Madge read this letter with a sigh of intense relief, and was not long in resolving that when he came again she would enter the lists with Miss Wildmere and do what her nature permitted before her chance of happiness passed irrevocably. Graydon’s letter kindled her hope greatly. It seemed to her that she was to have a chance—that her patient effort might receive the highest reward after all. She thanked God for the hope. Her love was a sacred thing. It was the natural, uncalculating outgrowth of her womanhood, and was inciting her toward all womanly grace.
Madge did not believe her motive, her purpose, to be unwomanly. Should the opportunity offer, she did not intend to win Graydon by angling for him, by arts, blandishments, or one unmaidenly advance. She would try to be so admirable that he would admire her, so true that he would trust her, and so fascinating that he would woo her with a devotion that would leave no chance for “equanimity” were it possible for him to fail. If in her desperate weakness, in the chaos of her first self-knowledge, she could hide her secret, she smiled at the possibility of revealing it now that she had been schooled and trained into strength and self-control.
In her brief letter of reply to Graydon she wrote:
“That I still exist and shall continue to live is proved by my one trait which you regard as encouraging—curiosity. Please send me some books that will tell me about Europe, or, rather, will present Europe as nearly as possible in its real aspect. I may never travel, but am foolish enough to imagine that I can see the world from the standpoint of this sleepy old town.”
“Poor little wraith!” said Graydon, as he read the words. “What a queer, shadowy world her fancy will create, even from the most realistic descriptions I can send her!” But he good-naturedly made up a large bundle of books, in which fiction predominated, for he believed that she would read nothing else.