Thus through the long night her despairing thoughts went to and fro, and found no rest. Miss Wildmere’s cold glance met her everywhere with the assurance that such a creature as she could never be anything to him, and, alas! his own words confirmed the verdict. Love that gives all demands all, and such pitiful affection as he now gave was only a mockery. The morning found her too weak to leave her room, and for the few following days she made illness her excuse for remaining in seclusion. As Graydon looked ruefully at her vacant chair the fourth evening after the company, Mrs. Muir remarked, reproachfully, “I hope you now realize how delicate Madge is. You never should have coaxed her to go to that party.”
He was filled with compunction, and brought her flowers, boxes of candy, books, and everything which he imagined would amuse her. At the same time he was growing a little impatient and provoked. He knew that he had taken her from the kindest motives. Now that she gave up utterly to her invalidism, he was inclined to question its necessity. He found that he missed her more than he would have imagined, and his brief hours at home were dreary by reason of her seclusion.
“Why don’t you call in a first-class physician and put Madge under a thorough course of treatment?” he asked, irritably. “She has no disease now that I know anything about, and I don’t believe it’s necessary that she should remain so weak and lackadaisical.”
“We did have our doctor call often, and he said she would outgrow her troubles if she would take plenty of fresh of fresh air and exercise. And now she positively refuses to see a physician.”
“I wouldn’t humor a sick girl’s fancies. She needs tonics and a general building up. With your permission I’ll stop on my way downtown to-morrow and tell Dr. Anderson to call.”
Mrs. Muir repeated the conversation to her sister, with the literalness of which only unimaginative women are capable. Madge turned her face to the wall, and said, coldly and decisively, “I refuse to see a physician. I am no longer a child, and my wishes must be respected.” After a moment she added, apologetically: “A doctor could do me no good. I shall soon be stronger. You understand me better than Dr. Anderson can. You are the best and kindest nurse that ever breathed, and I’ve had enough of doctors. I’ll take anything you give me.”
These politic words appealed to Mrs. Muir’s weak point. Nothing pleased her better than to believe that she could act the part of physician in the family, and prescribing for Madge was a source of unflagging interest. When she informed Graydon of their decision in the morning, he muttered something not very complimentary to either of the ladies; but his good-nature prevailed, and instead of the doctor he ordered a superb bouquet of Jacqueminot roses.