She looked up into his face. She may have been merely framing in her mind the word or two of English she was about to utter; but an excitement shone through her eyes and reddened her lips, and something sent out from her countenance a look of wild distress.
“You goin’ tell ’im?” she asked.
He spoke the next name more softly.
Her eyes looked deeply into his for a moment, then dropped, and she made a sign of assent.
He was about to say that Honore knew already, but saw no necessity for doing so, and changed his answer.
“I will never tell any one.”
“You know?” she asked, lifting her eyes for an instant. She meant to ask if he knew the motive that had prompted her murderous intent.
“I know your whole sad history.”
She looked at him for a moment, fixedly; then, still holding his hand with one of hers, she threw the other to her face and turned away her head. He thought she moaned.
Thus she remained for a few moments, then suddenly she turned, clasped both hands about his, her face flamed up and she opened her lips to speak, but speech failed. An expression of pain and supplication came upon her countenance, and the cry burst from her:
“Meg ’im to love me!”
He tried to withdraw his hand, but she held it fast, and, looking up imploringly with her wide, electric eyes, cried:
“Vous pouvez le faire, vous pouvez le faire (You can do it, you can do it); vous etes sorcier, mo conne bien vous etes sorcier (you are a sorcerer, I know).”
However harmless or healthful Joseph’s touch might be to the philosophe, he felt now that hers, to him, was poisonous. He dared encounter her eyes, her touch, her voice, no longer. The better man in him was suffocating. He scarce had power left to liberate his right hand with his left, to seize his hat and go.
Instantly she rose from her chair, threw herself on her knees in his path, and found command of his language sufficient to cry as she lifted her arms, bared of their drapery:
“Oh, my God! don’ rif-used me—don’ rif-used me!”
There was no time to know whether Frowenfeld wavered or not. The thought flashed into his mind that in all probability all the care and skill he had spent upon the wound was being brought to naught in this moment of wild posturing and excitement; but before it could have effect upon his movements, a stunning blow fell upon the back of his head, and Palmyre’s slave woman, the Congo dwarf, under the impression that it was the most timely of strokes, stood brandishing a billet of pine and preparing to repeat the blow.
He hurled her, snarling and gnashing like an ape, against the farther wall, cast the bar from the street door and plunged out, hatless, bleeding and stunned.