WHEREIN THE BAD MAN CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE GOOD MAN AND DISAPPEARS; AND A DEAD MAN STIRS
Immediately after, Lucia came in. She saw the body of her husband, the legs drawn up a bit, the arms stretched out, the wounded head turned so that the blood flowing from the forehead could not be seen. Only a few moments before, this limp, pitiful object had been speaking to her—calling her by name. It seemed incredible that Pell was powerless now to harm her. Brute though he had been, he gained, in this awesome instant, a strange glory, as the dead always do. The splendor of that universal experience was suddenly his; and, even lying there like a discarded meal-sack, he took on something of the pomp of a cardinal who had died. Never, of course, had she respected him more; and though she could not bring herself to shed a tear, she looked down at the still body, huddled in a heap, and craved one more word with him. No matter what has happened between a man and a woman; no matter what tragic hours they have known, when the moment of separation comes, there is always that wish to have explained a little more, to have taken a different course in all one’s previous actions. It was not that she blamed herself; she had nothing on her conscience. But there was an instinctive dread at meeting the certain pain of this crisis.
She could not believe that he had gone from her like this. She had read of people being blotted out in such fashion; but that Fate should bear down upon her household, that the lightning should strike within the borders of her garden, seemed impossible. Like everyone else, she never dreamed that a great tragedy could come to her. Just as we never think of ourselves as meeting with a street accident, so she never thought of this catastrophe. Yet there he lay, the symbol of that inexorable terror that moves through the world.
She went over quietly to a chair near the table and sat down. She hid her face in her hands. She did not wish to see that silent form again; yet he had been her husband, and her place, she knew, was by his side, in death even more than in life. How the world had changed for her in this little hour!
She had come into the room just as Pancho was finishing his talk with Gilbert; and she caught the force of his words. Now she heard him saying something else.
“And now, what you say? You all ’appy, eh?”
Gilbert was still too dazed to understand. “You’ve killed him!” was all he could utter.
“I ’ave,” the bandit answered. “You need not thank me. It was a great pleasure.” Evidently he smiled; Lucia would not look up.
Gilbert paced the floor. “He’s dead!” he kept repeating, as though to brand the truth upon his brain. “He’s dead!” He paused once and stared down again at the body.
“He’s dead, just as I say,” Lopez stated. “Pedro never misses.”