Lo, Michael (Chapter 7, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 7

When Michael presented himself at the appointed hour the next morning he was shown into a small reception room by a maid, and there he waited for a full half hour. At the end of that time he heard a discreet rustle of garments in the distance, and a moment later, became aware of a cold stare from the doorway. Mrs. Endicott in an elaborate morning frock was surveying him fixedly through a jewelled lorgnette, her chin tilted contemptuously, and an expression of supreme scorn upon her handsome features. Woman of the world that she was, she must have noted the grace of his every movement as he rose with his habitual courtesy to greet her. Yet for some reason this only seemed to increase her dislike.

There was no welcoming hand held out in response to his good morning, and no answering smile displaced the severity of the woman's expression as she stood confronting the boy, slowly paralyzing him with her glance. Not a word did she utter. She could convey her deepest meaning without words when she chose.

But Michael was a lad of great self-control, and keen logical mind. He saw no reason for the woman's attitude of rebuke, and concluded he must be mistaken in it. Rallying his smile once more he asked: "Is Miss Starr ready to ride, or have I come too early?"

Again the silence became impressive as the cold eyes looked him through, before the thin lips opened.

"My daughter is not ready to ride--with YOU, this morning or at any other time!"

"I beg your pardon, ma'am," said Michael now deeply astonished, and utterly unable to fathom the woman's strange manner. "Have I misunderstood? I thought she asked me to ride with her this morning. May I see her, please?"

"No, you may not see Miss Endicott!" said the cold voice. "And I have come down to tell you that I consider your coming here at all a great impertinence. Certainly my husband has fully discharged any obligations for the slight service he is pleased to assume that you rendered a good many years ago. I have always had my doubts as to whether you did not do more harm than good at that time. Of course you were only a child and it was impossible that you should have done any very heroic thing at that age. In all probability if you had kept out of things the trouble never would have happened, and your meddling simply gave you a wound and a soft bed for a while. In my opinion you have had far more done for you than you ever deserved, and I want you to understand that so far as my daughter is concerned the obligation is discharged."

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