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|Tarzan of the Apes||Edgar Rice Burroughs|
The Giant Again
|Page 4 of 9||
The girl winced.
"I do not love him," she said, almost proudly.
"Is it because of the money, Jane?"
"Then am I so much less desirable than Canler? I have money enough, and far more, for every need," he said bitterly.
"I do not love you, Cecil," she said, "but I respect you. If I must disgrace myself by such a bargain with any man, I prefer that it be one I already despise. I should loathe the man to whom I sold myself without love, whomsoever he might be. You will be happier," she concluded, "alone--with my respect and friendship, than with me and my contempt."
He did not press the matter further, but if ever a man had murder in his heart it was William Cecil Clayton, Lord Greystoke, when, a week later, Robert Canler drew up before the farmhouse in his purring six cylinder.
A week passed; a tense, uneventful, but uncomfortable week for all the inmates of the little Wisconsin farmhouse.
Canler was insistent that Jane marry him at once.
At length she gave in from sheer loathing of the continued and hateful importuning.
It was agreed that on the morrow Canler was to drive to town and bring back the license and a minister.
Clayton had wanted to leave as soon as the plan was announced, but the girl's tired, hopeless look kept him. He could not desert her.
Something might happen yet, he tried to console himself by thinking. And in his heart, he knew that it would require but a tiny spark to turn his hatred for Canler into the blood lust of the killer.
Early the next morning Canler set out for town.
In the east smoke could be seen lying low over the forest, for a fire had been raging for a week not far from them, but the wind still lay in the west and no danger threatened them.
About noon Jane started off for a walk. She would not let Clayton accompany her. She wanted to be alone, she said, and he respected her wishes.
In the house Professor Porter and Mr. Philander were immersed in an absorbing discussion of some weighty scientific problem. Esmeralda dozed in the kitchen, and Clayton, heavy-eyed after a sleepless night, threw himself down upon the couch in the living room and soon dropped into a fitful slumber.
To the east the black smoke clouds rose higher into the heavens, suddenly they eddied, and then commenced to drift rapidly toward the west.
On and on they came. The inmates of the tenant house were gone, for it was market day, and none was there to see the rapid approach of the fiery demon.
Soon the flames had spanned the road to the south and cut off Canler's return. A little fluctuation of the wind now carried the path of the forest fire to the north, then blew back and the flames nearly stood still as though held in leash by some master hand.
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|Tarzan of the Apes
Edgar Rice Burroughs
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