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THE PROMPTINGS OF MISS WILDMERE'S HEART.
RAYDON slept very late the following morn
ing. He found out that he was tired, and resolved to indulge his craving for rest so far as his suit to Miss Wildmere would permit. When he could do nothing to promote his advantage he proposed to be indolence itself. He found that his vexation had quite vanished, and, in cynical goodnature, he was inclined to laugh at the state of affairs. " Let Madge indulge her whims," he thought ; "I may be the more free to pursue my purposes. Her sister, of course, shares in Henry's prejudices against the Wildmeres, and they would influence Madge adversely. All handsome girls are jealous of each other, and, perhaps, if what I had so naturally hoped and expected had proved true, I should have had more sisterly counsel and opposition than would have been agreeable. Objections now would be in poor taste, to say the least. If I'm not much mistaken I can speak my mind to Stella Wildmere before many days pass; and, wornan-nature being such as it is, it may be just as well that I am not too intimate with a sister who,
after all, is not my sister. Stella might not see it in the light that I should ;' and so he came down at last, prepared to adapt himself very philosophically to the new order of things.
The world moves and changes,” he soliloquized, smilingly, “and we must move on and change with it.”
He found Mr. and Mrs. Muir, with Madge and the children, ready for church, and told them, laughingly, to " remember him if they did not think him past praying for." During his breakfast he recalled the fact that Madge was uncommonly well dressed. She hasn't in externals,” he thought, " the provincial air that one might expect, although her ideas are not only provincial, but prim, obtained, no doubt, from some goody-good books that she has read in the remote region wherein she has developed so remarkably. She has some stilted ideal of womanhood which she is seeking to attain, and the more unnatural the ideal, the more attractive, no doubt, it appears to her."
It did not occur to him that he was explaining Madge on more theories than one, and that they were not exactly harmonious. Having finished his meal, he sought for Miss Wildmere, and soon found her in a shady corner, reading a light, semi-philosophical work, thus distinguishing and honoring the day in her choice of literature. He proposed to read to her, but the book was soon forgotten in animated talk on his part. She could skilfully play the role of a good listener when she chose, and could, therefore, be a delightful companion. Her color came and went under words and compliments that at times were rather ardent and pronounced. He soon observed, however, that she led the way promptly from delicate ground. This might result from maidenly reserve or from the fact that she was not quite ready for decisive words. He still be lieved that he had all needed encouragement—that the expression of her eyes often answered his, and he knew well what his meant. When, in response to his invitation, she promised to drive with him in the afternoon, all seemed to be going as he wished.
Graydon felt that during dinner and thereafter for a time he should be devoted to his party, to preclude criticism on his course in the late afternoon and in the evening, when he proposed to seek society which promised more than theirs. He began to discover that, except as her intelligence was larger, in one respect Madge had not changed from her old self. She responded appreciatively to his thought and fancy, and gave him back in kind with interest. She began to question him about a place in Europe with which he was familiar, and showed such unusual knowledge of the locality that he asked, “You haven't slipped over there unknown to me, I trust ?"
“You might think of an easier explanation than that. You kindly sent me books, some of which were rather realistic.” "Did you read them all?"
Certainly. It would have been a poor return if I had not."
What an inordinate sense of duty you must have had !!
“ I did not read them from a sense of duty. You have perhaps forgotten that I am fond of books." “Not all of the books were novels.”
Many that were not proved the most interest. ing."
“Oh, indeed ; another evidence of change," he said, laughing
“And of sense, too, I think. Mr. Wayland, who is a student, had a splendid library, and he gave me some ideas as to reading.”
Can you part with any of them ?" “That depends,” she replied, with a manner as brusque as his own.
“On what ?"
“ The inducements and natural opportunities. I'm not going to recite a lesson like a school-girl."
“One would think you had been to school.”
“I have, where much is taught and learned thoroughly.” “Now, that is enigmatical again.
The best of the books you sent me left some room for the imagination.”
“Ha, ha, ha, Madge! you are scoring points right along. I told you, Graydon, that you couldn't understand her in a moment or in a week.”
“I never regarded your imagination as rampant, Henry. Have you fathomed all her mystery ?"
“Far from it ; nor do I expect to, and yet you will grant to me some degree of penetration,
Well, to think that I should have come home to find a sphinx instead of little Madge !'
“ Thank you. A sphinx is usually portrayed with at least the head of a woman.”
“In this case she has one that would inspire a Greek sculptor. Perhaps in time I may discover a heart also.
“ That's doubtful.”
“What far-fetched nonsense!” said Mrs. Muir, sententiously. “Madge has come back one of the best and most sensible girls in the world. Men and poets are always imagining that women are mysteries. The fact is, they are as transparent as glass when they know their own minds; when they don't, who else should know them ?"
“Who indeed ?" said Graydon, laughing. “Your saving clause, Mary, is as boundless as space.
“How absurd! I understand Madge perfectly, and so does Henry."
You said last evening that the change in her was a miracle. Once in the realm of the super.. natural, what may not one expect?"
“ You knew what I meant. I referred to Madge's health and appearance and accomplishments and all that. She has not changed in heart and feeling any more than I have, and I'm sure I'm not a sphinx.
No, Mary ; you are a sensible and excellent wife and my very dear sister. You suggest no mystery. Madge certainly does, for you have, in