Mrs. Muir was still keeping her eyes open, and from her window saw them pass under the shadow of the trees.
At last they were sitting alone in the summer night. Graydon felt that words were scarcely needed—that his manner had spoken unequivocally, and that hers had granted all; but he took her hand and looked earnestly into her downcast face. “Oh, Stella—” he began.
A twig snapped in the adjacent grove. She sprang up. “Hush, Graydon,” she whispered; “not yet. Please trust me. Oh, what am I thinking of to be out so late!—but could not resist. Come;” and she started for the house.
As they passed in at the door he said, in a low, deep tone, “You cannot put me off much longer, Stella.”
“No, Graydon,” she whispered, hurriedly, and hastened to her room.
In his deep feeling he had not heard the suspicious sound in the grove, and Miss Wildmere’s manner was only another expression of the strong constraint which he believed to be imposed upon her by her father’s financial peril. He felt bitterly disappointed, however. Although irritated, he was yet rendered more than forgiving by the apparent truth that she had almost yielded to the impulses of her heart, in spite of grave considerations—and promises perhaps—to the contrary.
He was at a loss what to do, yet felt that the present condition of affairs was becoming intolerable. Almost immediately upon his return from Europe he had written to Mr. Wildmere for permission to pay his addresses, and had received a brief and courteous reply. The thought of again appealing to the father occurred to him, but was speedily dismissed with unconquerable repugnance. The very fact that this man compelled his daughter to take such a course made Graydon wish never to speak to him again. “No,” he muttered; “the girl must yield to me, and cut loose from all her father’s shifty ways and associations.”
The night was so beautiful, and his thoughts kept him so wakeful, that he sat in a shadow and watched the moonlight transfiguring the world into beauty. Before long he heard a step, and a man came from that end of the piazza which was nearest the summer-house. As he passed in, Graydon saw that it was Arnault. The quick suspicion came into his mind, “Could he have been watching?” Then flashed another thought, “Could she have become aware of his presence, and was this the cause of her abrupt flight?”
The latter supposition was dismissed indignantly and at once. The affair was taking on an aspect, however, so intensely disagreeable that he resolved to write to Miss Wildmere that he would absent himself until Arnault should disappear below the horizon. He would then go trouting or take a trip to some other resort. This course he believed would bring her to a decision, and after their recent interview he could scarcely doubt its nature.