Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Aikenside by Mary J. Holmes

Part 3 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

somewhat in awe, Maddy soon arose to leave, but Guy bade her stay; he
should be lonely without her, he said, and so bringing her work she
sat down to sew, while Jessie looked over a book of prints, and Guy
upon the lounge studied the face which, it seemed to him, grew each
day more and more beautiful. Then he talked with her of books, and the
lessons which were to be resumed on the morrow, watching Maddy as her
bright face sparkled and glowed with excitement. Then he questioned
her of her father's family, feeling a strange sense of satisfaction in
knowing that the Clydes were not a race of whose blood any one need be
ashamed; and Maddy was more like them he was sure than like the
Markhams, and Guy shivered a little as he recalled the peculiar
dialect of Mr. and Mrs. Markham, and remembered that they were Maddy's
grandparents. Not that it was anything to him. Oh, no, only as an
inmate of his family he felt interested in her, more so perhaps than
young men were apt to be interested in their sister's governess.

Had Guy then been asked the question, he would, in all probability,
have acknowledged that in his heart there was a feeling of superiority
to Maddy Clyde; that she was not quite the equal of Aikenside's heir,
nor yet of Lucy Atherstone. It was natural; he had been educated to
feel the difference, but any haughty arrogance of which he might have
been guilty was kept down by his extreme good sense and generous,
impulsive nature. He liked Maddy; he liked to look at her as, in the
becoming crimson merino which he really and Jessie nominally had given
her, she sat before him, with the firelight falling on her beautiful
hair, and making shadows on her sunny face.

Guy was luxurious in his tastes, and it seemed to him that Maddy was
just the picture to set off that room, or in fact all the rooms at
Aikenside. She would disgrace none of them, and he found himself
wishing that Providence had made her something to him--sister or
cousin, or anything that would make her one of the Remington line.

And now, my reader, do not fall to abusing Guy, or accuse him of
forgetting Lucy Atherstone, for he did not. He thought of her many
times that evening, and in his dreams that night Lucy and Maddy shared
pretty equally, but the latter was associated with the lessons of the
morrow, while Lucy was the bright daystar for which he lived and
hoped.

It did not take long for the people of Sommerville to hear that Guy
Remington had actually turned schoolmaster, having in his library for
two hours or more each day Jessie's little girl-governess, about whose
brilliant beauty there was so much said--people wondering, as people
will, where it would end, and if it could be possible that the haughty
Guy had forgotten his English Lucy and gone to educating a wife.

The doctor, to whom these remarks were sometimes made, silently
gnashed his teeth, then said savagely that "if Guy chose to teach
Maddy Clyde, he did not see whose business it was," and then rode over
to Aikenside to see the teacher and pupil, half hoping that Guy would
soom tire of his project and give it up. But Guy grew more and more
pleased with his employment, until, at last, from giving Maddy two
hours of his time, he came to give her four, esteeming them the
pleasantest of the whole twenty-four. Guy was proud of Maddy's
improvement, praising her often to the doctor, who also marveled at
the rapid development of her mind and the progress she made, grasping
a knotty point almost before it was explained, and retaining with
wonderful tenacity what she learned.

It mattered nothing to Guy that neighbors gossiped there were none
familiar enough to tell him what was said, except the doctor or Mrs.
Noah; and so he heard few of the remarks made so frequently, As in
Honedale, so in Sommerville Maddy was a favorite, and those who
interested themselves most in the matter never said anything worse of
her and Mr. Guy than that he might perhaps be educating his own wife,
and insinuating that it would be a great "come up" for Grandfather
Markham's child. But Maddy never dreamed of such a thing, and kept on
her pleasant way, reciting every day to Guy and going every Wednesday
to the red cottage, whither, after the first visit to Uncle Joseph,
Guy never accompanied her. Jessie, on the contrary, went often to
Honedale, where one at least always greeted her coming, stealing up
closely to her, and whispering softly: "My Daisy is come again."

From the first Uncle Joseph had taken to Jessie, calling her Sarah for
a while, and then changing the name to "Daisy"--"Daisy Mortimer, his
little girl," he persisted in calling her, watching from his window
for her coming, and crying whenever Maddy appeared without her. At
first Agnes, from her city home, forbade Jessie's going so often to
see a lunatic; but when Jessie described the poor, crazy man's delight
at sight of her, telling how quiet and happy he seemed if he could but
lay his hand on her head, or touch her hair, she withdrew her
restrictions, and, as if moved to an unwonted burst of tenderness,
wrote to her daughter: "Comfort that crazy man all you can; he needs
it so much."

A few weeks after there came another letter from Agnes, but this time
it was to Guy, and its contents darkened his handsome face with anger
and vexation. Incidentally Agnes had heard the gossip, and written it
to Guy, adding in conclusion: "Of course I know it is not true, for
ever if there were no Lucy Atherstone, you, of all men, would not
stoop to Maddy Clyde. I do not presume to advise, but I will say this,
that now she is growing a young lady, folks will keep on talking so
long as you keep her there in the house; and it's hardly fair toward
Lucy."

This was what knotted up Guy's forehead and made him, as Jessie said,
"real cross for once." Somehow, he fancied, latterly, that the doctor
did not like Maddy's being there, while even Mrs. Noah managed to keep
her out of his way as soon as the lessons were ended. What did they
mean? what were they afraid of, and why did they presume to interfere
with him? he'd know, at all events; and summoning Mrs. Noah to his
presence, he read that part of Agnes' letter, pertaining to Maddy, and
then asked what it meant.

"It means this, that folks are in a constant worry, for fear you'll
fall in love with Maddy Clyde."

"I fall in love with that child!" Guy repeated, laughing at the idea,
and forgetting that he had long since, accused the doctor of doing
that very thing.

"Yes, you," returned Mrs. Noah, "and 'taint strange they do; Maddy is
not a child: she's nearer sixteen than fifteen, is almost a young
lady; and if you'll excuse my boldness, I must say, I ain't any too
well pleased with the goin's on myself; not that I don't like the
girl, for I do, and I don't blame her an atom. She's as innocent as a
new-born babe, and I hope she'll always stay so; but you, Mr. Guy,
you--now tell me honest--do you think as much of Lucy Atherstone, as
you used to, before you took up school-keepin'?"

Guy did not like to be interfered with, and naturally high-spirited,
he at first flew into a passion, declaring that he would not have
folks meddling with him, that he thought of Lucy Atherstone all the
time, and he did not know what more he could do; that 'twas a pity if
a man could not enjoy himself in his own way, provided that way were
harmless, that he'd never, in all his life, spent so happy a winter as
the last; that---

Here Mrs. Noah interrupted him with: "That's it, the very _it_;
you want nothing better than to have that girl sit close to you when
she recites, as she does; and once when she was workin' out some of
them plusses and minuses, and things, her slate rested on your knee;
it did, I saw it with my own eyes; and then, let me ask, when Jessie
is drummin' on the piano, why don't you bend over her, and turn the
leaves, and count the time, as you do when Maddy plays; and how does
it happen that lately Jessie is one too many, when you hear Maddy's
lessons. She has no suspicions, but I know she ain't sent off for
nothin'; I know you'd rather be alone with Maddy Clyde than to have
anybody present, isn't it so?"

Guy began to wince. There was much truth in what Mrs. Noah had said.
He did devise various methods of getting rid of Jessie, when Maddy was
in his library, but it had never looked to him in just the light it
did when presented by Mrs. Noah, and he doggedly asked what Mrs. Noah
would have him do.

"First and foremost, then, I'd have you tell Maddy yourself that you
are engaged to Lucy Atherstone; second, I'd have you write to Lucy all
about it, and if you honestly can, tell her that you only care for
Maddy as a friend; third, I'd have you send the girl---"

"Not away from Aikenside! I never will!" and Guy sprang to his feet.

The mine had exploded, and for an instant the young man reeled, as he
caught a glimpse of where he stood; still he would not believe it, or
confess to himself how strong a place in his affections was held by
the beautiful girl now no longer a child. It was almost a year since
that April afternoon when he first met Maddy Clyde, and from a timid,
bashful child, of fourteen and a half, she had grown to the rather
tall, and rather self-possessed maiden of fifteen and a half, almost
sixteen, as Mrs. Noah said, "almost a woman;" and as if to verify the
latter fact, she herself appeared at that very moment, asking
permission to come in and find a book, which had been mislaid, and
which she needed in hearing Jessie's lessons.

"Certainly, come in," Guy said, and folding his arms he leaned against
the mantel, watching her as she hunted for the missing book.

There was no pretense about Maddy Clyde, nothing put on for effect,
and yet in every movement she showed marks of great improvement, both
in manner and style. Of one hundred people who might glance at her,
ninety-nine would look a second time, asking who she was. Naturally
graceful and utterly forgetful of herself, she always appeared to good
advantage, and never to better than now, when two pairs of eyes were
watching her, as standing on tiptoe, or kneeling upon the floor to
look under the secretary, she hunted for the book. Not the remotest
suspicion had Maddy of what was occupying the thoughts of her
companions, though as she left the room and glanced brightly up at
Guy, it struck her that his face was dark and moody, and a painful
sensation flitted through her mind that in some way she had intruded.

"Well," was Mrs. Noah's first comment, as the door closed on Maddy,
but as Guy made no response to that, she continued: "She is pretty.
That you won't deny."

"Yes, more than pretty. She'll make a most beautiful woman."

Guy seemed to talk more to himself than to Mrs. Noah, while his foot
kicked the fender, and he mentally compared Lucy and Maddy with each
other, and tried to think that it was not the result of that
comparison, but rather Mrs. Noah's next remark, which affected him
unpleasantly. The remark or remarks were as follows:

"Of course she'll make a splendid woman. Everybody notices her now for
her beauty, and that's why you've no business to keep her here where
you see her every day. It's a wrong to her, lettin' yourself alone."

Guy looked up inquiringly, and Mrs. Noah continued:

"I've been a girl myself, and I know that Maddy can't be treated as
you treat her without its having an effect. I've no idea that it's
entered her head yet, but it will by-and-by, and then good-by to her
happiness."

"For pity's sake, what do you mean? Do explain, and not talk to me in
riddles. What have I done to Maddy, or what am I going to do?"

Gay spoke savagely, and his boots were in great danger of being burned
as he kicked vigorously against the fender. Coming nearer to him, and
lowering her voice, Mrs. Noah replied:

"You are going to teach her to love you, Guy Remington, just as sure
as my name is Noah."

"And is that anything so very bad, I'd like to know. Most girls do not
find love distasteful," and Guy walked hastily to the window, where he
stood for a moment gazing out upon the soft April snow, which was
falling, and feeling anything but satisfied either with the weather or
himself; then walking back, and taking a seat before the fire, he
said: "I understand you now. You would save Maddy Clyde from sorrow,
and you are right. You know more of girls than I do. She might in time
get to--to--think of me as she ought not. I never looked upon it in
this light before. I've been so happy with her;" here Guy's voice
faltered a little, but he recovered himself and went on: "I will tell
her about Lucy tonight, but the sending her away, I can't do that.
Neither will she be happy to go back where I took her from, for though
the best of people, they are not like Maddy, and you know it."

Yes, Mrs. Noah did know it, and pleased that her boy, as she called
Guy, had shown some signs of penitence and amendment, she said she did
not think it necessary to send Maddy home; she did not advise it
either. She liked the girl, and what she advised was this, that Guy
should send Maddy and Jessie both to boarding school. Agnes, she knew,
would be willing, and it was the best thing he could do. Maddy would
thus learn what was expected of a teacher, and as soon as she
graduated, she could procure some eligible situation, or if Lucy were
there, and desired it, she could come and stay forever for all what
sue cared,

"And during the vacations, where must she go then?" Guy asked.

"Go where she pleases, of course. As Jessie is so fond of her, and
they are much like sisters, it will not be improper for her to come
here, as I see, provided Agnes is here. Her presence, of course, would
make a difference," Mrs. Noah replied, while Guy continued:

"I know you are right; that is, I do not wish to do Maddy a harm by
placing temptation in her way, neither will I have everybody meddling
with my business. I tell you I won't. I don't mean you, for you have a
right to say what no one else has," and he glanced half angrily at
Mrs. Noah. "Pity if I can't take an interest in a girl, because I once
wronged her, without every old woman in Christendom thinking she needs
to fall in love with me, and so be ruined for life. Maddy Clyde has
too good sense for that, or will have when I tell her about Lucy."

"And you will do so?" Mrs. Noah said coaxingly.

"Of course I will, and write to Lucy, too, telling her how you talked,
and how I care no more for Maddy than I do for Jessie."

"And will that be true?" Mrs. Noah asked.

Guy could not look her fully in the face then, so he kicked the grate
until the concussion sent the red-hot coals out upon the carpet as he
replied:

"True? Yes, every word of it."

Mrs. Noah noted all this, and thinking within herself:

"I orto have took him in hand long ago," she came up to him and said
kindly, soothingly: "We shall all miss Maddy; I as much as any one,
but I do think it best for her to go to school; and so, after tea,
I'll manage to keep Jessie with me, and send Maddy to you, while you
tell her about Lucy and the plan."

Guy nodded a little jerking kind of a nod, in token of his assent, and
then with that perversity which prompts women particularly to press a
subject after enough has been said upon it, Mrs. Noah, as she turned
to leave the room, gave vent to the following:

"You know, Guy, as well as I, that pretty and smart as she is, Maddy
is really beneath you, and no kind of a match, even if you wan't as
good as married, which you be;" and the good lady left the room in
time to escape seeing the sparks fly up the chimney, as Guy now made a
most vigorous use of the poker, and so did not finish the scorching
process commenced on the end of his boot.

Mrs. Noah's last remark awakened in Guy a Singular train of thought.
Yes, Maddy was his inferior as the world saw matters, and settling
himself in the chair he tried to fancy what that same world would say
if he should make Maddy his wife. Of course he had no such intention,
he was just imagining something which never could possibly happen,
because in the first place he wouldn't marry Maddy Clyde if he could,
and he couldn't if he would! Still, it was not an unpleasant
occupation fancying what folks, and especially Agnes, would say if he
did, and so he sat dreaming about it until the bell rang for supper,
when with a nervous start he woke from the reverie, and wishing the
whole was over, started for the supper.

CHAPTER XIV.

MADDY AND LUCY.

Supper was over, and Guy was back again in his library. He had not
stopped as he usually did, to romp with Jessie or talk to Maddy Clyde,
until it was so dark that he could not see her sparkling face, but had
come directly back, dropping the heavy curtains and piling fresh coal
upon the fire. Mrs. Noah had lighted the lamps and then gone after
Maddy, explaining to Jessie how she must stay with her while Maddy
went to Mr. Guy, who wanted to talk with her.

"Is he angry with me, Mrs. Noah?" and remembering his moody looks when
she went in quest of the book, Maddy felt her heart misgive her as to
what might be the result of an interview with Guy.

Mrs. Noah, however, reassured her, and Maddy stole for a moment to her
own room to see how she was looking. The crimson dress, with its soft
edge of lace about the slender throat, became her well, and smoothing
the folds of her black silk apron, whose jaunty shoulder pieces gave
her a very girlish appearance, she went down to where Guy was waiting
for her. He heard her coming, and involuntarily drew nearer to him the
chair where he intended she should sit. But Maddy took instead a
stool, and leaning her elbow on the chair, turned her face fully
toward him, waiting for him to speak.

"Maddy," he began, "are you happy here at Aikenside?"

"Oh, yes, very, very happy," and Maddy's soft eyes shone with the
happiness she tried to express.

It was at least a minute before he spoke again, and when he did, it
came out how he had concluded it best to send her and Jessie to
school, for a year or two at least; not that he was tired of teaching
her, but it would be better for her, he thought, to mingle with other
girls and learn the ways of the world. Aikenside would still be her
home, still the place where her vacations would be spent with Jessie
if she chose, and then he spoke of New York as the place he had in
view, and asked her what she thought of it.

Maddy was too much stunned to think of anything at first. That the
good she had coveted most should be placed within her grasp, and by
Guy Remington too, was almost too much to credit. She was happy at
Aikenside, but she had never expected her life there to continue very
long, and had often wished that when it ended she might devise some
means of entering a seminary as other young ladies did. But she had
never dreamed of being sent to school by Guy, nor could she conceive
of his motive. He hardly knew himself, only he liked her, and wished
to do something for her. This was his reply to her tearful question:

"Oh, Mr. Remington, you are so good to me; what makes you?"

He liked her, and all over Maddy's face there spread a beautiful flush
as the words rang in her ears. And then she told Guy how much she
wished to be a teacher, and so take care of her grandparents and her
poor Uncle Joseph. It seemed almost cruel for that young creature to
be burdened with the care of those three half-helpless people, and Guy
shuddered just as he usually did when he associated Maddy with them,
but when he listened while she told him of all the castles she had
built, and in every one of which there was a place for "our folks," as
she termed them, it was more in the form of a blessing than a caress
that his hand rested on her shining hair.

"You are a good girl, Maddy," he said, "and I am glad now that I have
concluded to send you where you can be better fitted for the office
you mean to fill than you could be here, but I shall miss you sadly. I
like little girls, and though you can hardly be classed there now, you
seem to me much like Jessie, and I take pleasure in doing for you as I
would for her. Maddy---"

Guy stopped, uncertain what to say next, while Maddy's eyes again
looked up inquiringly.

He was going now to tell "the little girl much like Jessie" of Lucy
Atherstone, and the words would not come at first.

"Maddy," he said, again blushing guiltily, "I have said I liked you,
and so I hope will some one else. I have written of you to her."

Up to this point Maddy had a vague idea that he meant the doctor, but
the "her" dispelled that thought, and a most inexplicable feeling of
numbness crept over her as she asked faintly:

"Written to whom?"

Guy did not look at Maddy. He only knew that her head moved out from
beneath his hand as he replied:

"To Miss Atherstone--Miss Lucy Atherstone. Have you never heard of
her?"

No, Maddy never had, and with that same numbness she could not
understand, she listened while Guy told her who Lucy Atherstone was,
and why she was not at that moment the mistress of Aikenside. There
was no reason why Guy should be excited, but he was, and he talked
very rapidly, never once glancing at Maddy until he had finished
speaking. She was looking at him intently, wondering if he could hear
as she did the beatings of her heart. Had her life depended upon it,
she could not at first have spoken, for the numbness which, like bands
of steel, seemed to press all the feeling out of it. She did not know
why it was that hearing of Lucy Atherstone should affect her so.
Surely she ought to be glad for Guy that he possessed the love of so
sweet a creature as he described her to be. He was glad, she knew, he
talked so energetically--so much as if it were a pleasure to talk; and
she was glad, too, only it had taken her so by surprise to know that
Mr. Guy, whom she had rather considered as exclusively her own and
Jessie's was engaged, and that some time, before long it might be,
Aikenside would really have a mistress. She did not quite understand
Guy's last words, although she was looking at him, and he asked her
twice if she would like to see Lucy's picture ere she comprehended
what he meant.

"Yes," came faintly from the parted lips, about which there was a
slight quiver as she put up her hand to take the case Guy drew from
his bosom.

Turning it to the light she gazed silently upon the sweet young face,
which seemed to return her gaze with a look as earnest and lifelike as
her own.

"What do you think of her--of my Lucy? Is she not pretty?" Guy asked,
bending down so that his dark hair swept against Maddy's, while his
warm breath touched her burning cheeks.

"Yes, she's beautiful, oh! so beautiful, and happy, too. I wish I had
been like her. I wish--" and Maddy burst into a most uncontrollable
fit of weeping, her tears dropping like rain upon the inanimate
features of Lucy Atherstone.

Guy looked at her amazed, his own heart throbbing with a keen pang of
something undefinable as he listened to her stormy weeping. What did
ail her? he wondered. Could it be that the evil against which he was
providing had really come upon her? Was Maddy more interested in him
than he supposed? He hoped not, though with a man's vanity he felt a
slight thrill of satisfaction in thinking that it might be so. Guy
knew this feeling was not worthy of him, and he struggled to cast it
off, while he asked Maddy why she cried.

Child as she was, the real cause of her tears never entered her brain,
and she answered:

"I can't tell why, unless I was thinking how different Miss Atherstone
is from me. She's rich and handsome. I am poor and homely, and--"

"No, Maddy, you are not;" and Guy interrupted her.

Gently lifting up her head, he smoothed back her hair, and keeping a
hand on each side of her face, said, pleasantly:

"You are not homely. I think you quite as pretty as Lucy; I do,
really," he continued, as her eyes kindled at the compliment. "I am
going to write to her to-night, and shall tell her more about you. I
want you to like each other very much when she comes, so that you may
live with us. Aikenside would not be Aikenside without you, Maddy."

In all his wooings of Lucy Atherstone, Guy's voice had never been
tenderer in its tone than when he said this to Maddy, whose lip
quivered again, and who involuntarily laid her head now upon his knee
as she cried a second time, not noisily, but quietly, softly, as if
this crying did her good. For several minutes they sat there thus, the
nature of their thoughts known only to each other, for neither spoke,
until Maddy, half ashamed of her emotions, lifted up her head, and
said:

"I do not know what made me cry, only I'd been so happy here that I
guess I'd come to think that you only liked Jessie and me. Of course I
knew that some time you would see and think all the world of somebody
else, but I did not expect it so soon. I am afraid Miss Atherstone
will not fancy me, and I know most I shall not feel as free here,
after she comes, as I do now. Then your being so good, sending me to
school, helped me to cry more, and so I was very foolish. Don't tell
Miss Atherstone that I cried. Tell her, though, how beautiful she is,
and how glad I am that she loves you, and is going to be your wife."

Maddy's voice was very steady in its tone. She evidently meant what
she said, but Guy, the bad man, did not feel as graciously as he ought
to have felt in knowing that Maddy Clyde was glad "Lucy loved him, and
was to be his wife,"

Guy was rather uncomfortable, and as Maddy was in some way associated
with his discomfort, he did not oppose her when she arose to leave
him.

Had Maddy been more a woman, or less a child, she would have seen that
it was well for her to know of Lucy Atherstone before her feelings for
Guy Remington had assumed a definite form. As it was, she never
dreamed how near she was to loving Aikenside's young heir; and while
talking with Jessie of the grand times they should have at school, she
marveled at that little round spot of pain which was burning at her
heart, or why she should wish that Guy would not speak of her in his
letter to Lucy Atherstone.

But Guy did speak of her, frankly confessing the interest he felt in
her, telling just how people were beginning to talk, and asking Lucy
if she cared, declaring that if she did, he would not see Maddy Clyde
any more than was necessary. In a little less than four weeks there
came an answer from Lucy, who, with health somewhat improved, had
returned to England, and wrote to Guy from Brighton, where she
expected to spend the summer, half hoping Guy might join her there,
though she could not urge it, as mamma still insisted that she was not
able to take upon herself the duties of a wife. Then she spoke of
Maddy Clyde, saying "She was not one bit jealous of her dear Guy, Of
course ignorant, meddling people, of whom she feared there were a
great many in America, would gossip, but he was not to mind them."
Then she said that if Maddy were willing, she would so much like her
picture, as she had a curiosity to know just how she looked, and if
Maddy pleased, "would she write a few lines, so as not to seem so much
a stranger?"

Lucy Atherstone had been educated to think a great deal of birth, and
blood, and family, and Guy never did a wiser thing than when he told
her that according to English views, Maddy was a lady. It went far
toward reconciling Lucy to his interest in one whom her haughtier and
more sanguine mother called a rival, advising her mother to ignore her
altogether. But Lucy's was a different nature, and though it cost her
pride a pang, she asked for a line from Maddy, partly to mortify that
pride, and partly to prove to Guy how free she was from jealousy.

"Darling little Lucy, I do love her very dearly," was Guy's comment,
as he finished reading her letter, feeling somewhat as if her mother
were a kind of cruel ogress, bent on preventing him from being happy.
Then, as he remembered Lucy's hope that he might join her, and thought
how much easier of access New York was than Brighton, he said, half
petulantly:

"I've been to England for nothing times enough. When that mother of
hers says I may have Lucy, I'll go again, but not before. It don't
pay."

And crushing the letter into his pocket, he went out upon the piazza
where were assembled Maddy, Jessie and Mrs. Agnes, the latter of whom
had come to Aikenside the day before.

At first she had objected to the boarding-school arrangement, saying
Jessie was too young, but Guy as usual had overruled her objections,
as he had those of Grandpa Markham, and it was now a settled thing
that Maddy and Jessie both should go to New York, Mrs. Agnes to
accompany them if she chose, and having a general supervision of her
child. This was Guy's plan, the one which had prevailed with the
fashionable woman, who, tired of Boston, was well pleased with the
prospect of a life in New York. Guy's interest in Maddy was wholly
inexplicable to her, unless she explained it on the principal that in
the Remington nature there was a fondness for governesses, as had been
exemplified in her own history. That Guy would ever marry Maddy she
doubted, but the mere possibility of it made her set her teeth firmly
together as she thought how embarrassing it would be to acknowledge as
the mistress of Aikenside the little girl whom she had sought to
banish from her table. Since her return she had had no opportunity of
judging for herself how matters stood, and was consequently much
relieved when, as Guy joined them, he began at once to speak of Lucy,
telling of the letter, and her request for Maddy's picture.

"Me? Mine? You cannot mean that?" Maddy exclaimed, her eyes opening
wide with wonder, but Guy did mean it, and began to plan a drive on
the morrow to Devonshire, where there was at that time a tolerably
fair artist.

Accordingly the next day the four went down to Devonshire, calling
first upon the doctor, whose face brightened when he heard why they
had come. During the weeks that had passed, the doctor had not been
blind to at that was passing at Aikenside, and the fear that Guy was
more interested in Maddy than he ought to be, had grown almost to a
certainty. Now, however, he was not so sure. Indeed, the fact that Guy
had told her of Lucy Atherstone would indicate that his suspicions
were groundless, and he entered heartily into the picture plan, saying
laughingly that if he supposed Miss Lucy would like his face he'd sit
himself, and bidding Guy be sure to ask her. The doctor's gay spirits
helped raise those of Maddy, and as that little burning spot in her
heart was fast wearing away, she was in just the mood for a most
admirable likeness. Indeed, the artist's delight at his achievement
was unbounded, as he declared it the very best picture he had ever
taken. It was beautiful, even Agnes acknowledged to herself, while
Jessie wait into raptures, and Maddy blushed to hear her own praises.
Guy said nothing, except to ask that Maddy should sit again; this was
good, but a second might be better. So Maddy sat again, succeeding
quite as well as at first, but as the artist's preference was for the
former, it was left to be finished up, with the understanding that Guy
would call for it. As the ladies passed down the stairs, Guy lingered
behind, and when sure they were out of hearing, said in a low voice:

"You may as well finish both; they are too good to be lost."

The artist bowed, and Guy, with a half guilty blush, hurried down into
the street, where Agues was waiting for him. Two hours later, Guy, in
Mrs. Conner's parlor, was exhibiting the finished picture, which in
its handsome casing, was more beautiful than ever, and more natural,
if possible.

"I think I might have one of Maddy's," Jessie said, half poutingly;
then, as she remembered the second sitting, she begged of Guy to get
it for her, "that was a dear brother."

But the "dear brother" did not seem inclined to comply with her
request, putting her off, until, despairing of success, Jessie, when
alone with the doctor, tried her powers of persuasion on him, coaxing
until in self-defense he crossed the street, and entering the
daguerrean gallery asked for the remaining picture of Miss Clyde,
saying that he wished it for little Miss Remington.

"Mr. Remington took them both," the artist replied, commencing a
dissertation on the style and beauty of the young girl, all of which
was lost upon the doctor, who, in a kind of maze, quitted the room,
and returning to Jessie, said to her carelessly: "He hasn't it. You
know they rub out those they do not use. So you'll have to do without;
and, Jessie, I wouldn't tell Guy I tried to get it for you."

Jessie wondered why she must not tell Guy, but the fact that the
doctor requested her not was sufficient. Consequently Guy little
guessed that the doctor knew what it was he carried so carefully in
his coat pocket, looking at it earnestly when at home and alone in his
own room, admiring its soft, girlish beauty, half shrinking from the
lifelike expression of the large, bright eyes, and trying to convince
himself that his sole object in getting it was to give it to the
doctor after Maddy was gone! It would be such a surprise, and the
doctor would be so glad, that Guy finally made himself believe that he
had done a most generous thing!

"I am going to send Lucy your picture to-day, and as she asked that
you should write her a few lines, suppose you do it now," Guy said to
Maddy next morning, as they were leaving the breakfast table.

It was a sore trial to Maddy to write to Lucy Atherstone, but she
offered no remonstrance, and so accompanying the picture was a little
note, filled mostly with praises of Mr. Guy, and which would be very
gratifying to the unsuspecting Lucy.

Now that it was fully decided for Jessie to go with Maddy, her lessons
were suspended, and Aikenside for the time being was turned into a
vast dressmaking and millinery establishment. With his usual
generosity, Guy had given Agnes permission to draw upon his purse for
whatever was needed, either for herself or Jessie, with the definite
understanding that Maddy should have an equal share of dress and
attention.

"It will not be necessary," he said, "for you to enlighten the
citizens of New York with regard to Maddy's position. She goes there
as Jessie's equal, and as such her wardrobe must be suitable."

No one could live long with Maddy Clyde without becoming interested in
her, and in spite of herself Agnes' dislike was wearing away,
particularly as of late she had seen no signs of special attention on
the doctor's part. He had gotten over his weakness, she thought, and
so was very gracious toward Maddy, who, naturally forgiving, began to
like her better than she had ever dreamed it possible for her to like
so proud and haughty a woman. Down at the cottage in Honedale there
were many consultations held and many fears expressed by the aged
couple as to what would be the result of all Guy was doing for their
child. Womanlike, Grandma Markham felt a flutter of pride in thinking
that Maddy was going to school in a big city like New York. It gave
her something to talk about with her less fortunate neighbors, who
wondered, and gossiped, and envied, but could not bring themselves to
feel unkindly toward the girl Maddy, who had grown up in their midst,
and who as yet was wholly unchanged by prosperity. Grandpa Markham, on
the contrary, though pleased that Maddy should have every opportunity
for acquiring the education she so much desired, was fearful of the
result--fearful that there might come a time when his darling would
shrink from the relations to whom she was as sunshine to the flowers.
He knew that the difference between Aikenside and the cottage must
strike her unpleasantly every time she came home, and he did not blame
her for her always apparent readiness to go back. That was natural, he
thought, but a life in New York, that great city which to the simple-
hearted old man seemed a very Babylon of iniquity, was different, and
for a time he demurred to sending her there. But Guy persuaded him,
and when he heard that Agnes was going, too, he consented, for he had
faith in Agnes as a protector. Maddy had never told him of the scene
which followed that lady's return from Saratoga. Indeed, Maddy never
told anything but good of Aikenside or its inmates, and so Mrs. Agnes
came in for a share of the old people's gratitude, while even Uncle
Joseph, hearing daily a prayer for the "young madam," as grandpa
termed her, learned to pray for her himself, coupling her name with
that of Sarah, and asking in his crazy way that God would "forgive
Sarah" first, and then "bless the madam--the madam--the madam."

A few days before Maddy's departure, grandpa went up to see "the
madam;" anxious to know something more than hearsay about a person to
whose care his child was to be partially intrusted. Agnes was in her
room when told who wanted to see her. Starting quickly, she turned so
deadly white that Maddy, who brought the message, flew to her side,
asking in much alarm, what was the matter.

"Only a little faint. It will soon pass off," Agnes said, and then,
dismissing Maddy, she tried to compose herself sufficiently to pass
the ordeal she so much dreaded, and from which there was no possible
escape.

Thirteen years! Had they changed her past recognition? She hoped, she
believed so, and yet, never in her life had Agnes Remington's heart
beaten with so much terror and apprehension as when she entered the
reception room where Guy sat talking with the infirm old man she
remembered so well. He had grown older, thinner, poorer looking, than
when she saw him last, but in his wrinkled face there was the same
benignant, heavenly expression which, when she was better than she was
now, used to remind her of the angels. His snowy hair was parted just
the same as ever, but the mild blue eye was dimmer, and it rested on
her with no suspicious glance as, partially reassured, she glided
across the threshold, and bowed civilly when Guy presented her.

A little anxious as to how her grandfather would acquit herself, Maddy
sat by, wondering why Agnes appeared so ill at ease, and why her
grandsire started sometimes at the sound of her voice, and looked
earnestly at her.

"We've never met before to my knowledge, young woman," he said once to
Agnes, "but you are mighty like somebody, and your voice when you talk
low keeps makin' me jump as if I'd heard it summers or other."

After that Agnes spoke in elevated tones, as if she thought him deaf,
and the mystified look of wonder did not return to his face. Numerous
were the charges he gave to Agnes concerning Maddy, bidding her be
watchful of his child, and see that she did not "get too much drinked
in with the wicked things on Broadway!" then, as he arose to go, he
laid his trembling hand on her head and said solemnly: "You are young
yet, lady, and there may be a long life before you. God bless you,
then, and prosper you in proportion as you are kind to Maddy. I've
nothing to give you nor Mr. Guy for your goodness only my prayers, and
them you have every day. We all pray for you, lady, Joseph and all,
though I doubt me he knows much the meaning of what he says." "Who,
sir? What did you say?" and Agnes' face was scarlet, as grandpa
replied: "Joseph, our unfortunate boy; Maddy must have told you, the
one who's taken such a shine to Jessie. He's crazy-like, and from the
corner where he sits so much, I can hear him whispering by the hour,
sometimes of folks he used to know, and then of you, who we call
madam. He says for ten minutes on the stretch: "God bless the madam--the
madam--the madam!" You're sick, lady; talkin' about crazy folks
makes you faint," grandpa added, hastily, as Agnes turned white, like
the dress she wore. "No--oh, no, I'm better now," Agnes gasped, bowing
him to the door with a feeling that she could not breathe a moment
longer in his presence. He did not hear her faint cry of bitter,
bitter remorse, as he walked through the hall, nor know she watched
him as he went slowly down the walk, stopping often to admire the fair
blossoms which Maddy did not feel at liberty to pick. "He loved
flowers," Agnes whispered, as her better nature prevailed over every
other feeling, and, starting eagerly forward, she ran after the old
man, who, surprised at her evident haste, waited a little anxiously
for her to speak. It was rather difficult to do so with Maddy's
inquiring eyes upon her, but Agnes managed at last to say: "Does that
crazy man like flowers--the one who prays for the madam?" "Yes, he
used to years ago," grandpa replied; and, bending down, Agnes began to
pick and arrange into a most tasteful bouquet the blossoms and buds of
May, growing so profusely within the borders.

"Take them to him, will you?" and her hand shook as she passed to
Grandpa Markham the gift which would thrill poor crazy Joseph with a
strange delight, making him hold converse a while with the unseen
presence which he called "she," and then whisper blessings on the
madam's head. Three days after this, a party of four left Aikenside,
which presented a most forlorn and cheerless appearance to the
passers-by, who were glad almost as the servants when, at the
expiration of a week, Guy came back and took up his olden life of
solitude and loneliness, with nothing in particular to interest him,
except his books the letters he wrote to Lucy; unless, indeed, it were
those he was going to write to Maddy, who, with Jessie, had promised
to become his correspondents. Nothing but these and the picture--the
doctor's picture--the one designed expressly for him, and which
troubled him greatly. Believing that he had fully intended it for the
doctor, Guy felt as if it were, in a measure, stolen property, and
this made him prize it all the more.

Now that Maddy was away, Guy missed her terribly, wondering how he had
ever lived without her, and sometimes working himself into a violent
passion against the meddlesome neighbors who would not let her remain
with him in peace, and who, now that she was gone, did not stop their
talking one whit. Of this last, however, he was ignorant, as there was
no one to tell him how people marveled more than ever, feeling
confident now that he was educating his own wife, and making sundry
hateful remarks as to what he intended doing with her relations. Guy
only knew that he was very lonely, that Lucy's letters seemed insipid,
that even the doctor failed to interest him, as of old, and that his
greatest comfort was in looking at the bright young face which seemed
to smile so trustfully upon him from the tiny casing, just as Maddy
had smiled upon him when, in Madam -----'s parlor, he bade her good-by.
The doctor could not have that picture, he finally decided. Hal
ought to be satisfied with getting Maddy, as of course he would, for
wasn't he educating her for that very purpose? Certainly he was, and,
as a kind of atonement for what he deemed treachery to his friend, he
talked with him often of her, always taking it for granted that when
she was old enough, the doctor would woo and win the little girl who
had come to him in his capacity of inspector, as candidate number one.

At first, the doctor suspected him of acting a part in order to cover
up some design of his own with regard to Maddy, and affected an
indifference he did not feel; but, as time passed on, Guy, who really
believed himself sincere, managed to make the doctor believe so, too.
Consequently, the latter abandoned his suspicions, and gave himself up
to blissful dreams of what might possibly be when Maddy should have
become the brilliant woman she was sure one day to be. Alas! for the
doctor's dreams.

CHAPTER XV.

THE HOLIDAYS.

The summer vacation had been spent by the Remington's and Maddy at the
seaside, the latter coming to the cottage for a week before returning
to her school in New York, and as the doctor was then absent from
home, she did not meet him at all. Consequently he had not seen her
since she left Aikenside for New York. But she was at home now for the
Christmas holidays--was down at the cottage, too; and unusually
nervous for him, the doctor stood before the little square glass in
his back office, trying to make himself look as well as possible, for
he was going that very afternoon to call upon Miss Clyde. He was glad
she was not at Aikenside; he would rather meet her where Guy was not,
and he hoped he might be fortunate enough to find her alone.

The doctor was seriously in love. He acknowledged that now to himself,
confessing, too, that with his love was mingled a spice of jealousy,
lest Guy Remington should be expending more thought on Maddy Clyde
than was consistent with the promised husband of Lucy Atherstone. He
wished so much to talk with Guy about her, and yet he dreaded it; for
if the talk should confirm his suspicious there would be no hope for
him. No girl in her right mind would prefer him to Guy Remington, and
with a little sigh the doctor was turning away from the glass, when,
as if to verify a familiar proverb, Guy himself drove up in a most
dashing equipage, the silver-tipped harness of his high-mettled steed
flashing in the wintry sunlight, and the bright-hued lining of his
fanciful robes presenting a very gay appearance.

Guy was in the best of spirits. For an entire half day he had tried to
devise some means to getting Maddy up to Aikenside. It was quite too
bad for her to spend the whole vacation at the cottage, as she seemed
likely to do. He knew she was lonely there; that the bare floor and
low, dark walls affected her unpleasantly. He had seen that in her
face when he bade her good-by, for he had carried her down to the
cottage himself, and now he was going after her. There was to be a
party at Aikenside; the very first since Guy was its master. The
neighbors had said he was too proud to invite them, but they should
say so no more. The house was to be thrown open in honor of Guy's
twenty-sixth birthday, and all who were at all desirable as guests
were to be bidden to the festival. First on the list was the doctor,
who, remembering how averse Guy was to large parties, wondered at the
proceedings. But Guy was all engaged in the matter, and after telling
who were to be invited, added rather indifferently: "I'm going now
down to Honedale after Maddy. It's better for her to be with us a day
or two beforehand. You've seen her, of course."

No, the doctor had not; he was just going there, he said, in a tone so
full of sad disappointment, that Guy detected it at once, and asked if
anything was the matter.

"Guy," the doctor continued, sitting down by his friend, "I remember
once your making me your confidant about Lucy. You remember it, too?"

"Yes, why? well?" Guy replied, beginning to feel strangely
uncomfortable as he half divined what was coming next.

Latterly Guy had stopped telling the doctor that he was educating
Maddy for him. Indeed, he did not talk of her at all, and the doctor
might have fancied her out of his mind but for the frequent visits to
New York, which Guy found it absolutely necessary to make. Guy did not
himself understand the state of his own feelings with regard to Maddy,
but if compelled to explain them they would have been something as
follows: He fully expected to marry Lucy Atherstone; the possibility
that he should not had never occurred to him, but that was no reason
why Maddy Clyde need be married for these many years. She was very
young yet; there was time enough for her to think of marrying when she
was twenty-five, and in the meanwhile it would be splendid to have her
at Aikenside as Lucy's and his friend. Nothing could be nicer, and Guy
did not care to have this little arrangement spoiled. But that the
doctor had an idea of spoiling it, he had not a doubt, particularly
after the doctor's next remark.

"I have not seen Maddy since last spring, you know. Is she very much
improved?"

"Yes, very much. There is no more stylish-looking girl to be seen on
Broadway than Maddy Clyde," and Guy shook down his pantaloons a little
awkwardly.

"Well, is she as handsome as she used to be, and as childish in her
manner?" the doctor asked; and Guy replied:

"I took her to the opera once, last month, and the many admiring
glances cast at our box proved pretty positively that Maddy's beauty
was not of the ordinary kind."

"The opera!" the doctor exclaimed; "Maddy Clyde at the opera! What
would her grandfather say? He is very puritanical, you know."

"Yes, I know; and so is Maddy, too. She wrote and obtained his consent
before she'd go with me. He won't let her go to a theatre anyhow."

Here an interval of silence ensued, and then the doctor began again,

"Guy, you told me once you were educating Maddy Clyde for me, and I
tried then to make you think I didn't care; but I did, oh, so much.
Guy, laugh at me, if you please. I cannot blame you if you do; but the
fact is, I believe I've loved Maddy Clyde ever since that time she was
so sick. At all events, I love her now, and I was going down there
this very afternoon to tell her so. She's old enough. She was sixteen
last October, the--the----"

"Tenth day," Guy responded, thus showing that he, too, was keeping
Maddy's age, even to a day.

"Yes, the tenth day," resumed the doctor. "There's 'most eleven years'
difference between us, but if she feels at all as I do, she will not
care, Guy;" and the doctor began to talk earnestly: "I'll be candid
with you, and say that you have sometimes made my heart ache a
little."

"Me!" and Guy's face was crimson, while the doctor continued:

"Yes, and I beg your pardon for it; but let me ask you one question,
and upon its answer will depend my future course with regard to Maddy:
You are true to Lucy?"

Guy felt the blood trickling at the roots of his hair, but he answered
truthfully as he believed:

"Yes, true as steel;" while the generous thought came over him that he
would further the doctor's plans all he possibly could.

"Then I am satisfied," the doctor rejoined; "and as you have rather
assumed the position of her guardian or brother, I ask your permission
to offer her the love which whether she accepts it or not, is hers."

Guy had never felt a sharper pang than that which now thrilled through
every nerve, but he would not prove false to the friend confiding in
him, and he answered calmly:

"You have my consent; but, Doc, better put it off till you see her at
Aikenside. There's no chance at the cottage, with those three old
people. I wonder she don't go wild. I'm sure I should."

Guy was growing rather savage about something, but the doctor did not
mind; and grasping his arm as he arose, he said:

"And you'll manage it for me, Guy? You know how. I don't. You'll
contrive for me to see her alone, and maybe say a word beforehand in
my favor."

"Yes, yes, I'll manage it. I'll fix it right. Don't forget, day after
to-morrow night. The Cutlers' will be there, and, by the way, Marcia
has got to be a splendid girl. She fancied you once, you know. Old
Cutler is worth half a million." And Guy tore himself away from the
doctor, who, now that the ice was broken, would like to have talked of
Maddy forever.

But Guy was not thus inclined, and in a mood not extremely amiable, he
threw himself into his sleigh and went dashing down toward Honedale.
For some unaccountable reason he was not now one bit interested in the
party, and, were it not that a few of the invitations were issued, he
would have been tempted to give it up. Guy did not know what ailed
him. He only felt as if somebody had been meddling with his plans, and
had he been in the habit of swearing, he would probably have sworn;
but as he was not, he contented himself with driving like a second
Jehu he reached Honedale, where a pair of soft, brown eyes smiled up
into his face, and a little, fat, warm hand was clasped in his, as
Maddy came even to the gate to meet him.

She was very glad to see him. The cottage with its humble adornings
did seem lonely, almost dreary, after the life and bustle of New York,
and Maddy had cried more than once to think how hard and wicked she
must be growing when her home had ceased to be the dear old home she
once loved so well. She had been there five days now, and
notwithstanding the efforts of her grandparents to entertain her, each
day had seemed a week in its duration. Neither the doctor nor Guy had
been near her, and capricious little Maddy had made herself believe
that the former was sadly remiss in his duty, inasmuch as he had not
seen her for so long. He had been in the habit of calling every week,
her grandmother said, and this did not tend to increase her
amiability. Why didn't he come now when he knew she was at home?
Didn't he want to see her? Well, she could be indifferent, too, and
when they did meet, she'd show how little she cared!

Maddy was getting to be a woman with womanly freaks, as the reader
will readily see. At Guy she was not particularly piqued. She did not
take his attentions, as a matter of course; still she thought more of
him, if possible, than of the doctor, during those five days, saying
to herself each morning: "He'll surely come to-day," and to herself
each night: "He will be here to-morrow." She had something to show him
at last--a letter from Lucy Atherstone, who had gradually come to be
her regular correspondent, and whom Maddy had learned to love with all
the intensity of her girlhood. To her ardent imagination Lucy
Atherstone was but a little lower than the angels, and the pure, sweet
thoughts contained in every letter were doing almost as much toward
molding her character as Grandpa Markham's prayers and constant
teachings. Maddy did not know it, but it was these letters from Lucy
which kept her from loving Guy Remington. She could not for a moment
associate him with herself when she so constantly thought of him as
the husband of another, and that other Lucy Atherstone. Not for worlds
would Maddy have wronged the gentle creature who wrote to her so
confidingly of Guy, envying her in that she could so often see his
face and hear his voice, while his betrothed was separated from him by
many thousand miles. Little by little it had come out that Lucy's
mother was averse to the match, that she had in her mind the case of
an English lord, who would make her daughter "My Lady;" and this was
the secret of her deferring so long her daughter's marriage. In her
last letter to Maddy, however, Lucy had written with more than her
usual spirit that she would come in possession of her property on her
twenty-fifth birthday. She should then feel at liberty to act for
herself, and she launched out into joyful anticipations of the time
when she should come to Aikenside and meet her dear Maddy Clyde.
Feeling that Guy, if he did not already know it, would be glad to hear
it, Maddy had all the morning been wishing he would come; and when she
saw him at the gate she ran out to meet him, her eyes and face
sparkling with eager joy as she suffered him to retain her hand while
she said: "I am so glad to see you, Mr. Remington. I almost thought
you had forgotten me at Aikenside, Jessie and all."

Guy began to exclaim against any one's forgetting her, and also to
express his pleasure at finding her so glad to see him, when Maddy
interrupted him with, "Oh, it's not that; I've something to show you--
something which will make you very happy. I had a letter from Lucy
last night. When she is twenty-five she will be her own mistress, you
know, and she means to be married in spite of her mother--she says--let
me see--" and drawing from her bosom Lucy's letter, Maddy read,
"'I do not intend to fail in filial obedience, but I have tired dear
Guy's patience long enough, and as soon as I can I shall marry him.'
Isn't it nice?" and returning the letter to its hiding place, Maddy
scooped up in her hand and ate a quantity of the snow beside the path.

"Yes, it was very nice," Guy admitted, but there was a shadow on his
brow as he followed Maddy into the cottage, where the lunatic, who had
been watching them from the window, shook his head doubtfully and
said, "Too young, too young for you, young man. You can't have our
Sunshine if you want her."

"Hush, Uncle Joseph," Maddy whispered, softly, taking his arm and
laying it around her neck. "Mr. Remington don't want me. He is engaged
to a beautiful English girl across the sea."

Low as Maddy's words were, Guy heard them, as well as the crazy man's
reply, "Engagements have been broken."

That was the first time the possibility had ever entered Guy's brain
that his engagement might be broken, provided he wished it, which he
did not, he said to himself positively. Lucy loved him, he loved Lucy,
and that was enough, so in a kind of abstracted manner arising from
the fact that he was calculating how long it would be before Lucy was
twenty-five, he began to talk with Maddy, asking how she had spent her
time, and so forth. This reminded Maddy of the doctor, who, she said,
had not been to see her at all.

"He was coming this morning," Guy rejoined, "but I persuaded him to
defer his call until you were at Aikenside. I have come to take you
back with me, as we are to have a party day after to-morrow evening,
and I wish you to be present."

A party, a big party, such as Maddy had never in her life attended!
How her eyes sparkled from mere anticipation as she looked appealingly
to her grandfather, who, though classing parties with the pomps and
vanities from which he would shield his child, still remembered that
he once was young, that fifty years ago he, too, like Maddy, wanted
"to see the folly of it," and not take the mere word of older people
that in every festive scene there was a pitfall, strewn over so
thickly with roses that it was ofttimes hard to tell just where its
boundary line commenced. Besides that, grandpa had faith in Guy, and
so his consent was granted, and Maddy was soon on her way to
Aikenside, which presented a gayer, busier appearance than she had
ever known before. Jessie was wild with delight, dragging forth at
once the pink dress which she was to wear, and whispering to Maddy
that Guy had bought a dark blue silk for her, and that Sarah Jones was
at that moment fashioning it after a dress left there by Maddy the
previous summer.

"Mother said plain white muslin was more appropriate for a young girl,
but Brother Guy said no; fee blue would be useful after the party; it
was what you needed, and so he bought it and paid a dollar and three-
quarters a yard, but it's a secret until you are called to try it on.
Isn't Guy splendid?"

He was indeed splendid, Maddy thought, wondering why he was so kind to
her, and if it would be so when Lucy came. The dress fitted admirably,
only Maddy thought grandpa would say it was too low in the neck, but
Sarah overruled her objections, assisted by Guy, who, when the dress
was completed and tried on for the last time, was called in by Jessie
to see if "Maddy's neck didn't look just like cheese curd," and if
"she shouldn't have a piece sewed on as she suggested." The neck was
_au fait_, Guy said, laughing as Maddy for blushing so, and
saying when he saw how really distressed she seemed that he would
provide her with something to relieve the bareness of which she
complained. "Oh, I know, I saw, I peeked in the box," Jessie began,
but Guy put his hand over the little tattler's mouth, bidding her keep
the result of her peeking to herself.

And for once Jessie succeeded in doing so, although she several times
set Maddy to guessing what it was Guy had for her in a box! As the
size of the box was not mentioned, Maddy had fully made up her mind to
a shawl or scarf, and was proportionately disappointed when, as she
was dressing for the party, there was sent up to her room a small
round box, scarcely large enough to hold an apple, much less a small
scarf. The present proved to be a pair of plain but heavy bracelets,
and a most exquisitely wrought chain of gold, to which was appended a
beautiful pearl cross, the whole accompanied with the words, "From
Guy." Jessie was in ecstasies again. Clasping the ornaments on Maddy's
neck and arms, she danced around her, declaring there never was
anything more beautiful, or anybody as pretty as Maddy was in her rich
party dress. Maddy was fond of jewelry--as what young girl is not?--
and felt a flush of gratified pride, or vanity, or satisfaction,
whichever one chooses to call it, as she glanced at herself in the
mirror and remembered the time when, riding with the doctor, she had
met Mrs. Agnes, with golden bracelets flashing on her arms, and wished
she might one day wear something like them. The day had come sooner
than she then anticipated, but Maddy was not as happy in possession of
the coveted ornaments as she had thought she should be. Somehow, it
seemed to her that Guy ought not to have given them to her, that it
was improper for her to keep them, and that both Mrs. Noah and Agnes
thought so, too. She wished she knew exactly what was right, and then,
remembering that Guy had said the doctor was expected early, she
decided to ask his opinion on the subject and abide by it.

At first Agnes had cared but little about the party, affecting to
despise the people in their immediate neighborhood; but when Guy gave
her permission to invite from the adjoining towns, and even from
Worcester if she liked, her spirits arose; and when her toilet was
completed, she shone resplendent in lace and diamonds and curls,
managing to retain through all a certain simplicity of dress
appropriate to the hostess. But beautiful as Agnes was, she felt in
her jealous heart that there was about Maddy Clyde an attraction she
did not possess. Guy saw it, too, and while complimenting his pretty
mother-in-law, kept his eyes fixed admiringly on Maddy, who started
him into certain unpleasant remembrances by asking if the doctor had
come yet.

"No--yes--there he was now," and Guy looked into the hall, where the
doctor's voice was heard inquiring for him.

"I want to see him a minute, alone, please. There's something I want
to ask him." And, unmindful of Agnes' darkening frown, or Guy's look
of wonder, Maddy darted from the room, and ran hastily down the hall
to where the doctor stood, waiting for Guy, not for her.

He had not expected to meet her thus, or to see her thus, and the
sight of her, grown so tall, so womanly, so stylish and so beautiful,
almost took his breath away. And yet, as he stood with her soft hand
in his, and surveyed her from head to foot, he felt that he would
rather have had her as she was when a dainty frill shaded her pale,
wasted face, when the snowy ruffle was fastened high about her throat,
and the cotton bands were buttoned about her wrists, where gold ones
now were shining. The doctor had never forgotten Maddy as she was
then, the very embodiment, he thought, of helpless purity. The little
sick girl, so dear to him then, was growing away from him now; and
these adornings, which marked the budding woman, seemed to remove her
from him and place her nearer to Guy, whose bride should wear silk and
jewels, just as Maddy did.

She was very glad to see him, she said, asking in the same breath why
he had not been to the cottage, if she had not grown tall, and if he
thought her one bit improved with living in a city?

"One question at a time, if you please," he said, drawing her a little
more into the shadow of the door where they would be less observed by
any one passing through.

Maddy did not wait for him to answer, so eager was she to unburden her
mind and know if she ought to keep the costly presents, at which she
knew he was looking.

"If he remembers his unpaid bill, he must consider me mighty mean,"
she thought: and then, with her usual frankness, she told him of the
perplexity and asked his opinion.

"It would displease Mr. Guy very much if I were to give them back,"
she said: "but it hardly is right for me to accept them, is it?"

The doctor did not say she ought not to wear the ornaments, though he
longed to tear them from her arms and neck and throw them anywhere, he
cared not where, so they freed her wholly from Guy.

They were very becoming, he said. She would not look as well without
them; so she had better wear them to-night, and to-morrow, if she
would grant him an interview, he would talk with her further.

Dissembling doctor! He said all this to gain the desired interview
with Maddy, the interview for which Guy was to prepare her. That he
had not done so he felt assured, but he could not be angry with him,
as he came smilingly toward them, asking if they had talked privacy
long enough, and glancing rather curiously at Maddy's face. There was
nothing in its expression to disturb him, and, offering her his arm,
he led her back to the drawing-rooms where Agnes was smoothing down
the folds of her dress, preparatory to receiving the guests just
descending the stairs. It was a brilliant scene which Aikenside
presented that night, and amid it all Agnes bore herself like a queen,
while Jessie, with her sunny face and golden hair, came in for a full
share of attention. But amid the gay throng there was none so fair or
so beautiful as Maddy, who deported herself with as much ease and
grace as if she had all her life long been accustomed to just such
occasions as this. At a distance the doctor watched her, telling
several who she was, and once resenting by both look and manner a
remark made by Maria Cutler to the effect that she was nobody but Mrs.
Remington's governess, a poor girl whom Guy had taken a fancy to
educate out of charity.

"He seems very fond of his charity pupil, upon my word. He scarcely
leaves her neighborhood at all," whispered old Mrs. Cutler, the mother
of Maria, who, Guy said, once fancied Dr. Holbrook, and who had no
particular objections to fancying him now, provided it could be
reciprocal.

But the doctor was only intent on Maddy, knowing always just where she
was standing, just who was talking to her; and just how far from her
Guy was. He knew, too, when the latter was urging her to sing; and,
managing to get nearer, heard her object that no one cared to hear
her.

"But I do; I wish it," Guy replied in that tone which people generally
obeyed; and casting a half-frightened look at the sea of faces around
her, Maddy suffered him to lead her to the piano, sitting quite still
while he found what he wished her to play.

It was his favorite song, and one which brought out Maddy's voice in
its various modulations.

"Oh, please, Mr. Remington, anything but a song. I cannot sing," Maddy
whispered pleadingly; but Guy answered resolutely, "You can."

There was no appeal after this, but a resigned, obedient look, which
made the doctor gnash his teeth as he leaned upon the instrument. What
right had Guy to command Maddy Clyde, and why should she obey? and
yet, as the doctor glanced at Guy, he felt that were he in Maddy's
place, he should do the same.

"No girl can resist Guy Remington," he thought. "I'm glad there's a
Lucy Atherstone over the sea." And with a smile of encouragement for
Maddy, who was pale with nervous timidity, he listened while her
sweet, birdlike voice trembled for a moment with fear; and then,
gaining from its own sound, filled the room with melody, and made
those who had wandered off to other parts of the building hasten back
to see who was singing.

Maria Cutler had presided at the piano earlier in the evening, as had
one or two other young ladies, but to none of these had Guy paid half
the attention he did to Maddy, staying constantly by her, holding her
fan, turning the leaves of music, and dictating what she should play.

"There's devotion," tittered a miss in long ringlets; "but she really
does play well," and she appealed to Maria Cutler, who answered, "Yes,
she keeps good time, and I should think might play for a dance. I mean
to ask her," and going up to Guy she said, "I wish to speak to--to--
well, Jessie's governess. Introduce me, please."

Guy waited till Maddy was through, and then gave the desired
introduction. In a tone not wholly free from superciliousness, Miss
Cutler said:

"Can you play a waltz or polka, Miss Clyde? We are aching to exercise
our feet."

Maddy bowed and struck into a spirited waltz, which set many of the
people present to whirling in circles, and produced the result which
Maria so much desired, viz: it drove Guy away from the piano, for he
could not mistake her evident wish to have him as a partner, and with
his arm around her waist he was soon moving rapidly from that part of
the room, leaving only the doctor to watch Maddy's fingers as they
flew over the keys. Maddy never thought of being tired. She enjoyed
the excitement, and was glad she could do something toward
entertaining Guy's guests. But Guy did not forget her for an instant.
Through all the mazes of the giddy dance, he had her before his eye,
seeing not the clouds of lace and muslin encircled by his arm, but the
little figure in blue sitting so patiently at the piano until he knew
she must be tired, and determined to release her. As it chanced, Maria
was again his partner, and drawing her nearer to Maddy, he said, "Your
fingers ache by this time, I am sure. It is wrong to trouble you
longer. Agnes will take your place while you try a quadrille with me."

"Oh, thank you," Maddy answered. "I am not tired in the least. I had
as lief play till morning, provided they are satisfied with my time
and my stock of music holds out."

"But it is not fair for one to do all the playing; besides, I want you
to dance with me--so consider yourself invited in due form to be my
next partner."

Maddy's face crimsoned for an instant, and then in a low voice she
said, "I thank you, but I must decline."

"Maddy!" Guy exclaimed, in tones more indicative of reproach than
expostulation.

There were tears in Maddy's eyes, and Maria Cutler, watching her, was
vexed to see how beautiful was the expression of her face as she
answered frankly, "I have never told you that grandpa objected to my
taking dancing lessons when I wrote to him about it. He does not like
me to dance."

"A saint!" Maria uttered under her breath, smiling contemptuously as
she made a movement to leave the piano, hoping Guy would follow her.

But he did not at once. Standing for a moment irresolute, while he
looked curiously at Maddy, he said at last:

"Of course I interfere with no one's scruples of that kind, but I
cannot allow you to wear yourself out for our amusement."

"I like to play--please let me," was Maddy's reply; and, as the set
upon the floor were waiting for her, she turned to the instrument,
while Guy mechanically offered his arm to Maria, and sauntered toward
the green room.

"What a blue old ignoramus that grandfather must be, to object to
dancing, don't you think so?"

Maria laughed a little spitefully, secretly glad that Maddy had
refused, and secretly angry at Guy for seeming to care so much.

"Say," she continued, as Guy did not answer her, "don't you think it a
sign that something is lacking in brains or education, when a person
sets up that dancing is wicked?"

Guy would have taken Maddy's side then, whatever he might have
thought, and he replied:

"No lack of brains, certainly; though education and circumstances have
much to do with one's views upon that subject. For my part, I like to
see people consistent. Now, that old ignoramus, as you call him, lays
great stress on pomp and vanities, and when I asked him once what he
meant by them, he mentioned dancing in particular as one of the things
which you, church people, promise to renounce;" and Guy bowed toward
Maria, who, knowing that she was one of the church people referred to,
winced perceptibly.

"But this girl--this Maddy. There's no reason why she should decline,"
she said; and Guy replied: "Respect for her grandfather, in her case,
seems to be stronger than respect for a higher power in some other
cases."

"It's just as wicked to play for dancing as 'tis to dance," Maria
remarked impatiently, while Guy rejoined:

"That is very possible; but I presume Maddy has never seen it in that
light, which makes a difference;" and the two retraced their steps to
the rooms where the gay revelers were still tripping to Maddy's
stirring music.

After several ineffectual efforts Agnes had succeeded in enticing the
doctor away from the piano, and thus there was no one near to see how
at last the bright color began to fade from her cheeks as the notes
before her ran together, and the keys assumed the form of one huge key
which Maddy could not manage. There was a blur before her eyes, a
buzzing in her ears, and just as the dancers were entering heart and
soul into the merits of a popular polka, there was a sudden pause in
the music, a crash among the keys, and a faint cry, which to those
nearest to her sounded very much like "Mr. Guy," as Maddy fell forward
with her face upon the piano. It was hard telling which carried her
from the room, the doctor or Guy, or which face of the three was the
whitest. Guy's was the most frightened, for the doctor knew she had
only fainted, while Guy, struck with the marble rigidity of the face
so recently flushed with excitement, said at first, "She's dead,"
while over him there flashed a feeling that life with Maddy dead would
be desolate indeed. But Maddy was not dead, and Guy, when he went back
to his guests carried the news that she had recovered from her faint,
which she kindly ascribed to the heat of the rooms, instead of fatigue
from playing so long. The doctor was with her and she was doing as
well as could be expected, he said, thinking within himself how he
wished they would go home, and wondering what attraction there was
there, now that Maddy's place was vacant. Guy was a vastly miserable
man by the time the last guest had bidden him good-night, and he had
heard for the hundred-and-fiftieth time what a delightful evening it
had been. Politeness required that he should look to the very last as
pleasant and unconcerned as if upstairs there were no little sick
girl, all alone undoubtedly with Dr. Holbrook, whom he mentally styled
a "lucky dog," in that he was not obliged to appear again in the
parlors unless he chose.

The doctor knew Maddy did not require his presence after the first
half hour, but he insisted upon her being sent to bed, and then went
frequently to her door until assured by Mrs. Noah that she was
sleeping soundly, and would, if let alone, be well as ever on the
morrow, a prediction which proved true, for when at a late hour next
morning the family met at the breakfast table, Maddy's was the
brightest, freshest face of the whole, not even excepting Jessie's.
Maddy, too, was delighted with the party, declaring that nothing but
pleasurable excitement and heat had made her faint, and then with all
the interest which young girls usually attach to fainting fits, she
asked how she looked, how she acted, if she didn't appear very
ridiculous, and how she got out of the room, saying the only thing she
remembered after falling was a sensation as if she were being torn in
two.

"That's it," cried Jessie, who readily volunteered the desired
information, "Brother Guy was 'way off with Maria Cutler, and doctor
was with mamma, but both ran, oh, so fast, and both tried to take you
up. I think Miss Cutler real hateful, for she said, so meanlike, 'Do
you see them pull her, as if 'twas of the slightest consequence which
carried her out?'"

"Jessie," Guy interposed sternly, while the doctor looked
disapprovingly at the little girl, who subsided into silence after
saying, in an undertone, "I do think she's hateful, and that isn't all
she said either about Maddy."

It was rather uncomfortable at the table after that, and rather quiet,
too, as Maddy did not care to ask anything more concerning her faint,
while the others were not disposed to talk.

Breakfast over, the two young men repaired to the library, where Guy
indulged in his cigar, while the doctor fidgeted for a time, and then
broke out abruptly:

"I say, Guy, have you said anything to her about--well, about me, you
know?"

"Why, no, I've hardly had a chance; and then, again, I concluded it
better for each one to speak for himself;" and carelessly knocking the
ashes from his half-smoked cigar, Guy leaned back in his chair, with
his eyes, and, to all appearance, thoughts, wholly intent upon the
curls of smoke rising above his head.

"Guy, if you were not engaged, I should be tempted to think you wanted
Maddy Clyde yourself," the doctor suddenly exclaimed, confronting Guy,
who, still watching the rings of smoke, answered with the most
provoking coolness, "You should?"

"Yes, I should; and I am not certain but you do as it is, Guy," and
the doctor grew very earnest in his manner, "if you do care for Maddy
Clyde, and she for you, pray tell me so before I make a fool of
myself."

"Doctor," returned Guy, throwing the remains of his cigar into the
grate and folding his hands on his head, "you desire that I be frank,
and I will. I like Maddy Clyde very much--more indeed than any girl I
ever met--except Lucy. Had I never seen her--Lucy, I mean--I cannot
tell how I should feel toward Maddy. The chances are, however, that
much as I admire her, I should not make her my wife, even if she were
willing. But I have seen Lucy. I am engaged to be married. I shall
keep that engagement, and if you have feared me at all as a rival, you
may fear me no longer. I do not stand between you and Maddy Clyde."

Guy believed that he was saying the truth, notwithstanding that his
heart beat faster than its wont and his voice was a little thick. It
was doubtful whether he would marry Maddy Clyde, if he could. By
nature and education he was very proud, and the inmates of the red
cottage would have been an obstacle to be surmounted by his pride. He
knew they were good, far, far better than himself; but, from his
earliest remembrance, he had been taught that blood and family and
position were all-important; that by virtue of them Remington was a
name of which to be proud; that his father's foolish marriage with a
pretty governess was the first misalliance ever known in the family,
and that he was not likely to follow that example was a point fully
established in his own mind. He might admire Maddy very much, and,
perhaps, build castles of what might possibly have been, had she been
in his sphere of life; but, should he verily think of making her his
wife, the olden pride would certainly come up a barrier between them.
Guy could not explain all this to the doctor, who would have been
tempted to knock him down, if he had; but he succeeded in quieting his
fears, and even suggested bringing Maddy in there, if the doctor
wished to know his fate that morning.

"I hear her now--I'll call her," he said; and, opening the door, he
spoke to Maddy, just passing through the hall. "Dr. Holbrook wishes to
see you," he said, as Maddy came up to him; and, holding the door for
her to enter, he saw her take the seat he had just vacated. Then,
closing it upon them, he walked away, thinking that last night's
party, or something, had produced a bad effect on him, making him blue
and wretched, just as he should suppose a criminal would feel when
about to be executed.

CHAPTER XVI.

THE DOCTOR AND MADDY.

Now that they were alone, the doctor's courage forsook him, and he
could only stammer out some commonplace remarks about the party,
asking how Maddy Lad enjoyed it, and if she was sure she had entirely
recovered from the effects of her fainting fit. He was not getting on
at all, and it was impossible for him to say anything as he had meant
to say it. Why couldn't she help him, instead of looking so
unsuspiciously at him with those large, bright eyes? Didn't she know
how dear she was to him? He should think she might. She might have
divined it ere this; and if so, why didn't she blush, or something?

At last she came to his aid by saying, "You promised to tell me about
the bracelets and necklace, whether I ought to keep them."

"Yes, oh yes, he believed he did." And getting up from his chair, the
doctor began to walk the floor, the better to hide his confusion.
"Yes, the bracelets. You looked very pretty in them, Maddy, very; but
you are always pretty--ahem--yes. If you were engaged to Guy, I should
say it was proper; but if not, why, I don't know; the fact is, Maddy,
I am not quite certain what I am saying, so you must excuse me. I
almost hated you that day you sent the note, telling me you were
coming to be examined; but I had not seen you then. I did not know
how, after a while--a very little while--I should in all probability--
well, I did; I changed my mind, and I--I guess you have not the
slightest idea what I mean." And stopping suddenly, he confronted the
astonished Maddy, who replied:

"Not the slightest, unless you are going crazy."

She could in no other way account for his strange conduct, and she sat
staring at him while he continued: "I told you once that when I wanted
my bill I'd let you know. I'd ask for pay. I want it now. I present my
bill."

With a scared, miserable feeling, Maddy listened to him, wondering
where she should get the money, if it were possible for her
grandfather to raise it, and how much her entire wardrobe would bring,
suppose she should sell it! The bill had not troubled her latterly,
for she had fallen into a way of believing that the doctor would wait
until she was graduated and could earn it by teaching. Nothing could
be more inopportune than for him to present it now; and with a
half-stifled sob she began to speak, but he her by a gesture, and
sitting down beside her, said, in a voice more natural than the one with
which he had at first addressed her:

"Maddy, I know you have no money. It is not that I want, Maddy; I
want--I want--you."

He bent down over her now, for her face was hidden in her hands, all
sense of sight shut out, all sense of hearing, too, save the words he
was pouring into her ear--words which burned their way into her heart,
making It throb for a single moment with gratified pride, and then
growing heavy as lead as she knew how impossible it was for her to pay
the debt in the way which he desired.

"I can't, doctor; oh, I can't!" she sobbed. "I never dreamed of this;
never supposed you could want me for your wife. I'm only a little
girl--only sixteen last October--but I'm so sorry for you, who have
been so kind. If I only could love you as you deserve! I do love you,
too; but not the way you mean. I cannot be Maddy Holbrook; no; doctor,
I cannot."

She was sobbing piteously, and in his concern for her the doctor
forgot somewhat the stunning blow he had received.

"Don't, Maddy darling!" he said, drawing her trembling form closely to
him, "Don't be so distressed. I did not much think you'd tell me yes,
and I was a fool to ask you. I am too old; but, Maddy, Guy is as old
as I am."

The doctor did not know why he said this, unless in the first keenness
of his disappointment there was a satisfaction in telling her that the
objection to his age would apply also to Guy. But it did not affect
Maddy one whit, or give her the slightest inkling of his meaning. He
saw it did not, and the pain was less to bear. Still, he would know
certainly if he had a rival, and so he said to her:

"Do you love some one else, Maddy? Is another preferred before me, and
is that the reason why you cannot love me?"

"No," Maddy answered, through her tears. "There is no one else. Whom
should I love, unless it were you? I know nobody but Guy."

That name touched a sore, aching chord in the doctor's heart, but he
gave no sign of the jealousy which had troubled him, and for a moment
there was silence in the room; then, as the doctor began faintly to
realize that Maddy had refused him, there awoke within him a more
intense desire to win her than he had ever felt before. He would not
give her up without another effort, and laying her unresisting head
upon his bosom, he pleaded again for her love, going over all the
past, and telling of the interest awakened when first she came to him
that April afternoon, almost two years ago; then of the little sick
girl who had grown so into the heart never before affected in the
least by womankind, and lastly of the beautiful woman, as he called
her, sitting beside him now in all the freshness of her young
womanhood. And Maddy, as she listened, felt for him a strange kind of
pity, a wish to do his bidding if she only could, and why shouldn't
she? Girls had married those whom they did not love, and been
tolerably happy with them, too. Perhaps she could be so with the
doctor. There was everything about him to respect, and much which she
could love. Should she try? There was a great lump in Maddy's throat
as she tried to speak, but it cleared away and she said very sadly,
but very earnestly, too:

"Dr. Holbrook, would you like me to say yes with my lips, when all the
time there was something at my heart tugging to answer no?"

This was not at all what Maddy meant to say, but the words were born
of her extreme truthfulness, and the doctor thus learned the nature of
the struggle which he saw plainly was going on.

"No, Maddy, I would not have you say yes unless your heart was in it,"
he answered, while he tried to smile upon the tearful face looking up
so sorrowfully at him.

But the smile was a forlorn one, and there came instead a tear as he
thought how dear was the fair creature who never would be his. Maddy
saw the tear, and as if she were a child wiped it from his cheek;
then, in tones which never faltered, she told him it might be in time
she'd learn to love him. She would try so hard, she'd think of him
always as her promised husband, and by that means should learn at last
not to shrink from taking him for such. It might be ever so long, and
perhaps she should be twenty or more, but some time in the future she
should feel differently. Was he satisfied, and would he wait?

Her little hand was resting on his shoulder, but he did not mind its
soft pressure or know that it was there, so strong was the temptation
to accept that half-made promise. But the doctor was too noble, to
unselfish to bind Maddy to himself unless she were wholly willing, and
he said to her that if she did not love him now she probably never
would. She could not make a love. She need not try, as it would only
result in her own unhappiness. They would be friends just as they
always had been, and none need know of what had passed between them,
none but Guy. "I must tell him" the doctor said, "because he knows
that I was going to ask you."

Maddy could not explain why it was that she felt glad the doctor would
tell Guy. She did not analyze any of her feelings, or stop to ask why
she should care to have Guy Remington know the answer she had given
Dr. Holbrook. He was going to him now, she was sure, for he arose to
leave her, saying he might not see her again before she returned to
New York. She did not mention his bill. That was among the bygones, a
thing never again to be talked about, and offering him her hand, she
looked for an instant earnestly into his face, then without a word,
hurried from the room, while the doctor, with a sad, heavy heart, went
in quest of Guy.

"Refused you, did you say?" and Guy's face certainly looked brighter
than it had before since he left the doctor with Maddy Clyde.

"Yes, refused me, as I might have known she would," was the doctor's
reply, spoken so naturally that Guy looked up quickly to see if he
really did not care.

But the expression of the face belied the calmness of the voice; and,
touched with genuine pity, Guy asked the cause of the refusal--
"preference for any one else, or what?"

"No, there was no one whom she preferred. She merely did not like me
well enough to be my wife, that was all," the doctor said, and then he
tried to talk of something else; but it would not do. The wound was
yet too fresh and sore to be covered up, and in spite of himself the
bearded chin quivered and the manly voice shook as he bade good-by to
Guy, and then went galloping down the avenue.

Great was the consternation among the doctor's patients when it was
known that their pet physician--the one in whose skill they had so
much confidence--was going to Europe, where in Paris he could perfect
himself in his profession. Some cried, and among them Agnes; some said
he knew enough already; some tried to dissuade him from his purpose;
some wondered at the sudden start, while only two knew exactly why he
was going--Guy and Maddy; the former approving his decision and
lending his influence to make his tour abroad as pleasant as possible;
and the latter weeping bitterly as she thought how she had sent him
away, and that if aught befell him on the sea or in that distant land,
she would be held amenable. Once there came over her the wild impulse
to bid him stay, to say that she would be his wife; but, ere the rash
act was done, Guy came down to the cottage, and Maddy's resolution
gave way at once.

It would be difficult to tell the exact nature of Maddy's liking for
Guy at that time. Had he offered himself to her she would probably
have refused him even more promptly than she did the doctor; for, to
all intents and purposes, he was, in her estimation, the husband of
Lucy Atherstone. As such, there was no harm in making him her paragon
of all male excellence; and Guy would have felt flattered, could he
have known how much he was in that young girl's thoughts. But now for
a few days he had a rival, for Maddy's thoughts were all given to the
doctor, who came down to see her once before starting for Europe. She
did not cry while he was there, but her voice was strange and hoarse
as she gave him messages for Lucy Atherstone; and all that day her
face was white and sad, as are the faces of those who come back from
burying their dead.

Only once after the party did she go up to Aikenside, and then,
summoning all her fortitude, she gave back to Guy the bracelets and
the necklace, telling him she ought not to wear them; that ornaments
as rich as these were not for her; that her grandmother did not wish
her to keep them, and he must take them back. Guy saw she was in
earnest, and much against his will he received again the ornaments he
had been so happy in purchasing.

"They would do for Jessie when she was older," Maddy said; but Guy
thought it very doubtful whether Jessie would ever have them. They
were something he had bought for Maddy, something she had worn, and as
such they were too sacred to be given to another. So he laid them away
beside the picture guarded so carefully from every one.

Two weeks afterward Aikenside presented again a desolate, shut-up
appearance, for Agnes, Maddy and Jessie had returned to New York;
Agnes to continue the siege which, in despair of winning the doctor,
she had commenced against a rich old bachelor, who had a house on
Madison Square; and Maddy to her books, which ere long obliterated, in
a measure, the bitter memory of all that had transpired during her
winter vacation.

CHAPTER XVIL

WOMANHOOD.

Two years pass quickly, particularly at school, and to Maddy Clyde,
talking with her companions of the coming holidays, it seemed hardly
possible that two whole years were gone since the eventful vacation
when Dr. Holbrook had so startled her by offering her his hand. He was
in Europe still, and another name than his was on the little office in
Mrs. Conner's yard. To Maddy he now wrote frequently; friendly,
familiar letters, such as a brother might write, never referring to
the past, but telling her whatever he thought would interest and
please her. Occasionally at first, and more frequently afterward, he
spoke of Margaret Atherstone, Lucy's younger sister, a brilliant,
beautiful girl who reminded him, he said, of Maddy, only she was
saucier, and more of a tease; not at all like Lucy, whom he described
as something perfectly angelic. Her twenty-fifth birthday found her on
a sickbed, with Dr. Holbrook in attendance, and this was the reason
given why the marriage between herself and Guy was again deferred.
There had been many weeks of pain, succeeded by long, weary months of
languor, and during all this time the doctor had been with her as the
family physician, while Margaret also had been constantly in
attendance. But Lucy was much better now. She could sit up all day,
and even walk a little distance, assisted by the doctor and Margaret,
whose name had become to be almost as familiar to Maddy as was that of
Lucy. And Maddy, in thinking of Margaret, sometimes wondered "if----"
but never went any farther than that. Neither did she ask Guy a word
about her, though she knew he must have seen her. She not say much to
him of Lucy, but she wondered why he did not go for her, and wanted to
talk with him about it but he was so changed that she dared not. He
was not sociable, as of old, and Agnes did not hesitate to call him
cross, while Jessie complained that he never walked or played with her
now, but sat all day long in a deep reverie of some kind.

On this account Maddy did not look forward to the coming vacation as
joyfully as she would otherwise have done. Still it was, always
pleasant going home, and she sat talking with her young friends of all
they expected to do, when a servant entered the room and glancing over
the group of girls, singled Maddy out saying, as he placed an unsealed
envelope in her hand. "A telegram for Miss Clyde."

There was a blur before Maddy's eyes, so that at first she could not
see clearly, and Jessie, climbing on the bench beside her, read aloud:

"Your grandmother is dying. Come at once. Agnes and Jessie will stay
till next week.

"Guy Remington"

It was impossible to go that afternoon but with the earliest dawn she
was up, and unmindful of the snow falling so rapidly, started on the
sad journey home. It was the first genuine storm of the season, and it
seemed resolved on making amends for past neglect, sweeping in furious
gusts against the windows sifting down in thick masses from the leaden
sky, and so impeding the progress of the train that the chill wintery
night had closed gloomily in ere the Sommerville station was reached,
and Maddy, weary and dispirited, stepped out upon the platform,
glancing anxiously around for the usual omnibus, which she had little
hope would be there on such a night. If not, what should she do? This
had been the burden of her thoughts for the last few hours, for she
could not expect Guy to send out his horses in this fearful storm,
much less to be there himself. But Guy was there, and it was his voice
which first greeted her as she stood half blinded by the snow,
uncertain what she must do next.

"Ah, Mr. Remington, I didn't expect this. I am so glad, and how kind
it was of you to wait for me!" she exclaimed, her voice expressing her
delight, and amply repaying the young man, who had not been very
patient or happy through the six long hours of waiting he had endured.

But he was both happy and patient now with Maddy's hand in his, and
pressing it very gently he led her into the ladies' room; then making
her sit down before the fire he brushed her snowy garments himself,
and dashing a few flakes from her disordered hair, told her what she
so eagerly asked to know. Her grandmother had had a paralytic stroke,
and the only word she had uttered since was "Maddy." Guy had not been
down himself, but had sent Mrs. Noah as soon as Farmer Green had
brought the news. She was there yet, he said, the storm having
prevented her return.

"And grandma?" Maddy gasped, fixing her eyes wistfully upon him. "You
do not think her dead?"

No, Guy did not, and stooping he asked if he should not remove from
the dainty little feet resting on the stove hearth the overshoes, so
full of melting snow. Maddy cared little for her shoes, or herself
just then. She hardly knew that Guy was taking them off, much less
that, as he bent beside her, her hand lay lightly upon his shoulder as
she continued her questionings.

"She is not dead, you say; but do you think-does any-body think she'll
die? Your telegram said 'dying.'"

Maddy was not to be deceived, and thinking it best to be frank with
her, Guy told her that the physician, whom he had taken pains to see
on his way to the depot, had said there was no hope. Old age and an
impaired constitution precluded the possibility of recovery, but he
trusted she might live till the young lady came.

"She must--she will! Oh, grandma, why did I ever leave her?" and
burying her face in her hands. Maddy cried passionately, while the
last three years of her Life passed in rapid review before her
mind--years which she had spent in luxurious ease, leaving her
grandmother to toil in the humble cottage, and die at the last, it
might be, without one parting word for her.

The feeling that perhaps she had been guilty of neglect, was the
bitterest of all, and Maddy wept on, unmindful of Guy's attempts to
soothe and quiet her. At last, as she heard a clock in the adjoining
room strike eight, she started up exclaiming "I have stayed too long.
I must go now. Is there any conveyance here?"

"But, Maddy," Guy rejoined, "you cannot go to-night. The roads between
here and Honedale are one unbroken snow bank. It would take hours to
break through; besides you are too tired. You need rest, and must come
with me to Aikenside, where you are expected, for when I found how
late the train would be, I sent back word to have your room and
parlors warmed, and a nice hot supper to be ready for us. You'll
surely go with me, if I think best."

Guy's manner was more like a lover than a friend, but Maddy was in no
state to remark it. She only felt an intense desire to go home, and
turning a deaf ear to all he could urge, replied: "You don't know how
dear grandma is to me, or you would not ask me to stay. She's all the
mother I ever knew, and I must go. Think, would you stay if the one
you loved best was dying?"

"But the one I love best is not dying, so I can reason clearly,
Maddy."

Here Guy checked himself, and listened while Maddy asked again if
there was no conveyance there as usual.

"None but mine," said Guy, while Maddy continued faintly:

"And you are afraid it will kill your horses?"

"No, it would only fatigue them greatly; it's for you I fear. You've
borne enough to-day."

"Then, Mr. Remington, oh, please send me. I shall die at Aikenside.
John will drive me, I know. He used to like me. I'll ask him," and
Maddy was going in quest of the Aikenside coachman, when Guy held her
back, and said:

"John will go if I bid him. But you, Maddy, if I thought it was safe."

"It is. Oh, let me go," and Maddy grasped both his hands beseechingly.

If there was a man who could resist the eloquent appeal of Maddy's
eyes at that moment, the man was not Guy Remington, and leaving her
alone, he sought out John, asking if it would be possible to get
through to Homedale that night.

John shook his head decidedly, but when Guy explained Maddy's distress
and anxiety, the negro began to relent, particularly as he saw his
young master, too, was interested.

"It'll kill them horses," he said, "but mabby that's nothin' to please
the girl."

"If we only had runners now, instead of wheels, John," Guy said, after
a moment's reflection. "Drive back to Aikenside as fast as possible,
and change the carriage for a covered sleigh. Leave the grays at home
and drive a pair of farm horses. They can endure more. Tell Flora to
send my traveling shawl. Miss Clyde may need it, and an extra buffalo,
and a bottle of wine, and my buckskin gloves, and take Tom on with
you, and a snow shovel; we may have to dig."

"Yes, yes, I know," and tying his muffler about his throat, John
started off through the storm, his mind a confused medley of ideas,
the main points of which were, bottles of wine, snow shovels, and the
fact that his master was either crazy or in love.

Meanwhile, with the prospect of going home, Maddy had grown quiet, and
did not refuse the temporary supper of buttered toast, muffins, steak
and hot coffee, which Guy ordered from the small hotel just in the
rear of the depot. Tired, nervous, and almost helpless, she allowed
Guy himself to prepare her coffee, taking it from his hand and
drinking it at his bidding as obediently as a child. There was a
feeling of delicious rest in being cared for thus, and but for the
dying one at Honedale she would have enjoyed it vastly. As it was,
though, she never for a moment forgot her grandmother. She did forget,
in a measure, her anxiety, and was able to think how kind, how
exceedingly kind Guy was. He was like what he used to be, she thought,
only kinder, and thinking it was because she was in trouble, she
accepted all his little attentions willingly, feeling how pleasant it
was to have him there, and thinking once with a half shudder of the
long, cold ride before her, when Guy would no longer be present, and
also of the dreary home where death might possibly be a guest ere she
could reach it.

It was after nine ere John appeared, his crisp wool powdered with snow
which clung to his outer garments, and literally covered his dark,
cloth cap.

"'Twas mighty deep," he said, bowing to Maddy, "and the wind was
getting colder. 'Twas a hard time Miss Clyde would have, and hadn't
she better wait?"

No, Maddy could not wait, and standing up she suffered Guy to wrap her
cloak about her, and fasten more securely the long, warm scarf she
wore around her neck.

"Drive close to the platform," he said to John, and the covered sleigh
was soon brought to the point designated. "Now then, Maddy, I won't
let you run the risk of covering your feet with snow. I shall carry
you myself," Guy said, and ere Maddy was fully aware of his
intentions, he had her in his arms, and was bearing her to the sleigh.

Very carefully he drew the soft, warm robe about her, shielding her as
well as he could from the cold; then pulling his own fur collar about
his ears, he sprang in beside her, and, closing the door behind him,
bade John drive on.

"But, Mr. Remington," Maddy exclaimed in much surprise, "surely you
are not going too? You must not. It is asking too much. It is more
than I expected. Please don't go." "Would you rather I should not--that
is, aside from any inconvenience it may be to me--would you rather go
alone?" Guy asked, and Maddy replied:

"Oh, no. I was dreading the long ride, but did not dream of your
going. You will shorten it so much." "Then I shall be paid for going,"
was Guy's response, as he drew still more closely around her the fancy
buffalo robe.

The roads, though badly drifted in some places, were not as bad as Guy
had feared, and the strong horses kept steadily on; while Maddy,
growing more and more fatigued, at last fell away to sleep, and ceased
to answer Guy, For a time he watched her drooping head, and then
carefully drawing it to him, made it rest upon his shoulder, while he
wound his arm around her slight figure, and so supported her. He knew
she was sleeping quietly, by her gentle breathings; and once or twice
he involuntarily passed his hand caressingly over her soft, round
cheek, feeling the blood tingle to his finger tips as he thought of
his position there, with Maddy Clyde sleeping in his arms. What would
Lucy say, could she see him? And the doctor, with his strict ideas of
right and wrong, would he object? Guy did not know, and, with his
usual independence, he did not care. At least, he said to himself he
did not care; and so, banishing both the doctor and Lucy from his
mind, he abandoned himself to the happiness of the moment--a singular
land of happiness, inasmuch as it merely consisted in the fact that
Maddy Clyde's young head was pillowed on his bosom, and that, by
bending down, he could feel her sweet breath on his face. Occasionally
there flitted across Guy's mind a vague, uneasy consciousness that
though the act was, under the circumstances, well enough, the feelings
which prompted it were not such as either the doctor or Lucy would
approve. But they were far away; they would never know unless he told
them, as he probably should, of this ride on that wintry night; this
ride, which seemed to him so short that he scarcely believed his
senses when, without once having been overturned or called upon to use
the shovels so thoughtfully provided, the carriage suddenly came to a
halt, and he knew by the dim light shining through the low window that
the red cottage was reached.

Grandma Markham was dying, but she knew Maddy, and the palsied lips
worked painfully as they attempted to utter the loved name; while her
wasted face lighted up with eager joy as Maddy's arms were twined
about her neck, and she felt Maddy's kisses on her cheek and brow.
Could she not speak? Would she never speak again, Maddy asked
despairingly, and her grandfather replied: "Never, most likely. The
only thing she's said since the shock was to call your name; She's
missed you despatly this winter back, more than ever before, I think.
So have we all, but we would not send for you--Mr. Guy said you was
learning so fast." "Oh, grandpa, why didn't you? I would have come so
willingly," and for an instant Maddy's eyes flashed reproachfully upon
the recreant Guy, standing aloof from the little group gathered about
the bed, his arms folded together, and a moody look upon his face.

He was thinking of what had not yet entered Maddy's mind, thinking of
the future--Maddy's future, when the aged form upon the bed should be
gone, and the two comparatively helpless men be left alone.

"But it shall not be. The sacrifice is far too great. I can prevent
it, and I will," he muttered to himself, as he turned to watch the
gray dawn breaking in the east. Guy was a puzzle to himself. He would
not admit that during the past year his liking for Maddy Clyde had
grown to be something stronger than mere friendship, nor yet that his
feelings toward Lucy had undergone a change, prompting him not to go
to her when she was sick, and not to be as sorry as he ought that the
marriage was again deferred. Lucy had no suspicion of the change and
her childlike trust in him was the anchor which held him still true to
her in intentions at least, if not in reality. He knew from her
letters how much she had learned to like Maddy Clyde, and so, he
argued, there was no harm in his liking her too. She was a splendid
girl, and it seemed a pity that her lot should have been so humbly
cast. This was usually the drift of his thoughts in connection with
her; and now, as he stood there its that cottage, Maddy's home, they
recurred to him with tenfold intensity, for well he foresaw that a
struggle was before him if he rescued Maddy as he meant to do from her
approaching fate.

No such thoughts, however, intruded themselves on Maddy's mind. She
did not look away from the present, except it were at the past, in
which she feared she had erred by leaving her grandmother too much
alone. But to her passionate appeals for forgiveness, if she ever had
neglected the dying one, there came back only loving looks and mute
caresses, the aged hand smoothing lovingly the bowed head, or pressing
fondly the girlish cheeks where Guy's hand had been. With the coming
of daylight, however, there was a change; and Maddy, listening
intently, heard what sounded like her name. The tied tongue was loosed
for a little, and in tones scarcely articulate, the disciple who for
long years had served her Heavenly Father faithfully, bore testimony
to the blessed truth that God's promises to those who love Him are not
mere promises--that He will go with them through the river of death,
disarming the fainting soul of every fear, and making the dying bed
the very gate of heaven. This tribute to the Savior was her first
thought, while the second was a blessing for her darling, a charge to
seek the narrow way now in life's early morning. Disjointed sentences
they were, but Maddy understood them all, treasuring up every word
even to the last, the words the farther apart and most painfully
uttered, "You--will--care--and--comfort----" She did not say whom, but
Maddy knew whom she meant; and without then realizing the magnitude of
the act, virtually accepted the burden from which Guy was so anxious
to save her.

Book of the day: