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Adventure Jack London

Mr. Morgan And Mr. Raff

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"But I'm not going to be your wife, thank goodness--only your partner."

"Besides, it's all ridiculous," he held on steadily. "Think of the situation. A man and a woman, both young, partners on an isolated plantation. Why, the only practical way out would be that I'd have to marry you--"

"Mine was a business proposition, not a marriage proposal," she interrupted, coldly angry. "I wonder if somewhere in this world there is one man who could accept me for a comrade."

"But you are a woman just the same," he began, "and there are certain conventions, certain decencies--"

She sprang up and stamped her foot.

"Do you know what I'd like to say?" she demanded.

"Yes," he smiled, "you'd like to say, 'Damn petticoats!'"

She nodded her head ruefully.

"That's what I wanted to say, but it sounds different on your lips. It sounds as though you meant it yourself, and that you meant it because of me."

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"Well, I am going to bed. But do, please, think over my proposition, and let me know in the morning. There's no use in my discussing it now. You make me so angry. You are cowardly, you know, and very egotistic. You are afraid of what other fools will say. No matter how honest your motives, if others criticized your actions your feelings would be hurt. And you think more about your own wretched feelings than you do about mine. And then, being a coward--all men are at heart cowards--you disguise your cowardice by calling it chivalry. I thank heaven that I was not born a man. Good-night. Do think it over. And don't be foolish. What Berande needs is good American hustle. You don't know what that is. You are a muddler. Besides, you are enervated. I'm fresh to the climate. Let me be your partner, and you'll see me rattle the dry bones of the Solomons. Confess, I've rattled yours already."

"I should say so," he answered. "Really, you know, you have. I never received such a dressing-down in my life. If any one had ever told me that I'd be a party even to the present situation. . . . Yes, I confess, you have rattled my dry bones pretty considerably."

"But that is nothing to the rattling they are going to get," she assured him, as he rose and took her hand. "Good-night. And do, do give me a rational decision in the morning."

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