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The American Senator

7. The Walk Home
Mary Masters, when Reginald Morton had turned his back upon her at the bridge,
was angry with herself and with him, which was reasonable; and very angry also
with Larry Twentyman, which was unreasonable. As she had at once acceded to
Morton's proposal that they should walk round the house together, surely he
should not have deserted her so soon. It had not been her fault that the other
man had come up. She had not wanted him. But she was aware that when the
option had in some sort been left to herself, she had elected to walk back with
Larry. She knew her own motives and her own feelings, but neither of the men
would understand them. Because she preferred the company of Mr. Morton, and
had at the moment feared that her sisters would have deserted her had she
followed him, therefore she had declared her purpose of going back to
Dillsborough, in doing which she knew that Larry and the girls would accompany
her. But of course Mr, Morton would think that she had preferred the company of
her recognised admirer. It was pretty well known in Dillsborough that Larry was
her lover. Her stepmother had spoken of it very freely; and Larry himself was a
man who did not keep his lights hidden under a bushel. "I hope I've not been in
the way, Mary," said Mr. Twentyman, as soon as Morton was out of hearing.
"In the way of what?"
"I didn't think there was any harm in offering to go up to the house with you if you
were going."
"Who has said there was any harm?" The path was only broad enough for one
and she was walking first. Larry was following her and the girls were behind him.
"I think that Mr. Morton is a very stuck-up fellow," said Kate, who was the last.
"Hold your tongue, Kate," said Mary. "You don't know what you are talking about"
"I know as well as any one when a person is good-natured. What made him go
off in that hoity-toity fashion? Nobody had said anything to him."
"He always looks as though he were going to eat somebody," said Dolly.
"He shan't eat me," said Kate.
Then there was a pause, during which they all went along quickly, Mary leading
the way. Larry felt that he was wasting his opportunity; and yet hardly knew how
to use it, feeling that the girl was angry with him.
"I wish you'd say, Mary, whether you think that I did anything wrong?"
"Nothing wrong to me, Mr. Twentyman."
"Did I do anything wrong to him?"
"I don't know how far you may be acquainted with him. He was proposing to go
somewhere, and you offered to go with him."
"I offered to go with you," said Larry, sturdily. "I suppose I'm sufficiently
acquainted with you."
"Quite so," said Mary.
"Why should he be so proud? I never said an uncivil word to him. He's nothing to
me. If he can do without me, I'm sure that I can do without him."