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|The Secret Adversary||Agatha Christie|
XV Tuppence Receives a Proposal
|Page 4 of 5||
"Again, why not?"
"It would seem so unfair."
"I don't see anything unfair about it. I call your bluff, that's all. I admire you immensely, Miss Tuppence, more than any girl I've ever met. You're so darned plucky. I'd just love to give you a real, rattling good time. Say the word, and we'll run round right away to some high-class jeweller, and fix up the ring business."
"I can't," gasped Tuppence.
"Because of Beresford?"
"No, no, NO!"
Tuppence merely continued to shake her head violently.
"You can't reasonably expect more dollars than I've got."
"Oh, it isn't that," gasped Tuppence with an almost hysterical laugh. "But thanking you very much, and all that, I think I'd better say no."
"I'd be obliged if you'd do me the favour to think it over until to-morrow."
"It's no use."
"Still, I guess we'll leave it like that."
"Very well," said Tuppence meekly.
Neither of them spoke again until they reached the Ritz.
Tuppence went upstairs to her room. She felt morally battered to the ground after her conflict with Julius's vigorous personality. Sitting down in front of the glass, she stared at her own reflection for some minutes.
"Fool," murmured Tuppence at length, making a grimace. "Little fool. Everything you want--everything you've ever hoped for, and you go and bleat out 'no' like an idiotic little sheep. It's your one chance. Why don't you take it? Grab it? Snatch at it? What more do you want?"
As if in answer to her own question, her eyes fell on a small snapshot of Tommy that stood on her dressing-table in a shabby frame. For a moment she struggled for self-control, and then abandoning all presence, she held it to her lips and burst into a fit of sobbing.
"Oh, Tommy, Tommy," she cried, "I do love you so--and I may never see you again...."
At the end of five minutes Tuppence sat up, blew her nose, and pushed back her hair.
"That's that," she observed sternly. "Let's look facts in the face. I seem to have fallen in love--with an idiot of a boy who probably doesn't care two straws about me." Here she paused. "Anyway," she resumed, as though arguing with an unseen opponent, "I don't KNOW that he does. He'd never have dared to say so. I've always jumped on sentiment--and here I am being more sentimental than anybody. What idiots girls are! I've always thought so. I suppose I shall sleep with his photograph under my pillow, and dream about him all night. It's dreadful to feel you've been false to your principles."
Tuppence shook her head sadly, as she reviewed her backsliding.
"I don't know what to say to Julius, I'm sure. Oh, what a fool I feel! I'll have to say SOMETHING--he's so American and thorough, he'll insist upon having a reason. I wonder if he did find anything in that safe----"
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