“Let us have a word or two in your own room. It is a principle of mine not to trust even the ears of the deaf with what it is desirable to keep secret.”
Had the glance with which he said this lingered a moment longer on his companion’s face, he would undoubtedly have been startled at the effect of his own words. But being at heart a compassionate man, or possibly understanding his new client much better than that client supposed, he had turned quite away in crossing the threshold, and so missed the conscious flash which for a moment replaced the somber and feverish expression that had already aged by ten years the formerly open features of this deeply grieved man.
Once in the hall, it was too dark to note further niceties of expression, and by the time Mr. Ransom’s room was reached, purpose and purpose only remained visible in either face.
As they were crossing the threshold, the lawyer wheeled about and cast a quick look behind him.
“I observe,” said he, “that you have a full and unobstructed view from here of the whole hall and of the two doors where our interest is centered. I presume you kept a strict watch on both last night. You let nothing escape you?”
“Nothing that one could see from this room.”
With a thoughtful air, the lawyer swung to the door behind them. As it latched, the face of Mr. Ransom sharpened. He even put out a hand and rested it on a table standing near, as if to support himself in anticipation of what the lawyer would say now that they were again closeted together.
Mr. Harper was not without his reasons for a corresponding agitation, but he naturally controlled himself better, and it was with almost a judicial air that he made this long-expected but long-deferred suggestion:
“You had better tell me now, and as explicitly as possible, just what is in your mind. It will prevent all misunderstanding between us, as well as any injudicious move on my part.”
Mr. Ransom hesitated, leaning hard on the table; then, with a sudden burst, he exclaimed:
“It sounds like folly, and you may think that my troubles have driven me mad. But I have a feeling here—a feeling without any reason or proof to back it—that the woman now sleeping off her exhaustion in Anitra’s room is the woman I courted and married—Georgian Hazen, now Georgian Ransom, my wife.”
“Good! I have made no mistake. That is my thought, too,” responded the lawyer.
A few minutes later they were discussing this amazing possibility.
“I have no reason for this conclusion,—this hope,” admitted Mr. Ransom. “It is instinct with me, an intuition, and not the result of my judgment. It came to me when she first addressed me down by the mill-stream. If you consider me either wrong or misled, I confess that I shall not be able to combat your decision with any argument plausible enough to hold your attention for a moment.”