“Graydon,” she gasped, “stop! There—I’m better;” and she did seem to recover almost instantly.
“Law bless you, sir,” said Mrs. Hobson, who had entered with the tea, “your sister’ll be all right in an hour or so.”
Graydon sprang to his feet, and there was a strong dash of color in his face. As for the hitherto pallid Madge, her visage was like a peony, and she was preternaturally quiet.
“Try to sleep, Madge,” said Graydon, from the doorway, “and I won’t ‘worry or take on’ a bit;” and he disappeared.
There was no sleep for her, and yet she felt herself wonderfully restored. Was it the potency of Mrs. Hobson’s tea? or that which he had placed upon her lips?
“YOU ARE VERY BLIND”
As a general rule Graydon was not conscious of nerves, and had received the fact of their existence largely on faith. But to-day they asserted themselves in a manner which excited his surprise and some rather curious speculation. He found his heart beating in a way difficult to account for on a physiological basis, his pulses fluttering, and his thoughts in a luminous haze, wherein nothing was very distinct except Madge’s flushing face, startled eyes, looking a protest through their tears. It was not so much an indignant protest as it was a frightened one, he half imagined. And why was he so confused and disturbed that, instead of sitting quietly down in the porch, as he had intended, he was impelled to walk restlessly to a neighboring grove! For one so intensely fraternal he felt he was continuing to “take on” in a very unnecessary style.
“Confound that woman!” he muttered. “Why did she have to come in just then, and why should I blush like a schoolgirl because she caught me kissing one that I regard as a sister? And why did the word sister sound so unnatural when spoken by Mrs. Hobson? ‘Great Scott!’ as Henry says, I hope I’m not growing to love Madge. She would overwhelm me with ridicule, infused, perhaps, with a spice of contempt, if I gave her the impression that I had fallen out of love one week and in the next. Hang it! I’m all broken up from this day’s experience. I had better get on my feet mentally, and then I shall be able to find out where I stand.”
The demon of restlessness soon drove him back to the house again, and he learned that there would be a train in about two hours. They would still have time to dine at the Kaaterskill and return before night. He therefore made arrangements to be driven to the station, also to have the horse he had ridden and the saddles taken back to the Under-Cliff House.
There was a faint after-glow on Madge’s cheeks when she joined him at the substantial repast which Mr. and Mrs. Hobson insisted upon their partaking before departure; but in all other respects she appeared and acted as usual. With a fineness of tact she was at home among her plain entertainers, and put them at ease. Mrs. Hobson continued to speak of her as Graydon’s sister, and he had darted a humorous glance at the girl; but it met such grave impassiveness of expression that he feared she was angry.