Marcia Schuyler (Chapter 5, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 5

The room was very still as he spoke. Madam Schuyler forgot the coming guests and the preparations, in consternation over the thought of David and his sorrow. Marcia sobbed softly upon her father's breast, and her father involuntarily placed his arm about her as he stood in painful thought.

"It is terrible!" he murmured, "terrible! How could she bear to inflict such sorrow! She might have saved us the scorn of all of our friends. David, you must not go back alone. It must not be. You must not bear that. There are lovely girls in plenty elsewhere. Find another one and marry her. Take your bride home with you, and no one in your home need be the wiser. Don't sorrow for that cruel girl of mine. Give her not the satisfaction of feeling that your life is broken. Take another. Any girl might be proud to go with you for the asking. Had I a dozen other daughters you should have your pick of them, and one should go with you, if you would condescend to choose another from the home where you have been so treacherously dealt with. But I have only this one little girl. She is but a child as yet and cannot compare with what you thought you had. I blame you not if you do not wish to wed another Schuyler, but if you will she is yours. And she is a good girl. David, though she is but a child. Speak up, child, and say if you will make amends for the wrong your sister has done!"

The room was so still one could almost hear the heartbeats. David had raised his head once more and was looking at Marcia. Sad and searching was his gaze, as if he fain would find the features of Kate in her face, yet it seemed to Marcia, as she raised wide tear-filled eyes from her father's breast where her head still lay, that he saw her not. He was looking beyond her and facing the home-going alone, and the empty life that would follow.

Her thoughts the last few days had matured her wonderfully. She understood and pitied, and her woman-nature longed to give comfort, yet she shrunk from going unasked. It was all terrible, this sudden situation thrust upon her, yet she felt a willing sacrifice if she but felt sure it was his wish.

But David did not seem to know that he must speak. He waited, looking earnestly at her, through her, beyond her, to see if Heaven would grant this small relief to his sufferings. At last Marcia summoned her voice: "If David wishes I will go."

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