His face grew very pale and stern.
“I believe I do,” he answered.
“And you are shielding him? Your silence is shielding him, is it not?”
“I am doing more,” he said. “I destroyed my own identity, and the Douglas Guest of Feldwick is an accounted murderer by others besides Joan. I can tell you only this, Cissy. I did it because it seemed to me the best and the most merciful thing to be done.”
She looked at him gravely.
“He was my father, Douglas, and though I am not like Joan, yet I too would have justice done.”
“There are things,” he added, “which you do not know. There are things which I pray that you may never know.”
“It is hard to understand,” she said.
“It is better not to understand,” he answered. “It is even better for Joan to believe what she does. That is all I can tell you.”
They sat in silence for a while. There was a frown on Cicely’s face. She was not wholly satisfied. And from the river, with its fringe of yellow lights, came the whistling of tugs as they passed out on their way to the ocean, and the flashing of strange illuminations on her dark bosom.
Then suddenly Cicely started forward on the seat, her fingers seized his arm with a feverish grip. She gazed with distended eyes at the grim form coming slowly along in the centre of the asphalted path. It was Joan who came towards them. Their surprise was too great—her coming too sudden for words. Only Douglas felt a small hand steal into his, and Cicely, in spite of her mortal terror, experienced a pleasant sense of protection as those strong fingers closed over hers.
Joan was fifty yards away, level with another seat, on which a solitary man had been sitting in a slouching attitude. As she drew near him the two who were watching with fascinated eyes saw him draw himself upright and then shrink suddenly back. But he was too late. Joan’s eyes had lighted upon him. She stopped short, the man’s attempt at evasion was obvious. In a moment she was at his side.
“David,” she cried. “David!”
He rose up, and would have slunk off, but she caught him by the arm. He shook her away, but there was no escape. He looked around like a hunted animal. She sat down by his side, and he was a prisoner.
“Come,” Douglas whispered.
They rose up and went off together.
DAVID AND JOAN
“You have had your way with me. I have suffered you to bring me here, to make me eat and drink. Now I am ready to go.
“But where? You do not look as though you had any settled lodging. We can find you a room here for awhile. You have not told me yet how it is that you are alive after all.”
He pushed back a mass of tangled hair and looked at her grimly.