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|Snow-Bound at Eagle's||Bret Harte|
|Page 4 of 9||
Perceiving that his friend was alone, Falkner dropped his burden in the hall and strode rapidly to his side. "Look here, George, we must, I must leave this place at once. It's no use talking; I can stand this sort of thing no longer."
"Nor can I, with the door open. Shut it, and say what you want quick, before Mrs. Hale comes back. Have you found a trail?"
"No, no; that's not what I mean."
"Well, it strikes me it ought to be, if you expect to get away. Have you proposed to Beacon Street, and she thinks it rather premature on a week's acquaintance?"
"But you WILL, you mean? DON'T, just yet."
"But I cannot live this perpetual lie."
"That depends. I don't know HOW you're lying when I'm not with you. If you're walking round with that girl, singing hymns and talking of your class in Sunday-school, or if you're insinuating that you're a millionaire, and think of buying the place for a summer hotel, I should say you'd better quit that kind of lying. But, on the other hand, I don't see the necessity of your dancing round here with a shot gun, and yelling for Harkins's blood, or counting that package of greenbacks in the lap of Miss Scott, to be truthful. It seems to me there ought to be something between the two."
"But, George, don't you think--you are on such good terms with Mrs. Hale and her mother--that you might tell them the whole story? That is, tell it in your own way; they will hear anything from you, and believe it."
"Thank you; but suppose I don't believe in lying, either?"
"You know what I mean! You have a way, d--n it, of making everything seem like a matter of course, and the most natural thing going."
"Well, suppose I did. Are you prepared for the worst?"
Falkner was silent for a moment, and then replied, "Yes, anything would be better than this suspense."
"I don't agree with you. Then you would be willing to have them forgive us?"
"I don't understand you."
"I mean that their forgiveness would be the worst thing that could happen. Look here, Ned. Stop a moment; listen at that door. Mrs. Hale has the tread of an angel, with the pervading capacity of a cat. Now listen! I don't pretend to be in love with anybody here, but if I were I should hardly take advantage of a woman's helplessness and solitude with a sensational story about myself. It's not giving her a fair show. You know she won't turn you out of the house."
"No," said Falkner, reddening; "but I should expect to go at once, and that would be my only excuse for telling her."
"Go! where? In your preoccupation with that girl you haven't even found the trail by which Manuel escaped. Do you intend to camp outside the house, and make eyes at her when she comes to the window?"
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