“You shall not! They shall believe I did it. I will make Lot Gordon tell. He shall tell before he dies!”
The bolt slid back, and Alvin Mead’s great bulk darkened the doorway. Madelon turned her face towards him, with her arms still clasping Burr and holding his head to her bosom. “This man is innocent!” she cried out, with a fierce gesture of protection, as if she were defending her young instead of her false lover. “I tell you he is innocent—you must let him go! I am the one who stabbed Lot Gordon!”
Alvin Mead stared; his heavy pink jaw lopped.
“I tell you, you must let him go!” She released Burr from her arms and gave him a push towards the door. “Go out,” she said; “I am the one to stay here.”
But Alvin Mead collected and brought about his great body with a show of lumbering fists. “Come,” said he, “this ain’t a-goin to do. We can’t have no sech work as this, young woman. It’s time you went.”
“Let him go, I tell you!” commanded Madelon, confronting him fiercely. “I am going to stay.”
“They won’t let you come again if you don’t go quietly now,” Burr whispered, and he laid his hand on her nervous shoulder.
“I ruther guess we won’t have no sech doin’s again,” said Alvin Mead, with sulky assent.
“You must go, Madelon.”
Madelon tied on her hood. Her white face had its rigid, desperate look again.
“I will make them believe me yet, and you shall be set free,” she said to Burr, with a stern nod, and passed out, while Alvin Mead stood back to give her passage, watching her with sullen and wary eyes. He was, in truth, half afraid of her.
When Madelon, returning from New Salem, came in sight of her home the first thing which she noticed was her father in the yard in front of the house.
David Hautville’s great figure stood out in the dusk of the snowy landscape like a giant’s. He was motionless. The roan mare’s gallop had evidently struck his ear some time before, and he knew that Madelon was returning. He did not even look her way as she drew nearer, but when she rode into the yard he made a swift movement forward and seized the mare by the bridle. She reared, but Madelon sat firm, with wretched, undaunted eyes upon her father. David Hautville’s eyes blazed back at her out of the whiteness of his wrath.
“Where have you been?” he demanded, in a thick voice.
“To New Salem.”
“To see Burr, and beg him to confess that I killed Lot.”
“Fool!” David Hautville jerked the bridle so fiercely that the mare reared far back again. He jerked her down to her feet, and she made a vicious lunge at him, but he shunted her away.
“I’ll fasten you into your chamber,” he shouted, “if this work goes on! I’ll stop your making a fool of yourself.”