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15. CHAPTER XV (continued)
"I am NOT going to take your money," she said contemptuously.
"Why not?" I cried. "Why not, Polina?"
"Because I am not in the habit of receiving money for nothing."
"But I am offering it to you as a FRIEND in the same way I would offer you my very life."
Upon this she threw me a long, questioning glance, as though she were seeking to probe me to the depths.
"You are giving too much for me," she remarked with a smile. "The beloved of De Griers is not worth fifty thousand francs."
"Oh Polina, how can you speak so?" I exclaimed reproachfully. "Am I De Griers?"
"You?" she cried with her eyes suddenly flashing. "Why, I HATE you! Yes, yes, I HATE you! I love you no more than I do De Griers."
Then she buried her face in her hands, and relapsed into hysterics. I darted to her side. Somehow I had an intuition of something having happened to her which had nothing to do with myself. She was like a person temporarily insane.
"Buy me, would you, would you? Would you buy me for fifty thousand francs as De Griers did?" she gasped between her convulsive sobs.
I clasped her in my arms, kissed her hands and feet, and fell upon my knees before her.
Presently the hysterical fit passed away, and, laying her hands upon my shoulders, she gazed for a while into my face, as though trying to read it--something I said to her, but it was clear that she did not hear it. Her face looked so dark and despondent that I began to fear for her reason. At length she drew me towards herself--a trustful smile playing over her features; and then, as suddenly, she pushed me away again as she eyed me dimly.
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