“That is strange,” she said, “I never saw that effect before.” Next she took the phial and powdered it into a pinch of tiny dust with a whale’s tooth that lay upon the table. The dust she took to the window and threw out, a little at a time. Lady Bellamy wished to die as she had lived, a mystery. Then she came and stood over the deadly draught she had compounded, and thought sometimes aloud and sometimes to herself.
“I have heard it said that suicides are cowards; let those who say it, stand as I stand to-night, with death lying in the little circle of a glass before them, and they will know whether they are cowards, or if they are spirits of a braver sort than those who can bear to drudge to the bitter end of life. It is not yet too late. I can throw that stuff away. I can leave this place and begin life anew in some other country, my jewels will give me the means, and, for the matter of that, I can always win as much money as I want. But, no; then I must begin again, and for that I have not the patience or the time. Besides, I long to know, to solve the mystery. Come, let me make an end, I will chance it. Spirits like my own wear their life only while it does not gall them; if it begins to fret, they cast it from them like a half-worn dress, scorning to wrap it round them till it drops away in rags.”
She raised the glass.
“How lonely this place is, and how still, and yet it may well be that there are millions round me watching what I do. Why does he come into my mind now, that good man, and the child I bore him? Shall I see them presently? Will they crush me with their reproaches? And—have my nerves broken down?—Is it fancy, or does that girl’s pale face, with warning in her eyes, float between me and the wall? Well, I will drink to her, for her mind could even overtop my own. She was, at least, my equal, and I have driven her mad! Let me taste this stuff.”
Lifting the glass to her lips, she drank a little, and set it down. The effect was almost magical. Her eyes blazed, a new beauty bloomed upon her cheek, her whole grand presence seemed to gain in majesty. The quick drug for a moment burnt away the curtain between the seen and the unseen, and yet left her living.
“Ah,” she cried, in the silence of the room, “how it runs along my veins; I hear the rushing of the stars, I see strange worlds, my soul leaps through infinite spaces, the white light of immortality strikes upon my eyes and blinds me. Come, life unending, I have conquered death.”
Seizing the poison, she swallowed what remained of it, and dashed the glass down beside her. Then she fell heavily on her face, once she struggled to her knees, then fell again, and lay still.
After throwing George Caresfoot into the bramble-bush, Arthur walked steadily back to the inn, where he arrived, quite composed in manner, at about half-past seven. Old Sam, the ostler, was in the yard, washing a trap. He went up to him, and asked when the next train started for London.