But now he was in trouble. He had been unable to maintain this judicial aspect. He had been made to understand at the outset that Miss Madison did not regard herself as a proper subject for deliberate investigation, and that she was not inclined to aid in his researches. So far from meeting him with engaging frankness and revealing her innermost soul for his inspection, he found her as elusive as only a woman of tact can be when so minded, even at a place where people meet daily. It was plain to him from the first that he was not the only man who favored her with admiring glances; and he soon discovered that young Merriweather and his friend Hackley had passed beyond the neutral ground of non-committal. He set himself the task of learning how far these suitors had progressed in her good graces; he would not be guilty of the folly of giving chase to a prize already virtually captured. This too had proved a failure. Clearly, would he know what Mr. Merriweather and Mr. Hackley were to Miss Madison he must acquire the power of mind reading. Each certainly appeared to be a very good friend of hers—a much better friend than he could claim to be, for in his case she maintained a certain unapproachableness which perplexed and nettled him.
After a week of rest, observation, and rather futile effort to secure a reasonable share of Miss Madison’s society and attention, he became assured that he was making no progress whatever so far as she was concerned, but very decided progress in a condition of mind and heart anything but agreeable should the affair continue so one-sided. He had hoped to see her daily, and was not disappointed. He had intended to permit his mind to receive such impressions as he should choose; and now his mind asked no permission whatever, but without volition occupied itself with her image perpetually. He was not sure whether she satisfied his preconceived ideals of what a wife should be or not, for she maintained such a firm reticence in regard to herself that he could put his finger on no affinities. She left no doubt as to her intelligence, but beyond that she would not reveal herself to him. He was almost satisfied that she discouraged him utterly and that it would be wiser to depart before his feelings became more deeply involved. At any rate he had better do this or else make love in dead earnest. Which course should he adopt?
There came a day which brought him to a decision.