MY TRUE FRIEND
They found that Mr. Muir had arrived, and no family party in the long supper-room appeared more free from disturbing thoughts and memories than the one gathered at the banker’s table. In Madge the keen-eyed man could detect nothing that was unusual, and in Graydon only a trace of the dignity and seriousness which would inevitably follow some deep experience or earnest purpose. They all spent the evening and the greater part of the following day together, and Madge was touched more than once by observing that Graydon sought unobtrusively to comply with even her imagined wishes and to enhance the point and interest of her spoken thoughts.
In answer to his direct question she had acknowledged the absolute truth, and yet it had proved more misleading than all the disguises which her maidenly reserve had compelled her to adopt. It seemed now that she would have no further trouble with him—that he had defined his purpose, and would abide by it. She was glad that she had not yielded to his appeal and rewarded him in the first consciousness of his new regard for her. This feeling had seemed too recent, tumultuous, and full of impulse, and did not accord with her earnest, chastened spirit, that had attained the goal of its hope by such patient endeavor. She preferred that the first strong outflow from his heart should find wide, deep channels, and that his love for her should take the same recognized place in his life that her love had occupied so long in her own. She also had a genuine and feminine reluctance that the suitor of Stella Wildmere should be known as her lover so speedily, and something more and deeper than good taste was the cause of her aversion.
Yet she was exceedingly happy. The hope that had sustained her so long, that had been so nearly lost, now seemed certain of fulfilment, and no one but she and God knew how much this truth meant. Only He had been her confidant, and she felt that she had been sustained in her struggle from weakness to strength by a Power that was not human, and guided during the past weeks by a wisdom beyond her own.
“He has proved to me a good Father,” was her simple belief. “He led me to do the best I could for myself, and then did the rest. I also am sure He would have sustained me had I failed utterly. That my life would not have been vain and useless was shown when I saved little Nellie Wilder.”
Thus it may be seen that she was quite unlike many good people. In her consciousness God was not a being to be worshipped decorously and then counted out from that which made her real life and hope.
The future now stretched away full of rest and glad assurance. Graydon’s manner already began to fulfil his promise. He would quietly accept the situation as he understood it, and she saw already the steadying power of an unselfish, unfaltering purpose. He appeared by years an older and a graver man, and when he sat by her during the service in the wide parlor, there was not a trace of his old flippant irreverence. Whatever he now believed, he had attained the higher breeding which respects what is sacred to others.