THE LAST WORD
“I’ll tell you about it later, dear,” was all that Peggy, pleading, could draw from him.
At midnight Mrs. Dan had remonstrated with her. “You must go home, Peggy, dear,” she said. “It is disgraceful for you to stay up so late. I went to bed at eight o’clock the night before I was married.”
“And fell asleep at four in the morning,” smiled Peggy.
“You are quite mistaken, my dear. I did not fall asleep at all. But I won’t allow you to stop a minute longer. It puts rings under the eyes and sometimes they’re red the morning after.”
“Oh, you dear, sweet philosopher,” cried Peggy; “how wise you are. Do you think I need a beauty sleep?”
“I don’t want you to be a sleepy beauty, that’s all,” retorted Mrs. Dan.
Upon Monty’s return from his trying hour with the lawyers, he had been besieged with questions, but he was cleverly evasive. Peggy alone was insistent; she had curbed her curiosity until they were on the way home, and then she implored him to tell her what had happened. The misery he had endured was as nothing to his reckoning with the woman who had the right to expect fair treatment. His duty was clear, but the strain had been heavy and it was not easy to meet it.
“Peggy, something terrible has happened,” he faltered, uncertain of his course.
“Tell me everything, Monty, you can trust me to be brave.”
“When I asked you to marry me,” he continued gravely, “it was with the thought that I could give you everything to-morrow. I looked for a fortune. I never meant that you should marry a pauper.”
“I don’t understand. You tried to test my love for you?”
“No, child, not that. But I was pledged not to speak of the money I expected, and I wanted you so much before it came.”
“And it has failed you?” she answered. “I can’t see that it changes things. I expected to marry a pauper, as you call it. Do you think this could make a difference?”
“But you don’t understand, Peggy. I haven’t a penny in the world.”
“You hadn’t a penny when I accepted you,” she replied. “I am not afraid. I believe in you. And if you love me I shall not give you up.”
“Dearest!” and the carriage was at the door before another word was uttered. But Monty called to the coachman to drive just once around the block.
“Good night, my darling,” he said when they reached home. “Sleep till eight o’clock if you like. There is nothing now in the way of having the wedding at nine, instead of at seven. In fact, I have a reason for wanting my whole fortune to come to me then. You will be all that I have in the world, child, but I am the happiest man alive.”