He rose suddenly and said without apology: "Gladys, I wish I could feel sure you'd never marry my brother."
She did not reply, but sat in her easy chair, looking up at him with a strange kind of calmness.
"I know all the advantages," he went on hastily, "but they wouldn't make it up to you. That sort of a--compromise would make you awfully unhappy. I know."
"I don't think I shall ever marry Bayliss," Gladys spoke in her usual low, round voice, but her quick breathing showed he had touched something that hurt. "I suppose I have used him. It gives a school-teacher a certain prestige if people think she can marry the rich bachelor of the town whenever she wants to. But I am afraid I won't marry him,--because you are the member of the family I have always admired."
Claude turned away to the window. "A fine lot I've been to admire," he muttered.
"Well, it's true, anyway. It was like that when we went to High School, and it's kept up. Everything you do always seems exciting to me."
Claude felt a cold perspiration on his forehead. He wished now that he had never come. "But that's it, Gladys. What HAVE I ever done, except make one blunder after another?"
She came over to the window and stood beside him. "I don't know; perhaps it's by their blunders that one gets to know people,--by what they can't do. If you'd been like all the rest, you could have got on in their way. That was the one thing I couldn't have stood."