Nell of Shorne Mills (Chapter 9, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 9

Nell walked rapidly and talking quickly as they went down to the jetty,
and it was not until the _Annie Laurie_ was slipping out into the bay
that she grew silent and thoughtful. She sat in the stern with her arm
over the tiller, her eyes cast down, her face grave; and Drake, feeling
uncomfortable, said at last: "Might one offer a penny for your thoughts, Miss Nell?"

She looked up and met the challenge with a sweet seriousness.

"I was thinking of something that you told me the other day--when we
were riding," she said.

"I've told you so much----" "And so little!" he added mentally.

"You said that you had been unlucky, that you had lost a great deal of
money lately," she said, in a low voice.

He nodded.

"Yes; I think I did. It's true unfortunately; but it doesn't much
matter."

"Does it not?" she asked. "Why did you give mamma so costly a present?
Oh, please don't deny it. I don't know very much about diamonds, but I
know that that bracelet must have cost a great deal of money."

"Not really," he said, with affected carelessness. "Diamonds are very
cheap now; they find 'em by the bucketful in the Cape, you know."

She looked at him with grave reproach.

"You are trying to belittle it," she said; "but, indeed, I am not
deceived. And the gun, too! That must have been very expensive. Why--did
you spend so much?"

He began to feel irritated.

"Look here, Miss Nell," he said; "it is true that I have lost some
money, but I'm not quite a pauper, and, if I were, the least I could do
would be to share my last crust with--with your people for their amazing
goodness to me."

"A diamond bracelet and an expensive gun are not crusts," she said,
shaking her head.

"Oh, dash it all!" he retorted impatiently. "The stupid things only very
inadequately represent my----Oh, I'm bad at speech making and expressing
myself. And don't you think you ought to be very grateful to me?"

She frowned slightly in the effort to understand.

"Grateful! I have just been telling you that I think you ought not to
have spent so much. Why should I be grateful?"

"That I didn't buy something for you," he said.

She colored, and looked away from him.

"I--I should not have accepted it," she said.

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