Lot said no more. He leaned his head upon his hands again. Madelon could hear his panting breath. She resolved that she would go away across the fields, down the road a piece, to another berry patch that she knew of. Still she did not go. One of those impulses which seem to come from authority outside one’s self, or else from some hidden springs of motion which we know not of, had seized her. She looked at Lot and moved softly away a few steps, holding her skirts clear of the vines. Then she paused and looked again, and was away again. Her face was resolute and wary, as if she saw something which she feared and loathed, and yet would brave. Then she went close to Lot, and stood still over him a minute.
“Lot,” she said.
He looked up at her, wonderingly. “Are you sick, Madelon?” he cried, and would have risen, but she motioned him back and spoke, turning her face away the while.
“Once I asked Burr to give me the kiss that I would have killed him for,” said she, in a voice so sharpened by her stress of spirit that it might have come out of the flames of martyrdom. “Now I ask you to give me the kiss that I almost took your life for.”
“It is all I can do to make amends,” said she. Then she looked full at him, and did not shrink when she met his eyes, though her face grew white before the mad longing in them.
Lot stood up and leaned towards her, and she stood waiting. Then he threw out his hands, as if he would push her back, and turned away. “You owe me no amends,” he said, hoarsely. “The wound that you gave me was my just desert for striving to take what you were not willing to give.”
“Your life is your life,” said she, steadily, “and I almost took it away from you. I would do this in token of repentance for that and whatever other harm I have done you unwittingly.”
“You owe me no amends, and I will take none,” said Lot, again.
Then he faced about towards her, and she started and looked at him, wondering and half in awe, for suddenly the love in the heart of the man showed itself in his face like a light, and it was almost as if she saw, unbelieving and denying, her own transfigured image in his eyes.
“Good-bye, Madelon,” said Lot.
“Good-bye,” she returned, faintly, and looked at him for the first time in all her life without the thought of Burr between them.
But that Lot did not know, and stood a moment gazing at her as a man gazes at one beloved under the shadow of long parting, striving to gain possession of somewhat to hold and cherish aside from the conditions of the flesh. Then he said good-bye again, and went away, with that soft winding glide of his through the underbrush which he might have learned from the wild dwellers in the woods, and was out of sight through the violet glooms of the firs.