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Adventure Jack London


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"You are the most ridiculous creature!" she broke in, with a flash of her old-time anger. "You talk love and marriage to me, very much against my wish, and go mooning around over the plantation week after week because you can't have me, and look at me when you think I'm not noticing and when all the time I'm wondering when you had your last square meal because of the hungry look in your eyes, and make eyes at my revolver-belt hanging on a nail, and fight duels about me, and all the rest--and--and now, when I say I'll marry you, you do yourself the honour of refusing me."

"You can't make me any more ridiculous than I feel," he answered, rubbing the lump on his forehead reflectively. "And if this is the accepted romantic programme--a duel over a girl, and the girl rushing into the arms of the winner--why, I shall not make a bigger ass of myself by going in for it."

"I thought you'd jump at it," she confessed, with a naivete he could not but question, for he thought he saw a roguish gleam in her eyes.

"My conception of love must differ from yours then," he said. "I should want a woman to marry me for love of me, and not out of romantic admiration because I was lucky enough to drill a hole in a man's shoulder with smokeless powder. I tell you I am disgusted with this adventure tom-foolery and rot. I don't like it. Tudor is a sample of the adventure-kind--picking a quarrel with me and behaving like a monkey, insisting on fighting with me--'to the death,' he said. It was like a penny dreadful."

She was biting her lip, and though her eyes were cool and level-looking as ever, the tell-tale angry red was in her cheeks.

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"Of course, if you don't want to marry me--"

"But I do," he hastily interposed.

"Oh, you do--"

"But don't you see, little girl, I want you to love me," he hurried on. "Otherwise, it would be only half a marriage. I don't want you to marry me simply because by so doing a stop is put to the beach gossip, nor do I want you to marry me out of some foolish romantic notion. I shouldn't want you . . . that way."

"Oh, in that case," she said with assumed deliberateness, and he could have sworn to the roguish gleam, "in that case, since you are willing to consider my offer, let me make a few remarks. In the first place, you needn't sneer at adventure when you are living it yourself; and you were certainly living it when I found you first, down with fever on a lonely plantation with a couple of hundred wild cannibals thirsting for your life. Then I came along--"

"And what with your arriving in a gale," he broke in, "fresh from the wreck of the schooner, landing on the beach in a whale-boat full of picturesque Tahitian sailors, and coming into the bungalow with a Baden-Powell on your head, sea-boots on your feet, and a whacking big Colt's dangling on your hip--why, I am only too ready to admit that you were the quintessence of adventure."

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Jack London

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