NOT STRONG IN VAIN
Graydon dreaded embarrassment when meeting Madge at dinner, but was agreeably disappointed. There was nothing in the young girl’s manner which suggested a vexed consciousness of their recent interview, neither were there covert overtures, even in tones, toward more friendly relations. He saw that if any were made he must make them. Madge was merely too well bred to show anger in public, or occasion surmises that would require explanations. During the meal she spoke of missing her horseback exercise, and said that she meant to ask Dr. Sommers if he did not know of a good animal that might be hired for a few weeks. Graydon at once resolved to make a propitiatory offering, and to go out with Madge when Miss Wildmere was unattainable. For the time he was content to imitate Madge’s tactics, and acted as if he intended to follow the course that she had suggested. The fact that Arnault was so evidently enjoying his dinner and the Wildmere smiles did not detract from his purpose to prove that he also was not without resources. Moreover, he felt that he had not treated Madge fairly; he had been truly fond of her, and now was conscious of a growing respect. As she had said, it was not a little thing that she had attempted and accomplished, and there had been small ground for his discontent. After dinner, however, he found a chance to ensconce himself by Miss Wildmere on the piazza, and he was fully resolved to lose no such opportunities.
Madge, with the Muir children, passed him on the way to a small lake on which she had promised to give the little people a row. He took off his hat in cordial courtesy, and she recognized him with a brief smile, in which Miss Wildmere could detect no apprehension.
“I hope that ‘sister Madge,’ as you call her, does not resent my enjoyment of your society.”
“Not in the least. I feel, however, that I have been neglecting her shamefully, and propose to make amends.”
“Indeed; has she brought you to a sense of your shortcomings? This scarcely bears out your first remark.”
“It is nothing against its truth. Miss Aldeu makes it very clear that she is not dependent on me or any one for enjoyment; but in view of the past I have been scarcely courteous. Therefore,” he added, with a laugh, “when Arnault monopolizes you I shall console myself with Madge.”
“And therefore I shall feel the less compunction. Thank you.”