"Have you asked her?"--in alarm.
"No; but could she?"
"How could she help it?" She would not tell him what Tommy thought. Oh, she must do everything to encourage David.
"And still," said he, puzzling, "I don't see how it can affect you."
"And I can't tell you," she moaned. "Oh, David, do, do find out. Why are you so blind?" She could have shaken him. "Don't you see that once Elspeth was willing to be taken care of by some other person----I must not tell you!"
"Then he would marry you?"
She cried in anxiety: "Have I told you, or did you find out?"
"I found out," he said. "Is it possible he is so fond of her as that?"
"There never was such a brother," she answered. She could not help adding, "But he is still fonder of me."
The doctor pulled his arm over his eyes and sat down again. Presently he was saying with a long face: "I came here to denounce the cause of your unhappiness, and I begin to see it is myself."
"Of course it is, you stupid David," she said gleefully. She was very kind to the man who had been willing to do so much for her; but as the door closed on him she forgot him. She even ceased to hear the warning voice he had brought with him from the dead. She was re-reading the letter that began by calling her wife.
THE ATTEMPT TO CARRY ELSPETH BY NUMBERS
That was one of Grizel's beautiful days, but there were others to follow as sweet, if not so exciting; she could travel back through the long length of them without coming once to a moment when she had held her breath in sudden fear; and this was so delicious that she sometimes thought these were the best days of all.
Of course she had little anxieties, but they were nearly all about David. He was often at Aaron's house now, and what exercised her was this--that she could not be certain that he was approaching Elspeth in the right way. The masterful Grizel seemed to have come to life again, for, evidently, she was convinced that she alone knew the right way.
"Oh, David, I would not have said that to her!" she told him, when he reported progress; and now she would warn him, "You are too humble," and again, "You were over-bold." The doctor, to his bewilderment, frequently discovered, on laying results before her, that what he had looked upon as encouraging signs were really bad, and that, on the other hand, he had often left the cottage disconsolately when he ought to have been strutting. The issue was that he lost all faith in his own judgment, and if Grizel said that he was getting on well, his face became foolishly triumphant, but if she frowned, it cried, "All is over!"
Of the proposal Tommy did not know; it seemed to her that she had no right to tell even him of that; but the rest she did tell him: that David, by his own confession, was in love with Elspeth; and so pleased was Tommy that his delight made another day for her to cherish.
So now everything depended on Elspeth. "Oh, if she only would!" Grizel cried, and for her sake Tommy tried to look bright, but his head shook in spite of him.
"Do you mean that we should discourage David?" she asked dolefully; but he said No to that.
"I was afraid," she confessed, "that as you are so hopeless, you might think it your duty to discourage him so as to save him the pain of a refusal."
"Not at all," Tommy said, with some hastiness.
"Then you do really have a tiny bit of hope?"
"While there is life there is hope," he answered.
She said: "I have been thinking it over, for it is so important to us, and I see various ways in which you could help David, if you would."
"What would I not do, Grizel! You have to name them only."
"Well, for instance, you might show her that you have a very high opinion of him."
"Agreed. But she knows that already."
"Then, David is an only child. Don't you think you could say that men who have never had a sister are peculiarly gentle and considerate to women?"
"Oh, Grizel! But I think I can say that."
"And--and that having been so long accustomed to doing everything for themselves, they don't need managing wives as men brought up among women need them."