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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 218 pages of information about The Imaginary Marriage.

“I thank you for making everything so clear to me, your wealth and position and your desire to make—­to make amends for the insult and the shame you have put on me.  I need hardly say of course that I refuse!”

“Why?”

“Did you ever expect me to accept?  I think you did not!”

She gave him a slight inclination of the head and, turning, went out of the room, and Hugh Alston stood staring at the door that had closed on her.

CHAPTER VIII

THE DREAM GIRL

“She is utterly without generosity; she is cold and hard and bitter, and she has made a mountain out of a molehill, built up a great grievance on what was, after all, only a foolish and ill-considered statement.  She is pleased to feel herself deeply insulted, and she hates me for what I did in perfect innocence.  I have done all that I can do.  I have offered to make amends in the only way I can think of, and she refuses to accept either that or my apologies.  Very well, then...  But what a lovely face it is, and for just that moment, when the hardness and bitterness were gone...”  He paused; his own face softened.  One could not be angry for long with a vision like that, which was passing before his mind, conjured up by memory.

Just for that instant, when the flush had come into her cheeks, she had looked all those things that she was not—­sweet, womanly, tender, and gentle, a woman with an immense capacity for love.

“Bah!” said Hugh.  “I’m an idiot.  I shall go to a theatre to-night, forget all about her, and go home to-morrow—­home.”  He sighed a little drearily.  For months past he had pictured pretty Marjorie Linden as queen of that home, and now he knew that it would never be.  His house would remain lonely and empty, as must his life be.

He sighed sentimentally, and took out Marjorie’s little pink note from his pocket-book.  He noticed for the first time that it was somewhat over-scented.  He realised that he did not like the smell of scent, especially on notepaper, and pink was not his favourite colour.  In fact, he disliked pink.  Marjorie was happy, Lady Linden was beaming on Tom Arundel, the cloud had lifted from Marjorie’s life.  Hugh tore up the pink, smelly little missive, and dropped the fragments into the grate of the hotel bedroom.

“That’s that!” he said.  “And it’s ended and done with!”

He was amazed to find himself not broken-hearted and utterly cast down.  He lighted his pipe and puffed hard, to destroy the lingering smell of the pink notepaper.  Then he laughed gently.

“By every right I should now be on my way to the bar to drown dull care in drink.  She’s a dear little soul, the sweetest and dearest and best in the world.  I hope Tom Arundel will appreciate her and make the little thing happy.  I would have done my best, but somehow I feel that Tom is the better man, so far as Marjorie is concerned.”

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