her from publicity when she is no longer in danger of anything
worse. Did you get to her in time to save her or—” “Yes, good God, I
did and I had—damn you, now I'll have to kill you for getting words
out of me that all the lawyers have tried to make me say all this
time,” and with the oath and a snarl the man made a lunge at my
Gouverneur Faulkner with something keen and shining that he had drawn
from the top of his coarse boot. But that poor human being of the
prison was not of enough quickness to do the killing of his desire in
the face of Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, who had twice with her
foil pricked the red cloth heart of the young Count de Couertoir, the
best swordsman of France, in gay combat in the great hall of the old
Chateau de Grez. With my walking cane of a young gentleman of American
fashion, which I had taken with me to call upon the beautiful Madam
Whitworth before my Cherry had befallen me as a gift, and which I had
without thought brought into that prison with me, I parried the blow of
the knife at my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner, but not in such a manner
as to prevent a glancing of that knife, which inflicted a scratch of
considerable depth upon my forearm under its sleeve of brown cheviot.
“My God, boy!” exclaimed that Gouverneur Faulkner as he caught the
knife from the floor where it had fallen from the hand of the poor man
who had sunk down on the cot, trembling and panting. “Two inches to the
left and a little more force and the knife would have stuck in your
“Is it not better my heart than yours, my great Gouverneur Faulkner?
And behold it is the heart of neither and only a small scratch upon my
humble arm, which will not even prevent the driving of that new Cherry
car,” I answered him as I put that arm behind me and pressed it close
in its sleeve of brown cheviot so that there would be no drippings of
“I didn't go to hurt the young gentleman nor you either, Governor,”
said the man from the cot as he sobbed and buried his head in his arms.
“I was always a good man and now I—”
“Don't say another word, Timms,” interrupted my Gouverneur Faulkner
in a voice that was as gentle as that father of State which he had said
himself to be to Timms. “Nobody will know of this, for your sake. I
was—was baiting you. I know what I want to know now and you'll not
hang on the sixteenth. The State will try you again. Call the
“Don't say nothing to hurt Mary, Governor. Jest let me hang and I
won't never care what—” the poor human began to plead.
“I'll look after Mary—and you too, Timms. I'll see to it that—” my
Gouverneur Faulkner was answering the trembling plea for his mercy when
the superintendent came in and unlocked the cage.
“Don't let him know of the—accident, youngster,” whispered the
Gouverneur Faulkner to me, and in a very few minutes we were out of
that prison into the Cherry car, and whirling with great rapidity down
the country road with its tall trees upon both sides.
“Stop, Robert,” commanded His Excellency as we came under a large
group of very old trees which made a thick shelter of their green
leaves as they leaned together over the stone wall that bordered the
side of the road. “Now let me see just what did happen to that arm
which came between poor Timms' sharpened case knife and my life. We are
out of sight of the prison now. It would have all been up with Timms if
that attack upon me had been discovered. Your pluck will have saved
Timms, if he's saved, as well as your Governor. Here, turn towards me
and let me see that arm.” And as he spoke, my Gouverneur Faulkner put
his arm across my shoulder and turned me towards him so that he could
put his right hand on the sleeve of that cheviot bag in which was a
long slash from the knife and which was now wet with my blood.
“I very much fear my beloved brown cheviot, which I have worn only a
few times, is now dead; and how will I find another for my need!” I
exclaimed with a great alarm when I saw that that knife had thus
devastated my good clothing of which I had not many and for the
procuring of which I was many thousand miles from my good friend and
tailor in New York. If I sought another suit in the city of Hayesville
might there not be dangers of discoveries in the adjustment thereof?
“Is it not a vexation?” I asked as the Gouverneur Faulkner attempted to
push back that murdered sleeve from my forearm.
“In the language of my friend Buzz, you are one sport, Robert. Shell
out of that coat immediately. I want to see just how much of a scratch
that is and I can't get the sleeve up high enough,” commanded my
Gouverneur Faulkner. The tone of his voice was the same he had used to
me in commanding that I take his mail to his nice lady stenographer,
but his face was very white and his hand that he laid upon the collar
of my coat for assisting me to lay it aside trembled with a great
degree of violence.
“Indeed, my Gouverneur Faulkner, it is but a scratch and—”
“Get out of that coat!”
“Off with that coat, Robert!” he commanded me, and before I could
make resistance, my coat was almost completely off of me by his aid and
I was obliged to let it slip into his hands. He laid it on the back of
the seat behind him, and with hands that were as gentle as those of old
Nannette when dealing with one of my injuries of a great number in
childhood, he rolled up the sleeve of my nice white shirt with the
brown strip of coloring in accord with that beloved and regretted
cheviot, and bared my forearm, which was very strong and white but
which also appeared to me to be dangerously rounded for his gaze. I was
glad that that arm was covered with a nice gore which had come from the
long slit but which had now well-nigh ceased to run from me, so that he
could not observe that it was of such a feminine mould.
“Yes, just a deep scratch that I can fix all right myself in my own
bathroom when we get back to the Mansion in time for dinner with the
General by seven-thirty, I hope,” said my beloved Gouverneur as he
helped me again to assume the ruined garment of cheviot. “I was born in
the mountains of the State of Harpeth, boy, where when one man sheds
his blood for the life of another, that other is said to be under bond
to his rescuer and that means a tie closer than the ordinary one of
brother by birth. I acknowledge the bond to you for all time, little
brother. Now drive on quickly to the Mansion before we are in danger of
being late for dinner with the General. It will take me some few
minutes to get you out of that shirt and into your dinner coat. I'll
send for it and you can dress with me.”
“Oh, no, my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner; I must go immediately to
home and there make myself presentable for a dinner of some very
wonderful pie that my Buzz demanded of that very lovely Madam Taylor in
my honor. That nice black lady, Kizzie, will with joy attend on this
scratch upon my arm, assisted by my good Bonbon,” I exclaimed with
great alarm for fear that that very strong mind of my Gouverneur would
command me to make my toilet in his company in the Mansion. “Please do
not command me that I shall not so do.”
“Of course, youngster, go to your frolic with the rest of the babes
and sucklings, only remember that I always like to have you with me,
but—never command you when it is not your pleasure,” answered that
Gouverneur Faulkner to me with gentleness.
“It is always my pleasure to be with you, my Gouverneur, and I do
like that you command me,” I said to him in answer to that gentleness
that had something of a sad longing in it—for that custard pie of
Madam Taylor, I suppose, of which he had probably heard famous mention,
but which I would have believed to have been a longing for Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye, if I had heard it so spoken, with an English
or Russian or French accent, to me in a robe of tulle or sheer linen.
“And may I not return immediately after that supper to that Club of Old
Hickory for conversation with you and my Uncle, the General Robert?” I
asked with eagerness.
“Boy, by the time you have eaten that fatted pie at the Taylors' and
danced at least a portion of it off of your system I'll be—be burning
the midnight oil going over the papers in the case of Timms. I want to
weigh all the testimony carefully in the case given in Court about his
own and his brother's relations with the woman Mary Brown. As long as I
am the Governor of the State of Harpeth, no honest man is going to
swing for protecting a good woman from the outrages of a brute. And yet
Timms confessed the crime and denied the motive. Cross-examining failed
to get the statement from the woman that would justify my reprieving or
pardoning him. I cannot even seem to dishonor the proceedings of the
courts of the State and, boy, I'm just plain—up—against—it. Here we
are at my own side door. Good night, and make a lightning toilet if you
want to get to that pie on time. Good night, again!” And with those
words, which explained his very deep trouble to me, my Gouverneur
Faulkner descended from the seat beside me in the Cherry to the
pavement beside his Mansion and bade me hurry from him.
CHAPTER XIV. TO BEAR MEN AND TO SAVE
In going I turned and looked back at him to see that he was standing
looking after me with a very great weariness in the manner of the
drooping of his shoulders and the sadness of his face.
“Roberta,” I said to myself, “a woman who so reverences and regards
a man as you do that Gouverneur Faulkner will find a way to help him so
that he shall not suffer as he does in regard to not knowing with
surety the reason of that Mr. Timms' making a murder upon his brother.
What is it that you shall do?”
And to that question to myself I found an answer in only two short
hours while partaking of the very famous custard pie at the table of
that very lovely Madam Taylor.
All of those very gay and nice “babes and sucklings” which the
Gouverneur Faulkner had mentioned, were with me at the table of Madam
Taylor with very much laughter and merriment, also much conversation.
And in that conversation were very many jokes upon my Buzz because he
had been transported to the Capitol by my Uncle, the General Robert,
and given hard labor until almost the time to arrive for that nice
supper, which he was eating with much hunger. On account of lateness he
had not been able to come to the house of lovely Sue to escort her with
him to the home of Madam Taylor. That Sue with pretended haughtiness
was looking very high above the head of the humble Buzz.
“Well, it's not my fault that Timms up and biffed his brother into
eternity all for buzzing pretty Mary Brown, and I don't see why I had
to be rung in to sort out of a million sheets of trial evidence the
lies he told about it, for poor old Governor Bill to moil over all
night. I say when a man wants to be hung as badly as that, he ought to
get what he's crying for, and not butt in on a perfectly innocent man's
afternoon fox trot,” was that Mr. Buzz Clendenning's wailing to all of
the company. “Look the other way, Sue, so as not to turn this muffin
cold until I get it buttered.”
“I told my washwoman, who is Mary's sister, that Mary ought to be
made to tell just what did happen and then it could all be arranged so
that the poor man could be saved to her. I think it is hard on Mary to
lose both lovers,” said that very intelligent Mildred Summers.
“They live just over beyond our back gate. Suppose we all go and put
it up to the attractive Mary to speak up and keep Buzz from the danger
of overwork a second time,” said that nice young Mr. Taylor with what I
considered a great intelligence but which caused much laughter.
And at that suggestion which caused the much merriment, that
daredevil within Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, again arose and
commanded me to attention.
“Go, Robert Carruthers, and obtain that paper of statement from that
Mary, so that your chief, that good Gouverneur Faulkner, does not work
in the night which is for rest, and that your beloved Buzz may not
again have to work in his afternoon which is for dancing. Go and find
that Mary as soon as this dinner is at an end.”
And what was it possible for me to do but to answer the command of
the daredevil person within me? All of which I did. I made excuse of
myself on account of a lie which involved my attendance on my Uncle,
the General Robert, and departed after I had had but one nice slide
with the lovely Sue, but had obtained a promise of one from
Mademoiselle Belle if I found it possible to return by the hour of ten
After many inquiries at the back of the house of Madam Taylor in
small streets I was at last led to the home of the Mary Brown. All was
dark within the very small house, but upon the steps, in the light from
the moon and also a street arc, sat the person that a man, of whom I
had asked guidance, said to be the woman whom I sought. She rested her
head in her hands as had done that poor human in the cage in that State
Prison and from her I heard the sounds of slow weeping.
“What is it that I shall say to her?” I asked of myself. And then
suddenly something answered from within me from the same place that had
arisen that knowledge to spring in between my Gouverneur Faulkner and
the bright knife I had not even seen. That place is located in the
heart of Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, and not in that daredevil.
“Mary Brown,” I said to her with all of the gentleness in my voice
that was commanded by my sympathy for her, “if a person were going to
kill with a rope the man I loved I would lay down my own life that he
should live. If you write one little paper to say that he murdered in
defense of you, the good Gouverneur Faulkner will save him to you. Give
to me that paper.”
“Go away,” she moaned as she shook her head and cried into her arms.
“See, Mary: Here is the pencil and the paper to write the words of
life for Timms to that Gouverneur Faulkner,” I said as I seated myself
beside her and extracted my notebook and pencil from the pocket of my
overcoat where I had placed them on leaving my room as is always best,
I deemed, for a secretary. “There are just two things that are the duty
of women, Mary: to bear men and to save them. Save yours now, Mary.
Much will happen, it may be; but that Timms is a good man and must
“I dassent. He told me not to, Timms did.”
“If a knife was aimed at Timms' heart, would you not throw yourself
between him and its cut, Mary, even though commanded by him not to so
“The knife is aimed and here's the paper by which you can throw your
person on that knife. Is it of such moment that it cut into your own
heart, that you stand and let it give death to him?”
“I give up! I give up, Mister! I can't let nobody murder him. Nobody
ever put it that way to me. Give me that paper and let me git to him
fer jest one minute to-morrow,” she made answer to me as she seized the
paper and pencil and began to write with the paper spread beside her
upon the step.
“I will myself send you in my car with good black Kizzie to see
Timms to-morrow, Mary,” I promised her while she wrote.
“I got ter get my arms around his neck once more 'fore he kills me
fer telling,” she answered as she signed her name to the paper and
handed it to me.
“Place those arms in that position, Mary, before telling him of your
action and all will be well,” I advised of her with much wisdom.
“Will that do, Mister?” she asked with anxiety as I began to fold
On that paper she had written:
“Hen Timms had locked me in the room and was forcing me when
Gabe broke in and got me away from him. He had to bust his
head with a flatiron to make him let go of me. I am a good
“Yes, good Mary, this will shield Timms from that knife, I feel a
certainty, and I will send for you and see that you go to an interview
with him at ten o'clock of the to-morrow morning. And now good night,
with great respect to you for a brave woman,” I said as I rose to my
“Who are you, Mister, that have spoke to my heart like they ain't
nobody spoke to its suffering yet, though you ain't said many words and
them is curious like?” she asked of me as I prepared to take a hurried
“I am the secretary of the Gouverneur Faulkner, Mary, and—and—I
know—how women—love—men. I—”
“I bet a many of 'em have loved you, God bless your sweet eyes. Good
And with those kind words from the poor female, who was beginning
again to sob but with another motive in her weeping, I took my
departure down the street—or up—I did not know in just which
direction. I had the intention of returning to the house of Madam
Taylor to obtain the Cherry, which I had left standing before her door,
and in it convey the message to my Gouverneur Faulkner that should
bring relief to his anxiety, but I soon found that I had lost myself
upon streets that I had never seen before.
What was it that I should do? My heart suffered that my Gouverneur
Faulkner should not know the relief of that paper I had in the pocket
of my dinner coat, but I could not find myself and I did not know
exactly what questions I should ask. Then I bethought me of that
telephone, which in America is so much used, but not in France. I
entered into a store for medicines upon the corner of one of the
streets in my wandering, looked diligently in a book to find the number
for the Mansion of the Gouverneur, and after many tellings of my
desire, at last my Gouverneur Faulkner made an answer in my ear that
was as beautiful in voice as the words he spoke to me in his presence.
“Well?” he asked of me.
“This is Robert Carruthers who speaks.”
“Oh, all right, youngster. How did the fatted pie go?”
“That was a very nice pie, Your Excellency, and I have a paper from
that Mary Brown concerning the murder of the brother of good Timms for
cruelty to Mary. I wish to give it to you.”
“What do you mean, boy?”
“I have said it.”
“Then bring it here to me at once and tell me how you got it.”
“I cannot come to you.”
“Then I'll come to you. Where are you?”
“I do not know. I am lost.”
“God, boy, what do you mean?”
“I am in a store of medicine that is many streets from that house of
good Mary Brown, and also from the house of Madam Taylor. I have the
intention of calling on the telephone my faithful Bonbon and asking
that he come and find me and deliver me to the home of Madam Taylor and
from thence transport this paper to you that you go to sleep for a much
“You helpless young idiot, call a taxi and come right here to me.”
“I am promised to a dance with Mademoiselle Belle by the hour of
ten, of which it lacks now only a quarter. Cannot I go in that taxicab,
which it is of much intelligence of you to suggest to me, and send by
that taxicab to you the paper from Mary Brown while I stay to dance
“Well I'll be—no, I can't say it over the telephone.”
“What is it, my Gouverneur Faulkner?”
“I'll say it in the morning to you in person. I'll just hold up the
wheels of state until that dance is over. Go ahead, youngster; call the
taxi and get back to Belle. I'll have Jenkins waiting at the Taylor's
to get the paper and you can—can tell me all about it in the morning.
Will nine o'clock be too early to call you from—your rosy dreams?”
“I do not have coffee until nine o'clock, my Gouverneur Faulkner,
and I do not make a very hurried toilet, but I will come to you at the
Capitol at that nine o'clock if you so command—very gladly.”
“Oh, no, we'll all of us just—just cool our heels until you get
your coffee and toilet. Don't hurry, I beg of you! Good night, and beat
it to Belle, as Buzz would say. Good night, you—you—but I'll say it
all in the morning if it takes a half day. Good night again.” And with
that parting salutation my Gouverneur Faulkner's voice died from the
telephone with what I thought had the sound of a very nice laugh.
That Mademoiselle Belle Keith is a dancer of the greatest beauty,
and also is the homely Mildred Summers. The two hours until midnight at
the home of my lovely Madam Taylor seemed as one short half of an hour
to me. I also had the pleasure of conducting the nice Belle home in the
Cherry so that I could make a fine display to her of my skill with a
motor. In France it would be of a great scandal to allow a beautiful
jeune fille, as is that Belle, and a nice gentleman, such as I
declare Mr. Robert Carruthers to be, to go out into the midnight alone
and unattended; but is it that in America the gentlemen are of a
greater virtue than in France, or is it that the ladies have that great
virtue? I do not know, but I declare it to be of much interest to
“You'll find old Forty-Two Centimeter firing off overtime, L'Aiglon,
because when the Whitworth gang got caught up on those specifications
they side-stepped with another proposition and he's scouting for holes
in it. Better climb the grapevine into bed and side-step him,” advised
Buzz to me while we waited beside our cars for the beautiful Belle and
“Much gratitude for your advice, and good night,” I called to him as
we separated the Cherry and the Gray and went in diverse directions.
I understood that “climb the grapevine into bed” to mean entering my
home and that of my Uncle, the General Robert, with much stealth and
that thing I did, dropping into a deep sleep in the moment of inserting
myself between the sheets of that bed.
And when I awakened, because of that much dancing, behold, it was
ten of the clock and eleven thereto before I arrived in a very great
hurry with much pinkness of cheeks in the office of the Gouverneur
Faulkner at the Capitol of the State of Harpeth.
And in that office I also discovered my Uncle, the General Robert,
performing the action of the forty-two centimeter gun with words about
my extreme lateness.
“You young fox trotter, you, I'd break every bone in your body if I
wasn't so damned proud of you,” he exploded directly in front of me.
“General, if you'll let me take Robert into his office for five
minutes alone I'll help you take the hide off of him later,” said that
Gouverneur Faulkner as he beamed the great kindness to me. “Just stay
here and get that Timms pardon crowd ready to hear the news of Mary's
confession and I'll tell you all about it when I've settled with
“Very well, sir, very well,” answered my Uncle, the General Robert,
with a further explosion of words. “I'll also expect you to give him
commands about this dance the young females in this town are leading
him.” With which my Uncle, the General Robert, himself went into the
anteroom and left me alone with the beloved Gouverneur Faulkner.
“Good morning, Robert,” he said to me with a laugh as he came and
stood close beside me. That Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, will
blush within me, when that beloved Gouverneur comes very close beside
her, in a way that is an embarrassment to Robert Carruthers, his
secretary. “And now tell me what you said to that stupid Mary Brown
that made her see the light,” he asked me with his fine eyes looking
into mine with a great interest and something of admiration.
“I asked of her if she would not throw herself before that beloved
good Timms if a knife was aimed at his heart; and she perceived from
that question that she must give to me the paper. A heart that has felt
a great tragedy draw near a beloved one can speak without words to
another who sees also a beloved in danger. Is it that you slept in
ease, my Gouverneur Faulkner, after you had received that paper? It
grieved me that you should sit at work while I was at dancing,” I
answered to him as I drew nearer and laid my hand with timidity upon
the sleeve of his coat.
“My God, boy, do they grow many like you in France?” was the answer
that the great Gouverneur Faulkner made to me as he looked down into
the adoration of my eyes raised to his, with a question that was of
“France has grown many young and fine men who—who die, my
Gouverneur Faulkner for her in the trenches, where I must soon go,” I
answered him with my head drawn to its entire height in the likeness of
the old Marquis of Grez and Flanders.
“When you go into the trenches of France, youngster, the State of
Harpeth will have a Governor on leave in the same trench,” answered me
that Gouverneur Faulkner with a very gentle hand laid on the sleeve of
my coat above the bandages of my wound, and a glow of the star in his
eyes. “Brothers by bloodshed, Marquis of Grez and Bye.”
“Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, how will you even gain the
refuge of your petticoats and get away from these lies of dishonor if
you are to be so pursued by—” I was asking of myself when my Uncle,
the General Robert, opened the door and said:
“Better see this pardon delegation now, Governor. That other matter
is going to go to hell as fast as it can if we don't scotch it. Robert,
get those letters on your desk into United States as quickly as
possible. That French deluge is upon us. Come back as soon as you can.”
With which I was dismissed into my own small anteroom.
And what did I find in those letters?
CHAPTER XV. “BEHOLD, I AM A SPY!”
As I sat and held in my hand those papers in which were two long
messages, the one written in a very poor English and the other in a
very elegant French, the woman Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye,
trembled with fear of a discovery of her woman's estate while that
daredevil Robert Carruthers raged within and also turned with a deadly
hatred and distrust of the greatest gentleman that le bon Dieu
had ever given to him to know. It was as I say, and for this reason: In
the letters were announcements of the arrival of the Lieutenant, Count
Edouard de Bourdon, on that Tuesday which the Madam Whitworth had
mentioned. They were written with great ceremony to my Uncle, the
General Robert Carruthers, as Secretary of the State of Harpeth, to
give to him that information to be conveyed to His Excellency, the
Gouverneur Faulkner, in due form though he already had that
“They make into a fool my revered Uncle, the General Robert
Carruthers, who would keep his State and the Gouverneur of that State
from dishonor!” I exclaimed to myself in my rage. “And this woman
thinks to play with the life of French soldiers as she has with that
same Gouverneur Faulkner, does she? No, there is Roberta, Marquise of
Grez and Bye, who is a soldier of her Republique by appointment from
the great Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, to both watch and further
the interests of France, whom she must meet in combat first!”
And as I said these words to myself I made a rapid writing of both
papers and with them asked admittance to the room of that false
Gouverneur Faulkner, who had just dismissed the good men who had come
to thank him for his mercy shown to that poor creature Timms.
“Walk right in, sir,” said old Cato to me as he gave a low bow of
very great courtesy. Then he looked with eyes of great keenness into my
stormy face. “Make a cross on the floor with that hoodoo in your shoe,
little mas', ef you git in danger or need of luck,” he whispered to me,
coming very close. And as he directed I so performed at the very
entrance of the audience chamber of the great Gouverneur of the State
of Harpeth. Then, with a fine relief on his face, good Cato flung open
the door and announced me with great ceremony.
In that room I found my Uncle, the General Robert, and the
Gouverneur Faulkner in deep consultation and they both turned towards
me with anxiety in their faces.
“What did you make of the letters, boy?” asked my Uncle, the General
Robert, with keen anxiety. The great Gouverneur was silent and for the
first time since I had looked into his face my eyes did not glance in
“They both announce the arrival on Tuesday of the Lieutenant, the
Count de Bourdon, to sign the contracts concerning the mules to be sold
by the State of Harpeth to the Republique of France, sir,” I answered
in a cold and formal voice and then stood at an attention for any more
“The devil they do!” exclaimed my Uncle, the General Robert, while
still the Gouverneur Faulkner was silent. “Do they give no excuse for
being nearly ten days ahead of time, sir?”
“No, honored Uncle,” I answered. “Madam Whitworth said to me that
the Gouverneur Faulkner had set that date for the arrival of the
Commission, and had so informed her; and I think that to be the reason
for absence of such excuses.” And as I made that answer, which was one
of great impertinence from a secretary to a chief who was a great
gouverneur, I looked with cold calmness into the dark star eyes under
their black lashes, which were darting lightnings of anger at my words.
“God!” exclaimed my Uncle, the General Robert Carruthers, and he
turned white with a trembling as he faced the lightning in those eyes
of the stars. But it was not to his Secretary of State that the great
Gouverneur Faulkner made his denial but to his humble secretary, Robert
Carruthers, who looked without fear into the very depths of those
“This is the first time I have heard of a change of date for the
arrival of the commission, Robert,” he said in a calm voice as for a
second his eyes held mine, a second which was sufficient for a truth to
pass from his heart and still the storm in mine. I did not understand
all that his eyes said of a great hurt but I knew that what he spoke
was true and would always be.
“And what were you doing gossiping with that lying hussy, sir?”
demanded my Uncle, the General Robert, with instant belief in the word
of that Gouverneur Faulkner, turning his anger upon me, who stood and
took it with such a joy in my heart from the truth that had come into
it from those eyes of the night stars, that I did not even feel its
“Vive la France and the State of Harpeth! Behold, I am a
spy!” I answered him as I drew myself to my greatest height and gave
the salute which his old soldiers give to him at that raising of the
banner of the Cause that he had lost in his youth.
“You young daredevil, you, I'm a great mind to break every bone in
your body, as I have said before,” he said to me, but I could see a
smile of pride making a lightning of the gloom in his countenance over
the trouble of his affairs of state. “You keep away from—”
“Robert,” was the interruption made by my great beloved Gouverneur
Faulkner, “upon you will fall the task of making the plans for the
entertainment of this countryman of yours. The General and I will be
too busy getting-ready-to-meet-them-on-their-own-grounds to give any
time to that. Remember, they will have to be shown the best grazing
land in the valley, in motor cars. When they are done sizing us up,
we'll be ready for them. The Count and his secretaries will, of course,
be entertained at the Mansion and you can make arrangements at the
hotel for the rest of the suite. Also will you please instruct my
servants, from Cato down, how to make them comfortable and, Robert,
will you confer with Mrs. Whitworth, who, as the wife of the Treasurer
of the State of Harpeth while neither the General nor I have wives,
must be considered as the official social representative of the State,
as to what form the official entertainments must take?” And as he asked
that question of me my Gouverneur Faulkner did not so much as glance at
my Uncle, the General Robert, who gave an exclamation of contempt in
his throat as he began a reading of the two papers which I had handed
“Also I suppose this means I must give up all hope of services from
that fly-up-the-creek, Clendenning,” he grumbled as he read.
“I will do as you bid me, my Gouverneur Faulkner, in all things, and
I will be much helped by both my excellent Buzz and the beautiful Madam
Whitworth,” I made answer to the question and command given to me by
the Gouverneur Faulkner, and as I mentioned the name of that lady I
lowered my eyes to the floor and waited for my dismissal. I did not
want to look into his eyes, for I did not know even then if I might not
find that Madam Whitworth there. I only knew that whatever she did or
was to him, his honor was inviolable.
“Well, get to it all,” commanded my Uncle, the General Robert. “Get
vouchers for what you spend and pay with State Department checks. Don't
blow in a fortune, you young spendthrift, you, but also remember that
the State of Harpeth is one of the richest in America and knows how to
show France real hospitality.”
“That State of Harpeth has shown that hospitality to one humble
youth of France, my Uncle Robert, who has a great gratitude,” I made
answer to him as I laid my cheek upon the sleeve of his coat, which was
of a cut in the best style for gentlemen of his age but always of that
Confederate gray, likewise affected by good Cato. Try as hard as Robert
Carruthers will, he cannot force that Roberta, Marquise of Grez and
Bye, at all times to refrain from a caress to the Uncle whom she so
“Clear out, sir! Depart!” was the response I got to that caress; but
always that wicked Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye, finds in the face
of her relative something that assures her that she can so venture at a
And as I turned away from that coldness on the part of my august
relative I found a glow of warmth for my reviving in the eyes of my
beautiful Gouverneur Faulkner, who held out his hand to me as I started
to the door for that departure commanded me.
“Blood brothers never doubt each other, Robert,” he said to me as
with one hand he grasped my right hand and laid the other on my above
my bandage, over the wound Timms had given to me, which was now almost
With the quickness of lightning I laid my cheek against the sleeve
of his coat, in exactly the caress I had given to my Uncle, the General
Robert, and then did depart with an equal rapidity.
“Can you beat him, Bill?” I heard my Uncle, the General Robert,
demand as I closed the door.
“Impossible,” was the answer I thought was returned.
And from that audience chamber I went quickly and alone in my good
Cherry to Twin Oaks, was admitted by Bonbon, whom I instructed not in
any way to allow that I be interrupted, ascended to my own apartment
and seated myself in a large chair before the glowing ashes of a small
fire of fragrant chip twigs, which kind Madam Kizzie had had lighted,
against what she called a “May chill,” during my toilet of the morning.
Above me from the mantelshelf, that Grandmamma Carruthers looked down
with her great and noble smile, while the flame in her eyes seemed to
answer that in my soul as I communed with myself.
“What is it that you will now do, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and
Bye?” I asked of myself with a slight shaking of my knees in their
cheviot trousers. “It is hardly possible that you will escape from
revealing your woman's estate to this Frenchman of your own class. Here
all mistakes of a man's estate are forgiven you and laid to the fact of
your being an alien, but that Lieutenant, Count de Bourdon, will ask
questions of you and perhaps has a knowledge of your relatives and
friends—indeed, must have. Also, already that wicked Madam Whitworth
entertains suspicions of you. What is it that you will do?”
And after I had asked myself for a second time that question I sat
and looked into the eyes of that Grandmamma Carruthers for many long
moments and had an argument with myself; then I answered to her as I
rose to my feet so that my eyes came more nearly on a level with hers:
“No, Madam Ancestress, born of her whom not an Indian or a fierce
bear could frighten away from her duty of protection to those of her
affections, I will not flee. I will stay here by the side of my Uncle,
the General Robert, and my great chief, that Gouverneur Faulkner, to
fight for their honor and to protect France from robbery. Then, if I be
discovered and can do no more for them, I will go from their presence
quickly in the night and be lost in the trenches of France before I am
detained. And if it be that I am not discovered before all is made well
concerning those mules for transportation of food to the soldiers of
France, then I will still go away to the battlefields of France before
it is discovered by all who have given affection to Robert Carruthers,
that he is a—lie. I will leave love for me and for France in all of
these kind hearts, which will comfort me when I fight for the
Republique, or live for her during long years. I grieve exceedingly;
but I go!”
And after that long conference with myself I called upon the
telephone my Buzz and asked of him that he meet me at the Club of Old
Hickory, of which, after the required time of waiting, I was soon to be
an enrolled member.
And when I told to my Mr. Bumble Bee the fact that in the space of
barely three days the great gentleman of France would be in Hayesville
for the purpose of a visit and the signing of the contracts concerning
our much discussed friend, the mule, he gave a very long and loud
whistle and placed his elbows upon the smoking table between us.
“Well, this does call for hustle,” he said as he knocked from his
cigarette the ashes. “What are your plans, L'Aiglon?”
“I do not know what it is best to plan, my Buzz,” I answered in
perplexity. “Of course, there must be the official reception by His
Excellency, the Gouverneur Faulkner, upon the evening of their arrival,
but more I cannot think. Also, I am commanded by His Excellency to
consult the beautiful Madam Whitworth as the only official wife of the
State, on account of the title of Treasurer of her husband.”
“Oh, Mrs. Pat will be satisfied to shine at the elbow of Governor
Bill at the reception and we can trust her to arrange little odd cosy
hours for herself and any of the bunch who pleases her. It's the man
end of it we want to handle.”
“Yes, it is that man end you speak of I wish you to perform for me,
my Buzz,” I assented eagerly.
“I'll tell you what let's do,” exclaimed that Buzz with a very great
light of enthusiasm coming into his countenance. “Let's don't try to
imitate London, Paris or New York in blowing 'em off; let's give them a
taste of the genuine rural thing. Let's take the bunch down to the
Brice stock farm, Glencove, give 'em a barbecue done by old Cato and
let 'em see the horses run. Gee, they have got a string of youngsters
there! It will take two and a half days, for it's fifty miles down over
a mighty poor road, but it's worth it when you get there. The Brice
farm is the heart of the Harpeth Valley. We took that English Lordkin,
who came to visit Governor Bill last year, down to see old Brice, and
it took us ten days to get him to break away.”
“That we will do, my fine Mr. Bumble Bee,” I answered with
“Sure, it's the thing,” said my Buzz with conviction. “We pass right
through the grazing land of the State and we can show them the mule in
the making—the right kind of mule. We'd have to do that anyway, for
that is what they are here for.”
I feel a certainty that if I should continue to be an American man
for all of the days I may live, to that three score and ten age, I
would never be able to gain in any way even a small portion of what my
fine Mr. Buzz Clendenning calls “hustle.” I went at his side for the
three days which intervened between the news of the arrival of that
Lieutenant, Count de Bourdon, and that actual arrival, in what seemed
to me to be the pace of a very fleet horse or even as the flight of a
bird. And as fast as we went from the arrangement of one detail of
entertainment to another, the beautiful Madam Whitworth went with us,
with her eyes of the flower blue very bright with a great excitement. I
was glad that in all matters it was necessary that my fine Buzz also
consult with her and thus I was not exposed to any of her wickedness
And in my own heart was also a great excitement, for it seemed to me
that I was fighting a great battle for France all alone. All day I
could see that that Mr. Jefferson Whitworth and the other men of wealth
who with him were seeking to be robbers to my Country, were first in
consultation with themselves and then with my Uncle, the General
Robert, and also the Gouverneur Faulkner. Would their powerful
wickedness prevail and be able to force a signing of that paper on the
Gouverneur? Was that in their power, I asked of myself, and in my
ignorance I did not know an answer and had no person to demand one
from. There was no ease of heart to me, when the days went by and I was
so at work with my Buzz that I had no time for words from my Gouverneur
Faulkner or glance from those eyes of the dawn star. I could only
murmur to myself:
“Vive la France and Harpeth America!”
CHAPTER XVI. “IMMEDIATELY I COME TO
And so the time passed until the morning upon which the same
railroad train which had brought young Robert Carruthers down into the
valley home of his forefathers, arrived with yet another son of France
and his secretaries and servants. All were in attendance at the station
of arrival, from the Secretary of State, the General Carruthers, who in
his large car was to take the Count de Bourdon to the Gouverneur's
Mansion for immediate introduction, down to good Cato in a very new
gray coat and a quite shiny black hat.
“Stand right alongside, Robert,” commanded my Uncle, the General
Robert, as he arranged with impatience a large white rose I had placed
upon the lapel of his very elegant gray coat. “I never did like
heathens. They make my flesh crawl. Be sure and repeat slowly all he
says, damn him!”
“He will speak to you in English very like unto that I use, I feel
sure, my Uncle Robert,” I said with a great soothing.
“He will not, sir, he will not!” answered my Uncle, the General
Robert, with a great impatience. “Half the blood in your veins is the
good red blood I gave you, sir, and never forget that. Look what a man
it has made of you!”
“Yes, my Uncle Robert,” I answered with a great sadness but also
some amusement. In my heart I prayed that always when I had left him he
would think that blood to be the good red blood of a man of honor and
not of a woman of lies. It might be that some day he would be proud
that still another man of his house had died in battle for France
It was while my eyes were covered with a mist of tears that I heard
the great railway train approaching, which was perhaps to bring me my
dishonor, and I drew those tears back into my heart and stepped forward
to the steps of the car from which I could see a very slight and short
but very distinguished looking Frenchman about to descend.
“I thank the good God I have never before encountered him,” I said
in my heart as I stood in front of him.
“Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon, I make you welcome to the State
of Harpeth, in the name of my Uncle, the Secretary of that State,” I
said to him in the language of his own country as I clapped together my
heels and gave to him the bow from the waist of a French gentleman who
is not a soldier. “Will you permit that I lead you to that Uncle?”
“Many thanks, Monsieur, is it Carruthers I name you after your
distinguished relative?” he made answer to me as he returned my bow
with first one of its kind and then a military salute.
“Robert Carruthers, sir, and at your service,” I made answer to him
with a great formality. And as I spoke I saw that he gave to me a
glance of great curiosity and would have asked a question but at that
moment my Uncle, the General Robert, stood beside us.
“I present to you the General Carruthers, Secretary of the State of
Harpeth, Monsieur the Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon of the
forty-fourth Chasseurs of the Republique of France.” I said with again
a great ceremony and a very deep bow.
“I'm mighty glad to welcome you to Old Harpeth, Count. How did you
make the trip down? said my Uncle, the General Robert, as he held out
his large and beautiful old hand and gave to the Count Edouard de
Bourdon such a clasp that must have been to him most painful. And as I
beheld that very tall grand old soldier of that Lost Cause look down
upon that very polished and small representative of the French army,
that American eagle began a flapping of his wings against the strings
of my heart where I had not before discovered him to reside.
“But he is not as my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles,” I said in
reproof to that eagle, which made a quiet in my heart so that I could
listen to the words returned by the man of France to the man of
“I thank you, Monsieur the Secretary of Harpeth; my journey was of
great pleasure and comfort,” were the words which he returned in very
“Then we'll go right up and see Governor Faulkner at the Capitol
before lunch, Count, if that suits you,” my Uncle, the General Robert,
said with a very evident relief at those words of English coming from
that French mouth. “Here's my car over this way and this is Mr.
Clendenning, who'll look after the rest of the gentlemen in your party
and bring them on up to the Capitol.”
“Monsieur,” said the Lieutenant, Count de Bourdon, with another bow
and then a quick recovery as he saw that he must take the hand of Buzz,
held out to him in great cordiality. These handshakes of America are
very confusing to those of Europe.
I saw a great laughter almost to explosion in the eyes of my Buzz at
the very little man who had such a great manner, and I made a hurrying
of him and my Uncle, the General Robert, to the large car standing
beside the station.
“I will precede you in my Cherry,” I said as I saw both the
gentlemen seated together upon the back seat of the large black
“No you don't; you take your seat right in here with us, to be on
hand if any bridge of this international conversation breaks down under
the Count and me,” answered my Uncle, the General Robert, with stern
“Is it that the young Monsieur Carruthers had an education in
France?” asked the Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon. “He has the air of
French—shall I say, youth?” And as he spoke again I saw a gleam of
deeply aroused interest in his eyes which made my knees to tremble in
their tweed trousers.
“Born there; son of my brother, who died at the Marne,” made answer
to the question my Uncle, the General Robert.
“It is now that I make a remembrance. That Capitaine Carruthers was
the husband to the very beautiful Marquise de Grez and Bye. In her
youth I was her friend. I did not know—” but as the Lieutenant, the
Count de Bourdon, was making this discovery which sent a thrill of fear
into the toes of my very shoes, the car stopped at the main entrance of
the Capitol and halfway down the long flight of steps stood His
Excellency, the great Gouverneur Faulkner of the State of Harpeth,
waiting to receive the guest who came on a mission to him from a great
land across the waters. Until I die and even into a space beyond that,
I shall take that picture of magnificence which was made by my beloved
Gouverneur Faulkner as he stood in the May sunlight with his bronze
hair in a gleaming. I thought him to be a great statue of Succor as he
held out both of his strong hands to the smaller man who had come from
a stricken land for his help.
“Le bon Dieu keep of his heart a friend of France,” I prayed
as I watched those hands clasp as my Uncle, the General Robert, made
And all the long hours of that long day were as dreams of sadness
and fear to me as I went about the many duties of entertainment laid
upon me. At luncheon at that Club of Old Hickory I sat opposite the
small Frenchman who sat on the right hand of my Gouverneur Faulkner,
and opposite to me sat my Uncle, the General Robert. No business was in
discussion at that time but I could see those eyes of French shrewdness
make a darting from one face to another and ever they came back to me
with a great puzzle which gave to me terrible fear.
To all the plans for his entertainment he gave an assent of delight
and for that two days' journey down into the grazing lands of the
Harpeth Valley he had a great eagerness until told that it was to be
undertaken upon the morrow.
“Is it not that we will be occupied on the morning of to-morrow with
the signing of those papers of importance, Your Excellency?” he asked
with a grave annoyance which was under a fine control.
“The Secretary of State, General Carruthers, and I think it will be
best that you see the grazing lands of Harpeth and some of the mules
being put into condition before the signing of the contracts,” was what
was “handed out to him,” as my Buzz would have expressed it, by my
Gouverneur Faulkner with a great courtesy and kindliness as he helped
himself to some excellent chicken prepared in a fry. I could see a
great start of alarm come into the eyes of that small Lieutenant, the
Count de Bourdon, at those calm words, but he gave not a sign of it. In
my heart was a great hope that something had been discovered for the
protection of my soldiers of France, and I also took to myself a
portion of that excellent chicken and did make the attempt to consume
it as I beheld all of those great gentlemen performing. I believe that
under excitement men possess a much greater calmness of appetite than
“Monsieur le Gouverneur, it is not necessary that I behold those
lands and those mules; the signature of the great Gouverneur of the
State of Harpeth will make a mule to grow from a desert, in the eyes of
the French Government,” he said with a smile of great charm spreading
over his very small countenance.
But just at this moment, when a reply would have been of an
awkwardness to make, the music, which is made by a most delightful band
of black men for all eating in that Club of Old Hickory, began to play
the great Marseillaise, and with one motion all of the gentlemen in
that dining room rose to their feet in respect to the distinguished
guest of that Old Hickory Club. Also many friendly glances were cast
upon me, which I returned with a smile of great gratitude.
“Yes, the pen is mightier than the mule stick in his eyes, the
scoundrel,” remarked my Uncle, the General Robert, as I drove to the
Capitol with him in his car, while the Gouverneur Faulkner took his
guest with him in his.
“Is any proof been found that he shall not do this robbery to
France, my Uncle Robert?” I asked with great eagerness.
“Trap is about ready to spring, but not quite. God, but Jeff
Whitworth is a skilled thief! I know what he is up to but I can't quite
get it on the surface. Keep the French robber busy, boy, for a little
longer, and I'll land him. Here we are at the office! Now you get busy
keeping them busy—and I'll land 'em. If not, I'll go and show France
what real fighting is and I'll take you with me into the worst trench
they've got! Battles, indeed—they ought to have been at Chickamauga.
Now depart!” With which words my Uncle, the General Robert, got out of
the car and left me to direct it to wherever I chose.
“I have a warmth at heart that the three men most beloved of me
would go onto the French battle line with me,” I murmured to myself as
the black chauffeur drove me back to that Club of Old Hickory to get me
again in company of my Buzz. “And yet it is the custom of women to
believe that they command the deepest affection of which a man is
possessed. And, helas, it is believed to be impossible for a
comrade that he be also a lover!”
It has been my good fortune to be one of the guests at many very
brilliant receptions of much state in some of the very grand and
ancient palaces of the different countries of Europe, but at none of
them have I seen a greater brilliancy than at the one given in his
Mansion by the Gouverneur Faulkner of the State of Harpeth in America.
All of that old Mansion, which has the high ceilings and the
decorations of a palace, if not quite the size, was adorned with very
large masses of a most lovely and handsome flower, which is of many
shades of a pink hue set in dark and shining leaves and which is called
the rhododendron. There were many lights and music of a softness I have
never heard equaled, because the souls of those black men seem to be
formed for a very strange kind of music. Also I had never beheld women
of a more loveliness than those of the State of Harpeth, who had come
from many small cities near to Hayesville at an invitation of very
careful selection for their beauty by my Buzz.
“Let's give him a genuine dazzle,” he had remarked while making a
list for the sending of the cards.
And most beautiful of all those beautiful grande dames was
that Madam Patricia Whitworth, who, with her husband, stood at the side
of His Excellency, the great Gouverneur Faulkner, for the receiving of
his guests. Her eyes of the blue flowers set in the snow of crystals
were in a gleaming and the costume that she wore was but a few wisps of
gossamer used for the revealing of her radiant body. In my black and
stiff attire of the raven I stood near to the other hand of the
Gouverneur Faulkner and there was such an anger for her in my heart
that it was difficult that I made a return of the smile she cast upon
me at every few minutes. Was there a mockery in that smile, that she
had discovered my woman's estate and was using her own beauty for a
challenge to me? I could not tell nor could I judge exactly what the
smile of boldness which the Lieutenant, the Count de Bourdon, cast upon
me, might mean. And in doubt and anxiety I stood there in that great
salon for many hours to make conversation with the guest of honor easy
with those who came to him for presentation, until at last I was so
weary that I could not make even a good night to my Uncle, the General
Robert, when we entered, long after midnight, the doors of Twin Oaks.
When in my own apartment, alone with the beautiful Grandmamma, I
cast myself upon the bed upon which my father had had birth, and wept
with all my woman's heart which beat so hard under that attire of the
“Scarcely one more day and perhaps I must flee in dishonor from all
the love of these friends,” I sobbed to myself, but deeper than all
that I wept for the picture of that beautiful woman at the side of my
beloved Gouverneur Faulkner.
And then suddenly as I lay in my weeping the telephone upon the
table beside my bed gave a loud ringing in the darkness that was long
after midnight. Very quickly from fear I covered my head with my pillow
and waited with a great fluttering of heart.
Then a second time it rang with a great fury and I perceived that I
must make a response to it.
I arose and took that receiver into my hand and spoke with a fine
though husky calmness.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Is that you, Robert?” came the voice of my beloved Gouverneur,
which made the heart of that anguished Roberta, Marquise of Grez and
Bye, beat into a sudden great happiness though also alarm.
“Yes, Your Excellency.”
“Can you dress very quietly, get your car and come up here to the
Mansion without letting anybody know of it?”
“I will do what you command.”
“I need you, boy, and I need you quick.”
“Stop the car at the street beyond the side door and come in that
way. Cato will let you in. Come to my bedroom quietly so as not to wake
Jenkins. Can you find your way?”
For just one single long second that grande dame, Roberta,
the Marquise of Grez and Bye, cowered in fear upon her warm bed in the
house of her Uncle, the General Robert, at the thought of going out
into the night at the command of a man, and then that devoted
daredevil, Mr. Robert Carruthers, answered into the telephone to the
“Immediately I come to you.”
CHAPTER XVII. THE TALL TIMBERS OF
Is it that there comes to the world an hour in the twenty and four
in which it lays aside the mortality of the earth and clothes itself in
an immortality of a very great awe? I think that it is so; and it was
out into the whiteness of that hour that I stepped when I had
successfully passed from my room to the garden of the home of my Uncle,
the General Robert, which is also the home of my American ancestors. A
command for my presence had come to me from the loved Gouverneur
Faulkner and it was needful that I make all possible haste; but it
seemed to me that all of the beautiful faded flowers of my dead
grandmammas in that garden rose up around me for beguilement and gave
to me a perfume that they had kept in saving for the Roberta, some day
to come across the waters to them. And all of their little descendants,
the opening blossoms of spring, also gave perfume to me in a mist in
the white moonlight, while a few fragrant rose vines bent to detain me
as I left that home of my grandmothers to go out into that sleeping
city, alone. I had a great fear, but yet a great devotion drew me and
in a very few minutes I had driven my Cherry from the garage and was on
my way through the silent streets to—I did not know what.
At the door of the Mansion I was admitted by my good Cato, who was
attired in a very long red flannel sleeping garment, with a red cap
also of the flannel tied down upon the white wool of his head.
“Has you got dat hoodoo, little Mas'?” he demanded of me as I passed
into the hall beneath the candle in a tall stand of silver which he
held high over my head.
“Yes, good Cato,” I made answer to him and I was indeed glad that I
had now of a habit put his gift under the heel of my left foot. It gave
me great courage.
“De Governor is up in his room and you kin go right up. I never
heard of no such doings as is going on in dis house dis night with that
there wild man with a gun five feet long, coming and going like de
wind. Go on up, honey, and see what you kin do to dem with dat hoodoo.”
With which information good Cato started me up the stairs. “First door
to the right, front, and don't knock,” he called in a whisper that
might have come from his tomb in death as he slowly retired into the
darkness below with his candle.
For a very long minute I stood before that door in the dim light
that came through one of the wide windows from the moon without.
“What is this madness that you perform, Roberta, Marquise of Grez
and Bye?” I made demand of myself while my knees trembled in the
trousers of heavy gray worsted.
“Robert Carruthers goes to his chief in an hour of need and he is
descended of that Madam Donaldson who had no fear of the Indian or the
bear when there was danger to her beloved,” I made answer to myself and
softly I turned the handle of that door and entered the room of the
“Is that you, Robert?” came a question in his voice from a large
table over by the window. The room was entirely in shadow, except for
the shaded light upon the table, under whose rays I remarked the head
and shoulders of that Gouverneur Faulkner, at whose bidding I had come
out into the dead of the night. “Come over here and walk softly, so as
not to stir up Jenkins,” he commanded me and I went immediately to his
side, even if I did experience a difficulty in the breath of Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye.
“What is it that you wish, my Gouverneur Faulkner?” I asked as I
looked down upon him as he sat with a paper in his hand regarding it
intently. And as I looked I observed that he, as well as I, had not
entirely disrobed after that very brilliant reception. He had discarded
his coat of the raven and also what is called a vest in America, and he
was very beautiful to me in the whiteness of his very fine linen above
which his dark bronze hair with its silver crests, that I had always
observed to be in a very sleek order, was tossed into a mop that
resembled the usual appearance of my own. His eyes were very deep under
their heavy lashes but of the brilliancy of the stars in the blackness
of a dark night.
“Sit down here under the light beside me,” was his next command to
me, and he reached out one of his slender and powerful hands and drew
me down into a chair very close beside him.
“What is it?” I asked as my head came so close to his that I felt
the warmth of his breath on my cold cheek.
“Hold these two fragments of paper together and translate the French
written upon them literally,” he said to me as he handed me two small
pieces of paper upon which there was writing.
And this is what I discovered to be written:
“The one at the head of all has sent me to this place to
inspect grazing lands and make report. I send in a report of
what is not here and the signing of the papers by your
Gouverneur Faulkner must be done quickly in blindness before a
discovery of what is not—”
“It is written to a woman,” I said very quietly as I made a finish
“Yes, boy, to a woman. I have made my last fight to—to hold an old
belief, which in some way seemed to be—be one of my foundation stones.
The General is right: they are all alike, the soft, beautiful, lying
things. The truth is not in them, and their own or a man's honor is a
plaything. That piece of paper was sent me by a man up in the mountains
of Old Harpeth, who loves me with the same blood bond that I love you,
boy, all on account of a gun struck up in the hands of his enemy.
Here's the note he sent with it.
“Bill, we cotched a furren man fer a revenue up by the still
at Turkey Gulch and this was in his pocket. I made out to read
yo name. I send it. The man is kept tied. What is mules worth?
Send price and what to do with this man critter by son Jim.
Hell, Bill, they ain't no grazing fer five thousand mules on
Paradise Ridge, but I know a place.
“What is the significance of this paper, my Gouverneur Faulkner?” I
asked after I had made the attempt to translate to myself the very
peculiar writing he had given to me.
“I do not know just exactly myself, Robert,” answered my Gouverneur
Faulkner as he dropped his head upon his hands while he rested his
elbows on the polished table among its scattered papers. “I am
convinced now that this mule contract business is the plot against my
honor that the General believes it to be and has been trying to get to
a legal surface. In some way Jim Todd has got hold of one end of the
conspiracy. It has been hard for me to believe that a woman would sell
me out. If I take it to her in the morning I'll perhaps get an
explanation that will satisfy me. The men who are in with Jeff
Whitworth are the best financiers in the State and it is impossible to
Very suddenly it happened in my heart to know what to compel that
very large man beside me to do for the rescue of his honor. He must see
the matter, not through the lies of that beautiful Madam Whitworth, the
instrument of that very ugly husband, but he must look into the matter
with his blood friend, that Mr. Jim Todd.
“You must go immediately to that Mr. Jim Todd and his prisoner to
discover truth, Your Excellency,” I said with a very firm determination
as I looked straight into his sad eyes that had in them almost the look
of shame for dishonor.
“It's twenty-four hours on horseback across Old Harpeth from
Springtown, boy. The trip would take three days. I can't do it with
these guests here, even if they are robbers. I'll have to stay and dig
down to the root of the matter here. I may find it in the hearts of my
friends,” he answered me with a look of great despair.
“The root of the matter is that man who is a prisoner, my Gouverneur
Faulkner. I say that you go; that you start while yet it is night and
while no man can advise you not to take that journey. It can be done
while this entertainment to the farm of the Brices is made for the
inspection of mules and also the running of horses. It is necessary!”
As I spoke to him in that manner a great force rose in me that I poured
out to him through my eyes.
“Great Heavens, boy, I believe I'll do it. I could never get
anything if I went when they knew I was going, but I might find out the
whole thing if I went to it in secret. If I go now they'll not have
time to get their breath before I am back. I'll be able to think out
there is those hills and I'm—a—man who needs to think—with a vision
unobscured.” For a long minute my Gouverneur Faulkner sat with his head
bowed in his hands as he rested his elbows on that table, then he rose
to his feet. “Let's get away while it is still the dead of night,
Robert. I'll leave a note with Cato to tell the General that I've taken
you, and nobody except himself must know where I have gone or why.
He'll put up the right bluff and we'll be back before they get anything
out of him. It's three o'clock and we must be far out on the road by
daybreak. We'll take your car and leave it in hiding at Springtown,
where by sunup we'll get horses to cross the mountains.”
“Is it that I must go for three days out into those mountains with
you, my Gouverneur Faulkner?” faltered that ridiculous and troublesome
Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye.
“Why, no, Robert, unless—unless—Oh, well, I suppose this prisoner
of Jim's can speak English as they all can. I rather wanted you—but
perhaps it is best for me to fight it out alone. Will you help me pack
a bag? Get the one from my dressing room while I take a plunge.”
“Quick, Robert Carruthers, make an excuse to that Roberta, Marquise
of Grez and Bye, who is of such a foolishness, that you must go with
your beloved Gouverneur Faulkner for his aid,” I said to myself.
“It is necessary that your foreign secretary accompany you to deal
with that gentleman of France who is in prison, my Gouverneur
Faulkner,” I said with decision as I rose from the side of the table
with a great quickness. “I must return home for a few necessities of my
toilet for those three days, but I will be back in what that good
Kizzie says to be a jiffy, when speaking of cooking that is delayed.”
“Good,” answered me my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner. Then he laid his
hand upon my shoulder as we stood together in the dimness out from the
rays of the light. “There is something in your eyes, Robert, that
renews my faith in the truths of—of life. I'm going out into the
wilderness on a grave mission whose result may shake down some houses
of—of cards, but because of your being with me I feel as if I were
starting off on a picnic or a day's fishing at the age of ten. Now,
I'll hurry.” And as he spoke my Gouverneur Faulkner made a start in the
direction of his room for the bath.
“Is it that I may begin the packing of your bag for you, Your
Excellency, before I go for those necessities of my own?” I asked of
“Won't be time for you to go home, boy,” he answered me, looking at
a clock upon the mantel over his large fireplace. “You are still in
your evening clothes, I see. But that's easy: you climb into that pink
coat and a pair of those corduroy trousers of mine you see hanging in
my dressing room. I haven't hunted for two years but they are still
there. Put linen in that saddlebag on the shelf for us both out of the
drawers in the old chest over there. Take heavy socks to go under the
leggings. You'd better put on a flannel shirt, too, and take an extra
one for both of us. We'll travel light. I'll only be in the bath a
couple of minutes.” With which assurance he entered the room of the
bath and closed the door upon me.
“Mon Dieu, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye!” was all that I
allowed myself to exclaim as I made a very quick rush for that dressing
room, switched on the light, flung off my coat, seized a pair of
corduroy riding breeches that hung in a corner beside another pair,
discarded my own of broadcloth and struggled with both of my legs the
same moment into them. Then in a hurry as great as I shall ever know I
discovered a gray flannel shirt in a drawer of the very tall old
mahogany chest and inserted myself into that with an equal rapidity. A
wide leather belt made the two very large garments secure around my
waist and I again allowed breath to come into my lungs. I then opened a
very queer bag which I knew to be for a saddle, that was upon a shelf
in the dressing room, and began to put things into it according to
directions of the Gouverneur Faulkner. The other pair of those riding
breeches I laid with another of the flannel shirts in a great
conspicuousness upon a chair in the bedroom directly in front of the
door from the dressing room.
“We're going to make a record get-away, boy,” said that Gouverneur
Faulkner to me as in a few minutes he came, clothed in those riding
trousers and that flannel shirt, to the door of his dressing room,
where I was just making a finish of putting needful clothing into his
bag. “You'll find the other things we need in the bathroom. Put it all
in while I get together a few papers I want. We can start now in two
“All is ready now, my Gouverneur Faulkner,” I made the announcement
after a wading into that very wet room of the bath and a return.
“Here, give me the bag, and you go ahead with this electric torch.
Quiet now,” admonished that Gouverneur Faulkner to me as we took our
departure through the dark hall.
“This is the maddest escapade that a Governor of this ancient State
has ever undertaken, and the weight of years has slid from me, boy,”
said that Gouverneur Faulkner to me as the Cherry made a long glide
from the city out into the open road.
The day was just beginning to come with its light from behind the
very large and crooked old mountain that is called Old Harpeth, when my
Gouverneur Faulkner made me to turn my good Cherry from off the main
road into a little road, of much narrowness and of beautiful brown dirt
the color of the riding trousers that I wore, and stop beside a very
humble, small house, which was covered with a vine in beautiful bud,
and around which many chickens hovered in waiting for a morning
breakfast. Behind the small house was a large barn and as I made a nice
turn and stop beside the white gate a man in a blue garment that I now
know is called overalls, came to the door of the barn.
“Hello, Bud. Are Lightfoot and Steady in good condition for a trip
across to Turkey-Gulch?” called my Gouverneur Faulkner as he alighted
from the car.
“Fit as fiddles, Governor Bill,” answered the man as he came to the
gate to shake hands with the Gouverneur Faulkner. “'Light and come in
to breakfast. Granny has got a couple of chickens already in the
skillet. And say, I want you to see what Mandy have got in the bed with
her. Ten pounds, Gov.”
“Congratulations, Bud; that is some—boy?” said my Gouverneur
Faulkner with a question as he again grasped the hand of the large man.
“Naw, Gov; we didn't have no luck this first shot but I tells Mandy
that we've got about a dozen more chanstes if she does as well by me as
she oughter. Anyway what's the matter with a gal child?” And the nice
young father of the poor little female made a bristle of his
disposition in defense of his daughter.
“Not a thing on earth, Bud; except that the whole sex are the
unknown quantity. This is my secretary, Robert Carruthers, the
General's nephew. Come in, Robert, and you'll have one square meal in
your life if you never get another. Get me the usual food wallet
together, Bud, please, and let me have it and the horses the very
moment I've swallowed the last bite of my drum bone, will you? We've
got to ride fast and far to-day and I want nobody on my trail.
“Yep, Gov,” was the answer that good Bud man made as my Gouverneur
Faulkner and I took our way through many chickens into the low little
“God bless my soul, if here ain't the Governor come for a bite with
Granny Bell this fine morning!” exclaimed a very nice old lady from
above a stove, which was steaming with food of such an odor as to
create a madness in my very empty stomach.
“More than any bite, Granny,” answered my Gouverneur Faulkner as he
came beside the stove to shake hands with the nice hostess.
“I'd like to feed you some gold, fried in silk. Governor Bill, fer
that mercy to my nephew Timms. I can't say what I feels and finish this
cream gravy the right color for you,” and as she spoke the fine old
friend of my Gouverneur Faulkner wept as she shook a steaming sauce in
a black pan and turned with the left hand a golden piece of bread upon
another part of the stove.
“I don't need anything more than your 'well done,' Granny,” answered
my Gouverneur Faulkner as he laid a gentle hand on the trembling
shoulder of the nice old lady. “This youngster here got the word from
Mary and you can give him both of the liver wings if you want to show
your gratitude to him.”
“God bless you, young gentleman, and you shall have anything that
Granny Bell has to give you in gratitude. Now draw up two chairs and
fall to, boys,” and as she spoke she set the dishes of a beautiful odor
upon a very clean table beside the stove.
“Is it that I may wash the grease stains of the car from my hands
before eating, dear Madam?” I asked of her.
“Back porch, you'll find the bucket and pan and towel, youngster. I
can't wait for you,” made answer my Gouverneur Faulkner as he laughed
and began upon the repast that must of necessity be a hurried one.
CHAPTER XVIII. THE CAMP HEAVEN
And I was very glad indeed that he did not go with me for that
toilet to my hands, for it might have happened that a noise would have
deprived me of a very beautiful thing that I discovered, through a
window under a vine of roses that opened upon that back porch.
A very pretty young girl, with hair the color of the maize in the
fields, lay upon a white bed beneath a quilt of many colors. Her
sleeping garment was drawn back from her breast, against which lay a
little human person drinking therefrom with much energy. The eyes of
the mother were closed and her arm held the babe loosely as if in a
deep dreaming. I softly poured the water into the basin, made clean my
hands and quietly withdrew into the kitchen, with much care that I did
not awaken her. On my cheeks I could feel a deep glow of color, and
something within my heart pounded with force against my own breast
under its gay red coat of a hunting man. I could not raise my eyes to
those of my Gouverneur Faulkner and I ate not as much of that good
breakfast as Robert Carruthers could have consumed if the woman in his
heart had not been so stirred.
And all of that long day in the soft early spring which was bursting
into a budding and a flowering under the feet of our horses and above
our heads in the trees, it was the woman Roberta that rode at the side
of my Gouverneur Faulkner, with her heart at an ache under her coat of
a man. It was with a difficulty that I forced my eyes to meet and make
answer to the merriment and joy of the woods in his deep ones; and I
was of a great gladness when the descending of the sun brought a
moon-silvered twilight down upon us from the young green branches of
the large trees of the forest through which we rode.
“Time to make camp. We've got to old Jutting Rock. You are halfway
up between heaven and earth, youngster,” said my Gouverneur Faulkner as
he drew to a halt his horse in front of me and pointed down into the
dim valley that lay at our feet.
“I am glad that we have made this Camp Heaven,” I answered to him as
I slid from my horse, ungirthed him, and drew from his back the heavy
saddle he had worn for the day, as I had been taught by my father to do
after a day's hunting, if no grooms came immediately. “Is it that you
have hunger, my Gouverneur Faulkner?”
“Only about ten pounds of food craving,” he made answer to me with a
large laugh that was the first I had ever heard him to give forth.
“I'll rustle the fire and water if you'll open the food wallet and feed
“Immediately I will do all of that,” I made an answer to him and
because of the happiness of that laugh he had given forth, a gladness
rose in my heart that made me again that merry boy Robert.
And it was with a great industry for a short hour that we prepared
the Camp Heaven for a sojourn of a night. Upon a very nice hot fire I
put good bacon to cook and my Gouverneur set also the pot of coffee
upon the coals. Then, while I made crisp with the heat the brown corn
pones, with which that Granny Bell had provided us, he brought a large
armful of a very fragrant kind of tree and threw it not far into the
shadow of the great tree which was the roof to our Camp Heaven.
“Bed,” he said as he came and stood beside the fire in a large
towering over me. I dropped beyond rescue a fragment of that corn bread
into the extreme heat of the coals, but I said with a great composure
and a briefness like unto his words:
“Why is it that a man thinks he wants more of life's goods than
fatigue, supper and bed, do you suppose, boy?” questioned my Gouverneur
Faulkner to me as at last in repletion he leaned back against our giant
rooftree, between two of whose hospitable large roots we had made our
repast, and lighted a pipe of great fragrance which he had taken from
“I would not possess happiness even though I had this nice supper,
if I was alone in this great forest, Your Excellency; I would have
fear,” I answered him with a small laugh as I took my corduroy knees
into my embrace and looked off into that distant valley below us which
was beginning to glow with stars of home lights.
“Didn't I tell you once that you don't count, that you are just
myself, youngster? You ought not to know I am here. I don't know you
exist except as a form of pleasure of which I do not ask the reason,”
was the answer that my Gouverneur Faulkner made to me.
“I excuse myself away with humbleness for impertinence, Your
Excellency,” I returned to him.
“If you tried, do you think you could call me Bill, just for
to-night, boy?” was the answer he made to my excuses as he puffed a
beautiful ring of smoke at me.
“I could not,” I answered with an indignation.
“I heard you call Sue Tomlinson 'Sue' the first night you danced
“But that Mademoiselle Sue is a woman, my Gouverneur Faulkner,” I
answered with haste.
“That's the reason that women get at us to do us, youngster; we
don't approach them as human to human but we go up on their blind side
and they come back at us in the dark with a knife.” And as he spoke all
of the gayness of joy was lost from the voice of my beloved Gouverneur
and in its place was a bitterness.
“With pardon I say that it is not a truth of all women, Your
Excellency,” I answered with pride as my head went up high at his
condemnation of the sex of which I was one.
“You don't know what you are talking about, youngster. They all
think I am cold and pass me along, except a few experienced ladies
who—shall I say?—adventure for graft with me. I've been too busy
really to love or let love but I know 'em and you don't. Let's stop
talking about what concerns neither of us and go to bed. See this young
cedar tree? I'm going to throw my blanket across it and with these
extra boughs I'll make a genuine cradle for each of us on the opposite
sides of the trunk. Then we'll cover with your blanket and be as
comfortable as two middies in their hammocks in a man of war. This is a
piece of woodcraft of my own invention and I'm proud of it, old scout.”
And while he talked my Gouverneur Faulkner had prepared those
cradles of our blankets unstrapped from the saddles of the horses at
feeding time, seated himself upon the edge of one of them and began to
pull from his feet his riding boots. “Take off your boots and your
coat, youngster, and turn in. I'll take the windward side and you can
bivouac against the fire. Good night!” As he finished speaking my
Gouverneur Faulkner rolled beneath that blanket upon the outer edge and
left for me the hammock next to the fire, sheltered from a cool wind
that had begun to come up from the valley.
Almost immediately, so that I should not have a fright, I lifted the
blanket and crawled into the branches of the fragrant tree. Even as I
did so I perceived a loud breathing of deep sleep from my Gouverneur
Faulkner; but to me came no repose.
Awake through the bright night, I lay there in the sweet branches of
the young tree beside the great Gouverneur of one of the greatest
states of America and perceived clearly the pass to which my course of
lies and dishonor had led me. And from that wild daredevil, Roberta,
Marquise of Grez and Bye, was born the honest woman Roberta who must
extricate herself from a situation not to be longer endured, even if
discovery was not upon me.
“I will finish this journey with my beloved Gouverneur Faulkner,” I
counseled myself, “upon which it is of a certainty that this plot for
his ruin in the world of his politics will be averted, and I will
return to the home of my Uncle, the General Robert. If I be not
discovered in my woman's estate in a few days' space of time I will
endeavor to do some piece of loving kindness that will keep me in the
memory of all who have given me love, from poor black Bonbon up to His
Excellency himself here beside me, and then I will go into those
trenches of France to give my life for my country, perhaps not as a
soldier but as a good nurse of the Red Cross. And never, never, must
any living person who has loved Robert Carruthers know that he is a
human of dishonor. Nannette will be true to my directions to hide my
secret, and wee Pierre will keep it forever because I go to fight for
France as he cannot. I will put with great firmness into the mind of
Pierre that he is to be of a great devotion to my Uncle, the General
Robert, through life.
“And what will you do for that great Gouverneur Faulkner, from whom
each day you have stolen more and more affection with your false
attitude of much loyalty, to keep from him grief at the loss of you?” I
asked myself with a sob in my heart.
“Forgive me, my beloved chief. When away from you I must die of a
coldness,” I said to myself in a very low tone into the moonlight.
“Cold? Do you want the whole blanket, youngster? Snuggle into your
cradle closer,” suddenly answered me my Gouverneur Faulkner as he
reached his long arm across the tree trunk to tuck in the blanket about
me and again he was immediately in the deep sleep from which my spoken
words had but partly awakened him. And then at his bidding I did settle
myself down into the fragrant boughs and I wept myself also into a deep
The round sun was high over that Old Harpeth hill when I opened my
eyes. For a moment I did not see clearly and then I looked straight
into the deep eyes of my Gouverneur Faulkner. which for that first time
I had been able to see to be the color of violets in the twilight. He
was seated beside me smoking the fragrant pipe and looking down at me
with a great wonderment that was mingled with as great a tenderness.
“Boy,” he asked softly, “are you sure God has got that pattern of
you put away carefully in France?”
Before I could make answer to him a picture flashed into my mind.
When still a child one morning I opened my eyes to find my loved father
bending over me and in the hollow of his arm he held my mother in her
breakfast gown of lace and ribbons. He spoke:
“Some day, Celeste, a man will bend over her and watch her waken.
God grant it will be with the love—that produced that beauty. Look at
that love curl!”
And at the recall of that picture of me into my mind, my hands flew
to my face to find that same treacherous curl had descended to my cheek
from the mop above. With a fury of embarrassment I sprang to my feet
from under that blanket.
“I have a great hunger,” I said as I observed a very crisp breakfast
to be prepared upon the coals of the fire. “I must have a fragment of
bacon upon the instant.” And I bent over the fire to obtain what I had
demanded for a cover to my confusion.
“No, you don't, until you've washed that face and those hands that
still have the supper smudge on them, in the pool down there. I left
the soap and the dry sleeves and bosom of a flannel shirt for you.
Don't you pack towels in a kit in your country?” With which laughing
answer my Gouverneur Faulkner denied unto me an immediate breakfast.
“You thought him to admire the love curl, while he was remarking the
soil upon your face, Roberta, Marquise of Grez and Bye,” I laughed to
myself as I plunged my face into the icy pool.
After a finish to the breakfast, my Gouverneur Faulkner gave to me
the information that we must tether the good horses and make the
remainder of the journey by walking, which we did for hardly a short
“The wildcat still is straight up Turkey Gulch and we'll have to
scramble for it. It's hid like the nest of an old turkey hen,” he said
to me as we set out upon the mounting of a very steep precipice.
“What is that word, 'wildcat still'?” I asked as I slid over a great
rock with emerald moss encrusted, and struggled beside my Gouverneur
Faulkner through a heavy underbrush of leafy greenness.
“A place where men make whiskey in defiance of the law of their
State,” he answered me as he held aside a long branch of green that was
pink tipped, so that I might slip thereunder without a scratching.
“Are you not the law of the State, my Gouverneur Faulkner?” I asked
of him as I pulled myself by his arm through the thickness.
“I'm all that, but I'm the son of Old Harpeth and Jim Todd's blood
brother first. Some day I'll smoke Jim out of his hole and get him a
good job. Now, wait a minute and see what happens,” and as he spoke my
Gouverneur Faulkner stood very still for a long minute. As I sat at his
side upon the fallen trunk of a large tree I regarded him with
admiration, because he had the aspect of some beautiful, lithe animal
of the woods as he listened with a deep attention. Then very quickly he
put his two long fingers to his mouth, and behold the call of a wild
bird came from between his lips. Twice it was repeated and then he
stood again in deep attention. I made not even a little breathing as I
Then came three clear notes of that same wild bird in reply from not
very far up the mountain from us.
“That's Jim, the old turkey; come on!” said my Gouverneur Faulkner
as he again began to break through the leafy barriers of the low trees.
And in a very short space of time a man emerged from a little path
that led behind a tall cliff of the gray rocks. He was a very large and
a very fierce man and I might have had a fright of him if his blue eyes
had not held such a kindness and joy in them at the sight of my
“Howdy, Bill,” he said with no handshake or other form of a
“Howdy, Jim,” returned my Gouverneur Faulkner in a manner of the
same indifference but with also an expression in his face of delight at
the sight of his blood brother, that Mr. Jim Todd.
“That thar boy a shet-mouth?”
“He's Bob, and as hard as a nut,” was the introduction I had from my
“Then come on,” with which command that wild man led us around the
tall cliff of gray rock, over which climbed a sweet vine of rosy
blossoming, which I now know to call a laurel, and we arrived in front
of a small and low hut that was built against the rocks. A clear, small
stream made a very noisy way past the door of the hut, but save for its
clamor all was silent.
“Where are the boys?” asked my Gouverneur Faulkner.
“Hid in the bushes. I've got the man tied back in the still room. I
'low he ain't no revenue but they 'low different. Come back and see if
you kin make out his gibberish.”
“Come on, Robert,” said my Gouverneur Faulkner to me as he followed
the wild Jim into the hut and back into a room that was as a cave cut
into the rock. And I, Robert Carruthers, followed him—to my death.
Seated upon a rude bench in that cave room, bound with a rope of
great size, disheveled and soiled, but with all of the nobility of his
great estate in his grave face, was my adored friend, Capitaine, the
Count de Lasselles! As we entered he rose beside the bench and in that
rising displayed a chain by which one of his feet was made fast to the
rock of the wall.
“Good morning, sir,” said my Gouverneur Faulkner, as if greeting a
gentleman upon the street of that city of Hayesville.
“Also a good morning, sir,” made reply my poor Capitaine, the Count
de Lasselles. And he stood with a fine and great courtesy waiting for
my Gouverneur Faulkner to state to him what his visit could portend, as
would he have done in his regimental room at Tour.
And as he stood, for that very long minute, there expired the last
moments of the life of Robert Carruthers. A stream of light fell from
the little window high in the rock upon his luckless head as he stood
as if frozen into a statue of great fear. And as he so stood, the eyes
of the Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, fell upon him and he started
forward as far as the length of the chain by which he was bound would
allow him and from there held out his hand to the frozen boy standing
in the stream of light from high heaven.
“My most beautiful lady Roberta, do I find that it is you who have
come to my rescue?” he questioned. “I lost you, mon enfant, in
that great New York.”
“My beloved Capitaine, how is it that I find you thus?” I exclaimed
as I went to within his reach and allowed that he take my two hands in
his poor shackled ones and put warm kisses of greeting upon them.
And it was while I was shedding tears of pity for the imprisonment
of that great man of France in that mountain hut in America, as he
kissed my hands, that I raised my eyes to encounter a cold lightning as
of a flash on steel, from under the black brows of my Gouverneur
Faulkner of the State of Harpeth, that again froze the blood in my
“You?” he asked of me in a voice that was of the same coldness and
sharpness as that steel, and his beautiful mouth was set into one
straight line as he flung into my face that one word.
CHAPTER XIX. ALL IS LOST
And to that word of challenge I made no answer, but I raised my head
and looked into his eyes with a dignity that came to me as my right
from suffering. So regarding each other, we stood for a very short
minute in which the Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, raised his head
from his kisses of salutation upon my hands.
“And, mon enfant, is this the good Uncle to whose care you
came into America?” asked that Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, as he
reached out his imprisoned hands for a greeting to my relative.
I did not make any answer to that question. My head raised itself
yet higher, and I looked my Gouverneur Faulkner again full in the face
while I waited to hear what he would answer of my kinship to him.
“Sir, I am the friend of General Carruthers and I am also the
Governor of the State of Harpeth. I have come across the mountains to
talk with you about the business of this contract for mules for your
army and I have brought your young friend to assist me if I should need
translating from or to you. We Americans, Captain, are poor handlers of
any language not our own, and the matter is of much gravity.” And as
the Gouverneur Faulkner spoke those words to my Capitaine, the Count de
Lasselles, with a great courtesy but also a great sternness, in which
he named me not as his friend but as the friend of that Capitaine, the
Count de Lasselles, I knew that I was placed by him among all women
liars of the world and that to him his boy Robert of honor was of a
truth dead forever.
“It is indeed of such a gravity that I have come from the English
Canada to make all clear to myself,” answered my beloved Capitaine, the
Count de Lasselles, as he drew himself to his entire height, which was
well-nigh as great as that of the Gouverneur of the State of Harpeth.
“And I have ridden a day and a night, sir, for the same purpose,”
answered my great Gouverneur Faulkner with that beautiful courtesy of
business I have always observed him to use in the transaction of his
affairs in his office at the Capitol of the State of Harpeth. “And as
one of us must make a beginning, will you not tell me, Captain, why you
are here and in this predicament?”
“In a few words I will make all clear to you, Your Excellency,” made
answer my Capitaine, the Count de Lasselles, with an air of courtesy
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
“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
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 body?
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
“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.
CHAPTER XX. “YOU ARE—MYSELF!”
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
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
“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
“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
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 fragrant night.
“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
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
“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.