She burned with a sense of insult. She hated him, longed to pour out denunciations, to tell him just what she thought of him. She felt a contempt for herself deeper than her revulsion against him. In silence she let him hurry her along to a car; she scarcely heard what he was saying—his tactless, angry outburst against himself and her for his tardiness at that important appointment. She dropped into the seat with a gasp of relief. She felt she must—for form’s sake—merely for form’s sake—glance out of the window for the farewell he would be certain to expect; she must do her part, now that she had committed herself. She glanced; he was rushing away, with never a backward look—or thought. It was her crowning humiliation. “I’ll make him pay for all this, some day!” she said to herself, shaking with anger, her grandmother’s own temper raging cyclonically within her.
A BELATED PROPOSAL
Her mood—outraged against Craig, sullenly determined to marry him, angry with her relatives, her mother no less than her grandmother, because they were driving her to these desperate measures—this mood persisted, became intenser, more imperious in its demand for a sacrifice as the afternoon wore on. When Grant Arkwright came, toward six o’clock, she welcomed him, the first-comer bringing her the longed-for chance to discharge the vials of her wrath. And she noted with pleasure that he, too, was in a black humor. Before she could begin he burst forth:
“What’s this that Josh Craig has been telling me? He seems to have gone stark mad!”
Margaret eyed him with icy disdain. “If there is any quality that can be called the most repulsive,” said she, “it is treachery. You’ve fallen into a way of talking of your friend Craig behind his back that’s unworthy—perhaps not of you, but certainly of the person you pose as being.”
“Did you propose to him this afternoon?” demanded Grant.
Margaret grew cold from head to foot. “Does he say I did?” she succeeded in articulating.
“He does. He was so excited that he jumped off a car and held me an hour telling me, though he was late for one of those important conferences he’s always talking about.”
Margaret had chosen her course. “Did he ask you to run and tell me he had told you?” inquired she, with the vicious gleam of a vicious temper in her fine hazel eyes.
“No,” admitted Grant. “I suppose I’ve no right to tell you. But it was such an infernal lie.”
“Did you tell him so?”
Arkwright grew red.
“I see you did not,” said Margaret. “I knew you did not. Now, let me tell you, I don’t believe Craig said anything of the kind. A man who’d betray a friend is quite capable of lying about him.”
“Margaret! Rita Severence!” Grant started up, set down his teacup, stood looking down at her, his face white to the lips. “Your tone is not jest; it is insult.”