“Climbed down the trellis, probably,” I said, deeply interested. “It appears strong enough to support a man. I wish you had got sight of the fellow.”
She lifted her hands to her head.
“But I was so frightened. My head throbs now with pain. I cannot explain, but—but I had begun to hate this mission of ours before we ever reached here, and then this awful house, and that man and woman. I almost begged you not to leave me alone, yet I conquered that weakness, and said good night, and locked my door. You never realized how I felt.”
“No, not entirely, although I did comprehend you were sorry you had consented to come.”
“Not that altogether,” and her eyes uplifting met mine, “I was frightened last night in the darkness. I confess I completely lost my nerve, and would have run away if I could. Perhaps I even said things which made you believe I regretted my action in coming with you. But I am more myself now, and I mean to remain, and discover what it all means. Can you guess why?”
“No; I would naturally suppose the night would have added to your terror, your desire to get away.”
“Then you do not suspect even now who I am?”
“Who you are? Only as you have told me.”
“And I told you only a half truth. I am the wife of Philip Henley.” Her cheeks flushed, a touch of passion in her voice as she faced me. “That is the truth. Do you suppose that I would ever have come here with you otherwise? No matter how desperate my condition was that would have been impossible. I should have despised myself. Even as it was I have been thoroughly shamed to have permitted you to think of me as you must. Now I tell you the truth—I consented to come because I am Philip Henley’s wife.”
My surprise at this swift avowal kept me silent, yet I could not conceal the admiration from revealment in my eyes. She must have read aright, for she drew back a step, grasping the knob of the door.
“I—I wanted to tell you yesterday—all the way coming down here. I felt that I could live the deceit no longer. I do not blame you, Mr. Craig, for you are a man, and you had every reason to believe that you were doing nothing really wrong. I wanted to learn all I could before I confessed my identity, and—and I wanted to discover just what you were like.”
“You mean whether I could be trusted?”
“Yes; I—I could not tell at first. We met so strangely, and merely because I liked you from the beginning was not enough. You understand?”
“Yes, and now?”
She looked at me frankly.
“Now I am simply going to trust you fully. I must; there is no other way. I thought it all over and over again last night, and determined to confess everything as soon as we met this morning. I am Viola Henley, Mr. Craig, and I need you.”