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|The Wheels of Chance||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 3 of 4||
"The world has no charity," said Mrs. Milton.
"For a girl," said Jessie. "No."
"Now do let us stop arguing, my dear young lady, and let us listen to reason. Never mind how or why, this conduct of yours will do you infinite harm, if once it is generally known. And not only that, it will cause infinite pain to those who care for you. But if you will return at once to your home, causing it to be understood that you have been with friends for these last few days--"
"Tell lies," said Jessie. "Certainly not. Most certainly not. But I understand that is how your absence is understood at present, and there is no reason--"
Jessie's grip tightened on her handkerchief. "I won't go back," she said, "to have it as I did before. I want a room of my own, what books I need to read, to be free to go out by myself alone, Teaching--"
"Anything," said Mrs. Milton ,"anything in reason."
"But will you keep your promise?" said Jessie.
"Surely you won't dictate to your mother!" said Widgery.
"My stepmother! I don't want to dictate. I want definite promises now."
"This is most unreasonable," said the clergyman. "Very well," said Jessie, swallowing a sob but with unusual resolution. "Then I won't go back. My life is being frittered away--"
"LET her have her way," said Widgery.
"A room then. All your Men. I'm not to come down and talk away half my days--"
"My dear child, if only to save you," said Mrs. Milton. "If you don't keep your promise--"
"Then I take it the matter is practically concluded," said the clergyman. "And that you very properly submit to return to your proper home. And now, if I may offer a suggestion, it is that we take tea. Freed of its tannin, nothing, I think, is more refreshing and stimulating."
"There's a train from Lyndhurst at thirteen minutes to six," said Widgery, unfolding a time table. "That gives us about half an hour or three-quarters here--if a conveyance is obtainable, that is."
"A gelatine lozenge dropped into the tea cup precipitates the tannin in the form of tannate of gelatine," said the clergyman to Miss Mergle, in a confidential bray.
Jessie stood up, and saw through the window a depressed head and shoulders over the top of the back of a garden seat. She moved towards the door. "While you have tea, mother," she said, "I must tell Mr. Hoopdriver of our arrangements."
"Don't you think I--" began the clergyman.
"No," said Jessie, very rudely; "I don't."
"But, Jessie, haven't you already--"
"You are already breaking the capitulation," said Jessie.
"Will you want the whole half hour?" said Widgery, at the bell.
"Every minute," said Jessie, in the doorway. "He's behaved very nobly to me."
"There's tea," said Widgery.
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|The Wheels of Chance
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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