“THERE IS ONE WAY”
“Have you done?”
Hazen was on his feet and, rigid still, but oscillating from side to side, as though his strength did not suffice to hold him quite erect, was surveying them with eyes sunk so deeply in his head that they looked like dying sparks reanimated for an instant by some passing breath.
The half-fainting woman he addressed did not answer. She was looking up at Ransom for the sympathy and pardon he was as yet too dazed to show.
Hazen made a move. It was that of physical suffering sternly endured.
“Let me speak,” he urged. “I have a question to ask. I must ask it now. Who was the woman who came up from New York with you? There were two of you then.”
Without turning her head Georgian replied:
“That was Bela, my maid; the same one who personated me on the afternoon of my wedding.”
“That accounts for the coarseness of her neck,” Hazen explained with a certain grim humor to the lawyer, who had given a slight start of surprise or humiliation. Then quietly to Georgian:
“Was it she who threw the comb and dropped your bag where my man found it?”
“I threw the comb; threw it from my window before I uttered that loud shriek. It did not go very far; but I had to be satisfied with the fact that it lay in the direction of the waterfall. But it was to Bela I entrusted the flinging of the bag. I gave it to her when she left the coach. I had explained to her long before just what a place she would find herself in when she was set down at the foot of the lane; how she was to make her way in the darkness till she came to where there were no more trees, when she was to strike across to the stream, led by the noise of the waterfall. I was very particular in my directions, because I knew the danger she incurred of slipping into the chasm. It was her fear of this and the more than ordinary darkness, I presume, which made her throw the bag hap-hazard. I simply wanted it dropped on the bank above the waterfall.”
“I saw the girl,” Mr. Harper broke in. “She wore a black skirt like the one you now wear, a black blouse and a red-checked handkerchief knotted about her throat. But the young woman who was seen leaving these parts the next morning had on some kind of a red dress and wore a hat. Bela had thrown away her hat; it was picked up where the coach stopped and afterwards brought here.”
“I know. My plans went deep; I foresaw the possibility of her being recognized by her clothes. To guard against this, I had her skirt and blouse made double, the one side black, the other a bright color. She had simply to turn them. The extra hat she carried with her; it was small and easily concealed. Her neckerchief she probably tucked away. I had its mate in my pocket, and when I left my room by the window, as I did the moment after I had locked the two rooms, it was with my hair pulled down and this neckerchief about my shoulders. How did I dare the risk! I wonder now; but it was life, life I was after; life and love; nothing else would have made me so fearless; nothing else would have given me such confidence in myself or lent such speed to my feet, running as I did in the darkness.”