“I was unfair to you last night,” she said, and the ring of her odd, deep voice, and the richness and sweetness of it, moved him to faint longing, to a sick heart-hunger. It was tremulous, too, and very tender. “Yes, I was unutterably unfair, Billy. You asked me to marry you when you thought I was a beggar, and—and Uncle Fred ought to have left you the money. It was on account of me that he didn’t, you know. I really owed it to you. And after the way I talked to you—so long as I had the money—I—and, anyhow, its very disagreeable and eccentric and horrid of you to object to being rich!” Margaret concluded, somewhat incoherently.
She had not thought it would be like this. He seemed so stern.
But, “Isn’t that exactly like her?” Mr. Woods was demanding of his soul. “She thinks she has been unfair to me—to me, whom she doesn’t care a button for, mind you. So she hands over a fortune to make up for it, simply because that’s the first means that comes to hand! Now, isn’t that perfectly unreasonable, and fantastic, and magnificent, and incredible?—in short, isn’t that Peggy all over? Why, God bless her, her heart’s bigger than a barn-door! Oh, it’s no wonder that fellow Kennaston was grinning just now when he sent me to her! He can afford to grin.”
Aloud, he stated, “You’re an angel, Peggy that’s what you are. I’ve always suspected it, and I’m glad to know it now for a fact. But in this prosaic world not even angels are allowed to burn up wills for recreation. Why, bless my soul, child, you—why, there’s no telling what trouble you might have gotten into!”
Miss Hugonin pouted. “You needn’t be such a grandfather,” she suggested, helpfully.
“But it’s a serious business,” he insisted. At this point Billy began to object to her pouting as distracting one’s mind from the subject under discussion. “It—why, it’s——”
“It’s what?” she pouted, even more rebelliously.
“Crimson,” said Mr. Woods, considering—“oh, the very deepest, duskiest crimson such as you can’t get in tubes. It’s a colour was never mixed on any palette. It’s—eh? Oh, I beg your pardon.”
“I think you ought to,” said Margaret, primly. Nevertheless, she had brightened considerably.
“Of course,” Mr. Woods continued with a fine colour, “I can’t take the money. That’s absurd.”
“Is it?” she queried, idly. “Now, I wonder how you’re going to help yourself?”
“Simplest thing in the world,” he assured her. “You see this match, don’t you, Peggy? Well, now you’re going to give me that paper I see in that bag-thing at your waist, and I’m going to burn it till it’s all nice, soft, feathery ashes that can’t ever be probated. And then the first will, which is practically the same as the last, will be allowed to stand, and I’ll tell your father all about the affair, because he ought to know, and you’ll have to settle with those colleges. And in that way,” Mr. Woods submitted, “Uncle Fred’s last wishes will be carried out just as he expressed them, and there needn’t be any trouble—none at all. So give me the will, Peggy?”