The men glanced at one another under sullen eyelids, but nobody answered. “Where are they?” she repeated.
“You know as much about it as we do,” Eugene said, then, in his soft voice.
Madelon stood with wild eyes flashing from one to another. Then she gave a sudden spring out of the room, and they heard her swift feet on the chamber-stairs. The men ate their hasty-pudding, bending their brows over it as if it were a witches’ mess instead of their ordinary home fare.
Madelon came back so rapidly that she seemed to fly over the stairs. They scarcely heard the separate taps of her feet. She burst into the room and faced them in a sort of fury. “They have gone!” she gasped out. “Louis and Richard have gone! Where are they?”
David Hautville slowly shook his head. Then he took another spoonful of pudding. The brothers bent with stern assiduity over their bowls.
“You have hid them away!” shrieked Madelon. “You have hid them away lest Louis own that he saw blood on my hand, and Richard that he gave me his knife! What have you done with them?”
Not one of the three men spoke. They swallowed their pudding.
“Father! Abner! Eugene!” said Madelon, “tell me what you have done with my brothers, who can testify that I killed Lot Gordon, and save Burr?”
David Hautville wiped his mouth on his sleeve, rose up, and took his daughter firmly by the arm.
“We know no more what has become of your brothers than you do,” said he. “If they have gone away for the reason you say, your old father would be the first to bring them back, if you were guilty as you say, daughter of mine though you be. But we know well enough, wherever your brothers have gone, and for whatever cause they have gone, that you have done nothing worse then go daft, as women will, to shield a fellow that’s used you ill. You shall put us to no more shame while I am your father and you under my roof. Abner, fill up a bowl with the pudding.”
Madelon’s face was deathly white and full of rebellion as she looked up in her father’s, but she held herself still with a stern dignity and did not struggle. David Hautville’s will was up. His hand on her soft arm was like a vise of steel. The memories of her childhood were strong upon her. She knew of old that there was no appeal, and was too proud to contend where she must yield.
“Take the bowl,” said her father, when Abner extended it filled with the steaming pudding—“take the bowl, and go you to your chamber. Eat your supper, and get in to your bed and stay there till morning.”
Madelon still looked at her father with that same look of speechless but unyielding rebellion. She did not stir to take the bowl or go to her chamber.
“Do as I bid ye!” ordered her father, in a great voice.
Madelon took the bowl from her brother’s hand and went out of the room as she was bid; and yet as she went they all knew that there was no yielding in her.