“Yes, I do know what you’d do with it! You’d take it right off and have it probated or executed or whatever it is they do to wills, and turn me straight out in the gutter. That’s just what you’re longing to do this very moment. Oh, I know, Billy Woods—I know what a temper you’ve got, and I know you’re keeping quiet now simply because you know that’s the most exasperating thing you can possibly do. I wouldn’t have such a disposition as you’ve got for the world. You’ve absolutely no control over your temper—not a bit of it. You’re vile, Billy Woods! Oh, I hate you! Yes, you’ve made me cry, and I suppose you’re very proud of yourself. Aren’t you proud? Don’t stand staring at me like a stuck pig, but answer me when I talk to you! Aren’t you proud of making me cry? Aren’t you? Ah, don’t talk to me—don’t talk to me, I tell you! I don’t wish to hear a word you’ve got to say. I hate you. And you shan’t have the money, that’s flat.”
“I don’t want it,” said Billy. “I’ve been trying to tell you for the last, half-hour I don’t want it. In God’s name, why can’t you talk like a sensible woman, Peggy?” I am afraid that Mr. Woods, too, was beginning to lose his temper.
“That’s right—swear at me! It only needed that. You do want the money, and when you say you don’t you’re lying—lying—lying, do you understand? You all want my money. Oh, dear, dear!” Margaret wailed, and her great voice was shaken to its depths and its sobbing was the long, hopeless sobbing of a violin, as she flung back her tear-stained face, and clenched her little hands tight at her sides; “why can’t you let me alone? You’re all after my money—you, and Mr. Kennaston, and Mr. Jukesbury, and all of you! Why can’t you let me alone? Ever since I’ve had it you’ve hunted me as if I’d been a wild beast. God help me, I haven’t had a moment’s peace, a moment’s rest, a, moment’s quiet, since Uncle Fred died. They all want my money—everybody wants my money! Oh, Billy, Billy, why can’t they let me alone?”
“Peggy——” said he.
But she interrupted him. “Don’t talk to me, Billy Woods! Don’t you dare talk to me. I told you I didn’t wish to hear a word you had to say, didn’t I? Yes, you all want my money. And you shan’t have it. It’s mine. Uncle Fred left it to me. It’s mine, I tell you. I’ve got the greatest thing in the world—money! And I’ll keep it. Ah, I hate you all—every one of you—but I’ll make you cringe to me. I’ll make you all cringe, do you hear, because I’ve got the money you’re ready to sell your paltry souls for! Oh, I’ll make you cringe most of all, Billy Woods! I’m rich, do you hear?—rich—rich! Wouldn’t you be glad to marry the rich Margaret Hugonin, Billy? Ah, haven’t you schemed hard for that? You’d be glad to do it, wouldn’t you? You’d give your dirty little soul for that, wouldn’t you, Billy? Ah, what a cur you are! Well, some day perhaps I’ll buy you just as I would any other cur. Wouldn’t you be glad if I did, Billy? Beg for it, Billy! Beg, sir! Beg!” And Margaret flung back her head again, and laughed shrilly, and held up her hand before him as one holds a lump of sugar before a pug-dog.