“But—” she spoke now—“you—you who seemed all that was—I can’t believe—it is impossible—inconceivable—”
His features twitched, the nerves seemed moving beneath the skin; but he answered in a hard tone. “I have told you the truth; because,” the words broke from him, “I had to! Must I,” despite himself there was an accent of acutest pain in his voice, “repeat it?”
“No!” said the girl. “Oh, no.”
“You guessed I was going away. I was going so that you might never learn what you know now.”
“I—guessed you were going? Ah, to-night—on the balcony!”
Did he divine what her words recalled, could not but bring to mind? A tint sprang to her white face; it spread even to the white throat. The blue eyes grew hard, very hard; the little hand he had so short a while before held in his, closed; the slender figure which had then seemed to waver, straightened. He read the thought his words had evoked, did not meet her eyes now.
“You tell me what you have—And yet you have come—dared to come here—under this roof—?”
It may be she also recalled his look when first he had entered this room, and, turning, had seen her; that her mind retained the impress of a bearing, bold, mocking.
“Oh,” she said, “it was infamous!”
The word struck him like a whip, lashed his face to a dull red; the silence grew.
“I would not presume to dispute or to contradict any conclusion you may have reached,” he spoke at length in a low, even voice. “I had not, as I said, intended this last, this most inexcusable intrusion. You have now only one course to pursue—” His gaze turned to the long silken bell-rope on the wall. “And I promise not to resist.”
Her glance followed his, returned to his face, to his eyes, quietly challenging. She took a step.
“Well?” he said.
She had suddenly stopped; in the hall voices were heard approaching; he too caught them.
“That simplifies matters,” he remarked.
Her breast stirred; she stood listening; they came nearer—now were at the door. A measured knocking broke the stillness.
“Jocelyn!” The voice was that of Sir Charles. “Are you there?” She did not answer. “Kindly unlock the door.”
* * * * *
The girl made no motion to obey and the knocking was repeated; mechanically she moved toward the threshold. “Yes?” All the color had left her face. “What—what is it?”
“Don’t mean to alarm you, my dear, but Mr. Gillett thinks the convict might be concealing himself somewhere in the house; indeed, that it is quite likely. So we are making a little tour of inspection. Shall we not go through your rooms? There! don’t be frightened!” quickly, “only as a matter of precaution, you know.”
“I,” she seemed to catch her breath, “it is really quite unnecessary. I have been through them myself.”