“Very well,” said Burr, “I will go home and get the deed of the wood-lot,” and motioned towards the door, which drew to in a soft panic as if with the wind.
“Stop,” said Lot; and Margaret Bean paused in her flight, and laid her ear to the door again. “I don’t want your woodland,” said Lot. “The interest is paid without it. It is your wedding-gift.”
“Why should you do this? I did not ask you to,” Burr returned, almost defiantly; and Margaret Bean had felt indignant at his unthankfulness.
“You can take from your kinsman what you could not take from Parson Fair,” replied Lot. “I hear you will not go to nest in Parson Fair’s snug roof-tree, with your pretty bird, either.”
“I will die before I will take my wife under any roof but my own,” cried Burr, fiercely, “and I want no gifts from you either. I am not turned beggar from any one yet. You shall take the woodland.”
Lot waved his hand as if he swept the woodland, with all its half-grown trees, out of his horizon. “And yet,” he said, “I thought ’twas what you left the other for. I should have said ’twas but your wage that was offered you;” and he smiled at his cousin.
“What do you mean, Lot Gordon?”
Lot looked at him with sharp interest. “Was there another leaf of you to read when I thought I was at the end,” said he, “or were you writ in such plain characters that I put in somewhat of my own imaginings to give substance to them? Are you better, and worse, than I thought you, cousin? Do you love this flower that has her counterpart in all the gardens of the world, that is as sweet and no sweeter, that you can replace when she dies by stooping and picking, better than the one which has thorns enough to kill and sweetness enough to pay for death, and whose bloom you can never match?”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Burr said, impatiently and angrily; and Margaret Bean outside the door wagged her head in scornful assent.
“Then you loved Dorothy Fair better than Madelon Hautville, and ’twas not her place and money that turned you her way,” said Lot, as if he were translating; and he kept his keen eyes on the other’s face.
Burr’s face flashed white. “What right have you to question me like this?” he demanded.
“But you would not take the price, after all,” said Lot, as if he had been answered, instead of questioned. Then he looked up at his cousin with something like kindness in his blue eyes. “It proves the truth of what I’ve thought before,” he said, “that oftentimes a man has to sting his own honor with his own deeds to know ’tis in him.”
“My honor is my own lookout,” Burr said, harshly.
“And you’ve looked out for it better than I thought,” Lot returned.
Burr made another motion towards the door. “I can’t stand here any longer,” he said. “I’ll go for the deed.” Margaret Bean, moving as softly as she could in her starched draperies, fled back to the kitchen.