As they went up the steps, Arnault, with a pale, stern face, and looking neither to the right nor to the left, passed them and strode away.
THE END OF DIPLOMACY
Mr. Arnault’s manner as he passed struck both Graydon and Madge as indicating strong feeling and stern purpose. In order to account for his action, it is necessary to go back in our history for a short period. While Madge was receiving such rich compensation for having become simply what she was, Miss Wildmere had been gathering the rewards of diplomacy. As we have seen, she had reached the final conclusion that if Mr. Muir did not fail that day she would accept Graydon at once; and, during its earlier hours, she had been complacency itself, feeling that everything was now in her own hands. Mr. Muir’s appearance and manner the previous evening had nearly convinced her that he was in no financial difficulties whatever—that her father and Mr. Arnault were either mistaken or else were deceiving her. “If the latter is the case,” she had thought, “they have so bungled as to enable me to test the truth of their words within twenty-four hours.
“I am virtually certain,” she said, with an exultant smile, “that I shall be engaged to Graydon Muir before I sleep to-night.”
In the afternoon it began to trouble her that Graydon had not appeared. As the hours passed she grew anxious, and with the shadow of night there fell a chill on her heart and hope. This passed into alarm when at last Graydon arrived with his brother and Madge, and greeted her with the cold recognition that has been described. She had met Mr. Arnault cordially at first, because there were still possibilities in his favor; but when her father promptly disappeared, with the evident purpose to avoid questions, and Mr. Muir and his family at supper gave evidence of superb spirits instead of trouble, she saw that she had been duped, or, in any case, misled. Her anger and worry increased momentarily, especially since Graydon, beyond a little furtive observation, completely ignored her. She naturally ascribed his course to resentment at her first greeting of Arnault, his continued presence at her side, and the almost deferential manner with which he was treated by her father, who had joined his family at supper, when no queries could be made.
“I’ll prove to Graydon by my manner that I am for him,” was her thought; but he either did not or would not see her increasing coldness toward Arnault.
Her purpose and tactics were all observed and thoroughly understood by the latter, however, but he gave few obvious signs of the fact. In his words, tones, compliments he proved that he was making good all that he had promised; but the changing expression in his eyes grew so ominous that Mr. Wildmere saw his suppressed anger with alarm.