“And you must have succeeded beyond your wildest dreams.”
“Oh, no, I’ve only made a beginning. I should be conceit embodied if I thought myself finished.”
“What is your supreme ambition, then?”
“I am trying to be a woman, Graydon. There, I’m cool now. Good-night.”
“Very cool, Madge.”
He lighted a cigar and continued his walk, more perturbed than he cared to admit even to himself. Indeed, he found that he was decidedly annoyed, and there seemed no earthly reason why there should have been any occasion for such vexation. Of course he was glad that Madge had become strong and beautiful. This would have added a complete charm to their old relations. Why must she also become a mystery, or, rather, seek to appear one? Well, there was no necessity for solving the mystery, granting its existence. “Possibly she would prefer a flirtation to fraternal regard; possibly—Oh, confound it! I don’t know what to think, and don’t much care. She is trying to become a woman! Who can fathom some women’s whims and fancies? She thinks her immature ideas, imbibed in an out-of-the-way corner of the world, the immutable laws of nature. Of one thing at least she is absolutely certain—she can get on without me. I must be kept at too great a distance to be officious.”
This point settled, his own course became clear. He would be courtesy itself and mind his own business.
“I fear I shall fail,” murmured poor Madge, hiding her face in her pillow, while suppressed sobs shook her frame.
THE PROMPTINGS OF MISS WILDMERE’S HEART
Graydon slept very late the following morning. He found out that he was tired, and resolved to indulge his craving for rest so far as his suit to Miss Wildmere would permit. When he could do nothing to promote his advantage he proposed to be indolence itself. He found that his vexation had quite vanished, and, in cynical good-nature, he was inclined to laugh at the state of affairs. “Let Madge indulge her whims,” he thought; “I may be the more free to pursue my purposes. Her sister, of course, shares in Henry’s prejudices against the Wildmeres, and they would influence Madge adversely. All handsome girls are jealous of each other, and, perhaps, if what I had so naturally hoped and expected had proved true, I should have had more sisterly counsel and opposition than would have been agreeable. Objections now would be in poor taste, to say the least. If I’m not much mistaken I can speak my mind to Stella Wildmere before many days pass; and, woman-nature being such as it is, it may be just as well that I am not too intimate with a sister who, after all, is not my sister. Stella might not see it in the light that I should;” and so he came down at last, prepared to adapt himself very philosophically to the new order of things.
“The world moves and changes,” he soliloquized, smilingly, “and we must move on and change with it.”