Altogether, he felt miserably unhappy, furious with himself and angry with Miss Joan Meredyth. The one and only person he did not blame was the one, only and entirely, to blame—Marjorie!
This Sunday morning Hugh in his study heard the chug-chug of a small and badly driven light car, and looked out of the window to see Marjorie stepping out of the vehicle.
“Hugh,” she said a few moments later, “I am so—so worried about you. I hate to think that all this trouble is through me. Aunt thinks I have gone to church, but I haven’t. I got out the car, and drove here myself. Hugh, what can I do?”
“There’s one thing you can’t do, child, and that is drive a car! There are heaps of things you can do. One of them is to go back and be happy, and not worry your little head over anything.”
“But I must, it is all because of me; and, Hugh, aunt has asked Tom to dinner to-day.”
“I hope he has a good dinner,” said Hugh.
“Hugh!” She looked at him. “It is no good trying to make light of it. I know you’ve been worried. I know you and—and Joan must have had a scene yesterday, or she wouldn’t have left the house without even seeing me.”
“We had—a few words; I noticed that she did seem a little angry,” he said.
“Poor Joan! She was always so terribly proud; it was her poverty that made her proud and sensitive, I think.”
He nodded. “I think so, too. Poverty inclines her to take an exaggerated view of everything, Marjorie. She took it badly.”
The girl slipped her hand through his arm. “Is—is there anything I can do? It is all my fault, Hugh. Shall I confess to aunt, and then go and see Joan, and—”
“Not on your life, you’ll spoil everything. I am out of favour with the old lady; she will take Tom into favour in my place. All will go well with you and Tom, and after all that is what I worked for. With regard to Miss Joan Meredyth—” He paused.
“Yes, Hugh, what about Joan? Oh, Hugh, now you have seen her, don’t you think she is wonderful?”
“I thought she had a very unpleasing temper,” he said.
“There isn’t a sweeter girl in the world,” Marjorie said.
“I didn’t notice any particular sweetness about her yesterday. She had reason, of course, to feel annoyed, but I think she made the most of it, however—” He paused.
“Yes, Hugh, what shall you do? I know you have something in your mind.”
“You are right; I have. I am going to do the only thing that seems to me possible just now.”
“And that is?”
“Seek out Miss Joan Meredyth, and ask her to become my wife in reality.”
MR. SLOTMAN ARRIVES AT A MISUNDERSTANDING
At half-past nine on the Monday morning Miss Joan Meredyth walked into Mr. Slotman’s office, and Mr. Slotman, seeing her, turned his head aside to hide the smirk of satisfaction.