Then Madelon had gone home and told her father and brothers, and thought their strange reception of the news due to anything but the truth. She had told them that she was guilty of wounding Lot Gordon almost to death. That they should now be rendered uneasy by suspicions, when she had given them actual knowledge, was something beyond her imagination. She fancied rather that they considered Lot had treated her badly, or else that she had a longing love for Burr, and, perhaps, had herself broken off her match with his cousin on that account. She strove hard to bear herself in such a manner that they should not think that. She put on as gay a face as she could muster, and even took, beside the dress, a little blue-silk mantle to embroider for Dorothy Fair’s wedding outfit, and sang over it as she worked.
Still, in a way, although her pride led her to it, her singing and her gayety were no pretence, for Madelon, through much suffering, had reached that growth in love which enabled her to see over her own self and her own needs. That knife-thrust she had meant for her lover had stilled forever the jealous temper in her own heart, and she fairly dreamed as she embroidered Dorothy’s bridal mantle some dreams of happiness that might have been Burr’s; so filled was she with purest love for him that his imagination possessed her own.
It was told on good authority in the village that Parson Fair had paid all Burr Gordon’s back interest money on his mortgage, and so released him from the danger of foreclosure; and then on equally good authority it was denied. There was much discussion over it, but one day the loafers in the store arrived at the truth. Parson Fair had indeed offered to pay the interest, and Burr had declined. He had also refused to live with his bride in his father-in-law’s house, and when Parson Fair had, with his gracefully austere manner, intimated that he should be unwilling to place his daughter in such uncertain shelter, had replied harshly that Dorothy should have a roof over her head of his own providing while he lived; when he was dead it would be time to talk about her father’s.
When Burr had gone to Lot Gordon and offered to part with a small wood-lot of his, with a quantity of half-grown wood thereon, at two-thirds of its real value to pay the interest, Margaret Bean had listened at the door, and thus the story.
“It is a sacrifice of a full third of its value, you know well enough,” Burr had said, standing moodily before his cousin. “If I could wait for the growth of the wood, ’twould bring much more, but I’ll call it even on the interest I owe you, if you will. This is the last foot of land I own clear.”
For answer Lot had bidden Burr open his desk and bring him a certain paper from a certain corner. Then Margaret Bean had opened the door a crack, and had with her two peering eyes seen Lot Gordon take his pen in hand and write upon the paper, and show it to his cousin Burr.