I saw that he recognized me, and that there was something which, with terrible effort, he was trying to make me understand.
In the hall was the rush of many people, running, exclaiming, the noise of bells ringing; from another floor the voice of a woman shrieked hysterically.
At the sounds the eyes of the boy grew eloquent with entreaty, and with a movement that called from each wound a fresh outburst, like a man strangling, he lifted his fingers to his throat.
Voices were calling for water, to wait for the doctor, to wait for the police. But I thought I understood.
Still doubting him, still unbelieving, ashamed of my own credulity, I tore at his collar, and my fingers closed upon a package of oiled silk.
I stooped, and with my teeth ripped it open, and holding before him the slips of paper it contained, tore them into tiny shreds.
The eyes smiled at me with cunning, with triumph, with deep content.
It was so like the Schnitzel I had known that I believed still he might have strength enough to help me.
“Who did this?” I begged. “I’ll hang him for it! Do you hear me?” I cried.
Seeing him lying there, with the life cut out of him, swept me with a blind anger, with a need to punish.
“I’ll see they hang for it. Tell me!” I commanded. “Who did this?”
The eyes, now filled with weariness, looked up and the lips moved feebly.
“My own people,” he whispered.
In my indignation I could have shaken the truth from him. I bent closer.
“Then, by God,” I whispered back, “you’ll tell me who they are!”
The eyes flashed sullenly.
“That’s my secret,” said Schnitzel.
The eyes set and the lips closed.
A man at my side leaned over him, and drew the sheet across his face.
When Ainsley first moved to Lone Lake Farm all of his friends asked him the same question. They wanted to know, if the farmer who sold it to him had abandoned it as worthless, how one of the idle rich, who could not distinguish a plough from a harrow, hoped to make it pay? His answer was that he had not purchased the farm as a means of getting richer by honest toil, but as a retreat from the world and as a test of true friendship. He argued that the people he knew accepted his hospitality at Sherry’s because, in any event, they themselves would be dining within a taxicab fare of the same place. But if to see him they travelled all the way to Lone Lake Farm, he might feel assured that they were friends indeed.
Lone Lake Farm was spread over many acres of rocky ravine and forest, at a point where Connecticut approaches New York, and between it and the nearest railroad station stretched six miles of an execrable wood road. In this wilderness, directly upon the lonely lake, and at a spot equally distant from each of his boundary lines, Ainsley built himself a red brick house. Here, in solitude, he exiled himself; ostensibly to become a gentleman farmer; in reality to wait until Polly Kirkland had made up her mind to marry him.