Burr Gordon cast a fierce glance around; then he sprang to Dorothy’s side, and she looked palely and piteously up at him.
He pulled her hand through his arm and led her out of the ball-room, with the black woman following sulkily, muttering to herself. Burr bent closely down over Dorothy’s drooping head as they passed out of the door. “Don’t be frightened, sweetheart,” whispered he. Madelon saw him as she lilted, and it seemed to her that she heard what he said.
It was not long after when she felt a touch on her shoulder as she sat resting between the dances, gazing with her proud, bright eyes down at the merry, chattering throng below. She turned, and her brother Richard stood there with a strange young man, and Richard held Louis’s fiddle on his shoulder.
“This is Mr. Otis, Madelon,” said Richard, “and he came up from Kingston to the ball, and he can fiddle as well as Louis, and he said ’twas a shame you should lilt all night and not have a chance to dance yourself; and so I ran home and got Louis’s fiddle, and there are plenty down there to jump at the chance of you for a partner—and—” the boy leaned forward and whispered in his sister’s ear: “Burr Gordon’s gone—and Dorothy Fair.”
Madelon turned her beautiful, proud face towards the stranger, and did not notice Richard at all. “Thank you, sir,” said she, inclining her long neck; “but I care not to dance—I’d as lief lilt.”
“But,” said the strange young man, pressing forward impetuously and gazing into her black eyes, “you look tired; ’tis a shame to work you so.”
“I rest between the dances, and I am not tired,” said Madelon, coldly.
“I beg you to let me fiddle for the rest of the ball,” pleaded the young man. “Let me fiddle while you dance; you may be sure I’ll fiddle my best for you.”
A tender note came into his voice, and, curiously enough, Madelon did not resent it, although she had never seen him before and he had no right. She looked up in his bright fair face with sudden hesitation, and his blue eyes bent half humorously, half lovingly upon her. She had a fierce desire to get away from this place, out into the night, and home. “I do not care to dance,” said she, falteringly; “but I could go home, if you felt disposed to fiddle.”
“Then go home and rest,” cried the stranger, brightly. “’Tis a strain on the throat to lilt so long, and you cannot put in a new string as you can in a fiddle.”
With that the young man came forward to the front of the little gallery, and Madelon yielded up her place hesitatingly.
“But you cannot dance yourself, sir,” said she.
“I have danced all I want to to-night,” he replied, and began tuning the fiddle.
“I’m sure I’m much obliged to you, sir,” Madelon said, and got her hood and cloak from the back of the gallery with no more parley.
The young man cast admiring glances after her as she went out, with her young brother at her heels.