Marcia Schuyler (Chapter 3, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 3

Marcia stood quivering, trembling. She comprehended all in an instant. David Spafford had come a day earlier than he had been expected, to surprise Kate, and Kate was off having a good time with some one else. He had mistaken her for Kate. Her long dress and her put-up hair had deceived him in the moonlight. She tried to summon some womanly courage, and in her earnestness to make things right she forgot her natural timidity.

"It is not Kate," she said gently; "it is only Marcia. Kate did not know you were coming to-night. She did not expect you till to-morrow. She had to go out,--that is--she has gone with--" the truthful, youthful, troubled sister paused. To her mind it was a calamity that Kate was not present to meet her lover. She should at least have been in the house ready for a surprise like this. Would David not feel the omission keenly? She must keep it from him if she could about Captain Leavenworth. There was no reason why he should feel badly about it, of course, and yet it might annoy him. But he stepped back laughing at his mistake.

"Why! Marcia, is it you, child? How you have grown! I never should have known you!" said the young man pleasantly. He had always a grave tenderness for this little sister of his love. "Of course your sister did not know I was coming," he went on, "and doubtless she has many things to attend to. I did not expect her to be out here watching for me, though for a moment I did think she was at the gate. You say she is gone out? Then we will go up to the house and I will be there to surprise her when she comes."

Marcia turned with relief. He had not asked where Kate was gone, nor with whom.

The Squire and Madam Schuyler greeted the arrival with elaborate welcome. The Squire like Marcia seemed much annoyed that Kate had gone out. He kept fuming back and forth from the window to the door and asking: "What did she go out for to-night? She ought to have stayed at home!"

But Madam Schuyler wore ample satisfaction upon her smooth brow. The bridegroom had arrived. There could be no further hitch in the ceremonies. He had arrived a day before the time, it is true; but he had not found her unprepared. So far as she was concerned, with a few extra touches the wedding might proceed at once. She was always ready for everything in time. No one could find a screw loose in the machinery of her household.

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