Here was truth. To Ransom it came like balm and a renewed life. Bounding across the room, he strove to seize her hand and draw her to himself. But Hazen would not have it. His anger, indeterminate before, was concentrated now, and not the white pleading of her face, nor the warning gesture of Ransom, could hold it back.
“Traitress!” he cried, “traitress to me and to the Cause. You thought to escape what is inescapable. Do you know what you have done? You have—” The rest hung in air. A sudden weakness had seized him and he sank faltering back into a chair Harper pushed towards him, still denouncing her, however, with lifted hand and accusing eyes, the image—though no longer a speaking one—of the implacable and determined avenger.
Georgian, shocked into silence, stared at him in a frenzy of complicated emotions to which neither of them as yet had given the key capable of relieving the maddening tension.
“It is the pool; the pool,” she finally murmured. “Its waters have beaten out your life.” But he calmly shook his head.
“It is not in water to do that,” he murmured. “Give me a moment. I’ve a question to ask. I think a drop of liquor—”
Harper had flask in hand almost before the word had left the other’s mouth. The draft revived Hazen; he looked up at Georgian. “I believe you, so do these men believe you. But you were not alone in this plot. Where is Anitra? Where is the deaf and solitary one you dragged from the streets of New York to bolster up your plot? Tell us and tell us quickly. Where is Anitra?”
“Anitra? Do you ask that?” cried Harper, roused to speak for the first time by his boundless amazement and indignation. “You have described the body in the pool—a description which fits either sister, and yet you would make this woman tell us what you have seen with your own eyes.”
He might as well not have spoken. Neither he nor she seemed to hear him. Certainly neither heeded.
“Anitra?” she repeated softly and with a strange intonation. “I am Anitra. I am both Georgian and Anitra. There have never been two of us since I came into this house.”
“There have never been but one of us since I came into this house.”
Monstrous assertion! or so it seemed to Ransom as the whirl of his thoughts settled and reason resumed its sway. Only one! But he had himself seen two; so had Mrs. Deo and the maids; he could even relate the differences between them on that first night. Yet had he ever seen them together, or even the shadow of one at the same moment he saw the person of the other? No, and with such an actress as she had shown herself to be these last two days, such changes of appearance might be possible, though why she should engage in such a deep, almost incredible plot was a mystery to make the hair rise,—she, the tender, exquisite, the beloved woman of his dreams.