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Graydon and Madge, who were at that moment ascending the steps.
“Oh, pardon me,” said Miss Wildmere, fairly trembling with dread ; “I had no idea it was so late!" and she bowed her companion away instantly. At that moment she saw Graydon entering, and she went to the parlor door; but he passed her without apparent notice, and bade Madge a cordial good-night at the foot of the stairs.
As he was turning away Miss Wildmere was at his side.
“Mr. Muir-Graydon," she said, in an eager tone, “I wish to speak with you."
He bowed very politely, and answered, in a voice that she alone could hear, “You will receive a note from me at your room within half an hour.” Then, bowing again, he walked rapidly away.
She saw from his grave face and unsympathetic eyes that she had lost him.
Half desperate, and with the instinct of self-preservation, she passed out on the piazza to bid Arnault good-right, as she tried to assure herself, with pallid lips, but ready then at last to take any terms from him. Arnault was not to be seen. After a moment her father stepped to her side and said :
Stella, it is late. You had better retire." “I wish to say good-night to Mr. Arnault," she faltered. “Mr. Arnault has gone."
Gone where ?" she gasped. “I don't know. As the clock struck twelve he came rapidly out and walked away. He passed by
me, but would not answer when I spoke to him. Come, let me take you to your room.
With a chill at heart almost like that of death she went with him, and sat down pale and speechless.
In a few moments a note was brought to Mr. Wildmere's door, and he took it to his daughter. She could scarcely open it with her nerveless fingers, and when she read the brief words:
“Miss WILDMERE : You must permit me to renounce all claims upon you now and forever. Memory and your own thoughts will reveal to you the obvious reasons for my
“GRAYDON MUIR," she found a brief respite from the results of her diplomacy in unconsciousness.
BROKEN LIGHTS AND SHADOWS.
R. WILDMERE looked almost ten years
older when he came down to what he supposed would be a solitary breakfast ; but something like hope and gladness reappeared on his haggard face when he saw Arnault at his table as usual. He scarcely knew how he would be received, but Arnault was as affable and courteous as he would have been months previous, and no one in the breakfast-room would have imagined that anything had occurred to disturb the relations between the two gentlemen. He inquired politely after the ladies, expressed regret that they were indisposed, and changed the subject in a tone and manner natural to a mere acquaintance.
Although his courtesy would appear faultless to observers, it made Wildmere shiver.
“Mr. Arnault," Mr. Wildmere said, a little nervously, as they left the breakfast-room, speak with you?''
Certainly," replied Arnault, with cool politeness, and he followed Mr. Wildmere to a deserted part of the piazza.
You made a very kind and liberal offer to my daughter," the latter began.
And received my final answer last night,” was the cold, decisive reply.
“ It would be impossible to imagine more definite assurance that Miss Wildmere has no regard for me than was given within the time I stipulated. I have accepted such assurance as final.
Good-morning, sir,” and with a polite bow he turned on his heel and went to his room.
Mr. Wildmere afterward learned that he took the first train to New York.
“ Arnault has a clear field now,” Graydon had thought, cynically, while at breakfast. scarcely wish him anything worse than success;" and then he looked complacently around the family group to which he belonged, and felicitated himself that Wildmere traits were conspicuously absent. His eyes dwelt oftenest on Madge. At this early meal she always made him think of a flower with the morning dew upon it. Even her evening costumes were characterized by quiet elegance ; but during the earlier hours of the day she dressed with a simplicity that was almost severe, and yet with such good taste, such harmony with herself, that the eye of the observer was always rested and satisfied. Gentlemen who saw her would rarely fail to speak about her afterward ; few would ever mention her dress. Miss Wildmere affected daintiness and style ; Madge sought in the most quiet and modest way to emphasize her own individuality.
As far as possible she wished to be valued for what she The very
fact that there was much in her life that must be hidden led to a strong distaste for all that was misleading in nonessentials.
“I am going to church with you to-day,” said Graydon, and I shall try to behave.”
“ Try to! You cannot sit with me unless you promise to behave.'
That is the way to talk to men, said Mrs. Muir, who was completely under her husband's
, thumb. “ They like you all the better for showing some spirit.”
“I am not trying to make Graydon like me bet. ter, but only to insure that he spends Sunday as should a good American."
“There is no longer any better ' about my liking for Madge. It's all best. I admit, however, that she has so much spirit that she inspires unaffected awe.
" A roundabout way of calling me awful."
"Since you won't ride or drive with me to-day, are you too ' awfully good,' as Harry says, to take a walk after dinner?''
It depends on how you behave in church." They spent the afternoon in a very different manner, however, for soon after breakfast Dr. Sommers told them that Tilly Wendall was at rest, and that the funeral would be that afternoon.
With Dr. Sommers's tidings Graydon saw that a shadow had fallen on Madge's face, and his manner at once became gravely and gently considerate. There were allusions to the dead girl in the service