But, “The rats always desert a sinking ship,” said Miss Hugonin, with the air of one delivering a particularly original sentiment. “They make me awfully tired, and I don’t care for them in the least. But Petheridge Jukesbury is a dear, and I may be poor now, but I did try to do good with the money when I had it, and anyhow, Billy is going to get well.”
And, after all, that was the one thing that really mattered, though of course Billy would always despise her. He would be quite right, too, the girl thought humbly.
But the conventionalities of life are more powerful than even youthful cynicism and youthful heart-break. Prior to devoting herself to a loveless life and the commonplaces of the stoic’s tub, Miss Hugonin was compelled by the barest decency to bid her guests Godspeed.
And Adele Haggage kissed her for the first time in her life. She had been a little awed by Miss Hugonin, the famous heiress—a little jealous of her, I dare say, on account of Hugh Van Orden—but now she kissed her very heartily in farewell, and said, “Don’t forget you are to come to us as soon as possible,” and was beyond any question perfectly sincere in saying it.
And Hugh Van Orden almost dragged Margaret under the main stairway, and, far from showing any marked abhorrence to her in her present state of destitution, implored her with tears in his eyes to marry him at once, and to bring the Colonel to live with them for the rest of his natural existence.
For, “It’s damned impertinent of me, of course,” Mr. Van Orden readily conceded, “and I suppose I ought to beg your pardon for mentioning it, but I do love you to a perfectly unlimited extent. It’s playing the very deuce with my polo, Miss Hugonin, and as for my appetite—why, if you won’t have me,” cried Hugh, in desperation, “I—I really, you know, I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to eat anything!”
When Margaret refused him—for the sixth time, I think—I won’t swear that she didn’t kiss him under the dark stairway. And if she did, he was a nice boy, and he deserved it.
And as for Sarah Ellen Haggage, that unreverend old parasite brought her a blank cheque signed with her name, and mentioned quite a goodly sum as the extent to which Margaret might go for necessary expenses.
“For you’ll need it,” she said, and rubbed her nose reflectively. “Moving is the very deuce for wasting money, because so many little things keep cropping up. Now, remember, a quarter is quite enough to give any man for moving a trunk. And there’s no earthly sense in your taking a cab, Margaret—the street-car will bring you within a block of our door. These little trifles count, dear. And don’t let Celestine pack your things, because she’s abominably careless. Let Marie do it—and don’t tip her. Give her an old hat. And if I were you, I would certainly consult a lawyer about the legality