The Chief Legatee eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 230 pages of information about The Chief Legatee.

“Then you forget my money,” suggested Georgian.  “Can you expect mercy from a man who sees a million just within his grasp?  I know,” she acknowledged, as Hazen lifted that same ungentle hand in haughty protest, “that it was not for himself.  I do not think Alfred would disturb a fly for his own comfort, but he would wreck a woman’s hopes, a good man’s happiness for the Cause.  He admitted as much to me, and more, in the interview we held that afternoon at the St. Denis.  I had to go to him at once, and I had to employ subterfuge in order to do so,” she went on in rapid explanation, as she saw her husband’s eye refill with doubt under a remembrance of the shame and anguish of that unhappy afternoon.  “I had not the courage to leave you openly at the carriage door.  Besides, I hoped to work on Alfred’s pity in our interview together, or, if not that, to buy my release and return to you a free woman.  But the wound which had changed his face for me had changed and made hard his heart.  He had other purposes for me than quiet living with a man who could have no real interest in the Cause.  The money I inherited, the rare and growing beauty which he declared me to have, were too valuable to the brethren for me to hope for any existence in which their interests were not paramount.  I might return to you, subject to the same authoritative beck and call which had put me in my present position, or I might leave you at once and forever.  No half measures were possible.  Was I, a bride, loving and beloved by my husband, to listen to either of these alternatives?  I rebelled, and then the thunderbolt fell.

“I was no longer on probation, no longer subject to his will alone.  I was a fully affiliated member.  That day my name had been sent to the Chief.  This meant obedience on my part or a vengeance I felt it impossible to consider.  While I lived I need never hope again for freedom without penalty.

“‘While I lived’; the words rang in my ears.  I did not need to weigh them; I knew that they were words of truth.  There is no power on earth so inescapable as that exercised by a secret society, and this one has a terrible safeguard.  None but he who keeps the list knows the members.  You, Roger, might be one, and I never suspect it, unless you chose to give me the sign.  Knowing this, I realized that my life was not worth the purchase if I sought to cross the will of my own brother.  Nor yours, either.  It was the last thought which held me.  While I dutifully listened, my mind was working out the deception which was to release me, and when I left him it was to take the first step in the complicated plot by which I hoped to recover my lost happiness.  And I nearly succeeded.  You have seen what I have borne, what difficulties I have faced, what discoveries eluded, but this last, this greatest ordeal, was too much.  I could not listen unmoved to a description of my own drowned body.  I, who had calculated on all, had not calculated on this.  The horror overcame me—­I forgot—­perhaps because God was weary of my many deceptions!”

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The Chief Legatee from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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