“You are mistaken,” was the quick reply, harshly accentuated. “She did just what she wanted to do. She was not in the least coerced, unless it was by circumstances.”
“Circumstances! But that is what I mean. They seem to have been too much for her. I want to understand these circumstances.”
The lawyer honored him with his first direct look.
“I don’t understand them myself,” said he.
Mr. Ransom set down the wineglass he had raised half-way to his lips.
“You have simply followed her orders?”
“You have said it. Your wife is a woman of much more character than you think. She has amazed me.”
“She is amazing me. I am here; she is here; only a few boards separate us. But iron bars could not be more effectual. I dare not approach her door; dare not ask her to accept from me the natural protection of a lover and husband. Instinct holds me back, or her will, which may not be stronger than mine but is certainly more dominant.”
“Lawyers do not believe much in instinct as a usual thing, but I should advise confidence in this one. A woman with a tremendous will like that of Mrs. Ransom should be allowed a slack tether. The day will arrive when she will come to you herself. This I have said before; I can say nothing more to you to-night.”
“Then there is nothing in the will you have drawn up to show that she has lost her affection for me?”
The lawyer drained his glass.
“I have not been given permission to declare its terms,” said he, when his glass was again upon the table.
“In other words, I am to know nothing,” exclaimed his exasperated companion.
“Not from me.”
And this ended the conversation. Ransom withdrew immediately up-stairs.
At ten o’clock he retired. The last look he cast down the hall had shown him the drowsy figure of the maid still sitting at her watch. It seemed to insure a peaceful night. But he had little expectation of sleep. Though the wind had quieted down and the rain fell with increasing gentleness, the roar of the waterfall surged through all his thoughts, which in themselves were turbulent. He did sleep, however, slept peacefully till half-past one, when he and all in the house were startled by a wild and piercing cry rising from one of the rooms. Terror was in the sound and in an instant every door was open save the two which were shut upon Georgian and her twin sister.
Mr. Ransom was the first one in the hall. He had not undressed himself, expecting a totally sleepless night. It was his figure, then, that the maid encountered as she came running from her post at the end of the corridor.
“Which room? which?” he gasped out, ignoring every precaution in his blind terror.