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The Reason Why eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about The Reason Why.

“You think she would be cold-blooded, too?”

“Undoubtedly; but it is all perfectly preposterous.  I don’t believe you mean a word you are saying—­it is some kind of a joke.”

“Have you ever known me to make such jokes, Tancred?” Mr. Markrute asked calmly.

“No, I haven’t, and that is the odd part of it.  What the devil do you mean, really, Francis?”

“I mean what I say:  I will pay every debt you have, and give you a charming wife with a fortune.”

Lord Tancred got up and walked about the room.  He was a perfectly natural creature, stolid and calm as those of his race, disciplined and deliberate in moments of danger or difficulty; yet he never lived under self-conscious control as the financier did.  He was rather moved now, and so he walked about.  He was with a friend, and it was not the moment to have to bother over disguising his feelings.

“Oh, it is nonsense, Francis; I could not do it.  I have knocked about the world as you know, and, since you are aware of everything about me, you say, you have probably heard some of my likings—­and dislikings.  I never go after a woman unless she attracts me, and I would never marry one of them unless I were madly in love with her, whether she had money or no; though I believe I would hate a wife with money, in any case—­she’d be saying like the American lady of poor Darrowood:  ’It’s my motor and you can’t have it to-day.’”

“You would marry a woman then—­if you were in love, in spite of everything?” Francis Markrute asked.

“Probably, but I have never been really in love; have you?  It is all story-book stuff—­that almighty passion, I expect.  They none of them matter very much after a while, do they, old boy?”

“I have understood it is possible for a woman to matter,” the financier said and he drew in his lips.

“Well, up to now I have not,” Lord Tancred announced, “and may the day be far off when one does.  I feel pretty safe!”

A strange, mysterious smile crept over Mr. Markrute’s face.

“By the way, also, how do you know the lady would be willing to marry me, Francis?  You spoke as if I only had to be consulted in the affair.”

“So you have.  I can answer for my niece; she will do as I wish, and, as I said before, you are rather a perfect picture of an English nobleman, Tancred.  You have not found women recalcitrant, as a rule—­no?”

Lord Tancred was not inordinately vain, though a man, and he had a sense of humor—­so he laughed.

“’Pon my word it is amusing, your turning into a sort of matrimonial agent.  Can’t you see the fun of the thing yourself?”

“It seems quite natural to me.  You have every social advantage to offer a woman, and a presentable person; and my niece has youth, and some looks, and a large fortune.  But we will say no more about it.  I shall be glad to be of any service I can to you, anyway, in regard to your Canadian scheme.  Come and dine to-night; I happen to have asked a couple of railway magnates with interests out there, and you can get some information from them.”

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