Page:The Intrusion of Jimmy.djvu/214

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"No, no. Oh, can't you understand? I couldn't, I couldn't!"

Jimmy's face whitened. He looked at her anxiously.

"But, dear!" he said. "You can't—do you mean to say—will that—" he searched for a word—"stop you?" he concluded.

"It must," she whispered.

A cold hand clutched at his heart. His world was falling to pieces, crumbling under his eyes.

"But—but you love me," he said, slowly. It was as if he were trying to find the key to a puzzle. "I—don't see."

"You couldn't. You can't. You're a man. You don't know. It's so different for a man! He's brought up all his life with the idea of leaving home. He goes away naturally."

"But, dear, you couldn't live at home all your life. Whoever you married—"

"But this would be different. Father would never speak to me again. I should never see him again. He would go right out of my life. Jimmy, I couldn't. A girl can't cut away twenty years of her life, and start fresh like that. I should be haunted. I should make you miserable. Every day, a hundred little things would remind me of him, and I shouldn't be strong enough to resist them. You don't know how fond he is of me, how good he has always been. Ever since I can remember, we've been such friends. You've only seen the outside of