Yes, of the two she despised him and hated him the more.
And then when the letter was posted and gone beyond recall, again came the self-questionings. Had she done right? Had she not acted foolishly and weakly, to pay this man money that he had demanded with covert threats? And too late she regretted, and would have had the letter back if she could.
“I have no one, not a soul in the world I can turn to. Even Helen is almost a stranger,” the girl thought. “I cannot confide in her. I seem to be so—so alone, so utterly alone.” She twisted her hands together and stood thoughtful for some moments in the roadway where she turned back through the garden gate to the house.
“I feel so—so tired,” she whispered, “so tired, so weary of it all. I have no one to turn to.”
Mr. Tom Arundel, cheerful and happy-go-lucky, filled with an immense belief in a future which he was sure would somehow shape itself satisfactorily, felt a little hurt, a little surprised, just a little disenchanted.
“I can’t think what’s come over her. She used to be such a ripping little thing, so sweet and good-tempered, and now—why she snaps a chap’s head off the moment he opens his mouth. Goo-law!” said Tom. “Supposing she grows up to be like her aunt—maybe it is in the blood!”
The prospect seemed to overwhelm him for a moment. Certainly of late Marjorie had been uncertain, coy, and very hard to please. Marjorie had suffered, and was suffering. She was contrasting Tom with Hugh, and Hugh with Tom, and it made her heart ache and made her angry with herself for her own previous blindness. And, womanlike, being in a very bad temper with herself, she snapped at the luckless Tom like an ill-conditioned terrier, and he never approached her but that she, metaphorically, bared her pretty white teeth, ready to do battle with him.
“Rum things, girls—never know how to take ’em! She don’t seem like the same,” thought Tom. “I wonder—”
There had been a breeze, a distinct breeze. Perhaps Tom, anxious to propitiate Lady Linden, had been a little more servile than usual. He did not mean to be servile. Alluding to his attitude afterwards to Marjorie, he called it “Pulling the old girl’s leg.” And when Marjorie had turned on him, her eyes had flashed scorn on him, her little body had quivered and shaken with indignation.
“If you think it clever currying favour with aunt by—by crawling to her,” she cried, “then I don’t! If you want to—to keep my respect, you’ll have to act like a man, a man with self-respect! I—I hate to see you cringing to aunt, it makes me detest you. What does it matter if she has money? Do you want her money? Do you want her money more than you want me?”
“Goo-law, old girl, I—”
“Don’t talk to me!” cried Marjorie. “Be a man, or I shall hate you!” And she had left him rubbing his chin thoughtfully, and wondering at the ways of women and of Marjorie Linden in particular.