Although his courtesy would appear faultless to observers, it made Wildmere shiver.
“Mr. Arnault,” Mr. Wildmere said, a little nervously, as they left the breakfast-room, “may I speak with you?”
“Certainly,” replied Arnault, with cool politeness, and he followed Mr. Wildmere to a deserted part of the piazza.
“You made a very kind and liberal offer to my daughter,” the latter began.
“And received my final answer last night,” was the cold, decisive reply. “It would be impossible to imagine more definite assurance that Miss Wildmere has no regard for me than was given within the time I stipulated. I have accepted such assurance as final. Good-morning, sir,” and with a polite bow he turned on his heel and went to his room.
Mr. Wildmere afterward learned that he took the first train to New York.
“Arnault has a clear field now,” Graydon had thought, cynically, while at breakfast. “I can scarcely wish him anything worse than success;” and then he looked complacently around the family group to which he belonged, and felicitated himself that Wildmere traits were conspicuously absent. His eyes dwelt oftenest on Madge. At this early meal she always made him think of a flower with the morning dew upon it. Even her evening costumes were characterized by quiet elegance; but during the earlier hours of the day she dressed with a simplicity that was almost severe, and yet with such good taste, such harmony with herself, that the eye of the observer was always rested and satisfied. Gentlemen who saw her would rarely fail to speak about her afterward; few would ever mention her dress. Miss Wildmere affected daintiness and style; Madge sought in the most quiet and modest way to emphasize her own individuality. As far as possible she wished to be valued for what she actually was. The very fact that there was so much in her life that must be hidden led to a strong distaste for all that was misleading in non-essentials.
“I am going to church with you to-day,” said Graydon, “and I shall try to behave.”
“Try to! You cannot sit with me unless you promise to behave.”
“That is the way to talk to men,” said Mrs. Muir, who was completely under her husband’s thumb. “They like you all the better for showing some spirit.”
“I am not trying to make Graydon like me better, but only to insure that he spends Sunday as should a good American.”
“There is no longer any ‘better’ about my liking for Madge. It’s all best. I admit, however, that she has so much spirit that she inspires unaffected awe.”
“A roundabout way of calling me awful.”
“Since you won’t ride or drive with me to-day, are you too ’awfully good,’ as Harry says, to take a walk after dinner?”
“It depends on how you behave in church.”
They spent the afternoon in a very different manner, however, for soon after breakfast Dr. Sommers told them that Tilly Wendall was at rest, and that the funeral would be that afternoon.