“No,” replied Montague, “not precisely that.” He hesitated.

“I don't understand about it,” she continued. “Do you think I ought not to marry him?”

Montague studied her face. “Tell me,” he said, “have you made up your mind to marry him?”

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“No,” she answered, “I cannot say that I have.”

“If you have,” he added, “of course there is no use in my talking about it.”

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“I wish you would tell me just what happened between you and him,” exclaimed the girl.

“It was simply,” said Montague, “that I found that Curtiss was doing, in a business way, something which I considered improper. Other people are doing it, of course—he has that excuse.”

“Well, he has to earn a living,” said Alice.

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“I know,” said the other; “and if he marries, he will have to earn still more of a living. He will only place himself still tighter in the grip of these forces of corruption.”

“But what did he do?” asked Alice, anxiously. Montague told her the story.

“But, Allan,” she said, “I don't see what there is so very bad about that. Don't Ryder and Price own the railroad?”

“They own some of it,” said Montague. “Other people own some.”

“But the other people have to take their chances,” protested the girl; “if they choose to have anything to do with men like that.”

“You are not familiar with business,” said the other, “and you don't appreciate the situation. Curtiss was elected a director—he accepted a position of trust.”

“He simply did it as a favour to Price,” said she. “If he hadn't done it, Price would only have got somebody else. As you say, Allan, I don't understand much about it, but it seems to me it isn't fair to blame a young man who has to make his way in the world, and who simply does what he finds everybody else doing. Of course, you know best about your own affairs; but it always did seem to me that you go out of your way to look for scruples.”

Montague smiled sadly. “That sounds very much like what he said, Alice. I guess you have made up your mind to marry him, after all.”

Alice set out, accompanied by Oliver, who was bound for Bertie Stuyvesant's imitation baronial castle, in another part of the mountains. Betty Wyman was also to be there, and Oliver was to spend a full month. But three days later Montague received a telegram, saying that his brother would arrive in New York shortly after eight that morning, and to wait at his home for him. Montague suspected what this meant; and he had time enough to think it over and make up his mind. “Well?” he said, when Oliver came in. “It's come again, has it?”

“Yes,” said Oliver, “it has.”