About this time, St. Clare's brother Alfred, with his eldest son, a boy of twelve, spent a day or two with the family at the lake.
No sight could be more singular and beautiful than that of these twin brothers. Nature, instead of instituting resemblances between them, had made them opposites on every point; yet a mysterious tie seemed to unite them in a closer friendship than ordinary.
They used to saunter, arm in arm, up and down the alleys and walks of the garden. Augustine, with his blue eyes and golden hair, his ethereally flexible form and vivacious features; and Alfred, dark-eyed, with haughty Roman profile, firmly-knit limbs, and decided bearing. They were always abusing each other's opinions and practices, and yet never a whit the less absorbed in each other's society; in fact, the very contrariety seemed to unite them, like the attraction between opposite poles of the magnet.
Henrique, the eldest son of Alfred, was a noble, dark-eyed, princely boy, full of vivacity and spirit; and, from the first moment of introduction, seemed to be perfectly fascinated by the spirituelle graces of his cousin Evangeline.
Eva had a little pet pony, of a snowy whiteness. It was easy as a cradle, and as gentle as its little mistress; and this pony was now brought up to the back verandah by Tom, while a little mulatto boy of about thirteen led along a small black Arabian, which had just been imported, at a great expense, for Henrique.
Henrique had a boy's pride in his new possession; and, as he advanced and took the reins out of the hands of his little groom, he looked carefully over him, and his brow darkened.
"What's this, Dodo, you little lazy dog! you haven't rubbed my horse down, this morning."
"Yes, Mas'r," said Dodo, submissively; "he got that dust on his own self."
"You rascal, shut your mouth!" said Henrique, violently raising his riding-whip. "How dare you speak?"
The boy was a handsome, bright-eyed mulatto, of just Henrique's size, and his curling hair hung round a high, bold forehead. He had white blood in his veins, as could be seen by the quick flush in his cheek, and the sparkle of his eye, as he eagerly tried to speak.
"Mas'r Henrique! — " he began.
Henrique struck him across the face with his riding-whip, and, seizing one of his arms, forced him on to his knees, and beat him till he was out of breath.
"There, you impudent dog! Now will you learn not to answer back when I speak to you? Take the horse back, and clean him properly. I'll teach you your place!"
"Young Mas'r," said Tom, "I specs what he was gwine to say was, that the horse would roll when he was bringing him up from the stable; he's so full of spirits, — that's the way he got that dirt on him; I looked to his cleaning."
"You hold your tongue till you're asked to speak!" said Henrique, turning on his heel, and walking up the steps to speak to Eva, who stood in her riding-dress.
"Dear Cousin, I'm sorry this stupid fellow has kept you waiting," he said. "Let's sit down here, on this seat till they come. What's the matter, Cousin? — you look sober."
"How could you be so cruel and wicked to poor Dodo?" asked Eva.
"Cruel, — wicked!" said the boy, with unaffected surprise. "What do you mean, dear Eva?"
"I don't want you to call me dear Eva, when you do so," said Eva.
"Dear Cousin, you don't know Dodo; it's the only way to manage him, he's so full of lies and excuses. The only way is to put him down at once, — not let him open his mouth; that's the way papa manages."
"But Uncle Tom said it was an accident, and he never tells what isn't true."
"He's an uncommon old nigger, then!" said Henrique. "Dodo will lie as fast as he can speak."
"You frighten him into deceiving, if you treat him so."
"Why, Eva, you've really taken such a fancy to Dodo, that I shall be jealous."
"But you beat him, — and he didn't deserve it."
"O, well, it may go for some time when he does, and don't get it. A few cuts never come amiss with Dodo, — he's a regular spirit, I can tell you; but I won't beat him again before you, if it troubles you."
Eva was not satisfied, but found it in vain to try to make her handsome cousin understand her feelings.
Dodo soon appeared, with the horses.
"Well, Dodo, you've done pretty well, this time," said his young master, with a more gracious air. "Come, now, and hold Miss Eva's horse while I put her on to the saddle."
Dodo came and stood by Eva's pony. His face was troubled; his eyes looked as if he had been crying.
Henrique, who valued himself on his gentlemanly adroitness in all matters of gallantry, soon had his fair cousin in the saddle, and, gathering the reins, placed them in her hands.
But Eva bent to the other side of the horse, where Dodo was standing, and said, as he relinquished the reins, — "That's a good boy, Dodo; — thank you!"
Dodo looked up in amazement into the sweet young face; the blood rushed to his cheeks, and the tears to his eyes.
"Here, Dodo," said his master, imperiously.
Dodo sprang and held the horse, while his master mounted.
"There's a picayune for you to buy candy with, Dodo," said Henrique; "go get some."
And Henrique cantered down the walk after Eva. Dodo stood looking after the two children. One had given him money; and one had given him what he wanted far more, — a kind word, kindly spoken. Dodo had been only a few months away from his mother. His master had bought him at a slave warehouse, for his handsome face, to be a match to the handsome pony; and he was now getting his breaking in, at the hands of his young master.
The scene of the beating had been witnessed by the two brothers St. Clare, from another part of the garden.
Augustine's cheek flushed; but he only observed, with his usual sarcastic carelessness.
"I suppose that's what we may call republican education, Alfred?"
"Henrique is a devil of a fellow, when his blood's up," said Alfred, carelessly.
"I suppose you consider this an instructive practice for him," said Augustine, drily.
"I couldn't help it, if I didn't. Henrique is a regular little tempest; — his mother and I have given him up, long ago. But, then, that Dodo is a perfect sprite, — no amount of whipping can hurt him."