“Jerry,” I heard her call again softly, “I am not afraid.”
That was it. I understood now. What she loved was fear. But Jerry would not come back. I heard his voice faintly.
“We must go, Marcia.”
“I have learned; we have no right here—alone, you and I. It’s what—what you accused Una of.”
“But you and I—Jerry! Am I not different from Una? I have rights. She has none. I’ve given them to you, and you to me.”
“You will marry me, soon?”
“Not if you’re going to be so—so—er—inhospitable.”
He came forward quickly.
“You know I don’t mean that. Would you have me less considerate of your reputation, your peace of mind, than I am of Una’s? I want you to understand how deeply I respect you—that I want to treat you with tenderness, with delicacy, with gentle devotion.”
I heard her sigh. I’m sure if Jerry’s back had been turned she must have yawned. She rose and I heard her slow footsteps join his.
“How you disappoint me!” I heard her murmur and then more faintly: “How terribly you disappoint me! To analyze one’s feelings! To think of conventions! Now! What are you?”
I heard their voices fading into the distance and peered forth. They were walking slowly down the path, away from me. I stirred cautiously, straightened my stiffened legs, rose painfully, and then carefully made my way farther into the forest, through which I plunged headlong, eager to escape the sight of that accursed rock and its harrowing sounds. I had not been far wrong in my estimate of her and of Jerry. I would to God he had strangled her.
THE ENEMY’S COUNTRY
Una and her mother did not come to Horsham Manor during the following week, and it was early in June before Jerry ordered the rooms to be prepared for them. Jack Ballard, too, having at last found Newport irksome, promised to make up the house-party.
It did not seem to me that Jerry was especially overjoyed at the prospect of these guests. During the week or more that followed his encounter with Marcia in the woods, he had reverted to his former habits of strolling aimlessly about when he wasn’t at Briar Hills or in town, at times cheerful enough; at others obstinately morose. But he did not drink. Whatever the differences between us, he evidently