“Know him before?” She sat up and looked him half angrily in the face. “I never knew him before! I never set eyes on him until I saw him here.”
Sir Everard drew a long breath of relief. No one could doubt her truth, and his worst suspicion was at rest.
“Then what is this secret between you two? For there is a secret, Harriet.”
“What is it, Harriet?”
“I can not tell you.”
“I can not.” She turned deathly white as she said it. “Never, Everard! There is a secret, but a secret I can never reveal, even to you. Don’t ask me—don’t! If you ever loved me, try and trust me now!”
There was a blank pause. She tried to clasp him, but he held her sternly off.
“One question more: You knew this secret before you married me?”
“For how long?”
“For a year.”
“And that picture the American showed you is a picture you know.”
She looked up at him, a wild startled light in her great gray eyes.
“How do you know that?”
“I am answered,” he said. “I see I am right. Once more, Lady Kingsland,” his voice cold and clear, “you refuse to tell me?”
“I must. Oh, Everard, for pity’s sake, trust me! I can not tell you—I dare not!”
“Enough, madame! Your accomplice shall!”
He turned to go. She made a step between him and the door.
“What are you going to do? Tell me, for I will know!”
“I am going to the man who shares your guilty secret, madame; and, by the Heaven above us, I’ll have the truth out of him if I have to tear it from his throat! Out of my way, before I forget you are a woman and strike you down at my feet!”
She staggered back, with a low cry, as if he had struck her indeed. He strode past, his eyes flashing, his face livid with jealous rage, straight to the picture-gallery.
A door at the opposite side of the corridor stood ajar. Sybilla Silver’s listening cars heard the last fierce words, Sybilla Silver’s glittering black eyes saw that last passionate gesture of repulsion. She saw Harriet, Lady Kingsland—the bride of a month—sink down on the oaken floor, quivering in anguish from head to foot; and her tall form seemed to tower and dilate with diabolical delight.
“Not one year,” she cried to her exultant heart—“not one month will I have to wait for my revenge! Lie there, poor fool! and suffer and die, for what I care, while I go and prevent your madly jealous husband from braining my precious fiance. There is to be blood on the hands and the brand of Cain on the brow of the last of the Kingslands, or my oath will not be kept; but it must not be the ignoble blood of George Washington Parmalee!”
MR. PARMALEE SWEARS VENGEANCE.