“Nonsense! I’ll insure that papa agrees.”
“I don’t see how I can get ready soon. The baby is fretful, and I’m all worn out between broken rest and worry. Won’t you take Effie for a little while?”
“Where’s the nurse?”
“She’s out. Of course she has to have some time to herself.”
“You just spoil the servants. It’s her business to take care of the child. What else is she paid for? Why can’t one of the other maids take her?”
“Effie is too nervous to go to strangers to-night.”
“Oh, well, give her to me, then.”
The sensitive little organization knew at once that it was in the hands not only of a comparative stranger, but also of one whose touch revealed little sympathy, and its protest was so great that the tired mother took it again, while the beautiful daughter, the cynosure of all eyes in public, went to her room to finish the “exciting scene” at her leisure.
But the scene had grown unreal. Its hero was but a shadow, and a distorted one at that. The book fell from her hand; she again saw Graydon Muir coming forward to greet her with an easy grace which no prince in story could surpass, and with an expression in his dark blue eyes which no woman fails to understand. It assured her that neither in the old world nor in the new had he seen her equal.
“I wish it could be,” she murmured; “I hope it can be; were it not for that ‘if’ it should be soon.”
Thus, after her own fashion, another girl had designs upon Graydon.
Graydon had completed his final transactions abroad with more expedition than he had anticipated, and, having been favored by a quick passage, had arrived several days sooner than he was expected. Therefore he decided to accompany his brother to the Catskills on Saturday, spending the intervening time in business and such arrangements as would leave him free to remain in the country for a week or two. The second evening after his arrival again found him in Miss Wildmere’s parlor, and before he left he was given to understand that Mrs. Wildmere had decided upon the Under-Cliff House also, and that they would depart on Saturday.
“Then you will be compagnon de voyage,” said Graydon, with undisguised pleasure.
Somewhat to Mrs. Wildmere’s surprise, her husband quietly acquiesced in his daughter’s wishes, telegraphed for rooms, and desired his wife to be ready.
She was a quiet, meek little woman, whose life had somehow become entangled in a sphere which was not in harmony with her nature. Her beauty had faded early, and she had little force of character with which to maintain her influence over her husband. His life was amid the fierce excitements of Wall Street; hers, as far as she had a life, was a weary effort to keep up appearances and meet the expenses of a fashionable daughter, on an uncertain and greatly fluctuating income.