201806191436losing the most valuable clerk


"You ask me to play the messenger boy to my own clerk! I read your silly note, my dear, and burned it."

Margaret, sinking a bit lower among the cushions of the couch, did not trust herself to answer.

"Now, my dear," said Daniel, "since you can no longer go out, you can take advantage of the chance that fact gives you, to drop this unseemly intimacy, which no doubt by this time you find burdensome enough, especially as you have seen how exceedingly annoying it is to my sisters and to me. We are willing to overlook your having flouted our wishes if you'll now——"

"Has Miss Hamilton been to see me and been turned away?" demanded Margaret, who for the past two weeks had neither seen nor heard a word from her friend, her notes and telephone calls having both failed to bring any response. She had been deeply wounded and worried at Catherine's seeming unfaithfulness to her in her time of dire need; and she had suffered keenly from the deadly loneliness that had engulfed her; for she had, through almost daily association for many weeks, become so deeply bound to Catherine that she felt she could never again know happiness if she lost her. While she had indeed suspected that some treachery on the part of the Leitzels was keeping Catherine away, yet she did not understand how her friend could possibly have failed to receive at least some of the communications she had sent to her; letters which she would have supposed must bring Catherine to her side, if she had to storm the house to get there.

"Have your sisters sent my friend away when she came to see me and kept it from me that she was here?" Margaret repeated in a tone so quiet that Daniel never suspected the volcano it covered.

"She has been told by Jennie every time she called that you wished to be excused. This unseemly intimacy is to cease! You will have to understand, Margaret, that I am not a man to be trifled with by a mere woman—a mere girl, I might say!"

"Brave and manly of you, Daniel, certainly."

"If you don't watch out, you will be the cause of my  in New Munich and one to whom I have confided important private business matters, for, if I must, I shall tell her straight that I object to her running after my wife!"

"Oh!"

"I have already hinted to her that you are at last coming to your senses and getting over your silly infatuation for her. I intimated to her that it was only your appreciation of her valuable services to me which had led you to be very nice and friendly to her."

"Do you suppose for an instant, Daniel, that she was idiot enough to believe that?"

"Why shouldn't she believe it?"

"Because she knows me—and she also knows you."

But though Margaret assured herself many times in the course of the wakeful, restless night which followed that Catherine would not believe Daniel's absurd story nor let the family attitude toward her come between them, she really suffered an agony of doubt and fear lest the friendship so precious to her should not be able to stand under the pressure brought to bear upon it.

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