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would admit our right to be very good friends. 1 have listened to you with the deep and honest sympathy that is perfectly natural to our relations. I think the better of you for what you have told me, but I'm too dreadfully matter-of-fact,” she concluded, beginning to laugh, “ to do anything more.

He sighed deeply.

“Now, there is no occasion for that sigh, Graydon. Recall that morning drive to which you have alluded. What franker, truer friendship could you ask than I gave evidence of then? Come now, be sensible. You live too much in the present moment, and yield to your impulses. Miss Wildmere was a delusion and a snare, but there are plenty of true women in the world. Some day you will meet the right one. She won't object to your friends, but she probably would to sisters who are not sisters.”

Graydon laughed a little bitterly as he said, “So you imagine that after my recent experience I shall soon be making love to another girl ?”

Why not? Because Miss Wildmere is a fraud do you intend to spite yourself by letting some fair, true girl pass by unheeded ? That might be to permit the fraud to injure you almost as much as if she had married you.

He burst out laughing, as he exclaimed, “Well, your head is level.'

“Certainly it is. My head is all right, even though I have not much heart, as you believe. I told you I could be a good fellow, and I don't propose to indulge you in sentiment about what is past

and gone,-natural and true as it was at the time, --or in cynicism for the future. I shall dance at your wedding, and you won't be gray, either. Come; the music has ceased, and it must be almost Sunday morning.”

“Very well. On the day when you rightly boxed my ears, and I asked you to make your own terms of peace, I resolved to submit to everything and anything.”

“You don't stay put,' is the trouble. Did I look and act so very cross that morning ?"

"You looked magnificent, and you spoke with such just eloquent indignation that you made my blood tingle. No, my brave, true friend, --I may say that, mayn't I ?--it was not a little thing for you to go away alone to fight so heroic a battle and achieve such a victory ; and, Madge, I honor you with the best homage of my heart.

heart. You have taught me how to meet trouble when it comes.

As they went up the steps, Arnault, with a pale, stern face, and looking neither to the right nor to the left, passed them and strode away.

1

CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE END OF DIPLOMACY.

M

R. ARNAULT'S manner as he passed struck

both Graydon and Madge as indicating strong feeling and stern purpose.

In order to account for his action, it is necessary to go back in our history for a short period. While Madge was receiving such rich compensation for having become simply what she was, Miss Wildmere had been gathering the rewards of diplomacy. As we have seen, she had reached the final conclusion that if Mr. Muir did not fail that day she would accept Graydon at once; and, during its earlier hours, she had been complacency itself, feeling that everything was now in her own hands. Mr. Muir's appearance and manner the previous evening had nearly convinced her that he was in no financial difficulties whatever, --that her father and Mr. Arnault were either mistaken or else were deceiving her. If the latter is the case," she had thought," they have so bungled as to enable me to test the truth of their words within twenty-four hours.

“I am virtually certain," she said, with an exultant smile," that I shall be engaged to Graydon Muir before I sleep to-night.”

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In the afternoon it began to trouble her that Graydon had not appeared. As the hours passed she grew anxious, and with the shadow of night there fell a chill on her heart and hope. This passed into alarm when at last Graydon arrived with his brother and Madge, and greeted her with the cold recognition that has been described. She had met Mr. Arnault cordially at first, because there were still possibilities in his favor ; but when her father promptly disappeared, with the evident purpose to avoid questions, and Mr. Muir and his family at supper gave evidence of superb spirits instead of trouble, she saw that she had been duped, or, in any case, misled.

Her anger and worry increased momentarily, especially since Graydon, beyond a little furtive observation, completely ignored her. She naturally ascribed his course to resentment at her first greeting of Arnault, his continued presence at her side, and the almost deferential manner with which he was treated by her father, who had joined his family at supper, when no queries could be made.

“I'll prove to Graydon by my manner that I am for him," was her thought ; but he either did not or would not see her increasing coldness toward Arnault.

Her purpose and tactics were all observed and thoroughly understood by the latter, however, but he gave few obvious signs of the fact. In his words, tones, compliments he proved that he was making good all that he had promised ; but the changing expression in his eyes grew so ominous

that Mr. Wildmere saw his suppressed anger with alarm.

Miss Wildmere felt sure that before the evening was over she could convey to Graydon her decision, and chafed every moment over the leisurely supper that Mr. Arnault persisted in making, especially as she saw that it was not his appetite that detained him. The Muir group had passed out, and to leave him and her father would not only be an act of rudeness, but also would appear like open pursuit of Graydon. When at last she reached the parlor, to decline Arnault's invitation to dance would be scarcely less than an insult ; yet, with intensifying anger and fear, she saw that circumstances were compelling her to appear as if she had disregarded Graydon's warnings and expectations. So far from being dismissed, Arnault was the one whom she had first greeted and to whom she was now giving the evening.

While she was dancing with Arnault, Graydon, with Madge, appeared upon the foor. She was almost reckless in her efforts to secure his attention. In this endeavor she did not fail, but she failed signally in winning any recognition, and the ill-concealed importunity of her eyes hastened Graydon's departure with Madge, and gave time for the long interview described in the previous chapter. She grew cold with dread. It was the impulse of her self-pleasing nature to want that most which seemed the most denied, and she reasoned, because Arnault is at my side as usual, in spite of all he said. He is determined to bring me to a decision,

He is angry

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