That Maude was more interested in J.C. De Vere than she supposed was proved by the earnestness with which she defended him from all mercenary motives.
"He knows Nellie's fortune is much larger than my own," she said; "and by preferring me to her he shows that money is not his motive."
Still Louis' suggestion troubled her, and by way of testing the matter she sat down at once and wrote him a note, telling him frankly how much she had in her own name and how much in expectancy. This note she sent to him by John, who, naturally quick-witted, read a portion of the truth in her tell-tale face, and giving a loud whistle in token of his approbation he exclaimed, "This nigger'll never quit larfin' if you gets him after all Miss Nellie's nonsense, and I hopes you will, for he's a heap better chap than I s'posed, though I b'lieve I like t'other one the best!"
Poor Maude! That other one seemed destined to be continually thrust upon her, but resolving to banish him from her mind as one who had long since ceased to think of her, she waited impatiently, for a reply to her letter.
Very hastily J.C. tore it open, hoping, believing, that it contained the much desired answer. "I knew she could not hold out against me-- no one ever did," he said; but when he read the few brief lines, he dashed it to the floor with an impatient "Pshaw!" feeling a good deal disappointed that she had not said Yes and a very little disappointed that the figures were not larger!
"Five thousand dollars the 20th of next June, and five thousand more when that old Janet dies; ten thousand in all. Quite a handsome property, if Maude could have it at once. I wonder if she's healthy, this Mrs. Hopkins," soliloquized J.C., until at last a new idea entered his mind, and striking his fist upon the table he exclaimed, "Of course she will. Such people always do, and that knocks the will in head!" and J.C. De Vere frowned wrathfully upon the little imaginary Hopkinses who were to share the milkman's fortune with Maude.
Just then a girlish figure was seen beneath the trees in Dr. Kennedy's yard, and glancing at the white cape bonnet J.C. knew that it was Maude, the sight of whom drove young Hopkins and the will effectually from his mind. "He would marry her, anyway," he said, "five thousand dollars was enough;" and donning his hat he started at once for the doctor's. Maude had returned to the house, and was sitting with her brother when the young man was announced. Wholly unmindful of Louis' presence, he began at once by asking" if she esteemed him so lightly as to believe that money could make any difference whatever with him."
"It influences some men," answered Maude, "and though you may like me--"