Edith saw that he was in earnest, and knowing how useless it would be to question him further, turned her back upon him and gazing steadily into the fire, was wondering what made him so queer, when by way of diverting her mind, he said, “Did Victor tell you that Mr. St. Claire came with us all the way from New York?”
“Mr. St. Claire, no,” and Edith brightened at once, forgetting all about Eloise Temple. “Why then didn’t Mrs. Atherton and I see him? We went over the house this afternoon. It’s a splendid place, most as handsome us Collingwood.”
“How would you like to live there?” asked Richard, playfully. “One of the proposed conditions on which I consented to receive you, was that when Mr. St. Claire had a home of his own he was to take you off my hands; at least, that was what he said, standing here where you sit; and on my way from New York he reminded me of it, inquiring for little Metaphysics, and asking if I were ready to part with her.”
“Do you wish me to go and let Eloise come?” Edith asked, pettishly, and Richard replied,
“No, Edith, I need you more than Arthur ever can, and you’ll stay with me, too, stay always, won’t you? Promise that you will.”
“Of course I shall,” she answered. “I’ll stay until I’m married, as I suppose I shall he sometime; everybody is.”
Richard tried to be satisfied with this reply, but it grated harshly, and it seemed to him that a shadow deeper, darker than any he had ever known, was creeping slowly over him, and that Arthur St. Claire’s was the presence which brought the threatening cloud. He knew this half jealous feeling was unworthy of him, and with a mighty effort he shook it off and saying to Edith, calmly, “Mr. St. Claire asked many questions concerning you and your attainments, and when I spoke of your passion for drawing, lamenting that since Miss Chapin’s departure, there was in town no competent instructor, he offered to be your teacher, provided you would come up there twice a week. He is a very sensible young man, for when I hesitated he guessed at once that I was revolving the propriety of your going alone to the house of a bachelor, where there were no females except the servants, and he said to me ’You can come with her, if you like.’”
“So it’s more proper for a young lady to be with two gentlemen than with one, is it?” and Edith laughed merrily, at the same time asking if Richard had accepted the offer.
“I did, provided it met your approbation,” was the reply, and as Victor just then appeared, the conversation for the present ceased.
But neither Eloise nor Arthur left the minds of either Richard or Edith, and while in her sleep that night the latter dreamed of the gentle Eloise, who called her sister, and from whom Arthur St. Claire strove to part her, the former tossed restlessly upon his pillow, moaning to him-self, “I am glad I did not tell her. She must answer me for love and not for gratitude.”