“Back here? No, certainly not.”
“You will hurt her, bully her, terrify her!” The words were quick with agitation.
He ignored them. “Tell me where she is.”
She made a last effort.
“If I tell you—will you take me with you?”
“No,” he said, “I will not.”
“Then—then—” She was looking straight into those pitiless eyes. It seemed she could not help herself. “I will tell you,” she said at last. “But you will be kind to her? You will remember how young she is, and that—that you drove her to it?”
Her voice was piteous, her resistance was dead.
“I shall remember,” he said very quietly, “one thing only.”
“Yes?” she murmured. “Yes?”
“That she is my wife,” he said, in the same level tone. “Now—answer me.”
And because there was no longer any alternative course, she yielded.
Had he shown himself a raging demon she could have resisted him, and rejoiced in it. But this man, with his rigid self-control, his unswerving resolution, his deadly directness, dominated her irresistibly.
Without argument he had changed her point of view. Without argument or protestation of any sort, he had convinced her that it was no passing fancy of his that had prompted him to choose Nan for his wife. She had vaguely suspected it before. Now she knew.
It was very dark over the moors. The solitary lights of a cab crawling almost at a foot pace along the lonely road shone like a will-o’-the-wisp through the snow. It had been snowing for hours, steadily, thickly, and the cold was intense. The dead heather by the roadside had long been completely hidden under that ever-increasing load. It lay in great billows of white wherever the carriage lamps revealed it, stretching away into the darkness, an immense, untrodden desert, wrapped in a deathly silence, more terrible than any sound.
It seemed to Nan, shivering inside that cheerless cab, as if the world had stopped like a run-down watch, and that she alone, with her melancholy equipage, retained in all that vast stillness the power to move.
She wished heartily that she had permitted Jerry to come to the station to meet her, but for some reason not wholly intelligible to herself she had prohibited this. And he, ever obedient to her behests, had sent the conveyance to fetch her, remaining behind himself to complete the preparations for her reception upon which he had been engaged for the past two days at the tiny, incommodious shooting-box which his father had bequeathed to him, and of which not very valuable piece of landed property he was somewhat inordinately proud.
It had been a tedious cross-country journey, and the five miles from the station seemed to Nan interminable. Already deep down in her heart were stirring ghastly doubts regarding the advisability of this mad expedition of hers. Jerry, as she well knew, was fully prepared to enjoy the situation to the utmost. He was a trusty friend in need to her, no more, and she had not the smallest misgiving so far as he was concerned.