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|The Wheels of Chance||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
XV. An Interlude
|Page 2 of 3||
"You have said all that before. Do you think that justifies you?"
"That isn't all. I made up my mind--Well, to make the game more even. And so I suggested to you and joined with you in this expedition of yours, invented a sister at Midhurst--I tell you, I HAVEN'T a sister! For one object--"
"To compromise you."
She started. That was a new way of putting it. For half a minute neither spoke. Then she began half defiantly: "Much I am compromised. Of course--I have made a fool of myself--"
"My dear girl, you are still on the sunny side of eighteen, and you know very little of this world. Less than you think. But you will learn. Before you write all those novels we have talked about, you will have to learn. And that's one point--" He hesitated. "You started and blushed when the man at breakfast called you Ma'am. You thought it a funny mistake, but you did not say anything because he was young and nervous--and besides, the thought of being my wife offended your modesty. You didn't care to notice it. But--you see; I gave your name as MRS. Beaumont." He looked almost apologetic, in spite of his cynical pose. "MRS. Beaumont," he repeated, pulling his flaxen moustache and watching the effect.
She looked into his eyes speechless. "I am learning fast, " she said slowly, at last.
He thought the time had come for an emotional attack. "Jessie," he said, with a sudden change of voice, "I know all this is mean, isvillanous. But do you think that I have done all this scheming, all this subterfuge, for any other object--"
She did not seem to listen to his words. "I shall ride home," she said abruptly.
"Just think," said he, "what she could say to you after this."
"Anyhow, I shall leave you now."
"Yes? And go--"
"Go somewhere to earn my living, to be a free woman, to live without conventionality--"
"My dear girl, do let us be cynical. You haven't money and you haven't credit. No one would take you in. It's one of two things: go back to your stepmother, or--trust to me."
"How CAN I?"
"Then you must go back to her." He paused momentarily, to let this consideration have its proper weight. "Jessie, I did not mean to say the things I did. Upon my honour, I lost my head when I spoke so. If you will, forgive me. I am a man. I could not help myself. Forgive me, and I promise you--"
"How can I trust you?"
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|The Wheels of Chance
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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