Marcia Schuyler (Chapter 4, page 3 of 10)

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Chapter 4

Madam Schuyler, excusing herself from the table, went upstairs, purposeful decision in every line of her substantial body, determination in every sound of her footfall. Bride though she be, Kate would have meted out to her just dues this time. Company and a lover and the nearness of the wedding hour were things not to be trifled with even by a charming Kate.

But Madam Schuyler returned in a short space of time, puffing and panting, somewhat short of breath, and color in her face. She looked troubled, and she interrupted the Squire without waiting for him to finish his sentence to David.

"I cannot understand what is the matter with Kate," she said, looking at her husband. "She does not seem to be awake, and I cannot get her door open. She sleeps soundly, and I suppose the unusual excitement has made her very tired. But I should think she ought to hear my voice. Perhaps you better see if you can open the door."

There was studied calm in her voice, but her face belied her words. She was anxious lest Kate was playing one of her pranks. She knew Kate's careless, fun-loving ways. It was more to her that all things should move decently and in order than that Kate should even be perfectly well. But Marcia's white face behind her stepmother's ample shoulder showed a dread of something worse than a mere indisposition. David Spafford took alarm at once. He put down the silver syrup jug from which he had been pouring golden maple syrup on his cakes, and pushed his chair back with a click.

"Perhaps she has fainted!" he said, and Marcia saw how deeply he was concerned. Father and lover both started up stairs, the father angry, the lover alarmed. The Squire grumbled all the way up that Kate should sleep so late, but David said nothing. He waited anxiously behind while the Squire worked with the door. Madam Schuyler and Marcia had followed them, and halting curiously just behind came the two maids. They all loved Miss Kate and were deeply interested in the day's doings. They did not want anything to interfere with the well-planned pageant.

The Squire fumbled nervously with the latch, all the time calling upon his daughter to open the door; then wrathfully placed his solid shoulder and knee in just the right place, and with a groan and wrench the latch gave way, and the solid oak door swung open, precipitating the anxious group somewhat suddenly into the room.

Almost immediately they all became aware that there was no one there. David had stood with averted eyes at first, but that second sense which makes us aware without sight when others are near or absent, brought with it an unnamed anxiety. He looked wildly about.

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