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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Gay Rebellion - Chapter 19
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The Gay Rebellion - Chapter 19 Post by :JoePace Category :Long Stories Author :Robert W. Chambers Date :May 2012 Read :2857

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The Gay Rebellion - Chapter 19

CHAPTER XIX

WHILE he waited the cat looked up at him, curiously but pleasantly. "Hello, old lady," he said; and she arched her back and rubbed lightly against his nigh leg while the kittens tumbled over his shoes and played frantically with the frayed bottoms of his trousers.

This preliminary welcome seemed to comfort him out of all proportion to its significance; he gazed complacently about at the trees and flowers, drew in deep breaths of the lilac's fragrance, and waited, listening contentedly for the coming foot-fall.

He had not heard it when the door opened and a young girl appeared on the threshold, standing with one hand resting on the inner knob; the other touching the pocket of her apron, in which was a ball of yarn stuck through with two needles.

She was slim and red-haired and slightly freckled, and her mouth was perhaps a shade large, and it curled slightly at the corners; and her eyes were quite perfectly made, except that one was hazel-brown and the other hazel-grey.

Hat in hand, Brown bowed; and then she did a thing which interested him; she lifted the edges of her apron between slender white thumbs and forefingers and dropped him the prettiest courtesy he had ever seen off the stage.

"I came to inquire," he said, "whether you ever take summer boarders."

"What are boarders?" she asked. "I never heard of them except in naval battles."

"Thank heaven," he thought; "this is remote, all right; and I have discovered pristine innocence in the nest."

"Modern boarders," he explained politely, "are unpleasant people who come from the city to enjoy the country, and who, having no real homes, pay farmers to lodge and feed them for a few days of vacation and dyspepsia."

"You mean is this a tavern?" she asked, unsmiling.

"No, I don't. I mean, will you let me live here a little while as though I were a guest, and then permit me to settle my reckoning in accordance with your own views upon the subject?"

She hesitated as though perplexed.

"Suppose you ask your father or mother," he suggested.

"They are absent."

"Will they return this morning?"

"I don't know exactly when they expect to return."

"Well, couldn't you assume the responsibility?" he asked, smiling.

She looked at him for a few moments, and it seemed to him as though, in the fearless gravity of her regard, somehow, somewhere, perhaps in the curled corners of her lips, perhaps in her pretty and unusual eyes, there lurked a little demon of laughter. Yet it could not be so; there were only serenity and a child's direct sweetness in the gaze.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"John Brown 4th."

"Mine is Elizabeth Tennant. Where do you live?"

"In--New York," he admitted, watching her furtively.

"I was there once--at a ball--many years ago," she observed.

"Not _very many years ago, I imagine," he said, smiling at her youthful reminiscence.

"Many, many years ago," she said thoughtfully. "I shall go again some day."

"Of course," he murmured politely, "it's a thing to do and get done--like going abroad."

She looked up at him quickly.

"Years ago I knew a boy--with your easy humour and your trick of speech. He resembled you otherwise; and he wore your name becomingly."

He tried to recall knowing her in his extreme youth, but made no definite connection.

"You wouldn't remember," she said gravely; "but I think I know you now. Who is your father?"

"My father?" he repeated, surprised and smiling. "My father is John Brown 3rd."

"And his father?"

"My grandfather?" he asked, very much amused. "Oh, he was John Brown 2nd. And _his father was Captain John Brown of Westchester; but I don't want to talk D. A. R. talk to you about my great grandfather----"

"He fought at Pound Ridge," said the girl, slowly.

"Yes," said Brown, astonished.

"Tarleton's cavalry--the brutal hussars of the legion--killed him on the Stamford Road," she said; "and he lay there in the field all day with one dead arm over his face and his broken pistol in his hand, and the terrible galloping fight drove past down the stony New Canaan road--and the smoke from the meeting house afire rolled blacker and blacker and redder and redder----"

With a quickly drawn breath she covered her face with both hands and stood a moment silent; and Brown stared at her, astonished, doubting his eyes and ears.

The next moment she dropped her hands and looked at him with a tremulous smile.

"What in the world can you be thinking of me?" she said. "Alone in this old house, here among the remoter hills of Westchester. I live so vividly in the past that these almost forgotten tragedies seem very real to me and touch me closely. To me the present is only a shadow; the past is life itself. Can you understand?"

"I see," he said, intensely relieved concerning her mental stability; "you are a Daughter of the American Revolution or a Society of Colonial Wars or--er--something equally--er--interesting and desirable----"

"I am a Daughter of the American Revolution," she said proudly.

"Exactly," he smiled with an inward shudder. "A--a very interesting--er--and--exceedingly--and--all that sort of thing," he nodded amiably. "Don't take much interest in it myself--being a broker and rather busy----"

"I am sorry."

He looked up quickly and met her strange eyes, one hazel-grey, one hazel-brown.

"I--I'll be delighted to take an interest in anything you--in--er--this Revolutionary business if you--if you don't mind telling me about it," he stammered. "Evenings, now, if you have time to spare----"

She smiled, opened the door wider, and looked humorously down at him where he stood fidgeting on the step.

"Will you come in?" she asked serenely.

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