Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/177

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161
A MARRIAGE ARRANGED

"I mean nothing, father," she said. "I'm just telling you what happened. He came to me looking like a dog that's going to be washed—"

"Why, of course, he was nervous, my dear."

"Of course. He couldn't know that I was going to refuse him."

She was breathing quickly. He started to speak, but she went on, looking straight before her. Her face was very white in the moon-light.

"He took me into the rose-garden. Was that Sir Thomas's idea There couldn't have been a better setting, I'm sure. The roses looked lovely. Presently, I heard him gulp, and I was so sorry for him! I would have refused him then, and put him out of his misery, only I couldn't very well till he had proposed, could I? So, I turned my back, and sniffed at a rose. And, then, he shut his eyes—I couldn't see him, but I know he shut his eyes—and began to say his lesson."

"Molly!"

She laughed, hysterically.

"He did. He said his lesson. He gabbled it. When he had got as far as, 'Well, don't you know, what I mean is, that's what I wanted to say, you know,' I turned round and soothed him. I said I didn't love him. He said, 'No, no, of course not.' I said he had paid me a great compliment. He said, 'Not at all,' looking very anxious, poor darling, as if even then he was afraid of what might come next. But I reassured him, and he cheered up, and we