“And you believe me guilty?”
He took a step toward her. She never forgot the dreadful look upon his face.
“I scorn to make any explanation. I might, perhaps, clear myself of this foul accusation, but I will make no effort to do so. But not another day will I live beneath the same roof with the woman who believed me guilty of murder, and yet sunk herself so low as to become my wife!”
“As you please,” she said, defiantly. “I should be quite as happy were it so.”
He bowed coldly, courteously—went out, and closed the door behind him. The sound struck to the heart of his wife like a knell. She staggered back, and fell upon a chair.
Had she been mad? She had wounded and angered him, beyond all hope of pardon—him, whom in spite of everything, she held more precious than the whole world! She had lost his respect—lost forever all chance of winning his love. And she had eagerly cherished the sweet hope that some time he might forget the old dream, and turn to the new reality. But it was past!
She went up to her chamber, and locking the door, threw herself, dressed as she was, on the bed. How long must this continue? How long would he remain away? His business would not, probably, keep him more than a few days, and then, surely, he would return. And she would throw herself at his feet, acknowledge her fault, and plead—yes, beg for his forgiveness. Anything, only to have peace between them once more!
She could not write to him, for he had not left his address. The next morning, she went down to the store, but they knew nothing of his destination, or his probable time of absence. So all she could do was to return home and wait.
A week passed—ten days—and still he did not return, and no tidings of him had reached his agonized wife.
Louis Castrani received, one day, an urgent summons to Boston. It was the very day following that on which he had been an unwilling listener to the difficulty between Mr. and Mrs. Trevlyn. He knew from whom the summons came. Once before he had been suddenly called in like manner.
A wretched woman she was now—but once the belle and beauty of the fair Cuban town where Castrani’s childhood and youth had been spent. She had been a beautiful orphan, adopted by his parents, and brought up almost as his sister. Perhaps, in those days, when they played together under the soft Southern skies, he knew no difference.
Now she was dying. So said the message. Dying, and burdened with a secret which she could confess to no ears save his. Before, when he had gone to her, she had rallied after his arrival, and had declined making confession. She should never speak of it, she said, until her death was sure. But when she felt dissolution drawing nigh, she should send for him again. And the summons had come. He obeyed it in haste, and one night just before sunset, he stood by her bedside.