xt7qz60bwc06 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7qz60bwc06/data/mets.xml Kelly, Eleanor Mercein, 1880-1968. 1916  books b92-228-31183707 English Century, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Kildares of Storm  / by Eleanor Mercein Kelly ; with frontispiece by Alonzo Kimball. text Kildares of Storm  / by Eleanor Mercein Kelly ; with frontispiece by Alonzo Kimball. 1916 2002 true xt7qz60bwc06 section xt7qz60bwc06 













KILDARES OF STORM

 















































But for once Jacqueline of the eager lips turned her cheek, so that her
    mother's kiss should not disturb the memory of certain others

 

KILDARES OF STORM




               BY



ELEANOR MERCEIN



KELLY



WITH FRONTISPIECE BY
ALONZO KIMBALL



  NEW YORK
THE CENTURY CO.
     1916

 






















Copyright, 1916, by
   THE CENTURY CO.

Published, October, 1916

 




















  TO AN UNFORGOTTEN MOTHER
Who moulded for others than her daughter
   the standard of great womanhood

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KILDARES OF STORM

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     KILDARES OF STORM


                      CHAPTER I

  A LONG a pleasant Kentucky road that followed nature
        rather than art in its curves and meanderings, stray-
     .   ing beside a brook awhile before it decided to cross,
lingering in cool, leafy hollows, climbing a sudden little hill
to take a look out over the rolling countryside-along this
road a single-footing mare went steadily, carrying a woman
who rode cross-saddle, with a large china vase tucked under
one arm.
  People in an approaching automobile stopped talking to
stare at her. She returned their gaze calmly, while the
startled mare made some effort to climb a tree, thought
better of it, and sidled by with a tremulous effort at self-
control. A man in the machine lifted his hat with some
eagerness. The woman inclined her head as a queen might
acknowledge the plaudits of the multitude.
  After they passed, comments were audible.
  'What a stunner! Who is she, Jack"     The voice was
masculine.
  "Riding cross-saddle! Jack, do you know her"     The
voice was feminine.
  The answer was lower, but the woman on horseback heard
it. "Of course I know her, or used to. It is the woman I
was telling you about, the famous Mrs. Kildare of Storm."
  Mrs. Kildare's color did not change as she rode on. Per-
haps her lips tightened a little; otherwise the serenity of
                           3

 
DILDARES OF STORM



her face was unaltered. Serenity, like patience, is a thing
that must be won, a habit of mind not easily to be broken.
She reminded herself that since the invasion of automobiles
she must expect often to encounter people who had known
her before.
  11er eyes, keen and gray and slightly narrowed, like all
eyes that are accustomed to gaze across wide spaces, turned
from  side to side with quick, observant glances. Negroes,
'worming'" tobacco in a field, bent to their work as she passed
with a sudden access of zeal.
  "That 's right, boys," she called, smiling. "The Madam
sees you!'"
  The negroes guffawed sheepishly in answer.
  A certain warmth was in her gaze as she looked about
her, something deeper than mere pride of possession. Her
feeling for the land she owned was curiously maternal.
"My dear fields," she sometimes said to herself. "Mly cattle,
my trees"; and even, "my birds, my pretty, fleecy clouds up
there. "
  When she came to a certain cornfield, acres of thrifty
stalks standing their seven feet and more, green to the roots,
plumes nodding proudly in the breeze, she faced her mare
about and saluted, as an officer might salute his regiment.
  A chuckle sounded from the other side of the road. On a
bank almost level with her head a young man lay under a
beech-tree, watching her with kindling eyes, as he bad
watched her ever since she rode into sight. " Mliss Kate, Miss
Kate, when are you going to grow up and give those girls
of yours a chance"
  Her surprised blush took all the maturity out of her face.
She might have been twenty. "Spying on me as usual,
Philip! Well, why should n 't I salute this corn of mine
It certainly serves me nobly."
  He came down from the bank and stood beside her; a stal-



4

 
KILDARES OF STORM



wart young man in shabby riding-boots and a clerical collar,
with eyes surprisingly blue in a dark, aquiline, un-Anglo-
Saxon face. They were filled just now with a look that made
the lady blush again.
  Ile was thinking (no new thought to Kentuckians) that
of all the products of his great commonwealth, nothing
e(lualled such women as this before him. Erect, deep-
bosomed, with the warm brown flush of her cheeks, her level
gaze, her tender mouth with the deep corners that mean
humor-Kate Kildare, from girlhood to old age, would find
in eyes that gazed on her the unconscious tribute that many
women never know, and for that reason happily do not miss.
But the vital quality of her beauty was not a matter of color,
or form, or feature. It was a thing that had come to her
since her first youth, a glow from within, the sort of spiritual
fire at which a friend may warm himself. If happiness is
a great beautifier, Philip Benoix believed he knew of one
greater: sorrow.
  "Well, well" she demanded, laughing. "What are you
staring at, boy Why are vyou ogling me in that sentimental
fashion  Have you mistaken me for-Jacqueline, perhaps"
  If she hoped to embarrass him in turn, she was disappointed.
lie shook his head. "If I were to ogle Jacqueline sentimen-
tally, she 'd slap me. Mliss Kate," he added, "don't you
know that saluting your corn was just your pagan way of
thanking God Why not come to church and do it prop-
erly "
  "You may just as well give it up. I shall never go to
church. I don't like church, so there! Stop talking shop,
and come home to supper with me. What are you doing
here, anyway, lolling about like a man of leisure, as if there
were no souls to be saved'
  "I was lying in wait for yours. I knew you were out on
a tour of inspection, and bound to pass this way."

 
KILDARES OF STORM



  "Did you want to see me especially"
  "I always do."
  She flicked him with her riding-crop. "You 're more
Irish than French to-day! And where 's your horse"
  "Well, old Tom seemed so comfortable and tired, munch-
ing away in his stall, that I hadn't the heart-"
  "So you walked. Of course you were n't tired! Oh, Phil,
Phil, you are your father's own son; too soft-hearted for this
'miserable and naughty world.' It won't be able to resist
taking a whack at you."
  A little silence fell between them. Both were thinking of
a man who was no longer quite of this miserable and naughty
world.
  "Take my stirrup and trot along beside me, boy," she
said. "We '11 go faster that way. I wish you were still
small enough to climb up behind me as you used to do-
remember"
  His face suddenly quivered. " Are you asking me if I
remember - You have never let me tell you how well I
remember, nor what your kindness meant to me, in those
first days"- He spoke haltingly, yet with a sudden rush,
as men speak whose hearts are full. "I was the loneliest lit-
tle chap in the world, I think. Father and I had always
been such friends. They tried to be kind, there at school;
but they acted as if I were something strange; they watched
me. I knew they were pitying me, remembering father,
studying me for signs of inheritance. The son of a 'killer.'
It was a dangerous time for a boy to be going through alone.
. . . And then you came and brought me home with you;
made me play with those babies of yours, took me with you
wherever you went, read with me and discussed things with
me as if I were an equal, talked to me about father, too. Do
you think I don't know all it meant to you Do you think
I did not realize, even then, what people were saying"



6

 
KILDARES OF STORM



  "I ha-e never been much afraid," said Kate Kildare
quietly, "of what people were saying."
  "No. And because of you, I dared not be afraid, either.
Because of you I knew that I must stay and make my fight
here, here where my father had failed. Oh, Kate Kildare,
whatever manhood I may have I owe-"
  "To your father," she said.
  "Perhaps. But whatever good there is in me, you kept
alive. "
  "Dear, dear! And that 's why-," she cried, with an at-
tempt at lightness, "you feel it your duty to strike attitudes
in your pulpit and keep the good alive in the rest of us"
  "That 's why," he said, soberly. "But not you, Miss Kate.
I do not preach to you. No man alive is good enough to
preach to you."
  "Good heavens! When you have just been doing it!"
Her laugh was rather tremulous. "What is this-a decla-
ration  Are you making love to me, boy"
  He nodded without speaking.
  The flush and the laughter died out of her face, leaving it
very pale. "Look here," she said haltingly, "I 'd like to
accept your hero-worship, dear-it 's sweet. But- If I 've
not been a very good woman, at least I 've always been an
honest one. You said even at that time you realized what
people were saying. Did it never occur to you that what
they said-might be true"
  He met her gaze unfalteringly. "I know you," he an-
swered.
  Her eyes went dim, Blindly she stooped and drew his
head to her and kissed him.
  At that moment a plaintive negro voice spoke close at
hand. "Gawd sakes, Miss Kate, whar you gwine at wif my
prize Huccom you took'n hit away fum mc"
  Unnoticed, an old, shambling negro had approached across



q

 
KILDARES OF STORM



the field, and was gazing in wide-eyed dismay at the china
vase under her arm.
  Mrs. Kildare welcomed the interruption. She did not
often encourage her emotions.
  "'Aha! Well met, Ezekiel,"     she  said  dramatically.
"Search your heart, search your black heart, I say, and tell
me whether a magnificent trophy like this deserves no better
resting place than a cabin whose door-yard looks like a pig-
sty."
  "But ain't I done won it" insisted the negro. "Ain't I
done won it fa'r and squar' Wan 't my do'-yahd de pur-
tiest in de whole Physick League"
  "It was, two weeks ago; and now what is it A desert,
a Sahara strewn with tomato-cans and ashes. No, no, Ezek-
iel. Winning a prize isn't enough for the Civic League-
nor for God," she announced, sententiously. "You 've got
to keep it won."
  She moved on, resistless, like Fate. The negro gazed after
her, his mouth quivering childishly.
  "She 's a hard 'ooman, the Madam, a mighty hard 'ooman!
Huccom she kissin' Mr. Philip Benoix dataway' Him a
preacher, too!" Suddenly his eye gleamed with a forgotten
memory. "De French doctor's boy-my Lawd! De French
doctor's own chile!" He shook his fist after the retreating
pair. "White 'ooman, white 'ooman, ain't you got no shame
't all" he muttered-but very low, for the Madam had good
ears.



8

 







CHAPTER II



A      S they jogged along, luan and mare at the same easy
        foot-pace, Benoix said, "Are you sure that vase
it   L doesn't really belong to old Zeke, Miss Kate"
  "No, I 'm not," she answered frankly. "I suppose it
does belong to him, as a matter of fact. But the whole pur-
pose of the Civic League I formed among the village negroes
was to keep their quarters deeent. If it fails of that-
Well, the Madam giveth. and the Madam taketh away."" She
shot him a mischievous glance. "Evidently you don 't ap-
prove of me, Philip"
  "Of you. Not of your ethics, perhaps. They 're rather-
feminine. "
  She shrugged. "Oh, well-feminine ethics are enough for
Storm village. They have to be," she said, succinctly.
  Before them, outlined against the red round of the low
sun, stood the rambling gray outlines of a house, topping a
small hill. From one of its huge chimneys a pennant of
smoke waved hospitably. The mare whinnied, and chafed
a little against the bit.
  "Clover smells her oats," said Mrs. Kildare, "and I smell
Big Liza's ginger-bread. It makes me hungry. Let 's go
faster.''
  lIe did not seem to hear her. She glanced at his preoc-
cupied face, wondering at this unusual indifference to Big
Liza's ginger-bread. "What is it, Philip"
  "I have been thinking how to begin," he said slowly.
"I 've got to talk to you about something disagreeable."
                            9

 
KILDARES OF STORM



  "Surely you can talk to me about anything, without 'be-
ginning'"
  "Well-I want to ask you to do something very unpleasant.
To evict a tenant. Maa Henderson."
  "That girl But why"
  "Your agent says she 's months behind in her rent."
  "Smith talks too much. What if she is I can afford to
be patient with her. The girl has had a hard time. Her
father seems to have deserted her. Oh, I know they 're a
shiftless pair, but half the prejudice against them is that
they are strangers. I know what that is," she added bitterly.
"I 've been a stranger myself in a rural community. You '11
have to give me a better reason than that, Philip."
  " I can, " he said.
  She lifted her eyebrows. "There 's talk then I suppose
so. There 's always talk, if a girl 's pretty enough and un-
protected enough. The poor little foolish Mag Hendersons
of the world! Oh," she cried, "I wonder that men dare to
speak of them!"
  "I dare," said Benoix, quietly. "I 've my parish to
think of. The girl 's a plague-spot. Vice is as contagi-
ous as any other disease. Besides, it 's a question of her
own safety. She 's been threatened. That 's why the father
left. "
  "What" cried MIrs. Kildare. "The 'Possum-Hunters'
You mean they are trying to run my affairs again"
  It was several years since men in masks had waged their
anonymous warfare against certain tobacco planters whose
plans did not accord with the sentiment of the community.
The organization of Night Riders was supposed to be re-
pressed. But power without penalty is too heady a draft
to be relinquished easily, by men who have once known the
taste of it.
  Benoix nodded. "She has had warning."



10

 
KILDARES OF STORM



  Mrs. Kildare 's lips set in a straight line. " Let them
come! They '11 try that sort of thing once too often."
  "Yes-but it might be once too often for Mag- too. She-
have you seen her lately"
  The other looked at him quickly. "Oh," she said, "oh!
Well, she sha'n't suffer alone. Who 's the man"
  ''She will not tell.'
  "'Loves him-poor thing !'"
  For a moment the priest showed in young Benoix' face.
"Miss Kate! You speak as if that made a difference," he
said sternly.
  "And does n 't it, does n 't it Good Lord, how young you
are! You 'd better pray that the years may teach you a little
human weakness. I tell you, Mag sha'n't bear it all. Who-
ever 's concerned in this thing shall suffer with her."
  "I am afraid," said Benoix, reluctantly, "that would be-
rather a large order."
  "Oh! It is n't-love, then."   For a moment Mrs. Kil-
dare stared straight in front of her. Then she wheeled her
horse, the pity in her face hardened into disgust. "Go on,
will you And tell the girls to save me some of that ginger-
bread.''
  "Where are you going"
  "To evict Mag Henderson."
  Ile protested. "But why to-night Surely one night
more! It will be very hard. Why not let Smith. attend to
it'"
  She gave him a bleak little smile. " My dear boy, if I
had left all the hard things to my manager to do, Storm to-
day would be just where Basil Kildare left it."
  She cantered back along the road and turned up a weed-
grown lane, her face set and frowning. Despite her words
to Benoix, at times like this she felt a very feminine need of
a man, and scorned herself for the feeling.



11

 

KILDARES OF STORM



  Coming to a white-washed log-cabin overgrown with morn-
ing-glories-the only crop the shiftless Hendersons had been
able to raise-she pounded on the closed door with the butt of
her crop. She heard a faint sound within, but nobody came
to answer.
  "I hear you in there. Don't keep me waiting, Mag."
  Still no answer. But once again the faint sound came.
It might have been the whining of an animal.
  Mrs. Kildare jumped impatiently from her horse, and a
few well-aimed blows of fist and knee sent the frail lock
flying. The door was barricaded within by a bureau and a
table and chairs-Mag's poor little defense, evidently, against
the " Possum-Hunters. "
  "Where are you, my girl" demanded Mrs. Kildare less
impatiently, pushing her way to the back room. "It 's not
night-riders. It 's the Madam."
  A little slim creature, hardly more than a child, writhed
on a cot in the corner, her eyes bright and fixed like the eyes
of a rabbit Kate had once seen caught in a trap, both -fists
stuffed into her mouth to stifle the groans that burst out in
spite of them.
  "Git out!" the girl panted fiercely. "Liemme be! I don'
want none of ye 'round, not none of ye. You go way from
here! "
  The change in Mrs. Kildare's face was wonderful. "Why,
child, what 's the matter" she said gently, even as she
stripped off her gauntlets. For she knew very well what
was the matter. In a widely separated rural community
where doctors and nurses are scarce, the word "neighbor"
becomes more than a mere honorary title.
  In a few moments she had a fire going, water boiling, what
few clean rags she could find sterilized. While she worked
she talked, quietly and cheerfully, watching the girl with



12

 
KILDARES OF STORM



experienced eyes. She did not like her pulse nor her color.
She saw that she was going to need help.
  "I '11 be back in ten minutes," she said presently. "I 'm
going to the nearest telephone to get the doctor. Keep up
your courage, 1lag. Only ten minutes!"
  But the girl was clinging to her, by this time, moaning,
begging, praying as if to God. "No, no-you cain't leave
me, you cain't! I been alone so long. Don' leave me alone!
I know I 'm bad, but 0 Gawd, I 'm skeert! Don' leave me
to die all alone. You wouldn't leave a dawg die all alone!"
  Mrs. Kildare soothed her with touch and word, wondering
what was to be done. Through the open door she sent her
strong voice ringing out across the twilight fields, again and
again. There was nobody to hear. All the world had gone
indoors to supper. Her waiting horse pawed the earth with
a soft, reproachful nicker, to remind her that horses, too,
have their time for supper. It gave her an idea.
  "The children will be frightened, but I can't help that.
I must have somebody here," she murmured, and slapped the
mare sharply on the flank. "Home, Clover. Oats! Bran-
mash! Hurry, pet!'"
  Obediently the startled creature broke into a trot, which
presently, as she realized that she was riderless, became a
panic-stricken gallop. Mrs. Kildare went back to her vigil.
  It is a terrible experience to watch, helpless, the agony of
a fellow creature. She knelt beside the dirty pallet, her
face as white as the girl's, beads of sweat on her brow, par-
alyzed by her utter inability to render aid-a new sensation
to Mrs. Kildare. Maternity as she had known it was a
thing of awe, of dread, a great brooding shadow that had
for its reverse the most exquisite happiness God allows to
the earth-born. But maternity as it came to Mag Henderson!
None of the preparations here that women love to make, no



1S

 

KILDARES OF STORM



little white-hung cradle, no piles of snowy flannel, none of
the precious small garments sewn with dreams; only squalor,
and shame, and fear unutterable.
  Never a religious woman, Mrs. Kildare found herself pres-
ently engaged in one of her rare conversations with the Al-
mighty, explaining to Him how young, how ignorant was
this child to suffer so; how unfair that she should be suffer-
ing alone; how wicked it was to send souls into the world
unwanted.
  "You could do something about it, and You ought to,"
she urged, aloud. " Oh, God, what a pity You are not a
woman! "
  Even in her agony, it seemed a queer sort of prayer to AIag
Henderson. But strong hands held hers close, a strong heart
pounded courage into hers; and who shall say that the helpless
tears on Kate Kildare's face were of no help to a girl who had
known nothing in all her life of the sisterhood of women
  At last came the sound of thudding hoofs in the lane, and
a clear voice, the echo of Kate's own, calling, "Mother!
Where are you Mother! Answer me. I 'm coming-"
  Mrs. Kildare made a trumpet of her hands and shouted,
"Here, Jack. Here in Mag-'s cabin."
  "Safe"
  ''All safe.''
  "Phil, Phil!" called back the voice, breaking. "Come on.
It 's all right! We 've found her! She 's safe!"
  In a moment a whirlwind of pink muslin burst in at the
door, and enveloped Mrs. Kildare in an embrace which bade
fair to suffocate, while anxious hands felt and prodded her
to be sure nothing was broken.
  "Oh, Mummy darling,'" crooned the beautiful voice,
"how you frightened us! You 're sure no bones are smashed
-nothing sprained Poor Clover had worked herself into a
perfect panic, galloping home all alone. And the servants



14

 
KILDARES OF STORM



screaming, and Jemima fearing the worst, as she always does.
And we did n't even know where to hunt for you, till Philip
came- Oh, Mother!"
I"There, there, baby-it 's all right. No time for pettings
now. There 's work to be done. Why didn't J emima come
This is no place for a madcap like you."
  Jacqueline chuckled and shivered. "The Apple Blossom"
-she referred to her elder sister, Jemima-' 'was turning
your room into a hospital-ward when I left, against the ar-
rival of your mangled corpse. She had also ordered the
wagon prepared like an ambulance, mattresses, chloroform,
bandages-every gruesome detail complete. Our Jemima,"
she said, "is having the time of her life-isn't she, Reverend
Flip  "
  Mrs. Kildare smiled in spite of herself. The description
of her eldest daughter was apt. But she said reprovingly,
"You sound as if you were making fun of your sister, dear.
And don't call Philip 'the Reverend Flip.' It is rude."
  "Pooh! Rudeness is good for that elderly young man,"
murmured Jacqueline, with an engaging smile in his direc-
tion.
  But the elderly young man, standing at the door, did not
notice. lie was gazing at Mrs. Kildare questioningly.
  There had come a groan from the inner room.
  "What 's that" cried Jacqueline. She ran to investigate.
"Oh! The poor thing! What 's the matter with her"
  Benoix would have stopped her, but Kate said shortly,
"Nonsense, Phil. My girls were born women. You ride for
the doctor."
  At dawn a faint, fierce whisper came from the inner room.
"Whar 's my babby What you-all doin' with my babby
You ain't goin' to take her away from me No, no! She 's
mine, I tell you!"
  Jacqueline hurried in to her with the tiny, whimpering



15

 

KILDARES OF STORM



bundle. "Of course she 's yours, and the sweetest, fattest
darling. Oh, Mag, how I envy you!"  She kissed the other's
cheek.
  There was a third girl in the room, a dainty, pink and
white little person who well deserved her pet-name of the
"Apple Blossom."   She looked up in quick distaste from
the bandages her capable hands were preparing, and went
out to her mother.
  "Is n't it like Jacqueline To sit outside all night with
her fingers stuffed in her ears, because she could n't stand
the groaning, and then to--kiss the creature!"
  Jemima was nineteen, a most sophisticated young woman.
  Her mother smiled a little. "Yes," she admitted, "it is
like Jacqueline, and that 's why she 's going to do poor Mag
more good than either of us. The doctor says we shall be
able to take Mag and the baby home presently."
  "Home!"    Philip Benoix looked at her in amaze. Like
the others, his face was drawn and pale with that strange
vigil. Death does not come so close without leaving its mark
on the watchers. "Miss Kate, surely you 're not going to
take Mag Henderson into your own home"
  "Where else You wanted me to evict her. I can't evict
her into space."
  "But, the responsibility!"
  "Yes, there is a responsibility," said Kate Kildare, musing.
"I don't know whether it 's mine or God's, or whose-and
I can't afford to take any chances."
  "It will be easier to look after them at home," commented
the practical Jemima.



16

 







CHAPTER III



O      N the rare occasions when the mistress of Storm sat
         idle in her eyrie, her household-children, negroes,
         even the motley assortment of dogs that claimed her
for their own-had learned to go their ways softly. The
morning after Mag's affair, three collies, a hound or so, and
several curs waited in a respectful row, tentative tails astir,
with eyes fixed patiently upon a certain great juniper-tree at
the edge of Storm garden. On the other side of it sat a very
weary woman, cradled between its hospitable roots, with her
back turned on the workaday world and her face to the open
country. This was her eyrie; and here, when another woman
would have been shut into a darkened chamber courting sleep,
came Kate Kildare on occasion to rest her soul.
  To the left and right of her rose taller hills, of which Storm
was the forerunner, the first small ripple of the Cumberlands
as they broke upon the plain. At her feet stretched mile
after rolling mile of summer green, and gold, and brown.
There were dappled pastures of bluegrass, clover-fields, beech-
woods, great golden reaches of corn; there was the rich black-
green of tobacco-not much of that, for Kate Kildare loved
her land too well to ruin it. Here and there the farm of some
neighbor showed larger patches of the parasite that soon or
late must sap Kentucky of its vigor, even while it fills her
coffers with gold; but these were few. The greater part of
the land in sight was Kildare land. Storms, like some feudal
keep of the Old World, brooded its chickens under its wings,
watchfully.
  Far away, perhaps five miles or so, the roof of another
                            17

 

KILDARES OF STORM



mansion showed among the trees; a new house. Kate rarely
looked in that direction. It made her feel crowded. It was
not the only direction from which she kept her eyes averted.
On the edge of the distant horizon rested always a low gray
cloud, never lifting, nor shifting. It seemed to her an aure-
ole of shadow crowning some evil thing, even as the saints in
old paintings are crowned with light. It was the smoke of
the little city of Frankfort, where there is a penitentiary.
  The plateau at her feet was crossed by many a slender
thread of road, to one of which her eyes came presently, as
wandering feet stray naturally into a path they often use.
It was rather a famous road, with a name of its own in his-
tory. Wild creatures had made it centuries ago, on their way
from the hills to the river. The silent moccasins of Indians
had widened it; later, pioneers, Kildares and their hardy
kindred, flintlock on shoulder, ear alert for the crackling of
a twig in the primeval forest, seeking a place of safety for
their women and children in the new world they had come
to conquer. Now it was become a thoroughfare for prosper-
ous loaded wains, for world-famed horses, for their sup-
planter, the automobile, which in ever-increasing numbers
has come to enjoy and kill the peace of distant countrysides.
  But to Kate Kildare the early history of that road meant
nothing. It was for her the road that led back, a two days'
journey, into her girlhood.
  In the house Jacqueline was singing, her voice drowning
the mellow tones of the old piano, ringing out singularly
pure and clear, like a child's, lacking as yet the modulations
to be learned of one teacher alone; life. It was a new song
that Philip Benoix had brought for her to try:
             "A little winding road
             Goes over the hill to the plain-
             A little road that crosses the plain



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KILDARES OF STORM



              And comes to the hill again.
              I sought for Love on that road-"

sang Jacqueline, cheerfully.
  The eyes of the listener filled with sharp tears. She too
had sought for Love on that road.
  She saw herself riding down it into her great adventure,
so young, so laughing and brave, Basil Kildare on his great
horse beside her, all the world a misty golden green. She
saw-even with closed eyes, she saw-the turn of the road
where Jacques Benoix, Philip 's father, had come to meet
them on their wedding journey.
  So far her memories often led her before she stopped them.
But the experience of the night had left her oddly stirred
and weakened, not quite herself. To-day the memories had
their way with her.
  She lived again through the whirlwind courtship that was
still remembered in a community where sudden marriages
are not unusual; saw again, as she had first seen it, the
arresting, great figure of Basil Kildare framed in a ballroom
door, with smoldering black eyes upon her, that spoke so much
more eloquently than his tongue. Yet his tongue had done
well enough, too, that night. Before their first dance was
over he had said to her: "I have been watching you grow
up, Kate. Now I think you are old enough to marry me."
  Two weeks later they went to her mother, hand in hand.
  "But, my dearest!" fluttered the startled lady, "Mr. Kil-
dare is a man of forty, and you only seventeen, only a child!
Besides- "
  "Mr. Kildare,"' answered the girl, with a proud glance at
her lover, "will help me to become a woman, Mother dear."
  What was she, newly widowed, who had depended in all
things upon her husband, to oppose such a pair of wills
Rumors of the wild doings at Storm were not lacking in that



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KILDARES OF STORM



gentler community, nor was the Kildare blood- what she would
have chosen to mix with her own. But there is among this
type of women always the rather touching belief that it needs
only matrimony to tame the wildest of eagles into a cooing
dove. Kildare, moreover, was one of the great landowners
of the State, a man of singular force and determination, and,
when he chose to exert it, of a certain virile charm. When
Mrs. Leigh realized that, ever since her daughter had been
old enough to exhibit promise of the beauty she afterwards
attained, this man had marked her for his own, a feeling of
utter helplessness came over her.
  They were a magnificent pair to look at, as they stood
before her, tall, vivid, vital. Beside Basil Kildare the youths
who had hitherto courted Kate, young as she was, seemed
callow and insignificant, even to the mother. It would need
a man to rule such a woman as Kate was to become, not an
adoring boy; and -Mrs. Leigh was of the type and generation
that believed firmly in the mastery of husbands.
  She could not make up her mind to consent to the marriage,
but she did not forbid it. And it is probable that her forbid-
ding would have had as much effect upon that pair of lovers
as the sighing of the gouthwind. Perhaps less effect; for, in
a Kentucky May, the sighing of the southwind is very per-
suasive.
  Bridesmaids and their escorts rode part way on the wed-
ding journey; a gay cavalcade, some of the youths a little
white and quiet, all of the girls with envious, sentimental
eyes upon Kate where she rode beside the handsomest of the
wild Kildares, with the romantic, whispered reputation of
his race upon him.
  When these had turned back, the bridegroom, chafing a
little under their surveillance, swore a great oath of relief
and spurred his horse close. In a sudden panic Kate bolted
away from him, galloped up a lane, leaped a fence into a



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KILDARES OF STORM



field, where he caught her and seized her, laughing aloud:
"That 's my girl! That 's my pretty wild hawk! The spirit
for a mother of Kildare men, by God !"
  After that she met his kisses unafraid. Girl as she was, it
seemed to her a beautiful saying-" a mother of Kildare men."
Only three things she was bringing with her from the old
home to the new-her piano, her father's books, and the
oaken cradle that had come with the first Leigh from over-
seas, and followed other Leighs across the mountains along
the old Wilderness Trail, into Kentucky.
  Toward the end of their two days' journey through the
May woods and meadows, a little barking dog sprung out at
them, frightening Kate's thoroughbred until it almost threw
her. Kildare struck furiously at the dog, and missed; struck
again, leaped from his horse, and pursued it, striking and
kicking, so that the terrified creature ran for its life, and
Kate cried out, "Stop, Basil, stop. What are you doing
Stop, I say!"
  He came back to her, cursing, an ugly line between his
brows. " Got away, damn the luck! I almost- Why,
Kate! Tears Oh, good Lord," he laughed, still frowning.
"You 're as soft as Jacques Benoix!"
  She mastered the tears; mastered, too, a strange little fear
at her heart, thinking proudly, "He came when I called!
He stopped when I called!"