Lucia, in the lamplight, was paler than before. The three of them were standing, curiously enough, almost as they had stood only a few brief hours ago; and as she looked around her now she thought of this.
“So,” she said. “We’re back just where we started from!” The grim humor of it came over her. Ten minutes ago she had thought her husband dead—done for, out of the way. Now he stood before her in all his virility, in all his cruelty; and behind him was the one man in the world that she loved.
“Not quite,” said Gilbert. He stepped forward a pace or two. He saw that Lucia was alarmed. “Come,” he begged of her. “Don’t be afraid.” Oh, the balm of those few words!
But she was not wholly herself yet. “What are you going to do?” she asked, and came nearer Gilbert. How strong and determined he looked in the dim light!
“I’m going to have this thing out,” he said. “You can never go back to him now.” There was finality in his voice.
“No, I never can,” Lucia agreed. And there was finality in her voice, too. It was as if Destiny had come into this house, and an unheard voice told them what to do.
“You’ll trust me to protect you—until—” Gilbert went on.
She looked at him pleadingly. “Oh, take me with you, Gil!” She threw her arms out. She had nothing to fear now, his strength beside her. She told him in one glorious gesture that she was his forever—that she had surrendered herself, body and soul, to him. Gilbert looked at her. Slowly, he realized that this woman, this creature of his dreams cared for him, and him alone; and the world might sweep by, the stars and moon might crash to earth, and they would neither know nor care. Fate had brought her to him. Nothing else mattered now. What was Morgan Pell? In life he was as impotent as when he lay half concealed beneath the table near which he now stood. They would not consider him, save as the foolish laws of man made it necessary for them to consider him.
Gilbert turned to Pell. “You heard—she’s mine now. And any course you may take to stop her—” he warned. It was useless to say more. The manner in which young Jones spoke told the whole story of his feelings.
Yet Pell tried to appear nonchalant and casual. “You haven’t another drink around, have you?” he inquired. He still held his handkerchief to his wounded forehead. “That was a rather nasty one I got, you know.”
Gilbert, though he loathed him as a serpent, remembered that he was this creature’s host, and stepped over to the fireplace where there was a flask with a little tequila still left. He offered Pell the bottle.
“You were saying—?” Pell went on. He poured himself a stiff drink. “Something about leaving me, wasn’t it?” It was plain to be seen that he was bluffing. “I’m sorry,” swigging down what he had poured, “but I wasn’t listening very closely. This thing here—” he tapped his wound. No one answered him, and he set down his glass. “Well?” to his wife.