Miss billys decision

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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofMissBilly'sDecision,byEleanorH Porter ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:MissBilly'sDecision Author:EleanorH Porter ReleaseDate:July8,2008[EBook#362] LastUpdated:March9,2018 Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKMISSBILLY'SDECISION*** ProducedbyCharlesKeller,andDavidWidger MISSBILLY'SDECISION ByEleanorH Porter Authorof“MissBilly,”etc TO MyCousinHelen CONTENTS MISSBILLY'SDECISION CHAPTERI CALDERWELLDOESSOMETALKING CHAPTERII AUNTHANNAHGETSALETTER CHAPTERIII BILLYANDBERTRAM CHAPTERIV FORMARYJANE CHAPTERV MARIESPEAKSHERMIND CHAPTERVI ATTHESIGNOFTHEPINK CHAPTERVII OLDFRIENDSANDNEW CHAPTERVIII M J OPENSTHEGAME CHAPTERIX ARUG,APICTURE,ANDAGIRLAFRAID CHAPTERX AJOBFORPETE—ANDFORBERTRAM CHAPTERXI ACLOCKANDAUNTHANNAH CHAPTERXII SISTERKATE CHAPTERXIII CYRILANDAWEDDING CHAPTERXIV M J MAKESANOTHERMOVE CHAPTERXV "MR BILLY”AND“MISSMARYJANE” CHAPTERXVI AGIRLANDABITOFLOWESTOFT CHAPTERXVII ONLYALOVESONG,BUT— CHAPTERXVIII SUGARPLUMS CHAPTERXIX ALICEGREGGORY CHAPTERXX ARKWRIGHTTELLSASTORY CHAPTERXXI AMATTEROFSTRAIGHTBUSINESS CHAPTERXXII PLANSANDPLOTTINGS CHAPTERXXIII THECAUSEANDBERTRAM CHAPTERXXIV THEARTISTANDHISART CHAPTERXXV THEOPERETTA CHAPTERXXVI ARKWRIGHTTELLSANOTHERSTORY CHAPTERXXVII THETHINGTHATWASTHETRUTH CHAPTERXXVIII BILLYTAKESHERTURN CHAPTERXXIX KATEWRITESALETTER CHAPTERXXX "I'VEHINDEREDHIM” CHAPTERXXXI FLIGHT CHAPTERXXXII PETETOTHERESCUE CHAPTERXXXIII BERTRAMTAKESTHEREINS MISSBILLY'SDECISION CHAPTERI CALDERWELLDOESSOME TALKING CalderwellhadmetMr M J ArkwrightinLondonthroughacommonfriend; sincethentheyhadtrampedhalfoverEuropetogetherinacomradeshipthatwas asdelightfulasitwasunusual AsCalderwellputitinalettertohissister,Belle: “Wesmokethesamecigaranddrinkthesametea(he'sjustasmuchofanold woman on that subject as I am!), and we agree beautifully on all necessary points of living, from tipping to late sleeping in the morning; while as for politics and religion—we disagree in those just enough to lend spice to an otherwisetameexistence.” Farther along in this same letter Calderwell touched upon his new friend again “I admit, however, I would like to know his name To find out what that mysterious'M J.'standsforhasgottobeprettynearlyanobsessionwithme I am about ready to pick his pocket or rifle his trunk in search of some lurking 'Martin'or'John'thatwillsetmeatpeace Asitis,IconfessthatIhaveogledhis incomingmailandhisoutgoingbaggageshamelessly,onlytobeslappedinthe face always and everlastingly by that bland 'M J.' I've got my revenge, now, though To myself I call him 'Mary Jane'—and his broad-shouldered, brownbeardedsixfeetofmuscularmanhoodwouldsoliketobecalled'MaryJane'!By the way, Belle, if you ever hear of murder and sudden death in my direction, bettersetthesleuthsonthetrailofArkwright Sixtooneyou'llfindIcalledhim 'MaryJane'tohisface!” Calderwellwasthinkingofthatletternow,ashesatatasmalltableinaParis café Opposite him was the six feet of muscular manhood, broad shoulders, pointed brown beard, and all—and he had just addressed it, inadvertently, as “MaryJane.” Duringthebrief,sickeningmomentofsilenceafterthenamehadlefthislips, Calderwell was conscious of a whimsical realization of the lights, music, and laughterallabouthim “Well,IchoseassafeaplaceasIcould!”hewasthinking ThenArkwright spoke “How long since you've been in correspondence with members of my family?” “Eh?” Arkwrightlaughedgrimly “Perhapsyouthoughtofityourself,then—I'lladmityou'recapableofit,”he nodded, reaching for a cigar “But it so happens you hit upon my family's favoritenameforme.” “MaryJane!Youmeantheyactuallycallyouthat?” “Yes,”bowedthebigfellow,calmly,ashestruckalight “Appropriate!—don't youthink?” Calderwelldidnotanswer Hethoughthecouldnot “Well,silencegivesconsent,theysay,”laughedtheother “Anyhow,youmust havehadsomereasonforcallingmethat.” “Arkwright,whatdoes'M J.'standfor?”demandedCalderwell “Oh, is that it?” smiled the man opposite “Well, I'll own those initials have beensomethingofapuzzletopeople Onemandeclaresthey're'MerelyJokes'; but another, not so friendly, says they stand for 'Mostly Jealousy' of more fortunatechapswhohaverealnamesforahandle Mysmallbrothersandsisters, discovering, with the usual perspicacity of one's family on such matters, that I neversigned,orcalledmyselfanythingbut'M J.,'dubbedme'MaryJane.'And thereyouhaveit.” “MaryJane!You!” Arkwrightsmiledoddly “Oh, well, what's the difference? Would you deprive them of their innocent amusement? And they so love that 'Mary Jane'! Besides, what's in a name, anyway?”hewent on,eyeing theglowingtip ofthe cigarbetweenhis fingers “'Arosebyanyothername—'—you'veheardthat,probably Namesdon'talways signify,mydearfellow Forinstance,Iknowa'Billy'—buthe'sagirl.” Calderwellgaveasuddenstart “Youdon'tmeanBilly—Neilson?” Theotherturnedsharply “DoyouknowBillyNeilson?” Calderwellgavehisfriendaglancefromscornfuleyes “Do I know Billy Neilson?” he cried “Does a fellow usually know the girl he'sproposedtoregularlyonceinthreemonths?Oh,IknowI'mtellingtalesout ofschool,ofcourse,”hewenton,inresponsetothelookthathadcomeintothe browneyesopposite “Butwhat'stheuse?Everybodyknowsit—thatknowsus Billyherselfgotsoshetookitasamatterofcourse—andrefusedasamatterof course,too;justasshewouldrefuseaservingofapplepieatdinner,ifshehadn't wantedit.” “Applepie!”scoutedArkwright Calderwellshruggedhisshoulders “Mydearfellow,youdon'tseemtorealizeit,butforthelastsixmonthsyou havebeenassistingattheobsequiesofadeadromance.” “Indeed!Andisit—buried,yet?” “Oh,no,”sighedCalderwell,cheerfully “Ishallgobackoneofthesedays,I'll warrant,andbeginthesameoldgameagain;thoughIwillacknowledgethatthe lastrefusalwassoverydecidedthatit'sbeenayear,almost,sinceIreceivedit I think I was really convinced, for a while, that—that she didn't want that apple pie,”hefinishedwithawhimsicallightnessthatdidnotquitecoincidewiththe sternlinesthathadcometohismouth Foramomenttherewassilence,thenCalderwellspokeagain “Wheredidyouknow—MissBilly?” “Oh,Idon'tknowheratall Iknowofher—throughAuntHannah.” Calderwellsatsuddenlyerect “AuntHannah!Issheyouraunt,too?Jove!Thisisalittleoldworld,afterall; isn'tit?” “Sheisn'tmyaunt She'smymother'sthirdcousin Noneofushaveseenher for years, but she writes to mother occasionally; and, of course, for some time now, her letters have been running over full of Billy She lives with her, I believe;doesn'tshe?” “She does,” rejoined Calderwell, with an unexpected chuckle “I wonder if youknowhowshehappenedtolivewithher,atfirst.” “Why,no,Ireckonnot Whatdoyoumean?” Calderwellchuckledagain “Well,I'lltellyou You,beinga'MaryJane,'oughttoappreciateit Yousee, Billy was named for one William Henshaw, her father's chum, who promptly forgotallabouther Ateighteen,Billy,beingleftquitealoneintheworld,wrote to'UncleWilliam'andaskedtocomeandlivewithhim.” “Well?” “Butitwasn'twell Williamwasaforty-year-oldwidowerwholivedwithtwo younger brothers, an old butler, and a Chinese cook in one of those funny old Beacon Street houses in Boston 'The Strata,' Bertram called it Bright boy— Bertram!” “TheStrata!” “Yes I wish you could see that house, Arkwright It's a regular layer cake Cyril—he'sthesecondbrother;mustbethirty-fourorfivenow—livesonthetop floor in a rugless, curtainless, music-mad existence—just a plain crank Below himcomesWilliam Williamcollectsthings—everythingfromtenpennynailsto teapots,Ishouldsay,andthey'reallthereinhisrooms Fartherdownsomewhere comesBertram He'stheBertramHenshaw,youunderstand;theartist.” “Notthe'Face-of-a-Girl'Henshaw?” “Thesame;onlyofcoursefouryearsagohewasn'tquitesowellknownashe isnow Well,toresumeandgoon Itwasintothishouse,thismasculineparadise ruledoverbyPeteandDongLinginthekitchen,thatBilly'snaïverequestfora homecame.” “GreatScott!”breathedArkwright,appreciatively “Yes Well,theletterwassigned'Billy.'Theytookherforaboy,naturally,and after something of a struggle they agreed to let 'him' come For his particular delectationtheyfixeduparoomnexttoBertramwithgunsandfishingrods,and suchladylikespecialties;andWilliamwenttothestationtomeettheboy.” “Withneverasuspicion?” “Withneverasuspicion.” “Gorry!” “Well,'he'came,and'she'conquered Iguessthingswerelivelyforawhile, though Oh,therewasakitten,too,Ibelieve,'Spunk,'whoaddedtothegayety ofnations.” “ButwhatdidtheHenshawsdo?” “Well,Iwasn'tthere,ofcourse;butBertramsaystheyspunaroundliketops gone mad for a time, but finally quieted down enough to summon a married sisterforimmediatepropriety,andtoestablishAuntHannahforpermanencythe nextday.” “Sothat'showithappened!Well,byGeorge!”criedArkwright “Yes,” nodded the other “So you see there are untold possibilities just in a name Rememberthat Justsupposeyou,asMaryJane,shouldbegahomeina femininehousehold—sayinMissBilly's,forinstance!” CHAPTERXXXII PETETOTHERESCUE Onebyonetheweekspassedandbecameamonth Thenotherweeksbecame other months It was July when Billy, homesick and weary, came back to HillsidewithAuntHannah Home looked wonderfully good to Billy, in spite of the fact that she had so dreadedtoseeit Billyhadmadeuphermind,however,that,comesometimeshe must Shecouldnot,ofcourse,stayalwaysaway Perhaps,too,itwouldbejust as easy at home as it was away Certainly it could not be any harder She was convincedofthat Besides,shedidnotwantBertramtothink— Billy had received only meagre news from Boston since she went away Bertram had not written at all William had written twice—hurt, grieved, puzzled,questioninglettersthatwereveryhardtoanswer FromMarie,too,had comelettersofmuchthesamesort Byfarthecheeriestepistleshadcomefrom Alice Greggory They contained, indeed, about the only comfort Billy had known for weeks, for they showed very plainly to Billy that Arkwright's heart hadbeencaughtontherebound;andthatinAliceGreggoryhewasfindingthe sweetestsortofbalmforhiswoundedfeelings FromtheselettersBillylearned, too,thatJudgeGreggory'shonorhadbeenwhollyvindicated;and,asBillytold AuntHannah,“anybodycouldputtwoandtwotogetherandmakefour,now.” It was eight o'clock on a rainy July evening that Billy and Aunt Hannah arrived at Hillside; and it was only a little past eight that Aunt Hannah was summoned to the telephone When she came back to Billy she was crying and wringingherhands Billysprangtoherfeet “Why,AuntHannah,whatisit?What'sthematter?”shedemanded AuntHannahsankintoachair,stillwringingherhands “Oh,Billy,Billy,howcanItellyou,howcanItellyou?”shemoaned “Youmusttellme!AuntHannah,whatisit?” “Oh—oh—oh!Billy,Ican't—Ican't!” “Butyou'llhaveto!Whatisit,AuntHannah?” “It's—B-Bertram!” “Bertram!”Billy'sfacegrewashen “Quick,quick—whatdoyoumean?” Foranswer,AuntHannahcoveredherfacewithherhandsandbegantosob aloud Billy,almostbesideherselfnowwithterrorandanxiety,droppedonher kneesandtriedtopullawaytheshakinghands “AuntHannah,youmusttellme!Youmust—youmust!” “Ican't,Billy It'sBertram He's—hurt!”chokedAuntHannah,hysterically “Hurt!How?” “Idon'tknow Petetoldme.” “Pete!” “Yes Rosahadtoldhimwewerecoming,andhecalledmeup Hesaidmaybe Icoulddosomething Sohetoldme.” “Yes,yes!Buttoldyouwhat?” “Thathewashurt.” “How?” “I couldn't hear all, but I think 'twas an accident—automobile And, Billy, Billy—Pete says it's his arm—his right arm—and that maybe he can't ever ppaintagain!” “Oh-h!” Billy fell back as if the words had been a blow “Not that, Aunt Hannah—notthat!” “That'swhatPetesaid Icouldn'tgetallofit,butIgotthat And,Billy,he's beenoutofhishead—thoughheisn'tnow,Petesays—and—and—andhe'sbeen callingforyou.” “For—me?”AswiftchangecametoBilly'sface “Yes Overandoveragainhecalledforyou—whilehewascrazy,youknow That's why Pete told me He said he didn't rightly understand what the trouble was, but he didn't believe there was any trouble, really, between you two; anyway,thatyouwouldn'tthinktherewas,ifyoucouldhearhim,andknowhow hewantedyou,and—why,Billy!” Billy was on her feet now Her fingers were on the electric push-button that wouldsummonRosa Herfacewasillumined ThenextmomentRosaappeared “TellJohntobringPeggytothedooratonce,please,”directedhermistress “Billy!” gasped Aunt Hannah again, as the maid disappeared Billy was tremblingly putting on the hat she had but just taken off “Billy, what are you goingtodo?” Billyturnedinobvioussurprise “Why,I'mgoingtoBertram,ofcourse.” “To Bertram! But it's nearly half-past eight, child, and it rains, and everything!” “But Bertram wants me!” exclaimed Billy “As if I'd mind rain, or time, or anythingelse,now!” “But—but—oh,mygriefandconscience!”groanedAuntHannah,beginning towringherhandsagain Billyreachedforhercoat AuntHannahstirredintosuddenaction “But, Billy, if you'd only wait till to-morrow,” she quavered, putting out a feeblyrestraininghand “To-morrow!” The young voice rang with supreme scorn “Do you think I'd waittillto-morrow—afterallthis?IsayBertramwantsme.”Billypickedupher gloves “Butyoubrokeitoff,dear—yousaidyoudid;andtogodownthereto-night —likethis—” Billyliftedherhead Hereyesshone Herwholefacewasagloryofloveand pride “Thatwasbefore Ididn'tknow Hewantsme,AuntHannah Didyouhear? Hewantsme!AndnowIwon'teven—hinderhim,ifhecan't—p-paintagain!” Billy'svoicebroke Thegloryleftherface Hereyesbrimmedwithtears,buther headwasstillbravelyuplifted “I'mgoingtoBertram!” Blindly Aunt Hannah got to her feet Still more blindly she reached for her bonnetandcloakonthechairnearher “Oh,willyougo,too?”askedBilly,abstractedly,hurryingtothewindowto lookforthemotorcar “WillIgo,too!”burstoutAuntHannah'sindignantvoice “DoyouthinkI'd letyougoalone,andatthistimeofnight,onsuchawild-goosechaseasthis?” “I don't know, I'm sure,” murmured Billy, still abstractedly, peering out into therain “Don't know, indeed! Oh, my grief and conscience!” groaned Aunt Hannah, settingherbonnethopelesslyaskewontopofheragitatedhead But Billy did not even answer now Her face was pressed hard against the window-pane CHAPTERXXXIII BERTRAMTAKESTHE REINS WithstifflypompousdignityPeteopenedthedoor Thenextmomenthefell backinamazementbeforetheimpetuousrushofastarry-eyed,flushed-cheeked youngwomanwhodemanded: “Whereishe,Pete?” “MissBilly!”gaspedtheoldman ThenhesawAuntHannah—AuntHannah with her bonnet askew, her neck-bow awry, one hand bare, and the other half coveredwithaglovewrongsideout AuntHannah'scheeks,too,wereflushed, andhereyesstarry,butwithdismayandanger—thelastbecauseshedidnotlike thewayPetehadsaidMissBilly'sname Itwasonematterforhertoobjectto thisthingBillywasdoing—butquiteanotherforPetetodoit “Ofcourseit'sshe!”retortedAuntHannah,testily “Asifyouyourselfdidn't bringherherewithyourcrazymessagesatthistimeofnight!” “Pete,whereishe?”interposedBilly “TellMr BertramIamhere—or,wait! I'llgorightinandsurprisehim.” “Billy!”ThistimeitwasAuntHannahwhogaspedhername Petehadrecoveredhimselfbynow,buthedidnotevenglancetowardAunt Hannah Hisfacewasbeaming,andhisoldeyeswereshining “Miss Billy, Miss Billy, you're an angel straight from heaven, you are—you are!Oh,I'msogladyoucame!It'llbeallrightnow—allright!He'sintheden, MissBilly.” Billyturnedeagerly,butbeforeshecouldtakesomuchasonesteptowardthe doorattheendofthehall,AuntHannah'sindignantvoicearrestedher “Billy-stop!You'renotanangel;you'reayoungwoman—andacrazyone,at that! Whatever angels do, young women don't go unannounced and unchaperoned into young men's rooms! Pete, go tell your master that we are here,andaskifhewillreceiveus.” Pete'slipstwitched Theemphatic“we”and“us”werenotlostonhim Buthis facewaspreternaturallygravewhenhespoke “Mr Bertramisupanddressed,ma'am He'sintheden I'llspeaktohim.” Pete, once again the punctilious butler, stalked to the door of Bertram's den andthrewitwideopen Oppositethedoor,on alowcouch, layBertram,hisheadbandaged, andhis right arm in a sling His face was turned toward the door, but his eyes were closed He looked very white, and his features were pitifully drawn with suffering “Mr Bertram,”beganPete—buthegotnofurther Aflyingfigurebrushedby himandfellonitskneesbythecouch,withalowcry Bertram's eyes flew open Across his face swept such a radiant look of unearthlyjoythatPetesobbedaudiblyandfledtothekitchen DongLingfound him there a minute later polishing a silver teaspoon with a fringed napkin that hadbeenspreadoverBertram'stray InthehallaboveAuntHannahwascrying into William's gray linen duster that on the hall-rack—Aunt Hannah's handkerchiefwasonthefloorbackatHillside InthedenneitherBillynorBertramkneworcaredwhathadbecomeofAunt Hannah and Pete There were just two people in their world—two people, and unutterable,incredible,overwhelmingraptureandpeace Then,verygraduallyit dawnedoverthemthattherewas,afterall,somethingstrangeandunexplainedin itall “But,dearest,whatdoesitmean—youherelikethis?”askedBertramthen As iftomakesurethatshewas“here,likethis,”hedrewherevencloser—Bertram wassothankfulthathedidhaveonearmthatwasusable Billy,onherkneesbythecouch,snuggledintothecurveoftheonearmwitha contentedlittlesigh “Well, you see, just as soon as I found out to-night that you wanted me, I came,”shesaid “You darling! That was—” Bertram stopped suddenly A puzzled frown showed below the fantastic bandage about his head “'As soon as,'” he quoted then scornfully “Were you ever by any possible chance thinking I didn'twant you?” Billy'seyeswidenedalittle “Why, Bertram, dear, don't you see? When you were so troubled that the picturedidn'tgowell,andIfoundoutitwasaboutmeyouweretroubled—I—” “Well?”Bertram'svoicewasalittlestrained “Why,of—ofcourse,”stammeredBilly,“Icouldn'thelpthinkingthatmaybe youhadfoundoutyoudidn'twantme.” “Didn'twantyou!”groanedBertram,histensemusclesrelaxing “MayIask why?” Billyblushed “Iwasn'tquitesurewhy,”shefaltered;“only,ofcourse,Ithoughtof—ofMiss Winthrop,youknow,orthatmaybeitwasbecauseyoudidn'tcareforanygirl, onlytopaint—oh,oh,Bertram!Petetoldus,”shebrokeoffwildly,beginningto sob “Pete told you that I didn't care for any girl, only to paint?” demanded Bertram,angryandmystified “No,no,”sobbedBilly,“notthat Itwasalltheothersthattoldmethat!Pete told Aunt Hannah about the accident, you know, and he said—he said—Oh, Bertram,Ican'tsayit!Butthat'soneofthethingsthatmademeknowIcould comenow,yousee,becauseI—Iwouldn'thinderyou,norslayyourArt,norany otherofthosedreadfulthingsif—ifyoucouldn'tever—p-paintagain,”finished Billyinanuncontrollableburstofgrief “There,there,dear,”comfortedBertram,pattingthebronze-goldheadonhis breast “Ihaven'tthefaintestideawhatyou'retalkingabout—exceptthelast;but Iknowtherecan'tbeanythingthatoughttomakeyoucrylikethat Asformy notpaintingagain—youdidn'tunderstandPete,dearie Thatwaswhattheywere afraidofatfirst—thatI'dlosemyarm;butthatdangerisallpastnow I'mloads better OfcourseI'mgoingtopaintagain—andbetterthaneverbefore—now!” Billy lifted her head A look that was almost terror came to her eyes She pulledherselfhalfawayfromBertram'sencirclingarm “Why,Billy,”criedtheman,inpainedsurprise “Youdon'tmeantosayyou're sorryI'mgoingtopaintagain!” “No,no!Oh,no,Bertram—neverthat!”shefaltered,stillregardinghimwith fearfuleyes “It'sonly—forme,youknow Ican'tgobacknow,andnothaveyou —afterthis!—evenifIdohinderyou,and—” “Hinderme!Whatareyoutalkingabout,Billy?” Billydrewaquiveringsigh “Well,tobeginwith,Katesaid—” “Goodheavens!IsKateinthis,too?”Bertram'svoicewassavagenow “Well,shewrotealetter.” “I'llwarrantshedid!GreatScott,Billy!Don'tyouknowKatebythistime?” “Y-yes, I said so, too But, Bertram, what she wrote was true I found it everywhere,afterwards—inmagazinesandpapers,andeveninMarie.” “Humph!Well,dearie,Idon'tknowyetwhatyoufound,butIdoknowyou wouldn'thavefounditatallifithadn'tbeenforKate—andIwishIhadherhere thisminute!” Billygiggledhysterically “Idon't—notrighthere,”shecooed,nestlingcomfortablyagainstherlover's arm “Butyousee,dear,sheneverhasapprovedofthemarriage.” “Well,who'sdoingthemarrying—she,orI?”“That'swhatIsaid,too—onlyin another way,” sighed Billy “But she called us flyaway flutterbudgets, and she saidI'druinyourcareer,ifIdidmarryyou.” “Well,Icantellyourightnow,Billy,youwillruinitifyoudon't!”declared Bertram “That'swhatailedmeallthetimeIwaspaintingthatmiserableportrait Iwassoworried—forfearI'dloseyou.” “Loseme!Why,BertramHenshaw,whatdoyoumean?” Ashamedredcrepttotheman'sforehead “Well,IsupposeImightaswellownupnowasanytime Iwasscaredblue, Billy,withjealousyof—Arkwright.” Billylaughedgayly—butsheshiftedherpositionanddidnotmeetherlover's eyes “Arkwright? Nonsense!” she cried “Why, he's going to marry Alice Greggory I know he is! I can see it as plain as day in her letters He's there a lot.” “And you never did think for a minute, Billy, that you cared for him?” Bertram's gaze searched Billy's face a little fearfully He had not been slow to markthatswiftloweringofhereyelids ButBillylookedhimnowstraightinthe face—itwasalevel,frankgazeofabsolutetruth “Never, dear,” she said firmly (Billy was so glad Bertram had turned the questiononherloveinsteadofArkwright's!)“Therehasneverreallybeenany onebutyou.” “Thank God for that,” breathed Bertram, as he drew the bright head nearer andhelditclose AfteraminuteBillystirredandsighedhappily “Aren'tloversthebeat'emforimaginingthings?”shemurmured “Theycertainlyare.” “Yousee—Iwasn'tinlovewithMr Arkwright.” “Isee—Ihope.” “And—andyoudidn'tcarespeciallyfor—forMissWinthrop?” “Eh?Well,no!”explodedBertram “Doyoumeantosayyoureally—” Billyputasoftfingeronhislips “Er—'people who live in glasshouses,' you know,” she reminded him, with roguisheyes Bertramkissedthefingerandsubsided “Humph!”hecommented Therewasalongsilence;then,alittlebreathlessly,Billyasked: “Andyoudon't—afterall,loveme—justtopaint?” “Well,whatisthat?IsthatKate,too?”demandedBertram,grimly Billylaughed “No—oh, she said it, all right, but, you see, everybody said that to me, Bertram;andthat'swhatmademeso—soworriedsometimeswhenyoutalked aboutthetiltofmychin,andallthat.” “Well,byJove!”breathedBertram Therewasanothersilence Then,suddenly,Bertramstirred “Billy,I'mgoingtomarryyouto-morrow,”heannounceddecisively Billyliftedherheadandsatbackinpalpitatingdismay “Bertram!Whatanabsurdidea!” “Well,Iam Idon'tknow as I can trust you out of my sight till then!You'll readsomething,orhearsomething,orgetaletterfromKateafterbreakfasttomorrow morning, that will set you 'saving me' again; and I don't want to be saved—that way I'm going to marry you to-morrow I'll get—” He stopped short,withasuddenfrown “Confoundthatlaw!Iforgot GreatScott,Billy,I'll havetotrustyoufivedays,afterall!There'sanewlawaboutthelicense We've gottowaitfivedays—andmaybemore,countinginthenotice,andall.” Billylaughedsoftly “Fivedays,indeed,sir!IwonderifyouthinkIcangetreadytobemarriedin fivedays.” “Don'twantyoutogetready,”retortedBertram,promptly “IsawMarieget ready, and I had all I wanted of it If you really must have all those miles of tableclothsandnapkinsanddoiliesandlacerufflingswe'lldoitafterwards,—not before.” “But—” “Besides,Ineedyoutotakecareofme,”cutinBertram,craftily “Bertram,doyou—really?” ThetenderglowonBilly'sfacetoldits ownstory,andBertram'seagereyes werenotslowtoreadit “Sweetheart,seehere,dear,”hecriedsoftly,tighteninghisgoodleftarm And forthwithhebegantotellherhowmuchhedid,indeed,needher “Billy,mydear!”ItwasAuntHannah'splaintivevoiceatthedoorway,alittle later “Wemustgohome;andWilliamishere,too,andwantstoseeyou.” BillyroseatonceasAuntHannahenteredtheroom “Yes, Aunt Hannah, I'll come; besides”—she glanced at Bertram mischievously—“IshallneedallthetimeI'vegottopreparefor—mywedding.” “Your wedding! You mean it'll be before—October?” Aunt Hannah glanced fromonetotheotheruncertainly Somethingintheirsmilingfacessentaquick suspiciontohereyes “Yes,”noddedBilly,demurely “It'snextTuesday,yousee.” “NextTuesday!Butthat'sonlyaweekaway,”gaspedAuntHannah “Yes,aweek.” “But,child,yourtrousseau—thewedding—the—the—aweek!”AuntHannah couldnotarticulatefurther “Yes,Iknow;thatisagoodwhile,”cutinBertram,airily “Wewantedittomorrow, but we had to wait, on account of the new license law Otherwise it wouldn'thavebeensolong,and—” But Aunt Hannah was gone With a low-breathed “Long! Oh, my grief and conscience—William!”shehadfledthroughthehalldoor “Well,itislong,”maintainedBertram,withtendereyes,ashereachedouthis handtosaygood-night EndofProjectGutenberg'sMissBilly'sDecision,byEleanorH Porter ***ENDOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKMISSBILLY'SDECISION*** *****Thisfileshouldbenamed362-h.htmor362-h.zip***** Thisandallassociatedfilesofvariousformatswillbefoundin: http://www.gutenberg.org/3/6/362/ ProducedbyCharlesKeller,andDavidWidger Updatededitionswillreplacethepreviousone theoldeditions willberenamed Creatingtheworksfrompublicdomainprinteditionsmeansthatno oneownsaUnitedStatescopyrightintheseworks,sotheFoundation (andyou!)cancopyanddistributeitintheUnitedStateswithout permissionandwithoutpayingcopyrightroyalties Specialrules, setforthintheGeneralTermsofUsepartofthislicense,applyto copyinganddistributingProjectGutenberg-tmelectronicworksto protectthePROJECTGUTENBERG-tmconceptandtrademark Project Gutenbergisaregisteredtrademark,andmaynotbeusedifyou 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keepeBooksincompliancewithanyparticularpaperedition MostpeoplestartatourWebsitewhichhasthemainPGsearchfacility: http://www.gutenberg.org ThisWebsiteincludesinformationaboutProjectGutenberg-tm, includinghowtomakedonationstotheProjectGutenbergLiterary ArchiveFoundation,howtohelpproduceourneweBooks,andhowto subscribetoouremailnewslettertohearaboutneweBooks .. .MISS BILLY'S DECISION ByEleanorH Porter Authorof Miss Billy,”etc TO MyCousinHelen CONTENTS MISS BILLY'S DECISION CHAPTERI CALDERWELLDOESSOMETALKING... CHAPTERXXXI FLIGHT CHAPTERXXXII PETETOTHERESCUE CHAPTERXXXIII BERTRAMTAKESTHEREINS MISS BILLY'S DECISION CHAPTERI CALDERWELLDOESSOME TALKING CalderwellhadmetMr M J ArkwrightinLondonthroughacommonfriend;... CHAPTERXIII CYRILANDAWEDDING CHAPTERXIV M J MAKESANOTHERMOVE CHAPTERXV "MR BILLY”AND MISS MARYJANE” CHAPTERXVI AGIRLANDABITOFLOWESTOFT CHAPTERXVII ONLYALOVESONG,BUT—
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