In spite of the doctor, messages and flowers poured in. At last Mrs. Wilder came and said to Mrs. Muir, “I must see her, if it is safe.”
“It’s safe enough,” Mrs. Muir began, “only Madge doesn’t like so much made of it.”
“I won’t say much,” pleaded the mother. She did not say anything, but put her arms around Madge and pressed her tear-stained face upon the young girl’s bosom in long, passionate embrace, the hastened back to her restored treasure, who was sleeping quietly. Madge’s eyes were wet also, and she turned her face to the wall and breathed softly to herself, “Whatever happens now—and it’s plain enough what will happen—I did not get strong in vain. Graydon can never think me altogether weak and lackadaisical again, and I have saved one woman’s heart from anguish, however my own may ache.”
MAKE YOUR TERMS
Graydon’s uppermost thought now was to make his peace with Madge. He dismissed all his former theories about her as absurd, and felt that, whether he understood her or not, she had become a splendid woman, of whose friendship he might well be proud, and accept it on any terms that pleased her. He also was sure that Miss Wildmere’s prejudices would be banished at once and forever by Madge’s heroism, believing that the girl’s hostile feeling was due only to the natural jealousy of social rivals. “If Stella does not regard Madge’s action with generous enthusiasm, I shall think the worse of her,” was his masculine conclusion.
The wily girl was not so obtuse as to be unaware of this, and when he came down she said all he could wish in praise of Madge, but took pains to enlarge upon his own courage. At this he pooh-poohed emphatically. “What was that duck-pond of a lake to a man!” he said. “Madge herself has become an expert ocean-swimmer, I am told. She wasn’t afraid of the water. It was her skill in finding the child beneath it, and in resuscitation afterward, that chiefly commands my admiration.”
“Oh, dear!” cried the girl, “what can I do to command your admiration?”
“You know well, Miss Wildmere, that you command much more.”
She blushed, smiled, and looked around a little apprehensively.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he added; “I have such confidence in you that I will bide your time.”
“Thank you, Graydon,” she whispered, and hastened away, leaving him supremely happy. It was the first time she had called him “Graydon.”
Seeing Dr. Sommers emerging from the hotel, he hastened after him, bent on procuring a peace-offering for Madge—the finest horse that could be had in the region.
“I know of one a few miles from here,” said the doctor. “He’s a splendid animal, but a high and mighty stepper. I don’t believe that even she could manage him.”
“I’ll break him in for her, never fear. Of course I won’t let her take any risks.”