“Well, leave it to me, then. I can manage it. He’s awfully headstrong, though. I give you fair warning.”
“Take me to see him as soon as you can; the horse, I mean, or, rather, both man and horse.”
“To-morrow morning, then. I have patients out that way.”
At supper and during the evening Madge and her exploit were the themes of conversation. Some tried to give Graydon a part of the credit, but he laughed so contemptuously at the idea that he was let alone. Henry Muir did not say much, but looked a great deal, and with Graydon listened attentively as his wife explained how it was that Madge had proved equal to the emergency.
“Why don’t more people follow her example?” said the practical man, “and learn how to do something definite? As she explains the rescue, there was nothing remarkable in it. If she could swim and dive in the ocean for sport, she would not be much afraid to do the same in that so-called lake, to save life. As to her action on shore, the knowledge she used is given in books and manuals. What’s more, she had seen it done. But most people are so pointless and shiftless that they never know just what to do in an emergency, no matter what their opportunities for information may have been.”
“Now you hit me,” Graydon remarked, ruefully, “Left to myself I should have finished the young one, for I was about to run to the hotel with her, a course that I now see would have been as fatal as idiotic.”
“Madge says,” Mrs. Muir continued, “that they used to bathe a great deal, and that Mr. Wayland explained just what should be done in all the possible emergencies of their outdoor life at Santa Barbara.”
“Wayland in a level-headed man. If he is bookish, he’s not a dreamer with his head in the clouds. Madge was in good hands with them, and proves it every day.”
“I think she shows the influence of Mrs. Wayland even more than that of her husband. Fanny is a very accomplished woman, and saw a great deal of society in her younger days.”
“Confound it all! Why didn’t you tell me that Madge had been living with two paragons?” said Graydon.
“Oh, you have been so occupied with another paragon that there has not been much chance to tell you anything,” was Mrs. Muir’s consoling reply.
“Madge has not been made what she is by paragons,” Mr. Muir remarked, dryly. “She made herself. They only helped her, and couldn’t have helped a silly woman.”
“It’s time you were jealous, Mary,” said Graydon, laughing.
“Mary isn’t a silly woman. I should hope that no Muir would marry one.”
“I see no prospect of it,” was the rather cold reply.
“I fear I see a worse prospect,” was his brother’s thought. “Of what use are his eyes or senses after what he has seen to-day?”
Mrs. Muir had explained to some lady friends about Madge, and the information was passing into general circulation—the ladies rapidly coming to the conclusion that the young girl’s action was not so remarkable after all, which was true enough. The men, however, retained their enthusiastic admiration, although it must be admitted that its inspiration was due largely to Madge’s beauty.