“She perhaps felt that she must put on something,” chuckled Arnault. “The two Muirs looked as if she were too precious and sacred for mortal gaze.”
“Well,” concluded Miss Wildmere, “I like to see a lady who never forgets herself;” and she was an example of the type.
“I like to see one lady, whom, having seen, no one can forget,” was his gallant reply.
AN OBJECT FOR SYMPATHY
Miss Wildmere’s indignant virtue was not soothed on the following morning, when, as she returned from a drive with Arnault, Graydon galloped up on a superb bay horse, and Madge so far forgot herself again as to rush to meet him with unaffected pleasure. The champion of propriety paused in the distance to take an observation, for she thought she saw a cloud in the sky.
“What a beauty! what a grand arch of the neck he has! Oh, I’m just wild to be on him! Don’t bribe me with horses, Graydon; I can resist anything else.”
“I am glad of the information. A volume of thanks would not be worth half so much.”
“I thought the thanks were in my tone and manner.”
“So I thought, and am more than content; but, Madge, I am troubled about your riding him. I fear he is a very Satan of a horse.”
“Nonsense! Wait till you see me mounted, and your fears will vanish. People don’t walk at Santa Barbara; they ride; every one rides. If the horse don’t tumble, there’ll be no tumbling on my part. Oh, he is such a splendid fellow! What shall I call him?”
“Better call him ‘Go.’ There is more go in him than in any horse I ever bestrode.”
“All the better. I shall give him another name, however. It will come to me sometime;” and she patted the proud neck, and fondled the tossing head, in a way to excite the envy of observers from the piazza. “Oh, Graydon, what shall I do for a saddle? Do you think there is one to be had in this region? I’m impatient for a gallop.”
“I telegraphed, early this morning, for equipments; and they should be here this afternoon.”
“That was considerate kindness itself. You must let me pay for all this. You know I can.”
“So can I.”
“But there’s reason in all things.”
“Therefore, a little in me. Please, Madge, don’t make me feel that I am almost a stranger to you. If we had remained together, I should have paid out more than this for candy, flowers, and nonsense. I have yielded everything, haven’t I? and, as Mary says, I do wish to feel a little like one of the family.”
“Well, then,” she said, laughing and blushing, “as from one of the family—”
“And from your deceased brother,” he interrupted.
She put her finger to her lips. “That’s past,” she said. “No more allusions. We began sensibly last night, and I certainly am very lenient now in taking gifts that I should protest against even from Henry. I wish to prove to you that I am the Madge of old times as far as I can be.”