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your side and say, Dear Tom,' 'Sweet Dick,' or
. 'Divine Harry,' no matter how good friends they
Friends don't indulge in sentimental, farfetched compliments."
“ I certainly never did with any friends of mine. On this very walk you told me that you were not my sister, and added, " There is no use in trying to ignore nature.' See how true this last assertion is proving, now that I am again under your influence, and so enjoy your society that I cannot ignore nature. During all those years when you were growing from childhood to womanhood I treated you as a sister, thought of you as such. It was nature, or rather the accord of two natures, that formed and cemented the tie, and not an accident of birth. Even when you were an invalid, and I was stupid enough to call you ‘lackadaisical,' your presence always gave me pleasure. Often when I had been out all the evening I would say, with vexation, I wish I had stayed at home with the little ghost,' How you used to order me about and tyrannize over me from your sofa when you were half child and half woman! I can say honestly, Madge, it was never a bore to me, for
you odd, piquant way of saying and doing things that always amused me; your very weakness was an appeal to my strength, and a claim upon it. You always appeared to have a sister's affection for me, and your words and manner proved that I brought some degree of brightness into your shadowed life. In learning to love you as a sister in all those years, wherein did I ignore nature ? During my absence
my feelings did not change in the least, as I proved by my attempts at correspondence, by my greeting when we met. Then you perplexed and worried me more than you would believe, and I imagined all sorts of ridiculous things about you ; but on that drive, aster your vigil with that poor, dying girl, 1 felt that I understood you fully at last. Indeed, ever since your rescue of the little Wilder child from drowning my old feelings have been coming back with tenfold force. I can't help thinking of you, of being proud of you. I give you my confidence to-night just as naturally and unhesitatingly as if we had been rocked in the same cradle. I am not wearying you with this long explanation and preamble?"
No, Graydon," she replied, in a low tone. “I am very glad. I don't think well of myself to-night at all, and I have a very humiliating confession to make,--one that I could make only to such a sister as you are, or rather would have been, were there a natural tie between us. I would not tell any Tom, Dick, and Harry friends in the world what I shall now make known to you. If I didn't trust you so, I wouldn't speak of it, for what I shall say involves Henry as well as myself. Madge, I've been duped, I've been made both a fool and a tool, and the consequences might have been grave indeed. Henry, who has so much quiet sagacity, has in some way obtained information that proved of immense importance to him, and absolutely vital to me. I shudder when I think of what might have happened, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of my escape. I told you that Miss Wildmere was humoring that fellow Arnault to save her father, and consequently her mother and the child. This impression, which was given me so skilfully, and at last confirmed by plain words, was utterly false. Henry has been in financial danger ; Wildmere knew it, and he also knew that Arnault had lent Henry money, which to-day was called in with the hope of breaking him down. They would have succeeded, too, had he not had resources of which they knew nothing. You, of course, can't realize how essential a little ready money sometimes is in a period of financial depression ; but Henry left a note which gave me an awful shock, while, at the same time, it made clear Miss Wildmere's scheme. She had simply put me off, that she might hear from Wall Street. If Henry had failed she would have decided for Arnault, and I believe my attentions led to his tricky transaction, --that he lent the money and called it in when he believed that Henry could not meet his demand. I must be put out of his way, for he reasoned justly that the girl would drop me if impoverished. Thus indirectly I might have caused Henry's failure, blow from which I should never have recovered. Henry is safe now, he assures me ; and, O Madge, thank God, I have found her out before it was too late! I had fully resolved while off trouting that I would break with her finally if I found Arnault at her side again. Now he may marry her, for all I care, and I wish him no worse punishment. I shall go to my room now and write to her that every.
thing is over between us. The fact is, Madge, you spoiled Miss Wildmere for me on that morning drive the other day. After leaving your society and going into hers I felt the difference keenly, and while I should then have fulfilled the obligations which I had so stupidly incurred, I had little heart in the affair. Her acting was consummate, but a true woman's nature had been revealed to me, and the glamour was gone from the false one. Now you see what absolute confidence I repose in you, and how heavily this strange story bears against myself. Could I have given it to any one for whom I had not a brother's love, and in whom I did not hope to find a sister's gentle charity? I show you how unspent is the force of all those years when we had scarcely a thought which we could not tell each other. I have little claim, though, to be a protecting brother, when I have been making such an egregious fool of myself. You have grown wiser and stronger than I. You won't think very harshly of me, will you, Madge?”
, “No, Graydon.”
“And you won't condemn my fraternal affection as contrary to nature ?"
She was sorely at a loss. She had listened with quickened breath, a fluttering pulse, and in a growing tumult of hope and fear, to this undisguised revelation of his attitude toward her. She almost thought that she detected between the lines, as it were, the beginning of a different regard. He be. lieved that he had been frankness itself, and his words proved that he looked upon his fraternal
affection and confidence as the natural, the almost inevitable, sequence of the past. She could not meet him on the fraternal ground that he was taking again, nor did she wish him to occupy it in his own mind. To maintain the attitude which she had adopted would require as much delicacy as firmness of action, or he would begin to query why she could not go back to their old relations as readily as he could. She had listened to the twice-told tale of the events of the past few days with almost breathless interest, because his words revealed the workings of his own mind, and she had not the least intention of permitting him to settle down into the tranquil affection of a brother.
While she hesitated, he asked, gently, “ Don't you feel a little of your old sisterly love for me?"
No, Graydon, I do not,” she replied, boldly. “I suppose you will think me awfully matter-offact. I love Mary as my sister, I have the strongest esteem and affection for Henry as my brotherin-law, and I like you for just what you are to me, neither more
less. The truth is, Graydon, when I woke up from my old limp, shadowy life I had to look at everything just as it was, and I have formed the habit of so doing. I think it is the
You did not see Miss Wildmere as she was, but as you imagined her to be, and you blame yourself too severely because you acted as you naturally would toward a girl for whom you had so high a regard. When we stick to the actual, we escape mistakes and embarrassment. Everyone knows that we are not brother and sister ; every one