She was an humble-minded young woman, as the sex goes, and she saw no great reason there why a man should go mad over Margaret Hugonin. This decision, I grant you, was preposterous, for there were any number of reasons. Her final conclusion, however, was for the future to regard all men as fortune-hunters and to do her hair differently.
She carried out both resolutions. When a gentleman grew pressing in his attentions, she more than suspected his motives; and when she eventually declined him it was done with perfect, courtesy, but the glow of her eyes was at such times accentuated to a marked degree.
Meanwhile, the Eagle brooded undisturbed at Selwoode. Miss Hugonin would allow nothing to be altered.
“The place doesn’t belong to me, attractive,” she would tell her father. “I belong to the place. Yes, I do—I’m exactly like a little cow thrown in with a little farm when they sell it, and all my little suitors think so, and they are very willing to take me on those terms, too. But they shan’t, attractive. I hate every single solitary man in the whole wide world but you, beautiful, and I particularly hate that horrid old Eagle; but we’ll keep him because he’s a constant reminder to me that Solomon or Moses, or whoever it was that said all men were liars, was a person of very great intelligence.”
So that I think we may fairly say the money did her no good.
If it benefited no one else, it was not Margaret’s fault. She had a high sense of her responsibilities, and therefore, at various times, endeavoured to further the spread of philanthropy and literature and theosophy and art and temperance and education and other laudable causes. Mr. Kennaston, in his laughing manner, was wont to jest at her varied enterprises and term her Lady Bountiful; but, then, Mr. Kennaston had no real conception of the proper uses of money. In fact, he never thought of money. He admitted this to Margaret with a whimsical sigh.
Margaret grew very fond of Mr. Kennaston because he was not mercenary.
Mr. Kennaston was much at Selwoode. Many people came there now—masculine women and muscleless men, for the most part. They had, every one of them, some scheme for bettering the universe; and if among them Margaret seemed somewhat out of place—a butterfly among earnest-minded ants—her heart was in every plan they advocated, and they found her purse-strings infinitely elastic. The girl was pitiably anxious to be of some use in the world.
So at Selwoode they gossiped of great causes and furthered the millenium. And above them the Eagle brooded in silence.
And Billy? All this time Billy was junketing abroad, where every year he painted masterpieces for the Salon, which—on account of a nefarious conspiracy among certain artists, jealous of his superior merits—were invariably refused.
Now Billy is back again in America, and the Colonel has insisted that he come to Selwoode, and Margaret is waiting for him in the dog-cart. The glow of her eyes is very, very bright. Her father’s careless words this morning, coupled with certain speeches of Mr. Kennaston’s last night, have given her food for reflection.