The habits of the Gulmore household were in some respects primitive. Though it was not yet seven o'clock two negro girls were clearing away the breakfast things under the minute supervision of their mistress, an angular, sharp-faced woman with a reedy voice, and nervously abrupt movements. Near the table sat a girl of nineteen absorbed in a book. In an easy-chair by the open bay-window a man with a cigar in his mouth was reading a newspaper. Jonathan Byrne Gulmore, as he always signed himself, was about fifty years of age; his heavy frame was muscular, and the coarse dark hair and swarthy skin showed vigorous health.