"Hide there again, Grizel," he cried to her, little Tommy cried to her, Stroke the Jacobite, her captain, cried to the Lady Griselda; and he disappeared, and presently marched down the path with an imaginary Elspeth by his side. "I love you both, Elspeth," he was going to say, "and my love for the one does not make me love the other less"; but he glanced at Grizel, and she was leaning forward to catch his words as if this were no play, but life or death, and he knew what she longed to hear him say, and he said it: "I love you very much, Elspeth, but however much I love you, it would be idle to pretend that I don't love Grizel more."
A stifled cry of joy came from a clump of whin hard by, and they were man and woman again.
"Did you not know it, Grizel?"
"No, no; you never told me."
"I never dreamed it was necessary to tell you."
"Oh, if you knew how I have longed that it might be so, yes, and sometimes hated Elspeth because I feared it could not be! I have tried so hard to be content with second place. I have thought it all out, and said to myself it was natural that Elspeth should be first."
"My tragic love," he said, "I can see you arguing in that way, but I don't see you convincing yourself. My passionate Grizel is not the girl to accept second place from anyone. If I know anything of her, I know that."
To his surprise, she answered softly: "You are wrong. I wonder at it myself, but I had made up my mind to be content with second place, and to be grateful for it."
"I could not have believed it!" he cried.
"I could not have believed it myself," said she.
"Are you the Grizel----" he began.
"No," she said, "I have changed a little," and she looked pathetically at him.
"It stabs me," he said, "to see you so humble."
"I am humbler than I was," she answered huskily, but she was looking at him with the fondest love.
"Don't look at me so, Grizel," he implored. "I am unworthy of it. I am the man who has made you so humble."
"Yes," she answered, and still she looked at him with the fondest love. A film came over his eyes, and she touched them softly with her handkerchief.
"Those eyes that but a little while ago were looking so coldly at you!" he said.
"Dear eyes!" said she.
"Though I were to strike you----" he cried, raising his hand.
She took the hand in hers and kissed it.
"Has it come to this!" he said, and as she could not speak, she nodded. He fell upon his knees before her.
"I am glad you are a little sorry," she said; "I am a little sorry myself."
OF THE CHANGE IN THOMAS
To find ways of making David propose to Elspeth, of making Elspeth willing to exchange her brother for David--they were heavy tasks, but Tommy yoked himself to them gallantly and tugged like an Arab steed in the plough. It should be almost as pleasant to us as to him to think that love was what made him do it, for he was sure he loved Grizel at last, and that the one longing of his heart was to marry her; the one marvel to him was that he had ever longed ardently for anything else. Well, as you know, she longed for it also, but she was firm in her resolve that until Elspeth was engaged Tommy should be a single man. She even made him promise not to kiss her again so long as their love had to be kept secret. "It will be so sweet to wait," she said bravely. As we shall see presently, his efforts to put Elspeth into the hands of David were apparently of no avail, but though this would have embittered many men, it drew only to the surface some of Tommy's noblest attributes; as he suffered in silence he became gentler, more considerate, and acquired a new command over himself. To conquer self for her sake (this is in the "Letters to a Young Man") is the highest tribute a man can pay to a woman; it is the only real greatness, and Tommy had done it now. I could give you a score of proofs. Let us take his treatment of Aaron Latta.
One day about this time Tommy found himself alone in the house with Aaron, and had he been the old Tommy he would have waited but a moment to let Aaron decide which of them should go elsewhere.