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On reaching his room he threw himself wearily into a chair, and carelessly tore open his brother's note. Instantly he bounded to his feet, approached the light more closely, and saw in his brother's unmistakable hand the following significant words :
* Read this letter carefully and thoughtfully ; then destroy it. Show your knowledge of its contents by neither word nor sign. Be on your guard, and permit no one to suspect financial anxieties. Arnault and Wildmere have struck me a heavy
a blow. The former has lent me inoney.
I must raise a large sum in town, but think I can do it, even in the brief time permitted. If I cannot we lose everything. If I don't have to suspend tomorrow Miss Wildmere will accept you in the evening. She has been waiting till those two precious confederates, her father and Arnault, did their worst, so that she could go over to the winning side. You are of course your own master, but permit me, as your brother, affectionately and solemnly to warn you.
Stella Wildmere will never bring you a day's happiness or peace. She loves herself infinitely more than you, her father, or any one else.
Be true to me, and you shall share my fortunes. If you follow some insane notion of being
. true to her, you will soon find you have been false to yourself. Again I warn you. Speak to no one of all this, and give no sign of your knowledge.
Graydon read this twice, then crushed the paper in his hand as he muttered, “ Fool, dupe, idiot ! Now at last I understand her game and allusions. She was made to fear that Henry was about to fail, and she would not accept me until satisfied on this point. Great God ! my infatuation for her has been inciting Arnault in these critical times to break my brother down, and her father has been aiding and abetting, in order that I might be re moved out of the way. She was so false herself that she suspected her own father, also Arnault, of deceiving her, and so kept putting me off, that she might learn the truth of their predictions or the result of their efforts. How clear it all becomes, now that I have the key! Well, I should be worse than a heathen if I did not thank God for such an escape.”
MADGE IS MATTER-OF-FACT.
ELL, I have come back to civilization and
all its miseries," thought Graydon. “I was among scenes that know not Wildmeres or Arnaults. “O my prophetic soul !' I felt that there was something wrong, in spite of her superb acting. Sweet Madge, dear sister Madge, as you ever will be to me, the more I think of it the more clearly I see that you are the one who first began to shatter my delusion.
Since that morning when I brought you home from your long vigil, and you revealed to me your true, brave heart, Stella Wildmere has never seemed the same, and the revolt of my nature has been growing ever since.”
His wish now was to avoid seeing every one until he had met his brother. While the thought of his escape was uppermost in his mind, he was consumed with anxiety to learn the result of Henry's efforts in town. His commercial instincts were also very strong, and the thought of what might happen fairly made him tremble.
He slipped down a back stairway and out into the darkness, then bent his rapid steps to the depot,
at which he arrived half an hour before the train
Remembering that excited pacing up and down there would not be very intelligent obedience to his brother's injunctions, he started down a country road in the direction from which the train would come, and paced to and fro in his strong excitement. At last the train arrived, and his first glimpse of Henry's face and Madge's was reassuring. The moment the former saw him he called out, “ Hello, Graydon ! Have you a trout supper for us?"
"Yes," was the hearty response ; and he hastened forward and shook hands cordially, saying, in an aside, "O Madge! I am so glad to see you again !"
"You are! Tell that to the marines. The length of your stay proves it to be a fish story.”
“Here, Madge, we'll put you in the stage. I'll rest myself by walking to the house with Graydon.
Henry, you are all right?" said Graydon, eagerly, as soon as they were out of ear-shot.
“Yes,” was the quiet reply ; “I raised the money, paid Arnault in full, and have a good surplus in the bank."
“ Thank Heaven ! How did you raise it? How has all this knowledge reached—"
“ Patience, Graydon, patience. As soon as you are in the firm I shall have no secrets from you. Until you are, you must let me manage in my old
“I have indeed little claim on your confidence. I have been deceived, and have acted like a fool. But it's all over now, Henry, you may not believe me, but my nonsense would have ended to-night if I hadn't received your letter, and all this had not occurred. I had been disgusted with this Arnault business for some time, and had let Miss Wildmere know my views. As I thought it over while away it all grew so detestable to me that I resolved, if Arnault appeared again and renewed his attentions, I would never renew mine. He's here again, as you may have seen.
Oh, yes ; and I have talked with him. Please show no resentment. I obtained my information in a way unknown to him, and there is nothing unusual in our transaction on its face. How was it that you began to grow critical toward Miss Wild. mere ?' “Well, I don't mind telling you. There was not
· a ring of truth or a stamp of nobility about her words and manner, and I have been associating with a girl who is truth itself and twice as clever and accomplished. Miss Wildmere was growing commonplace in contrast. I learned to love Madge as a sister before she went away, and now no man ever admired and loved a sister more.”
Mr. Muir smiled broadly to himself in the darkness, and said : “Truly, Graydon, you are giving satisfactory proofs of returning sanity. We may as well conclude with the old saying, 'All's well that ends well.'
“I think I had better go to town Monday and resume business. It's time I did something to retrieve myself."
“No, Graydon, not yet. I have everything in