Miss Wildmere’s strategy had accomplished one thing, however. Believing that he was absolved by Madge’s course from everything beyond cordial politeness, he had resolved to carry out her rival’s wishes. It was no great cross to forego Madge’s society, and if Miss Wildmere saw that he was not consoling himself during the hours she spent with Arnault, she would shorten them in his behalf.
After reaching a certain point he suggested: “Instead of scaling that rocky height after the rest of the party, suppose we follow this grassy wood-road to parts unknown. It will be easier for you than climbing, and you are better society than a crowd.”
She assented smilingly, and Madge did not see Graydon again until they met at dinner.
She was pale, and looked weary. “Oh,” she thought, “perhaps my hopes are already vain! They have been alone all the morning. He may have spoken; he looks so happy and content that he must have spoken and received the answer he craved. If so, I shall soon join the Waylands in my native village, for I can’t keep up much longer without a little hope.”
“You are tired, Madge,” he said, not unkindly.
“A little,” she replied, carelessly. “A short nap this afternoon will insure my being ready for the hop to-night.”
PERPLEXED AND BEGUILED
Madge was so discouraged that she contented herself with a manner of listless apathy during dinner, and then retired to her room. Graydon was giving her so little thought that there was slight occasion for disguise, and less incentive for effort to interest him.
“The struggle promises to be short and decisive,” she moaned. “Perhaps it has been already decided. I had no chance after all. He came here fully committed in his own thoughts to Miss Wildmere. I have merely lost my old place in his affection, and have had and shall have no opportunity to win his love. If this is to be my fate it is well to discover it so speedily, and not after weeks of torturing hope and fear. I’ll learn the truth with absolute certainty as soon as possible, and then find a pretext to join the Waylands.”