“Right? Yes, to hasten the inevitable—to save lives!” declared Westerling with deliberate assurance.
“I—I want to see an end of the killing! I—” She sprang to her feet as if about to break away tumultuously, but paused, swaying unsteadily, and passed her hand across her eyes.
“We intend a general attack on the first line of defence to-night!” he exclaimed, his supreme thought leaping into words.
“And you would want the information about the first line to-night if—if it is to be of service?”
Marta brought her hands together in a tight clasp. Her gaze fluttered for a minute over the tea-table. When she looked up her eyes were calm.
“It is a big thing, isn’t it?” she said. “A thing not to be done in an impulse. I try never to do big things in an impulse. When I see that I am in danger of it I always say: ’Go by yourself and think for half an hour!’ So I must now. In a little while I will let you know my decision.”
Without further formality she started across the lawn to the terrace steps. Westerling watched her sharply, passing along the path of the second terrace, pacing slowly, head bent, until she was out of sight. Then he stood for a time getting a grip on his own emotions before he went into the house.
IN FELLER’S PLACE
What am I? What have I done? What am I about to do? shot as forked shadows over the hot lava-flow of Malta’s impulse. The vitality that Westerling had felt by suggestion from a still profile rejoiced in a quickening of pace directly she was out of sight of the veranda. All the thinking she had done that afternoon had been in pictures; some saying, some cry, some groan, or some smile went with every picture.
Coming to the arbor she slowed down for a step or two, arrested by the recollection of her last meeting with Lanstron. There it was that she had scored him for making her an accomplice of trickery. She saw his twitching hand, and the misery in his eyes and the cadence of his words came as clearly as notes from a violin in a silent chamber to her ears. She nodded in affirmation; she shook her head in negation; she frowned; she laughed strangely, and hurried on.
The sitting-room of the tower was empty to other eyes but not to hers. In imagination she saw Feller standing by the table in the dejection of his heart-break when he faced her and Lanstron, his secret disclosed; and the appeal was more potent in memory than it had been at the time. She went on into the bedroom, which had been formerly the tool-room. On the threshold of the steps into the darkness she glanced back, to see Feller’s face transfixed as it had been when he discovered the presence of interlopers—transfixed in fighting rage.