Ralph spoke first, swallowing once or twice in his throat before speaking, and trying to smile.
“It is you then,” he said.
Beatrice moved a step nearer, looking at Chris, who stood white and tense, his eyes wide and burning.
“Mr. Torridon,” said Beatrice softly, “I have brought the bundle. My woman has it.”
Still she looked, as she spoke, questioningly at Chris.
“Oh! this is my brother, the monk,” snapped Ralph bitterly, glancing at him. “Indeed, he is.”
Then Chris lost his self-control again.
“And this is my brother, the murderer; indeed, he is.”
Beatrice’s lips parted, and her eyes winced. She put out her hand hesitatingly towards Ralph, and dropped it again as he moved a little towards her.
“You hear him?” said Ralph.
“I do not understand,” said the girl, “your brother—”
“Yes, I am his brother, God help me,” snarled Chris.
Beatrice’s lips closed again, and a look of contempt came into her face.
“I have heard enough, Mr. Torridon. Will you come with me?”
Chris moved forward a step.
“I do not know who you are, madam,” he said, “but do you understand what this gentleman is? Do you know that he is a creature of Master Cromwell’s?”
“I know everything,” said Beatrice.
“And you were at Tyburn, too?” questioned Chris bitterly, “perhaps with this brother of mine?”
Beatrice faced him defiantly.
“What have you to say against him, sir?”
Ralph made a movement to speak, but the girl checked him.
“I wish to hear it. What have you to say?”
“He is a creature of Cromwell’s who plotted the death of God’s saints. This brother of mine was at the examinations, I hear, and at the scaffold. Is that enough?”
Chris had himself under control again by now, but his words seemed to burn with vitriol. His lips writhed as he spoke.
“Well?” said Beatrice.
“Well, if that is not enough; how of More and my Lord of Rochester?”
“He has been a good friend to Mr. More,” said Beatrice, “that I know.”
“He will get him the martyr’s crown, surely,” sneered Chris.
“And you have no more to say?” asked the girl quietly.
A shudder ran over the monk’s body; his mouth opened and closed, and the fire in his eyes flared up and died; his clenched hands rose and fell. Then he spoke quietly.
“I have no more to say, madam.”
Beatrice moved across to Ralph, and put her hand on his arm, looking steadily at Chris. Ralph laid his other hand on hers a moment, then raised it, and made an abrupt motion towards the door.
Chris went round the table; Mr. Morris opened the door with an impassive face, and followed him out, leaving Beatrice and Ralph alone.
* * * * *