There was a half-humorous bitterness in his voice that Margaret noted silently. So (she thought) he had hoped for a moment that at the last Frederick R. Woods had relented toward him. It grieved her, in a dull fashion, to see him so mercenary. It grieved her—though she would have denied it emphatically—to see him so disappointed. Since he wanted the money so much, she would have liked for him to have had it, worthless as he was, for the sake of the boy he had been.
“Thank you,” she said, coldly, as she took the paper; “I will give it to my father. He will do what is necessary. Good-night, Mr. Woods.”
Then she locked up the desk in a businesslike fashion and turned to him, and held out her hand.
“Good-night, Billy,” said this perfectly inconsistent young woman. “For a moment I thought Uncle Fred had altered his will in your favour. I almost wish he had.”
Billy smiled a little.
“That would never have done,” he said, gravely, as he shook hands; “you forget what a sordid, and heartless, and generally good-for-nothing chap I am, Peggy. It’s much better as it is.”
Only the tiniest, the flimsiest fiction, her eyes craved of him. Even now, at the eleventh hour, lie to me, Billy Woods, and, oh, how gladly I will believe!
But he merely said “Good-night, Peggy,” and went out of the room. His broad shoulders had a pathetic droop, a listlessness.
Margaret was glad. Of course, she was glad. At last, she had told him exactly what she thought of him. Why shouldn’t she be glad? She was delighted.
So, by way of expressing this delight, she sat down at the desk and began to cry very softly.
Having duly considered the emptiness of existence, the unworthiness of men, the dreary future that awaited her—though this did not trouble her greatly, as she confidently expected to die soon—and many other such dolorous topics, Miss Hugonin decided to retire for the night. She rose, filled with speculations as to the paltriness of life and the probability of her eyes being red in the morning.
“It will be all his fault if they are,” she consoled herself. “Doubtless he’ll be very much pleased. After robbing me of all faith in humanity, I dare say the one thing needed to complete his happiness is to make me look like a fright. I hate him! After making me miserable, now, I suppose he’ll go off and make some other woman miserable. Oh, of course, he’ll make love to the first woman he meets who has any money. I’m sure she’s welcome to him. I only pity any woman who has to put up with him. No, I don’t,” Margaret decided, after reflection; “I hate her, too!”
Miss Hugonin went to the door leading to the hallway and paused. Then—I grieve to relate it—she shook a little pink-tipped fist in the air.
“I detest you!” she commented, between her teeth; “oh, how dare you make me feel so ashamed of the way I’ve treated you!”