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"But I would rather not, my little girl. The fact is this, Westenra, I would not marry you now at any price. I would have married you had I thought I could have won you in the end, but I won't have a wife who loves another. I could not do it on any terms, Westenra. I am low down enough, but I am not as low as that. So I refuse you, dear; I give you up--you understand, don't you?"
I did understand. A wild wave of joy, almost intolerable, surged round my heart, and the next moment Mr. Fanning took my hand and led me out of the arbour just where the moon was shining.
"I asked Mr. Randolph to come down," he said quietly, "I guessed that perhaps he would be wanted. I think this is he."
Footsteps were heard approaching, and Jim Randolph stood in the moonlit path.
"How do you do, Mr. Randolph?" said Albert Fanning, with that new dignity which self-denial gave him. He looked almost grand at the moment.
"I have just been telling this young girl, Mr. Randolph, that I have heard a certain secret about her which she was bravely trying to keep to herself, and in consequence of that secret I can have nothing more to do with her. She wanted to marry me, sir, but I have refused her; she is quite free, free for any one else to woo and win. She is a very good girl, sir, and--but that is all, I have nothing more to say. I have given her back her bond." And then without a word, Albert Fanning walked quickly away through the gloom of the shrubbery, and Jim and I found ourselves alone face to face with the moonlight shining on us both.