A Kentucky Cardinal/Chapter VII
July has dragged like a log across a wet field.
There was the Fourth, which is always the grandest occasion of the year with us. Society has taken up Sylvia and rejected Georgiana; and so with its great gallantry, and to her boundless delight, Sylvia was invited to sit with a bevy of girls in a large furniture wagon covered with flags and bunting. The girls were to be dressed in white, carry flowers and flags, and sing “The Star-spangled Banner” in the procession, just before the fire-engine. I wrote a note to Georgiana, asking whether it would interfere with Sylvia’s Greatest Common Divisor if I presented her with a profusion of elegant flowers on that occasion. Georgiana herself had equipped Sylvia with a truly exquisite silken flag on a silver staff; and as Sylvia both sang and waved with all her might, not only to keep up the Green River reputation in such matters, but with a mediæval determination to attract a young man on the fire-engine behind, she quite eclipsed every other miss in the wagon, and was not even hoarse when persuaded at last to stop. So that several of the representatives of the other States voted afterwards in a special congress that she was loud, and in no way as nice as they had fancied, and that they ought never to recognize her again except in church and a funerals.
And then the month brought down from West Point the son of the family, who cut off—or cut at—Georgiana’s toes, I remember. With him a sort of cousin, who lives in New York State; and after a few days of toploftical strutting around town, and a pussillanimous crack or two over the back-garden fence at my birds, they went away again, to the home of this New York cousin, carrying Georgiana with them to spend the summer.
Nothing has happened since. Only Sylvia and I have been making hay while the sun shines—or does not shine, if one chooses to regard Georgiana’s absence in that cloudy fashion. Sylvia’s ordinary armor consists of a slate-pencil for a spear, a slate for a shield, and a volume of Sir Walter for a battle-axe. Now and then I have found her sitting alone in the arbor with the drooping air of Lucy Ashton beside the fountain; and she would be better pleased if I met her clandestinely there in cloak and plume with the deadly complexion of Ravenswood.
The other day I caught her toiling at something, and she admitted being at work on a poem which would be about half as long as the “Lay of the Last Minstrel.” She read me the opening lines, after that bland habit of young writer; and as nearly as I recollect, they began as follows:
“I love to have gardens, I love to have plants,
I love to have air, and I love to have ants.”
When not under the spell of mediæval chivalry she prattles needlessly of Georgiana, early life, and their old home in Henderson. Although I have pointed out to her the gross impropriety of her conduct, she has persisted in reading me some of Georgiana’s letters, written from the home of that New York cousin, whose mother they are now visiting. I didn’t like him particularly. Sylvia relates that he was a favorite of her father’s.
The dull month passes to-day. One thing I have secretly wished to learn; did her brother cut Georgiana’s toes entirely off?