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   Chapter 8 No.8

The Trumpeter Swan By Temple Bailey Characters: 4844

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


"We are the only one of the old families who are eating lunch out of a basket," said Caroline Paine; "next year we shall have to go to the Country Club with the rest of them."

"I shall never go to the Country Club," said Judge Bannister, "as long as there is a nigger to fry chicken for me."

"We may have to swim with the tide."

"Don't tell me that you'd rather be up there than here, Caroline."

"I'd like it for some things," Mrs. Paine admitted frankly; "you should see the clothes that those Waterman women are wearing."

"What do you care what they wear. You don't want to be like them, do you?"

"I may not care to be like them, but I want to look like them. I got the pattern of this sweater I am knitting from one of my boarders. Do you want it, Claudia?"

Mrs. Beaufort winced at the word "boarders." She hated to think that Caroline must-- "I never wear sweaters, Caroline. They are not my style. But I am knitting one for Becky."

"Is it blue?" Randy asked. "Becky ought always to wear blue, except when she wears pale yellow. That was a heavenly thing you had on at dinner the night we arrived, wasn't it, Major?"

"Everything was heavenly. I felt like one who expecting a barren plain sees-Paradise."

It was not flattery and they knew it. They were hospitable souls, and in a week he had become, as it were, one of them.

Randy, returning to the subject in hand, asked, "Will you wear the blue if I come up to-night, Becky?"

"I will not." Becky was making herself a chaplet of yellow leaves, and her bronze hair caught the light. "I will not. I shall probably put on my old white if I dress for dinner."

"Of course you'll dress," said Mrs. Beaufort; "there are certain things which we must always demand of ourselves--"

Caroline Paine agreed. "That's what I tell Randy when he says he doesn't want to finish his law course. His father was a lawyer and his grandfather. He owes it to them to live up to their standards."

Randy was again flat on his back with his hands under his head. "If I stay at the University, it means no money for either of us except what you earn, Mother."

The war had taken its toll of Caroline Paine. Things had not been easy since her son had left her. They would not be easy now. "I know," she said, "but you wouldn't want your father to be ashamed of you."

Randy sat up. "It isn't that-but I ought to make some money--"

The word was a

challenge to the Judge. "Don't run with the mob, my boy. The world is money-mad."

"I'm not money-mad," said Randy; "I know what I should like to do if my life was my own. But it isn't. And I'm not going to have Mother twist and turn as she has twisted and turned for the last fifteen years in order to get me educated up to the family standard."

"If you don't mind I shouldn't." Caroline Paine was setting her feet to a rocky path, but she did not falter. "You shouldn't mind if I don't."

Becky laid down the chaplet of leaves. She knew some of the things Caroline Paine had sacrificed and she was thrilled by them. "Randy," she admonished, with youthful severity, "it would be a shame to disappoint your mother."

Randolph flushed beneath his dark skin. The Paines had an Indian strain in them-Pocahontas was responsible for it, or some of the other princesses who had mixed red blood with blue in the days when Virginia belonged to the King. Randy showed signs of it in his square-set jaw, the high lift of his head, his long easy stride, the straightness of his black hair. He showed it, too, in a certain stoical impassiveness which might have been taken for indifference. His world was, for the moment, against him; he would attempt no argument.

"I am afraid this doesn't interest Major Prime," he said.

"It interests me very much," said the Major. "It is only another case of the fighting man's adjustment to life after his return. We all have to face it in one way or another." His eyes went out over the hills. They were gray eyes, deep set, and, at this moment, kindly. They could blaze, however, in stress of fighting, like bits of steel. "We all have to face it in one way or another. And the future of America depends largely on our seeing things straight."

"Well, there's only one way for Randy to face it," said Caroline Paine, firmly, "and that is to do as his fathers did before him."

"If I do," Randy flared, "it will be three years before I can make a living, and I'll be twenty-five."

Becky put on the chaplet of leaves. It fitted like a cap. She might have been a dryad, escaped for a moment from the old oak. "Three years isn't long."

"Suppose I should want to marry--"

"Oh, you-Randy--"

"But why shouldn't I?"

"I don't want you to get married," she told him; "when I come down we couldn't have our nice times together. You'd always be thinking about your wife."

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