He drew back for a second before her, his face deathly white. And then suddenly an awful light leapt in his eyes. He gripped her outflung hands. The fire had kindled to a flame and the torture was too much for him also.
“Then you shall love me—even in hell!” he said, through his clenched teeth, and locked her in the iron circle of his arms.
She did not resist him. She was very near the end of her strength. Only, as he held her, her eyes met his, mutely imploring him....
It reached him even in his madness, that unspoken appeal. It checked him in the mid-furnace of his passion. His hold relaxed as if at a word of command. He put her into a chair and turned himself from her.
The next moment he was fumbling desperately at the window fastening. The night met him on the threshold. He heard her weeping, piteously, hopelessly, as he went away.
THE DESERT PLACE
A single light shone across the verandah when Bernard Monck returned late in the night. It drew his steps though it did not come from any of the sitting-rooms. With the light tread often characteristic of heavy men, he approached it, realizing only at the last moment that it came from the window of his brother’s room.
Then for a second he hesitated. He was angry with Everard, more angry than he could remember that he had ever been before. He questioned with himself as to the wisdom of seeing him again that night. He doubted if he could be ordinarily civil to him at present, and a quarrel would help no one.
Still why was the fellow burning a light at that hour? An unacknowledged uneasiness took possession of him and drove him forward. People seemed to do all manner of extravagant things in this fantastic country that they would never have dreamed of doing in homely old England. There must be something electric in the atmosphere that penetrated the veins. Even he had been aware of it now and then, a strange and potent influence that drove a man to passionate deeds.
He reached the window without sound just as Stella had reached it on that night of rain long ago. With no consciousness of spying, driven by an urgent impulse he could not stop to question, he looked in.
The window was ajar, as if it had been pushed to negligently by someone entering, and in a flash Bernard had it wide. He went in as though he had been propelled.
A man—Everard—was standing half-dressed in the middle of the room. He was facing the window, and the light shone with ghastly distinctness upon his face. But he did not look up. He was gazing fixedly into a glass of water he held in his hand, apparently watching some minute substance melting there.
It was not the thing he held, but the look upon his face, that sent Bernard forward with a spring. “Man!” he burst forth. “What are you doing?”