Again she soliloquized: “I can’t accept a horse from Graydon; Arnault would never submit to it. The receiving of such a present would compromise me at once. It does not matter so much what I say or look in private; this proves nothing to the world, and I see more and more clearly that Arnault will not permit his pride to be humiliated. He will endure what he calls a fair, open suit philosophically, but the expression of his eyes makes me shiver sometimes. Was ever a girl placed in such a mean and horrible position! I won’t endure this shilly-shally much longer. If they can’t prove something more definite against the Muirs, I’ll accept Graydon. Papa is just horrid! Why can’t he make more in Wall Street? There must be ways, and any way is as respectable as the one I may be compelled to take. Well, if I do have to accept Arnault I’ll make Graydon think that I had to do so for papa’s sake, and we’ll become good friends again before long. Perhaps this would be the best way in the end, for papa looked wildly, and spoke of a tenement-house last night. Tenement! Great heavens! I’d sooner die.”
“Graydon, when do you think I can have my first ride?” Madge asked at dinner, with sparkling eyes.
“At about five this afternoon. I have found a saddle that I can borrow in case yours does not come till the late train.”
“Oh, I’m so glad that I’ve lost my appetite! You can’t know how much a horse means to me. It was after I began to ride that I grew strong enough to hope.”
“Why, Madge, were you so discouraged as that?” he asked, feelingly.
“I had reason to be discouraged,” she replied, in a low tone. Then she threw back her head, proudly. “You men little know,” she continued, half defiantly. “You think weakness one of our prerogatives, and like us almost the better for it. We are meekly to accept our fate, and from soft couches lift our languid eyes in pious resignation. I won’t do it; and when a powerful horse is beneath me, carrying me like the wind, I feel that his strength is mine, and that I need not succumb to feminine imbecility or helplessness in any form.”