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A MAD BETROTHAL: OR, NADINE'S VOW. By LAURA JEAN LIBBEY, Author of "Parted by Fate," "Florabel's Lover,' lone," etc. CHAPTER XXXI. WATCHING AND WAITING IN VATN. ON the day following Nadine's departure from Saratoga, Maud met Gilbert Wetherell walking moodily through Congress Park, and by a few skilfully worded questions she soon drew from him how he had met Nadine on her way to the springs on the day before, and the effort it had cost him to pass her by, as she had desired. "I have a new plan to piopose, Gilbert," she said. "Come to the villa as though you were coming apparently to see me. Sooner or later you will be sure to run across Nadine in the parlour or the halls or garden, and when you do, catch her by the little white hands, then and there, and refuse to let them go until she has promised to care for you again." Gilbert was only too eageF to grasp at the suggestion, and lie was more thankful than ever to Maud for allowing him to call upon her that he might have the opportunity of meeting Nadine in her own parlour alone. He embraced the privilege that very evening. Maud's welcome was warm indeed. He could not help but notice how charming she looked in her white mull dress, with its mauve sash and dainty satin bows. "Were you expecting company, Maud?" he asked. "If so, do not let me detain you one moment. I will go at once." Why, no, I am expecting no one," she z!l answered. "What in the world made you in- quire that ?" He could not reply: "Judging from the manner in which you have gotten yourself up, as for some special occasion," but simply answered, gallantly It would be the most natural thing in the world to suppose you had plenty of admirers calling upon you these delightful afternoons and evenings, and in that case I would be de trap." "By no means," declared Maud. "I should prefer talking to you-" She stopped short in evident confusion. If he had not been the thoughtless gentleman that he was, he must have attached some meaning to her words. As it was, his heart warmed grate- fully toward her for doing her best to put him at his ease in Nadine's home. "Now, as you are my guest, I must do my best to entertain you," she declared, archly. "I will sing you some of Nadine's songs; you will like that ?" "Sing Nadine's-and your own, too, Maud," he replied, gallantly. I have not forgotten your passionate love of music," she said, smiling, "or—or your favourite selections. If Maud possessed one great gift above all others, it was for singing beautiful, pathetic ballads; and to-night she exerted herself to please, as she never exerted herself in her whole life to please before. It had been often laughingly said of her, that her music had the power of luring a man's heart from his breast almost, it was so entrancing, so soul-stiring but glancing up at him from beneath her drooping lashes as she sang some impassioned love passane, she could not see that he was even listening. "He has not heard me," she thought, stopping short. "His thoughts are with Nadine, not with me." She was quite right. He was doing his best to seem interested, as in duty bound; but his thoughts would wander to Nadine, and he was vaguely wondering if he would see her that even- ing, or if his visit would be useless. For a week or more he called each day at Linden Villa, until at length hope began to die out. He never so much as caught a glimpse of Nadine. "It is plainly apparent she is avoiding me, and will avoid me on every occasion on which I present myself here. I may as well come no more." Yet, somehow, he began insensibly to look for sympathy and comfort from Maud. Mrs. Dorchester looked on with anxious eyes. You may well turn your attention elsewhere, my dear," she would often say. Gilbert Wetherell's one thought is of Nadine. There are plenty of other young gentlemen heart-whole and fancy-free. Why waste your precious time on him ?" Because out of the whole world of men I could love only him," the girl replied, in a low voice. When he and Nadine parted I am sure fate had a hand in it; intending him for me. I am sure of it, mamma." Still Mrs. Dorchester felt worried over the jnatter. She wished that Maud had set her heart on any other man. He is coming here too much. Maud is thrown into his society too often. Despite her protests, I think I ought to let him know Nadine is not here; then his visits would cease it would be best." Maud took on so when she hinted at this that her eyes were fairly opened to the fact her daughter loved Wetherell with all the force of her Southern nature-love him who never could, and never would return it. Ah, the pity of this wealth of wasted love so lavishly given, and all in vain She saw now how enormous her mistake had been in not crushing this fatal love in the bud, putting the whole world between her daughter and handsome, courteous Gilbert Wetherell. "Let me enjoy his society while I can, mamma," she said, with such pathos in her voice that it wrung her mother's heart. When he goes from me it will be as though the world's sun had for ever set for me, leaving the earth in eternal gloom. I shall want to turn my face to the wall and die. "The sooner that she is cured of this attach- ment the better," thought Mrs. Dorchester, in alarm. "My eyes have been blinded too long." Hurrying through the drawing-room out into the garden, she saw Fatly—one of the house- maids—^athonne roses for the parlour vases. Patty," she said, nervously, "if the door bell rings this afternoon, you are to answer it instead of Peters." "Yes, ma'am," answered the girl, wonder- ingly. "If it. is Mr. Wetherell whom you admit, ask if he wishes to see Miss Maud or Nadine. He will, no"doubt, answer Miss Maud. Then you are to casually remark that Nadine has left Linden Villa. You understand? "Yes, ma'ain," answered Patty. The girl executed her mission well. Will you walk in, sir ? she said, before Wetherell could frame the words on his lips. "Miss Maud is in. The other young lady has gone away." "Nadine — has gone- away he asked, eagerly. Yes, sir," repeated the girl, demurely.' How ?—when? he questioned. "If you will tell me where she went I sfcall be very grateful." And he made his words emphatic by a silver dollar placed in her hand. "I am sure I don't quite know, sir," she said curtseying. I thought I heard them saying something about a place called Uplands." "Thank you," answered Wetherell, turning away. Aren't you coming in, sir ? asked the girl, in wonder. No I think I haven't time this afternoon. Give my card to Miss Maud, with my com- pliments. Say that I did not have time to make a call. I-I am called hurriedly out of town." Maud had seen him coming leisurely up the broad walk from behind the screen of lace curtains, and the novel she had be on reading went in one direction, and her curl papers in the other, when Patty's timid knock was heard on the door. When Miss Dorchester threw it open, she de- livered her message. "Gone! screamed Maud—" Gone! Why didn't you fly up here and deliver that message before he had time to reach the gate? Take that for your stupidity!" cried the enraged beauty, administering a sound box on the girl'a ears. I Patty retreated in hot haste, but all the way downstairs, as she afterwards told in the ser- vants' hall, she heard Miss Dorchester going 011 like one mad. Peters was quickly dispatched to the hotel with a note for Mr. Wetherell, but the clerk informed him that he had left the Grand Union, being just in time to catch an outgoing New York express. Miss will be just furious when she hears that," mumbled Peters. "But it is as it I should be. What right has she to look at Marse G ilbert, anyhow ? Dear me," muttered the hotel clerk, turning back to his books, that reminds me that I for- got to give Mr. Wetherell the letter that came in the last mail for him." 11 Now, here's a pretty go," he said, slowly, knitting his brow. This letter says, 'If not delivered in three days, return to —ah, who in the deuce is it to be returned to ? A Philadel- phia lawyer couldn't make out that scrawl. If Mr. Gilbert Wetherell's correspondents expect their letters either forwarded or returned, they must give a fellow a better lead than this scrawl." Turning the square, white envelope over in his hand, he saw that it was postmarked Glen Farm P.O. Some little rustic beauty languishing for the handsome young fellow while he has been revel- I ling in the smiles of the gay Saratoga belles." He had unconsciously wasted more time over the letter than he usually allotted to any one of the many thousands that passed through his hands, and tossing it back in the box, forgot it. Thus the letter poor Aunt Hester had secretly written — for it was from her — was never destined to be received by Gilbert Wetherell. Surely a fate more cruel never shaped two destinies. Would they ever meet again, and a reconciliation ever take place ? Affairs looked sadly against it now. And this was how it happened that Aunt Hester watched and waited all in vain for Gilbert Wetherell's coming.