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Kildares of Storm   By: (1880-1968)

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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

[Illustration: 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]



Along a pleasant Kentucky road that followed nature rather than art in its curves and meanderings, straying 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. Perhaps her lips tightened a little; otherwise the serenity of 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.

Her 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. "My 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 had watched her ever since she rode into sight. "Miss 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 shouldn't I salute this corn of mine? It certainly serves me nobly."

He came down from the bank and stood beside her; a stalwart 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.

He was thinking (no new thought to Kentuckians) that of all the products of his great commonwealth, nothing equalled 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... Continue reading book >>

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