The Bread-winners eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 251 pages of information about The Bread-winners.

“The truth,” with a beating of the heart which made his utterance thick, “the truth is, that you are the most glorious woman in the world, and that you will be mine to-morrow.”

“Perhaps,” she almost whispered.  “But you must tell me something else.  I am afraid you are a naughty boy, and that you love me too much.  I once told you I had an enemy, and that I wanted somebody to punish him.  Did you go and punish him for me—­tell me that?”

Her voice was soft and low and beguiling.  She still smiled on him, leaving one hand in his, while she raised the forefinger of the other in coquettish admonition.  The ruffian at her feet was inebriated with her beauty and her seductive playfulness.  He thought she had divined his act—­that she considered it a fine and heroic test of love to which she had subjected him.  He did not hesitate an instant, but said: 

“Yes, my beauty, and I am ready to do the same for anybody who gives you a cross look.”

Now that she had gained the terrible truth, a sickening physical fear of the man came over her, and she felt herself growing faint.  His voice sounded weak and distant as he said: 

“Now you will go with me, won’t you?”

She could make no answer.  So he continued: 

“Run and get your hat.  Nothing else.  We can buy all you want.  And hurry.  They may come back any moment.”

She perceived a chance of escape and roused herself.  She thought if she could only get out of the room she might save herself by flight or by outcry.

“Wait here,” she whispered, “and be very quiet.”

He kissed his fingers to her without a word.  She opened the door into the next room, which was the kitchen and dining-room of the family, and there, not three feet from her, in the dim light, haggard and wan, bareheaded, his clothes in rags about him, she saw Sam Sleeny.

XIX.

A LEAP FOR SOMEBODY’S LIFE.

When Sleeny was led from the room of the police justice in the afternoon, he was plunged in a sort of stupor.  He could not recover from the surprise and sense of outrage with which he had listened to Offitt’s story.  What was to happen to him he accepted with a despair which did not trouble itself about the ethics of the transaction.  It was a disaster, as a stroke of lightning might be.  It seemed to him the work had been thoroughly and effectually done.  He could see no way out of it; in fact, his respect for Offitt’s intelligence was so great that he took it for granted Andy had committed no mistakes, but that he had made sure of his ruin.  He must go to prison; if Farnham died, he must be hanged.  He did not weary his mind in planning for his defence when his trial should come on.  He took it for granted he should be convicted.  But if he could get out of prison, even if it were only for a few hours, and see Andy Offitt once more—­he felt the blood tingling

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The Bread-winners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.