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|Under the Andes||Rex Stout|
A Modern Marana
|Page 6 of 7||
Harry was regarding me with a smile which had in it very little of amusement; it held a tinge of bitterness.
"And so," he burst out suddenly, "you were afraid I would marry her! Well, I would. The last time I asked her"--again the smile--"was this morning."
"She won't have me."
"Bah!" I concealed my surprise, for I had really not thought it possible that the lad could be such a fool. "What's her game, Harry?"
"Game the deuce! I tell you she won't have me."
"You have asked her?"
"A thousand times. I've begged her on my knees. Offered her--anything."
"And she refuses?"
I stared at him for a moment in silence. Then I said: "Go and get her and bring her here. I'll find out what she wants," and sat down on a bench to wait. Harry departed for the hotel without a word.
In a few minutes he returned with Le Mire. I rose and proffered her a seat on the bench, which she accepted with a smile, and Harry sat down at her side. I stood in front of them.
"Le Mire," said I, and I believe I frowned, "my brother tells me that you have been offered the name of Lamar in marriage."
"I have thanked him for it," said she with a smile.
"And declined it."
"And--declined it," she agreed.
"Well," said I, "I am not a man of half measures, as you will soon see, Le Mire. Besides, I appreciate your power. On the day," I continued with slow precision--"on the day that you give me a contract to adhere to that refusal you may have my check for one million dollars."
She surprised me; I admit it. I had expected a burst of anger, with a touch of assumed hauteur; the surrender to follow, for I had made the stake high. But as I stood looking down at her, waiting for the flash of her eye, I was greeted by a burst of laughter--the frank laughter of genuine mirth. Then she spoke:
"Oh, you Americans! You are so funny! A million dollars! It is impossible that I should be angry after such a compliment. Besides, you are so funny! Do you not know Le Mire? Am I not a princess if I desire it--tomorrow--today? Bah! There is the world--is it not mine? Mrs. Lamar? Ugh! Pardon me, my friend, but it is an ugly name.
"You know my ancestors? De L'Enclos, Montalais, Maintenon, La Marana! They were happy--in their way--and they were great. I must do nothing unworthy of them. Set your mind at rest, Mr. Lamar; but, really, you should have known better--you who have seen the world and Le Mire in Paris! And now our amusement is perhaps ended? Now we must return to that awful New York? Voila!"
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