"It influences some men," answered Maude, "and though you may like me--"
"Like you, Maude Remington!" he exclaimed; "like is a feeble word. I worship you, I love the very air you breathe, and you must be mine. Will you, Maude?"
J.C. had never before been so much in earnest, for never before had he met with the least indecision, and he continued pleading his cause so vehemently that Louis, who was wholly unprepared for so stormy a wooing, stopped his ears and whispered to his sister, "Tell him Yes, before he drives me crazy!"
But Maude felt that she must have time for sober, serious reflection; J.C. was not indifferent to her, and the thought was very soothing that she who had never aspired to the honor had been chosen from all others to be his wife. He was handsome, agreeable, kind-hearted, and, as she believed, sincere in his love for her. And still there was something lacking. She could not well tell what, unless, indeed, she would have him more like James De Vere.
"Will you answer me?" J.C. said, after there had been a moment's silence, and in his deep black eyes there was a truthful, earnest look wholly unlike the wicked, treacherous expression usually hidden there.
"Wait a while," answered Maude, coming to his side and laying her hand upon his shoulder. "Wait a few days, and I most know I shall tell you Yes. I like you, Mr. De Vere, and if I hesitate it is because--because--I really don't know what, but something keeps telling me that our engagement may be broken, and if so, it had better not be made."
There was another storm of words, and then, as Maude still seemed firm in her resolution to do nothing hastily, J.C. took his leave. As the door closed after him, Louis heaved a deep sigh of relief, and, turning to his sister, said: "I never heard anything like it; I wonder if James would act like that!"
"Louis," said Maude, but ere Louis could reply she had changed her mind, and determined not to tell him that James De Vere alone stood between her and the decision J.C. pleaded for so earnestly. So she said: "Shall I marry J.C. De Vere?"