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|Anne of the Island||Lucy Maud Montgomery|
|Page 3 of 4||
"Oh, I can't marry you -- I can't -- I can't," she cried, wildly.
Roy turned pale -- and also looked rather foolish. He had -- small blame to him -- felt very sure.
"What do you mean?" he stammered.
"I mean that I can't marry you," repeated Anne desperately. "I thought I could -- but I can't."
"Why can't you?" Roy asked more calmly.
"Because -- I don't care enough for you."
A crimson streak came into Roy's face.
"So you've just been amusing yourself these two years?" he said slowly.
"No, no, I haven't," gasped poor Anne. Oh, how could she explain? She COULDN'T explain. There are some things that cannot be explained. "I did think I cared -- truly I did -- but I know now I don't."
"You have ruined my life," said Roy bitterly.
"Forgive me," pleaded Anne miserably, with hot cheeks and stinging eyes.
Roy turned away and stood for a few minutes looking out seaward. When he came back to Anne, he was very pale again.
"You can give me no hope?" he said.
Anne shook her head mutely.
"Then -- good-bye," said Roy. "I can't understand it -- I can't believe you are not the woman I've believed you to be. But reproaches are idle between us. You are the only woman I can ever love. I thank you for your friendship, at least. Good-bye, Anne."
"Good-bye," faltered Anne. When Roy had gone she sat for a long time in the pavilion, watching a white mist creeping subtly and remorselessly landward up the harbor. It was her hour of humiliation and self-contempt and shame. Their waves went over her. And yet, underneath it all, was a queer sense of recovered freedom.
She slipped into Patty's Place in the dusk and escaped to her room. But Phil was there on the window seat.
"Wait," said Anne, flushing to anticipate the scene. "Wait til you hear what I have to say. Phil, Roy asked me to marry him-and I refused."
"You -- you REFUSED him?" said Phil blankly.
"Anne Shirley, are you in your senses?"
"I think so," said Anne wearily. "Oh, Phil, don't scold me. You don't understand."
"I certainly don't understand. You've encouraged Roy Gardner in every way for two years -- and now you tell me you've refused him. Then you've just been flirting scandalously with him. Anne, I couldn't have believed it of YOU."
"I WASN'T flirting with him -- I honestly thought I cared up to the last minute -- and then -- well, I just knew I NEVER could marry him."
"I suppose," said Phil cruelly, "that you intended to marry him for his money, and then your better self rose up and prevented you."
"I DIDN'T. I never thought about his money. Oh, I can't explain it to you any more than I could to him."
"Well, I certainly think you have treated Roy shamefully," said Phil in exasperation. "He's handsome and clever and rich and good. What more do you want?"
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|Anne of the Island
Lucy Maud Montgomery
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